Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What do you mean by "the Iranian regime"?

This post is motivated by a (non-Iranian) friend of mine lecturing me on the significance of a Queer and Feminist protest in front of an Ismaili-funded research institution, with the aim to help liberate some poor woman who is rotting in some Iranian jail on the charges of enabling the anti-sharia feminists. She, who I suspect knows close to nothing about Iran, talked about "the regime" in such a tone as if she knew all that there was to know about "the regime".

Listening to war and destruction, brought about to Syria and Iraq, by these good-willing anti-war war-enabling "regime"-fighting activists, I was compelled to offer some opinion--which I am sure in her righteous academic mind, she did not pay any attention to. But so be it. Here are my thoughts:

On the weekend, I talked to my best friend on the phone and she asked me about Iran (which I recently visited). I told her what I had seen (I will make a separate post about that). She told me that no one who comes back from Iran ever tells her any of what i told her. She said that everyone just talks about the latest like-America-mall; or super-luxury-gyms, and women dressing this or that way--restaurants and more restaurants. 

I do know how much time expats visiting Iran do (not) have; I know the tendency to seek "evidence" for 'oh Iran is becoming just like Europe, it's not all Muslims and mullah's'; I know the _colonized_ mind of many educated Iranians who simultaneously take pride in traditions of 2500 years ago but want to act post-modern; while being wired by a Shiite (slightly ir-rational) culture, and configured by chaos and entropy (which they hate, but also thrive in). I also know the particular 'class' of Iranians that one is likely to meet outside Iran--they are not average Joes. 

I also know that when I go to Iran, I do not seek that which is 'fun' and 'modern'; but that which remains broken, volatile, ancient, and salient, that which dominates the below-surface of "modernity, Iranian style." I go there as my own reporter, my own journalist, and I talk talk talk talk to as many people as I can about as many topics as I can; and because I have the privilege of walking through all levels of social strata, I think my observations are out of the box. I always get to the heart of things which I am passionate about, in order to be able to see them from outside the box. Perhaps this is why this blog was once one of the best Iran-analysis blogs--and I have slowed down because this was becoming a source for those who seek sob-stories out of everything that comes from Iran. Also because of those calls to contribution and interviews about topics which I felt I was unqualified to comment on.

From a rational perspective that branches over the box where my roots are emotionally deep, I like to suggest to non-Iranians to seriously "pause" when they want to talk about the Iranian "regime" as an abstract interpretation of something that is fundamentally different from and diametrically opposed to the people of Iran. I hate to say, "they are not." This is not to say people don't hate the 'regime' and that the 'regime' doesn't screw the people, but the relations are of the kind of a father and child who abuse and hate each other, respectively, and yet share a lot of hereditary features. This mode of separation is too simplistic and if history is a good judge (e.g. from the havoc we see in Iraq and Syria) it often leads to counterproductive acts of benevolence: e.g. bombing Iraq to annihilation in order to free people from the madman Saddam. This "regime" in Iran, is something like the 1% of America--everyone hates them, and no one acknowledges the fact that that 1% is borne out of their own collective cultural desires. 

Can you take the 'potential' to reach the TOP from the American psyche? You can't take it out of the Persian psyche either. This regime, like the previous one, like the one before that, like that of Cyrus the Great aspires to be the ultimate representative of the Divine on earth. In every Rumi poem that you love, beats a desire to become a god. The "regime" in Iran, is the manifestation of the dynamics of power, necessitated by the geopolitical reality of the place where it has come to exist. And trust me, it exists against adversity that is unimaginable to those who have not had to dig 35,000 kilometers worth of Qanats to bring water from mountains to live, to survive for at least 7000 years. This regime is a living, breathing, plastic beast, not a totem to worship or to break. This beast is brutal, and slow, and as adaptive as a seven-headed serpent. You need to tame it with the wisdom of the land and history which have given it birth, not with the wisdom of the human-like gods of the Olympus.

And whatever you do, don't bother "toppling" it. Just go to a coffee shop in the heart of protesting-tehran, and have a cup of coffee with some of those green-revolutionaries, and hear their content to be living in a safe and bomb-free city when all else around them is blasting in random intervals. Yes, some of those are praying for the current leader to never die! And no, when they execute some 'rebels', people look away. Safety before human rights ... A tough bite to swallow, ... I know.

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