Explanation to the 20th Plenum
on the decision to leave the Communist Party of Iran
As I stated in my letter, I am going to explain in more details the reasons for my decision in the faction's conference and will publish the relevant documents, not only for Communist party of Iran [CPI] but also for the general public. However, I think it is necessary to explain a few points to the plenum regarding this decision.
Personally, I believe the current situation of the world makes everyone reflect. I have talked about this issue since the party's third congress and before that in the 13th plenum and in the 2nd congress. If for one moment, one closes one's eyes to our own past and organisational record in the party, and supposes that he/she is a communist who is looking at the world's situation in 1991, s/he will immediately recognise the historical tasks of today's communist. Tasks which do not have their origin in the history of revolution in Iran, the history of revolution in Kurdistan or in Iranian left polemics. Actually they do not have their origin in any particular country. This is an international issue. The tasks of today's communist are deducted from this international situation.
Personally, when I look at our party and the work I'm doing now, I feel I'm not present in those fronts that a communist today should engage in. I am rather continuing the same history which is in the margin of these important international events. They are becoming ever more meaningless. Personally, I expect myself and every other communist to be present in these fronts and play our role. I do not see CPI in its totality to be engaged in these tasks, and when it does engage itself it is due to people like myself. I believe that CPI is engaged with its own history and its limited socio-political environment.
This is one aspect of the problem. That is to say, even if there was no conflict inside CPI, as a communist, I might have decided to leave and do something different to influence the world. In the world as it is, we cannot achieve much with CPI, with its characteristics and inspirations from 13 years ago and the 1979 revolution.
The second point is that I believe CPI is the product of several real traditions of social struggle. It cannot be denied that this party has emerged from the 1979 revolution and it is the product of polemics entered by Marxists about the revolution. The history of this party is deeply intertwined with this revolution and its consequent trends. It has brought with it the traditions of the struggles of the revolution. I want to say that a significant tendency in CPI, its given tendency, is to continue this tradition which started with the revolution. This is the essential characteristic of the party. Another tendency has its origin in the revolution in Kurdistan and the history of radical struggles in that society. Finally, another tendency is the worker-socialist and Marxist tendency which does not originate from the 1979 revolution and revolution in Kurdistan. It derives from its own general objectives and tries to state Marxist fundamental ideas.
When the results and the products of these histories intercept, CPI experiences strong shakes. I believe that even if these tendencies had not conflicted with each other and the party was going on its way, they should have separated from each other. I say this because similar tendencies in the society are fighting each other, organising coups against each other and repressing each other. The movements for development of backward countries and for establishing parliamentary democracy are suppressing the workers. National movements are depriving workers of the right to vote. These tendencies might have had some common denominators in 1978-79 against despotism or imperialism, which could have offered a fašade of a unified political current, but in the world today where all these tendencies are promoting their independent positions and their conflict of interests are being exposed, these three tendencies in CPI too should separate.
Another reason that makes my separation necessary is that I have disagreements with majority of the old cadres of the party. I don't personally consider them Marxist; I don't feel we share the same vision; I don't share their questions and problems and the response they give to these. I have criticism towards them.
After long and deep reflections and observing cycles that different conflicts within the party have gone through in the past years, I believe the principled act for me is to separate from the other tendencies because I believe separation is necessary and I know my differences with other tendencies. This is not true for those who do not agree with separation and always try to sweep political disagreements under the carpet and channel them into legal disagreements.
Meanwhile I don't believe purging is constructive. If we were to do this, there is a big market for throwing mud at communists "who purge other lines." I cannot fight this propaganda. It's feasible to respond to leaflets with a circulation of 150. But if Keyhan and Ettellaat decide to join this campaign, I will not have the necessary means to reply. Moreover, there are not many who are ready to respond. The facilities for answering are even scarcer. I prefer not to get involved in such a battle. We can overcome the forces of these tendencies inside the party. It's not difficult. Besides, they would go and ask for help from the social class that defends them. They will distort the history of this party over and over again and on different levels. Even our life styles, our personalities, our principles today, and whether we are democrats or not while we are still alive and in our party positions are being distorted. I couldn't respond to events if we were to purge some and they would seek help from the society which sympathises with them and would try to overthrow communism in this miniature corner of the world. I will calmly leave the scene in front of them. The route to confront these tendencies is not organisational, but social. Thus, leaving is a right historical decision.
We have discussed this issue repeatedly in the Centre. At one time we thought we could create political distinctions so that everybody would become aware of political differences and therefore would view the case as some currents are voluntarily separating; so that we can prevent political hostility and resentment. We were unable to create this situation. We did not succeed to convince the other side that it has political differences with us. The declaration of political differences remains one-sided. This again proves to me that it is best to separate than to stay [in the same party] and inadvertently hurt those whose intellectual framework does not allow them to recognise political differences and thus are always forced to explain conflicts by resorting to conspiracy theories. Especially, if CPI is in the margin of the world history, we can definitely get around it. We don't need to pass through a bumpy road, when there is an asphalt one available. Therefore, these factors, too, convince me that leaving the party is a more political and humane thing to do.
