When did the Violence Begin?

I remember that I and my dear friend Mr Abolghasem Sarhadizadeh did not attend the weekly briefing session of the Islamic Republic Party on that day. An hour after the explosion, we arrived at the scene with a Peugeot moped. We cried a lot that night, both for Beheshti and for human innocence.

Where did a particular set of so-called anti-imperialist slogans come from? How did these slogans, which originally had a non-revolutionary origin and were coined and spouted in the Marxist-Leninist left camp, migrated to a markedly different camp? After all, at that starting point, anti-American slogans had not been shouted by Leninist currents and eclectic groups to continue the same revolution staged by the Muslim people. On the contrary, those particular slogans were more in conflict with the content of the revolution than with imperialism.

The first group that flew in the face of the revolution was not anti-revolution in the conventional sense of the word, but the so-called “professional revolutionaries”. That is, those who regarded the revolution as incomplete and imperfect because of its fundamental difference from the October Revolution in Russia. They described the revolution as more of a popular “uprising” that lacked the standards set in the models of other revolutions.

However, the author believes that these theories and strategies are put forward because of their exclusion from participating in power-sharing arrangements. And they are not proposed from a pure belief source, albeit false.

In the circles of the so-called “front-runner organizations of the revolution” there was a belief that the more anti-imperialism slogans are chanted and the sharper and clearer the position is adopted against them, the purer we would be, and the initial “defect” of the revolution reaches “perfection” and according to the Rajavi group, finds “more depth”. On the other hand, the term hypocrisy and hypocrites more or less referred to a hypocritical approach that was at the center of the “other kind of anti-Americanism”. Criticizing America and resistance against America were among the components of political Islam from the very beginning. But Imam Khomeini employed an argumentative approach in his speeches against America during the glorious [Islamic] movement. America was exposed to the revolutionary Islamic criticisms not because of its democratic system, but because of its support for dictatorial regimes in the region, contrary to its stated values. Imam Khomeini's revolutionary stances against America and Carter in his speeches in Paris were fundamentally different from the anti-American nature of the left. Comparing a few lines of Imam’s speech on that day with a few lines of Anti-American statements by leftist or eclectic groups gains a clearer understanding of the difference in the language of resistance. Imam, for example, said in response to Carter that the Iranian people had risen not because of open space and “extreme freedoms” but because of the lack of these freedoms. This way of expression and this approach to America and its interventions had not been adopted by leftists or religious eclectics influenced by communism. For them, America was the manifestation of imperialism, and a good America as a “good enemy” was more loyal to its “imperialist nature”.

The various forms of anti-American propositions must be interpreted according to the location of the events and the scope of the proposition. One of the first applications of the proposition: the Forqan group mentioned the “Guadeloupe Conference” in its announcement after the assassination of Martyr Motahhari. The summit of the seven industrialized nations took place in Guadeloupe in January 1979, which Leninist and eclectic groups believe led to the transfer of power from the Shah to the Islamic system. The assassination announcement suggested that the Islamic system and Martyr Motahhari were raised by the same imperialist conference and not by a popular revolution.

Anti-imperialist statements are also being used by a terrorist group in a more complex way behind the assassination of [Mohammad Hosseini] Beheshti and his allies. Beheshti was assassinated only after he was stuck with the label of “compromise” in a two-year process. The July 7 assassination cannot be analyzed without a special discourse that Rajavi's organization prepared on the sidelines of the seizure of the US embassy.

Foucault said that there is always “little thought” in the most heinous human crime, and that thought must be pulled out of its hole and hideout in the analysis of the crime. The assassination of Beheshti was planned with an extremely evil calculation. Analyzing the consequences of the assassination, Rajavi later said, “It should be noted that the regime minus Beheshti has no chance of transformation and reconstruction.”

In order to arrive at a clear understanding of the reason behind the assassination of martyr Beheshti, the concept of “transformation” and “reconstruction” should be considered in the same context as Rajavi's: From the viewpoint of Rajavi’s organization, Beheshti was the only person who could take the Islamic system of Iran from the critical period and the challenges of the early days of the revolution to the stage of stabilization and thus ensure the stability of the system through adaptation to the requirements of the modern government. According to the mentioned analysis, any attempt by the system to advance reforms and adaptation to the modern world requires a “transformation” and “reform” which only Beheshti could tackle. In this view, continuous reconstruction and reform, which in our time is a condition for the survival of any modern system, could not be compatible with the ruling Islamic system except on the condition of “transformation” and change in the nature of the system. A challenge which, in the eyes of the terrorists, could only be dealt with by Beheshti. Hence, the bomb that was planted in the Islamic Republic Party headquarters on that ominous night had no purpose other than to detonate the “reconstruction of the structure of the Islamic Republic”. The assassination of Beheshti was, in Rajavi's view, assassination of reform and reconstruction of the system during the establishment of the Islamic Republic. Reconstruction and reform were not only endogenous in Rajavi's view but also had an imperialist aspect.

