A Revolution Is Impossible Without a Revolutionary War to Overthrow the Ruling Government

به اشتراک گذاشتن
زمان مطالعه: ۱۱ دقیقه

Revcom.us editors’ note: We are publishing two timely articles from the Communist Party of Iran, Marxist-Leninist-Maoist [CPI(MLM)] that are posted on their website. The first is the lead article from their journal Atash/Fire #142, September 2023: “A Revolution Is Impossible Without a Revolutionary War to Overthrow the Ruling Government.”This article was translated from Farsi by revcom.us volunteers. The second piece is a statement, “On the Anniversary of Jina Uprising in Iran: Revolution, Nothing Less for Iran and Everywhere.”The latter is also available, along with the Farsi original, in German, French and English, translated by the CPI(MLM), with all four languages in PDF format to be readily printed and distributed. We encourage our readers to enlist volunteers wherever possible, including Farsi speakers, to print and take out their statement on the Jina uprising to events near you that are commemorating the anniversary. If not possible to do on the ground, then do so online as much as possible to help impact the raging debate over the future of Iran and the world.

It has been one year since the stunning Jina uprising, but we have not forgotten how this uprising, with great strength and vigor, shook the political and ideological pillars of the Islamic Republic. Great changes have taken place in people’s perspective and opinions, as once again it was demonstrated that women are a key force for communist revolution in Iran.

We do not forget that [Supreme Leader] Khamenei and his gang assessed rebellion of women as “the greatest threat” to their putrid regime. The theocratic pillars of the fascist regime were in mourning over the humiliating blows the regime has suffered, and wept about women’s “sinful” unveiling. They swore to kill and be killed, saying that would help them reach Medina, the Prophet’s Holy City. These are fascist thugs schooled in religious fanaticism and superstition.

We do not forget that during the Jina uprising, reformers within the regime shamelessly acted in accord with Khamenei’s directives about “red lines”—while portraying themselves as “opposed to the regime’s excessive brutality against women in society.” We should never provide an opening for the deceptions of the reformers who always concealed the daggers they used to stab people in the back.

We should never forget that Commander Salami, chief of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) said, “We are ruthless against the enemy.” We have seen and felt that ruthlessness! During the Jina uprising, there were on-going, one-sided massacres in [oppressed areas of] Kurdistan and Baluchistan and in the streets all across the country. Khamenei said that the Islamic Republic can “crumple its opponents!” For 45 years, they have tried to “crumple [us] like paper,” but they still have recurring nightmares about a day when they can no longer “crumple” [their opponents]. So how can we turn the Islamic Republic’s nightmare into reality?

The backbone of the Islamic Republic, like that of any other reactionary government, is its monopoly on organized violence; and this backbone (including the IRGC, the army, the law enforcement and the Basiji [paramilitary forces]) is very strong. This is a fact. If this military force is not crushed, the system that the Islamic Republic rules over—and its entire apparatus of oppression and exploitation—cannot be overthrown. This is another reality. Various political trends and classes take different approaches to these two realities. Let’s look at some examples.

The Reza Pahlavi [pro-U.S. monarchist] group thinks it is “impossible” to crush the Islamic Republic’s military forces and its “solution” is to try to recruit from within the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Reza Pahlavi’s “impossible” decree is closely tied to the view that it is unnecessary to defeat the Islamic Republic’s military forces. In fact, the Reza Pahlavi group has a class interest in preserving the IRGC, because it would be impossible for them to run a society shot full of deep class and social divisions without a reactionary military force such as the IRGC. It considers any attempt to crush the military backbone of the Islamic Republic to be “dangerous,” because its goal is to preserve the framework of the class system of capitalist oppression and exploitation.

Another example is the MEK [pro-U.S. fascists Mojahedin-e-Khalq]. They, too, consider it “impossible” to defeat the Islamic Republic’s military forces without the help of U.S. imperialism and Israel. Their hope is that that these governments will implement “regime change” by relying on the MEK’s specialized armed militia units (which have been stationed and trained at bases in various corners around the world), as well as [the MEK’s] “resistance cells” inside Iran.۱ This [strategy] will also amount to preserving the frameworks of the class system of capitalist oppression and exploitation.

