[lit-ideas] Re: Rhetoric and reality on Iran

  • From: Eric Yost <eyost1132@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2006 15:29:33 -0500

Here's some more rhetoric and reality:

>>> the Iranian philosopher Ramin Jahanbegloo is an intellectual in deep trouble with the ruling regime. And just like Havel in pre-1989 Czechoslovakia, Jahanbegloo has become part of a democratic, nonviolent movement of the Iranian powerless. On April 27, 2006, the Iranian philosopher was detained at Tehran’s Mehrabad airport, and shortly after was accused of actively preparing to take part in a “velvet revolution” in Iran.


While Jahanbegloo sat in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, eminent international figures—among them Havel and Habermas—sent an Open Letter to Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad protesting the philosopher’s detention.


The specter of nonviolent democratic Islam is haunting the suicide bombers and religious zealots of every stripe. The fear of democratic civil society among Islamist fundamentalists grips the entire Middle East region with the realization that the Iranian dissidents have outgrown both the ultra-left and the religious right—the two forces responsible for the anti-democratic subversion of the 1979 revolution’s emancipatory promise. It is possible this might only apply to Iran, and that the situation in other Islamic countries is more complex, especially regarding the relationship between Islamism, civil society and democracy; yet crucial for my point is that the Iranian dissidents, within the framework of Islam, now embrace nonviolent change and what Karl Popper and George Soros call the open society. Iranian dissent has become, like the Central-East European and Soviet underground before it, the laboratory for imagining another possibility, a future world that would wed the most spiritual resources of religious life with the most advanced forms of democratic and economically-just institutions. This is the fear that the Prague Spring of 1968 shares with the Velvet Revolution of 1989—and both share with the current global situation: the pro-democracy yet deeply religiously-inflected dissent in Iran is underscored by its radical nonviolence and opposition to all religious terror (whether by a totalitarian state or by religious fanatics). Yet it is likewise opposed to the notion of a permanent war on terror, which is perceptively unmasked by the proponents of nonviolent change as the Jacobin variant of all aggressive wars and modern revolutions.


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