Parallels to 1979 Revolution

While no one knows what the end game is for the massive protests that have roiled Iran this past week, everyone is noticing the parallels with the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

The irony is not lost on those in power in the current regime. If anything it heightens the stress they feel. For 30 years they have convinced themselves that threats would only come from the ‘evil’ external forces of Britain, USA and the like. They can not believe that their own people are against them.

Of course they are trying to paint the demonstrators as agents of foreign powers, manipulated into protesting. But this only serves to intensify the rage of the Iranian people on the street.

A red line has been crossed and the game has changed. While Mousavi is an old guard and wants to maintain the existing power structures and work within them, the movement has morphed beyond this.

There are now open cries of ‘Death to Khamanei’… something absolutely unheard of before. What is more, as the legitimacy and supremacy of the Supreme Leader is being assailed by loud and boisterous protesters on the street, a much more insidious threat is approaching from Qom.

While most people mistake the Mullah’s as one bloc and supportive of Ahmadinejad and Khamanei, this is not the case. In fact they resent the Revolutionary Guard backed Ahmadinejad and have only derision for his cookoo brand of Hojjatieh Islam. There are exceptions of course. For example, Mulla Mesbah Yazdi who is the mentor and leader of this faction.

The real news in the past few days then is that Mousavi is not really a leader but a prominent icon which is being swept up by a ground swell of anger and resistance against the very system of the Islamic Republic: velayat-e faghih.

Rafsanjani has kept quiet and stayed out of the public eye. But he is very busy in Qom rallying the 86 member Council which he heads. There are rumors that he is proposing a variation to the existing structure which would oust Khamanei and put himself at the top (of course).

Getting back to the parallels with the 1979 Revolution, here are some similarities:

  • the state of the Iranian economy is weak with rampant inflation and unemployment
  • dissatisfaction with human rights violations, lack of free press, lack of democracy
  • dissatisfaction with financial prosperity and extremes of wealth & poverty
  • the merchant class (bazaari) are against the state for mishandling the economy
  • strikes fuel demonstrations with those unemployed and on strike joining them
  • people leave their doors unlocked so demonstrators can find shelter
  • cries of ‘Alla-u-Akbar’ throughout the night from rooftops
  • protest starts out against one injustice and gains momentum and widens scope
  • demonstrators from all strata of Iranian society
  • the government cracks down, killing some demonstrators
  • the dead are considered martyrs and mourned leading to further demonstrations and deaths
  • the cycle of deaths and mourning protests draws in more and more people
  • the attention of the world is focused on the events unfolding in Iran
  • with normal channels of communication censored or cut off, Iranians turn to alternatives
  • the state makes small concessions to no avail (rejected or ignored)
  • the crackdown (communication blockades) and demonstrators hamper normal economic activities

These are some of the parallels I’m seeing. But by drawing your attention to this I don’t mean to argue that we are seeing a revolution or that there will definitely be real change in Iran. No one really knows. If any expert pretends to know, they are lying or deluded. No one predicted what we are seeing on the streets of Iran even weeks before hand so it is folly to pretend that anyone can know what will happen in the next few days. The only thing I have is a gut feeling that things will get worse – much worse – before improving.

There has been no letters from the Universal House of Justice that I know of but the NSA of the US has put out a letter recommending that Baha’is there do not participate in sympathy demonstrations. This is also the case for other NSA’s around the world, which leads me to believe that the UHJ/ITC was involved.

For more news and links see the first post election message (scroll down).

  • Craig Parke

    Does anyone here from a Middle Eastern Abrahamic religion background know where it says in the Koran that it is Islamic to shoot an unarmed 16 year old girl standing in the street?

  • Baquia

    We don't really know who shot her. All lives are precious and Neda was one of many that were killed. Many more were beaten, injured and taken prisoner. God only knows what their fate will be in the hands of the Basijis and in the bowels of prisons like Evin.

  • Craig Parke

    I now understand that this beautiful woman Neda was 27 years old. May her refined soul rest in peace. The same for all of the other people who have lost their lives.

    I think these militias must be composed of very young boys and men that are anti-women. I read one account of a boy of 15 that was armed with an automatic weapon! Maybe they are all acne clad teenage sociopaths that have issues with their mothers as a root issue? It appears she was singled out by a sniper and deliberately shot through the heart as a statement.

    Since the Iranian State Theocracy Clergy System claims to speak directly for “God”, it does seem a bit harsh that people have to now pay the $3,000 “bullet fee” to claim the body of a loved one that was shot down.

    Again, someone here that is in a Major Middle Eastern Abrahamic Religion, is there a verse that supports this mentality some where in any of them? Is the “bullet fee” concept a Koranic principle? Does anyone here know?

