The first national tour organized by the Committee for a Revolutionary Socialist Party (CRSP) provided me with an incomparably thrilling experience.
Back in 1954, I toured for the Socialist Workers Party to encourage the struggle against McCarthyism. In my second tour in 1957, I campaigned for united socialist electoral slates and helped to form the Young Socialist Alliance. But the April-May, 1979 tour was unique.
First, the backdrop was the tumultuous Iranian revolution — the staggering blow it was delivering to U.S. imperialism, and the central role being played by Iranian women.
Second, every audience I addressed was somewhat different politically, and that was challenging. Third, I had the welcome chance to develop close relations with comrades in very different locales.
A Taste of Revolution. Iranian students flocked to my meetings, and this was like a personal contact with the great revolution itself.
The entire spectrum of Iranian politics was represented — Khomeiniists, Fedayeen, Mojahedeen, Iranian Trotskyists.
The Iranians were articulate and intense, reflecting the continuous, feverish debates at Tehran University and throughout Iran.
My audiences also included radicals from virtually every U.S. tendency, exhibiting sharp differences on the Iranian revolution.
Socialist Workers Party members attended, and generally said absolutely nothing.
The Spartacists appeared, pedantic ultra-lefts who denied the existence of any revolution in Iran.
A third category was composed of feminists and others new to socialism, who joined in the debates. Surprised by the intensity of discussion in radical politics, they displayed astonishment, or recoil, or fascination — and great interest!
Whirlwind Tour. The month-long tour was kicked off in New York on April 6. Myra Tanner Weiss, editor of the CRSP Discussion Bulletin, and I were the speakers. In the remarkable Houston meeting, half of the 30 Iranians present were women whose eloquence bore witness to the forceful emergence of their sex in the Middle East. We talked for hours.
And the comrades who organized the meeting, publishers of the periodical bulletin What Is to Be Done, decided to join CRSP — most heartening!
The Los Angeles meeting was also well-attended, and was followed by a reception where I met old and new friends and contacts, and held some wonderful discussions.
San Francisco organized another fine public meeting as well as a special meeting with Radical Women that culminated in new applications for membership in Radical Women. (I love to report news of recruitment to CRSP and any of its component parts and allies.)
Pace Setting, Northwest Style. My Pacific Northwest experience can only be described as a kaleidoscopic blur or small tornado. I felt like someone in an escape-and-pursuit movie, shifting non-stop from one auto and driver to another, meeting deadlines with only seconds to spare.
I was greeted at the airport by a welcoming delegation bearing the astonishing banner, “Welcome Murry!” And I was handed a huge basket of goodies which featured a Northwest Indian-style smoked salmon, which I eyed nervously.
I was interviewed by the Seattle Times, the University of Washington Daily, KUOW Radio, Radio KZAM, and on KING Radio, complete with phone calls from listeners.
I spoke at a thronged May Day meeting at Freeway Hall, and at campus meetings at Seattle Central Community College and the University, the latter attended by 60 people.
I traveled south for an excellent meeting organized by Portland CRSP, and then journeyed to the University of Oregon in Eugene for an exciting campus appearance.
En route back to Seattle, we had a vigorous meeting at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
And I was royally wined, dined, lunched, and brunched by everybody.
Regroupment Prospects I lodged with comrades instead of hotelkeepers, and this lent a warm and wonderful dimension to the trip. Living together enabled me to get to know people and enjoy their fun-filled hospitality.
Every section of CRSP — Socialist Union, Trotskyist Organizing Committee, Radical Women and Freedom Socialist Party — worked to build the tour. And internal meetings featured full-scale discussion and expressions of political and organizational differences, perpetuating the internal democracy of CRSP that provides a model for regroupment on the left.
To fight for revolution with comrades, to share, disagree, resolve, and unite for new ventures and fresh explorations, to create a Leninist party within the heartland of imperialism — this is my idea of the good life, the fulfilled life, the life of challenge and meaning. The tour gave me a rich taste of this and staunchly reinforced all my hopes and plans for the great revolutionary struggle ahead of us.
What I said about Iran
In my speeches, I characterized the Iranian revolution as the manifestation in life of the Marxist theory of permanent revolution, a theory whose relevancy is immensely heightened by the pivotal role of revolutionary women in Iran.
In Tehran last March, women surged into the streets for five days to challenge the male supremacism of Khomeini’s Revolutionary Council. These women, escorted by armed Fedayeen and Mojahedeen, initiated the demand for freedom now for all the oppressed — women, workers, national minorities, peasants.
The struggles of anyone of these sectors propel all the others, and all collide with the Revolutionary Council and the bourgeois Provisional Government. That is why the masses will keep their arms until the aims of all are realized.
I described the central feature of the present stage of the Revolution as one of dual power.
On one hand is the power of the masses, expressed in the form of an armed people replacing the imperialist military establishment and the police dictatorship.
Workers control factories, and capitalism and imperialism are in flight.
And the ruling body of this process is Khomeidi’s Revolutionary Council.
At the other pole is Bazargan’s Provisional Government, organizer of a comeback for capitalist rule, its thinly-disguised purpose recognized by the masses.
The Revolutionary Council and the Provisional Government are in a relationship of dual sovereignty — “two-mindedness, two-heartedness, and every possible kind of duplicity,” as Trotsky described it.
But the Revolutionary Council, while it temporarily heads the revolution, severely contradicts the profound aspirations of the working class and the oppressed masses.
The theoretical explanation for this conservative Islamic regime lies in Trotsky’s concept of the “middle caste,” which is a universal phenomenon of our epoch: a bureaucratic formation superimposed on trade unions and soviets and epitomized by the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries in Russia in 1917, by the rightwing socialist leaders of the German soviets in 1918, and by the labor bureaucracy in the Western world.
The burning task is to forge a Leninist-Party in Iran, because only a socialist revolution can complete the struggle there.
The Fedayeen are playing a tremendous role; their leadership during the armed insurrection of Feb. 9-11 was decisive. And the revolution, to unfold and expand, must achieve a common experience and a common program with the revolutionary leadership of the Fedayeen and Mojahedeen. The Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party of Iran correctly advocates such a course.