From the January-February 2023 issue of News & Letters
Tooraj Haji Moradi (1952-2022), whose pen name was Azadkar, was a revolutionary to his core and remained so throughout his life. Azadkar first met News and Letters Committees in early 1978 in the midst of the ongoing Revolution in Iran. He was the first Iranian Marxist-Humanist who became fascinated with the works of Raya Dunayevskaya. Azadkar then traveled to Iran and became fully active in the Iranian Revolution. He wrote many eyewitness reports for News & Letters.
Upon his return from Iran, he influenced a whole generation of Iranian activist youth who became Marxist-Humanists. He then helped found the Iranian Marxist-Humanist tendency and its organization, Anjuman Azadi. Azadkar translated into Farsi many of Dunayevskaya’s Political-Philosophic Letters on Iran, which were subsequently collected and printed as Iran: Revolution and Counter-Revolution.
Azadkar lived long enough to witness the current uprisings in Iran led by women and a new generation of revolutionary youth. His great passion for freedom was by no means limited to Iran but extended globally, especially in the U.S. and the Black Lives Matter movement. In one of his last posts on social media, he hailed the heroic struggle of Ukrainian masses against Russia’s imperialist invasion.
As he wrote then: “When people are armed and believe in their cause, they will fight to the last person standing and ultimately will defeat the aggressor and force them to retreat.”
Editor’s note: Below are excerpts of two of Azadkar’s articles in News & Letters.
“Eyewitness report: Revolution and counter-revolution in Iran” (June 1979 N&L)
Tehran, Iran—The spontaneous shora(s), or Soviets, which were considered “dangerous” by the government and ordered dismantled after the 1979 February revolution, are now experiencing a new growth among the Iranian masses. “Shora” is the most popular word in Iran today, because they were the real force of the revolution which overthrew the Shah. The most radical of the shora(s) is the “Nationwide Council of Unemployed Workers.”…
During the four revolutionary months that I was in Iran, I found these spontaneously created shora(s) the only revolutionary phenomena that could provide the real alternative to the present situation. In the shora(s), the demand is for the factories to be nationalized and managed by the workers themselves. This is very important, since after the February revolution, Khomeini’s people would send somebody as a factory manager and the shora would reject him. It was then that the government ordered the shora(s) dissolved.
In the shora of the unemployed, they are saying that they don’t want to talk about religion. It is a workers’ revolution they want, and are willing to die for, because “this revolution in power belongs to the bazaar merchants.”…
From the women’s organizations to the armed demonstrations of the national minorities, and especially from the shora(s) of the workers, the unemployed, the soldiers and the peasants, come every week new demonstrations and new expressions of freedom. That the counter-revolution showed itself so early is naturally the most serious threat to what was started by the great mass movement that overthrew the Shah and wanted a totally new society.…
When May Day came, the turnout at the workers’ march was enormous—estimated at 400,000—ten times the size of the Islamic march. There were slogans like “Factory control by the workers,” “Equal wages for women and men,” “No worker laid-off or fired,” and “Nationalize imperialist capital.” In the entire demonstration, there was only one single picture of Khomeini.
It was at this same time that I also saw a pamphlet published, specifically for May Day 1979, called Discussion on the Workers’ Movement in Iran. It included translations into Farsi of several articles and speeches by Rosa Luxemburg, a work by Lenin on the Soviets in the Russian Revolution, and Chapter 4 of Raya Dunayevskaya’s Marxism and Freedom, on the 1848 revolutions and the relations of intellectuals to the workers’ struggle. Together with that magnificent march, the pamphlet makes it clear that the revolution is still ongoing.
“Raya Dunayevskaya and the 1979 Iranian Revolution” (Oct. 1987 N&L)
Raya Dunayevskaya is a household name among the Iranian revolutionaries. Her philosophy of Marxist-Humanism, which she founded and developed for over 30 years, will, no doubt, have a profound influence on the new generation of Iranian revolutionaries who are given the historic task of building a new human society from the rubble to which Khomeini has reduced Iran today.
My relationship with Raya was forged late in 1978 during the heat of the Iranian Revolution. I was a young student then and had participated in the now historic Iranian student movement for several years. The revolution had struck and shattered the student movement into pieces. We were caught unprepared. We knew what we were fighting against, but not what we were fighting for. This was true both in practice and in theory.…
Dec. 28, 1978, is the most important date in my life. It was the date that I had chosen for my return to Iran to join the revolution. I had told myself “you have read and talked enough about the revolution. Now, it is time to act. Now you must ‘throw your life on the scales of destiny.”’…Raya had invited me to stop in Detroit and see her on my way to Iran….
It was a petite but warm woman who greeted me with open arms and a smile. She gave me the impression of a classic revolutionary like the ones I had read about in the books.…
Raya was trying to bring my attention to the importance of the role that both the spontaneously born mass organizations and women had played in keeping the revolution ongoing. She gave me Ivar Spector’s book (The First Russian Revolution: Its Impact on Asia) on my way to Iran and her last words to me were, “If you make any speeches, say enough to get arrested but not killed!”
I spent about six months in Iran. Those were the most revolutionary months of the Revolution, before it began to be subsumed by Khomeini’s counter-revolution that had reared its ugly head from within the revolution itself.
During those months Freedom was most touching and truthful. The activity and creativity of the masses involved every man, woman and child. Even the infants had learned as their first words “Marg bar Shah” (“Down with the Shah”) and would dance to the tune of “Revolution! Liberation!” to which Khomeini’s supporters added “and Islamic Republic.” That was the beginning of the end of the Iranian Revolution.
After the Shah’s regime was toppled in a three-day insurrection in February 1979, the first group that challenged Khomeini’s rule was women who came to the streets by the thousands to celebrate International Women’s Day, March 8-10. They opposed the chador (Islamic veil) that Khomeini had decreed they must wear. Their slogan was “We did not make the revolution to go backward.”…
In March, Raya had begun the first of a series of Political-Philosophic Letters on Iran. It was titled “Iran: Unfoldment of, and Contradictions in, Revolution.” When I look back now, this was the most revolutionary manifesto that ever was written for the Iranian Revolution, something comparable only to Marx’s March 1850 Address to the Communist League after the defeat of the 1848-49 revolutions in Europe. That address ends with the workers’ battle cry: “Revolution in Permanence!”
Some other articles by Azadkar in N&L:
* “Day 500 of the Iranian revolution: Khomeini’s Islamic regime in turmoil” (Oct. 1980)
* “In-person report: International Farm Crisis Summit: Farm activists ‘Forging the Links’ to deal with agricultural crisis” (co-authored by Bob McGuire, Aug.-Sept. 1983)
* “The Iran-Iraq War decimation continues” (Oct. 1983)
Farsi translations of Marxist-Humanist writings on Iran
Women as Reason and as Force of Revolution. Writings by Raya Dunayevskaya on Women’s Liberation, issued by Iranian women for International Women’s Day, March 8, 1980. Includes: “Women’s Suffrage and Class Struggle” by Rosa Luxemburg, and “Thoughts on March 8” by Ding Ling.
Farsi edition of Iran: Revolution and Counter-revolution. Political-Philosophic Letters translated by Iranian youth and published March, 1982. A newer translation of “What Is Philosophy? What Is Revolution?” by Raha is here: http://newsandletters.org/Farsi/WhatIsPhilosophy.pdf
Iranian edition of Nationalism, Communism, Marxist-Humanism, and the Afro-Asian Revolutions. Translated into Farsi by Iranian youth and published March, 1983.
Marx and Dunayevskaya: writings on the Paris Commune. Farsi translation of excerpts from Marx’s Civil War in France, and excerpts from Dunayevskaya’s Marxism and Freedom. Published by Iranian youth, May, 1984.
First Farsi publication of Karl Marx: Economic-Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. Published by Anjoman Azadi (Iranian Marxist-Humanists), January 1986.
Marxism and Freedom, from 1776 until Today.
Rosa Luxemburg, Women’s Liberation, and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution, chapter 12, in two parts: https://newsandletters.org/Farsi/RLWLKM12a.pdf
For a listing of all the Farsi translations available see: