The best way to understand the Islamic Republic of Iran is to see it not as "theocracy" but as "Jacobinism with Islamic Characteristics."
The power elite of Iran don't care about Islam as such (Islam, after all, is diverse, and some varieties of it, as conceived by Nader Hashemi, Mohsen Kadivar, Ahmad Sadri, and the like, are perfectly compatible with liberal democracy). What they care about is their revolution and their republic and their ideology (in which Islam does play a part but an increasingly smaller one). As IRGC General Mohammad Ali Jafari reportedly said:
حفظ نظام جمهوری اسلامی ایران از ادای نماز واجبتر است
They love their politico-economic order much more than prayers.
Unlike the USSR and the Eastern Bloc, whose legitimating ideology came from outside (Western Europe) and was instilled from above (the Marxist-Leninist Party), though, their ideology is one that has organically grown out of Iranian history, which is what is going for them.
My back-of-the-napkin calculation, however, says that about 20% of the Iranian population, largely of economically upper strata, are liberals who are tired of this politico-economic order and its legitimating ideology. Give Iran a couple of decades in which its social dialectic can unfold without foreign intervention, and liberals are likely to grow more numerous in the country as it undergoes its capitalist development; and liberals inside Iran might eventually transform the country in a way that liberals outside it would like, through passive revolution (much as the AKP has done in Turkey, which too was once ruled by men of the Jacobin mentalité).
Meanwhile, the duty of Iranian patriots, even liberals in exile, is not to let imperialists bomb Iran.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
How does the ruling class destroy liberty, often in the name of liberalism, today? By exploiting fear, especially specters of Sex, Drugs, Islam, Communism, and Terrorism. The ruling class defines each of these categories in such a way that each becomes a mixed bag of defensible and indefensible. To take just one example, in the category of terrorism, class justice and propaganda of the Western powers insidiously merges together national liberation movements such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (defensible) and Al Qaeda (indefensible).
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
So, what is the new preoccupation of the Iranian diaspora after the Green Wave? Having received 170 comments (and counting), this item posted on International Working Women's Day is the most popular thing today at Iranian.com.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
A funny thing about the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) is that, of all its numerous foreign-language versions, it provides Iranian food recipes, tourist information, a detailed introduction to master musicians of Iran, elementary Persian-language lessons, etc. only on its Japanese-language site. They know my people, whose main interests generally run toward good food, sightseeing, and cultural sampling (usually in that order)!