According to the organization's written analysis of the nature of the Islamic Revolution, the victory of the revolution was due to a kind of “imperialist compromise” to deter the “real revolutionaries” from coming to power. According to the organization, Beheshti was the main architect of the transition and unarmed overthrow of the Shah's regime. A transition that, according to the analysis of Mojahedin, would not have been possible without a “compromise” with America. This “compromise” claimed by Rajavi facilitated and accelerated the victory of the revolution and thus marginalized the armed struggle and “front-runner” organizations:

“When people were shouting, 'Arm our leaders,’ compromising and conservative leaders were dwelling on ensuring the victory of the revolution without spilling blood.”

The analysis shows that the label of “compromise” was built in the form of discourse to exclude a rival. Reading the MEK’s fall 1979 analysis in prison which was later published by Rajavi’s organization shows that this label was devised from the very beginning of the victory of the revolution and even during the height of the anti-monarchy demonstrations.

Each revolution achieves sovereignty according to the methods and tactics of its own leaders. In Rajavi's view, the unarmed nature of the Islamic Revolution paved the way for the rule of those who were not “professional revolutionaries” and established sovereignty only by compromising with America over “curbing the anger of the masses” and preventing the “deepening of the revolution” and its promotion to an armed struggle:

“Those who saw the depth and spread of this movement as contradictory to their own existence tried to limit and control it. There was also an overwhelming fear of the depth and spread of this movement in the United States. “According to the Mojahed magazine, victory of Islamic Revolution was indebted to a common concern of the revolution's leaders and America on deterring the revolution’s “depth” and “spread” and armed struggle. If it happened, could provide an opportunity for the hegemony and sovereignty of the “professional revolutionaries” and the marginalization of the “compromising” revolutionaries.

Given all these missed opportunities for the revolution to be armed, the seizure of the US embassy seemed to provide a new opportunity to deepen the revolution. Hence, given the result of the Islamic Revolution, we should be alert not to repeat the “compromise strategy”. The goal of the Rajavi’s organization, and even the Tudeh Party, was to incite America to a military intervention over the seizure of its embassy. Considering Rajavi's organization’s approach to America in the mentioned period, one can achieve a clearer understanding of the tactics aimed at exacerbating the crisis:

“Making any military intervention by the world-devouring countries requires some factors and preconditions. For this reason, the US Marines' invasion of Iran could not have taken place without relying on the extensive spy bases and networks organized by CIA agents and remnants of SAVAK ...”

“He [Kissinger] dreams of subsiding the anti-imperialist wave, and that is why he is uniting with Carter. The policy of the imperialists in this period is “stagnation”. As a result, Carter, in a message, urges the Americans to exercise great restraint! Clearly, this restraint is not in fact to save the lives of the hostages but to prevent the intensification of the anti-imperialist struggle.”

Rajavi felt that “inciting the anti-imperialist struggle,” that is, dragging the United States into military intervention, would create another kind of revolutionary situation that was qualitatively different from the first revolution, i.e. the Islamic Revolution: Once again former leaders who were masters of tackling crisis through unarmed way could not assure victory, and the “Vietnamese” model of struggle against America will replace the unarmed struggle. Such a situation, the Vietnameseization of the revolution, could naturally oust the existing leaders. In this situation, if America does not intervene directly, then we should see on whom it relies in the system:

“But Kissinger's comment is more interesting than anything else. He says, “We’d rather calm down and support anyone who is in charge in the country and then try to find what makes foreign leaders to treat America that way.” The depth of mercenary politics of imperialism is revealed by delving into Kissinger's remarks ... Who is really his hope?”

America’s armed intervention could have created a more complex situation that could only be solved by an organization that is “the most sophisticated front-runner organization”, so the ruling party that lacks this complexity could easily be removed from the scene in a medium-term process:

“Do we also think that in today's complex international context, it is easy to fight such imperialists? Is it easy to lead the struggle? So we continue the question: “What are the characteristics of those forces that want to come to the end? How do you formulate your relationship with different forces and groups as regards the unity and conflict?”

Therefore, Rajavi tried to exploit the seizure of the embassy. “Mojahedin” magazine wrote in January 1980:

“As a representative of the generation that fertilized the tree of revolution, I should explicitly warn all individuals and officials in every position who want to let the world-devourers to the country that if they do not believe in the divine courts of the Hereafter, lest they forget the roaring and relentless courts of the people. I explicitly note that as long as there is a MEK member in our country, America must not and will not be able to return to this country.”

The anti-American discourse was directed at martyr Beheshti. An in-depth examination of Rajavi's anti-American sentiments in that period reveals how Rajavi's organization’s taking of extreme positions against America was significantly concurrent with their division with the ruling system which had been risen from the Islamic Revolution.

For Rajavi, the capture of the embassy and the rise of anti-American sentiment had created an opportunity that was lost during the height of the Islamic Revolution and the overthrow of the Shah's regime. The analysis of the Rajavi’s Organization in the first days after the revolution was that the speed of the victory of the revolution had prevented the “deepening” of the revolution to the stage of a “real” revolution in its armed, bloody, and long-term concept. For this reason, the government that emerged from the unarmed revolution (and therefore not “deep”) could not be considered a truly “revolutionary” and truly “anti-imperialist” government in the eyes of the MEK. Even in those days, the organization's inner circles believed that if Bakhtiar had resisted for a few months, there would have been an opportunity for the “real revolutionaries” to lead the revolution. Now, at the time of the capture of the US embassy, the missed opportunity seemed to be repeated in another way:

“Another issue that hinders an anti-imperialist tactic is the reactionary [government’s] fear of a mass expansion of this tactic. That is, the reactionary currents who have not been able to participate in a long-time anti-imperialist struggle, do not want the deepening of the movements and their mass expansion and hence hold them back.”

Who has stamped on the “deepening” and “mass expansion” of anti-American movements? Rajavi refers to an internal compromise faction” acting in a covert alliance with America: “They are trying to swerve the struggle and secure the imperialism bases, on which they feed, from the rage of people. Another group will join these traitors. Those who cannot endure the struggle. Those who would be separated from people if the previous stage lasted a bit longer.”

This analysis of Rajavi gives a broad concept of “American bases”. In this analysis, the American embassy is the apparent base of America, behind which innumerable “hidden bases” had been working. According to this analysis, the struggle against America should not have been limited to the seizure of the embassy, but the movement should have been extended to the stage of capturing all other bases.

The “internal American base” in the aforementioned analysis was a metaphor for the removal of an Islamic government that in its sharpest form was directed against Beheshti:

“Those who cannot endure the struggle. Those who would be separated from people if the previous stage lasted a bit longer... Those who owe the non-disclosure of their opportunistic nature to the speed of the first stage of the revolution. Yes, they are naturally concerned and opposed to the escalation of the anti-American struggle.”

In an editorial in Mojahed No. 105 (January 1, 1981) titled “The Ruling Party or the Party Sovereignty” and in another piece on Mojahed No. 106 (February 1, 1981) titled “Mr. Beheshti Coming the Raw Prawn”, Rajavi’s organization claims that Beheshti and the Islamic Republic Party worked in collusion with America. Mojahed No. 107 (January 27, 1981) explicitly refers to this issue under the title “Anti-Imperialist Claims for the Release of Hostages” and in issue 109 (February 12, 1981) an editorial entitled “Republic Party, the Baton Movement” and another article titled “Mr. Beheshti, an Expert in Dealing with the Great Satan,” are the same trick to portray martyr Beheshti as pro-American. At this point, “It’s America's Turn after the Shah” can be considered a proposition in various applications. Moving this proposition from one camp to another also changes its meaning and theme. The portrayal of Beheshti and Bahonar as pro-Americans also included their scientific activities as authors of the textbooks of “religious teachings”:

“Some seized power in the name of Islam as groups, factions, and parties. They had been living in Their luxurious houses or compiling “religious teachings “textbooks for the Shah’s tyrant regime or they had been traveling in Europe during all those years of oppression and terror.”

Here, the general concept of “American base” helps portray the opponent as pro-American:

It is important to keep in mind that the American embassy is not the only way of imperialism’s infiltration. Every affiliated institution in our society can be a way for infiltration.”
According to this perception of America and the American “base”, the whole society can be considered as a “big embassy” of America. In this particular context of the usage of the slogan “It’s America's turn after the Shah”, America is no longer the well-known political entity that can be identified in the body of America and its institutions and embassies, but it becomes an exceedingly large basket for removing and discarding whatever we hate:

Despite the tyrants has received a blow... institutions that are linked to imperialism remained almost intact. Now that imperialism has been thrown out, the thousand-faced actor decided to enter through the window. Which window? The economic, military, and cultural institutions that have been remained open [to America].”

In this broad sense, the “American base” represents the whole society and the institutions in the form of an open window to American infiltration. In those days, the accusation of “monopoly” was fairly frequent, which was directed against martyr Beheshti in its sharpest form. During a direct debate with student’s leaders of MEK, Beheshti once explained the constitutional origins of his post as the head of the Supreme Court. However, his debater showed that he does not basically believe in the constitution and the elections.

When the Mujahedin-e Khalq spoke of “revolution” and “professional revolutionarism” they meant the same concept of revolution that was enshrined in the constitution and put to the vote. In their viewpoint, Iranian society was more “polytheistic” than it was qualified to vote because it was fundamentally open to the American and capitalist system’s infiltration. For this reason, the representative of Rajavi’s organization criticized Beheshti by condemning elections and the society that had voted for the Islamic government after the revolution:

They have chosen us because of the atmosphere created during the revolution. What were the criteria of the masses who had risen? All of them had certain leaders. What happens to them when you do not allow the leaders to be part of the leadership? Day by day, the contradictions have been intensified. If dealt with properly, they would not be in this position. Due to the monopolistic and reactionary nature of the active forces during the revolution, who were not honest with the people, they did not want to solve problems for the people. After one year, society has divided into several axes due to anti-monotheistic polytheistic traits. This reason also goes back to the essence of the same society.

Due to the monopolistic nature of those people who have been in the leadership cadre. This is quite clear to us. This is the dialectic of society. And such it has been since the beginning. [Imam] Ali's time and now is not strange for us. In those days, all the words of the MEK in criticizing the elections were fed by a dichotomy between “revolutionary institutions” and “elected institutions”. In the aforementioned sense, the revolution acquired its identity through pre-election institutions and “revolutionary organizations” and elections were not the matter at hand. According to their viewpoint, society should first achieve purity after a decades-long process called “monotheistic” purity by Rajavi. Then at the unknown end of this process, society should be able to gain electoral qualifications. When it was first decided to hold elections, Mojahed magazine suggested a kind of formula described as “first cleansing the society of polytheistic traits, then the election”:

“In our opinion, we do not need founders and a new constitution until the end of the success of the next stage of the revolution, that is, until the eradication of all traces of imperial oppression and colonial dependencies at all levels of the military, political, economic, cultural, etc. Colonial-dependent bases cannot decide on the basic principles of governing the people.”

Therefore, the accusation of monopoly in the mentioned debate should be understood along with this recent Rajavi analysis: Beheshti's debater in Sharif University of Technology's debate intended to say that Beheshti and others like him want to explain their legitimacy according to the constitutional position of their foundation and election. In the final analysis, a society is “polytheistic”, “not cleansed” and “not permeated”, and therefore cannot be considered a “people's” force in the sense defined by professional revolutionaries. In this particular definition, the people are fundamentally different from the masses: the people are defined not by the ballot box but by a revolutionary party and organization. The conflict was hidden in the form of “deepening” and “completing” the revolution in those days.

I believe that terrorism and violence have never existed in the heart and context of the pure Islamic Revolution. Look at the numerous meetings and recitations of Nahj al-Balaghah by Hussein Rouhani and Abu Turab Haqshenas in Najaf with Imam Khomeini. In the end, they did not emphasize any statements. In my opinion, terrorism and violence promoted in the 1980s can still be seen today in terms of their impact on Iran's super-society. One of the most important effects of the violence explained by professional revolutionaries was the deepening of the formation of civil society with refreshing political groups.

In this article, I do not intend to say that violence has an effect on disrupting and delaying the formation of democracy and republic. Finding the roots of how violence is formed in Iran shows that returning to the original concepts of the Islamic Revolution, a revolutionary movement based on the movement of the masses, reasoning and informing is a way that elites and influential elements in the private and public sectors must explain and follow.

Source: Ramze Obour Magazine, 21st issue

Translated by Habilian Association