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The Specter Haunting Iran

by DANNY POSTEL

21 Feb 2010 01:1814 Comments


[ ideas ] A specter is haunting Iran -- the specter of democracy.

The events of the last eight months in Iran have occasioned -- one might even say inspired -- an array of interpretations and formulations. Many attempts have been made to categorize and explain the nature of the upheaval. In the heady, early days and weeks following the June election, Slavoj Žižek characterized what was unfolding in Iran as "a great emancipatory event." Hamid Dabashi described the situation as "something quite extraordinary, perhaps even a social revolution"; Dabashi is best known for arguing that the Green wave amounts to a civil-rights movement, which, he adds, "does not mean that the Islamic republic may not, or should not, fall." One commentator for a Marxist newspaper rhapsodically declares that what is happening heralds "a new reality," something "so unique and new" that it could "transform not just Iran but the entire Middle East, indeed the whole world."

So is it reform or revolution? Is it perhaps some amalgam of the two, or a gray area in between, as captured in Timothy Garton Ash's coinage "refolution"? Are we witnessing the metamorphosis of what began as a program of reform into something else, something more radical and ambitious?

I tend to agree with Iranian political scientist Hossein Bashiriyeh that this is a "potentially revolutionary situation" that, depending on several variables, "may well turn into a thoroughly revolutionary situation." Will it turn into one? Of course, we have no way of knowing. Following Charles Kurzman, we might describe the present situation as "unthinkable". How events will turn out, even what direction they're moving in, is simply impossible to determine.

What I think we can say, however, is that something very profound has taken place, and is taking place, in Iran today -- something of enormous significance for Iran and its future. Whatever concrete outcome emerges, or fails to emerge, from the events unfolding, something very important has already happened. As Nader Hashemi has argued, "the Green Movement has already won an overwhelming ideological victory against the regime. In the realm of political ideas, the battle is over and Iran's clerical oligarchs know it -- liberal democratic ideas have triumphed."

Others have claimed a moral victory for the Greens. As Muhammad Sahimi puts it,

even after a violent six-month crackdown on peaceful protesters, political figures, journalists, and human rights advocates, the Green Movement has not been weakened, but...has strengthened and expanded to many cities and towns around the country. This is already a significant victory for the Green Movement.

Another commentator claims a strategic victory for the movement:

But the youth of Iran have already scored a victory of sorts by using new media to stake claim to political space. By using new media to extend horizontal linkages and press the current regime, this generation has reinforced the foundation of a potentially robust force for democratic change.

Addressing the agents of repression directly, one blogger wrote,

This election -- whatever it was, whatever it did -- it made us big and it made you small.

The extent of any transformation is, of course, difficult if not impossible to measure, but there is a widespread sense that things have changed in Iran, quite possibly forever -- that there's been a crack in the mirror, a tectonic shift in the country, since June. I don't just mean the widely remarked evaporation of Khamenei's "halo" due to his naked partisanship for Ahmadinejad, a development that has without question intensified the regime's already protracted crisis of legitimacy. I'm talking about a deep-seated shift in the consciousness of millions of Iranians, in their ways of seeing and perceiving their political reality. I think there's a sea-change under way in what Raymond Williams called the "structure of feeling" and the emergence of something along the lines of what Herbert Marcuse called a "new sensibility." Consider these reflections of a generally apolitical blogger, a young mother who writes under the name "Lady Plum," after attending a protest rally with her child and her mother:

They had divided us by appearance. Devout, western, downtown, [working-class], intellectual, pauper, and hooligan... [B]eing together has shattered this. This magic green bracelet has worked wonders on our culture, our feelings, and our hearts. We stand as our true selves.

