*9. Dowlat-Abadi’s claim of not being interested in politics
Based on either conformism or ignorance, lumpens claim not to be interested in political activity They do not have any clear political beliefs, they lack mental stability and are confused about political matters.
Dowlat-Abadi declared his non-involvement in politics in a December 2011 interview he had with Ali Shoroughi and Sheema Bahremand from Shargh Newspaper, entitled: “Mahmoud Dowlat-Abadi: We are people as well”.
“Q: Generally, do you believe in a writer-intellectual who also has positions regarding his surrounding issues? Do you believe that a writer should only focus on literature?
“Dowlat-Abadi: I wish a writer could engage only in literature. But everyone lives in a society and every society has also its margins. But those margins should not replace the text of the writer. In my own experience, - as I have said before- I have kept distant from spaces that could distract me from my work, such as political parties and associations and groups and gatherings even the literary ones. But at the same time, as a citizen, I have tried to do that duty of mine in the margin of my work.” (25)
It is not clear what Dowlat-Abadi means by “that duty” of his as a citizen. However, it is quite evident that although he declares to be a-political, his words and actions during the last 33 years and even before the 1979 Uprising attest to the contrary. During the Shah era, he spent a year (1975) in prison, allegedly as a supporter of the Tudeh Party, and since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, he has given several interviews and a few speeches in favour of both the fundamentalists and the Islamic reformists. However, as we shall see, he continues to state that he is not interested in politics, keeping his political views and connections ambiguous.
*10. Dowlat-Abadi’s attraction to reactionary forces and support of the Islamic fundamentalists.
When on the crossroads between the progressive and reactionary forces, lumpens often take the side of the latter, who are usually despotic or the owners of power and wealth. More precisely, behind lumpenism, there are the dictatorial States, governments, power-holders and various collusions.
Lumpens are very easily drawn to a political force and congregation where they are sometimes used. However, their political activities are sporadic and temporary and always much less than their personal activity.
Lumpens are the main force of fascist groups and, in general, are often used as toys in the hands of different political players or agents in political manoeuvres by reactionary powers. In necessary situations, they can quickly turn into supporters of oppressive measures, a tool, and a traitor. The important point in the gaudiness of these cultural lumpens and their showing off power is their ultimate and hidden support by the governments.
As for Dowlat-Abadi, we have the following indications that he has been supporting reactionary forces and collaborating mostly with the hardliners on different occasions for the last 33 years.
*A. There is a 1992 article about Dowlat-Abadi in Payām-e Zan magazine belonging to RAWA, a progressive Afghan women’s organization, which was written before the fall of the Soviet- puppet regime of Najibullah. It is entitled “Mr. Dowlat-Abadi, you too?”
The article begins with this sentence: “ In the “Adineh” magazine No. 64 of October 1991 published in Tehran, there is an article en titled " Scent of Yoush orchards in Afghanistan ", about Latif Pedram, based on questions by the famous Iran’s author, Mahmoud Dowlatabadi .” Then, it denounces Latif pedram as a traitor to Afghanistan and chastises Dowlat-Abadi for having interviewed him and Adineh magazine for having published the interview. We read:
“Mr. Dowlat-Abadi should know that his “young poet and writer”, using close relations with his Russian masters and having the responsibility of the “State's Information Services" network (Khād) at Kabul University, intended to lure dozens of our noble and innocent girls, and, like a criminal dealer, to sacrifice them beneath his flag and his Russian owner. …
“Yes, honourable author, it was not at all appropriate to have a conversation with such an evil-doer agent. Basically, it is also degradation for “Adineh” – if it does not consider it decent to socialize with spies and traitors to their homeland – to offer its pages to a playboy torturer’s pen. …
“In Afghanistan, except for information agents and Pedram Latif’s companions in the “Poets and Writers Association”, no one will be willing to accept the humiliation of interviewing information agents like Latif Pedram, because this means the recognition of the puppet regime with more false institutions and sold-out operators and their cruelties. Because he enjoys such a social position in society that any so-called literary, artistic or philosophical discussion with him in fact overshadows the rightful aversion of his character; and because this is a great insult to our nation’s fighting artists and cultural leaders that someone in order to obtain information about some issues (which are in the seven questions) gets help from one of the dirtiest “literary’ tools of the puppet regime.
“What does the publication of Latif Pedram’s interview in “Adineh” mean? ...
“The informed Iranian people and specially intellectuals know that today in Afghanistan two types of literature and art are in conflict with each other :
*1. revolutionary, freedom and democracy seeking literature and art;
*2. puppet literature and art at the service of the foreigners and Brotherhood, enemies of democracy and freedom.
Accordingly, are “Adineh” and its interviewer so uninformed and unaware of the world that they consider the words of a hated tool of the regime to be the real image of the literature and art in our rolled-in-fire-and-blood homeland?
“No, there must be pressure and coercion involved in this. Even the seven questions (apparently by Mr. Dowlat-Abadi) forces one to doubt. Dowlat-Abadi and such innocent and trivial questions? Many of the questions could very well be answered by an intelligent Iranian high school student. Seeing these questions, the reader doubts that the well-known writer knows about the four elements, the population and the capital of Afghanistan. It was not considerate of him to completely forget about the 14-year war in Afghanistan and its continued occupation so simply and numbingly, and instead, as if facing an individual from a peaceful and free country with normal circumstances, to ask: “We have heard you have trade unions in Afghanistan; what are the names and structures of these organizations?” Or: “What publications on art and literature, with what titles and how much circulation, are published in Afghanistan?”
“Because of a 14-year war and the puppet regime’s unique isolation, our people in many regions are facing terrible famine and in other regions the price of raw materials for food is hundred times more expensive than Tehran. On the other hand, fundamentalist terrorist forces, with their crimes and betrayals, exacerbate our people’s 14-year wounds deeper and more brutally, and intent on selling our homeland to their Pakistani, Saudi and Iranian owners. ….Thinking of the “number of publications on art and literature” of such a country seems a little unfair and irrelevant, Mr. Dowlat-Abadi; it would have been good to be courageous and ask the “young oratory”, for instance, why do people call you a traitor? So far, how many thousands of our homeland’s freedom-loving poets and writers and artists his “flag” and “people” party have martyred? What were the relations of Najib Khan and his traitor predecessors with Russians and how did they evolve? How many freedom-lovers has this executioner killed by himself under torture? …
“Mr. Dowlat-Abadi, until now whatever we have heard and seen regarding the direct or tacit approval of the puppet government was mainly by the Soviet Union and its satellites, India, some press, and Pakistani hired organizations, the traitor Tudeh Party and the traitor Guerillas the Majority. But, we did not imagine that a person like you, under no pressure or playing “political games”, would be willing, in such an interview, to mock our people who are fighting against Najib’s puppet regime and whose case is absolutely distinct from fundamentalist bands, etc.” (26)
So, Dowlat-Abadi had seemingly taken the reactionary position of a pseudo-leftist in favour of those who collaborated with the invader Soviets. This attitude can only be understood and interpreted as the writer’s “intellectual lumpenism”; and he doesn’t seem to have been the only Iranian of this type.
*B. Speaking of his 1981 attempts to get permission from the Ministry of Islamic Guidance for the publication of “Kelidar”, