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My man!

By Michael J. Smith on Saturday June 13, 2009 05:44 PM

I don't know when the results of an election have delighted me so much -- and I mean really delighted; hence, loathèd Irony!

The Plain People of Iran have handed the Tehran hipsters and the professional and mangerial classes their own heads on a platter. Anti-inflation, forsooth! Fiscal responsibility! Faugh!

Apparently turnout was around 85%. Wow!

I may want to write a bit more about this when I've finished the champagne (and slept off the aftermath), but for the moment, in the best blogger style, I'll just crib a few grafs from a quite good piece in the English newspaper The Guardian:

Wishful thinking from Tehran
Since the revolution, academics and pundits have predicted the collapse of the Iranian regime. This week, they did no better

...[F]ew here [in Iran] doubted that the incumbent firebrand President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad would win. My airport cab driver reminded me that the president had visited every province twice in the last four years – "Iran isn't Tehran," he said. Even when I asked Mousavi supporters if their man could really carry more than capital, their responses were filled with an Obamasque provisional optimism – "Yes we can", "I hope so", "If you vote."

... It is true that Mousavi supporters jammed Tehran traffic for hours every night over the last week, though it was rarely mentioned that they did so only in the northern well-to-do neighborhoods of the capital.

In 1997 as the ashes of the Iran-Iraq war settled and the country saw a decade relative stability, voters came out in mass to support the former president-cleric Khatami against his rival, Natiq Nouri, a senior member of the establishment. Western reporters saw this in terms of a grand generational divide: young freedom loving liberals against elder conservative clerics. But it was really a vote for the ideal of honesty and piety against allegations of entrenched corruption. Many of those same Khatami supporters voted for Ahmedinejad yesterday, despite the fact that Khatami's face was on every one of Mousavi's campaign posters.

For over a week the same social impulses of anti-corruption, populism, and religious piety that led to the revolution have been on the streets available to anyone who wanted to report on them. Ahmedinejad, for most in the country, embodies those ideals. Since he came into office he has refused to wear a suit, refused to move out of the home he inherited from his father, and has refused to tone down the rhetoric he uses against those he accuses of betraying the nation.

In the last week Ahmedinejad turned the election into a referendum on the very project of Iran's Islamic revolution. Their street chants yelled "Death to all those against the Supreme Leader" followed by traditional Shia rituals and elegies. It was no match for the high-spirited fun-loving youth of northern Tehran who sang "Ahmedi-bye-bye, Ahmedi-bye-bye" or "ye hafte-do hafte, Mahmud hamum na-rafte" (One week, two weeks, Mahmoud hasn't taken a shower).

Perhaps from the start Mousavi was destined to fail as he hoped to combine the articulate energies of the liberal upper class with the business interests of the bazaar merchants. The Facebook campaigns and text-messaging were perfectly irrelevant for the rural and working classes who struggle to make a day's ends meet, much less have the time to review the week's blogs in an internet cafe.

Comments (34)

MJS, have you caught the NYT's photo running alongside its claim that protesters have "filled the streets"? It's literally four people yelling across a rampart in front of a few wandering others.

As if to come in on cue to prove Cockburn's point...


"The Facebook campaigns and text-messaging were perfectly irrelevant for the rural and working classes who struggle to make a day's ends meet, much less have the time to review the week's blogs in an internet cafe."

Whoops! Are we perfectly irrelevant here, too?

My wife, who is a fan of Wayne Madsen, just quoted him as saying "Ahmedinejad is just another neocon, but he's our neocon."

Over at Doug's place, Yoshi was finally expelled for harping all the time on Iran's admirable social revolution.

As the Loyalists wave their British flag in Belfast, Sinn Fein is now the strongest party in Northern Ireland. Maybe if America had a party of liberation opposing the fraud of our bipartisan military state, we could someday have something to celebrate here.


I always liked Yoshie [Furuhashi]'s stuff on lbo-talk and I wish she were still there. I actually see the thing pretty much her way, though I'm not nearly as well-informed.

I should read her more often at mrzine.org.

If Iran's revolution is so great, why are the workers still struggling so much? I also think separation of church and state is an absolute, a litmus test if you will, before I can get comfortable with praise. And what of the arbitrary, closed legal system? What of women and gays?

I think Yoshie is pretty awful on Islamic resistance, personally. The enemy of her enemy is her friend, no matter what gets lopped off or trampled in the process.

I also think it's dumb politics to praise the Ayatollah system.


md and mjs
i think we can all agree
the sturm und drang bound to rock and roll thru the corporate media

"stolen elections "

helps the humanist empire
among its short pants goo goos

frankly i barely give a shit
if they rig the fucker
and elect a butt fucked goat
supreme fire god

so long as they do it themselves

and if they must devour
despised minorities
--even two legged ones --
that's why they say
we gotta have
' a tragic sense of life '
a dream of an after life
for that matter


the north of ireland jay...north of ireland


Michael D. lists all the reasons why he (and I) might not like to live in Iran. But what happens in Iran isn't -- or shouldn't be -- up to us.

The only advice I would give Iranians -- or the people of any other country -- is, Tell the Empire to fuck off. Beyond that, sort it out among yourselves.

Advice-giving, after all, is a kind of intervention -- and when the advice isn't taken, may serve as a pretext for other kinds of intervention. I'm a really determined and convinced anti-interventionist.

So I like Mahmoud mostly because he doesn't feel at all obliged to please us; in fact he seems to have calculated -- correctly -- that thumbing his nose at us endears him to his base. (Love that base.) And then he's just poison on Israel, and I love that too.

As for absolutes -- I guess I'm still too Marxist and too Pauline to believe in them.

I don't in the least disagree with your anti-interventionism and even your general like of Mahmoud, MJS.

And, until we have world democracy, what happens in every nation-state is, with one or two exceptions, the busy of its residents only.

Certainly, Iran is quite middling when it comes to crimes against humanity, far, far, far below the #1 perp, our very own unhinged capo di capo tutti.

But I also very much like both the separation of church and state, as well as the Marxist dictum to be ruthless in our truth-telling.

I think there are ways to try to help protect Iran from our assaults without being cheerleaders for stoning gays and theocracy.

I'm all for stoning theocracy, actually. But you get the point, bad writing aside.

The other thing I don't like about excessive defense of Islamic Revolution is that it tends to erase memory and discussion of the fact that the secular left was enemy #1 across the ME in the early Cold War period. Under U.S. sponsorship, nice little groups like the Shah's Savak made sure the clerics were the only ones left standing.

I don't see much evidence that the theocratic rebels are any more tolerant of secular leftism than the fuckers they overthrew. What are ones chances as a Marxist, or even a socialist, in Iran? Pretty bad, I believe.

So, why is Yoshie so sanguine about the place?


MD, sadder still is the following narrative.

In 1970's Iran, as the Shah's regime weakened under the strains of oligarchic modernization, the "secular left" to which you referred had a radical middle-class student wing, consisting of revolutionary nationalists and M-L'ists and admixtures thereof.

Then, after the Khomeinists consolidated state power, these radical middle-class students were impressed into dungeons, or worse... unless they were lucky enough to escape into exile, in Western Europe or the US.

As the years went by, this segment of the Iranian diaspora to a significant degree melded into the professional-technical-managerial strata in their (forcibly) adopted second homes, no surprise really, given their class and educational backgrounds.

And, just as many of them became proponents of multicultural Third Way-ism in their (forcibly) adopted second homes, so too did they come to endorse economic/social/political liberalism in the Iran from which they were forced to flee.

And ironically, this has led them to champion characters like Khatami and Mosaveni, who are still part of the clerical state (if its reformist wing), and have decidedly neo-classical leanings in economic policy... roughly 180 degrees opposite of where the radical middle-class students stood 30 years ago.


Errr, Mousavi, not Mosaveni... stupid gringo.


While we're still on the topic, and while I'm still tippling...

Yes, too often he can be -- and IS -- an overly loquacious egotist, but now and again Pepe Escobar has useful things to say about global geopols and geoecons.

Imagine my surprise when I wandered over to the Real News to discover Escobar showering plaudits on the Iranian netroots mobilization for Mousavi, claiming it a cross-class and cross-generational phenomenon, totally disconnected from all Color Revolution antecedents in each and every way.

Now, Escobar may be partially right/partially wrong in his assessments, but the unequivocalness of his assertions makes me wonder what affiliations and experiences are coloring his views.

Of course, I'd extend the same skepticism to Yoshie Furuhashi, MJS, and MD... and myself. Absent really thorough research, presuming to know what is really going on in Iran seems in large part to be a classic exercise in fantasy projections, wishful thinking, etc. etc.

Detest them though I do in most ways, one thing the po-mos had going for them was the untiring insistence on looking at how subject positionality intersects with truth claims.

Now please excuse me as I vomit into the commode, not so much because of the excess of hearty spirits, moreso because of the turn of phrase I had to resort to in the last paragraph to make my point...

PS I always seconded Yoshie's adoration of Mahmoud's brown polyester windbreaker... which actually makes him more of a hipster than the shock-haired Facebook brats of Teheran's gated apartment complexes.


"subject positionality intersects with truth claims"

fucking the truth in the ass ???

like farsi fire gods ???

don't get the church state bit md
as a celtic its my sense of oneness ...apart
and my secular priest driven soul
that has become my excuse for calling myself ...civilized
i think it was tacitus or some other wind bag
that noticed the germans unlike
the celts had no priestly caste

then look what happened

a hierarchy is made to co opt and be co opted

give me geneva
or i'll be wearing a porn shop device
to the man hunt


I dislike the word "relativist", for some reason, and I wish there were some other alternative to "absolutist". Maybe I'll just call myself an anti-absolutist and have done with it.

What one people at one point in history may need and be able to do is quite different from the needs and capabilities of another.

Thought experiment: Suppose I could convince you that the Islamic Republic in more or less its present form was the only way that Iran could have taken itself out of the imperial orbit back in, what '79 -- and for the time being, remains the only way it can stay out? Suppose I could convince you that if the sort of people who supported Mousavi were somehow to take control in Iran, then a rapid reintegration into the global corporate empire would ensue?

The historical parallel that occurs to me is the 17th-century English Commonwealth. Owen might also adduce Savonarola, a parallel which has its charm but which I tend to avoid because Savonarola was less successful.

Maybe history has no a-la-carte menu -- it's all prix-fixe.


Good post -- looks like there are some other refugees from lbo-snipe over here.

Juan Cole adds his voice to those who want to see the election in Iran as rigged -- he does it somehow by saying it's not about "class" wars but "cultural wars". Hmm??

Today's Counterpunch has an article on how the elections in Lebanon were also mis-reported by Western media.

And one totally fanciful argument I heard yesterday (completely plausible to someone like me) for seeing Ahmadinejad as "our neocon", is that the imagined threat of Iran is just as useful for Israel as it is for us.

And one totally fanciful argument I heard yesterday (completely plausible to someone like me) for seeing Ahmadinejad as "our neocon", is that the imagined threat of Iran is just as useful for Israel as it is for us.
The problem with that argument (I think) is that Israel (and the US) don't need a wild man like Ahmadinejad -- they can demonize anybody, and will, if the anybody doesn't go along with the program.

Maybe there are more or less necessary struggles
That strike us as hideously contingent only because we miss the core morphs
Dispersed by appearances among the brigade of cloaking accidentals
Include minor shifts of time and place

If any kind of war is necessary
Culture wars are necessary


And all struggles in a class dirempted society
Are class struggles

Hey we aren't rooters here we're changers whether we like or not
Do it or resist it
We shape maybe only its decorative elements

The distinction
Between the spontaneously emergent inevitably get there path
and its superstructural embelishments may pose an insoluable problem

But so what?

It happens
Even if we for now
Can't always or even often seperate. clio's necessary honey do list
from various "coulda been otherwise" incarnational elements

her posse
Of the willing
And the merely dupish and pawnable

I'm not so sure about the rapid international submission aspect. This is from the NYT, but is based on at least some aspect of fact:

"Mr. Moussavi, while promising a more conciliatory foreign policy, did not disavow the country’s nuclear-processing project, which Iran insists is for civilian ends alone.)

"'In fact, Moussavi will be more difficult to deal with, because he will be nicer,' one skeptical Western diplomat said on the eve of the vote."

It simply isn't in Iran's interest to knuckle under, especially now.

Clearly, Moussavi represented the bad guys in terms of internal class concflict in Iran. But this whole thing is complicated. Also clearly, he stands for women's interests much more that Mahmoud does.

Personally, I'm hoping for an eventual return to a Mossadeghian Iran, despite the odds. I also think the phrase Islamic fascists is not much of a stretch. Religion sucks, and compulsory religion is triple-suck.


"Maybe there are more or less necessary struggles That strike us as hideously contingent only because we miss the core morphs
Dispersed by appearances among the brigade of cloaking accidentals Include minor shifts of time and place. . ." (OP)

Where would we be without OP?

There's a BIG discussion at Moon of Alabama on the elections in Iran, as we speak! May reach 100 comments. "Parviz", MoA's Yoshi, wades in by calling "b" "full of shit". "b" maintains cool. All the sages and firebrands come out of the woodwork. Great fun!



I try like hell
To have job's
Final take
on the ways of the almighty

I have my silly fan moments
But once the latest of her buckets
gets dumped out b4 us
I try to figure out how clio
Came up with that pile of shit
And how it might figure in the necessary

But I lose little sleep over my failures at same

Michael Hureaux:

When all there is in the mix is nationalist bourgeoisie, the devil known seems a hair better than the devil unknown. From a marxist perspective, Mahmoud Ahmahdinijad, like Mousavi, seems to be bad news for any secular current that might be fighting for democracy in Iran. But as others have said here, it's not our call, and the last thing any of those folks need is the "democratic forces" of the imperial west wading in and punching first and asking questions later.

It seems to me all we can do at this point is lend whatever support we can to any secular resistance that comes up within the working class fightback over there, as well as deep our ears open for the sort of crap that may come posing as solidarity effort over here. I haven't forgotten how many of we on the "left" here in the U.S., myself included, got suckered by groups like the ISO into lending "critical support" via our socialist journals to the Mujahdeen when the Soviets went into Afghanistan. The ISO in those days went as far as giving vocal and support to the Iranian side when Iraq was at war with Iran, when it seems to me now that we should have kept away from lending support to either side, or lending it any legitamacy in the thinking of the "left" on this side of the ocean. I'm talking about the period between 1979 and 1984. I think what we call the "left" here in the U.S. has gotten fooled by crap Lenin would have seen coming a mile away, despite whatever defects he may have had, which, as time goes on, I'm more than ever convinced are largely a demonization of the man to begin with. He wasn't exactly a knucklehead on this imperial question. His writings on the Balkan war period seem almost prescient these days.

So, like others here, I think we'll just have to patiently observe, interact where we can, and wait and see what Iran does to save itself from the Mahmouds AND the Mousavis.

Mike Hunt:

Red State! Red State! Iran's red staters elected the president. OHMYGOD!
Interesting that no US news has made that particular comparison yet.

More interesting is the 134.5 billion loose bonds captured in Italy is exactly the amount Geithner said was left in TARP.

Peter Ward:

When people refer to "reactionary tendencies" in Iran or kindred enemy states several thoughts collide:

a) has one looked at one's own country? Separation of church and state is fantastic...what about separation of corporation and state (in our world, the difference isn't so much our superior literalism as our willful blindness re: the peculiar hiding places of power we have)?

b) why harp on Iran? How's Saudi Arabia for a reactionary regime--or Israel, for that matter? The distinction, really, is that SA is a loyal client.

c) as Micheal points out, that we have no business telling others what to do--we should really be focused on figuring out what we can do to stop the suffering we inflict on other countries.


How's Saudi Arabia for a reactionary regime--or Israel, for that matter?

Iran is a liberal paradise next to Saudi Arabia (only other state that tried to ape the Saudi model was Taliban regime of Afghanistan).

Here's a story from the "only democracy in the Middle East": a 14 year old divorcee. Incidentally, there is no such thing as civil divorce in this religiocracy.


"what about separation of corporation and state ...our willful blindness re: the peculiar hiding places of power..."

secular vs sacred ??

boston clericals vs kentucky colonels

pastorarchy vs falange

not maybe the dichotomy
not where progress and reaction face off

and even p v r
is superstructure eh ???

meanwhile day and nite
the social base
morph-eth on
allah be praised

Son of Uncle Sam:

--we should really be focused on figuring out what we can do to stop the suffering we inflict on other countries.

That job has been commandeered by the largest source of Osmium on the planet. I'm writting of course about Hollywood. Besides looks, and an uncanny ability to play make believe, the best of Tea Party sippers will continue to attempt to stop suffering. And it's a good thing too, name the last time you couldn't wait to go to the movies? With any luck, they'll give enough aid and the upper hand to new regimes, who will undoubtedly make the previous oppressors suffer. Makes for interesting news, and hopefully better movie plots!!! I'm already calling Abigail Breslin to play Susan Sarandon. Who wants to bet? Hollywood is behind collision of ideas (C)harlie..I don't know,..say..... 10,000%!!

stras jones:

The problem with that argument (I think) is that Israel (and the US) don't need a wild man like Ahmadinejad -- they can demonize anybody, and will, if the anybody doesn't go along with the program.

You can bet your ass that the very same people who were making Ahmedinijad out to be lord and master of the Iranian government would, in the event that he lost the election, quickly point out that it is that mad mullah, Ali Khamenei, who actually runs the country - and so it is him we must now fear.


stras jones: wait a minute! The whole packaging of Moussavi was as a voice of the neglected middle class, yearning for western freedoms and prosperity, etc. How could Israel have daemonized that? We would have to stage another religious coup against our own man, in order to restore Israel's required "existential threat". Israel's national psychosis, which is a laser beam compared to our own flickering candle, requires an external enemy, both to justify its brutality, and to keep the population hypnotized in an increasingly unattractive country to live in.


"Israel's national psychosis, which is a laser beam compared to our own flickering candle, requires an external enemy"

a very small laser

a very huge candle

and we require both isreal and her "external enemy"
uncle controls
the horizonatal and the vertical

he's the outer limit baby

Hai, op-san sensei. You are right about the candle and the laser and the scale and fit of the needs.

And the proud state-with-the-Jewish-character (talk about anti-Semitism!) knows this, too. That's the only viable explanation for why they get away with defying Uncle Warbucks.


on "national psychosis": I'm not talking about geo-political power, I'm talking about the mental state of the average Israeli versus the average US citizen. American zenophobia and American exceptionalism are drugged states compared with the typical rabid Israeli mix of arrogance and paranoia.

Michael Hureaux:

Things are continuing to unfold in Iran, and may well push past the point where anything either Ahmadinejad or Mousavi have to say is moot. That would be good, because that's terrible news for the empire. It would catch what calls itself the "left" in this country completely flat-footed too, and force some re-thinking.

Man, wouldn't it be great if somehow some secular force, rooted in the mass on the streets of Iran now, pushed both Islamic factions in Iran aside in the next couple years? Many sources not taken in by Mousavi are saying there are larger mobilizations on the streets in Iran since the days just before the overthrow of Pahvlevi, the so-called "Shah".

It could completely turn all this war on terror business upside down, and force some major rethinking on the near east. It would out everything in a big way, at least outside the borders of this country.

Hear, hear, M-hero!

The other thing that all this Manichean left reaction has done is excised our ability to bond with our comrades in Iran and the wider ME. They do exist, even if they're almost as besieged as we are here in the beast's main stomach.

Who the fuck wants nuclear energy, here, there, or anywhere? We know all the reasons it's at best a break-even thing, even in places possessing large domestic uranium supplies. Iran is not such a place. And isn't the proper issue there the same as it is everywhere -- how to build a stable, humane, democratic, sustainable society for all?

The Ayatollah system finds nuclear power to be a wonderful little distraction from such probing concerns, does it not?

None of this is any kind of endorsement of US aggression.

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