Skip to main content

From Atash/Fire, Journal of the Communist Party of Iran, Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, November 2022:

If There Is to Be a Revolution, a Revolutionary Situation Must Be Created!

Editors’ Note: The following is a translation of an article from the Communist Party of Iran, Marxist-Leninist-Maoist (CPI-MLM), which appeared in their journal Atash/Fire, No. 132, November 2022. Given the recent developments in Iran and the efforts by the CPI (MLM) leadership to maximize gains toward an actual revolution, we thought it important to share this article with readers. This translation from Farsi is by volunteers; bracketed explanatory notes are from the translators.

The nationwide uprising, which has continued unabated so far, is plowing and irrigating the ground for a real revolution. Every man or woman who falls at the hands of [Supreme Leader] Khamenei's military adds to the unity of the will to overthrow the regime. With each leap, distinct political lines about the future also become clearer. The most oppressed of the oppressed in the society, the women, have risen up and have become makers of revolution, and a new generation is standing on the shoulders of the sacrifices of three generations over the past 43 years and is determined to win this time.

The idea that the revolution [of 1979] was a "catastrophe" has been pushed aside.  In this fresh and invigorating atmosphere, the lethargy and submission to the status quo that had gripped society, body and soul, has departed.

Marx's voice is echoing in the air: Revolution is a Festival of the Oppressed! The sense of taking hold of our own destiny is so strong that even when we bury our dearest ones who have sacrificed their lives, we are rejoicing, and shaking the Islamist fascists to their core. But we are a long way from revolution and there are many dangers along the road.

This has made it more urgent to clarify the objectives of the revolution and the roadmap for its realization. Any delay in doing so would result in the loss of the wonderful opportunities for revolutionary emancipation that can be achieved.

In order for the tragedy of 43 years ago not to be repeated in a different form, under the banner of "revolution," an awareness of the character of the revolution and the conditions needed to achieve it must be promoted and take root among millions of people. The yardstick must be that the fact that revolution is not about changing the regime (regime change) while leaving the foundations of capitalism intact and in control of society.

If instead of the rule of the Islamic fundamentalists, a government under the name of a republic or a monarchy comes to power to consolidate the capitalist system, this time without the title "Islamic Republic," it will not be a revolution. A change of ruling clique implemented by the capitalist-imperialist governments of the world is not a revolution—they have incorporated this regime into their world order for 43 years, and can do so again.

Revolution is a historic change that occurs with the conscious participation of millions of people from different sections of society, especially the oppressed and exploited classes. To be specific: revolution is the overthrow of the Islamic Republic regime, its entire military and state apparatus, and its ideological institutions in an all-out and organized struggle of millions of conscious people, with the aim of establishing  a socialist state.

Why a socialist state? Because this is the only state whose goal is to eradicate the capitalist mode of production. Why should the capitalist mode of production be eradicated? Because it is based on the oppression and exploitation of the majority of society and its functioning  produces class divisions, poverty and unemployment, the oppression of women, the oppression of [minority] nationalities, devastating wars and the destruction of the environment.

The foundation of the Islamic Republic is the capitalist mode of production. Its difference with the Shah's regime is that, by merging religion with the state, this regime has painted a halo of eternal sanctification over capitalist oppression and exploitation in order to make its victims surrender. And if they don't surrender, [then] charge them with "waging war against God," and suppress them.

It is not just the Islamic Republic that has a capitalist economic base. The whole world is [currently] based on the capitalist-imperialist system. One part of this global system is the imperialist capitalist countries (Europe, North America, China and Russia) and the other part is countries under their domination in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Islamic Republic and all oppressive regimes, such as the Shah's regime, are the products of this global system and integrated into its governing structures.

The rise of fascist Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East, and today, the Christian fascists in the U.S., arises from how this system functions. This savagery has [now] created the necessity of eliminating capitalism, relegating the class system to the [dustbin of history], and establishing a communist society. The consequence of not responding to this necessity will bring on more horrifying suffering—not only for the Iranian people, but also for all of humanity. Under such circumstances, it's worse than madness to miss the opportunity [that] the current uprising has provided for revolution.

If our approach to revolution is anything other than this, we will never reach a just society; the blood spilled in the streets and the sacrifices of the people will have been wasted. However, it's possible not to waste it, because we have the science of revolution that explains why revolution is necessary, what revolution is all about, the path to winning it. The emancipation of the vast majority of people can actually be achieved through such a revolution—even if they are not aware of it right now.

The task and policy for today is to create a powerful political movement for communist revolution, amidst the ongoing battle that must continue until the Islamic Republic is overthrown.

Knowing the Obstacles on the Road, and Overcoming Them

In the tortuous road ahead, we need to recognize the obstacles that lie ahead, in order to remove them. Many people wrongfully use the concept of "a revolutionary situation" to explain current conditions, even though we are very far from a revolutionary situation. We have some work to do to reach such a situation. "Revolutionary situation" is an important theoretical concept that is explained in the science of communism, and refers to the conditions that make the victory of the revolution possible. Bob Avakian summarizes three conditions necessary for a revolutionary situation:

A crisis in society and government so deep and so disruptive of the “usual way of things,” that those who have ruled over us, for so long, can no longer do so in the “normal” way that people have been conditioned to accept.

A revolutionary people in the millions and millions,  with their “allegiance” to this system broken, and their determination to fight for a more just society greater than their fear of the violent repression of this system.

An organized revolutionary force—made up of continually growing numbers of people, from among the most oppressed but also from many other parts of society—a force which is grounded in, and is working systematically to apply, the most scientific approach to building for and then carrying out revolution, and which is increasingly looked to by masses of people to lead them to bring about the radical change that is urgently needed.
—"Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating: Profound Crisis, Deepening Divisions, The Looming Possibility of Civil War—And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed. A Necessary Foundation, A Basic Roadmap For This Revolution," by Bob Avakian

Something Terrible or Something Truly Emancipating - Square, wo "NEW"


These three conditions do not move separately from each other but have a dynamically interactive relationship. To the extent that any one of them moves forward, it affects the other two conditions, and among them the evolution and movement of the second condition has a decisive effect on the status of the other two conditions.

Let's look at the first condition, namely the emergence of a deep and crippling crisis within the ruling class. What has been the "usual practice" of the Islamic Republic, which had made people get accustomed to accepting it? The most important one has been a religious government whose compulsory hijab has been one of its foremost symbols. A large section of the people no longer believes that society should be governed through this set of beliefs and processes, and in their eyes the Islamic Republic has lost all of its legitimacy to govern.

The marathon endurance of the uprising that has been boiling up from every faultline in society has greatly weakened the regime's ability to control society. There have been many divisions within the regime that have been intensified as a result of the ongoing uprising. Nevertheless, the regime has not been split apart from within.

The various factions of the ruling class have reached a consensus against this uprising (at least temporarily), with the notion that they will first "rein it in" and then introduce certain "reforms." In fact, the spokespeople for such "consensus" have been those who were previously "barred from participating" and "barred from being selected and elected" by the ruling gang headed by Khamenei: people like Larijani [conservative former head of parliament], Khatami [former "reform" president] and Behzad Nabavi [former imprisoned member of parliament and elections critic].

But they themselves know that the only remaining thing left for the survival of their Islamic Republic is repression. They are in alliance with the likes of Mostafa Mirsalim, a "member of the Expediency Discernment Council," who believes that a religious (theocratic) government should be maintained, and that the compulsory hijab and repression of women are central to the preservation of religious rule.

The alliance that has formed among various factions of the Islamic Republic is not just due to fear of "tomorrow" and the "execution of everyone" at the hands of people (as the governor of Mazandaran has said). They really do want to hold on to religious rule. This is what is meant when we say that there has not been a split in this ruling class. The gauge of  a split within the ruling class would be that a wing or a faction says that religious rule can no longer be maintained, and acts accordingly. Moreover, the regime's organized fascist base, whose motivating force is religiosity, is still standing.

Finally, the regime enjoys the support of capitalist-imperialist powers such as Russia and China that desperately need to dominate Iran's "playing field" in their global rivalries with western imperialists. Both parties to this rivalry (the so-called West and East) have no reservations about turning Iran into a scene of proxy wars, as is being done in Ukraine. These are factors, despite being contradictory, that have prevented the Islamic Republic’s ruling class from splitting.

The purpose of giving a scientific assessment of the complexity of the situation is to emphasize that we [need to] see the twists and turns in the road, so that we can determine our tasks and prepare to move forward victoriously.

Let's look at the second condition in the formation of a "revolutionary condition." Completely destabilizing the regime's balance and tying the hands of its imperialist allies are entirely dependent on the second condition, namely the creation of "revolutionary people numbering in millions." There is a difference between joining the current uprising versus the creation of millions of people who know the difference between revolution and regime change [that is] for the benefit of a few, people who are not willing to accept anything less than revolution.

A revolutionary people comes into being as a result of awareness of the revolutionary goal, and a determination to fight for that revolutionary goal. It is this awareness that creates not just the needed courage, but also the initiative, the planning and the skill to crush the foundations of the old state apparatus, and the step-by-step creation of the future new state apparatus.

The current uprising has brought about a great change in the thinking of hundreds of thousands, even millions of people. The Islamic Republic's intellectual dominance has been shattered in many ways. A large number of young women and men are realizing their mission and motivating other sections of people against the government and the need for sacrifice in this regard. The regional diversity of the uprising has given it an amazing richness and has created a beautiful nationwide unity which is vital to winning the upcoming revolutionary war and building the future new society. Although unfortunately, the myth of "patriotism" and the "flag" is still strong in many people's minds, Persian supremacy over non-Persian nations has been dealt a heavy blow.

The role of women as a basic force in the radical transformation of society has become an undeniable fact. This is a tremendous achievement. But there is still a long way to go in changing people's thinking. The remnants of male/patriarchal culture and the supremacy of the “Glorious Land of Persia” [chauvinism] must be taken seriously, as it is encouraged and reinforced in a thousand and one ways.

To consolidate the current achievements is deeply dependent on tens of thousands, and then millions of men and women coming to realize that male/patriarchal oppression is rooted in the socio-economic system called capitalism.  As long as there is a capitalist system—whether with the Islamic Republic regime, or the monarchy, or a democratic republic, or any other form of government—it will fuel the oppression of women and will reproduce male/patriarchal social relations and related decadent ideologies.

Realizing this fact, one can see how this social oppression is intertwined with class distinctions, poverty, unemployment and other oppressive social relations such as the oppression of minority nationalities, catastrophes like the filthy regional and imperialist wars, as well as the destruction of the environment. All of this is part and parcel of the socio-economic fabric of capitalism. All these facts dictate the content of the needed revolution, and tell us what kind of leadership that the revolution needs.

We reach the third condition in shaping the revolutionary situation. That is, the existence of "a force which is grounded in, and is working systematically to apply, the most scientific approach to building for and then carrying out revolution, and which is increasingly looked to by masses of people to lead them to bring about the radical change that is urgently needed.” (Bob Avakian, “Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating”) [Emphasis added.]

This scientific approach is the science of the new communism, which our party, the Communist Party of Iran (MLM), is based on, and our duty is to act as the basis for the creation and expansion of such a force.

In fulfilling this task, working on the second condition (creating a movement of millions of revolutionary people) is decisive. Once such a force is formed, a revolutionary war can be organized [to fight until] final victory, with a force that constantly grows and revolutionary leaders that are trained and tested. No revolution can succeed without [seizing] political power. Without [state] power it is never possible to destroy the old socio-economic system and replace it with a new and just system.

To work on the second and third conditions, we rely on three basic Party documents that can be found in all Party publications and media channels. Today, however, [what] we must specifically take to people [are] the "Three Directives" which are in chapter four of the document "The Manifesto and Programme for the Communist Revolution in Iran." We can use [these Directives] in four ways:

1) Distribute information to the public on what our immediate actions and steps will be [on] the day after the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, in order to eradicate the roots of the regime and open the way for a just society.

2) Use the "Three Directives" as a yardstick to distinguish all of those who can be united with, versus those political forces belonging to the bourgeois classes that already intend to install themselves [in power], upon the "downfall" of the Islamic Republic ([whether they are] Monarchists or the Transition Council or any other institution that [hopes to] lay claim to the future of the society and its direction).

3) Use these Directives to create small and large militant alliances in neighborhoods, in factories, in towns, in villages and with various guilds... for tomorrow.

4) Take collective action to carry out every aspect of these steps to make the Islamic Republic a target of struggle that can be implemented starting today, and at every juncture during the development of the uprising. For example, defying the regime's red lines regarding the compulsory hijab and gender segregation, non-compliance in religious practices, refusing to show up at the Islamic Republic's houses of injustice, pressuring regional birth certificate centers to issue birth certificates and IDs to Baloch and Afghan people. Most importantly, call for the unconditional release of all political prisoners, etc.

