While building solidarity between activists in the U.S. and Iran can be a powerful way of supporting social justice movements in Iran, progressives and leftists who want to express solidarity with Iranians are challenged by a complicated geopolitical terrain. The U.S. government shrilly decries Iran’s nuclear power program and expands a long-standing sanctions regime on the one hand, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes inflammatory proclamations and harshly suppresses Iranian protesters and dissidents on the other. Solidarity activists are often caught between a rock and a hard place, and many choose what they believe are the “lesser evil” politics. In the case of Iran, this has meant aligning with a repressive state leader under the guise of “anti-imperialism” and “populism,” or supporting “targeted” sanctions.
I started working on what became this book more than ten years ago, because I felt there was so much confusion in the way that large sections of the trade union movement and the Left responded to globalisation. They took a straightforward anti-globalisation position which, by default, reinforced a nationalist reaction against globalisation. This went against all my Marxist internationalist instincts. Also, having been involved in trade union research for decades, it was obvious to me that many of the evils attributed to globalisation, such as subcontracting and the shifting of production, had been rampant for years or decades prior to it. Most disturbing of all, much of the anti-globalisation rhetoric was indistinguishable from the rhetoric of the extreme Right. (I have given examples of this in my book.)
Twenty years ago today Algeria’s military-backed government stopped the country’s electoral process, preventing the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) from coming to power and dismantling the Algerian republic – something it had openly promised to do. In context, this was the better of the two bad alternatives available at that moment – interrupting a flawed parliamentary election rather than allowing the reins of power to be taken by fascists who openly proclaimed their opposition to democracy.
Elle parle à voix basse, chuchotant presque, d’un timbre fluet. Mais, derrière cette timidité, se loge une volonté farouche. Celle d’une jeune fille qui pose nue pour affirmer sa liberté, les yeux plantés dans l’objectif, et publie ensuite sa photo sur Internet, provoquant un gigantesque scandale chez les Egyptiens. « Je ne regrette rien, affirme Aliaa el-Mahdy. Ce ne sont pas les menaces de mort qui me feront changer d’avis, au contraire… » Du haut de ses 20 ans, la jeune étudiante veut changer le monde, propager la révolution et faire sauter les tabous, à commencer par ceux du machisme et du conservatisme écrasants qui pèsent sur l’Egypte. Cette image en noir et blanc montre Aliaa debout, en bas et en ballerines rehaussées de rouge, une fleur dans les cheveux. La jeune femme dénudée regarde le spectateur droit dans les yeux, comme l’« Olympia » de Manet qui scandalisa la France il y a plus d’un siècle.