Again, it's hard to measure this kind of thing, but you can see it manifested in quite palpable ways, down to the level of bodily existence: amidst the upheaval, many Iranians have stopped eating and sleeping as usual. And yet they're intensely energized and animated, many of them in a way they've never known before. There's an awakening taking place (albeit a sleep-deprived one). This new sensibility is also on display in what Farideh Farhi has described as an "unprecedented willingness to confront the security forces." In the Ashura protests, Muhammad Sahimi has written, the Green Movement demonstrated that it was "willing to pay any price to resist the military-clerical dictatorship and advance democracy."

Make no mistake: as dramatic a process as I believe this to be, I'm not suggesting that the entire population has been swept up in the Green wave, or that there's anything like a "general will" forming. This is, to be sure, a mass movement with millions of adherents, and it represents the sentiments of many millions more. But it does not represent the sentiments of all Iranians. Several other million Iranians are regime loyalists. The figure that makes the rounds has hardcore regime support in the range of 20 and 25 percent of the population. A bitter pill to swallow though this may be, it is nonetheless a fact. The Green Movement does enjoy broad popular support, but Iran is a house divided -- irreducibly so -- and the competing political visions are engaged in a war of position over Iran's future. The democratic forces realize they're in for a long haul. They will face setbacks, as they did on February 11 -- although the regime's declared victory on that occasion is a Pyrrhic one. Such bumps in the road present opportunities for the movement to do some critical self-reflection and strategic thinking about its next steps, a process that could prove the movement's coming of age.

Neither is the Green Movement entirely unified itself. It does represent a broad alliance that has come together around a common set of animating ideas and impulses, but it's far from a monolithic movement. As Abdolkarim Soroush has said:

This is a pluralistic movement, including believers and non-believers, socialists and liberals. There are all walks of life in the Green Movement.

One could add to this that there are many in the movement committed to nonviolence, while there are at least some who are prepared to do battle with the security forces. This issue has become a point of contention and debate within the movement, perhaps more than any other up to now.

It's also a movement very much in flux, responding to a dramatically evolving situation, with events and circumstances changing the equation from day to day -- sometimes hour to hour. The movement is responding to that state of flux and growing in the process. It's finding its voice and intellectual bearings. Particularly in the widely discussed manifesto issued last month by Soroush, Kadivar, Mohajerani, Ganji, and Bazargan, we've seen the Green center of gravity shift from pure protest politics to a more layered, more affirmative mode, with the contours of a vision beginning to take shape. "People should know what they want, not just what they don't want," Soroush has said. People are no longer asking "Where Is My Vote?" but rather, What kind of society do we want to live in? The manifesto was, in the words of Robin Wright, "the first concrete indication of what the opposition wants and what Iran might look like if [it] prevails."

'Maybe in the next stage'

"For now," Soroush has said, the Green Movement has made a point of working "within the framework of the constitution" and has been "careful not to trespass those limits." "Maybe in the next stage," he continues, the movement will push harder against those limits and consider redrafting the constitution.

But some currents within the democratic movement have already begun to think outside the box of the existing system. Even before December's Ashura demonstrations and their brutal repression by the security forces -- widely regarded as a turning point for the movement -- there were signs of radicalization. Reports on the student protests of early December underscored this:

Fewer of the slogans were aimed at Ahmadinejad and more at Iran's theocracy-based political system, a shift that could...further galvanize protesters and serve to destabilize the Islamic Republic.

The protests, another report emphasized,

showed a striking escalation in direct attacks on the country's theocratic foundation and not just on the June presidential election... [P]rotesters burned pictures of Ayatollah Khamenei... They held up Iranian flags from which the "Allah" emblem, added after the revolution, had been removed...[and] there were more chants aimed directly at Ayatollah Khamenei -- a taboo that has increasingly eroded since the election.

In this same spirit, the appearance of the slogan "Iranian Republic" has made the post-theocratic or anti-theocratic point explicit.