By building such a movement, we can begin now to develop the key institutions and foundations of the future government—from below, by involving millions of people from different sections of society, who are aware of and believe in the goals of this revolution. Any kind of "provisional government" should be the expression of these Directives and nothing less. The revolution cannot limit itself to merely expanding the current uprising. [Instead] this uprising must find its clear voice in relation to the future alternative.

Bourgeois political entities, who want to impose their views and their agenda (the likes of Pahlavi monarchists and the Transitional Council, etc.), say that after the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, the details of the future society and the next regime will be determined by a "constituent assembly, comprised of all points of view" and then [all will head to] the election polls! There is nothing more demagogically hypocritical than this "democratic" populism. Whichever socio-political entity has a clear understanding of its future alternative at that very moment, will control the composition of the Constituent Assembly and the ballot boxes. There's no doubt that [these forces] have been fully clear about their own future alternative, and are plotting their domestic and international alliances.

But people are not [yet] clear about which alternative will be to their immediate and long-term benefit! Therefore, beginning today, we must clarify what entities we will ally with in the future.

The Content of the Desired and Possible Future Must Create a Powerful Alliance

For this to happen, from now on people should know what law will replace the constitution, the Sharia and civic laws of the Islamic Republic, in order to truly fulfill the essential equality rights, political, economic and social rights for the entire population, and in particular the rights of women and people of oppressed nations.

How will freedom of thought and expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of press, freedom to form organizations and parties, freedom to strike, freedom to dissent and be the people's critics be guaranteed? How are confiscated assets going to be used to provide urgent shelter, medical treatment and education for everyone, especially those in deprived areas?

How promptly will Afghan child laborers and immigrants be able to benefit from their [new] rights? What type of economy will eradicate oppression, exploitation, poverty and unemployment, and will prevent the destruction of the environment?

People need to find out, from this day forward, what will happen to the regime's military and security institutions. How will the complete separation of religion and state be carried out to ban the usage of religion in any shape or form in the legal, judicial, educational and family infrastructure? What will we do with the military and security pacts and economic contracts the Islamic Republic has with imperialist powers? What forces, and with what kind of policy, will take over garrisons, ministries, banks, radio and television, communications, industries, dams and farming, and what will be done with them?

What will become of religious institutions, massive agricultural lands owned by the Jihad of Construction and the Imam Reza Holy Shrine Enterprise, [both multi-billion dollar entities], etc.? What will become of dams and water reservoirs? How will the councils of the poor and the landless workers and peasants in each region be formed and governed? How will the councils of professors, teachers, college students and elementary students that were formed during the revolution run the educational institutions? And what about dozens of other colossal and vital issues related to the character and principles of a desirable and possible future society?

We can never cast blame or be surprised about the efforts by out-of-power bourgeois forces to preserve their class system. But their opportunistic slogan of "unity, unity" must be shattered, because the vital task on the agenda that our society is striving for [requires] the overthrow of this regime and the establishment of a New Socialist Republic—and nothing less! The opportunistic slogans of "unity, unity" serve only to roll back and cover up this endeavor, and we cannot tolerate it. Therefore, without hesitation, we shall promote the alternative of communist revolution among the people and make sure that its clear, loud sound echoes and has influence all over the country.

Only by creating a Movement for Revolution with such content and creating a great united front around such a program, can we transform the amazing opportunities of the current uprising, and the larger uprisings to come, into a power that paves the way for building a society that helps the people transition [away] from the current horrors.

Donate NOW to help put revolution on the map!

As the world burns, do you hunger for a future fit for human beings and the diversity of life on the planet?

Threats of nuclear Armageddon… racist murdering cops, abortion-banning theocrats, anti-LGBTQ terror… All this will only get worse unless and until we make a revolution to get rid of the system of capitalism-imperialism enforcing and furthering this nightmare.

To build this revolution... to make this revolution known... to raise people’s sights requires your financial support.

In this rare time when the rulers of this country are deeply divided and cannot “hold the country together”—the revolution we are working for is urgently necessary, and more possible.

Right now, we are working urgently to put this revolution on the map. This requires funds on a major scale.


Your donations contribute to:

  • Printing and distribution of the Declaration and Proclamation—a message on the walls that we don’t have to live this way
  • Promotion of the Bob Avakian Interviews on The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show (voice of the revcoms) through advertising and major showings
  • Production of the website, where you get unique analysis of major events and trends, learn about the revolution and how to be part of it, and find the major works of the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian
  • Support the revolutionary leaders and committed young revolutionaries putting revolution on the map, who are anchored in Los Angeles