Iran’s Continuing Protest Movement

By INU Staff

INU - As New Year’s Day dawned, so did the fifth day of protests in Iran. While President Rouhani acknowledged the importance of attention to economic and political realities and the people’s right to protest, he seemed to ignore reality when he proclaimed, “There is a minority, a tiny group, who would come in and do something: to chant slogans against the law and the will of the people, to insult the sanctities and values of the revolution, and to destroy public property. Our country will round them up good.”

Privatization, and the economy of an “eastern” neoliberalism appear to have created a class of poor and destitute people who view their prospects as being tied to the government. They are dependent on government aid, and so, have always been the greatest supporters of those in power. This class is spreading to include the middle class, who tends to see itself as opposed to the conservative and reformist factions of Iran’s two-party system. In fact, protesters chanted against all factions — reformists, conservatives, middle classes — the whole governing class have been called into question.

Mistakes made by the ruling class have caused upset, and are the outcome of the policies which govern the Iranian economy. Iran is not alone in this, as capitalism has also fallen into a crisis.

In an age that calls itself moderate, Rouhani’s policies, such as changes in labor law, bank loan conditions, housing programs, the employment plan, the introduction of tuition at universities and remaking of curricula, seem sound, but some say that they are in fact brimming with radicalism.

In the recent years of the Rouhani administration, what we see in the streets of Iran’s smaller, poorer cities should come as no surprise. If people are sufficiently scared, they are unpredictable. Collective fear manifests itself in situations of collapse. Poverty, corruption, earthquakes, polluted environment, and other calamities are escalating fear in Iranian society. Iran’s deprived classes have been voicing their fears for a long time — in protests, demonstrations and occupations before the parliament; in the factories where they work, and even their own slum dwellings.

While political and social movements in Iran have been labeled "subversive protestors or agitators” the principal agitation and disturbance is in fact to be found at the level of collective life. The true agitators are the actors who have thrown common collective life into chaos, like the leaders of the major economic and cultural monopolies, and all who have helped implement the economic program of social immiseration.

Violence is but a part of this totality, and is an expression of the everyday situation. The protests are the outcome of the Iranian peoples’ dissatisfaction. Charges of “agitation” and “working for a foreign power”, reflect the regime’s last hope.

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