Gerald Seib is the Washington bureau chief for the Wall St. Journal. As such, he is one of the foremost political analysts for American finance capital. In the Feb. 12 edition of the paper, he has an article entitled “Iran Revolution’s End Will be Heard Around the World.” In it, he explains that although the regime seems to have consolidated itself for the time being, it cannot maintain itself indefinitely since it is based on repression.
He explains how the 1979 seizure of power by the Muslim clerical establishment had global consequences. These included US capitalism’s support for Saddam Hussein, increased influence by the reactionary Muslim clerical establishment in Saudi Arabia, the rise of Hezbollah, and the general spread of Islamic fundamentalism throughout the Islamic populations of the world.
So far, so good.
He seems to believe that the eventual collapse of the Iranian regime will mean the reversal of these developments and, by implication, the increased power of US capitalism.
What he forgets is that this is not 1989, when the Stalinist regimes collapsed. There is one little detail that is different: The condition of the world capitalist economy. Right now, the crisis is felt most acutely in the European Union. There, the weakest members are threatening the entire EU financial system. Greece, the weakest link, is in debt up to its eyeballs and investors do not trust that it will be able to repay its debts. The traditionally militant Greek working class is already in turmoil and is not going to passively accept the severe cuts the bankers want. In the past, in such a situation, the “solution” might have been a military dictatorship. (Greece was ruled by a military junta from 1967-74.) However, given the political situation in the EU as a whole, a new coup in Greece is highly unlikely; it would throw the entire EU into turmoil and crate huge pressures to expel Greece from the EU. Those cuts may eventually be imposed, but it will be a struggle.
If one could argue that Greece, whose interest payments on its debt are 15% of its total economy, is unique to the EU then the problem would be a lot less severe. However, there is Spain (whose payments have risen from 4% to 7% over the last four years), Portugal (6.4% to 7.1%) and also Ireland. Even France, one of the strong men of the EU “is on the ‘edge’ of the radar screen,” according to an article in the WSJ (2/19/10).
For the time being, the Greek crisis is strengthening US finance capital. It’s like winning a beauty contest in a leper colony though, as the US debt load is equal to 90% of its economy (vs. Greece’s 120%). This debt essentially represents past or present consumption based on an expectation to pay for it out of future production. But there is no way that this will be repaid, at least not with current consumption levels of the masses of people of the world. Their consumption levels will have to be sharply reduced in the future in order to repay these debts.
At least that is what finance capital dictates.
That is where a new revolution in Iran comes in. When the former Soviet Union collapsed, many millions of people looked to the US as a model for what they wanted and thought they would get. Gerald Seib and his like seem to think that it will be the same whenever the Iranian regime collapses – that the wonders of US “democracy” and “freedom” will be adopted with open arms in Iran. Undoubtedly, there are some, maybe many in Iran who have such illusions. These will be quickly shattered.
In its place will come…. What?
How can the resistance to US capitalism’s world domination not be linked to an increased class consciousness and class struggle? Whereas the rise of Islamic fundamentalism strengthened the political grip of finance capital in the US, a class-based struggle in the Muslim world will do just the opposite, especially given the rising resentment against the banks and insurance industry in the US already. Gerald Seib and finance capital are in for a rude awakening.