    Would the UHJ also charge a “bullet fee” too in the future when they rule the world in the top down Baha'i State Theocracy where everyone serves forever in their lifetime incumbent positions and no one is ever held accountable for anything by any electorate for thousands of years? Does anyone know if we have some kind of justification for a “bullet fee” too? Especially since individual personal conscience is now completely forbidden in the NEWTHINK Baha'i Faith per Douglas Martin. If they say there will be a “bullet fee” it now appears no one will be able to oppose it from their personal conscience because personal conscience is now forbidden in the Baha'i Faith. I know both
    Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha taught the sacredness of personal conscience in Their Writings. But that is now Oldthink. Newthink is the personal opinions of the individual members of the UHJ and the personal opinions of their close personal friends on the ITC and what they all say in speeches and over lunch. That is the new sacred scripture of the Baha'i Faith.

    “We have inherited a dangerous delusion from Christianity that our
    individual conscience is supreme. This is not a Baha'i belief. In the
    end, in the context of both our role in the community and our role in
    the greater world, we must be prepared to sacrifice our personal
    convictions or opinions. The belief that individual conscience is
    supreme is equivalent to 'taking partners with God' which is abhorrent
    to the Teachings of the Faith.”

    - Douglas Martin
    Former Member of the Universal House of Justice
    Baha'i Faith

    If they apparently say their is to be a “bullet fee”, no one can oppose it.

    Also, would his pronouncement against dissent in U.S. politics now also apply to dissent in Iranian politics even if dissent helped result in Baha'is not being killed on Iranian soil for the next thousand years? Does anyone know if dissent is permitted in Iran per his pronouncements or it is forbidden too?

    “The passion for dissent which is such a prominent part of this culture
    is an icon of American mythology that must be understood in the light of the Teachings, specifically, the law of obedience to a government.”

    - Douglas Martin
    Former Member of the Universal House of Justice
    Baha'i Faith

    Or does anyone know if the video of Neda being killed and others being killed in Iran for human rights and the right of peaceful dissent would be considered a “sideshow” or a “dog and pony show” by the official BAO? Does anyone know? Is the footage of people in the streets being killed the “theater of the absurd” he is talking about? As we all now know the individual personal opinions of the current and former members of the UHJ is now Sacred Holy Writ in the Newthink Baha'i Faith so I think this is a fair question.

    “Politics, worldwide, is like a parlor game, a sideshow of sorts. We all
    know that it is often like a dog and pony show. Baha'is respect the
    democratic system because, while far from perfect, is represents the
    sole protection to the sense of order that the world knows at this time.
    However, we do not deceive ourselves that the present form of democracy evident in the world today represents, in any manner, the future model of the world body politic. Unfortunately, political action groups worldwide tend to act in a form of the 'theatre of the absurd.'”

    - Douglas Martin
    Former Member of the Universal House of Justice
    Baha'i Faith

    Does anyone know how we are all now to apply the Newthink Teachings as Baha'is? I am trying to get with the program. But I am having a real hard time giving up my personal individual moral conscience. Can anyone here help me by telling me how they gave up theirs? Maybe a few tips would get me with the program?

  • fubar

    http://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/civi

    Sen,

    Thank you for so clearly showing that some of the basic elements of Baha'i thought rest on a foundation of classic, romanticist paradigm regression.

    It seems to me that the obvious problem is that Islam, and the preceeding middle eastern civilizations and cultures that much (but not all) of this material draws from, were as historically imperialist as europeans. In hindsight, after taking over vast swaths of the earth and subjugating and enslaving many other cultures, it was convenient for Islamic-Baha'i thinkers to recline under the care of the slave classes and wax ethereal about the harmony of nature, divine civilization, and so forth.

    The historical reality is that Islam become highly reactionary and rigidly orthodox, and thus became weakened and effete. It was overrun not only by european colonialists, but by Mongolian tribal horsemen! Who of course had their own religious culture of “primitive” nature worship, which european romanticism sees as being spiritually “earthy and pure”.

    Islam – at its highest state was urban, refined, sophisticated, cosmopolitan, but became incapable of defending itself, first against the increasing economic and military power of the early “vulgar” (spiritually inferior) european mercantile and colonial powers, then later against the full forces of modernity and democratization: printing presses, widespread numeracy/literacy, industrialization, capitalism, and the FINAL HORROR: middle class consumer culture full of people confident in such “ungodly” (democratic) ideas as Natural Law, citizen participation and the openness of the “public square” and free speech.

    The Islamic “core” that Baha sought to uphold and integrate with modernity and western culture was premised, at its higher (imperial) levels, on a system of governance that was controlled by aristocratic and ecclesiastic elites. Such systems were incapable of adapting to changes in the world.

