Oct 23, 2007

libertarian theology and resistance to capital

the following was posted as a comment to the blog, Democracy and Hip-Hop Project, as a response to the ongoing discussion on anti-imperialism and reaction.

Matthew offers insights on the need to engage people of faith and to support and help expand "libertarian" religious expressions of thought and resistance to authority and domination. a central thrust to his argument is that militant secularism has "boxed out" alternative and liberatory visions on the basis that they emanate from a theology, rather than the materialist rationalism of the Enlightenment's liberal middle classes. citing the Neo-Con agenda for re-making the Islamic Middle East as the most blatant expression of this secular arrogance, Matthew also challenges the secular "racism of the Left" by asking the question, "when are we going to actually propose alternatives that engage with religious thought seriously in its own vocabulary, language, etc.? When will revolutionaries throw their full support behind Muslims who are attempting to articulate libertarian Islamic theologies of liberation"?

Hey KB,

This is a fascinating and timely discussion. I agree with the Three Way Fight folks that sometimes anti-imperialist forces can take on an insurgent Right wing or fascist character, and that there are some Islamic versions of that in the Middle East today.

But it seems to me that Three Way Fight tends to overemphasize the influence of these right-wingers. Do the Al Qaeda networks and the Taliban really have that much clout internationally? How many everyday Muslims actually support them?

People like David Horowitz and the organizers of Islamofascism week at campuses across the country next week claim that most Muslims support these fools. But that is just witch-hunting and imperial propaganda. Obviously the 3-Way Fight folks aren’t coming from the same angle as Horowitz and it seems they would be equally as opposed to his white supremacy.

But could they also be overemphasizing the power of the Islamic right? I would argue that Al Qeda and the Taliban are relatively marginal in terms of the politics of the world’s several billion Muslims. It seems there is much more international grassroots support for groups like Hizb’Allah and Hamas because they are the most prominent forces currently on the ground mounting mass struggles against Israeli apartheid and for social reconstruction. But are these groups really fascist or on the Right? In many ways they have more in common with authoritarian Leftism: their program is a kind of revolutionary cultural nationalism with a state capitalist/ social democratic emphasis on social justice and aid from above.

In this, they are no doubt oppressive forces poised to betray the workers, women, queer folks, and other everyday Muslims who have at times expressed very militant aspirations for democratic self-government (for example the popular committees of the Intifada). But this betrayal is not a result of Hamas or Hizb’Allah’s Islamic character. After all, plenty of secular nationalist and socialist parties in the Middle East performed similar betrayals in earlier stages of anti-colonial struggles, and that’s at least one of the reasons why so many folks have turned to Islamic politics as a supposed alternative.

Secular populist, Leftist, and state capitalist regimes have also launched brutal campaigns against women, queer folks, indigenous peoples, and others, (as Matthew recognized with Chavez and Ortega). Reinventing an earlier secular nationalism or Communism is not viable considering these historical failures. Whether Islamic or not, something new is desperately needed. The key question is, where will folks go once they see the new Hizb’Allah and Hamas “Islamic” versions of state capitalism betray them once again?

I would argue that this will not automatically be in a secular direction. It could also be a different type of Islamic politics, a more libertarian or direct-democratic vision from below. This is of course not guaranteed but it is one viable possibility worth fighting for.

It is good to see some activists in the US working to critique both US imperialist attacks on Arabs and Muslims and also the patriarchal and authoritarian aspects of right-wing Islamic movements today. These are important first steps. But when are we going to actually propose alternatives that engage with religious thought seriously in its own vocabulary, language, etc.? When will revolutionaries throw their full support behind Muslims who are attempting to articulate libertarian Islamic theologies of liberation? Are they despairing that such folks do not exist in the Muslim community? In my experiences, they do exist, but are often boxed out and squeezed between the secular chauvinism and racism of the Left, the conservatives of the mosque and Muslim Students Association leadership, and the authoritarianism of insurgent Islamic tendencies. What types of political organization will open up space for new Muslim possibilities? I would argue that the largely atheist forms the Left has taken historically are inadequate for this task.

Many young folks are slowly but surely becoming fed up with the bootlicking leadership of groups like the MSA who constantly try to prove to whitey that they are the “Good Muslims” unlike the “Bad Muslims over there.” Many of these young Muslims will see no alternative in authoritarian Islamic insurgents and will turn instead to some version of secular Arab or Muslim power politics. Others will similarly see no alternative in authoritarian Islamic insurgents and will turn instead to some vision of Islamic liberation theology. Revolutionaries of all religious and non-religious backgrounds in the US need to be prepared to respect, support, and understand, and further BOTH potential developments and cannot subordinate either one to the other. These tendencies will only be vibrant if they cross fertilize each other.

Incidentally, I would argue a similar orientation is needed to deal with Christian imperialism and fundamentalism in the US. This is not the place to articulate a full vision on this front, but preliminarily, we need to recognize that a) liberal, multicultural and “interfaith” oriented Christian theologies generally serve as smoke-screens for US Empire because they argue that the US is a progressive force in the world because God ordained America (manifest destiny) to spread separation of church and state, dialogue, and tolerance in order to uplift backwards Third World cultures, especially Islamic ones. b) this liberal theological consensus is fracturing domestically because it cannot contain the frustrations of class tensions, de-industrialization, people loosing their jobs, etc. c) one response to this is an insurgent, populist Christian right that has definite fascist groupings within it that function as vanguards with influence beyond their numbers. d) we need to combat both the liberal imperial theology as well as this insurgent Christian right (we need a 3 way fight), e) it is not enough to simply make a secular critique of both theologies and encourage people to leave Christianity; we need to actively develop Christian liberation theologies that pose insurgent alternatives to both. A top priority in this should be to articulate, in uncompromising and militant Christian prophetic language, why it is crucial for Christians to stand in solidarity with everyday Muslims against imperialism, white supremacy, and fascist attacks.

I’m glad you pointed out some of the legacies that such a liberation theology could draw from, ranging from the late medieval peasant uprisings to the militant abolitionism of John Brown and David Walker. This whole history needs to be retrieved and reconsidered. Again, I can’t go into sufficient depth here, but in many ways it wasn’t capitalism that waged an assault on feudalism in Europe but rather a whole range of insurgent Christian heretic groups, as Sylvia Federici has documented. Capitalism was a middle class counter-revolution that attempted to co-opt this anti-feudal movement and establish a new ruling class. As a result, the middle class’s secularism is not unambiguously progressive. Enlightenment liberals struggled against the Church hierarchy and its feudal ties, but they also struggled against direct-democratic Christian visions from below and attempted to contain the self-activity of peasant, artisan, and early workers who were becoming Christian revolutionaries. Nowadays this middle class secularism takes its most destructive form in the NeoConservatives who act like Napoleon, attempting to shove the Liberal revolution down Muslim peoples’ throats from above and secularize them whether they like it or not. Revolutionaries must distinguish ourselves from this imperial project at all costs, while still mounting our own struggles against religious authorities whether these be conservative, liberal, or insurgent Rightists.

What is missing in the mix are revolutionary religious forces from a direct democratic perspective who can jump into the 3 way fight without subordinating their distinctive religious content and vision. These urgently need to be articulated and organized.



Oct 14, 2007

Islamic fundamentalism and the three-way fight: an exchange

How should leftists respond to Islamic fundamentalist movements? The following dialogue between two contributors to Three Way Fight explores this question, touching on issues such as secularism, Islamophobia, state repression, heterosexism, and, above all, the role of women and women's oppression in the global political struggle.

The dialogue centers on the work of Azar Majedi, who is a leader of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran and the founder of the Organization for Women's Liberation - Iran. The exchange began when Bromma sent Matthew the text of Majedi's article, "When a lesbian says: 'We are all Hezb' Allah now'" (posted to Three Way Fight yesterday).

Please note that the emails below were originally written for a private exchange, not for publication.

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September 2, 2007


Thanks for the Majedi piece. Were you wanting to submit it to Three Way Fight? I am concerned about Majedi's conflation of the Islamic Right with Islam in general. That doesn't necessarily mean we wouldn't post it, but probably with some sort of commentary.


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September 4, 2007

Hi, Matthew.

I didn't really have a definite purpose in sending the Majedi piece, except that I thought you might find it interesting, and wondered what your take would be. It bears on aspects of the 3-way fight that seem to be...underemphasized? If you print the piece with a commentary, that might cause some valuable discussion, but you know best.

The worker-communist folks (like Majedi) usually specify that one of their two antagonists--one of the "two poles of reaction" confronting them--is "political Islam" or "Islamist" movements. I don't have a problem with this. There is a political Islamist movement; it is reactionary just like Zionism, Hindu nationalism and Christian fundamentalism. It isn't all fascist by any means, but it includes a strong fascist vanguard with influence beyond its numbers.

I also don't have a problem with Majedi's militant secularism.

I do think Majedi probably causes unnecessary controversy by the way she uses the terms "Islam" and "Islamic" in the piece I sent, even though her meaning is clear enough.

After all, Majedi isn't some Western bigot. She probably has friends and family members who adhere to Islam as a religion. She does distinguish between "ordinary Moslems" and political Islam. (See, for instance, her passionate call-out of Oriana Fallaci for racism against Muslims: http://azarmajedi.com/articles/orianaFallaci.html.)

She also has direct experience with Islamist state power. She is a survivor of Iranian fundamentalism, who witnessed revolutionaries tortured and killed by the thousands. She, along with the other Iranian socialist women, was sold out by pretty much everybody, including anti-imperialist men of the Left and Right.

Which brings me to what is so important about the perspectives of women like Majedi, and the women in OWFI in Iraq and RAWA in Afghanistan. (Their perspectives are by no means monolithic, of course.) These are revolutionary women on the front lines of the 3-way fight, whose knowledge is based on lived reality. They have been working on this problem for many years, with life and death stakes. It makes me wonder why more of us aren't interested what they've learned.

I think that the struggle for control over women is the key to the 3-way fight. Imperialism is moving swiftly to reconfigure gender relations in the world; re-creating a proletariat based ever more openly on oppressed women and children.

Meanwhile, rebellious right-wing populism is powered by and fixated on misogyny; populated by men who are furious about losing "their" women.

And how about us? Where do we stand on women's freedom? In my opinion, the politics of gender are the key to distinguishing between freedom fighters and right-wing populists (including their phony "left" variants like Chavez).

There isn't going to be much progress on 3-way fight politics here unless we start paying serious attention to the pivotal role of gender in this dynamic. And unless we start giving props to the women in the 3-way battle zones who are the pioneers and natural leaders of this underdeveloped new politics.

By the way, I have definite reservations about the worker-communist perspective, but from a completely different angle--a topic for another day, maybe...


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September 10, 2007

Hi B,

Your September 4th email makes a lot of good points, about both Majedi's essay and larger issues of gender and the three-way fight. Actually I think your email could be the basis for an initial commentary accompanying the Majedi piece, although I think there are other points that should be raised as well.

Yes, there is a right-wing Islamist movement, but I question whether that label accurately describes all forms of "political Islam." Furthermore, there are important differences within the Islamic right itself -- about gender and other issues -- which western critics routinely gloss over. Majedi's writings play into this. It's not just a question of whether she herself is a western bigot, but how her voice is or will be exploited by western bigots. Majedi is a sophisticated political actor and has a responsibility to take this into account, but (despite her letter to Fallaci) I see little evidence that she does so.

For a helpful discussion of this issue specifically in relation to anti-queer violence in Iran, see "People-to-People Dialogue Key to Human Rights Progress" by Mitra Roshan and Kourosh Shemiani, and the accompanying comments on Karl Kersplebedeb's Sketchy Thoughts blog

Like you, I don't have a problem with militant secularism. I do have a problem with calls for the capitalist state to restrict religious behavior -- especially when such calls selectively target the religious behavior of groups that are already persecuted and demonized widely -- as opposed to religious groups that are socially and culturally dominant. Majedi comments elsewhere (http://www.iranian.com/Namazie/2004/November/Majedi/index.html) that we should make a clear distinction between criticizing or ridiculing Islam (good) and "insulting people by reference to their religion" (bad). Sounds like "hate the sin but love the sinner." In any case, I don't think it's a distinction that holds up very well in practice -- not in today's political climate anyway.

Majedi advocates (http://www.iranian.com/Majedi/2006/November/Veil/index.html) a ban on the burka (with face covering) from all public places and any form of religious veil (such as headscarves) for underage girls. She claims that "'a child has no religion.' It is the parents' religion that is imposed on the child." (Really? A 14-year-old has no religion?) She writes that France's law against wearing any religious symbols in state schools is a step in the right direction, but "its main shortcoming is to still allow private religious schools to operate. This leaves the girl's fate in the hands of religiously fanatic parents to send her to private religious school and ghettoize her life completely." By this logic, we should simply forbid practicing Muslims to raise children -- they should all be raised by secular families or in secular state institutions.

In that same essay Majedi does claim in passing that all (all?) religions are misogynist, but her consistent focus is on attacking Islam. In today's U.S. this plays directly into the hands of Bush-allied rightists, although clearly that's not Majedi's intention. Why single out Islamic practices? Given the west's Islamophobia (a concept which Majedi dismisses as a creation of Islamists and their apologists) any secularist attack here on Islamic heterosexism and misogyny has to be couched in terms of a more forceful attack on Christian heterosexism and misogyny. And beyond that, what about secular heterosexism and misogyny? Does it really empower a 14-year-old Muslim girl to tell her she can't wear a headscarf but it's okay to wear a baby t-shirt that says "porn star"?

None of these thoughts are new to you, I'm sure, but I find it helpful to put them into words, and you did ask what I thought.

Best wishes,

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September 12, 2007

Hi, Matthew.

I'm in favor of making proper distinctions, especially since the intersection of politics and religion is so emotionally charged.

However, I think the most important thing is this essential fact: there is a powerful misogynist fundamentalist movement that has taken the dominant leadership role within the Islamic Right (and actually within the growing world-wide rebellious Right, for which it is a role model). This is a dynamic movement which encompasses tens of millions of adherents and supporters; one which threatens hundreds of millions of women and men. It is, in my opinion, a real-world embodiment of one pole of the 3-way fight. I think this is an underlying premise of Majedi's piece.

It is Islamic fundamentalists who are engaged in the main armed struggle with global Capital, who have taken over in Iran and Afghanistan, who are insurgent and growing in dozens of countries, including Iraq of course. I am disgusted that the Western Left talks about Iraq every day, but evades this critical issue.

In terms of the 3-way fight, this is 100% dysfunctional, since what we are actually observing in these countries is one of the most important examples and symbols of "3-way fight" today; one with which thousands of revs and beleaguered women in Iraq and many other countries are desperately trying to cope.

The male-dominated Left everywhere is unable to provide leadership, because it can't/won't grasp the centrality of women in the world political struggle. Certainly trying to define 3-way politics without dealing with the wars on women is trying to fight with both hands tied behind our backs.

I'm not aware of any significant right-wing political Islamist trends that are pro-women. Maybe you could give me examples?

We should bear in mind that in both Iran and Afghanistan, fundamentalists were smart enough to play on the sympathies (and opportunism) of left-wing men--at least until they came into power. Once in power, they massacred leftists by the thousands.

Today the Iranian regime has lobbyists and agents who monitor Western "progressive" circles and appeal to their credulous, selective, male-identified multiculturalism to blunt potential criticism. This doesn't stop the Iranian state from daily carrying out the most vicious attacks on women and gay people back home.

The thing is, the fundamentalists already have a pretty good take on the 3-way fight and the pivotal role of gender within it. They calibrate their tactics toward the other two poles with considerable intelligence. They are way more sophisticated politically than we are.

Since there is tremendous anti-fundamentalist discontent among the Iranian population, especially among youth and women, the last thing the regime wants to see is the rise of global solidarity for Iranian secular revs, women and gays. Ditto for other fundamentalists. Their entire paradigm is based on male domination, and they use every means at their disposal to defend it.

We have obliged them nicely. We generally let Left groups in the metropolis cuddle up to sharia-loving "resistance" groups without comment, while observing scrupulous silence about atrocity after atrocity committed by the fundamentalists in the name of Islam because it might be "culturally insensitive" to speak up, or might give "aid and comfort" to imperialism.

Everybody on the Left understands that Capital uses "women's rights" as a hypocritical smokescreen for imperial savagery. What the Left seems unable to grasp, so far, is that the Islamic fundamentalists use "multiculturalism" as a smokescreen for male terror and gender apartheid. This has been explicitly discussed by revs in the battle zones. Many times.

Fundamentalists do find women to front for them sometimes. On the other hand, the imperialists have Condi, and all kinds of women and non-white sycophants, to front for them. This is normal today. In modern politics, both imperialism and reactionary populism have learned how to manipulate culture and multiculturalism. Needless to say, we should not be let either reactionary pole manipulate us.

The conditions of women in Iran or Afghanistan or other places where insurgent political Islam has taken power are not timeless "cultural attributes," as the fundamentalists want us to believe. Rather, they are radical reversals of previous secular trends. In other words, they represent very contemporary political defeats for us.

The fundamentalists use phony neo-feudal Islamic tropes (not unlike the way Hitler used "aryan" mythology) as ideological cover, as demagogic shorthand for a distinctly modern oppressive class agenda. I believe this is part of what Majedi means by her use of the term "political Islam." She's not just talking about Muslims who happen to be involved in politics, but about a defined political force loose in the world now. Like Zionism, or Christian nationalism or Hindu nationalism. Whatever we want to call it (I prefer "Islamic fundamentalism,") it exists.

I would argue, actually, that any quest for male religious state power is by its nature reactionary. But this abstract principle is less important than the hard practical realities of current politics.

Millions of modern, often cosmopolitan women experience the burka and the veil as a badge of apartheid, of submission. Millions live in fear of the violent misogynist crimes committed daily by Islamist rightists. Millions are under relentless, violent male pressure to accept degrading roles for themselves and their daughters--roles that they neither endorse nor were born into. Will we speak up for those women, or will we leave them to be "defended" by the tender mercies of the likes of George Bush? (Or the French state?)

I think it is good to be vigilant about "feeding into" classic Euro chauvinisms--national, racial and religious. But there is also a different kind of Euro chauvinism that treats women in colonized societies as if they were somehow less worthy of realizing their human rights than white Western women are. This chauvinist view imagines that women in so-called Islamic regions--and in the colonial world generally--don't really want freedom like women here do.

Suppose the US crashes into chaos and collapse, losing its wealth and dominance in the world. How would (will?) radical women in the US feel about a new "cultural" or "Christian" requirement to wear clothing that makes sports impossible; that shames women into hiding their face or hair? That forces girls to visually declare loyalty to Christianity at every moment, that embodies an overt and drastic double standard for boys and girls? That prohibits dancing and non-religious music and parties? (Of course I am talking here only about the very mildest of fundamentalist practices, not the deadliest ones, like stoning to death, honor killing, arranged "marriages" of very young girls, acid-throwing, etc.) Would we want Muslims or people overseas to "respect" these things as "part of our culture" or as "religious matters," and to politely refrain from helping us overthrow them?

And for that matter, why is it that radical women here and in Europe are expected to "demand" reproductive rights, but nobody says word one about reactionary stands on abortion by Chavez, Ortega and several other male bosses of Latin American populism? Sometimes it seems that only US and European white women are supposed to insist on secular and personal freedoms. Surely that can't be because our "culture" is so great--or theirs are so terrible.