These developments have produced critical tensions within the Green Movement; debates are afoot over the most effective way to frame the movement's message. There is now much talk of a national reconciliation process, which has aroused fears that the movement's leaders might be preparing to cave in to the regime and sell out the movement. These anxieties are understandable -- given the momentum that has been built and the sense of possibility that's been opened, fears of a deal that would pull the rug out from underneath the movement emanate from an entirely valid place. They may be unfounded or exaggerated -- in some instances willfully distorted by the regime itself -- but the concerns reflect something very real: a desperate desire for a new day, and an existential realization for many that this could be the only chance in their lifetimes to create far-reaching change. There is an ominous, now-or-never sense that if the Green Movement's promise is dashed, there might not be another opportunity like this for a long, long time.

This uprising, to quote Dabashi once again,

has seen phases of civil disobedience and shades of civil unrest -- but its skeletal vertebrae is a nonviolent drive toward democratic institutions that the current republic will either accommodate and survive, or else resist and be washed aside.

I'm not so sure I agree. I doubt very much that what Dabashi calls "the current republic" -- or what we might call, invoking Rudolf Bahro, the Actually Existing Islamic Republic -- is capable of accommodating the emancipatory and democratic demands of the Green Movement. That surgical procedure would more than likely kill the patient. I believe that this regime is beyond that point. This is not the regime of 1997-2005, or even the subsequent one presided over by Ahmadinejad until this past June. In Ahmadinejad's "second term," Khamenei's halo is gone, the repressive state apparatus's gloves are off, the hardline elements are digging in deeper than ever, and the state is militarized to such a point that martial law is a real possibility. It's a stretch to fathom this regime accommodating even those demands contained in the Soroush-Kadivar manifesto, let alone the considerably more robust wish list of the grassroots movement, which only expands and gains popular traction with each day.

Indeed, one might say, to invoke Simon Critchley, that the political consciousness of the Green Movement is growing infinitely demanding. "There is no possible scenario," Dabashi argues, "that will divert it from its main objective -- of reaching the goal of liberty, the rule of law, democratic republicanism, civil liberties, civil rights, women's rights...freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom to form political parties, freedom to choose a democratic government."

In this process of the unfolding of the movement's demands and vision, the groundwork for a new set of arrangements is being laid. This is what Antonio Gramsci called prefigurative struggle. His point, as Carl Boggs argues in The Two Revolutions, was that

a good part of what we call revolution actually precedes the conquest of political power, and it is this prefigurative dimension of politics that shapes the conflict of regimes, armies, organizations, and leaders... Beneath the level of insurrection and statecraft there must be a gradual conquest of social power, initiated by popular subversive forces emerging from within the very heart of [the] society.

In Gramsci's own words:

The decisive element...is the permanently organized and long prepared force which can be put into the field when it is judged that a situation is favorable (and it can be favorable only insofar as such a force exists, and is full of fighting spirit). [The] essential task is that of systematically and patiently ensuring that this force is formed, developed and rendered ever more compact and self-aware.

The prefigurations of the current upheaval in Iran are of course hidden in plain sight. As several commentators have observed, many of the intellectual and political seeds now being harvested were planted during the reform period of 1997-2005. Today's upheaval, the anthropologist Michael Fischer maintains, has been

in the making for over a decade both via the cat-and-mouse game between state censorship and the press, and also via the networking of a student generation marked by the violent repression of demonstrations in 1999, and a growing determined women's movement partly under the banner of the Million Signatures Campaign...launched in 2006.

But of course the prefigurative arc extends back even further. Fischer speaks poetically of the "long fetch, the waves receding and returning, the long term respirations of the social revolution," pointing to 1873, 1905-11, 1951-53 and, of course, 1978-79.

Critical Solidarity

Dabashi sees one of three possible scenarios playing out:

(1) "dismantling the office of the supreme leader altogether" (which he calls an "undemocratic obscenity") "but keeping the rest of the constitution intact";

(2) "reconvening a constitutional assembly to rewire a whole new constitution and put it to national vote";

(3) "discarding the very idea of an Islamic republic altogether and putting the next form of the government to a plebiscite."

Again, we have no way of knowing whether any of these three scenarios will materialize. Martial law could be declared tomorrow, shutting the door on the process of building a democratic Iran -- at least temporarily. But I see the mere articulation of such scenarios, the very act of thinking big, of imagining alternatives to the existing system, as a promising development. Indeed I think it's a precondition for moving forward.

As many have pointed out, this is a process that Iranians will undertake and work out for themselves. It's not for outsiders to suggest blueprints. We know all too well the legacy of foreign intervention in Iranian affairs. This is an Iranian struggle, and whatever resolution emerges from that struggle will be an Iranian one.

While foreign intervention should be opposed, however, international solidarity has a role to play -- not in some spurious neoconservative form, which lacks any semblance of credibility and is shot through with bad faith. I'm talking about the work of groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. I'm talking about the solidarity work that international trade unions and labor organizations are doing with their beleaguered counterparts in the Iranian labor movement -- the campaign of the International Transport Workers' Federation in support of Mansour Osanloo and the Tehran bus drivers, to take one example. (These are very much overlapping efforts: Amnesty has campaigned vigorously for the release of Osanloo, as a prisoner of conscience, and has deployed the felicitous slogan Workers Rights = Human Rights.) And I'm talking about the work of groups like the Campaign for Peace and Democracy and United for Iran.

This kind of solidarity work is vitally important, and Iranian activists strongly welcome and seek it out: Iranian labor organizers, for instance, have been developing relationships and building bridges with labor activists in North America, Europe, and Latin America. As important as this is, though, it's predominantly a negative form of solidarity -- that is, it revolves mainly around denouncing repression, demanding the release of political prisoners, bringing attention to human rights violations, and otherwise pushing back against the boot on the neck of Iranian activists. It's vital work, but I'd like to float a few suggestions, in the spirit of what Fred Halliday calls critical solidarity. Meaning: we stand with you in your struggle and are prepared to contribute to it, but we also offer some food for thought and seek a bit of give-and-take about the movement's future.

In brief, what I'd like to suggest to the Green Movement as it stands at this moment of decision, this pivotal juncture, is that it not hold off on thinking big -- specifically that it not postpone addressing the looming economic questions it will inevitably face should it take power but rather begin to tackle them -- openly and undogmatically - now.

Sahimi has called for the leadership of the Green Movement to prepare for a "transition to a new stage of the struggle, or even for a new government." I agree. The movement could find itself in that position. There's no way to know if it will, or, if it does, when that might happen, but it must proceed as if that moment were imminent. Otherwise, it will find itself ill-equipped to meet its demands.

It makes perfect sense that economic questions have not yet featured prominently in Green thinking. For one, political questions simply figure more immediately and pressingly in the movement's experience -- it was, after all, a political event (a disputed election), rather than an economic one that was its primary impetus. The struggle to date has been for democracy, not for a particular set of economic arrangements. (This goes a long way in explaining why liberal and pluralist ideas have generally had a bigger influence on the thinking of Iranian dissidents and activists than have Marxist ones, something I've discussed elsewhere.) Once democracy is achieved, once that boot is removed from our neck -- the thinking goes -- we'll have the breathing room and the mechanisms to deal with economic issues. Fair enough. And it is also true that pushing economic questions to the fore could divide the already diverse spectrum of Iranians marching together under the Green banner. The movement's political demands have provided common ground for people with conflicting economic ideas, and given the regime's unrelenting drive to crush the movement, the opposition must occupy common ground in order to hold its ground. By all means. Besides, there's only so much energy -- the movement has its hands full, to put it mildly, just trying to survive in the face of constant state repression. One has to prioritize. Understood.

And yet, notwithstanding my sympathy for those who must weight such considerations, I want to suggest to Iran's Greens that they take a close look at the cases of Eastern Europe and South Africa. The democratic movements that by and large formed the post-Communist governments of the former Warsaw Pact countries faced a similar situation -- different from Iran in many regards, to be sure, but similar in the crucial respect that their focus was political in nature and their platform consisted mainly of democratic principles and negative liberties. It was presumed that these were the most pressing matters and that economic issues would get worked out in due course. But what happened? To make a long story short, shock capitalism happened, and it brought the kinds of dislocations, dispossessions, and disfigurations that are its global trademarks. Because the democratic-movements-turned-governments hadn't given much thought to questions of economic structure or policy, they were unprepared to respond to the convulsions induced by neoliberalization.

This should serve as a cautionary tale for Iran's democratic movement. Postponing the economic question, saving it for later, could be dangerous, because the economic "default setting" of the global system is some form of neoliberalism. This may or may not be what the Greens decide they want -- if it isn't, they'd better get on the case, because it's what they'll end up with unless they actively steer clear of it and pursue an alternative path.

This situation presents Iran with an extraordinary opportunity. It's not often that a society gets to "rewire" or reimagine itself. Revolutions happen infrequently. Although the Green Movement's primary focus is political rather than economic, the political process it has set in motion could lead to a rethinking and rewiring of the Iranian polity, which would in turn put the economic sphere up for grabs as well. Again, the Green Movement should imagine itself being in charge of these issues -- in charge as soon as tomorrow.

That means confronting, head-on, several major questions that all governments must face: Should Iran join the WTO? What policy on foreign direct investment would make the most sense? Can Iran learn from models other than the dominant neoliberal one, or is it fated to merely take its place in the neoliberal global system? What might it learn from the social-democratic model of Norway, another oil-rich state? What might it learn from Lula's Brazil? Or from the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela?

This last one gets really thorny, because although I think there is a good deal to be learned from the Venezuelan experience, many in the Iranian democratic movement are so disgusted with the response of Hugo Chávez to Iran's June election and its aftermath -- and to his enthusiasm for Ahmadinejad, more generally -- that, unfortunately but understandably, they aren't open to learning from him. Recall the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry's denunciation of the Iranian street demonstrations:

The Bolivarian Government of Venezuela expresses its firm opposition to the vicious and unfounded campaign to discredit the institutions of the Islamic Republic of Iran, unleashed from outside, designed to roil the political climate of our brother country. From Venezuela, we denounce these acts of interference in the internal affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, while demanding an immediate halt to the maneuvers to threaten and destabilize the Islamic Revolution.

The damage this has done to Chávez's standing among Iran's democratic forces can't be overstated, and may be permanent. But as much as he has earned criticism on this point, and as badly flawed as his judgment has been with respect to Iran's internal politics, there are many aspects of Venezuela's attempt to construct an alternative to the neoliberal model that deserve careful study. Iran's democratic movement would do well to take a close look at some of its achievements. I would encourage Iran's prospective future leaders from the Green Movement not to ignore the spectacularly bad faith Chávez has shown in embracing Ahmadinejad, but to bracket it and examine Venezuela's economic experiment on its own terms.

I would also, in a spirit of friendship and critical solidarity, suggest that the Green Movement engage David Schweickart's important work on economic democracy, or what he calls market socialism. A Persian translation of his book After Capitalism might be in order, as would, say, a series of discussions with him on how his ideas might apply in the case of Iran, with its particular features. Likewise with Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz -- see what they're saying about the current global economic order and elicit their advice on how Iran might chart a progressive economic course. How about the Mondragón cooperatives in the Basque country -- what lessons might they have to offer about the feasibility of worker self-management? And the participatory institutions that Brazilians have built -- not only the celebrated participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre and other Brazilian cities, but the Health Councils, the City Master Plans, and other experiments in bottom-up design and grassroots structures.