There are some of the opposition political forces who wish to totally overthrow the Islamic Republic, but consider it a “fairy tale” and “impossible” for the communist revolution and the revolutionary war to overthrow the Islamic Republic with the aim of establishing a socialist government. On the one hand, they do see a series of facts [about the struggle], but they draw wrong conclusions from them. In scientific language, this is called “using an invalid hypothesis to weigh the evidence.” The reality that they see is that [the people] have had failure after failure, and from that they conclude that therefore it cannot be done! But Mao looked at this reality and concluded, “Fight, fail, fight again, fail again, fight again … till their victory. [That is the logic of the people….]” [Mao Zedong, “Cast Away Illusions, Prepare for Struggle,” Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 428.]

Throughout history we have seen small revolutionary forces succeed in defeating large and powerful armies. We saw this in the Vietnam War. Before that, we saw the triumph of the socialist revolution in Russia (1917-1956) and the socialist revolution in China (1949-1976). Every serious achievement in history that has been materially grounded in reality has progressed through ups and downs, failure and [success] to its conclusion. The regime is strong and the enemy has sharp teeth—but that fact cannot lead us to conclude that we should go back to the [path of] “peaceful revolution” that accomplishes nothing, and is even worse than nothing!

Most leftist and progressive trends are waiting for some “invisible hand” that to bring about the “downfall” of the regime’s forces of suppression, or they have the strange expectation off of a spontaneous uprising by the people. During the Jina uprising, we constantly heard the slogan, “The Street Will Win”! But, based on a scientific understanding of the situation, it was clear from the beginning that “The Street Cannot Win,” because it faces a government (namely an organized force) that is armed to the teeth. Spontaneous uprisings (or “the street” and “networks”), no matter how widespread and ongoing, can never overcome their inherent limitations and become an organized army with a military strategy and doctrine capable of advancing a war to crush the Islamic Republic’s military forces. The Islamic Republic’s military forces are organized. They have military strategy and doctrine, and they have a headquarters that constantly analyzes and evaluates the field of battle and employs political and operational tactics to advance their strategy that calls for the annihilation of revolutionaries and beat back any form of opposition. Spontaneous uprisings, “the street” and “networks” are incapable of dealing with such a force.

The whole process of a revolution’s development and triumph is very difficult. Among fighters—[even] those who are eager to see the people win, certain trends appear that can eventually result in either surrender or in satisfying themselves with the illusion that the victory of the revolution is “inevitable.” Instead of despairing, we must scientifically synthesize the experience gained at a high price. We must scientifically understand the necessity of revolution, and by scientifically evaluating the obstacles on that road, we can draw up a roadmap to destroy the Islamic Republic regime and go forward on that basis. Our party represents the theoretical and practical experience of more than 150 years of the communist movement. Bob Avakian writes: “It is also true that the ruling powers of this system, with the machinery of death and destruction they wield to enforce this system, are indeed very powerful. But a big part of people’s difficulty in imagining that we could actually defeat them is the inability to conceive of a situation that is radically different than the ‘normal’ functioning of this system, a situation where, for large parts of society, the ‘hold’ of the ruling class over people—its ability to control, manipulate, and intimidate them—is broken, or greatly weakened. Fundamentally, people cannot imagine this because they are not approaching things with a scientific outlook and method. (Avakian, Why Do We Need a Real Revolution? And How Can We Really Make a Revolution? Summer 2018)

Scientific knowledge tells us that not only is communist revolution a vital necessity for our society and the world, but that it is possible, and that revolutionary war is needed for it to succeed.

Today,۲ without bringing up the question of this necessity and challenging every political force’s stance toward it, it will be impossible to draw clear lines of demarcation between revolution and counterrevolution, between revolution and reform, and consequently between revolutionaries and reformists and to positively repolarize the political scene. In fact, from the beginning of the discovery and development of the science of communism for proletarian revolution in the capitalist era, this has been a sharp line of demarcation between Marxism and revisionism in the international communist movement.

In the document “Strategy of the Road to Revolution in Iran,” based on the scientific study of Iranian society under the rule of the Islamic Republic and the experience of socialist revolution in Russia and especially in China, as well as the experience of the 1981 armed uprising of Sarbedaran [in Amol] under the leadership of the Union of Communists of Iran to overthrow the Islamic Republic, and also the experience of the war of revolutionary Peshmergas in Kurdistan, our Party has outlined the overall strategy that can “crumple like paper” the Islamic Republic regime. The experiences of the uprisings of December 2017 and October 2019, and various struggles in Kurdistan, Khuzestan and Baluchistan, and specifically the experience of the Jina uprising, once again have demonstrated the correctness of this overall framework and the real potential for encircling and destroying the Islamic Republic’s instruments of coercion throughout the country.

If we did not need a real revolution, the violent overthrow of this government would not be needed. If such a revolution was not possible, the attempt to overthrow this government would be futile. Bob Avakian writes: “A revolution means a force of millions, drawn from many different parts of society and organized for an all-out fight to overthrow this system and replace it with a radically different and much better economic and political system, a socialist system, based on meeting the needs of the people and carrying forward the fight for a communist world where there will finally be an end, everywhere, to the exploitation, oppression, and destruction of the environment that is built into this system of capitalism-imperialism. Anything less than this revolution will completely fail to deal with the root of all the problems or lead to the actual solution.” [from A Declaration, a Call to Get Organized Now FOR A REAL REVOLUTION, cited by Bob Avakian in Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating: Profound Crisis, Deepening Divisions, The Looming Possibility Of Civil War—And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed. A Necessary Foundation, A Basic Roadmap For This Revolution,December 2021. Emphasis added by Avakian.]

How Do We Forge the Path?

Only a revolutionary army can defeat reactionary armies and bring revolution to fruition. And essentially, a revolutionary army is created by transforming the revolutionary political movement into a military organization. At a certain stage, what had previously been a political struggle changes and goes forward by other means. In Lenin’s words “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” The revolutionary fighters and mass organizations engaged in political struggle under the leadership of the Communist Party will, at a certain point, transition to waging a revolutionary war based on its headquarters’ assessment of the situation.

 The system itself, by its own functioning, generates so many anti-system individuals and trends that it helps the revolutionary force to not disintegrate and to grow from small to enormous. One of three factors related to the formation of the “revolutionary situation” is related to this: the contradictions within the ruling class become so antagonistic that it is unable to function in the old way, and they are no longer able to rule over the people in the old way.

By interacting with these conditions, a small revolutionary force can quickly and steadily transition through various stages and become a coherent military force that can grow quantitatively and qualitatively through combat with enemy forces.

Therefore, a movement for revolution [in Iran] must be built today by carrying out three things concurrently: 1) accelerating the political struggle against the [Islamic] state and influencing the political scene, 2) changing people’s thinking, especially about the necessity and possibility of revolution, and 3) expanding and consolidating the Party’s forces.

An important part of forging the path and accelerating the situation so that we can start a revolutionary war with a high chance of victory is to popularize and promote strategic thinking about Revolutionary War. Thinking strategically about this should be consciously taken up by a large number of young people: those who formed the nucleus of resistance in the Jina uprising in the marginal and non-marginal neighborhoods of big cities and small towns. Students who want to actively side with the rebellion of the oppressed and exploited in society against this despicable regime and the ruthless imperialist capitalist system have an important role in forging this path, and must commit themselves to it. They must get out of the regime-provided “safe space” that separates them from the people, stop their preoccupation with nonrevolutionary and sterile theories, and instead become an active part of developing the theory needed to successfully implement this strategy. They must be trained as “strategic commanders” of the revolution, along with young people who have neither “safe spaces” nor a future in this society.

Success in these preparations is the key to starting a revolutionary war. Because revolutionary war will necessarily advance on separate fronts and in different areas, and can only become what is in effect a nationwide war, if it is led by “strategic commanders.” Strategic commanders are those who are aware of the content of the revolution, are committed to carrying it out, and are guided by a unified central plan and a unified method of strategic thinking, under the leadership of a single headquarters. One of the most important characteristics of these “strategic commanders” is that they look at all problems with critical insight and creativity rooted in scientific thinking, constantly sum up the theory and strategic orientation for solving problems and translate that into policy, deployment of forces, and raising the level of performance. Revolution, especially communist revolution, is the act of people who are conscious of their political and social goal; they know the roadmap and implement it step-by-step, in an organized fashion, under a unified strategic leadership.

Revolutionary war has various characteristics, but the most important of these is the people and their consciousness. People who have risen from the lowest and most oppressed strata of society must become the backbone of this war, and carry out the war alongside other strata that have not been oppressed and exploited to the same degree. But all of them must be aware of and committed to the goal of creating a society free from all forms of oppression and exploitation that will ultimately benefit all humanity. As comrade Avakian says, “In order to seize on the rare opportunity to make revolution, the situation we face must be recognized for what it actually is: People need to raise their heads and broaden their sights, look beyond what is immediately around them, break with illusions and phony ‘solutions,’ and take up the scientific method of the new communism to get a basic understanding, and keep on deepening the understanding, of what is actually going on, what are the very heavy stakes in all this, and what are not only the very negative but also the very positive possibilities for radical change that exist within all this.” [Avakian, “This is a Rare Time When Revolution Becomes Possible—Why That Is So, and How to Seize on this Rare Opportunity.”]

Appendix: A Guide to Theoretical Work on the Issue of Revolutionary War in Iran

To get involved in discussions about the strategy of revolutionary war in Iran and to serve to make it as detailed and scientific as possible, refer to the following documents:

The Strategic Road to Revolution in Iran, Mao Zedong’s Six Essays on Military Affairs, and the documents: “Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution” (Bob Avakian, Summer 2018), “Building a Movement for Revolution,” and Part 2 of the bookBirds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, but Man Can Soar Beyond the Horizon published in Haghighat No. 74, January 2016.

In “Building a Movement for Revolution,” Bob Avakian writes about the military strategy of revolution in the so-called Third World countries. [Excerpts below are from the section on Countries in the Third World in Part 2.]

Today, in all the countries of the Third World,

there is the question of the countryside (literally, or perhaps figuratively) as the “center of gravity” of the all-out struggle for power—at the beginning, and for a certain period, at least. Now what I mean by literally or perhaps figuratively is that in Mao’s development of the theory of protracted people’s war and surrounding the cities from the countryside, that was meant literally and was applied literally—and correctly so: the protracted people’s war actually being based among the vast masses of the peasants in the countryside, beginning in the more remote areas where the reach of the reactionary state power was less intense and less constant, opening up the possibility of establishing areas of support and eventually base areas controlled by the revolutionary forces. But there can also be creative application of this concept of surrounding the city from the countryside.

Now, we do have to be careful of creative applications—in many cases things done in the name of “creative development” or “creative application” have led to all kinds of problems—such “creative development and application” of communist theory has been the hallmark of revisionism, or the rationalization in any case for revisionism. Revisionist creativity and related kinds of approaches are no good….

In that light, this is something that needs to be explored: the “figurative countryside,” in the sense of areas where masses are concentrated which may not literally be the countryside, at least in the more “classical” sense, but are places where the most concentrated power of the reactionary ruling class is not centered, or not as effectively enforced. Could those areas be a basis for a beginning, and for the strategic unfolding of things with that as a basis for a beginning?

There is also, in many cases, the question of whether the countryside, in the literal sense, would be the initial “starting ground,” even if eventually the “center of gravity” would shift more to the urban areas, or even if fairly early on there would be much more significant emphasis on the urban areas than is involved classically, in the writings of Mao on the strategy of protracted people’s war, for example? And there is the question of whether, particularly with intervention by powerful outside forces—reactionary powers and/or imperialists—there would, at least in some cases, be a need for pulling back into the countryside, as the main or even almost exclusive center of the struggle for a certain period of time?

All this, once again, needs to be examined in a manner free of the fetters of convention—but not free of science, not detached from a materialist approach and from the strategic objectives which must inform this whole struggle in the first place….

Where the conditions exist in which it is possible, and is required for the advance of the revolution, to wage this kind of struggle, only by waging this struggle will it be possible to fully win forces away from various reformist programs, as well as to carry things forward overall in opposition to the established reactionary order and reactionary forces. This is an important point to understand: when the objective conditions have come into being, or do exist, if the initial breakthrough is not made in terms of waging this kind of struggle, then not only reactionary but reformist forces as well will retain or regain the initiative. And, on the positive side, once the conditions for this exist, then with the planting of a clear pole embodied in an active beginning of the struggle for power, it will be possible to catapult the basis for repolarization onto a different level.

Then, once the revolutionary forces in such a situation would be “on the map”—once they had been able to defeat attempts to crush them at the beginning and were able to advance—there would be the question of how to continue proceeding toward the situation where the question of the seizure of power throughout the country would be posed not only as a general strategic goal, but in more immediate terms—how to bring about the concluding or “final act.” And in this regard, some aspects of “On the Possibility of Revolution” could be relevant and have application, even though “On the Possibility of Revolution” is focused on imperialist countries and not so much on Third World countries that are occupied or otherwise dominated by imperialism.



۱. Indeed, this is the “organizational” attraction of the MEK to some “left” groups that whisper here and there shamelessly, “In the end, it is the MEK that has a military organization.” [back]

۲. For basic knowledge of this science, see Mao Zedong’s “Six Essays on Military Affairs,” Foreign Language Press, Bejing, 1966. [back]