It's complicated, of course. Being a new pole of the 3-way fight is going to make new enemies, including some forces who used to be progressive. (Anti-fascists learned that in the '30s.) But silence doesn't get us off the hook. We already know that every time we criticize one reactionary pole, we'll be accused of helping the other. We have to advance on this thing, not hope it will go away.

It would be good to see the whole question of gender and the 3-way fight aired in some way. The Majedi piece might be a good jumping-off point, even though there are other documents from RAWA and the worker-communists that are probably more diplomatically written. It's important to disentangle chauvinist attacks on Islam and people of color from legitimate attacks on insurgent fundamentalism, and her article seems to raise that issue. If you want to collaborate on something, let me know.

I'm probably speaking out of turn, but I think it would be a major step forward just for the web site to start featuring regular political analysis by radical women in the colonial world who are fighting both fascist fundamentalism and imperialism. Whatever their errors and weaknesses, aren't these people our pioneers? Maybe that's too big a redefinition of "3-way fight," but that's how I see it.



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September 20, 2007

Hi B,

Thanks for your detailed September 12th email. Once again I find your comments important and thought provoking. Let me start by noting some of our main areas of agreement. I agree with you that misogyny is central to Islamic fundamentalism and to the global "rebellious Right" in general, and that the male-dominated left has failed to confront this centrality of women and women's oppression in the world political struggle. I agree that many of us who are trying to develop a 3-way fight analysis need to do a much better job on this question ourselves, that the TWF blog should address this much more than it has done so far, and that "featuring regular political analysis by radical women in the colonial world who are fighting both fascist fundamentalism and imperialism" would be a valuable step forward. I agree, further, that "it's important to disentangle chauvinist attacks on Islam and people of color from legitimate attacks on insurgent fundamentalism," and that Islamic fundamentalists have promoted this confusion effectively to shield themselves from criticism (which much of the left, again, has failed to address).

I do want to clarify one general point. When I suggested that there are significant differences within the Islamic right over gender politics, I didn't mean that some Islamic rightists are "pro-women." But misogyny comes in different forms, and the differences matter, both to women's experiences with Islamic fundamentalism and to a strategic understanding of the movement. The Taliban have systematically worked to destroy all educational opportunities for women and girls, while Iran's Islamic Republic has almost doubled the female literacy rate. Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front has murdered women for appearing in public without the veil, while Lebanon's Hezbollah, as far as I have been able to determine, has not tried to enforce any such restrictions on women within the regions it controls. Such differences, I would argue, are tied in with differences in how the many branches of the Islamic right relate to global capitalism, from full-scale warfare to various degrees of accommodation and collaboration. Furthermore, while some Islamic rightist movements are essentially all male, others have recruited large numbers of women as activists and even (within certain parameters) leaders. We need to try to understand how these women have been recruited, what motivates them, and what effect they have had on the Islamic right, not just dismiss them as sell-outs or victims of internalized oppression. (I've discussed these issues in "Notes on Women and Right-Wing Movements," which was the first essay I wrote for Three Way Fight. See http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/~lyonsm/WomenAndRight.html.)

Beyond that, I reiterate my specific concerns about Majedi's critique of "political Islam," which was our starting point. I think that she largely fails in her stated goal to critique Islam without insulting Muslims, because she selectively targets Islamic misogyny in a way that meshes with the dominant western discourse. I am particularly disturbed by her appeal to the capitalist state to restrict the religious behavior of a persecuted social group, a point which you did not address. These issues go far beyond the question of whether Majedi's writing is diplomatic.

That said, I welcome your invitation to collaborate on some kind of piece about gender and the three-way fight. Let's explore that further. In the meantime, I propose that our full correspondence starting with Majedi's Hezb'allah piece could be published on the Three Way Fight blog.

Best wishes,

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September 22, 2007

Hi, Matthew. Thanks for your comradely email. I appreciate your emphasis on unity, and your patience with my rants.

I've been thinking over your idea about publishing our emails so far. I like it because it's quick, informal, and would allow other people to have easy access to the discussion. So I'm for it. Even though the writing on my end is pretty raggedy. Maybe you could mention that this was originally a private exchange, not intended to be published?

Best wishes,


Oct 13, 2007

When a Lesbian Says: We Are all Hezb' Allah Now!

The following essay by Azar Majedi previously appeared on the websites Iranian.com (http://www.iranian.com/main/2007/whats-gone-wrong) and Secularism is a Women's Issue (http://www.siawi.org/spip.php?article166).

Azar Majedi is a member of the central committee of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran and the founder of the Organization for Women's Liberation - Iran.

(A dialog between Three Way Fight contributors sparked by this essay was posted shortly after this essay.)

by Azar Majedi

When my daughter’s friend told me a couple of weeks a go, that her socialist lesbian friend has a poster on her wall saying: "we are all Hezb' Allah Now!" I said: "my God! (And I am an atheist) something has gone fundamentally wrong."

I asked myself, what are they trying to do, mocking socialists? Or, are they simply brainwashed? What is this world coming to?

This young woman has all the necessary ingredients for fighting against political Islam and Hezb' Allah. First of all she is a woman. Just the fact of being a female, is enough to make you a staunch enemy of a radically misogynist movement, unless you are brainwashed to do the opposite.

To add to the irony, she is a lesbian. Homosexuality is a crime punishable by death according to Islam and in countries under its rule. To be homosexual makes you want to flee from any place that the Islamists have any power. Dozens of homosexuals have been hanged in recent months by the Islamic Republic of Iran. She, a lesbian, born in Iran, or in a region under Hezb' Allah, would have to seek refuge in Britain. But she is lucky enough to be born here and does not have to live in the fear of her life, like poor Pegah who fled Iran to seek refuge in Britain, and who now British government wants to deport back to Iran*. Is this socialist-lesbian supporter of Hezb' Allah aware that her support of political Islam makes Pegah’s case even more difficult? Home Office does seek legitimization for such deports by these quasi left Islamist propaganda. And finally she claims to be a socialist. Wherever one stands in political spectrum, it is a well-known and accepted fact that socialism is about equality, fairness and aspirations for a more egalitarian and fairer society. If one chooses socialism, that should mean, one cares for fellow human beings, aspires equality and freedom, all those values that are despised by the Islamic movement. Many thousands socialists have been imprisoned, tortured and executed by the Islamic Republic alone.

Then, what has gone wrong? Why is she so passionate about the Hezb' Allah?

An ideological falsification is responsible for this turn of events. Pragmatism has helped the course of events, as well. Let’s start with the latter. This most probably good-hearted young woman is rightfully sick and tired of American and British aggression and crimes committed in Iraq and the Middle East. She is sick and tired of the injustices imposed on the Palestinian people. She rightfully condemns American and British states for all these crimes and atrocities and for their full fledged support for the state of Israel and last year’s war on Lebanon. She is just to do so. However, on the other side, since George Bush has defined the enemy as Islamists, she automatically turns into full support for the Islamists.

The American and British aggression and military actions against the people in the Middle East has helped to draw a wrong image of the Islamic movement. Islamic movement and ideology have been falsified as the liberators of the people in the Middle East or the Palestinians. This is false. Islamists are one the most brutal movements in the history of mankind. They are no liberators. They are a force of reaction and darkness. This message must be spread.

Islamists are not the spokesperson for the Palestinians or Iraqi people. They do not represent the pain and grief these people suffer by these wars. They are not people’s representatives; they are as brutal and as ruthless. What we need to make clear is: in the war between US and Islamists, between the two poles of terrorism, we do not need to support either. We must condemn both. We should form a third pole, a third voice to oppose both.

24 August 2007


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* An open letter by Organisation for Women’s Liberation in defence of Pegah Emam Bakhsh, an Iranian Lesbian who is to be deported to Iran is attached. Please do support her.

The Organisation for Women’s Liberation-Iran
- www.azadizan.com
- Address: PO Box 42300
- London N12 0WY
- England
- Chairperson: Azar Majedi
- azarmajedi@yahoo.com
- Tel: +44-7886973423
- Fax: +44-8701358385

Open letter to the Home Office,
- The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner
- 5th Floor, Counting House, 53 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2QN England
- Telephone: 020 7211 1500
- Fax: 020 7211 1553


- Copies to the UK media and Mr Richard Caborn,
- MP for Sheffield Central

Re: Pegah Emam Bakhsh
- 21 August 2007

Pegah is a young Iranian woman who faces deportation from the UK. She applied for asylum in the UK fearing her life in Iran as a lesbian. She was refused asylum by the British authorities. Last week she was detained without warning and sent to Yarlswood for deportation on 16th August. At the very last minute she was granted stay until August 27th so her MP for Sheffield Central, Mr. Richard Caborn, could look at her case. Another report states that a new removal date has been issued for August 23rd at 9.21.

The Iranian Queer Organization - IRQO (www.irqo.net - info@irqo.net tel: 001-416-548-4171) has been active to stop Pegah’s deportation. We sincerely hope that Mr. Caborn together with the active role of IRQO can save Pegah from being deported to Iran where she will be arrested tortured and most likely executed.

In Iran, homosexuality is a crime and punishable by hanging or stoning. The Islamic Republic of Iran has executed many homosexuals openly and in public. It is a well known fact.

We support Pegah’s application for political refugee status in the UK and urge all to oppose the UK government’s decision to deport her and support her case. Pegah SHOULD NOT be deported. She has, according to international human rights convention the right to be granted refugee status by the British government. If deported to Iran she will be persecuted for her sexual orientation and the British government will be in breach of its agreed human rights convention.

What are the real issues here? Increasing the number of deportees to meet the targets? Or deport her and see what happens? When she is tortured in Iran then she will have a strong case for asylum?! With the publicity she has now, the chances of the latter are more probable. Would that help the British authorities? Will it set the record straight? A battered or dead woman’s body proving the British authorities wrong! What a civilised way to settle the matter. One thing is sure if Pegah is returned to Iran the target has been met! We are talking about human life not statistics. Pegah has to be saved.


3rd pole anti-imperialism against war and reaction

The following article ( Imperialism, local reaction and the duty of communists) and subsequent discussion was let known to us by an anonymous poster from redFlags, specifically how the piece and discussion raises concepts of Iranian resistance to both imperialist efforts by the US as well to the reactionary IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran).

The piece by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) looks at this resistance in the context of a possible attack by the US on Iran, a possibility that is on many lips here in belly of the beast as well as internationally.

Not willing to play fortune teller, I wouldnt make claims with assurance that the US will strike at Iran, but given some of the neo-cons positions (neo-con and far-right Zionist, D. Pipes, who previously stated,"The eruption of civil war in Iraq would have many implications for the West. It would likely: Invite Syrian and Iranian participation, hastening the possibility of an American confrontation with those two states, with which tensions are already high") and the Bush faction of the ruling class, well, why not think that such a possibility isn’t on the horizon. Shoot, even Martin Walker said on the Aug 17th edition of the McLaughlin Group, Bush “will bomb before he leaves office”.

I think the importance here lays in two issues, 1) given the pitiful track record of the anti-war “movement”, what response from the radical and revolutionary forces is necessary in the face of current saber rattling and/or possible attack, 2) what is our analysis of the different forces at play, specifically, the forces that get lumped into the generic anti-imperialist category. With regards to the later question, as revolutionary antifascists and libertarian socialists (from social rev anarchist to left communist to beyond), what constitutes an “anti-imperialist” praxis.

The article and following debate, while suffering from the typical cultish communist version of “What would Jesus do?” (but instead substitute Mao or Lenin or Stalin or Avakian for Jesus) raises insights into the situation that may aid us in developing our own critical perspectives on the war and power plays among the capitalist players.

Below are excerpts from the initial CCCPI document,

"With the intensification of the contradictions between the US and the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), the possibility of a military attack on Iran has become the main question in Iran and the world political scene...

Today the political confrontation between the IRI and the US plays a powerful role in shaping the political stance and tendencies of the various strata and classes in Iran...

Obviously, it is not easy to predict how the people would react in the case of a military assault. If and when a war actually breaks out, with everything that would cause, different spontaneous tendencies could emerge. The reality is that the majority of the people, in particular the people in the cities, would not defend the IRI and would remain indifferent in relation to a war between the IRI and the US. But the experience of class struggle shows that such sentiments would not last long. If the advanced and revolutionary forces do not play an active role, the main danger would be that the people will fall victim to the interests of one or another reactionary group. This makes the formation of a revolutionary pole an urgent necessity...

Only an anti-imperialist and anti-reactionary pole could mobilise the people and keep them active. Only by an active policy and putting forward the alternative of the third pole can we create hope and motivation for the masses to participate in deciding their own destiny...

Among Western antiwar forces, we are facing a trend that pays little attention to the class character and the social programme of the reactionary forces resisting the imperialists. They should distinguish between the different forces resisting the imperialists, and take a position in a way that would help the forming of a revolutionary resistance (not a reactionary resistance) against the imperialists."

Oct 7, 2007

Hammerfest Update: Nazi skinhead locations revealed

from wweek.com:

This Saturday afternoon in Portland’s southeast Lents Park, anti-racist activists held a rally in response to the gathering of white-power skinheads (and their hardcore bands) known as Hammerfest 2007. (See this week's WW story.) After the rally, a diverse group of about 50 people, including a number of anti-racist skinheads, spontaneously arranged a caravan to a nearby neighborhood to leaflet. The fliers warned residents that one of their neighbors is neo-Nazi Randall Krager , who lives with his partner and fellow “racialist” Abbie Chelf on Southeast 70th Avenue near Johnson Creek Boulevard. The white power leader is one of the founding members of Volksfront, an Oregon-based white power group that helped sponsor Hammerfest 2007. Krager and three others founded Volksfront in 1994 while Krager was serving a sentence for nearly beating to death an African-American father of four and leaving him paralyzed.

Most of the people who were handed fliers by the motley parade of anti-racist activists were concerned and somewhat horrified to learn that a neo-Nazi leader lives steps away from their own homes. Standing in Harney Park at Southeast 70th Avenue and Harney Street, a crew of soccer moms read the fliers and called their kids in from the field, expressing plans to talk to other moms in the area about Krager’s presence. After about 20 minutes of walking around the area, the action dispersed and leafletters went their separate ways without incident.

