Debate on Lenin and the Leninist party on BBC Persian TV

Posted: October 21, 2015 in Political Views

On BBC Persian TV’s Pargar (Compass) programme, aired on September 21, Maziar Razi of the Iranian Revolutionary Marxists’ Tendency (IRMT) and Professor Alireza Behtoui of Stockholm University debated the topics of Lenin, Leninism and whether the Stalinist regime was the inevitable consequence of Lenin’s ideas and practice. It is estimated that Pargar is usually beamed into more 20 million homes in Iran.

While Alireza Behtoui, Associate Professor of Social Anthropology, supported social democratic critiques of Lenin, Leninism and the Soviet state during Lenin’s lifetime, comrade Maziar Razi robustly defended Lenin’s political activities and theories, in particular the Leninist concept of the revolutionary party of the vanguard of the proletariat. Comrade Razi pointed out the counter-revolutionary nature of the Stalinist bureaucracy and that, even though Stalin had been a member of the Bolshevik party for many years, his activities as the head of state after Lenin were in no way a continuation of Leninism.

One of the most contentious issues was that of violence, where Professor Behtoui condemned all violence and advocated the theories and political activities of figures like M. K. Gandhi. He did not differentiate between revolutionary violence and the violence of exploiters and oppressors.

As the original recording of the programme was edited down from 60 to 54 minutes, comrade Razi’s point that the Leninist concept of the proletarian party is not outmoded, and that there are currently workers in Iran who advocate it, was not broadcast. Here is a transcript of a short section on the Leninist concept of the vanguard party and Shahrokh Zamani agreement with it:

“… if this revolutionary party is created, that many in Iran today are carrying out preparatory work towards building it, that labour leaders who are in jail, for example Shahrokh Zamani, who basically believes in the Leninist party … if such a party is created in the future, if a crisis intensifies so that the rulers cannot rule and wide sections of the masses, as a few years ago, take to the streets, because there is no leadership, because there is no subjective factor, they will be defeated. But if such a party has been built, in a specific crisis, it can achieve the seizure of power by [workers’] councils …”

Shahrokh Zamani thought that defending the Leninist party using a bourgeois tribune like the BBC was an important opening for the Iranian labour movement and was very keen to hear this broadcast. Unfortunately by the time of the broadcast the Iranian regime’s executioners had robbed the labour movement of this selfless, tireless and brave militant’s continuing contribution to building a Leninist party.

Iranian Revolutionary Marxists’ Tendency

7 October 2015

This programme has been archived on the BBC’s YouTube account


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