Paul Messersmith-Glavin: Interview with a Comrade from Iran

Institute for Anarchist Studies | October 22, 2022

Paul Messersmith-Glavin: Tell us about yourself: where you’re from, and your relations with family and friends in Iran.

Comrade: I was born in Tehran. And I still have a lot of family in Iran, mostly in Tehran, but also in other towns.

Paul: What’s your perspective on the current regime? What’s your take on the Mullahs who took power following the 1979 revolution?

Comrade: My perspective is that they’ve been robbing the people and the land blind and holding life hostage for about forty-three years. And that it’s way overdue for them to go. And I think what they’re doing is also anti-Islamic, and it’s actually turning people away from Islam. Even the most devout families are now coming out against the regime; the mullahs hold zero legitimacy.

Paul: You’ve described the regime as being like a “death cult.” Can you elaborate on that? Can you talk a little bit more about their beliefs and the kind of society they’ve created?

Comrade: All Abrahamic religions are death cults, if you think about it. The anti-culture of death and war is all around us. In Iran, ashura is observed as a day of mourning with self-flagellation rituals where men beat themselves with chains into bloody pulps. The whole town, the whole country, shuts down for these elaborate blood rituals where men just beat themselves up. It was through death and war that they gained power, when they first came to power in the late seventies and early eighties. It was a time of popular resistance, with different movements working to overthrow the Shah, and the clerics came to power by playing up people’s fears about foreign meddling in the country’s affairs. They attempted to claim disputed territory in so-called Iraq, which started eight years of war, with millions of lives lost. It was the tears of the people and the blood of the youth that kept them in power. It’s in the cult of martyrdom with streets named after war martyrs. The regime used war as an excuse to tell people to shut up and not ask questions, and to create fear and repression and solidify their griphold. They’ve continued and amplified this pattern to where all that the people now have is death. Nothing but the promise of death as release.

I think it’s really telling that one of the cries of the resistance is “Women, Life, and Freedom,” because they don’t exist. There’s no space in public discourse for women; women are not seen as full human beings, as full citizens, and there’s no place for life. If you want to thrive, to grow and excel in your life, you have to leave the country, because all that the country holds for you is death. They’re just done. And so, in order to live, in order to stand up, they have to counter it through active resistance. And at this point it’s just outright war.

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