Friday, December 20, 2013

Ramifications of Geneva Deal on Iranian Working Class

Ramifications of Geneva Deal on Iranian Working Class
Wilhelm Wolff
December 14, 2013 (updated December 20, 2013)

In as recent a headline as December 8, 2013, even Israel, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has began softening its harsh position against the interim nuclear agreement signed in Geneva between Iran and the U.S.  The government of the settlers in Israel has realized that the Obama Administration, through the P5+1 Geneva Agreement, has kept the bigger share of the pie and constricted Iran to a space only worthy of nations with limited sovereignty.  Secondly, Secretary of State, John Kerry speaking to a conference run by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, assured the Israeli skeptics that should the U.S. conclude that Iran still continues supporting the demands of Palestine, for example, it will toss the interim document like a scrap of paper, into the dust bin.

And if we hear that U.S. Senators talk about adding more sanctions to the stack of those already existing, as reported in the Financial Times of Dec. 9, 2013, their chatter should not be taken seriously.  The main acts of these Congressmen and women are posturing not only for U.S. people but also for the international community.  Through such theatrics, they intend to send two messages: 1) assuring their constituency "We're still awake and working to defend your safety and security from the Dangerous Foreign Boogieman as defined by U.S. foreign policy, and 2) sending a message to the Iranian government that it should not dare to retreat from the agreement whose lion share is captured by the U.S. 

In order to assure the pro-Israel representatives in Congress and for Obama to show how tightly he is drawing the noose around Iran's neck, the White House Punishes More Firms Over Iran Sanctions, according to the New York Times of Dec. 12, the Obama Administration announced an expanded list of additional companies and individuals placed on its sanctions list, to "demonstrate that it is not easing up on sanctions on Iran's oil sector or its nuclear program…" in preparation for a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the Iran nuclear talks.

In the U.S. Congress, to talk tough against Iran, like passing new and more onerous sanctions, is a profitable business because, given the cynicism of the American public against other nations, especially the third world countries, it is profitable business - they get elected for the next term. This was almost the opinion of President Obama in his end of the year news conference, December 20, 2013.

When the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on December 19, 2013 questioned "whether Tehran is willing to abandon the ability to build an atomic bomb" Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Questions Whether Tehran Is Willing to Abandon the Ability to Build an Atomic Bomb he in fact plays into the hand of the conservative classes in the U.S., Europe and beyond, and should not be taken seriously.  Just as the reactionaries in the U.S. pinnacles of power, the French, Germans, and Israelites, to mention a few, are the members of the world capitalist club who see themselves obliged to raise dust and engage in a symphony of howling. 

Only two weeks have passed since the signing of the "agreement", the Israeli government began joining the groups in and around the Congress and the U.S. administration to boost and shape Washington's negotiating position.  This phenomena speaks loudly and clearly as to the nature of the negotiation process that took place in an absolute secrecy, concealed from the Iranian people, between Tehran and Washington, months before Mr. Hassan Rouhani the current president of Iran, declared himself as a presidential candidate toward the end of May 2013.  Rouhani was subsequently endorsed by Iran's Council of Guardians, a powerful office headed by the cleric Hojatolislam Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was in the forefront of privatization of the country's national wealth and capital.

According to the Financial Times of Dec. 8, 2013, a team of senior Israeli officials led by the country's national security advisor, Yossi Cohen, is going to hold a meeting with high-ranking U.S. State Department officials to "harmonize" their combined efforts to narrow down the claims by Iran to the right of nuclear enrichment for use in civilian nuclear energy, a principle clearly pronounced in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which Iran has signed. 

The reasons that the warmongers in Washington and the settlers' regime in Tel Aviv are whetting their appetite to extract the last drop of blood out of the body of Iranian polity is the decrepit state of Iran's economy maligned by nepotism, absence of plans for national economic development, along with a series of haphazard privatization of banking, mining and energy systems, lack of long-term investment on research and innovation, and dearth of programs for high quality job creation for all those tens of thousands who paid for college education with the high hopes of employment in professional careers.  In return this university-educated population, along with other strata of the labor force, living in their parents' homes is becoming a part of the lost generation.  A strata of this unemployed population has joined the army of idle labor force, engaged in the shadow economy of drug trafficking and prostitution while financial theft among the upper strata of the country's banking system is daily taking place.

Under the most rosy projection of the U.S.-Iran thaw, the agreement in foreign relations must be complemented with a social contract, allowing the great majority of the Iranian people, i.e., the working class of Iran to have the civil rights to form its own independent labor unions and political parties.  In the absence of such a social contract, the great majority of the people of Iran will be excluded from expressing and participating peacefully in the future capitalist development with foreign corporations waiting to take control of Iran's economy and polity, capitalizing on the cheap labor pool of unemployed.

For the laboring classes of Iran to attain the right of participation in planning and running the economy and in political endeavors is for the U.S. to halt threatening Iran with acts of aggression and imposition of the current and future sanctions.  It goes without saying that war-and-sanctions talks that give rise to insecurity in Iran and the region amounts to social designs which restrict the freedom of the working classes in shaping their own destiny.

In the last two decades, the U.S. and its western European cohorts, along with Israel and dysfunctional undemocratic states in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea have done everything in their power to blow the wind of insecurity, manufacture pseudo-civil wars using free oil money,  collection of personal data by the intelligence services ala National Security Agency (NSA), censorship and administration of governments in the Middle East by a small social group, mainly the commercial bourgeoisie flanked by military trusts and black marketeers.  All this is at the service of greater degrees of capitalist exploitation and greater denials of the labor rights in Iran and across the region.

In light of all of the above, the question remains "Why Iran in its negotiating process had to give away the entire shop – lock, stock and barrel – in return for some minute concessions?  The simplistic and everyday answer to this question from the American and Iranian political class has been that without the income from Iran's oil sales and foreign investment, Iran's economy will remain in the doldrums.  The reasoning of Iran's neo-liberal commentators and opinion-makers has been that the country's acute and endless recession, high rates of unemployment, misallocations of resources, low level of labor and capital efficiencies, lack of application of advanced sciences and technologies, are the direct and indisputable results of sanctions by the United States.

If the above assertions were true, then the essential question to be asked is whether these disorders and economic infirmities did not exist before the sanctions began being implemented less than ten years ago.  The answer to this question rests on a search through the chapters on the economic history of Iran in the period before and after the 1979 Revolution.

In his authoritative and valuable book entitled The Economy of Iran by Dr. Abrahim Razaghi, using the country's Annual Statistical Data of 1981 and 1984 built solid tables for active and unemployed workforce.  On Table 26 of the book, the rates of unemployment for the years 1976, 1982, and 1983 on the national scale as indicated to be 10.2 percent, 14.9 percent and 12.9 percent consecutively.  As we see the rates of unemployment in Iran were excessively high two decades before the U.S. decided to impose stringent sanctions on the Iranian economy and its financial sources internationally.  The data shows that the high rates of unemployment in Iran have been endemic to the national economy and not solely nor necessarily the function of the U.S. sanctions regime.  Furthermore, the rates of unemployment in rural Iran reached 19.6 percent in 1982, three years after the Revolution.

As to the trend of prices of consumer goods and services are concerned, Dr. Razaghi's book provides an exhaustive table depicting the rates of inflation for the period between 1972 and 1984.  In this span of time, the cost of such essential items as food, housing, clothing, home appliances, transportation, and health care (holding 1974 as a base, i.e., 1974=100) shot up by 564.5%, 364% 496%, 488.2%, 594.8% and 247.6% respectively.  In other words, the cost of the necessities for survival of the working class rose by almost 500 percent during that period.  During this period that partly coincided with the 8-year war with Iraq (1980-1988, the merchant class taking advantage of scarcity and monopolization of domestic trade and import-export immensely profited from artificially-kept higher prices of consumer goods. 

The conclusion could be drawn that even before the imposition of the severe sanctions Iran has been suffering from lack of national economic planning, diversification of its products and industry and low levels of economic investment in the most strategic and growth-oriented industries that integrate labor, capital, advanced science and technology in a new social contract that could be capable of invigorating social productive forces looking ahead. 
 About the Author:
AIFC received this analysis from one of our contacts in Germany, who apparently has studied economics.  We apologize for its late posting, but it is still relevant to today's events. We have asked Mr. Wolff to send us additional articles on Iran-U.S. relations.  Eleanor Ommani, Moderator

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