Saturday, June 20, 2009

Mousavi's Paradise Lost: Khomeini's Republic

There is much to honor in Mousavi's statement issued today: his pledge never to hurt a countryman, his call for freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, rule of law.

And yet, he advances those principles in service of a delusion: that to uphold them is to return the revolution coopted by Ayatollah Khomeini to its pure origins, in which these principles flourished. From the start of his campaign, Mousavi has called for a restoration of the rule of law as established by the Islamic Republic. That is, for restoration of something that never was. Today, he laid out a vision of paradise lost, paradise to be regained:
30 years ago, in this country a revolution became victorious in the name of Islam, a revolution for freedom, a revolution for reviving the dignity of men, a revolution for truth and justice. In those times, especially when our enlightened Imam [Khomeini] was alive, large amount of lives and matters were invested to legitimize this foundation and many valuable achievements were attained. An unprecedented enlightenment captured our society, and our people reached a new life where they endured the hardest of hardships with a sweet taste. What this people gained was dignity and freedom and a gift of the life of the pure ones [i.e. 12 Imams of Shiites]. I am certain that those who have seen those days will not be satisfied with anything less. Had we as a people lost certain talents that we were unable to experience that early spirituality? I had come to say that that was not the case. It is not late yet, we are not far from that enlightened space yet.
The "enlightened Imam" would be the man who massacred tens of thousands of opponents and crushed all dissent, who prolonged ruinous war with Iraq for six fruitless years after turning back Iraq's initial territorial gains, and in that war sent teens and even preteens in waves of thousands to clear minefields with their bodies (the first Basiji, today's murderous militia); who imprisoned women in the hijab and generally set women's rights back fifty years: who murdered the leaders of the Baha'is and made second-class citizens of the rest; who impoverished the country with his contempt for economic management; who united the people by demonizing the United States (against whom Iranians did have ample cause for resentment) and institutionalizing the murderous Antisemitism that now, adopted in full by Ahmadinejad and Khamenei, threatens the world's stability -- who in short, made Khamenei look like a piker when it comes to crushing human rights and subverting the Republican government Mousavi professes to value.

Mousavi casts his current rivals as destroyers of "Republicanism"and hence of the Revolution:
If the large volume of cheating and vote rigging, which has set fire to the hays of people’s anger, is expressed as the evidence of fairness, the republican nature of the state will be killed and in practice, the ideology that Islam and Republicanism are incompatible will be proven. This outcome will make two groups happy: One, those who since the beginning of revolution stood against Imam and called the Islamic state a dictatorship of the elite who want to take people to heaven by force; and the other, those who in defending the human rights, consider religion and Islam against republicanism. Imam’s fantastic art was to neutralize these dichotomies. I had come to focus on Imam’s approach to neutralize the burgeoning magic of these.
He treasures the notion that Islam and Republicanism are compatible. Perhaps they are. But Khomenei united them in demonic form by modeling the Islamic Republic after Plato's Republic -- the oldest blueprint we have for totalitarianism. The Guardian Council that falsified the vote count last week was a real-world enfranchisement of Plato's ruling class of philosopher kings. Khomeini's republicanism like Plato's, is based in absolute faith in the absolute wisdom of an educated elite invested with absolute power.

His rewriting of the history of the Islamic Republic notwithstanding, Mousavi has committed himself to the human rights that Obama today cast as the universal law of humanity:
As I am looking at the scene, I see it set for advancing a new political agenda that spreads beyond the objective of installing [sic] an unwanted government. As a companion who has seen the beauties of your green wave, I will never allow any one’s life endangered because of my actions. At the same time, I remain undeterred on my demand for annulling the election and demanding people’s rights. Despite my limited abilities, I believe that your motivation and creativity can pursue your legitimate demands in new civil manners.

We advise the authorities, to calm down the streets. Based on article 27 of the constitution, not only provide space for peaceful protest, but also encourage such gatherings. The state TV should stop badmouthing and taking sides. Before voices turn into shouting, let them be heard in reasonable debates. Let the press criticize, and write the news as they happen. In one word, create a free space for people to express their agreements and disagreements. Let those who want, say “takbeer” and don’t consider it opposition. It is clear that in this case, there won’t be a need for security forces on the streets, and we won’t have to face pictures and hear news that break the heart of anyone who loves the country and the revolution.
Leaders can be transformed by the contract forged with their followers in the crucible of events. Mousavi's pledges to institute the rule of law and respect human rights constitute a religious man's strongest oath to his people, made with the world listening, in mortal political combat with those whom he charges with trampling those rights. Let's hope that if by some miracle he does come into power he will work to fulfill these pledges, whatever his delusions about the blood-soaked Khomeinist past -- and his own role in it.


  1. who murdered the leaders of the B'hai and made second-class citizens of the rest

    It might be helpful to have the correct spelling - Baha'i. There is also a more careful review of the recent history of persecution of the Baha'is in Iran.

  2. Spelling corrected, thanks. Focus here is on Khomeini's treatment of Baha'is, summarized earlier in the Wikipedia article you cite:

    Starting in late 1979 the new government of the Islamic Republic of Iran systematically targeted the leadership of the Bahá'í community by focusing on the Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly (NSA) and Local Spiritual Assemblies (LSA). In November 1979, Ali Murad Davudi, the secretary of the NSA, was kidnapped and never seen again.[30] In August 1980 all nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly were arrested while meeting at a private home.[10] In a statement on September 10, 1980, then speaker of the House Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, stated that an order for the arrests of the Bahá'ís had been issued, but by October 9, 1980 Rafsanjani changed his statement and said that no members of the NSA were arrested.[10] There has been no further news regarding the nine NSA members since their arrest in 1980, and their fate remains unknown, although there are reports that they were at some point held in Evin prison; they are now presumed dead.[10] After the disappearance of the NSA members, the Iranian Bahá'í elected a new NSA. On December 13, 1981 eight of the nine new NSA members were arrested by the Iranian authorities, and were executed on December 27, 1981 without trial.[10]