Shoras and soviets

7 posts / 0 new
Last post
R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Jan 8 2019 13:39
Shoras and soviets

Does anyone know much about this? Just thinking about how in the ICT reports from Iran, they tend to translate demands as being for "soviets" - in English we use "council" for a fairly wide range of bodies, both revolutionary and otherwise, whereas "soviet" has much more specific associations. I don't really know anything about what's implied by the Farsi words, can anyone help? Any background info about the history of shoras in the 70s and so on would also be welcome.

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Jan 8 2019 16:30

I think the present struggles in Iran are important and we need a lot more information about the expressions of solidarity and self-organisation that do seem to have taken place. I don't think, however, that soviets are on the immediate agenda: that would imply a centralised organisation of the movement across many workplaces and a tendency towards direct confrontation with the state. In my understanding the shoras of 1979 were more like factory committees or strike committees, elected by general assemblies in the workplace, that started to link up before the struggle was taken over and destroyed by the "Islamic revolution". From what I have read, we are again dealing with mass assemblies and elected strike committees, but only in a certain number of enterprises. Some of the strike leaders seem to be talking about a "soviet idea", a general way of organising or a goal to aim at. But I agree that those more familair with the language and the immediate situation could help clarify things.

Khawaga's picture
Khawaga
Offline
Joined: 7-08-06
Jan 8 2019 18:09

Shura is also an arabic word and basically means "consultation" (as in consulting people that is affected by a decision or something like that). IIRC I've head this term being used by Arab communists to more or less refer to a workers' "council". Shura is also a term in Islamic jurisprudence.

R Totale's picture
R Totale
Offline
Joined: 15-02-18
Jan 8 2019 18:12

This piece seems to offer some answers:

Quote:
As far as we know, Ismail Bakhshi’s proposal to establish a “Shora” was intended to be an organization of workers of an enterprise to influence the its policy, regardless of whether it is in the hands of private entrepreneurs or of the state, as was the case before the so-called privatization. He didn’t intend more than an innocent works’ council, like those that legally exist in almost all industrialized countries to promote the cooperation of capital and labor. So, why has Ismail Bakhshi been accused of endangering the security of the state, why has he been imprisoned, abused, tortured and finally – in an attempt to appease the angry workers – been placed under house arrest? Because Shoras founded by workers themselves, struggling for their own interests, apart from existing parties and other interests, can develop from innocent institutions for controlling what happens in the enterprise and from harmless participatory bodies into organizations for expanding and coordinating the proletarian struggle.

Also found this:

Quote:
At the moment too the call for “councils” or shuras is only a call for workers’ self-management, for workers simply to take over the factories not the state. The assumption is that anyone would be better at operating them than the current bunch of clowns but it does not take into account that operating a capitalist enterprise in a capitalist crisis offers nothing more than desperate self-exploitation. The last thing the workers need is to occupy factories and try to make them workers’ fortresses. The regime can leave them there to rot, as the Giolitti Government did to the Italian works councils in 1919-20.

So I guess it sounds like the talk of shoras is more a call for workers to take over failing businesses, along the lines of LIP in France, Argentina in the 2000s, etc, and not quite "SHAKE IN YOUR SHOES BUREAUCRATS STOP THE INTERNATIONAL POWER OF THE WORKERS COUNCILS WILL SOON WIPE YOU OUT STOP". Would be glad if anyone can shed more light, though.

ZJW
Offline
Joined: 24-08-16
Jan 17 2019 10:26

About the 'council/soviet.shora' question: I don't know Persian .... but, .... if you examine the Persian version of that text (also on the ICT site), then you see that the word used in Persian is ' شورا ', which is shora .

Whoever did the translation apparently felt that 'soviet' was preferable to 'council'.

ZJW
Offline
Joined: 24-08-16
Jan 17 2019 10:40

Some considerations on the word 'soviet':
https://libcom.org/library/note-use-word-soviet-neil-fernandez

The Persian version of the ICT article, I should have mentioned, is here .

Flint
Offline
Joined: 17-12-05
Jan 17 2019 14:07

See also, Jack Campin's The Kurdish Uprising and the Workers' Councils. The term "shora" is used to refer to the councils.