Which will play a decisive role in the future course of political developments
in the Middle East,
and in the world
During the first stage of the Constitutional Revolution of Iran (1905-1906) and afterwards, Iranian intellectuals made several attempts to leave their mark on the political developments of Iran in connection to the working classes and peasants. They also made sizeable sacrifices to maintain their political and intellectual connection to the world socialist movement via Caucuses, Berlin and Paris.
Following the end of the WWII, and relative opening of the society, political activists and social democracy advocates once again strove to revive the social democracy movement in Iran. They created such parties as The Third Force, under the leadership of Khalil Maleki, The Socialist Party with Mohammed Ali Khonji at the helm, and Hezb-e Iran under Allahyar Saleh, Zirakzadeh, Shapour Bakhtiar, and Dr. Karim Sanjabi.
The main objectives of these movements were to participate in the fight against dictatorship, but in general terms defining their missions as anti-colonialism in the confines of the National Front of Iran. As such, they tended to focus less on development of political thought along the lines of social democratic means and goals. Finally, with the establishment of a theocracy in Iran (1979), the various democratic and social democratic groups, and especially leftist movements and organizations, were annihilated upon the establishment of the Islamic republic of Iran.
Reconstruction of the Iranian Social Democratic Movement and Creation of the modern Social Democratic Party of Iran:
Almost three decades have passed since the religious dictatorship was established in Iran, following the popular uprising against the Pahlavi dynasty. The net result of the theocratic regime and its oppressive policies have been mass killings of the opposition activists, banning of free press, destruction of the environment, export of terrorism, and destabilization of the region. The regime’s mismanagement has so far caused:
1) Erosion of the middle classes and expansion of poverty to include millions of people. According to published statistics, ten million people live under the poverty line in Iran today.
2) Price gouging on top of the official inflation rate of 23% has devastated millions of working Iranians.
3) Regime’s mismanagement and confrontational foreign policies have caused economical insecurity at every level of the society. As a result of this foreign capital has shied away and domestic capital has fled the markets.
4) Poverty, prostitution, drug addiction, and corruption have spread all throughout the society.
5) Mafia-like structures with connections to powerful political and military circles have monopolized major economic power houses such as the non-for-profit Bonyad Mostazafin. Using military and intelligence infrastructures for their illegal actions, these powerful centers have developed sufficient cover for their unsupervised and unaccounted-for activities such as parallel importing and exporting of goods, and pursuing foreign investments.
6) Using trade firms and diplomatic outfits, the Islamic republic of Iran has created a world wide network of support for its international endeavors. Some of the infrastructure that supports and benefits from these activities is also used in the creation of terror networks in the region with ties to the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip.
7) Amid these harsh realities, discontent is also spreading, especially among the women and the youth, the working classes, and teachers. People are using every opportunity to voice their opposition to the regime’s policies and intolerance of dissent. In many parts of the country, minorities have clashed with the police, as different segments of the urban populations have demonstrated on the streets or joined strikes and walkouts. In these circumstances, the Iranian people seem to be waiting for modern parties to form, so that their dissatisfaction with status quo can be lead into proper channels.
8) Many intellectuals and former members of the socialist, social democratic and Marxist groups have critiqued the past and are looking for new ways to combat the regime. They feel the old models are unable to grapple with today and tomorrow’s needs of the Iranian polity. They are working to create new models based on which the new movement can flourish. Many of them constitute the core of a movement that is taking concrete steps to form a new and modern Social Democratic party.
9) Many Iranian intellectuals, activists and democratic forces, who have experienced and suffered from the Iranian version of the traditional anti-democratic left, now support the movement for democracy, but are without an appropriate organizational vehicle to further their cause. Once organized in a western style social democratic movement, they can play an active and decisive role in the present situation and in the near future, when important events are sure to take place.
10) The formation of a new social democratic party that will pursue democracy and welfare for all, and can rely on the working and middle classes of the Iranian society, is a social necessity in Iran. In order for such a party to form and succeed in playing its role regarding the working and middle classes, long-term planning and provisioning is of utmost importance. Since such a party will not rely on an over-all ideology or prefabricated notions as a guiding tool, it will need to avail itself to global trends and the support of like-minded movements around the world. It will have to rely on modern technology to adopt best practices and theories in devising its strategy for achieving democracy and fairness in the global world.
Preparatory Conference and Organization:
1) The first step toward the formation of the movement is to contact all like-minded intellectuals within Iran and across the world. The purpose of this would be to network and discuss the organizational details.
2) Participating writers, analysts, theorists, and scholars will either take part in discussions as individuals or as a member of one of the many working groups. Each working group will tackle an issue relating to a social, political, economical, or historical aspect of the struggle, and will produce well-researched papers related to the topic. These papers will then be used to ratify political positions and define strategy of the party. Experiences of international social democratic movements and parties will be consulted in ratifying the final party documents in an effort to coordinate with the international social democratic movement.
3) Local, regional, and international conferences and seminars will be organized to facilitate dialogue and coordinate activities.
4) After a period of preliminary contacts and consultations, the conditions will be met to found the party, and to carry on the business of electing the party officials. One of the primary tasks of the initial conference will be to define the relationship between the two segments of the party, inside and outside of the country.
Viewpoints and Research Topics:
In order for the new Iranian social democratic movement to be based on democratic organizational principles, sound theoretical research and modern concepts in thought and discourse must be adopted. The following are some of the suggested material to be further developed:
1) A look at the origins of social democratic thought in Iran; its peak and demise.
2) How can the new social democratic party of Iran find appeal within the ranks of the working classes and the society at large?
3) Challenges to the growth of democracy in Iran.
4) Necessity of the formation of civil society (independent of the state.)
5) Iran’s strategic role in the region and on the international scene and the need for the creation of political and economical alliances in the Middle East and in Central Asia.
6) The future role of the state and private sector in the management of production and service sectors. State-centered economy and its central power. The oil income and its negative impact on the growth of native industries.
7) Reforms in the governmental and decision making bodies, the army, and the economical and educational institutions in order to broaden the appeal of democracy and institutionalize human rights in Iran.
8) The role of the corrupt and rent-based economy in societies such as Iran.
9) Welfare state and its role in institutionalization of democracy.
10) The role of an independent judiciary, its limitations, and the ways it can be adapted to meet the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
11) Adoption of the latest technological and industrial innovations in the management of production, tourism, services congruent to world’s best practices in order to protect the environment.
12) Role of the youth and women in the leadership of the party and the political development of the society. Ways and means of internalizing democratic values within the rank and file.
Preliminary Conference of the Iranian Social Democrats:
The goal of the preliminary conference of the Iranian Social Democrats is to network with the intellectual elements and potential supporters inside the country. These contacts will lead the way in creation of working groups, semi-clandestine cells throughout the country and organizing labor, youth and women leaders. This conference should be held sometimes in the summer of 2009 in one of the European cities.
Between 200 to 250 intellectuals, political and human rights activist together with activists of the youth and women movements, and other minority leaders from inside the country and abroad are expected to declare readiness to participate in the preliminary conference. It is necessary for the European social democratic parties and like-minded political leaders of European movements to show their support by attending the conference as guests in solidarity with the social democratic movement of Iran.
Due to the conditions under which activists live and carry on the struggle, it would be necessary to compensate their travel expenses along with 2-3 days of their lodging while attending the conference. The costs are estimated to be between $50,000 and $80,000.
For coordination and communication regarding this event, please direct all emails to firstname.lastname@example.org
Documents relating to the European social democratic parties, along with some documents pertaining to the Iranian social democratic parties are included.