'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Angry Arab on the Iranian Revolution 

Here's an excerpt from an excellent article by As'ad Abukhalil, posted at The Angry Arab News Service:

The Iranian Revolution promised separation from a past from which it didn’t completely depart. Perhaps the deep crisis which the Iranian regime suffers today stems from the scenes of quelling peaceful protests: they remind us of the protests against the Shah, which accumulated to the point of rendering him helpless before the growing popular movement. The dilemma facing the regime lies in its need to defend its survival: every time it resorts to power to defend itself, it weakens its revolutionary legitimacy and its historic ability to continue in power. Of course, the regime can impose itself by excessive force and increasing bloodshed, but it can count on no other method of survival: it loses true authority whenever it relies on violence, as Hannah Arendt has theorized. Therefore, the regime is confused. It is not used to a popular protest of this size. Accusing the West of interference – and the West does interfere in all the Third World’s affairs, even in alliance formation – is not satisfactory. The regime cannot hide the opposition’s true nature and the contradiction with revolutionary legitimacy, for the revolution has entered a limp, calcified phase, which stems from the Revolution’s own slogans. . . . .

. . . the regime cannot easily impute Iran’s events to an outside conspiracy. Of course, the Iranian people, which have suffered intricate outside conspiracies throughout their history, are entitled to be on the alert for outside conspiracies. No doubt, Israel and its Arab and western aides have worked to cause trouble in Iran for years. All the Shah’s Men, which relies on documents published in American government archives, describes in detail how American intelligence planned a coup against Mosadeq and how it organized protests, wreaked havoc and made it look spontaneous. A writer on Al-Manar’s website may see a malicious conspiracy in Iran’s events, and the Supreme Leader may express outrage towards Britain (which deserves denunciation due to its colonial past and present, which hasn’t ceased even though both the sun and moon have set on it), but in reality the reasons behind Iran’s events are primarily internal while facing outside exploitation by governments, media outlets and the United Nations (the latter has been a tool in the United States’ hand since the end of the Cold War, especially during the current secretary’s leadership, who has about the same as Najib Miqati’s charisma). Treating these events as if they were the product of outside intermeddling will only expedite the Revolution’s aging process, because revolution dies when it loses vision and mimics the obsolete regime (the Shah saw in what happened to him the ultimate conspiracy although his oppressive regime enjoyed peerless western, Israeli and Gulf support). To say there was no external conspiracy against the Iranian regime is as ignorant as saying there were no internal reasons for the Iranian crisis.

In this article, which should be read in its entirety, Abukhalil displays a facility for dialetical reasoning that dispels many of the myths surrounding the Iranian regime and the eruption of protest against it. Here, he evaluates the regime in light of revolutionary psychology, it's inability to fully substitute its ideological values for the ones that it sought to replace and it's loss of purpose and direction. Unlike some other leftists, he recognizes that internal and external forces act upon the regime, but that the crisis is primarily an internal one. As a result, Iranians will continue to flail about for an Iranian solution to what is essentially an Iranian problem.

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