Saturday, June 20, 2009

For coverage on Iran

Al Giordano, neo-resistance, Nico Pitney, and Andrew Sullivan seem to be doing a pretty decent job in compiling what information can be compiled. Also, check out the #IranElection channel on Twitter, where Sullivan has found a wealth of information.

A few words of mine:

I'm impressed with how new technologies are employed in organizing and reporting various social struggles. During the 1989 "pro-democracy" (or more appropriately "anti-neoliberalism") struggle in China, a major means of communication was the fax machine, through which information made its way past the great wall of censorship for which the nominally Chinese government was (and still is) notorious. Fast-forward twenty years, and we're seeing a new generation utilizing their cell phones, Blackberries, etc., to communicate text information on Twitter, and visual information on YouTube, which then might get picked up by any of a number of bloggers varying in terms of their visibility. Again, we see a semi-successful effort to thwart the efforts of official censorship to communicate with the outside world, as well as to organize internally. These new means of communication are far from perfect, and can be manipulated by anyone with ulterior motives, including, of course, members of a government targeted by protests. In other words, don't abandon your critical reading and thinking skills.

Much has been made about fraud in the recent national election in Iran. Discounting the usual blabbering by neocons, I am inclined to believe that something about the election results is not quite right. That said, I am actually relieved that Obama has done something relatively sane: he's resisted calls for the US government to stick its nose in Iranians' business. Why is this relatively sane? Well, from the vantage point of those who are protesting in the streets of Tehran and elsewhere, any hint of US interference will be used by the government to further repress dissent. I'm also convinced that much of the calls for US intervention reek of Orientalism.

I'm equally leery of the various color-coded "revolutions" that have characterized Eastern Europe and Central Asia over the last few years that have been used to install neoliberal-friendly despots. What I have read of Mousavi doesn't exactly inspire me to believe that he's quite the saint that our corporate media and many of our political leaders would have us believe. Fortunately, neoliberalism is just beginning its descent, and along with it a space is opening to leftist opposition in a way that wasn't possible before (true, by the way in Iran, as it is around the world).

Some of the reports coming out of Iran are unsettling, including those of protesters suffering severe burns from caustic substances dropped from helicopters (white phosphorus? napalm? acid?), as well as the casualties (deaths and injuries) as a result of government attempts to quash nonviolent protesters.

What to do? Perhaps the best that can be offered is this:
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.

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