How Many Leftists Are "United for Iran"?
So, how many leftists are United for Iran? "8,000 people at the event in Paris, 4,000 in Stockholm, 3,000 in Amsterdam, more than 2,500 in Washington DC, 2,500 in New York, 2,000 in London. . . ," says United4Iran.org, the sponsor of the global day of action on 25 July 2009. The low numbers1 (in marked contrast to the high turnouts of protests against Israel's recent assault on Gaza) suggest that few non-Iranian leftists bothered to show up.
While a number of leftists have made impassioned pleas for solidarity with Iran's Green Movement, (throwing themselves into an obligatory intra-left battle royal that has, alas, eclipsed any battle against the illegitimate authority of unelected clerics in Iran), most leftists still appear to find it -- how shall we put it? -- on balance inadvisable to join such protests against the Iranian government as United4Iran's, devoid as they are of an anti-imperialist point of unity emphasizing "Hands Off Iran" as much as -- nay more than -- criticisms of the Iranian government.
It should be also noted that international leftists were evidently unmoved by an offer of free "Free Iran" t-shirts courtesy of American Apparel. We find that most meritorious. Let it never be said that international leftists fail to valiantly resist hipster capitalism.
By the way, it has also come to our attention that a notorious unrepentant Marxist and self-appointed scourge of "flunkies for Ahmadinejad" apparently refused to attend any of the United for Iran protests, curtly dismissing the whole Dutch-linked2 enterprise as "Darfur-like crapola."
Well, that certainly settles it for us: shocking as it may seem to some, there still is a secret conspiracy3 of international leftists against imperialism, whether they are for, against, or just plain indifferent to the President of Iran.4 We hope that this little known conspiracy proves a dangerous one that will grow ever larger, someday putting the fear of the Twelfth Imam into the international capitalists.
1 The turnouts were so underwhelming that the Associated Press felt obliged to mention protests of 20 Iranians each in Brazil and Pakistan to make it sound as if it wasn't the Western Thing that the global South just didn't understand: "In the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, some 20 Iranians -- among them refugees and students -- gathered outside the local press club to protest the Iranian crackdown, yelling 'Death to the dictator!' . . . About 20 gathered in a small square in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to take part in a 30-minute rally" (Jill Lawless, "Protesters Call for End to Iranian Rights Abuses," 25 July 2009).
2 The primary sponsor of the United for Iran protests, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, is a project of the Dutch Foundation for Human Security in the Middle East. Note that "the Netherlands and the United States are the only countries in the world that openly budget funds to promote political changes" in Iran, e.g., the Hague contributing "630,000 euros" to Freedom House in 2003 for the purpose of establishing Gozaar, "a platform for Iranian opposition figures." That grant was "part of a larger Dutch project" aimed at "promoting media pluralism in Iran," for which "15 million euros" was budgeted thanks to a bill introduced by "Farah Karimi (Green) and Hans van Baalen (VVD) in the Lower House in 2004" (Thomas Erdbrink and Thalia Verkade, "Haagse subsidie tegen regime Iran," NRC Handelsblad, first published on 16 September 2006, updated on 22 August 2008, Trans. Yoshie Furuhashi). Ms. Karimi, a former member of the Iranian Mojahedin, just so happens to be a board member of the aforementioned Foundation for Human Security in the Middle East. For more information about the collaboration of Ms. Karimi with Mr. van Baalen of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), "the most vocal supporter of private enterprise in the Netherlands," see Harm Ede Botje and Joël Broekaert, "Nederlandse steun mediaprojecten in Iran gaat door" (Vrij Nederland, 7 July 2007); and "Iran boos over hulp Den Haag aan radio oppositie" (NRC Handelsblad, 25 June 2009).
3 Objecting to the notion of an international left-wing conspiracy, some cavilers may dare suggest: Aren't most leftists just really too lazy to get up and protest against anything? Isn't it actually the case that most of them are lacking in sympathy for and solidarity with the oppressed, such as Iranians and Darfurians? We dismiss such baseless accusations out of hand, which can only originate in the ill wishers on the Right plotting the destruction of the Left.
4 For reasons unknown to us, the international media, across the political spectrum, have found Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad really irresistible, as demonstrated by the fact that he has never been out of the spotlight since his 2005 election, no matter how many disasters -- such as the ongoing global economic crisis -- that ought to steal at least a little bit of media attention away from him befall the international proletariat. We suggest that, in addition to many other much-debated factors such as social classes, perhaps might have also put his rival Mr. Mir-Hossein Mousavi, a man of considerable charms himself, at electoral disadvantage, though we are also aware of the noted Iranshenas and Mousavi supporter Dr. Hamid Dabashi's observations on Mr. "Mousavi's poorly run presidential campaign": "ill-advised, ill-prepared, sentimental, full of necessary colour symbolism but lacking substance, a clearly articulated platform, economic detail, political programming or an attempt to reach out to a wider spectrum of his constituency. His campaign was too elitist, tied in its visual paraphernalia to a northern Tehran sensibility and lacking appeal across an oil-based economy. . . . [During the presidential debates, he] rambled along, read from written statements in a barely audible voice, ran out of things to say before his time was over."
For more information on the mixed bags of mixed nuts as well as unexpected beauties found on both sides of the current political divide in Iran, consult MRZine.org.