Saturday, December 01, 2007

Excellent article by an Iranian socialist on Counterpunch

(title link). Reza Fiyouzat brings some coverage of a recent conference where Che's children spoke in Iran, and didn't say the things that the Iranian government thought they were going to say. Fiyouzat condemns both U.S. aggression against Iran and the theocratic government. But about the conference itself there's an interesting couple lines:

"According to a conference participant, who wrote a report for the Farsi language site, Gozareshgaran (http://www.gozareshgar.com/?id=22&tid=3144), the opening statements by Haaj Sa'eed Ghasemi stated that if Che were alive today, he would be fighting in Lebanon alongside the Hezbollah. The speaker pointed out, "Today, Communism, as predicted by [Ayatollah Khomeini], has joined history's dustbin, and the only path to salvation lies alongside the justice-seeking unitarian religious movements.""

You almost had me until you mentioned Khomeini. Hezbollah seems to have popular support in Lebanon, and who am I to question that? Unfortunately Lebanon is divided between the Christian community and the Muslim community, so there are other issues. The idea of a socialism that honors the historical traditions of non-western countries is an attractive proposition, and one that people thought would manifest in Iran before the hard line theocrats took over. There's a difference between orthodox religious sentiments and those of people like Ali Shariati, an academic who tried to forge just such an ideology, that respected Iran's religious traditions while being progressive. Peter Lamborn Wilson, a.k.a. Hakim Bey, who lived in Iran before the revolution, typified the relationship between the progressive student movement and the followers of Khomeini as being like that of liberation theology activists to the Vatican. I haven't seen him be wrong about this.

I've read selections from Khomeini, and they aren't something I'd recommend anyone else reading except to say that they've read something by him, and they're really depressingly orthodox, conservative, and theocratic. While other writers seem to have looked at things in a living, progressive way, Khomeini seems to have been content to pretend like it was the middle ages and enumerate his version of religious law down to the nth degree, answering religious questions like nothing else existed. Like the Vatican and Canon Law, actually. Pointless bullshit.

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