At the time of the rally, members of the organizing group The Ad-Hoc Committee Against Racism and Fascism still didn’t know the location of Hammerfest. Then around 6 pm, anti-racist organizers were tipped off that the Aryan moshpit was taking place at the Sherwood Elks Lodge at 22770 SW Elwert Road in Sherwood, Ore . They immediately posted their findings to activist newswire portland.indymedia.org, with hopes that Portland area residents might pressure the Elks Lodge to shut down Hammerfest by calling the venue’s booking agent at (503) 625-5977. A look at the Sherwood Elks Lodge website revealed that the club’s motto is “charity, justice, brotherly love, and fidelity,” which raises the question of whether the lodge members are aware that they are hosting an anniversary party for a crew of neo-Nazis with a violent history of assault convictions . Both Volksfront and the Hammerskins have been historically linked to the 1988 Portland killing of 28 year-old Ethiopian college student Mulugeta Seraw, who was beaten to death by racist skins on Southeast 31st Avenue.

The Ad-Hoc Committee's Indymedia post says they spoke with the Elks Lodge booker, and paraphrased his opinion that the gathering was "just a bunch of guys playing music." Check back on WWire for Elks response and more updates.

Oct 2, 2007

Portlanders Will Rally Against the Neo-Nazi "Hammerskin Nation" Gang

Contact: Ad-Hoc Committee Against Racism and Fascism, fight_them_back@riseup.net
971.285.4688 (voicemail)

Portlanders Will Rally Against the Neo-Nazi "Hammerskin Nation" Gang
Community Gathering Responds to White Supremacist Festival

Portland, Oregon - As white supremacists plan a three-day gathering to be held in the greater Portland area from October 5 - 7, community members and anti-racists throughout the Pacific Northwest will gather in response on what is scheduled to be Day Two of the "Hammerfest" hate festival. An anti-racist community gathering and rally will take place on October 6, starting at 1PM in Lents Park located on SE 92nd & Holgate. The rally intends to expose white supremacist groups in the Northwest, as well as to bring diverse communities together in a stand against fascist organizing and violence aimed at Jewish people and people of color, sexual minorities, and activists.

The October 5 - 7 "Hammerfest" event is being planned by the neo-Nazi "Hammerskin Nation" skinhead organization. The Hammerskins hope to bring hundreds of racist skinheads and "white power" revolutionists to its twentieth-anniversary celebration. The Hammerskins began their organized activity in 1987, when they were known as the Confederate Hammerskins, a violent and racist skinhead gang in Dallas, TX. The Hammerskins have now grown into a "Hammerskin Nation" with national and international affiliates. The Hammerskins combine thug tactics with recruitment through hate rock, to forward their Hitler-admiring agenda. The upcoming "Hammerfest" in Oregon was organized in conjunction with Volksfront, a Portland-led white supremacist group linked to two of the killers of Ethiopian immigrant Mulugeta Seraw in 1988. Similarly to the Hammerskins, Volksfront has chapters throughout North America and also on other continents.

Although still small, fascist groups have been growing in post-9/11 America. Small numbers may still have bigger influence, as Neo-Nazi sway is based on a willingness to use violence and to terrorize targets. Last week, a Virginia-based Neo-Nazi website made headlines after it published the personal information of Black high school students accused in the Louisiana "Jena Six" case, calling for their lynching. Just three days before the Portland "Hammerfest" starts, Hammerskin members in Florida will begin trial for the attempted assault of an anti-racist activist there. Those coming together for the Lents Park rally are determined that similar provocations do not take place here.

The October 6 Lents Park rally follows a series of other anti-racist events throughout Portland, including a well-attended "Rock Against Racism" show that was held on Wednesday. This Saturday, September 29 will feature an anti-fascist educational event and training (3PM, Room 236, Smith Center, Portland State University,) plus a "Musicians United Against Racism" show including hip hop, reggae and punk rock performers (8PM, The Recyclery, 1417 SE 9th & Madison).

Details concerning the Saturday, October 6 anti-racist event are below.

WHAT: Community gathering and rally: "Nazis Not Welcome! Unite Against Racism!"
WHO: Speakers and performers currently include Mic Crenshaw of Hungry Mob, Cristien Storm of "If You Don't, They Will" anti-fascist campaign, and Walidah Imarisha of Good Sista/Bad Sista. More to be announced in the coming days.
WHEN: Saturday, October 6, 1PM onwards.
WHERE: Lents Park, corner of SE 92nd & Holgate.

The October 6 rally in opposition to "Hammerfest" has been called by the Ad-Hoc Committee Against Racism and Fascism. Founded this September, the Ad-Hoc Committee is dedicated to monitoring and opposing white supremacist groupings in Portland and beyond. As large neo-Nazi rallies have often been preceded by bigoted attacks, the Ad-Hoc Committee wishes to work with community groups and people of good conscience who want to respond to fascist mobilization.

To obtain a chronology of recent white supremacist activity in the Pacific Northwest, or for more information on anti-racist endeavors, please contact the Ad-Hoc Committee: 971.285.4688 or fight_them_back@riseup.net