Authoritarians Have Riot Police.
It’s very depressing what is happening today in Iran, apparently foreign embassies are taking in wounded, which is a bad sign in many ways, of the level of violence, of foreign powers becoming more involved. Did America rerun its election when Bush stole it? Which is to say Iran’s establishment is not acting any different to any other. But in a nation of such long history and rich culture combined with a young demographic a chance to break the mould is perhaps still alive. A fresh election with cross party observers at every stage could have led a way forward, one can argue fraud/not fraud interference etc endlessly, there are clearly enough Iranians unhappy with their government that they are making the kind of protest our Western organisers can barely dream of. It can’t all be the CIA, MI6, Mossad, even Rafsanjani pulling strings for his neoliberal wet dream (and there are those who say Ahmadinejad is not that different economically, his help to the poorer Iranians largely to gain support while he sells off assets to allies in the Revolutionary Guard). This level of sustained outpouring of frustration is not a phantom, the protesters do not want to overthrow the regime for some Western puppet, they want a government worthy of their talents and ambitions, a revival perhaps of the Islamic Revolution before it turned on the idealists and had them silenced. You can’t translate Chavez vs. neoliberal puppets -or whatever- to Iran, the structure and politics of the Islamic republic is entirely different, the history is different. But they do share enemies, which is where this crackdown makes the least sense. Perhaps they believe or have absolute proof this is an attempt at agitation & regime change, but the clever way of defusing that would have been an election rerun monitored by all sides, (even invite Jimmy Carter and his chums to watch!). I know that doesn’t guarantee results that would be accepted universally, ask a Palestinian, but it would resolve much of the current tension. Instead those in charge (and there is some debate whether this is Khamenei or an element of the Revolutionary Guard) have shown their authoritarian nature, just as ours and many other governments do, faced with mass disproval of their activities they ignore dialogue then repress. What right do I have to expect Iran to operate better than my own country? None. But I can show solidarity with Iranians and reject outside powers interference for their own agendas. Authoritarianism of the left, right, religious, secular, whatever is never supportable.