The political and social situation in Iraq is an immense human catastrophe, bleak, chaotic with total social disintegration. It is a dark scenario - a term initially labelled and characterised by Mansoor Hekmat. This state of affairs is a consequence of the post-cold war world and the resulting emergence of extremely reactionary religious, ethnic, tribal and nationalist forces in the capitalist free market. In the early 90s, Bosnia was a clear example of this dark scenario; so is today's Iraq. In this situation, the political calamity is a direct result of the USA and its allies' policies and military attack on Iraq. With the military attack, the state was removed from above and whatever civility and societal system was in place before the war, suddenly collapsed. On the one hand, bread, security, electricity, the water supply, housing and the most basic social amenities vanished and on the other hand, the most backward religious, nationalist and tribal forces moved to the forefront of the social stage and became the dominant forces in society. We foresaw this dark scenario well before the USA's attack on Iraq; today given that it has become a reality, a response to the situation is essential. This response, however, cannot remain at an analytical and general level. A general analysis regarding Bosnia and foreseeing the potential of a dark scenario in the event of the disintegration of the Islamic Republic in Iran might have been adequate. Now, in Iraq, our movement, the Worker Communist Party of Iraq, is directly engaged and intervening in political affairs there. We must be extremely clear as to what we must do and in which direction we must go. We must have a clear strategy, tactical plan of action in dealing with complex, new and manifold questions that the dark scenario poses for us. No other communist has had to face such a situation before us and thus there is no previous experience or classical works, such as 'What is to be Done?' For the first time in history, we must deal with the question of 'what is to be done' not vis-à-vis a revolution or a revolutionary situation like in Iran, but vis-à-vis 'a dark scenario'. The analytical aspects and outlines of this task have been clarified by Mansoor Hekmat. Our task is to draw practical conclusions on this basis.
To do so, let me first make two important general observations about the special conditions of contemporary Iraq. Firstly, there exists no state in Iraq in the regular sense of the word. The Baathist state has been wiped out by a military attack and it has not been replaced with any form of political administrative machinery. Society is faced with a state vacuum or void. One consequence of this void is the discontinuation of the normal functioning of society and civic organisation. The political aspect, highly significant for us, communists and the people who want to be liberated from this hopeless situation, is that the direct target of protest and struggle is absent from the scene. There is no a state to hold responsible or to fight and organise against, or to overthrow in a revolution. Secondly, the absence of the state is not a result of a revolution. The USA has removed the Baathist state via military intervention without the direct intervention of revolutionary people and or without its being replaced by any other form of political-administrative institution resulting from a revolution. Consequently, in Iraq there is none of the general characteristics of a revolutionary society, including radical and maximalist demands and expectations, and the expansion of revolutionary culture and a revolutionary system resulting from the power of organised people.
Therefore, the question facing us communists in Iraq is the reverse of what we usually face in more regular state of affairs. There is not a state to be overthrown and there is no revolution to organise and lead. So what is to be done? If it is true that our objective as ever is to take political power, then the question we face is taking power from whom and with what force? What is our strategy for capturing political power? Are we to use diplomacy and approach political power from above? Or we must wait for the situation to develop and await our turn? Or perhaps we should forget political power and rush to support anyone who is attempting to establish something that resembles a state in society? It is clear that none of the above can be our response, a worker-communist response to the current situation. Our strategy in Iraq, as in any other capitalist society, is capturing political power. We must provide a clear course of obtaining political power in the uncharacteristic and special situation of a dark scenario.
Political Situation in Iraq: In Iraq it is not only the right and freedom of the people, which has been violated. The very social life and fabric in a civil society and civilisation in its most fundamental sense have been violated and trampled upon. Faced with this situation, people are feeling helpless. This situation has been created from above, outside their control, and without their intervention. It has destroyed their lives. Like a flood or a massive earthquake, it has brought with it a sense of helplessness, with little prospect of any improvement on the horizon. More than anything else, the people there want normalcy of life, a minimum level of security, work, bread and peace of mind. They are prepared to support any party or force that is able to provide this minimal normality of life. In other word, today in Iraq, it is not only freedom, prosperity and people's rights that have been negated but also the very essence of civil society; this, therefore, has become the most important question of the class struggle. Precisely because of this, the question of political power, i.e. shaping a state that has the ability to bring society into normalcy has been posed to the society and its two main classes. In other words, in the dark scenario like in revolutions, the state has become the central point of politics and class conflict, although for completely different reasons and within very different social and political conditions. In any revolution, fundamental questions such as dictatorship, oppression, poverty, rightlessness, social inequality and so on become the main aspects of struggle between classes and consequently between movements and the political parties of various classes. In this dark scenario, the question of political power and the governmental alternative of various classes become significant in politics. In today's dark scenario in Iraq, the continuity of civil society and the existence of a state as a pre-condition for this, has become the main battleground of the class struggle. The question is still state and political power, not because workers and the revolutionary sections of the society have challenged the bourgeoisie and are fighting for a state that deals with the main questions of a revolution such as freedom, equality, prosperity and so on, but rather because it sees its social survival dependant on the filling of the power vacuum and bringing an end to the chaos and disarray.
