Today marks 40 years since the hated regime of the Shah was overthrown by a workers' revolution in Iran in 1979. This article was written by Ted Grant in that same year. We are republishing it because we believe it is essential reading for any active worker or youth who wishes to understand both how the Shah was toppled by the masses and how, unfortunately, the revolution was hijacked by the fundamentalist mullahs.

Conditions had been maturing for revolution in Iran before the 2009 elections. All the mass movement required was a channel through which to express itself. As there is no mass independent organisation of the workers, the movement found a crack within the regime and opened it wide. This was the movement against electoral fraud. But Mousavi does not represent the movement. On the contrary, he tries to hold it back. What is required is a genuine organisation of the working class and youth. The first step towards that is to gather together the most advanced layers among the workers and youth and weld them into a Marxist current within the movement.

In the past 15 years or so we have seen growing economic problems facing the regime in Iran, combined with the beginnings of a revival of the workers’ movement, an eruption of youth protests and a corresponding decline in support for the Islamic regime. The lack of leadership is what has allowed the regime to stumble on from crisis to crisis, in spite of the immensely favourable conditions for its overthrow.

The ups and downs of the Iranian economy, in line with world trends, combined with the peculiar economic development based on large-scale state control, together with widespread corruption, have produced immense urbanisation and a strengthened working class, but also growing conflicts within the regime itself with different factions defending different interests. This has now all come to the surface. [part one]

After the fall of the Shah in 1979 all the conditions for socialist revolution had matured. The tragedy was the role played by the various left parties and groups, who to one degree or another fostered illusions in Khomeini as a kind of “progressive bourgeois”. This is what allowed the genuine workers’ revolution to be derailed and replaced by a reactionary Islamic regime at the service of Iranian capitalism. [part one]

We begin today the publication of a five-part document written by Iranian Marxists on the historical roots of the Iranian revolution. In this part they concentrate on how the Iranian economy developed, leading to an enormous strengthening of the working class and how this led to revolution in 1979. This has already been published in Farsi.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Iranian revolution. The media has been highlighting it as an "Islamic revolution", when in actual fact what we witnessed thirty years ago was a genuine workers' revolution that was hijacked by the reactionary Ayatollahs because of the lack of a genuine revolutionary leadership. Thirty years later we must learn the lessons of those tumultuous events and prepare for the next revolutionary upsurge.

The mass demonstrations and riots in Iran are the first shots of the Iranian revolution. This article points out the importance of these events, underlines the decissive role of the workers and explains the need to link democratic demands with a socialist programme.

The Iranian elections on February 18th 2000 returned a massive majority for the so-called "reformers" around the president Mohammed Khatami in the new Majlis (Parliament). This article looks at the results of the elections and reports the growing movement of the workers.

Once again the students have taken to the streets of Teheran and other cities. But the scope of the present movement is far greater than the movement last summer which we described at the time as "the opening shots of the Iranian revolution". This time thousands of ordinary Iranians, especially poor people, joined the students in clashes with the police and Islamic vigilantes.

Twenty five years after the 1978 revolution that overthrew the Shah, Iran is once more witnessing a reawakening of the mass movement. The regime no longer has the same grip on society as it did in the past. The lessons drawn, both from the 1978 revolution and its later defeat and hijacking by the reactionary Mullahs, must be remembered and made available to the new generation of workers and youth who are looking for a way out in Iran today. This article written in 1983 by Iranian Marxists who had actively participated in the revolution gives an excellent analysis of the whole process.

The second part of this article deals with the rise of the revolutionary movement in Iran in 1978 and how the counterrevolutionary forces around Khomeini were able to take a complete hold on power. This was due mainly to the failure of the left-wing parties to provide a revolutionary strategy. In 1978-79, the left as an independent tendency within the mass movement did not exist. It simply merged with the Khomeini dominated movement, tail ending the reactionary leadership.

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