Statement of the International Committee of the Fourth International
How the WRP Betrayed Trotskyism

A Mission for S. Michael

In order to justify a completely opportunist political shift toward full support for an Iranian victory, Healy had to attack the analysis made by the ICFI and replace it with a bogus assessment of the class nature of the Khomeini regime. This plan was secretly worked out, without any discussion within the International Committee, between Healy and his personal agent in Athens, Savas Michael, the hand-picked general secretary of the former Workers Internationalist League (renamed Greek Workers Revolutionary Party in November 1985 after this organization split from the ICFI).

S. Michael agreed to go to Iran and produce for Healy’s use an anti-Marxist travelogue which, based on his subjective impressions and revisionist sociology, would prove that the Islamic Republic was being transformed into a socialist republic of the “masses.” Just as Healy had been unconcerned about the persecution of members of the Iraqi CP, S. Michael was not troubled by the fact that his trip to Iran coincided with the ferocious repression of every left-wing tendency in the country. In fact, the high-point of his trip was an appearance on Iranian television, which amounted to a public act of solidarity with the regime’s suppression. Not since the Sri Lankan LSSP renegade Colvin R. Da Silva appeared on Soviet television in 1958 to sanction the repressions carried out by the bureaucracy in Hungary had such a shameful act of class treachery been carried out by a man claiming to be a Trotskyist. This action undermined the credibility of the Fourth International in the eyes of countless Iranian workers.

The articles produced by Michael, published in the News Line in February and March of 1983, were a travesty of political journalism, rivalling only Mitchell for the crassness of its impressionism and theoretical ignorance.

He dismissed all allegations of state repression by referring to his tourist observations: “For a person coming from the West, especially from a country like Greece that has gone through decades under the police state of the right wing and through dictatorship, one fact is striking: nowhere can one see a policeman.

“Nor is an armored car anywhere to be seen as was usual in Pahlavi’s time or as still is usual in the various police-military regimes across the five continents.” (February 24, 1983)

This, presumably, meant that the liquidation of the capitalist state was already achieved. This deep political insight was further confirmed by yet another striking observation: “Revolutionary Iran is a country undoubtedly ruled by the youth. With a military jacket on top of their humble civilian clothes, a submachine gun hanging from the shoulder, with burning revolutionary devotion, these young children of the people, the vanguard of the people, direct, safeguard, mobilize, and sacrifice themselves.”

To demonstrate the non-bourgeois nature of the state, which he characterized as “the rule of the deprived,” Michael argued that the Iranian regime was the most popular in the world, enjoying virtually unanimous support. He based this on a wildly subjective conception of state power:

“If we consider the degree of popular support as a basic criterion for estimating the degree of political stability of a regime then, undoubtedly, the Islamic regime of Tehran must be considered as extremely stable. Between the masses and their leadership, especially Imam Khomeini, there are mighty bonds forged in the furnace of the revolution.”

To deduce the political stability of a given regime from an abstraction called popular support—rather than a scientific analysis of the interrelationships between class forces—is nothing but idealist torn-foolery. However, there was an element of truth in Michael’s claim—but on an entirely different level. Comprehended in the political terms of Marxism, the popular support for the Khomeini regime reflects the illusions of the masses, which is hardly a firm political foundation.

The depth of his charlatanry was summed up in the following renunciation of Marxism: “In the forging of these very deep bonds, an immense role was and is played by the influence of Islam upon the masses.” Thus in Iran, presumably, there was no longer any need for the struggle of Marxists against religious obscurantism.

In analyzing the nature of the Iranian developments, S. Michael proved, by quoting a conversation with an Iranian student, that the theory of Permanent Revolution is derived from the Koran: “The incessant revolution is a fundamental Islamic principle.” Healy’s agent then chronicled the evolution of the five revolutions that had occurred between 1979 and 1982: first, the overthrow of Bakhtiar; second, the takeover of the US Embassy; third, the defeat of Bani-Sadr; fourth, the cultural revolution; and, finally, the fifth revolution which “as Imam Khomeini said, aims at establishing social justice. It is the social revolution.

“Whoever fails to see the social dimension of the Islamic Revolution in Iran will never understand its depth.”(News Line, February 28, 1983)

In describing the social revolution, Michael remained tactfully vague on the state of property relations and profits: “The private sector still includes small and medium scale enterprises, the bazaar, various services as well as agriculture, after the agrarian reform.” Translating these details into the language of Marxism, it is obvious that private property is thriving, commodity production predominates in the coun^ tryside, and internal trade flourishes under the auspices of bazaar merchants.

This can only mean that the class struggle is raging beneath the surface of Iranian society—a fact which Michael then attempted to gloss over with the following remark: “The social contradictions, of course, have not been eliminated. But the revolution is orientated towards grappling with them in a radical way through the mobilization of the masses.”

Finally, in the third article, entitled “War and Revolution,” Michael got down to business and carried out his main mission—justifying the invasion of Iraq and the expansionist war aims of the Iranian bourgeoisie. Noting that battles were now being waged on Iraqi soil, Michael reported that he “discussed with various Iranians the advisability of continuing the war.”

He quoted at length the self-serving rationalizations of the supporters of the regime—one of whom states that the conclusion of the war may be followed by social unrest that Iraq would attempt to exploit—and then declared his own emphatic support for the continuation of the Iranian invasion.

In a complete departure from Marxism, Savas Michael made the progress of the world revolution dependent on the military successes of the Iranian bourgeoisie:

“A military crushing of the Baghdad regime would destabilize everything in the regime [region?]. The Hashemite monarchy in Jordan would in all probability be the first victim, according to Iranian estimations. The other reactionary regimes will follow suit. The Palestinian question, undoubtedly, will be placed on a new basis.”

This last opinion, it should be noted, was definitely not shared by the PLO, which has repeatedly declared that the continuation of the war has been an unmitigated disaster for the Palestinian masses.

Since this analysis was published, close to a half-million Iranians and Iraqis have been slaughtered, the economic development of both countries has been set back by decades, and immense obstacles have been placed in the path of creating fraternal ties between their suffering proletariat. Only the socialist revolution will lead the masses out of the bloody quandary into which they have been led by the Iranian and Iraqi bourgeoisie.

The results of Michael’s cheap journalistic adventure provided Healy with the necessary cover for his complete repudiation of the ICFI statement of February 12, 1979. By the autumn of 1983 the WRP was ready to announce a complete shift in its political line. Using the decision of the French government to supply the Iraqis with Exocet missiles as a flimsy pretext, the News Line of October 10, 1983 issued a call for the military victory of Iran and denounced the Iraqi regime in the following terms: “The Iraqi regime has been militarily defeated and comprehensively exposed as a tool of imperialism. It must be overthrown by the Iraqi masses without delay. Its continued existence is giving imperialism a military base and a pretext for their war plans.”

With this statement, the Healy leadership of the WRP had truly completed its passage into the camp of the counterrevolution. It had reached the point at which it was prepared to violate the most basic principle of Marxism and subordinate the proletariat to the predatory war aims of a bourgeois state.