This social chaos demonstrates that the bourgeoisie's system has reached an impasse. The current situation in Iraq is the direct result of the bourgeoisie's New World Order led by the USA government. The international bourgeoisie is incapable of establishing civil order in Iraq. Not just because of the current anarchy and the complete disintegration that we see, but also because the long term plan of the USA for Iraq is the establishment of a tribal, religious and nationalist government that has nothing to do with civil society. The Iraqi bourgeoisie also has no other political alternative other than the tribal, religious and ethnic one and the international bourgeoisie has no one else to rely on but these medieval forces. The international and indigenous bourgeoisie could only rule Iraq by negating civilisation and handing over the government to these dark religious, tribal and ethnic forces. This, at best, is the continuation and establishment of the dark scenario as a form of political and social system, a system in which ethnic and religious wars are an inherent part of its foundation. In opposition to this situation, only the working class can and must be the messenger of civilisation and a humane society. The bourgeoisie has too retrogressed, so defending and fighting for life and civil society has become the task of the working class. How do we respond to this task? What is to be done? I will try to clarify certain points based on the above analysis.
1- We, the people, and the dark scenario's reactionary camp: Our aim in Iraq, like any other country, is political power. The Bourgeoisie is not able to form a secular, non-religious and non-tribal government in Iraq. This is our task, the communists and the working class. Our strategy to get political power must be based on the above analysis of the special conditions in Iraq, which I mentioned earlier. This strategy is not about organising or leading a revolution that is imminent or in progress but it is nonetheless based on relying on the people and organising them in the party's ranks and other mass organisations. We communists cannot rely on other sources of power apart from that of the people - be it in a revolution, a dark scenario situation or in a non-revolutionary society. Bourgeois parties and movements of other classes and - in the current situation in Iraq - the reactionary religious-ethnocentric movement and leaders and heads of religious, ethnic and tribal groups who are dominant rely on and obtain their political and financial support from the international bourgeoisie, superstition, religious intolerance, racism and nationalism dominant in society. The military and financial power and capacity of the international bourgeoisie and the illusions and old superstitions dominant in class society are the source of their power. However, for the working class which wants to uproot this situation, the only solution is to rely on the demands and wishes and humane desires of the masses.
2- The USA is the axis of the dark scenario's forces: The USA is the initiator of the current situation and its continuation in Iraq. Not only did it hurl Iraqi society to the depths of barbarity by its military attack but its military presence has also provided the political grounds and justification for all the reactionary forces, from Islamic terrorists and Arab nationalists, to Hezbollah and Baathist remnants. This fact illustrates that US forces from Paul Bremer to its soldiers stand vis-à-vis the people as the axis of the dark scenario on the one hand, whilst they are under attack by Islamic, tribal and remnants of the Baathist regime as foreigners, 'Kafirs' and occupiers. From the people's point of view, the USA forces, their local allies such as the Kurdish nationalists as well as their reactionary opponents such as political Islamists and Baathist nationalists all belong to the same camp and must be pushed aside.
The social basis of a criticism of the USA from the viewpoint of the people is the social disorder and mayhem that it has brought about in Iraq. A radical criticism of the USA is critiquing its role and main responsibility for the disintegration of the social fabric of civil society and bringing about a dark scenario in Iraq. The question of power can only be resolved by expelling the US forces from Iraq in the interests of the people and this is only possible by the power of the people in defence of civilisation, life and a humane society. In contrast, the nationalists and Islamists' confrontation with the USA drives society deeper into barbarity and darkness. From our point of view, the people's and the communists' fight against the USA on the one hand and political Islam and Arab nationalism on the other, is not a fight on two fronts; it is rather one unified fight in opposition to the dark scenario and in defence of civilisation and humanity. The question of state and government is the issue that joins the fight against the USA and the other reactionary forces.