Finally, this separation has a personal side too. This situation of the party takes away the feeling of credibility and rightfulness that one needs in life. In the current situation many of us are beginning to lose these feelings. If in your own party, you are not feeling that you are doing something useful and are not related to the world that needs to be changed, you should not be in that party. If I'm asked what I am doing about these kids who are kidnapped in Brazil and taken to Italy to have their kidneys sold, I can't say [I haven't got time for this question because] I'm once again [busy] educating the party's cadres on empiricism. No one will accept this.
I personally think, for a while, the Party's internal atmosphere has prevented one from feeling engaged as a decent, proactive and busy person changing the world and that the hardship one is enduring in life is because of this engagement. I look at what I do from morning to night and notice that I am not busy doing what I should. Anyhow, from the point of view of personal salvation and happiness too, this separation is necessary.
These are my reasons. I will expand my political reasoning in the faction's conference.
However, there are some political questions put to us: What would happen to CPI? Is the outcome beneficial? Shouldn't we stay to avoid the dispersion that would result in the working class and in Kurdistan? Shouldn't we grin and bear it? After all some valuable realities in society have been created by us, what will happen to them?
My answer to these questions is: I totally agree that this party represents some valuable phenomena in the contemporary world and it would have been great if we could reach our objectives working within the Party. I'm not condemning CPI. All I'm saying is that there is a short cut. Therefore, if CPI remains and continues doing what it does today, I will respect it. I have found a shorter and less arduous way, that is, to create another political party which is based on issues originated in the 90s and it couldn't careless how we got here. The scenario is, we are a group of communists who have found each other, who see the world in a certain way and want to change it in a certain direction and we believe we know what tools we need. Therefore we have become organised. I want to cut my umbilical cord from the 1979 revolution and the stories thereof. I want that whoever joins now, regardless of their experiences, political pain and sorrows, their age and where they come from to express their today's problems. I believe this route is shorter and more effective.
If I was leaving alone, I wouldn't have needed to explain my reasons. However, I believe this incident will shake the party and perhaps its existence will come under question. Whatever happens, I want it to happen in an amicable and mature political atmosphere with mutual respect which offers everyone the opportunity to consciously find their way. For this reason I don't resign immediately. I think we should guarantee that the process of transition is political and dignified.
My main concern is the question of the Kurdistan organisation. If we didn't have military camp, radios and etc, if some of our best comrades were not living there, I would not have considered this transition process necessary. We would have left and the rest of the central committee would have continued with their plenum. But some comrades do not have this option open to them as they don't live in a context of a society. They are in a random situation deprived of personal means to deal with their problems. Their existence and continuation of their political work and activity are totally dependent on the agreements they reach with each other. This is the most important issue that we have to deal with following this resignation. My question is what will happen to those who decide to follow me, choose a third option or offer another alternative to CPI? It is our task to define this process. People who are in this room can decide on the mechanism of the separation in Kurdistan. We have to decide what will remain [from the party] and what will happen to those who separate. My position is that everybody regardless of their political position should not be deprived of basic human means of living, the possibility of being transferred, and more importantly of the possibility to participate and express themselves politically in a manner they see fit.
Moreover, there are more factors involved than the party's internal agreement. Other factors must also become clear, such as what will the regional governmental and non-governmental forces do with them. These are the questions that we should try to answer through cooperation and discussion.
This issue apart, other problems are solvable. Those who live in cities and are not engaged in political struggle every day and spend most of their time queuing for bread and meat have time to reflect. Our writings will reach them and they have time to choose. Those who live in Europe will not confront a complex situation. They might have many political problems, but nothing will threaten their lives or their work. They too have time to read and decide. But the situation of comrades in Kurdistan, exactly because of their contractual and unconventional social conditions is an important issue which needs attention.
The public aspect of the question is another point needing consideration. The Iranian society and all those who have followed us must know that this situation is not spontaneous and it has political roots and history. We should not allow superficial and conspiratorial narrations come to fore. My main concern is that in these developments, social backwardness will not find the upper hand, both inside and outside CPI and it will not become an excuse for attacking communism.
I do not split from CPI. I leave the party as an individual. I neither want the name of the party or Komala nor do I think I should take any of material resources of the party. However, this does not mean that the others would do the same. It is possible that some split from CPI and join the next party. I do not encourage them to split. As a matter of fact, I don't encourage them to do anything. I only encourage them to follow their discretion. In my view, this is not a split and I will never say that we were the real CPI. I will express the issues of the 90s. I will try to seldom refer to this history. Of course if this history is distorted, I will intervene to clear the distortions. If others decide to choose other organisational methods, if they decide to do something in the 4th congress, it is their decision and I will respect it but might explain to them the factors involved.
I and other comrades who have decided on this action volunteer to participate in the politburo if we are elected. We propose that the former politburo remains and continues its work and the 21st plenum be the last plenum.
This was the gist of my position. The main question is to know what the central committee members will do and who is staying so we can talk to them about the transition period.
First published in Communist 63, CPI organ September 1991
Collected works, Persian, pp 303-310
The conference of Worker-communist faction in CPI.
The brackets are added by the translator.
These are 2 official papers in Iran.
Centre for Worker-communism which was formed in CPI by Mansoor Hekmat.
English translation: Azar Majedi