Friday, 26 June 2009

Iranian Election

The recent debacle over the so-called "Iranian election" is one indication of the need for salient philosophical thinking about international affairs that can be set out in a way that is not only rigorous but also related to ongoing events. The majority of the commentary on the events that have taken place so far has either been restricted to reportage of the in-fighting within the elite or to speculations concerning the motivations behind the evident fraud. Little has been written thus far addressing the masses of people who mobilized and demonstrated at great personal risk. Yet it is the fact of these demonstrators mobilizing on such a large scale in the heart of the Middle East that renders these events worth watching. A revolutionary upheaval includes within itself democratic potential. It is, naturally, always possible for this upheaval to fail to attain this potential and be headed off either by following leaders who wish to divert the events to other ends of their own on the one hand or to be repressed by the regime they are challenging on the other. These potential problems are what the movement of the Iranian masses have to confront. 

With regard to the leaders who could close down its potential it is clear that the revolt has thus far not chosen its own leadership with any clarity. Mousavi, ex-Prime Minister from the period of the Iran-Iraq war, has a record that bears no examination. Similarly, Rafsanjani is engaging in in-fighting with the Supreme Leader and his lackey Ahmadi. The mass movement has, however, its own momentum and the circulated request for a general strike makes possible a confrontation with the regime that cannot be responded to by the brute mechanisms of repression. Similarly, the emergence of women as a serious force in this movement opens its own possibilities. How could the regime seriously attack a women's demonstration? The difficulties it has encountered over the killing of Neda already indicate its vulnerabilities in this regard.

The content of this revolution as one that could burst open the stranglehold of repressive regimes in the whole Middle East makes its monitoring essential to anyone serious about the Kantian demand that all governments should become republican. In declaring that violation of right anywhere is felt everywhere in the new world of globalized communication Kant made clear that there is open in modernity a new calculus of power in which information takes on its own force. This has been strikingly demonstrated in the contemporary events in which new technology has disseminated information with a speed and clarity that has repeatedly disturbed the clerics. Publicity is the basis of political action that can destabilize entrenched regimes and force the passage to openness. The watchword of pressing for such openness and orchestrating it to favour futural groups such as the young, women and the oppressed is the centre of a political analysis that can focus on something other than the tired repetitions of Kreminologists who do little to assess either the mood or the possibilities of movements that are beyond the fixed structures of power.


Patrick said...

Zizek on Iranian Revolution.

Gary Banham said...

Thanks for that link Patrick. A more recent one has emerged: