They lied to you about Iran

Andre Vltchek

Have you ever considered the possibility that almost everything that you have been told about the world by the Western mass media is a lie and fabrication?

I am sure you have, at least lately, when the insanity of Western propaganda is becoming very clear and obvious. But what about the extent of indoctrination you were subjected to?

If you live in Europe or North America, how poisoned are you by the lies about Cuba and Venezuela, Russia and China, North Korea and yes – about Iran? Are you beyond recovery? If you see the truth, if you were confronted by reality, would you still be able to recognize it, or would you perceive it as propaganda and lies?

I have just left Tehran, a city with a tremendous history and culture, overflowing with museums, theatres, wonderfully kept parks dotted with modern art sculptures. It is a city with modern and fully subsidized public transportation, consisting of high-tech metro, ecological bus ways, as well as suburban trains. A city of tall trees, and quiet squares, of elegant cafes, and extremely educated and kind people.

A city that could easily be part of the ‘top ten’ cities on Earth, were it not be the capital of a country that the West is trying to ruin, first with unjust and draconian sanctions, and then, who knows, even by a militarily invasion.

What do most Westerners know about Iran; what were they told? I think the image the mass media outlets want to project is of “Iran – a radical Muslim country, some sort of Shia Saudi Arabia”, or perhaps worse. Much worse, as Saudi Arabia, the closest Arab ally of London and Washington, cannot be touched in the West, no matter what barbarity and terror it spreads all around the world.

Those who know both Jeddah and Teheran would laugh at such a comparison. Saudi Arabia, and its semi-colony Bahrain, despite their wealth from oil, are some of the most compassionless societies on the planet, misery rubbing shoulders with repulsively vulgar and extreme showing off of wealth.

Iran is in its essence a socialist country. It is internationalist, in full solidarity with many oppressed and struggling nations on our planet. No, I am not talking about Syria, Yemen or Palestine only; I am talking about Cuba and Venezuela, among many others. You did not know? It is not surprising: you are not supposed to know!

You are also expected to remain ignorant about Iran’s social system, clearly socialist. Free education and medical care, greatly subsidized public transportation and culture, huge public spaces and to some extent, strong government and at least partially, central planning.

Despite those absolutely unjust, terrible sanctions imposed, with some interruptions, from Washington and its allies, Iran is standing tall, trying as much as it can to take care of its people. And despite the terrible ordeal Iranian people are being put through, they do not cheat and do not steal. The exchange rate collapsed after Washington imposed another round of bizarre sanctions, triggering frustration, even protests. But the majority of Iranians understands who the real culprit is. And it is no secret that the so-called opposition is often financed from the West.

Most visitors do not understand anything about the local currency or exchange rates. I am no exception. I simply give taxi drivers or waiters my wallet, and they only take what is due. I checked with my Iranian colleagues: and the amount that is being taken is always fair.

Iranians do not display ‘arrogant pride’; they only show the determined, decent and patriotic pride of a nation with thousands of years of great culture which knows perfectly well that it is on the right side of history.

You were told ‘how religious Iran is’; I am sure you were. But unlike in Saudi Arabia or Indonesia, religion is not ‘being thrown into your face’ here; it is not waved as a flag. In Iran, religion is something internal, deep, which is expressed humbly and without noise. While the mosques of Jakarta broadcast, for hours a day and using powerful loudspeakers, entire sermons, while people are now being thrown into jail for even criticizing this brutal imposition of religion on the general public, in Tehran I could hardly even detect Adhan (call for prayer). Most of the local female Teheran city-dwellers only cover their hair symbolically – one third or even just a quarter, keeping most of their hair exposed.

But the West would never inflict sanctions on Indonesia or antagonize it in any other way, no matter how brutal it is to its own people: Washington, London and Canberra already ruined its socialist direction after the US-orchestrated coup of 1965. Jakarta is now an obedient, turbo capitalist, anti-Communist, West-junk-food-and-crap-entertainment-loving society. It has nothing public left. The elites have fully robbed the country on behalf of the West. Religions in Indonesia are used to uphold the pro-Western fascist regime.

Iran is totally the opposite: its interpretation of religion is ‘traditional’, as it used to be before the West managed to derail its essence in so many parts of the world. It is socialist, compassionate, spiritual and yes – internationalist.

Unlike in places like Jeddah or Jakarta, where going out to eat is now the height of cultural life (and often the only option of how to ‘enjoy the city’), Tehran offers high quality art cinemas (Iranian films are some of the greatest and most intellectual in the world), world-class museums and galleries, vast public spaces, as well as a great number of sport and amusement public facilities, including beautifully maintained parks.

You want to hang from a rope and fly over a valley, near one of the tallest TV towers on Earth – you can do it easily in Teheran. You want to see a series of the latest Chinese art films –you can, at the magnificent palace called the Cinema Museum. Or maybe Chekhov or a Tennessee Williams theatre play, if you understand some Farsi? Why not?

Of course you can sit in a horrendous traffic jam, if you are in love with your car, as you would in Riyadh or Jakarta, but you can also zip through the city in comfort and cheaply, on board the super modern metro system. You can walk on beautiful sidewalks, under tall trees, some of which grow from the clean creaks that separate driveways from pedestrian areas.

What else were you told; that you cannot look into a woman’s eyes or you will be stoned to death? Couples are holding hands everywhere in Tehran, and annoyed girls are slapping the faces of their men, teasingly and sometimes even seriously.

But would you believe it, if you saw it? Or is it too late; have you reached the point of no return?

One day, a driver who was taking me from my hotel to the Press TV television studio, exclaimed in desperation:

Europeans who come here, even for the first time: they don’t want to learn. Even if they come to Iran for the first time, they land at the airport, get into my car, and begin preaching; teaching me about my own country! They all come with the same story, with the same criticism of Iran. There is no diversity! How can they call themselves democratic countries, if they are all thinking the same way?”

In Teheran, the diversity of thought is absolutely striking. With my colleagues and comrades, we discuss everything from the war in Yugoslavia, to Latin America and of course, Iran itself. They want to know about Russia and China. I love what I see and what I hear – when people are curious and respectful of other cultures, it is always a great start!

Iran is bleeding, suffering, but it is strong. Not everyone agrees with government policies here (although most of them do support their government), but everybody is determined to fight and defend his or her country, if it is attacked militarily or by other means.

Whenever I come here, I have this impolite urge – I want to shout at my readers: Come here and learn something! Iran is not perfect, but this is real – here, life is real and so are the people. Thanks to their culture and history, they somehow know how to separate precious stones from junk, pure thoughts from propaganda, cheap and deadly capitalism from the great strive for a much better world. If you don’t believe me, just watch their films; one masterpiece after another.

Perhaps that is why the West wants to first ruin, and then to totally destroy this country. For the West, Iran is ‘dangerous’. Iran is dangerous, even deadly, for the imperialist arrangement of the world, as China is dangerous, as Russia is, as Cuba, Venezuela, Syria and Bolivia are.

To ruin Iran will not be easy, I would even say: it could prove impossible. Its people are too smart and determined and strong. Iran is not alone; it has many friends and comrades. And even Iran’s neighbors – Turkey and Pakistan – are now quickly changing direction, away from the West.

Don’t take my word for all this. Just come and see. But do no preach: ask questions, and then, please sit, listen and learn! This country has more than 7,000 years of tremendous history. Instead of bombing it, read its poets, watch its films, and learn from its internationalist stand! And then, only then, decide, whether Iran is really your enemy, or a dear comrade and friend.

First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook
Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

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Dear Mr. Vltchek,
Have you ever heared about human rights? Do you know that, the state of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran has been criticized both by Iranians and international human right activists, writers, and NGOs. The United Nations General Assembly and the Human Rights Commission have condemned prior and ongoing abuses in Iran in published critiques and several resolutions. The government of Iran is criticized both for restrictions and punishments that follow the Islamic Republic’s constitution and law, and for actions by state actors that do not, such as the torture, rape, and killing of political prisoners, and the beatings and killings of dissidents and other civilians. Capital punishment in Iran remains a matter of international concern.
Reported abuses falling outside of the laws of the Islamic Republic that have been condemned include the execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, and the widespread use of torture to extract repudiations by prisoners of their cause and comrades on video for propaganda purposes.
I am an Iranian who understands the fascist practices of the Islamic Republic of Iran with my heart and mind.
Maybe you are not a lier but definitely you have seen Iran as a tourist.
Best regards,


I may change dentists to follow my former hygienist, a wonderful, warm, caring , compassionate, educated, liberated woman from Iran.


Thank you. Your link has whetted my appetite to go there even more! Coincidentally (pardon the pun!) I have recently moved to a different area, in North Wales, and had cause to visit my new GP surgery 10 days ago for what was to be a routine 10 minute consultation. The practice is understaffed with three long-serving GPs covering two local practices between them and I was lucky to get a cancellation appointment at very short notice; other waiting patients told me you would normally have to wait at least a fortnight for a routine appointment. The GP was the most pleasant, helpful and caring one that I can recall meeting in my many decades of life – he didn’t patronise, and listened attentively to what I said. In spite of other waiting patients and much to my surprise, he actually carried out the required minor surgical procedure there and then, rather than refer me to a nurse or to attend an outpatients’ clinic somewhere else; a real caring, hands-on (in the best sense!) GP. A GP performing surgery?? That would never have happened at my previous health clinic. I thought I’d gone back in time to the 1960s. He is Iranian.


How do I know that you’re not lying to me about Iran?


Go there yourself and stop bitching.


I would love to visit Iran!

King Kong
King Kong

“Have you ever considered the possibility that almost everything that you have been told about the world by the Western mass media is a lie and fabrication?”

The author is kidding me right ? Does he think we ar fooking stupid or something? I mean the lies spouted by the MSM are becoming so thick now, that you can use it as wall filler. Even my 10 year old daughter is skeptical of some of their claims, as she says ” this sounds fishy, dad” and I agree it does sound fishy.
But reading what the public in the USUK are fed, well…….


Oh her bike in Iran

I wonder what her view of Iran will be?

Paul X
Paul X

Before 1953 Iran had been a British client stats where their oil company had a monopoly returning just 12% of profit to the Iranians. Ironically (or are they related?!) it was Christopher Steele a British diplomat in Washington who first suggested a coup d’etat to stop Iranian oil being Nationalised. The Americans weren’t keen! It was MI6 who were most active stirring opinion against the government and bribing religious elements to like wise turn against the secular democrats. It’s surprising – or not – that current comment largely ignores the British role but if you look at the detail they were acting with such high handed Imperial arrogance of the old sort, always liable to get American backs up, the US was reluctant to help. When the Americans suggested the oil profits might be split 50-50 (which might have been a compromise acceptable to both parties) the British refused point blank because anything more than 12% would be “theft”. When the Americans changed their minds, apparently persuaded the communists were a threat the coup went ahead. The red scare was invented. Many of the ‘communists’ on the streets beating up clerics (to create anti communist feeling among the religious, were paid by the CIA. In the end the British monopoly of Iranian oil was ended when 8 American and European oil companies were allowed to enter the market. The success of the coup turned Iran into an American client state for the following 25 years. I understand the British are still disliked for starting the coup. The Eisenhower administration was so impressed by the success of a covert coup (so cheap! so effective) that Dulles obliged with the coup in Guetamala in 1954 which began with systematic assisinations of senior civil servants and judges who supported the democratically elected leader. It was another success of course, The subsequent love affair between the CIA of Dulles and the Administration lasted until Kennedy stepped in. After his assisination the CIA were back. Nothing much has changed since then; Currently the CIA is on an internal coup attempt by trying to oust Trump. Given their record who thinks they’ll eventually succeed?


Maggie, Many thanks for your first link, reveals that Prescott Bush grandson was Head of Security for World Trade Center.


Correct and useful Anglo-Iranian Oil Company expansion of the Amerika did it all story. However, the Americans provided most of the on the ground grunt for the Shah’s new recipe SAVAK. Stormin’ Norman, later of Iraq, was two of the boots on the ground in the American reformulation of the Shah’s security system.

Pascal Ansell
Pascal Ansell

Wanted to visit Iran for years and then had the pleasure of meeting Iranians when teaching English. I really chimed with them — they were cheeky, fun, very bold and subversive.
Although it’s a little unfair to assume that if you’ve not been somewhere, your view on the place is invalid, I have reservations about this article. Vitchek admitted that Iran “isn’t perfect”, but my feeling is this. It is both possible to point out weaknesses (or even serious issues) about Iran like hangings of homosexuals, compromised freedom of speech, while at the same time giving the place credit and celebrating the good points. Unluckily for lazy westerners, the bad doesn’t annul the good. But pointing out the weaknesses also doesn’t make you a western chauvinist.


Pascall, you forgot to add “from cranes”. That’s like forgetting to add “barrell” before bombs in a thread “celebrating the good points” of Syria.


Bit obscure here but I guess you are referring to hanging homosexuals… I don’t get your point here, please enlighten me.


I think vexarb’s point is that if one chooses to believe propaganda then be sure to get the finer details correct.


Thanks JudyJ, still in the dark here… Did I need to mention where people are killed for my point to make sense? Does Vexarb want to clear this up instead?


Thank you so much for this article Andre .Iran is like what I hoped it would be like , and thank you for substantiating it.
I would love to visit this country before I leave this blue planet of ours.There are still good people in the world.I have read some of your works and you are a well traveled and knowledgeable man .
Too many have had their minds warped by our Western lying media.

Norman Pilon

America, which is the rankest capitalist nation on the planet, is also very beautiful, and the people are absolutely delightful. So I agree, there are still good people in the world. In fact, I’d wager that there are more good people everywhere than there are bad. But maybe you are American, or have already spent some time there, and so know exactly what I’m talking about.

On the other hand, I, too, would chomp at the bit to visit Iran if I could muster the coin. I mean I know that as beautiful as they are, images never fairly capture the splendor of truly stunning vistas.

As ugly as the world is in many respects, it is also at the same time inspiringly beautiful.


Am Canadian Norman and as a matter of fact I have relatives by the last name of Pilon.But I stay away from the USA these days until they get their act together ,I will continue to do that .It is dangerous on many streets in the US ,but then again ,it is getting worse in Canada also .Hopefully not because of the people we accepted as refugees because we already have our share of deviants .I do appreciate your point of view from time to time.It is good that we share same as it builds a saner world.



Peter W
Peter W

What utter piffle. Have been to Iran 7 or 8 times. It is run by a revolting highly corrupt regime who despise women. Good public transport?? Has the writer really been over there. All the many Iranians I have met are wonderful hospitable people who would find this article deeply distressing due to the nonsense it spouts.


Peter, you have been there and found the public transport unsatisfactory; Andre has been there and found the opposite. But both of you found the Persians to be wonderful people. Could you two perhaps persuade some of your Iranian friends to join the discussion? Get the view from people who’ve not only “been there” but live there?

George Cornell
George Cornell

Compared to what? And what is your evidence the regime despises women? Not like white US hates blacks? Amerindians? Brits hate foreigners? Etc
Modernization takes time and is not helped by hatespeak like you spout.


Dear Peter,

Please tell us the last time you visited Iran. A relative of mine went there years ago, back in the 1990s. Her experience then may be relevant for travellers there 20 years ago but not necessarily for travellers there these days. Iran was a very different country then from what it is now: still recovering from a long war, much poorer, very corrupt under then President Ali Akbar Rafsanjani’s leadership, maybe also very paranoid and prejudiced against the West and any perceived Western influences that might suggest foreign infiltration.

Countries can and do change, and may even improve their conditions despite being under sanctions, over time.

As far as I can tell from the article, Vltchek visited Tehran but did not say if he went anywhere else in Iran.


Sorry, the proper full name for Rafsanjani is Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.


@Peter W
The Ayatollah is currently backing the many people who have demanded an end to the corruption of Rouhani’s elected government. My question therefore is, do you condemn the electorate for being conned into voting for Rouhani or the Rouhani government, or the Ayatollah for backing the will of the majority?


Why do you keep going?


We are as always encouraged to see the enemy as being without. When invariably the enemy lies within.
Here in the West it is discouraged to think beyond the superficial and to hold any depth of a deeper understanding or concept of mindfulness. The Western mind warpers! have endeavored over the years to kill any belief of the spiritual and encouraged vacuousness and self obsession in its place.
Soul sucking dept and a shallow existence of consumerism and mindless entertainment are part of the spell binding and zombiefying. The idea of countries encouraging deeper and more meaningful debate or progression of thoughts and philosophies beyond this self obsession must be a huge threat. Best to discourage any one looking over there. A closing in and down of the psyche is taking place and so the West demonizes any one or thing that questions this. Questioning and querying any thing other then the official narrative on any thing is now considered a great wrong because the enemy within say so. Countries like Iran have not yet fallen into this superficial malaise and still connect to the spiritual They therefore must be turned into the enemy without.

Norman Pilon

There is always something new to learn . . .

On the assumption, of course, that Keith Jones has done his homework and crosschecked his references, a fascinating read: The struggle against imperialism and for workers’ power in Iran.

Recommended (perhaps even necessary?) reading for Andre and all those who sincerely believe in the socialist character of Iranian society and the thrust of its ‘popular upheavals’ since about the 1950s.

Maybe OffG might want to post the three part series? Readers in the know might then be able to point out any factual errors committed by Jones.


Norman, don’t you know that WSWS are a bunch of Trots and their articles are verbal diarhea? For a cure, take a daily dose of the 11 part series by Persian socialist Ramin Mazaheri in the Saker Vineyard.

Norman Pilon

Well, hey, they’re a bunch of Trots. I guess Keith Jones’ critique of Ramin Mazaheri is thereby dismantled, and given that it’s a longish read published in three parts, you’ve just saved a lot of people a lot of effort. And it’s all verbal diarhea, anyway, so why bother reading the piece, eh?

Many thanks you for your thoughtful comments and analysis, vexarb.

But what to make of this bit by Ramin Mazaheri?

Quote begins:

A broke government cannot afford to pay more salaries & pensions; thus, new structures were created to fuel employment and production, and to reduce the state bureaucracy and regulation, but they were not capitalist structures and certainly not globalist capitalist ones.

Considering that 70% of the nation’s capital had been brought under state control in 1979, in 1989 there was massive support (even among the hard-core left) for new President Rafsanjani’s plan to privatise the non-strategic sectors in order to promote immediate production; foreign borrowing to rebuild also seemed unavoidable, considering the economic devastation. Where else could money come from?

Quote ends

Source: What Privatization? Iran’s Unique Socialist Economy

Question: can a government that can print its own currency and issue it through a procedure that economist Richard Werner has described as window guidance ever go broke?

Consequently, the need to “privatise the non-strategic sectors” of the Iranian economy to “promote immediate production” and “foreign borrowing” is an ideological fiction, one to which only a capitalist mindset could be in thrall, and a neoliberal one at that. I mean, “where else could money come from,” right?

Now you won’t find that particular little critique of Ramin Mazaheri’s turn of mind in anything that Jones’ speaks to, however telling this particularly flagrant lapse in Mazaheri’s “uniquely Iranian” brand of socialism may be. It’s all mine in so far as I’ve made Werner’s ideas my own and can occasionally bring them, as I understand them, to bear on the nonsense about money that socialists subscribing to special kinds of socialisms sometimes spout.

But, hey, it’s all just meaningless verbal diarhea, because everyone knows that in a socialist state, especially one “overflowing with museums, theatres, wonderfully kept parks dotted with modern art sculptures,” all things that cannot possibly manifest in such an overflowing abundance under anything remotely akin to capitalism and that consequently overflowingly prove the uniquely socialist character of Iranian society, the one thing that shouldn’t give a non-Iranian (Marxist?) socialist pause about Iran’s singular brand of socialism is the veto power over public policy that unelected billionaire bourgeois clerics are accorded.

Clearly, very clearly, Iran is socialist. Uniquely so.

And national governments who control the issuance of their own currency can go broke. Embarrassing when it happens, but it happens, and then you can always privatize and borrow some . . .

’nuff said . . .

Nicolas Maroudas
Nicolas Maroudas

Norman, do you realise, Iran is fighting for its life? Like Syria? When a man is drowning one does not say to would-be rescuers, “Oh but see, he has a wart on his nose; and please to read this 3-part series on all his other blemishes”.
Inequality of income and maldistribution of public services is are indeed serious blemishes on the Salus Populi; but it is up to the Persians to correct them. And it is up to men and women of good will to counter that bloodthirsty cry of “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” that has been broadcast non-stop for the past 7 years from Israel and the U$A.

Norman Pilon

Oh, I didn’t realize that at all. But now that you’ve pointed it out to me, it becomes very obvious to me — as obvious as it is that Iran is socialist and that Ramin Mazaheri has not clearly, like the seeming majority of so-called leftists, been infected by what Samir Amin has called the “Liberal Virus” — that I’ve been unwittingly arguing for the destruction of Iran by the U.S.

I mean it’s not as if we should mindful of any and all truths at all times in so far as we can be, especially when one or another of those truths might be inconvenient, as though facts should at all times be deserving of our attention and acknowledgement, or that we should be honest at least with ourselves about the ascertainable realities in which ordinary people find themselves worldwide, in these terrible and unfortunate neoliberal-times.

So clearly if a collection of neocons and hawks have hitched their wagon to the cause of the Iranian people, as against their ruling capitalist establishment, then that most emphatically means that we shouldn’t in any way whatsoever show the least support for, say, burgeoning Iranian working class protests or to help the working class, whether Iranian or American, get a better measure of the breadth and depth of their oppression.


@ Norman Pilon.

I am hoping your reply was satirical? Because it was sort of lost on me…
Unless you meant:
It has become very clear since 911 and before, that EVERY time a collection of neocons and hawks hitched their wagon to the cause of any of the people they propose are oppressed, especially the Syrian and Iranian people and their ‘ruling capitalist’ establishment, which just happens to be Socialist..
Then warning bells begin to toll throughout the world, which herald the onset of ‘another regime change’ which will ensure that the Corporations make the biggest ‘killing’ literally, to ensure their profits are not interrupted..
See: ”Confessions of an economic Hitman by John Perkins.”

Norman Pilon

@ Maggie,

If you read what you are reacting to against the backdrop of my other two comments in this particular thread, I think it should be obvious that, yes, I’m being tongue-in-cheek, and if you want to call it satirical, well who am I to say how it comes off to others.

The upshot of my comment is merely this: acknowledging the righteousness of the burgeoning revolts of the Iranian working class is not a call for the destruction of Iran; it is to stand with that class in recognizing with it that it is an oppressed and exploited class, and that its oppressors and exploiters are comprised of both the Iranian bourgeoisie and all of the foreign agents maneuvering to get a lucrative foothold in their country, and being oppressed and exploited, they have every right to attempt to break, by whatever means they can muster, that oppression and exploitation.

(I’ve read Perkins, through and through. Do you really believe in the sincerity of his remorseful confessions? Or did he see an opportunity to milk an audience hungry for sordid disclosures about the way things “really are.” The man was and, in my opinion, continues to be a sleazeball.Furthermore, there was nothing in his confessions of which an observant ‘left’ wasn’t already aware)

Norman Pilon

@ Maggie,

And by the way, only because you bring up, you seem to be as convinced of Syria as you are of Iran, that it just happens to be socialist.

Here is a friendly challenge for you, assuming that you are open to the possibility that you may be mistaken about Syria, or that you perhaps don’t know as much about Syria as you fancy you do: read Raymond Hinnebusch’s Syria: from ‘authoritarian upgrading’ to revolution? — International Affairs 88: 1, 2012, and then come back and tell me a) that there was never a popular uprising in Syria and b) that Syria just happens to be socialist.

But if you do come back to make those assertions contra Hinnebusch, you must provide a refutation of Hinnebusch’s account, that is to say, provide sources of information that flat out contradict and disprove his specific contentions.

Of course, you don’t have to take up this challenge. But then my position is that if without reading Hinnebusch, you contend that Syria just happens to be socialist, you speak out ignorance.



Extract 1: “The stategy was simple, clear, tried and tested…It was to run as follows: train proxies to launch armed provocations; label the state’s response to these provocations as genocide; intimidate the UN Security Council – or at least NATO – into agreeing that “something must be done”; incinerate the entire army and any other resistance with fragmentation bombs and Hellfire missiles; and finally install a weak, compliant government to sign off new contracts and alliances drawn up in London, Paris and Washington, while the country tears itself apart. Result: the heart torn out of the “axis of resistance” between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, leaving Iran isolated and the West with a free hand to attack the Islamic republic without fear of regional repercussions.
This was to be Syria’s fate, drawn up years ago in the high level planning committees of US, British and French defence departments and intelligence services. But this time, unlike in Libya, it has not all gone according to plan….”

Extract 2: [After Russia and China’s veto of the UN Security Council resolution for ‘regime change’ in October 2011] “it left the burden of destroying the Syrian state to NATO’s proxy forces on the ground, the ‘Free Syrian Army’ – a collection of domestic and (increasingly) foreign rival armed militias, mostly ultra-sectarian Salafi extremists, along with a smattering of defectors and Western special forces.
However, this army was not created to actually defeat the Syrian state; that was always supposed to be NATO’s job. As in Libya, the role of the militias was simply to provoke reprisals from the state in order to justify a NATO blitzkrieg.”

Extract 3: …”Despite their claims to the contrary, a stable Syrian-led process is the last thing they [the imperial powers] want, as it leaves open the possibility of Syria remaining a strong, independent, anti-imperialist state – exactly the possibility they had sought to eliminate.
Hence, within days of Kofi Annan’s peace plan gaining a positive response from both sides in late March [2012] , the imperial powers openly pledged, for the first time, millions of dollars for the Free Syrian Army: for military equipment, to provide salaries to its soldiers, and to bribe government forces to defect. In other words, terrified that the civil war is starting to die down, they are setting about institutionalising it….. ”

A different perspective on Syria, taken from an article written in 2012 by Dan Glazebrook and archived in his 2013 book ‘Divide and Ruin: the West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis’. It rings particularly true in the light of subsequent events in Syria which obviously hadn’t happened when Glazebrook wrote this.

Norman Pilon

I don’t know how “different” Dan Glazebrook’s characterization of the machinations of Empire is from anything that Hinnebusch contends, and I’m willing to bet that as pertains to the West’s meddling in Syria, both of these authors would largely be in agreement.

But from I’m reading in the quotes you’ve provided, the content doesn’t really address or answer the questions — quite independently of any “regime change operations” fomented and directed from abroad — of whether there was a popular Syrian uprising or whether Syria can rightly be characterized as ‘socialist.’

Everything that Glazebrook contends may be true; and there may in fact have been a widespread and spontaneous popular uprising; and Syria may be anything but socialist.

Hinnebusch’s study focuses on historical, social and economic imperatives that are specific to Syria, as abstracted from all foreign meddling.

So in effect, while Glazebrook is speaking to one cluster of aspects pertaining to Syria, Hinnebusch is speaking to another, although both things are in reality interrelated and mutually conditioning and, consequently, necessary requisites to an adequate understanding of the catastrophe that has and continues to unfold in that unfortunate country.

And thank you very much for the Glazebrook reference. I’m not familiar with his work, I think (I may have read some things from him that momentarily escape me), and will follow up . . .




Thank you for your comments. I did skim through Hinnebusch’s paper before posting my earlier comments and it did strike me that in amongst all the fairly esoteric ‘political detail’ there were some details which didn’t sit comfortably with Glazebrook’s understanding of events. I must confess I didn’t want to make my post too turgid and off-putting by going into excessive detail but as you have raised the issue of their relative ‘take’ on events I shall take this opportunity to mention a couple of points where the difference is apparent.

Unless I missed it, Hinnebusch omits to mention the ‘brutal’ massacring by the rebellious parties which demanded punishment from ‘the regime’. He makes no mention of the dozens of policemen and their families, and soldiers slaughtered by regime opponents; the rebels also moved on within a few months to murdering fellow civilians who didn’t cooperate with their demands or who demonstrated their support for Assad. Instead he euphemistically refers to ‘the regime’ “warding off pressures from democracy activists” and ‘the regime’ “rebuffing the demands of the moderate opposition for political reform”. He goes on to say “…the brutal suppression of peaceful demonstrators infuriated both local and international opinion and allowed what were localised protests demanding reform to spiral into a major uprising bent on overturning the regime.” These descriptions alone do little to suggest acknowledgement by Hinnebusch that there may have been more than just a local disatisfaction with the regime’s policies to have caused the unrest.

Hinnebusch does of course accord with Glazebrook when he makes the comment “..Western governments began to take an active hand in organising and backing the opposition”, but as they were open about that it would be difficult for Hinnebusch not to make that observation. But from Hinnebusch’s angle this was in response to the ‘cruel’ repression of demonstrators by the regime, rather than because they had their own ulterior motives and – from Glazebrook’s viewpoint – were actually sponsoring the uprising.

I wouldn’t be so bold, or confident in my own interpretation of various writings on this subject, as to say that Glazebrook is right in everything he says and Hinnebusch is wrong. But, on balance, I personally take the view that leading an independent, secular country in the Middle East is an unenviable challenge, especially when you throw hegemonic western aspirations into the mix which know no bounds.

I hope you do get a chance to look up more of Glazebrook’s work, not just on Syria but on other worldwide issues. Being that he writes what you might call easily digestible articles it doesn’t take long to decide whether you are inclined to agree with him or not. I don’t know about you but as I age I find that my ability to focus on anything vaguely intellectual for any length of time is becoming more and more difficult so the more ‘pithy’ written commentaries are the better!

Norman Pilon

Points dully noted. And I will read Glazebrook.

You are correct that Hinnebusch does not go into the details or proximate timeline of the ‘revolt,’ nor does he speak to the maneuverings of the American-Zionist-Takfiri axis. This isn’t his focus, but rather the chain of broad historical events in Syria, reaching back to the 1963 coup that brought the Ba’ath Party to power, and on up to the initial stirrings of the 2011 “uprising.”

If one examines that chain of events — on the assumption that Hinnebusch has accurately read and interpreted the history — then the argument that there were no real grounds for widespread disaffection among Syrians and that, consequently, there never was anything like an indogenous uprising, this argument cannot truly be sustained.

Furthermore, the details brought to light by Hinnebusch make it amply obvious that Syria has never been a socialist state, albeit once upon a time a national-popular regime with a large public sector presence in the economy.

If I may share with you where on balance I’m at on the issue of Syria, and if it’s permissible to copy and paste something I wrote some time ago:

I suspect that the various competing interpretations of the situation in Syria that end up siding either ‘with’ or ‘against’ the existing Syrian government obscure more than they clarify.

At bottom, exactly as are the governments of all other power brokers competing for influence and control over the Syrian territory and its inhabitants, the Syrian government itself is comprised of ‘ruling factions’ — (i.e., of landed and commercial oligarchies alongside rising and very much embourgeoised middle class elements) — whose interests are at bottom reducible to that of ‘money making.’

Consequently, I’m a long way from being convinced that the ‘socialist’ tag can be meaningfully attributed, here as elsewhere.

Furthermore, I’m inclined to agree with Samir Amin’s thumbnail sketch of the overall situation (24 April 2012 ):

Quote begins:

Facing that in Syria we have objectively a situation similar to the one of Egypt: that is, a regime which a long, long time ago had legitimacy, for the same reasons, when it was a national-popular regime but lost it in the time of Hafez Assad already — it moved to align itself with neoliberalism, privatization, etc., leading to the same social disaster. So, there is an objective ground for a wide, popular, social-oriented uprising. But by preempting this movement, through the military intervention of armed groups, the Western imperialist powers have created a situation where the popular democratic movement is . . . hesitating. They don’t want to join the so-called “resistance” against Bashar Assad; but they don’t want to support the regime of Bashar Assad either. That has allowed Bashar Assad to successfully put an end, or limits, to external intervention, in Homs and on the boundary of Turkey in the north. But opposing state terror to the real terrorism of armed groups supported by foreign powers is not the answer to the question. The answer to the question is really changing the system to the benefit of, through negotiations with, the real popular democratic movement. This is the challenge. And this is the question which is raised. We don’t know, I don’t know, I think nobody knows how things will move on: whether the regime, or people within the regime, will understand that and move towards real reform by opening, more than negotiations, a re-distribution of the power system with the popular democratic movement, or will stick to the way of meeting explosions just brutally as they have done until today. If they continue in that direction, finally they will be defeated, but they will be defeated to the benefit of imperialist powers.

Quote ends.

Source: An Imperialist Springtime? Libya, Syria, and Beyond

If a broad-based revolt was indeed brewing in 2011 in Syria, then all narratives either defending or indicting the Syrian government somewhat miss the mark.

This doesn’t mean that an attempt was not made opportunistically by the Imperial West to co-opt or aggravate the moment of instability or upheaval in 2011, nor does it mean that the ‘revolt’ was in its tenor a ‘socialist revolt.’ But it would cast doubt on the nature of the military interventions by all of the militaries and foreign mercenaries implicated in Syria since 2011, on all sides and in whatever guises, including those of the Syrian military itself.

Hinnebusch, I think, does a decent job of conveying the complexity of the situation, a complexity that tends to get eclipsed by arguments ‘for’ or ‘against’ the intervention of this or that capitalist camp, a camp, like all others, in fact competing to preserve or enlarge its ascendancy in both Syria and elsewhere.

Some have claimed, and not without supporting evidence, that a popular uprising never truly happened in Syria, that the ‘uprising’ had all along been a ruse engineered by the West to topple Assad & Co. The more I read, however, the more obvious it becomes to me that that premise is false. There was a popular uprising if also an attempt by the West, through real terror, to quash or co-opt what Amin called the ‘popular democratic movement’ in Syria.

Another false premise is that if one dares to side with the thrust of the ‘popular revolt’ in Syria, of Syrians against ‘their’ government, then one ipso facto supports the aggression that the Imperial West has indubitably unleashed against and visited upon the people of Syria. Not so and not necessarily.

All violence against the people of Syria, regardless of its provenance, is to be decried and that is what I decry.

Might I also, then, recommend:

The Arab Spring: revolution and counter-revolution — by Sandra Bloodworth | Marxist Left Review (see the section titled, “Syria: which side are you on?”, although the entire piece is, in my opinion, worth the read.)

The Trump-Putin coalition for Assad lays waste to Syria: Imperial agreement and carve-up behind the noisy rhetoric — Michael Karadjis | Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis

Nationalism, Resistance and Revolution — Bassem Chit (January 2014) | International Socialism

Did Arab leftists betray the revolution? — Dr. Rima Majed (17 Feb 2014) | Al Jazeera

All the best,


Norman Pilon

P.S. That’s “duly noted” and not “dully noted.” 😉


In the US, the first time I remember hearing of Iran was at the start of the Hostage Crisis. The newspapers began counting the days and slapping the number at the top of every edition: Iran Hostage Crisis Day 12. On TV–the lead story was an update on the Hostage Crisis as well. Then ABC News began doing updates after the late news–this became “Nightline” with Ted Koppel.

I recently tried to search for the early episodes–just to look back and analyze the reporting. I thought youtube would have the complete first episode–but, NOPE. Out of all the newspapers and TV news reports I saw, I don’t remember one of them even mentioning the CIA overthrowing Mossadegh in the 1950’s. The Hostage Crisis was presented as a bunch of radicals who hated America–no real reason for their hatred was offered.

The propaganda worked on me–it would be after college before I realized what systemic propaganda the US media was filled with. By college, it was the Iraqis who were the problem–the US press boondoggled the public into saving the babies of Kuwait who were thrown out of incubators by Iraqis.

Its a damn shame the Dirty Tricks work so easily on 95% of Americans–time and time again. I hope people share this article–because the same Dirty Trick machine is now aimed at Iran (once again). Trump, his Sec. of State Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton are all rabid Zionists—Pompeo and Bolton can often be seen frothing at the mouth while calling for the overthrow of Iran’s leaders. I think Pompeo even said the USA would be in Iran by 2019.

BOLO False Flag Event by US and Israel…


@SystemicFraud; “I think Pompeo even said the USA would be in Iran by 2019.”

That’s nothing! In 2001 the Bush regime’s Wolfo*itz sent a memo to his generals, We’re gonna take out Iran by 2006.


@ SystemicFraud .I so resonate with what you posted as I am sure most of us reading this article.We have been so propagandized for so long and mostly because of the zionist cause .The blinders are coming off for many of us.
Much past information about the history of Iran cannot be found unless one reads books written by informed unbiased historians .Cheers!

Gavin Wren

I’m planning an overland trip through Central Asia and want to visit Iran, yet I’m hearing mixed reports about the safety of visiting, with Foreign Office warning or arbitrary detentions. This contrasts with everyone I know who has visited and said it’s a fantastic country.

I’d love to hear other thoughts on visiting.


“arbitrary detentions” – pay no heed to this nonsense. You will no doubt be aware of the case of Nazanin Zagahri-Ratcliffe and this would be one of the “arbitrary detentions” referred to. She has been an out and out trouble maker in Iran over the past 10 years or so, encouraging anti-Government rebellion, and was wanted on various charges when she returned in 2017 (or 2016, can’t quite remember). It was no surprise to anyone who believes in justice when she was detained by the authorities there. There may be one or two others in a similar position who don’t get the same publicity. To my mind the authorities are doing nothing that our own Govt wouldn’t do if the situation was reversed. On the other hand there are thousands of innocent tourists who travel there every year without any hitches at all. They are the ones to listen to. The only risk you might be taking is if the US and/or its allies suddenly take it upon themselves to militarily attack the country without warning for their own nefarious purposes.
But I say go for it and enjoy yourself!


@ Judy J

Nazanin Zagahri-Ratcliffe? Isn’t she an MI5 agent?

We the ‘people’ should stick together and refuse to be separated, and segregated by lies, from our fellow human beings.
The more we visit one another’s lands as friends, the more we will learn the truth.
Look at all the garbage propaganda prior to the Russian World Cup? Even the Bullingdon boy Dimbleby put his spoke in and it was embarrassing. We even had the false flag Novichok, but that didn’t wash with thousands of supporters from all corners of the world. And it was FANTASTIC. Not one ounce of trouble. Everyone welcomed with open arms.
Pity they haven’t all posted online…. then again, perhaps they have but their comments have been ‘removed.’


p.s. Gavin, on the assumption you’re not vegetarian you must try their Circassian chicken! An Iranian friend of the family got his mother to make it for us as her speciality when she was visiting this country and it was wonderful.


Gavin, an OffG reader posted recently that their son has returned from Iran with glowing reports. The FO are just doing their job, in between warning Syrian refugees not to go home for fear of barrel bombs dropping deadly Russian Novijoke.

Forever Young
Forever Young

Societies are complex and there’s never going to be one perspective that covers the entirety of a nation… But i’m celebrating what you have shared from your personal experience whilst visiting Teheran and communicating respectfully with some of the residents.

We need as many perspectives from around the world, so as to shed insight into the fact that people who inhabit particular cities and countries are diverse in their ways, but essentially just want to get on with their lives and discover deeper meaning to be being human…. Eventually.

This gets lost in the barrage of stereotypical bullshit which comes through the clogged up filters of the mainstream media, outwith an occassional rare article which isn’t aimed at demonising a nation.

It’s worth bearing in mind, that in amidst all of the social and cultural benevolence shared in by the people of Teheran, then that’s not the case for everybody living in the country.

There is a certain degree of brutality within government through it’s interpretation and enforcement of Muslim Law… This is especially pronounced for the Baha’i people who have been subjected to cultural genocide…. Many people being murdered after lengthy phases of hideous torture, in an attempt to have them renounce their faith.

But for sure, the main gist of your article is to remind us and hopefully awaken people who have been confused by the bullshit smears, that Iran is far from being the nation it is reduced to, through the narrow perspective filters of devious regimes who want to destroy it and lay claim to the vast mineral reserves, so as to line their bank balances and maintain their illusory state of power, through bullying…. A poor substitute for being truly human..

Let’s keep on holding the vision that somehow we can step into a fresh paradigm and fully embrace the wholesome technology which is available for us to utilise. Technology which would make fossil fuel power redundant, outwith the rare treat of sitting around a log fire and sharing soulful music, storytelling and celebrating how fortunate we all are to be alive in a human body on this extraordinary planet.

Nicolas Maroudas
Nicolas Maroudas

@F.Young. No need to deprive ourselves of “the rare treat of sitting around a log fire and sharing soulful music, storytelling and celebrating” — it’s the rest of us 10 Billion enjoying burning Iranian gas and petroleum that cause the trouble.

Please tell us more about the Bahai. Their temple and garden are a valued tourist feature of Haifa, and they are very much into practical ecology through public recycling business. I deduced from my Bahai neighbour that they must be a variant of ancient Zoroastrian religion because she named her daughter Roxanne, same as the Afghan wife of Alexander the Great. The Zoroastrans (Parsees ie, Persians) were likewise great recyclers; and no doubt made compost for use In a Persian Garden.

Forever Young
Forever Young

From what you shared Nicolas, then it seems like you already have a reasonable insight into people from the Bahai tradition… I doubt that i can offer anything more as i don’t have any personal connections such as you do…. From what i’ve read about them, they come across as very compassionate in their ways.

I was just aware that they’ve been persecuted in a truly harsh manner…. Worth mentioning within the context of the article.


@Forever. Yes, the Bahai are commanded to plant a garden wherever they go. As for persecution, that’s an internal matter for the Persian nation to deal with. Wikipedia says that Bahais form the second largest religious group in Persia (which is 90% Muslim) so I guess there must be around 5 million Bahai living in their ancient land; as well as the diaspora community in Israel, Germany and the USA.

I certainly do not defend persecution, torture and Cultural Genocide, but I do not believe we have a Right to Interfere in the internal matters of a sovereign country. For instance in my youth the US used to persecute Communists and even today the US commits Cultural Genocide against them, so there are almost no Communists in the Land of the Free. Also the USA and Australia militarily aided the present Indonesian regime to commit actual Human Genocide on Indonesian Communists, slaughtering them by the tens of thousand, as well as Cultural Genocide. Nevertheless, I do not believe that we have the right to correct the USA and Australia by dropping bombs on them; we should bring their intolerance to their attention, and wait for these countries to become more tolerant by pricking their conscience.

Forever Young
Forever Young

@ Vexarb… Thanks for expanding on the point.

For sure, it’s always an internal affair for nations, and like the majority of people who check in with this column, i’m well aware of the persecution of particular groups of people within nation states around the world…. It’s a subhuman affliction no matter what identity flag it hides behind.

i just felt to mention the plight of the Bahai’i people in amidst the dynamic of the Iranian nation, which we all know is under great threat and pressure from the Imperialist propaganda and military regime.

I’m always making an attempt to maintain a balanced narrative around situations involving individuals, organisations and nations, as it’s too easy to throw blankets of narrative either demonising or idolising, which only serves to maintain the conflictive duality consciousness… As you mention, somehow we must raise the game and through inspired dialogue, prick the conscience of people, who after all, beyond all of their perversities are looking for the same thing as everybody else… They are just woefully misguided in their ways of going about it.

I’m celebrating the article in that it throws a clearer light upon the reality for the majority of people within Iranian society, and we have to make sure this is made more widely known whenever we can, so as to balance the propaganda smear campaign, and make people contemplate a more realistic perspective.


The Baha’i religion grew out of a Shi’ite Islamic sect in Iran so it’s as much a variant of Zoroastrianism as, er, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are, in that they teach that there is a good God and an evil God, the two are always in eternal conflict and humanity’s role is to ensure that at least evil does not prevail over good.


@Jen. That’s my view too. I used to dislike Zarathustra’s view of Life as a Battle Between Good and Evil because it seemed to promote that self righteous judgmentalism which marks all 3 derivative religions which you mention — the so called Peoples of the Book. But now I begin to think St.Paul might be right after all: There is War in the Heavens.


All new religions are persecuted by the ones that are predominant at the time.Christianity was condemned and persecuted after the coming of Jesus the Christ .The prophet Muhammad was the founder of Islam and the persecutions and wars regarding religion in that historical period are well known .The Baha i faith is no different as it creates a new faith among the Muslim world.
Having done some studies on different religions ,I have to say the Baha i faith is probably more evolved ,if that is the better wording , as it does stress the emancipation of womanhood and respects all previous religions .
I personally feel that the spirituality of all religions is what is important ,the dogma ,not so much.

Norman Pilon

If Iran is socialist, then what does socialism have that would recommend it over capitalism?

Quote begins:

The moment he threw his hat into the ring for the presidency, Rouhani presented himself as heir to the legacy of Hashemi Rafsanjani and christened himself a moderate with neoliberal economic policies. In such a situation of moderation, nothing in fact remains moderate: in order to construct a moderate position, things must be done away with, voices silenced, and terms changed in advance. In an age that proclaims itself moderate, moderation in fact always goes to shambles. A number of Rouhani’s policies are carried out in the name of moderation and adjustment: changes in labor law, bank loan conditions, and housing programs; the employment plan; the introduction of tuition at universities and remaking of curricula. But they are in fact brimming with radicalism, a plot to conserve and entrench class divides. A controlled parliamentary democracy on the neoliberal model is the preferred political mode of the age, and the instrument of its advancement is a weakening of the role of the human sciences and a removal of all intellectuals save for free-market economists from the circle of major decision-making.

Quote ends

Amin Bozorgian

(Armin Bozorgian is an Iranian sociologist based in Strasbourg. He has published many articles on social and political issues both in Iranian and international publications. His second book will come out in the coming months.)


Norm: if, as is stated in comment below, socialism now has a plurality of meanings, it is only because the possessing classes have re-defined and fixed meanings framed within their own hierarchical linguistic syntax of power. There is an emancipatory Telos to socialism only as a participatory democratic transitional and transformative state. Its socialist function is to gradually break down all sectarianisms and end all class and hierarchical dominance. In the process: the socialist state gradually absorbs itself by transitioning its representative power to its actual constituents and participators in their own (stateless) state of humanitarian autonomy and self-sovereignty. The universal humanity of the base absorbs the functions, misappropriated power and stolen wealth from the redundant socialist superstructure. Having achieved this function, the socialist state has withered away.

If socialism becomes a stasis – it becomes statist …a mirror totalising politics of violence and dehumanisation that is indistinct from its reflecting progenitor and dialectic partner – the capitalist state. We can define socialism how we want: excepting that we confine it as a static end-state – an ends not a means. As an ends it objectifies and mathematicises its subjects as the means of surplus value extraction and the super-exploitative rubric of capital accumulation. A human life becomes a stochastic expression that is relevant to the state only as a means and mode of more and more productive wealth. Productive for the socialist state: not its dehumanised subject, that is. A socialist state built around the hierarchical domination and class rule of capital accumulation is capitalist in all but name. A state capitalist entity leading to a universalism of alienation and exploitation all the same: whatever linguistic signification one may use to obfuscate that fact.

This is not written in historical or dialectic materialism (which are largely heuristics): the truth-value of my proposition is an inherence within the laws of motion of capital. The deadly contradiction of the cancer of capitalism is that it must grow exponentially: even though it must eventually kill the host. Socialism becomes a totalising mirror reflection of capitalism unless its progress is toward the end of capitalism. Only then can it be a liberational, if necessarily transitory, state of any evolutionary value. In terms of anti-evolution: socialism and capitalism are synonyms, not antonyms in the modern idiom. We need a new liberational idiom to transcend the death of both of the common synonyms for the anti-humanitarian evolutionary regression and suppression inherent in (fettered or unfettered) capital accumulation.

Norman Pilon

I agree with the crux of your assertions: socialism is a transition, a process, and when it stops being that, it becomes dead and in essence no different from the process of stagnant exploitation that is capitalist reproduction.

When I assert that a state is not socialist, I’m asserting that I believe, whether rightly or wrongly, on the basis of a necessarily limited perspective, that those who hold the reigns of political power are ideologically (and thus pragmatically) aligned, not with the aspirations of the propertyless many, but with the interests of the propertied few who collectively rule over, exploit, and oppress the many.

A better question than asking whether a society is socialist, is to try to estimate whether ‘public policy decisions’ bearing most heavily on the social relations of the whole are promoting ‘democratic change’ of both a social and economic kind, or inhibiting such change so as to preserve or even amplify the existing characteristics of the status quo.

Something that may or may not be worth your time, and I will quote only the first two paragraphs to give you the flavor of it:

Quote begins:

page 14


Socialist transition is the period of time that transforms a non-communist society to a communist society. During the socialist transition there is no certain predetermined path by which policies and events can be judged to determine whether this path is being followed. Instead, the analysis of socialist transition depends on the general direction of the transition. Therefore, one single and isolated event cannot determine [whether] the transition is socialist or capitalist. We have no predetermined path in mind and, thus, have no specific yard sticks to measure our evaluation. As Lenin said, “We do not claim that Marx or the Marxists know the road to socialism in all its completeness. That is nonsense. We know the direction of this road, we know what class forces lead along it, but concretely and practically it will be learned from the experiences of the millions who take up the task”[1]

There are, however, some general and broad guidelines on the direction of transition toward communism. Most generally accept that socialism (or what Marx called the elementary stage of communism) is a stage of development when the direct producers gain control of the means of production and distribution is made “to each according to his work.” Under capitalism, capitalists own the means of production, and direct producers have no control. Since the purpose of production under capitalism is value valorization, capitalists must relentlessly extract as much surplus value as possible from the workers. The purpose of production under socialism, on the other hand, is to produce products of use value to meet the needs of the people. Thus, socialism represents a fundamental change in the [capitalist] relations of production: it is the antithesis of capitalism. These general guidelines give the direction which is a developmental process of transforming the relations of production from commodity production to non-commodity production. Correspondingly, there have to be fundamental changes in the political, social, and cultural aspects of the society. The socialist transition is by no means a smooth one; it is marked by many twists and turns. Expected setbacks and retreats occur. However, the general direction is always clear. Due to certain circumstances retreats are sometimes necessary before advances. In such cases, the reasons behind the retreats should be clearly explained.

Quote ends.



Norm: I’d love to shoot the theoretical breeze about socialist transition …but the pre-requisite to any transition is a reasonably healthy capitalism and the will of the people to transition. Global capitalism has entered a auto-cannibalistic end state which precludes any theories of an orderly transition. The Turkish lira crisis is a symptom of a broader emerging market crisis that does not impinge on the narrow political worldview: focussed as it is on capital accumulation. What crisis: there is no crisis?

Yet even the man – Jerome Powell – who is pulling the levers recognises the risk to the EMEs …as he sucks the $$$$ lifeblood from them with a combination of Qualitative Tightening (selling off the Feds $4.5tn balance sheet at a trickle) and rate rises. The Argentine peso and Turkish lira are merely the first indicators of systemic fragility. The contagion will take some time to spread out (for instance to the Italian banks – already sitting on a $500bn mountain of non-performing loans).

Most GDP rise is spending borrowed money: monetising greater amounts of debt for diminishing returns. Augmenting this is derivative debt leveraging, share buybacks, mergers & acquisitions, and hostile takeovers. The only way the world neoliberal economy can sustain itself is ‘dark money’, as Nomi Prins calls it …nearly free capital. Virtually none of this is going into anything that can be called productive or sustainable. There is no way to transition from this state of affairs: not even back to something that could be recognised as ‘normal’ capital accumulation. The world elite are addicted to dark money capitalism: a rate rise to historical norms of 5-6% would crash the casino. Even the recent 0.25% rises have sent seismic shock waves spreading out globally. Powell hopes the EMEs crisis will be “containable”. If it isn’t, we could see QE4 (actually QE5 if you count Trump’s $5tn corporate tax bonanza). Apres nous le deluge!

This is not even on the political horizon, as they spin a cover story that the capitalism/socialism binary will offer perpetual potential prosperity …prosperity that never quite materialises. But if we just change sides one more time …? Radical political positions, like mine, that both capitalism/socialism are dead paradigms are very possibly singular. What comes after the deluge? I do not know: but it will probably not entail an orderly transition. If the 99% precariat do not witness their own predicament and at least attempt to participate to design an inclusive future …the future will be scientifically designed by the very same possessing classes that brought the current cultural and civilisational paradigm to the point of collapse. The only thing that prevents that happening is financial engineering and credit imperialist terrorism: which increase systemic fragility and hasten the demise.

Norman Pilon

Here is the issue for me: if the will of the people is ever to orientate itself to transition, the people need to be able to tell the difference between capitalism and socialism, in terms of what they are embracing in their heads.

In your opinion, how many of the people commenting here, who declare themselves either as socialists or as being in sympathy with it, really have a grasp on what that transition entails?

What about, for example, Ramin Mazaheri, recommended as as an exponent of the uniquely Iranian brand of socialism, but who is in reality a neoliberal ideologue.

Oh have I got that completely wrong?

Of course capitalism can be ameliorated in such a way that it could in fact make life more tolerable for the many. But the the real task is not to end the crisis of capital, and thereby breath new life into it, but to end the crisis that is capital. And that can’t happen if the majority continues to see the world through the lens of liberalism, and unconsciously so.

Big B
Big B

Socialism v capitalism: if the two are to generate any real linguistic – and therefore political – meaning: they have to be ‘oppositional binaries’. Too close in representational meaning and the range of values they can generate is (deliberately) limited (diminished to extreme centrism).

Thus: if capitalism stands for imperialism; socialism must stand for anti-imperialism.
If capitalism stands for de-regulation; socialism must stand for re-regulation.
If capitalism stands for miltarisation; socialism must stand for de-militarisation.
If capitalism stands for exceptionalism; socialism must stand for universalism.
If capitalism stands for globalisation; socialism must stand for de-globalisation.

I would contend that capitalism does, by and large,stand (albeit by nefarious means) for what it says: ‘democratic’ socialism only pretends too. Thus capitalism is more politically honest, in as much as politics can be honest. The essence of social democracy is subversion and inversion: to make the people believe that they are the peoples party working for the people. Capitalism, in its various political representations, is elitist and dispenses with the pretence of being for the many. In both cases; the highly controlled delimited political binary represents only the few. The universe of discourse generates two neoliberal capitalist imperialistic war parties. The politics of emancipation and universal humanism are thus outside the Overton Window of acceptable discourse.

Other than transform into a higher value representation of anti-capitalism; anti-war; anti-exceptionalism; anti-nationalism; and universalism, …a politics that stands for the ends of dispossession by ultra-violence; an end through international solidarity to the globalised super-exploitation of credit and military imperialism; and a home for a universal humanitarian ethics …I do not see any future for the word – let alone the politics of ‘socialism’. It is a dead metaphor, too ridden with bad-faith power relations and contradictions inherent in accepting the statist dictatorship inherent in the inner logic of capital accumulation to be resurrected …except maybe as a time-limited vanguardism as discussed above.

As to comments: I feel I presaged the question in my first reply: it is a s though Marx never existed. The late Samir Amin will already be turning in the grave he has barely been interred in: for the general lack of political acumen in liberal bourgeois society in general! 🙁

As for Ramin Mazaheri: I do not think you are wrong. My exact thoughts when I read (about 4 parts) of his rebuttal were:

Re – the Basij: this is a counter-revolutionary move. To draw from the revolutionary students and workers and give them special status is to create a new sub-elite entitled class. How is this an aid to class struggle? Or an aid to countering unequal development? It is, rather, a means of elite empowerment: to negate by inclusion any possible grassroots revolt. But if the youth fall for this, are they not betraying their own 1979 Revolution? How is neoliberal elitism revolutionary? Are we not witnessing the formation of a later statist (card carrying) Nomenklatura – a new power elite? And if the revolutionary youth do end up augmenting and amplifying bourgeois socialist elitism – do they not risk being neutralised later?

Re: Knowledge based economy – elitist, toward a ‘cognitive elite’, concretising inequality and uneven exceptionalist development, knowledge and technological imperialism …etc

Last, but laughably not least – Re: “anti-imperialism” 😀 …Ramin Mazaheri’s ‘revolutionary’ politics seem very confused!

The qualifier to the above is that it is my sincere hope that the revolutionary struggle in Iran kicks the Rouhani regime into touch as anti-revolutionary! Iran is light years ahead of the West in authentic revolutionaries: I’m sure they do not have to be told! Iran is a beautiful country with beautiful people: if they want to keep it that way, keep neoliberalism, the $$$$, and just as importantly …the sub-imperial euro out!


Big B I agree.

The whole system as it stands is flawed.It insists on the people following a system that invariably keeps them under. There is no label to use for what could be. Once labeled as an ism it becomes another label to be corrupted and turned against the people. Misdirecting them away from a true and pure existence. Fear is induced. Keeping the population from expanding inner power and core judgements of their own abilities and that of others to live harmoniously in cooperation and self regulation and in peace. There should be no need for state or hierarchical control to inflict rules on a population because all within could be be a part of a collective reasoning and purity of motive. To live this way requires a maturing of beliefs. A realization within ourselves and in our perceptions of what is possible and what we presume possible from others. We should not be relying on {our betters} to police us. The systems pendulum both left and right have done so much damage to the psyche of the world. As you put it. They have to be oppositional binaries. Ultimately both turn the peoples minds into a muddy and fear inducing mistrust of there own purity and spirit. Swung from one side to the other in a perpetual myth of hope that at some point a betterment of circumstance might occur. This dizzying motion maintains the status quo and enables the elite to continue to manipulate the masses from their ivory towers.

Norman Pilon

. . . while I agree with your sentiment, you cannot have, as you put it, “a maturing of beliefs” collectively shared without articulating in language those beliefs and integrating them into a coherent linguistic worldview that would be at odds with the capitalist status quo and its linguistic modalities, that is to say, that you cannot get away from “sets of cohering beliefts” that you cannot “name as a whole,” and thereby christen as “-isms.” This is simply how culture works, how it is that people come to share “points of views,” all of which can be “designated” in terms of their similarities and differences, and thus as “-isms.”

The point is, that yes, although the establishment ideologues are superlatively adept at inverting and corrupting the language of the people’s democratic aspirations and thus at sowing confusion and thereby creating conditions for the co-opting of popular movements, if there is to be a real linguistic and conceptual difference between terms that imply irreconcilable values — such as are designated by the terms “socialism” and “capitalism” — , a person needs to learn the meaning of the terms and maintain an vigilant awareness of their antithetical relationship. Language is important. Words are important. Ascribed meanings to labels and slogans is important. It is up to us to “learn” the terms and to be careful in our use of those terms and to take the time to explain their meanings to the people with whom we enter into conversation.

As Big B puts it, if the terms are to generate any real linguistic difference, they have to be ‘oppositional binaries’ (– after all, socialism, as an aspiration, is a ‘critique’ and ‘indictment’ of capitalism –) although not necessarily in strictly ‘logical terms,’ but in terms of their pragmatic and concrete social effects, which are in fact irreconcilable: “. . .the purpose of production under capitalism is value valorization . . .” which entails the relentless extraction of as much surplus value as possible from the laboring masses. “The purpose of production under socialism, on the other hand, is to produce products of use value” — regardless of the “cost” in “financial terms” as these “financial terms” are defined in capitalist society — “. . .to meet the needs of the people. Thus, socialism represents a fundamental change in the [capitalist] relations of production: it is the antithesis of capitalism.”

And that is precisely why I linked to the piece by Deng-Yuan Hsu and Pao-Yu Ching, so that people can go and read and learn about some basic if essential differences between “socialism” and “capitalism,” because the differences are, in fact, profound if accessible.

If people want change, they will have to struggle, but struggle isn’t only something that happens in the streets, but also in our heads, in sorting out our thinking, in trying to see our way past our cultural indoctrination to something else, and “acquiring” a tradition of beliefs that is already more or less “mature,” certainly more mature than anything that capitalism is capable of conceiving, since that worldview is already fully developed and senescent, having become the established “dogma” of society.

Big B
Big B

Norm: what you, I and Kathy are aspiring toward, is that we need a language of our own …toward a new lexis of liberation? I go back to comment the other day: the modern proletariat have the syntax of dialectical materialism. If, in the dogma dialectics of the possessing classes, capitalism v socialism is a false and delimited binary: there is no use in neutering our own dialogue with pre-defined-away terminology …we need our own?

Norm, you mention the supplemental meanings that are loaded into over a century of discourse: this amounts to a lexical tyranny over the radical redefinition of that discourse. We can only generate a stuck-record or elevator jazz impotent dialogic in the eyes of power. Shall we not forget the mantra: TINA? …it has all been said before and capitalism won (or so they tell themselves).

Socialism is pre-defeated in a discourse with power. They have their standard responses learnt by rote. This is reflected in the language: binaries are hierarchical, with capitalism the culturally dominant of the pair. We will not be listened to unless we say something new that bypasses the standardised response and epistemic closure of capitalism.

For me, anyway, both capitalism and socialism were organised around the mode and relations of production …which is another way of saying organised around rule. The means and mode of production were organised around abundant cheap oil, plentiful resources, an inexhaustible sink for wastes, and a Cartesian capitalist materialist 19th century worldview. Any one of these pseudo-assumptions negates the old paradigms: and thus the old debates.

How do we frame a new universal humanist debate? Embodied cognition is one way forward I am exploring. Another is systems thinking. Systems (and the body is a complex adaptive system) have their own dynamics that transcend old materialistic thinking. Properties emerge as experiential gestalts that defy the old mechanistic logic. Embodied cognition negates all the old dualisms (and unites old binaries) toward a Hegelian negation of the old? It gives us, not a new language; but a new experiential ‘Middle Way’ of discourse …away from the old dictatorial extremes of tyrannical power.

Of course, for me, their is buddhism (small b, not BigB!) which is a Middle Way praxis of liberation. Many of the 20th century philosophical movements failed to provide an activism, thus remained as theoretical …buddhism is a radical epistemology of freedom that generates its own community (the ‘Sangha of Society’) and “maturing of beliefs” (prajnaparamita – roughly: ‘perfection of wisdom’) within 2,500 years of supportive culture. We do not have to re-invent the Wheel (of Becoming)!

Whether any of this will precipitate a broad movement of liberational praxis is too early to say: but capitalism will enter the debate and attempt to absorb any attempt to re-define into its nexus of power. This is how capitalism re-invents itself: by recuperating the radical and redirecting it in the service of its own dominant hegemony. This is what has done with the language: socialism is a dead-end 19th century concept that has been redefined by power to defeat us …dare I point out the capitulation of Corbyn to the Red Tories on the right?

We need a new definition of humanity (as embodied and enacted and structurally linked to the environment – not at a disembodied instrumental distance from it). We need a new ecological systems thinking that considers the whole, which is always greater than the sum of its parts. And from our embodied viewpoint naturally flows a common humanity and basis for community consciousness. ‘Embodied ecological enactivism’ anyone!

These pillars of a new politics are forming; but they have yet to coalesce into a coherent framework …due, it has to be granted, the old cultural paradigms power to beguile. I’d like to be more definitive: but I feel the debate will not form decisively until we are faced with a radical choice …do we shop: or do we survive!

In the meantime: I do not see it as defeatist to prepare the argument. As I have mentioned, not even the capitalists know how to contain the cannibalistic leviathan they have unleashed. Will they be deemed irresponsible in unleashing two major depressions back to back: while they gorge on other peoples dollars? Have they broken the Social Contract in the eyes of the 95% precariat? Who knows.

We need new 21st century Rosa’s and Antonio’s to frame the debate, drive the points home, and form the intellectual vanguard in preparation for transformation. We are all our own radical intellectuals now. We may need to become our own radical lexicographers to conceptually frame an emergent political praxis too!

Ni Dieu: Ni Maitres!

Norman Pilon

People already speak a lingo, and their lingo at some level expresses values to which they adhere.

What some people describe as ‘capitalism,’ is really closer to what people like Marx and Engels and other progressives in their tradition had in mind when they spoke of socialism; likewise, what some people describe as ‘socialism,’ is really closer to what people like Marx and Engels and other progressives in their tradition had in mind when they spoke of ‘capitalism.’

Is the problem, here, that we need a new terminology to describe what has already been described in depth by the rich and varied intellectual traditions on both sides of the capitalist-and-socialist divide, or that people require some basic and elementary tutoring in their manner of using the already adequate lexicons of both capitalist and socialist tradtitions?

In addition, whether one adopts and develops a new terminology to describe a reality that has already been adequately mapped out in conceptual terms, one will still have to tutor others in the proper use of the new lexicon.

In my opinion, whether teaching people the old terminology or the new, the time and the effort will approximate to about the same thing. But if you have to teach both, well it goes without saying . . .

Furthermore, by adding new terminology to describe a reality for which a more than adequate store of expressions already exists, I think that we confound more than we clarify because we thereby multiply the lexiconic rules of general discourse.

Discourse should, in my opinion, be simplified and not made more opaque by adding to its complexities.

Learn the language. Master the concepts. Make them your own. And then teach them to others, who will in turn make them their own. These things are a cultural legacy to us from people who “are us” in so far as they experienced the same reality that we ourselves now confront. There is no need to re-invent the wheel, but to reclaim what former generations learned and that remains pertinent to us.

On the other hand, times have changed, and it may well be that previous generations have nothing to teach us about this or that circumstance, either because the reality then was other than it is now, or because they simply did not address that particular aspect of their lives. In that case, yes, perhaps we would be advised to invent a terminology of our own.

You write that capitalism re-invents itself “by recuperating the radical and redirecting it in the service of its own dominant hegemony.” And that is indeed what it does, but it will do this regardless of the terminology in which that radicalism will express itself.

So whether your lingo is old or newfangled, the “redirection” will happen.There is no way of preventing this, with or without a new set of expressions.

Then you write: “This is what has done with the language: socialism is a dead-end 19th century concept that has been redefined by power to defeat us …dare I point out the capitulation of Corbyn to the Red Tories on the right?”

Well, dare I point out your own capitulation by declaring ‘socialism’ to be “a dead-end 19th century concept that has been redefined by power to defeat us.”

Certainly, the powers that be corrupt its meaning whenever they speak of it, but then you are free or not to insist upon what it is that you yourself mean when you speak of it. This battle will never end, no matter what words or lexicons radicals use or invent. Power will always try to take “our” language and turn it against us. The point is not to give in to the corruption of “our” language amongst ourselves.

A dead-end concept, eh? All those words and all that ink, wasted by Deng-Yuan Hsu and Pao-Yu Ching.

(There was more I wanted to address, but my name is being called, and rather impatiently . . .gotta go.)


“People already speak a lingo, and their lingo at some level expresses values to which they adhere.”

True, only whose lingo do they speak? As you touched on in another comment: without introspection …is it necessarily our own?

There are three main conclusions, so far, from modern cognitive science:

Cognition is embodied
Thought is mainly subconscious (rule of thumb: 95% subconscious – 5% conscious)
Language is metaphoric

From Lakoff and Johnson: “Metaphors We Live By” – I’ve picked a few ontological metaphors to illustrate why I do not think we can frame 21st century politics with redundant 17th century metaphoric thinking …we need a new emergent political discourse to flow from our reframed conceptual metaphors for our time. A new understanding of ourselves as connected and inter-dependent naturally reinvigorates the dialogical process.

The 21st century dialogical dialectic will necessarily expose and reframe the Philosophy of Mind that generated the old stagnant (political) discourse as evolutionary redundant. This is not a denial of authentic historic political discourse, only a recognition that it was current and culturally relevant mainly to its own time and conceptual framework. An emergent discourse must be conceptual and current to our own perspective to be progressive. Tempus fugit and all that…

…of the millions of quotes attributed to Einstein on GooTube – “You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that caused the problem”?

I would identify as an Enlightenment meta-ontology:

MIND AS MACHINE: Poor old Rene …anyway, he pretty much conceptually framed the “Age of Reason”: and that is pretty much the way we think today. It certainly is still the language of power. I take his name emblematically as a framing of the classic mind-body problem that is now a culturally-given ground and necessity …and pretty much the root of all evil?

Rene saw us as ‘God’s machines’: unique among the universal mechanism as having Reason – a “concurrence” with God. Following from this comes the metaphor:

REASON IS ABSOLUTE: our idealisms, if rational, are objective and can be known certainly. Following from this:

REASON IS MATHEMATICS: thought is formal, logical, and absolute (…and authoritarian …and dictatorial)

Ergo: the conception of self as the essence of thought – the res cogitans – is objective and absolute …”I think, therefore I am”?

Because thought is essence, the basic character of the dominating culture is introverted and involute. People are encultured as cut off from themselves and their environment in a filter-bubble of personal preference – the individuated homeworld …personhood thus becomes machinehood?

Ok, that was a quantum leap …but maybe you could see how I can draw that conclusion from a more detailed exegesis?

I wanted to expose another core metaphor as to how the political (and other) debate is framed: viz a vis capitalism v socialism:

ARGUMENT IS WAR: it shouldn’t be too hard to expose that the objectified machinehood of the authoritarian politician conceives of the opposition as the ‘enemy’; to be ‘vanquished’ or ‘conquered’; for their views to be ‘destroyed’ in a ‘battle’ of wills …a linguistically ritualised violence to dominate the opponent and capture the moral high ground.

Entering this skirmish and trying to seek a truce (ok: stop it now) …via trying to redefine terms – such as ‘socialism’ – that the political capitalist machinehood has come to dominate over 150 years could well prove self-defeating? I do not want to claim their language of violence back from them: not when we can create a lexis of liberation of our own. How about:

DIALOGUE IS PEACE: for nonviolent communication and listening? A pre-requisite of meaningful dialogue is that we lose the capitalisms and imperialisms of mind and meet on common humanitarian ground. The internalised values of hierarchical dominance negate dialogue. If we can disarm the authoritarian militancy within us: are we not already free?

Freedom will not be granted. Freedom cannot be granted. Freedom is ours to embrace.

There is more than one way to fight a ‘war’, Norm. Quite clearly, what we have been doing for the last 150 years (tackling power head on) has not been working. I’m trying to think outside of the capitalist culturally constructed box. Maybe we need to take them unawares, start a new debate that renders theirs a post-Kuhnian redundancy? The disembodied voice of authoritarian reason needs to hear the embodied voice of humanitarian enaction: only, it won’t listen if we scream at them in their own language of violence?

And if we redefine ‘socialism’ for us: all they will hear is 150 years of negative connotations they have dismissed a thousand times before. The trouble with trying to persuade the absolutised machine-age mind is that they think they have a divine concurrence with Reason …they are always certainly right: even when they are certainly wrong.


Big B: This article was inspiring to me as Andre Vltchek’s writing always is but I have to tell you that this comment stream has given me hope that there really are others out there who are ready to burst out of rusty old paradigms and work out solutions to the overwhelming problems in our global community. I continue to be astounded by the depth and kindness and international brotherhood demonstrated in many of the comments here. I really had thought we lost.


Thank you auntiebuna: your encouraging comment just brought a little tear to my eye. ¡no pasarán!


Maybe you should do another feature on Iran. Pictures speak volumes…….

Here’s a starter for 10.



It looks absolutely wonderful. I don’t travel abroad these days for various reasons but one day….

My late father was a university lecturer in the 1970s/80s, teaching management skills to mature students from ‘developing countries’, mainly from Asia and Africa. Most of them were sponsored either by their own family businesses or by their Governments and sent to the UK to study because in those days the country had a reputation for its expertise. As they often didn’t know anyone in this country and were here for a year’s study my father was a personal mentor for them and most of them became close and long-term family friends. I still remember the names of many of them…including the Iraqi who was arrested at Manchester airport with explosives hidden in a tube of toothpaste, but that’s another story. The Iranians (and Turks) were particularly pleasant and generous with gifts as a mark of their appreciation to the point of embarrassment.

Norman Pilon

Aye! Pictures do speak volumes, don’t they?
comment image

Harry Stotle
Harry Stotle

By way of contrast to Andres enlightening article we have this monstrous turd-burger from Natalie Nougayrède – surely the epitome of everything that is wrong with our media?

I can’t be arsed to deconstruct it (no doubt someone like Kit will eviscerate it, if in the mood) – suffice to say the Guardian moderators do not understand concepts like balance, or right to reply, hell they don’t even seem to understand simple facts nowadays.


Harry – I glanced through it and would say it reveals more about Nougayrede’s personality and psyche than Putin’s. Wouldn’t have been much to write about if the truth was reported: Why did Putin attend this wedding and participate in the dancing? Because like anyone else he was grateful for the invitation and he thought he would have a good time. End of.
Anyone else spot the irony in the advert in the margin directing the reader to Simon Jenkin’s article entitled “If the novichok was planted by Russia where’s the evidence?”


Nougat-head must still be dreaming of the day when she resumes leadership of Le Monde so she can exercise her, er, “Putinesque tendencies” again with all the peace of mind and the serenity she requires.

The resignation of Natalie Nougayrede comes after most of the paper’s chief editors stepped down last week, angry at top management’s lack of communication as the paper struggles to chart its way into the digital era.

Ms Nougayrede said in a letter that she no longer had the authority to do her job with the “peace of mind and serenity” necessary.

“I cannot accept being undermined as head of the paper,” she said in the letter to announce her decision.

Probably still can’t accept the indignity of being deposed and having to write for a foreign newspaper also struggling for readers and sales revenue.

In the media world, Jill Abramson became the first woman to serve as executive editor of The New York Times – and, in May 2014, the first to be fired. Its publisher blamed ‘arbitrary decision making, a failure to consult and bring colleagues with her, inadequate communication and the public mistreatment of colleagues’. On the same day, editor of the French daily newspaper Le Monde Natalie Nougayrède resigned after just 14 months on the job, with staff complaining about her ‘Putinesque tendencies’. Ouch.

Ouch indeed.

A Benge
A Benge

I’ve always felt she’s been planted by some set up or other.


More from Pepe Escobar’s Eurasian Hit Parade, from Asia Times online via Saker Vineyard:

As EU companies leave sanctioned Iran, Chinese and Russian companies go in… As the US Congress slaps a nyet on Turkey buying F-35 fighter jets because Ankara is buying the Russian S-400 air-defense system, Boeing and Airbus in Iran are bound to lose market share to Russian jets…

And Iran-Turkey trade gets a boost; Turkish Stream – the Russia-Turkey strategic energy partnership – is far from being derailed.

Erdogan knows very well how Turkey is the quintessential East-meets-West strategic connector across Eurasia. And …he’s … buying the S-400s, ditching the “Assad must go” obsession, advancing Turkish Stream and insisting Turkey will continue to buy Iranian oil.

So as he perfects his Robert Plant impersonation – “You need coolin’/ Baby I’m not foolin’/ I’m gonna send ya/ back to schoolin’” – Erdogan is doing the math: how a New Silk Roads partnership among equals, in …close relationship with the AIIB and the EAEU, may be way more profitable than … oversized NATO, no EU and IMF neoliberal austerity.

That partly explains Ankara’s whirling dervish dance away from US T-bills, bonds and notes by over 50% since the end of 2017. While, in parallel, Moscow and Beijing (followed at a distance by New Delhi and even Ankara itself) keep piling up gold — anticipating the extra bonanza of Eurasian Integration, the hit album.


Vex: where does the capital go from Ankara? A cut of it goes back to NY/Washington, London, and Zurich. Turkey may have cooled its enthusiasm for $$$$ and euros recently; but it had already run up the biggest emerging market debt (around $450bn total) even though it kicked out the financial terrorists of the IMF. About a third of it, much of it dollarised, becomes due next year. If they cannot pay, it will be rolled over as dollarised debt.

The EMEs have opened themselves to currency imperialism and trade wars by their mistaken need for $$$$ capital. Much of the capital that created the EMEs surge was ‘free’ QE money seeking the highest return after GFC 1. Powell’s rate rise has pulled $$$$ back into the US (into Gilts): causing currency vulture speculation and capital flight. As a result, the EMEs are now the submerging market economies. The Turkish lira is down 45% against the dollar and contagion is spreading to the Italian and Spanish banks. Dr jack Rasmus has the details on his blog.

If Russia-China move in: they have their own currency and capital flight problems. The dynamics of capital in motion you relay from Pepe are incomplete: there is a large onward outflow of capital heading back into the traditional imperial core (and then offshore). Turkey is in a sub-imperial vassalised position to the dollar. Every country is.

If the $$$$ financial imperialists want to put the squeeze on Turkey: they cut them off from $$$$ (like Venezuela); demand payment; or veto an IMF loan (not that Turkey wants to go to the IMF – but they might be forced to). As PCR pointed out, Russia-China are in fact in a self-imposed impotent position as they believe they need $$$$ capital themselves to continue their own economic programmes. They do not (neither did Turkey): but neoliberal ideology told them otherwise …so they borrowed from abroad instead of self-funding.

It ain’t pretty, but that is the way it is. That is imperialism in action: the EMEs scenario was nothing more than a capitalist marketing ploy dreamt up by Jim O’Neil to further neoliberal globalism. All one has to do is read BRICS declarations to confirm it. If presented otherwise: perhaps Pepe is the one who needs to go back to schoolin’? 😉


BigB. I hear ye. You see the big picture and I cannot answer because I do not understand finance, having been educated only in real physical things like biology and technology. But there certainly is a global problem with money, what it is and where it goes; and I suspect you are more deeply into that problem than most. My own impression is of a tidal wave of surplus capital sloshing around the world and being creamed off into non productive investment, or even diverted into counter productive investment — my savings are a tiny part of that tidal wave. That’s the money side; the only side I see is billions of people growing things, making things, transporting things and selling them — what I call the real economy.

I found a nice Latin phrase in GK Chesterton’s book on Bernard Shaw; he said that he and Shaw were basically on the same side, the side of Salus Populi — Wellbeing for All.