Iranian Revolution

Mass demonstration in TehranIn mainstream history books and mainstream media articles commemorating the Iranian Revolution of 1979, only the role of the Islamic clergy in the revolution, particularly the role of Ayatollah Khomeini, tends to be highlighted. If one were to limit oneself to reading these stories it would appear that the Iranian working class hardly had a look in into those tumultuous events of February 1979.

The truth is that the 1979 revolution in Iran was a workers' revolution. Had it not been for the mobilisations of the working class, the Ayatollah and his friends would have remained in exile in France waiting for better days. Instead on February 1, 1979 Khomeini was able to return to Iran to be welcomed by a huge crowd of millions. Are we really to believe that this one man provoked and led the revolution? The truth is that he stepped into a situation that had been brewing for some time.

In the process of the rising militancy of the Iranian working class de facto Soviets, the workers' councils, were thrown up as expressions of genuine workers' power. The movement of the masses seemed all-powerful. It was so powerful that the army itself melted away, with many of the lower ranks and even some of the officers siding with the people. The once mighty regime of the Shah collapsed like a house of cards.

All the conditions existed for a rapid movement towards the setting up of a genuine workers' government in Iran. Had this materialised we would have seen a healthy workers' state being set up, the first of its kind since the Russian revolution in 1917. This would have transformed the whole balance of forces throughout the Middle East and beyond. A successful coming to power of the Iranian working class in 1979 would have marked the end of one despotic regime after another in the region, as similar conditions existed in the surrounding countries. Had this happened, the whole history of the region would have been different. It would have been the first step in the building of a genuine Socialist Federation of the Middle East.

— From Thirty years since the Iranian Revolution

This originally five-part document was written by Iranian Marxists on the historical roots of the Iranian revolution. In the first part they concentrate on how the Iranian economy developed, leading to an enormous strengthening of the working class and how this led to revolution in 1979. After the fall of the Shah in 1979 all the conditions for socialist revolution had matured. The tragedy was the role played by the various left parties and groups, who to one degree or another fostered illusions in Khomeini as a kind of “progressive bourgeois”.

Arrival of Ayatollah Khomeini on February 1, 1979

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Iranian revolution. The media has been highlighting it as an "Islamic revolution", when in actual fact what we witnessed thirty years ago was a genuine workers' revolution that was hijacked by the reactionary Ayatollahs because of the lack of a genuine revolutionary leadership. Thirty years later we must learn the lessons of those tumultuous events and prepare for the next revolutionary upsurge.

This book represents an important contribution to our understanding of the Iranian revolution. This work will be particularly useful in the West where it is universally believed that the revolution of 1979 was a movement of Islamic fundamentalists led by the Ayatollah Khomeini to push Iran back to the 6th century. This view has been assiduously spread by the Establishment which has a vested interest in discrediting the very idea of revolution in the minds of the working class of the west. It is, in fact, a vicious lie. There is a rich historical background, including much material which will be unfamiliar to western readers who are unfortunately unacquainted with the marvellous


Twenty five years after the 1978 revolution that overthrew the Shah, Iran is once more witnessing a reawakening of the mass movement. The regime no longer has the same grip on society as it did in the past. The lessons drawn, both from the 1978 revolution and its later defeat and hijacking by the reactionary Mullahs, must be remembered and made available to the new generation of workers and youth who are looking for a way out in Iran today. This article written in 1983 by Iranian Marxists who had actively participated in the revolution gives an excellent analysis of the whole process.

Once again the students have taken to the streets of Teheran and other cities. But the scope of the present movement is far greater than the movement last summer which we described at the time as "the opening shots of the Iranian revolution". This time thousands of ordinary Iranians, especially poor people, joined the students in clashes with the police and Islamic vigilantes.

The mass demonstrations and riots in Iran are the first shots of the Iranian revolution. This article points out the importance of these events, underlines the decissive role of the workers and explains the need to link democratic demands with a socialist programme.

Today marks 40 years since the hated regime of the Shah was overthrown by a workers' revolution in Iran in 1979. This article was written by Ted Grant in that same year. We are republishing it because we believe it is essential reading for any active worker or youth who wishes to understand both how the Shah was toppled by the masses and how, unfortunately, the revolution was hijacked by the fundamentalist mullahs.

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