3- Party as the organiser of the society: The immediate needs of the people of Iraq are the organisation and administration of their civic life, bread, housing, work and security, i.e. a normal civil society. It is our duty to show that it is only we who can establish such a civil life. In a society where there is no state, one cannot be in opposition. We are not the opposition of a government in power. In opposition to us there is the parties and movements of the dark scenario from the USA's forces to the religious, tribal, ethnic and nationalist-racist indigenous forces. All of these forces are party to the creation and continuation of the dark scenario. We with the banner of civilisation and a humane life face them all. We must be the establishers and defenders of human life against these forces. We must organise civil life by relying on people's own power. This is the basis and foundation of the power of our party. The people whose life, social existence, income, work, security and their minimum peace and tranquillity have been shattered and are at risk will come to and organise around a force which has a practical response to their problems. We must fill in the power vacuum at any level, be it in a locality, city or a region and present ourselves as the de facto government. We must defend the people's lives against the barbarity of the Islamist, nationalist and tribal forces and eradicate their intervention in people's lives at any level possible. Here the role of the people is crucial. We must be able to organise them in the Party and various mass organisations to control and manage their neighbourhoods so as to defend themselves against the camp of the dark scenario. This is the only means of overcoming the sense of helplessness in the society. Only with participation in resolving the issues, will the masses of people overcome the sense of helplessness and despair and move and organise to realise their own demands. The role of the Party here is decisive. The power of the Party will give hope and confidence to the people. At the same time the Party's power is the power of the people who have experienced and seen the role of the Party in their daily life in opposition to the barbarity of the forces of the dark scenario. The Party is the leader and organiser of this movement. It is only by playing such a role, that the party can act as the government and organiser of the people's administration in the locality and regional basis.
4- Organised people will guarantee the Party's social power: The absence of the state in the situation of a dark scenario not only makes the Party's role critical but also makes it possible. The absence of a state has created a political opening for the possibility of the social emergence of the Party in the society which was unimaginable in oppressive and usual conditions of such societies. The Union of the Unemployed in Iraq and the Organisation of Women Freedom in Iraq which our comrades have organised there are only small examples of the vast resources which have become available to us. The question provides us with the solution as well. We must use this de facto freedom of action and organise our forces on a social scale. This freedom will not last for long. Expansion of the Party and formation of workers' organisations and mass popular organisation in localities and cities as well as at the centres of production will act as the connection of the Party with society and guarantee the maintenance of power and continuation and survival of the Party as an overt and considerable force in the politics of Iraq even after the end of the period of political opening.
5- The question of state and political power: The question of political power of course goes beyond the administration of local issues. The power vacuum in Iraq today means that the question of the state as the organ of political power of the ruling class has opened. The bourgeoisie in Iraq is striving to respond to this issue by relying on the USA, Western governments and its own religious, ethnic and tribal representatives. The Worker Communist Party of Iraq must also have a clear and practical response to this question. Criticism of governmental plans of other forces is necessary but not in any way sufficient. We must be recognised as a Party, which has a claim for political power and with a clear plan and alternative to form a government in society. Our presence at the local level too must contribute to this issue. The political aspects of our activities in opposition to other forces and alternatives, any criticism of reactionary religious, ethnic and nationalist groups and the New World Order and the policies and actions of the USA and western governments must eventually popularise and aid the expansion of our alternative government. We demand and support the establishment of a secular, non-religious, and non-ethnic state in Iraq as well as demand that the people have a direct role in the future government. We want their right to decide this government and its decisions to be recognised. As a precondition for this government's gaining power, we want the recognition of political freedoms, such as the freedom of expression and press and the right to organise and strike and so on. These are not are demands of forces or governments. These are the aims that the Party must loudly proclaim and exert pressure on other forces to accept them. These are aims that the Party will implement and enforce anywhere it has the power to.
This set of policies, aims and plan of action would paint an image of our scenario to take political power in Iraq. The indicator of our progress is not only based on how far we can successfully implement these, but primarily, how far these policies and plans will turn the Worker Communist Party of Iraq into a powerful and permanent feature in Iraqi politics and the politics of the Middle East. Our aim is to establish socialism in Iraq and our appropriate response to the dark scenario will steer us towards a socialist Iraq.
First published in Farsi
on 30 January, 2004 in International Weekly number 196 (www.haftegi.com).
Translated into English by Fariborz Pooya and first published in
English in WPI Briefing 131 (www.wpibriefing.com), dated 9 February