Only the most abstract theories can take form in a cell, cut off from the real world. Programmes developed in such a setting will be limited to a "virtual reality" belonging only to their author. It is worthwhile remembering that it was during his imprisonment after the failed 1923 putsch that Adolf Hitler wrote Mein Kampf.
CHAPTER 3-From joining up to prison
In 1971, the People's Mojahedin of Iran decided to do battle with the regime in order to avoid leaving only the Fedayeen in¬volved. They undertook attacks, sabotaging electric lines in order to disrupt the prestigious festivities organised by the Shah to mark 2500 years of the Persian Empire.
They were betrayed by a police informer who had infiltrated them. Sixty-nine of the highest leaders were arrested.
Tried in 1972, eleven of them, including Massoud Rajavi, were condemned to death. Two, including Massoud Rajavi, escaped execu¬tion due to a campaign to mobilise Western public opinion. Confron¬ted with foreign pressure, the Shah retreated, but claimed that those pardoned had cooperated with the imperial regime's secret police.
How had the current supreme leader of the PMOI gotten to that point? One of his anonymous, but authorised biographers has this to say:
"Massoud Rajavi was born in 1948 in the city of Tabas in the Northeastern province of Khorassan. The youngest of five brothers, he has a law degree from the University of Teheran... In secondary school, Mr Rajavi was a sympathiser of Ayatollah Teleghani and of Mehdi Bazargan 's Freedom Movement. He encountered the Moja¬hedin at University and join up in 1967. He was in direct contact with the movement's founder, Mohammad Hanifnejad, and was later promoted to the Central Committee... ". (19)
After his arrest, Massoud Rajavi led the fight from his jail cell. He rose to the highest positions of the movement, due to the execution of the chiefs of the PMOI.
"Like the People's Fedayeen, the PMOI organised 'communes' in the prisons. These functioned as support groups, sharing meals and common cells. Above all, they developed as study groups and for spec¬tacular actions reported outside including hunger strikes. An important split took place during this prison period -in 1975 - between the "religious faction" of the Mojahedin. They kept the same name. But another current of thought clung only to the Marxist school and changed its name later to Peykar. Contemporary historians conclude that this split led not only to bloody fights inside the prisons, but to a decline in the PMOI's image among the clerics. This loss of prestige included those who remained within an Islamic point of view. (20)
His long imprisonment would not be without effect on the political thought of the PMOI as defined by its main leader. Only the most abstract theories can take form in a cell, cut off from the real world. Programmes developed in such a setting will be limited to a "virtual reality" belonging only to their author. It is worthwhile remembering that it was during his imprisonment after the failed 1923 putsch that Adolf Hitler wrote Mein Kampf.
Without any other guidance than those learned during their careers of revolutionary struggle, the ideologues of today's Proletarian Left never thought that their analyses had nothing to do with the hopes and realities of the people they presumed to lead. This was because they were so steeped in the underlying doctrines of the International Progressive "Movement" of the Seventies.
It has taken only two decades for history to refute the illusions of those who believed that humanity would welcome them as saviours. Having been convinced of the absolute truth of their faith, these small groups - Trotskyist, neo-charismatic or simply "revolu¬tionary" - continue to repeat their mantra without seeing that no one is listening out there in the desert.
From Prison to the revolution
The People's Mojahedin continued their guerrilla actions while their leaders re-imagined the world and settled scores with "deviationists" in jail. Bombs went off in May 1972 during American President Richard Nixon's visit to Teheran. Others struck at sym¬bols of Western power in the country, including the offices Pan Am airlines and Shell oil. It was part of a strategy to provoke a hardening of the Shah's regime. But it failed.
Simultaneously, throughout the world, similar organisations were following the same path.
Visiting Professor at Harvard, Berkeley and UCLA, professor at France's elite ENA, specialist in geopolitics and strategy, Gerard Chaliand is, without question, the author of the best analytical works available today on the subject of terrorism.
In his classification of terrorist movements, he devotes an entire chapter to "anti-imperialist or revolutionary groups without a mass base, usually committed to class struggle and armed struggle - almost exclu¬sively in the form of urban guerrilla warfare - in non-democratic coun¬tries. This type of movement took root first in Latin America, like the Marighella group in Brazil, Uruguay's Tupamaros, and the Argentinean Monteneros. Within this category, we also find, with small variations, the small Turkish extreme left groups, [and] the Fedayeen and the People's Mojahedin of Iran. The efforts of these groups, given the weakness of their social support, usually lead to failure, the hardening of the State and the rise to power of the most repressive elements". (21)
The Tupamaros who turned Montevideo into a bloody arena were crushed by the forces of order after nine years of battle. Founded in 1963, the Tupamaros National Liberation Movement, named after Tupac Amaru, the rebel Inca chief (whose name would later be used in Peru in the Nineties) carried out waves of attacks in Uruguay. They killed an American diplomatic counselor and kidnapped the British Ambassador. It was not until 1972 that the Uruguayan Government finally ended this urban guerrilla warfare.
In Iran, as well, the Shah's police gave back blow for blow and struck hard against those carrying out guerrilla actions. Yet, despite its losses and the thinning of its ranks, the PMOI was never able to reach the masses: the force it needed to create radical change in the pre-determined "historical sense".
On the other hand the fight carried out by the group against the monarchy gave it a particular aura and attracted to it an overexci¬ted, romantic youth. This is did not take place until 1978, when we see all the different elements of the country go into the street and risk their lives to overthrow the Shah. The Iranian Revolution had nothing to do with class struggle, however: "It did not involve, in any form, the movement of the poor to throw out the rich, or of the Proletarian against the possessing classes". (22)
19.- "Democracy Betrayed, op. cit.
20.- Digard, Hourcade and Richard, op. cit.
21.- "Terrorismes et guerillas" - by Gerard Chaliand - Paris, 1988
22.- Les revolutions iraniefines - Histoire et sociologie - by Rouzbeh Sabouri, 1996
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