Memoirs of the Iranian Left

The memoirs of the prominent members of the Tudeh Party, as the single most powerful and active Marxist political organization in Iran in the 1940's and early 1950's, collectively shed some light not only on the structure and functions of the party itself, but on the internal and external political factors that had considerable impact on Iran's social and political scene. Furthermore, these memoirs tend to underline the dominant attitudes that characterize the Iranian intellectual discourse which is devoid of any agonizing reappraisals, and still marked by a palpable fascination with ideological dogma.

In terms of style, none of these memoirs contain any passages or entries dealing with their authors inner emotional experiences or personal conflicts. There is a total absence of the assertive individualistic "self." The world is still seen through the eyes of the collective "we", the "party." The vision is still parochial, seasonal and historically-specific. It is still "they" versus "us", "friends" against "enemies."

In terms of their basic political thrust, the writers of these memoirs, preoccupied with the collective memory of the past, continue to insist that the failure of Marxist political systems was due more to the incompetence of their leaders and managers than to the inevitable consequence of the flaws of the doctrine itself. Thus, these writers, in their preoccupation with saving the collective past, and justifying their ideological faith, have avoided answering the painful questions regarding their own individual moral responsibilities in what has transpired in their tortured political lives.

Shahrokh Meskoob
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