Iran's Green Movement has itself offered a model of organization and social motivation that others are beginning to study, and I believe will continue to study for many years to come, whatever the outcome of its quest. It has, from its inception, been an innovative and imaginative force, in an open-ended and constant state of flux, building the road as it travels and re-inventing itself at every turn. It is for this reason ideally suited to open-mindedly engage with other models and movements around the world. It has always, from day one, been a bold and daring movement, so thinking big is in its very DNA. This might not be the optimal moment for Iran's Greens to undertake a detailed analysis of the economic experiments of Brazil, Venezuela, and Mondragón, or to engage the ideas of Schweickart, Sen, and Stiglitz, or any number of others, engaged as they are, right now, in a life-and-death battle. I would nonetheless like to encourage Iran's Greens not to wait until it's too late.

The preceding text was presented at the conference Iran: Politics of Resistance, held February 12 at the New School for Social Research in New York.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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14 Comments

"In the realm of political ideas, the battle is over and Iran's clerical oligarchs know it -- liberal democratic ideas have triumphed."

Sorry to say, that reminds me of Bani-Sadr's famous declaration that he had defeated the regime's ideology.

The article he cites to prove that the word on the street is that twenty percent of the people support the current government says no such thing. It's author, Ervan Abrahamian, is much to cautious a scholar to say such a thing.

The alrticle's triumphalist tone is simply unwarrented.

QLIneOrientalist / February 22, 2010 3:42 AM

I agree with QLine.

Is this an advocacy piece? It sure doesn't measure up as an analysis.

Pirouz / February 22, 2010 8:25 AM

This starts off as a very interesting article but leads to a strange ending. A Venezuelan model of economy? No thank you. Iranians by nature are relatively laissez-faire and entrepreneurial; I presume they don't want government restrictions and expropriations. Your example of Norway is more realistic, solely based on the fact that it's actually successful, unlike the Bolivarian model.

Eventually, Iran needs to find the perfect balance between free-market capitalism - to liberate the young, active and successful businessmen/women of modern Iran - and social justice - to improve the living standards of the more traditional sectors of Iran's economy/society. However, history is my proof that the free-market model will ultimately prevail and government interference will be "Germanic" at best. So, once again, regarding the Bolivarian revolution: no thank you.

Pak / February 22, 2010 2:53 PM

Once again Danny Postel has demonstrated his infinite capacity to absorb a totally diverse range of ideas aired out at the present time, and congeal them into the art of the possible. Brilliant. Danny is intimately familiar with Iran, has traveled there and interviewed prominent intellectuals. He is therefore, not an outsider looking in. Danny has a keen sensitivity towards what is Universal, humanity's aspiration for genuine freedom whether manifested in Iran, in E. Europe or right here in America.

The concern I have with this article is that contrary to his own sensitivity, he only reflects upon the possible only externally. What I mean is that he is merely immersed in various intellectual trends each with it own 'design' or 'plan' for what OUGHT to happen. whereas in the past he has been able to penetrate into the minds of 'ordinary' Iranians, and has reflected upon THEIR desires for freedom.

Unfortunately, what the youth, the women, national minorities or the urban poor and working class want remains 'an unexplored realm of darkness'; their implicit demands is not made explicit, their reason not elicited. Intellectuals know what's good for them. But where do the intellectuals draw their inspiration? What's the hurry to put together the nucleus of the next ruling class without their consent?

Yet Danny Postel, as is well know, is a true believer in the Universalist 'legacy' of the Great French and the American Revolutions, and as such, the proponent of radical democracy. Once such 'legacy' is the notion of 'Social Reason', in which we trust as what hold in check the caprice of the politicians. A participatory democracy does not emerge like a shot out of a pistol the day after 'victory' as hand. No, it is the very guarantee of that victory.

It is hight time that radical intellectuals began listening to the voices of the non-elite otherwise the pull of this or that 'Plan' will open a gap between the 'mass' and 'elite' that will become too wide to close later.


ali / February 23, 2010 2:26 AM

Quite honestly, this is a lot of clap trap and wishful thinking. The Islamic Republic is here to stay, reform it will but it is here to stay. Just learn to live with it. Can't say the same about the Israeli regime. Read a recent poll suggesting some 85% of Americans consider their political system as broken. Whereas just over 60% of Iranians in a Univ of Maryland poll said they were satisfied with the Islamic Republic's political system and considered Ahmedinejad to be the legitimate president. Of course some pundits will say they dare not say different out of fear. But 40% did and I have not read or heard of a massacre of these people by the Iranian govt.

rezvan / February 23, 2010 3:45 AM

Rezvan,

You do think, but you think with your eyes closed. Why do I say that? If I.R. and its murderous leadership are as popular as what you claim them to be then why the oppression? Why the killings? Why the beatings? Why the tortures/ The rapes? and imprisonments? Why the troops in the streets? Why the Barbarians? Why do they have to bus people in to feed them and offer them money just to get a few pro regime slogans out of them?

Do you realize what you are suggesting? Do you honestly believe people around the world are blind and ignorant to the realities they witnessed first hand on their T.V. screens, day after day, week after week and month after month? What you are suggesting is just as ignorant as the claim that the Greens who did not show were people from North Tehran. This is why nobody takes you people seriously. Why don't you people try to THINK a little harder.

But how can you? You are at the end of your game and sooner than later the Islamic Republic will go the way of all other oppressive regimes of the world, the garbage of history.

Niloofar / February 23, 2010 7:41 AM

Rezvan, (and Pirouz)

Why the constant quest to legitimize this government by referring to polls (and bizarrely comparing Iran with the U.S.)? Is is because you and other supporters of this illegitimate regime know that you cheated the electorate out of their votes and are determined to use anything you can find to say that this government is the choice of the people?

Polls have been wrong before and I have seen nothing that you (and Pirouz) have posted to convince me that Khamenei and his pet Ahmadi haven't robbed the election and then used brutal, lethal force against anyone that didn't agree with them.

Agha Irani / February 23, 2010 1:16 PM

If those who want to overthrow the Islamic Republican system do not accept facts and want to delude themselves with fantasies then they are likely to come a cropper in their endeavours. Success in any endeavour has to be worked for, it is not given even to those who proclaim belief in an Almighty God. Those who in these columns choose to repeatedly ignore facts that are available will only delude themselves and unlikely to achieve their goal. The IRI is neither a utopia nor a dystopia. It has some good things and some bad things, however independent (as independent as any poll can be) repeatedly show that the majority of Iranians in IRI support the political system and approve of its President. Most Iranians express acceptance of the outcome of the Presidential election.

The opposition, both secular and religious, will be in a better position to implement a counter strategy if it accepts in its calculation that despite their dislike of AN/VF, that actually there is still a majority in their favour. But of course this might not be conducive to getting the money tap flowing from the US and its allies whose hatred for all things 'Islamic' of the Iranian model is so deep that it is making them make irrational decisions like bringing back the very Taleban who harboured, aided and abetted the detested Al Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden back into the Afghan government despite their many barbaric acts such as the destruction of the statues of the Buddha and the massacre of many Shia hazaras. Not to speak of the ex-Baathists of Iraq under their megalomaniac leader Saddam, who heaped upon the hapless people of Iraq, Iran and Kuwait aggressive and unjustified wars, both conventional and chemical (courtesy of the Europeans), financed by the fanatical wahabi ruling elites of Saudi Arabia and other pro-Western Arab states of course backed the supreme satan itself, the USA without its very decent and mostly God fearing nation and knowing the truth of actions perpetrated in its name until the torture chambers of Guantanamo bay were exposed. The current US administration is wanting the Iraqi electorate to accept and allow these same Baathists to be readmitted into political life. Do they want to heap more tragedy on a people who have suffered afflictions to last several life times. And which country stood by giving refuge to millions of displaced Iraqis and Afghanis and sharing their pain whilst itself being in pain. None other than IRI.

BTW these were the conclusions of the poll held in 08-09/09-

Most Iranians express acceptance of the outcome of the Presidential election. Eighty-one percent say they consider Ahmadinejad to be Iran's legitimate president, and 62 percent say they have a lot of confidence in the declared election results, while 21 percent say they have some confidence. Just 13 percent say they do not have much confidence or no confidence in the results. In general, eight in 10 (81%) say they are satisfied with the process by which authorities are elected, but only half that number (40%) say they are very satisfied.

And if you still think these polls are wrong and subverted then the only conclusion to be made is that the majority of Iranians are damn good liars!

rezvan / February 24, 2010 3:48 AM

Rezvan

Yes, your suggested polls are wrong and NO, the majority of Iranians are not liars.

The whole world is looking at oppression, fraud, murder, torture, rape ....... and a barbaric establishment and yet you try to pretend to the world what they are looking at is a paradise of the Iranian people's choosing. Are you a mullah by trade? A few months ago you even referred to this evil establishment with its murderous leadership as "ordained".

You are not even Iranian and you have the audacity to speak on our behalf. That is truly outrageous.

May I suggest to you to pay a little more attention to the chaotic situation of your own homeland Lebanon and leave Iran to Iranians?

Please give us a little breathing room for comfort.

Niloofar / February 24, 2010 4:08 PM

http://www.bibijon.org/iranimage/

Rezvan,

folks attack you with phrases such as "The whole world is looking at oppression, fraud, murder, torture, rape ....... and a barbaric establishment ...".

Of course the Whole world is comprised exclusively of islamophobic neocons whose ownership of MSM forces us the rest of us to watch the crocodile tears they shed for human rights abuses in Iran which for some strange reason is the only nation they have unlimited sympathy for.

BiBiJon / February 25, 2010 2:11 AM

OH MY GOD.

The amount of links in this post makes it the worse probably the worst offender in the history of the internet with this practice. Ugh.

GeneralOreo / February 25, 2010 3:29 PM

BiBiJon,

There we go again with yet another conspiracy theory. This time though it is not the Brits but Islamophobic neocons. Brits must be off on vacation. Poor souls need a break once in a while.

A one liner followed by a convenient link to one's own website with a lot of cut and paste goodies.

Then why millions of Iranians runaway from the paradise of the Islamic Republic?

That is right, ".....oppression, fraud, murder, torture, rape ....... and a barbaric establishment ..."

The Islamic Republic has one destiny, the garbage of history.

Niloofar / February 25, 2010 4:33 PM

rezvan,

The US doesn't want to bring back either the Taliban or the Baath party.

In the case of the latter, it's IRI's propoganda that's painting sunni and secular opposition to maliki as baath so they can control the country after they fanned the flames of a savage civil war (how 'islamic' of the champion of the dispossessed!).

And the former, well, the taliban is simply part of the pashtuns and it's why the US has NO CHOICE but to bring them in government to bring peace.

I'm pretty sure if they didn't you'd blame them for NOT making peace and occupying afghanistan.

The people you CAN blame though are the muslims that believe in their religion, a religion which guides the taliban. Can't do anything about that. You can blame pakistan and saudi arabia for supporting the taliban, though people only do that when the US is involved (usually in an exaggerated way). Blame the muslims that brought them to power and supported them or ignored their crimes and then cry 'imperialism' when the US removes them from power. The only reason Iran opposed them btw was because the taliban are anti-shia, that's it. The IRI is pretty damn close to the taliban as far as I'm concerned, and supports barbaric proxies throught the middle east. It even supports russia in its slaughter of muslims in chechnya.

GeneralOreo / February 26, 2010 1:37 AM

There is no point having a poll in a country when there is capital punishment and no freedom of speech.

Go ahead and pick up the phone and ring Iran. I will assure that anyone who picks up the phone will be scared to answer your questions.

So I am sorry to all those who think that polls are true in present day Iran. By saying what you are saying, you raise suspicions of your intent.

Ali Mostofi / March 1, 2010 5:24 PM