Ten years ago died the Iranian Mansoor Hekmat, on the 4th of July 2002. This intellectual tried to develop a new ideology, a new form of Marxism, that he called “Worker-communism”.
The concept of “worker-communism” is indeed not something new. It was used in Germany during the 1920's by anti-leninist “Marxist” and then in at the end of the 1970's by the hoxhaist organisations.
All of those conceptions have in common that they want a “pure” socialist program, free from any stages that should happen before. They reject any antifascist / popular front, they reject any “democratic revolution” stage, they reject any alliance with the peasants.
The ideology of Mansoor Hekmat is a mix of both, which is in fact the main trend in Iranian marxism since at least 40 years. The proof of this is that, in an amazing way, Mansoor Hekmat never spoke about Avicenna and Averroes.
It is amazing, because Avicenna was a Persian, because Averroes was the first to “separate” religion and State (a great cause of Mansoor Hekmat), because both were the titans of all the pre-bourgeois materialism.
Mansoor Hekmat even negates the Arab-Persian falsafa; talking about Islam, he explained:
“This is the religion of death. In reality, all religions are such but most religions have been restrained by freethinking and freedom-loving humanity over hundreds of years. This one was never restrained or controlled. With every move, it brings abominations and misery.” (Islam and De-Islamisation, Interview with Negah publication, January 1999)
It means that Mansoor Hekmat did not know or did not recognize the existence of the Falsafa; he never spoke about the ideological trend that permitted the Enlightenment in Europe, whereas he wanted Enlightenment for Iran.
This is a total contradiction and something absurd... Unless Mansoor Hekmat wanted something else. And this is the case.
Mansoor Hekmat did not only not recognize the Falsafa, he did not even recognoze Shia Islam. This is another amazing aspect. Mansoor Hekmat always spoke about Islam in general, but absolutely never about the specific form of Islam in Iran.
This is amazing, because Shia Islam is pretty different from others Islam; in fact, Islam is not unified and represents different ideological trends.
In Iran, Shia Islam has important particular traditions, like the day of Ashura; it carries a huge philosophical tradition.
Mansoor Hekmat never spoke about it. Why that? How does it come that Mansoor Hekmat:
a)does not recognize the Falsafa
b)and does not recognize Shia Islam?
The reason is easy to understand: for Mansoor Hekmat, this does not exist, because it is not “Iranian”. Here is what he says:
“Iranian society has no need for Martin Luther and John Calvin because the dominance of Islam is not an ideological, psychological or a structural hegemony, but rather it is a political and police rule which will be overthrown politically.” (Islam and De-Islamisation Interview with Negah publication, January 1999)
This is of course absurd. Let's see it with another example. When Khomeini went by plane from France to Iran, 6 millions of people we waiting for him. When he died, nearly 4 millions people were mourning at his funeral.
Now, let's see what Mansoor Hekmat says:
“The singer, Gogoosh, was a much more popular personality in the history of Iran than Khomeini (…).
Even now, as soon as an Iranian reaches abroad, s/he quickly adopts the Western way of life; even patriarchal, chauvinistic values of an Eastern man - although still prevalent - are undermined more quickly in comparison with those coming from countries more severely fraught with Islam.
Iran, in specific, is not an Islamic society as defined by Western Orientalists, Western media or the Islamic regime in Iran. Iran is a society keen for civilisation and sympathetic to 21st century Western culture. It believes in science. Two generations ago, women walked the streets without veils. Western music and films have always been a part of that culture.
Well-known personalities in the West have also been famous in Iran. Similarities to the West, whether in urban planning, schooling, science, art and culture, are seen as virtues.” (Islam is Part of the 'Lumpenism' in Society, Interview with with Radio Hambastegi in Malmoe - Sweden)
What Mansoor Hekmat says here could be said exactly in the same manner by the Shah and the bureaucratic capitalist modernists in the 1970's.
The masses' existence is not recognized; feudalism is not considered as real. So, Islam can only be “lumpenism”, an accident, something coming from outside Iran.
In fact, the sentence about the “Iranian abroad” that would be so to say “automatically” modern is a direct anti-Arab expression. Exactly like the Shah wanted to come back to the pre-islamic empire, Mansoor Hekmat invented an Iran that had nothing to do with Islam.
He was, in fact, a bourgeois modernist. The Iranian bourgeoisie had to explain the situation, and it had two ways. Either it accepted the “islamo-marxist” interpretation of the People's Mujahedin that the revolution was “betrayed” by Khomeini.
Or it considered Islam as an anomaly. All the Iranian left thought like this – but Mansoor Hekmat provided the most developed thesis to justify this.
This is also very clear in the “A Better World - Programme of the Worker-communist Party.”
It is possible to find there amazing modernist demand, that the Shah would have demanded if he could at that time:
“Changing the Farsi alphabet
In order to help bridge the gap that separates Iranian society from the forefronts of scientific, industrial and cultural progress in the world today, and in order to help people benefit from the results of this progress and take a more direct and active part in it, the official Farsi alphabet should be systematically changed to Latin.
The party also calls for:
1 - English language to be taught from early school age with the aim of making it a prevalent language of education and administration.
2 - The Western calendar (the official calendar in use internationally today) to be officially recognised and to be used in official documents alongside the local calendar.”
This is clearly a proposal of modernism through submission to imperialism, and in particular the US and English ones (English imperialism played historically a very important role in Iran and is particularly hated).
All the history of Iran and Persia should be liquidated, from the Persian miniatures to the presence in India through the Mughals, in the name of modernism.
The “A Better World - Programme of the Worker-communist Party” is so clearly a bourgeois democratic program.
On one side, it explains that the goal is communism. But on the other side, it is never explained what would this communism looks like. Neither the relationship to nature is explained nor the question of economy planning. Contents are never given.
For example, in the following demand: what are customs? Traditions? Free and open culture? Free and open values? Free and open human relations? This ambiguity is very bourgeois.
“Legislation of laws and measures to radically and swiftly push aside reactionary, discriminatory and degrading beliefs, customs and traditions and help the development of a free and open culture, values and human relations.”
All the program is like that.
One one side, it is explained that there is a need for a “dictatorship of proletariat”. But on the other side, it is said that there would be “10 - Unconditional freedom of belief, expression, assembly, press, demonstration, strike. Unconditional freedom of organisation and of formation of political parties.”
One one side, it is explained that the socialist revolution is needed. But on the other side, it is explained that “Worker-communism does not find organizing a revolution against this system incompatible with the struggle to impose on capitalism the most far-reaching reforms.”
Mansoor Hekmat promotes in fact a bourgeois program, with equality before the law of “all, irrespective of sex, nationality, religion, race, belief, creed, employment, status, citizenship, etc.”
This bourgeois content goes so far that even prostitution is considered as a small capitalist unit, authorized to unite in a corporation, with the hope that it “disappears”:
“1 - Legalising sale of sex by the individual as self- employment. Extending the protection of laws and law- enforcement authorities to prostitutes against the mob, racketeers, extortioners, pimps, etc.
2 - Issuing of work permits to those who work as self- employed prostitutes. Upholding their honour and prestige as respectable members of society, and helping them to organise in their own union.
3 - Free special preventive and therapeutic medical services to prostitutes to protect them from diseases and injuries resulting from employment in this profession.
4 - Consistent educational work, encouragement and practical help by responsible state organs to help prostitutes give up prostitution and receive vocational training for work in other areas.”
Mansoor Hekmat promoted in fact the bourgeois democratic revolution, he was pushing the working class to support the bourgeois demands.
For this reason, Mansoor Hekmat could only base his conception on the negation of the positive aspect of the national bourgeoisie. Representing an ultra-democratic trend, the most progressive part of the bourgeoisie, Mansoor Hekmat had to explain that the bourgeoisie as a whole was not revolutionary.
It was only like this, that he could pretend that his line was the one of the working class. To justify a bourgeois democratic program masked as “socialist”, there must not be a bourgeois with bourgeois democratic demands – or the mask would fall.
This invention of this “mask” - negating the bourgeoisie to mask a ultra-democratic bourgeois character – is typical of hoxhaism.
Numerous are the parties, especially in Turkey (THKO, THKP-C and then MLKP, TIKB, DHKP-C), that explains that the bourgeoisie was weak but ruled society, that there was no feudalism but only a “distorted” capitalism.
In “The Myth of the National and Progressive Bourgeoisie” (1979), Mansoor Hekmat explains this conception, which is exactly the one of Enver Hoxha at this time:
“For the correct presentation of the question of dependence, and the deduction of revolutionary political positions on its basis, we must start from a correct cognition of capital and imperialism. Dependent capitalism is the capitalism of the epoch of imperialism in the dominated country.
This means that, firstly, in this system, the social production and the development of the productive forces are accomplished mainly within the framework of the growth and expansion of capital, and secondly, the movement of the whole social capital in the country takes shape in response to the world needs of monopoly capital, with respect to the concrete division of the world into imperialist and dominated countries at the economic and political levels.
Therefore, when we speak of dependent capitalism we are talking of a mode of production which results from the establishment of the capitalism of the epoch of imperialism in the dominated country.
So, before anything, the point is over the dependence of a system of production on imperialism and not the mechanical and formal dependence of its components. This point must become clear to all those who speak of dependent capitalism as to why we say dependent capitalism and not "the economy under the domination of dependent capitalists".”
According to Maoism, a dominated country is ruled by some dependent capitalists; according to Hoxha and Mansoor Hekmat, it is by (a weak and local) capitalism itself.
The tragic aspect of Mansoor Hekmat's logic is that it negates feudalism. It is like there was no lesson of the triumph of Khomeni. But it is coherent, because Mansoor Hekmat only contributed to a bourgeois democratic program; he only helped some bourgeois sectors to mobilize the masses on a social-democratic line.