    The “memes” underlying such a system simply became “maladaptive”, in evolutionary terms, in the post-medieval, global culture that european colonialism initiated, and which then grew into democracy.

    And of course, the reformist/modernist movements, such as Baha'i, within rigidly orthodox and “corrupt” Islamic systems were brutally marginalized and supressed. There was/is a long pattern of supressing the more dynamic elements of Islamic culture, e.g., Sufism. The very people that had the capacity to adapt to the emerging realities of modernism had been marginalized.

    So, I would propose that the “romanticist” notion that a “spiritually purified” form of Islamic spirituality such as Baha'i, integrated at superficial levels (not tied into subcomponent memes) with modernism and democracy is inherently a dysfunctional foundation for a system of postmodern, or integral, religious culture.

    Your appeal to nature worhip is also ultimately not a viable alternative since it has no inherent consciousness of science or evolution. Have we really forgotten that the basis for fascism was full of similar imagery?

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Ar

    The reason that Baha'i has flopped is that its theology has just as little coherency in the modern/postmodern world as any other premodern/medieval system of thought that is out of alignment with the major memes that are driving the evolution of culture forward.

    In essence, premodern/medieval memes (including nature mysticism in its various “new age” guises) will never be able to successfully “colonize” modern/postmodern culture.

    What integralists have proposed is that the subcomponent memetic building blocks (technologies) of premodern/medieval spirituality be repurposed and made consistent with evolutionary theory.

    Unfortunately Baha'i theology badly flubs evolution, thus has “nowhere to go” in a postmodern/integral sense.
    [end]

  • fubar

    http://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/civi

    Sen,

    Thank you for so clearly showing that some of the basic elements of Baha'i thought rest on a foundation of classic, romanticist paradigm regression.

    It seems to me that the obvious problem is that Islam, and the preceeding middle eastern civilizations and cultures that much (but not all) of this material draws from, were as historically imperialist as europeans. In hindsight, after taking over vast swaths of the earth and subjugating and enslaving many other cultures, it was convenient for Islamic-Baha'i thinkers to recline under the care of the slave classes and wax ethereal about the harmony of nature, divine civilization, and so forth.

    The historical reality is that Islam become highly reactionary and rigidly orthodox, and thus became weakened and effete. It was overrun not only by european colonialists, but by Mongolian tribal horsemen! Who of course had their own religious culture of “primitive” nature worship, which european romanticism sees as being spiritually “earthy and pure”.

    Islam – at its highest state was urban, refined, sophisticated, cosmopolitan, but became incapable of defending itself, first against the increasing economic and military power of the early “vulgar” (spiritually inferior) european mercantile and colonial powers, then later against the full forces of modernity and democratization: printing presses, widespread numeracy/literacy, industrialization, capitalism, and the FINAL HORROR: middle class consumer culture full of people confident in such “ungodly” (democratic) ideas as Natural Law, citizen participation and the openness of the “public square” and free speech.

    The Islamic “core” that Baha sought to uphold and integrate with modernity and western culture was premised, at its higher (imperial) levels, on a system of governance that was controlled by aristocratic and ecclesiastic elites. Such systems were incapable of adapting to changes in the world.

    The “memes” underlying such a system simply became “maladaptive”, in evolutionary terms, in the post-medieval, global culture that european colonialism initiated, and which then grew into democracy.

    And of course, the reformist/modernist movements, such as Baha'i, within rigidly orthodox and “corrupt” Islamic systems were brutally marginalized and supressed. There was/is a long pattern of supressing the more dynamic elements of Islamic culture, e.g., Sufism. The very people that had the capacity to adapt to the emerging realities of modernism had been marginalized.

    So, I would propose that the “romanticist” notion that a “spiritually purified” form of Islamic spirituality such as Baha'i, integrated at superficial levels (not tied into subcomponent memes) with modernism and democracy is inherently a dysfunctional foundation for a system of postmodern, or integral, religious culture.

    Your appeal to nature worhip is also ultimately not a viable alternative since it has no inherent consciousness of science or evolution. Have we really forgotten that the basis for fascism was full of similar imagery?

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Ar

    The reason that Baha'i has flopped is that its theology has just as little coherency in the modern/postmodern world as any other premodern/medieval system of thought that is out of alignment with the major memes that are driving the evolution of culture forward.

    In essence, premodern/medieval memes (including nature mysticism in its various “new age” guises) will never be able to successfully “colonize” modern/postmodern culture.

    What integralists have proposed is that the subcomponent memetic building blocks (technologies) of premodern/medieval spirituality be repurposed and made consistent with evolutionary theory.

    Unfortunately Baha'i theology badly flubs evolution, thus has “nowhere to go” in a postmodern/integral sense.
    [end]

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