Monday, June 22, 2009

Messy and Messier in Iran

Iran's Supreme Leader warned demonstrators that such behavior was to stop and they didn't, not in the face of police and militia. Tear gas, beatings, and bullets didn't dissuade them so people got hurt and some died, and this was Iranians versus Iranians. No foreigners were involved, no ancient or recent enemies took hand in it and worse - those who did are their fellow Muslims. This shows no signs of letting up.

There will, quite naturally, be those in Iran who are not troubled by this. That isn't an Iranian thing; it is the nature of societies in general. There will always be those whose differences of opinion make their opponents lesser beings, but it is not ever a large percentage. This will not please most Iranians, how their discontent will play out is unclear. Who gets most of the blame from most people will largely determine future outcomes. Government controlled media is making real efforts to portray demonstrators as tools of outside agitators and violators of Iranian morals. The success of that effort will largely depend on Iranian's access to information that counters it. It would seem to be difficult to miss what is going on if you live in Tehran but it is unclear how much information is available outside that area or how much disturbance is going on in how many other places.

Perhaps the real crux of this is that in such a theocracy people hold position on the basis of their supposed holiness. Islam must justify their behavior and they are assumed to be in compliance by virtue of their position. The very top of the governmental apparatus is being challenged over a pretty basic question, political lying and cheating. How far this challenge to authority goes may depend on how widespread and how long term this opposition is active. The problem a theocracy faces is the very severe limit a religion ordinarily lays on political behavior and its ordinary junk much less real lying and cheating which are now being rubbed on Iranian noses. This is really touchy stuff, people get real iffy when they get poked at regarding religion. Quite a few folks are taking the pretty nasty position that some powerful holy men are corrupt and that means a serious clash over serious business in that area.

In our society we don't have something to measure this against. We cannot draw comparisons (despite Republican Tweets)((idjits)) with anything that exists in our politics or religions. That society is widely homogeneous in religion, well beyond any such in any area in the US short possibly nationalism. We neither understand theocracy nor such religious fervor. I am becoming unsure that the "leadership" in Iran really understands, either the establishment or the opposition. Things have been set in motion that I'm not sure anyone really understands.


ShortWoman said...

Speaking of Idjits tweeting, I thought you would enjoy this. Oh and many of these have been directed to the idjit in question.

Zak Johnson said...

A strong element of class warfare underlies much of what is happening. The elites in the city hate Ahmenijad, but the traditionally marginalized country folks seem to be benefiting from his populist message and policies. It's much like Chavez's excesses in redistributing wealth and land in Venezuela, and my bet is that it will end the same way that the aborted counter-revolution in Venezuela did. For that reason, I think Obama has been wise in showing restraint (as well as not to provide more excuses for crackdowns.) Recall as well most Chinese, particularly rural ones, supported the crackdown on the urban elites in Tienanmen Square. The religious and ethnic overtones, as usual, mask the naked class struggle at the heart of this fight.

Zak Johnson said...

Then again, this CSM analysis is pretty convincing that the whole election is a fraud--based on comparing election data to previous elections. Good study to read.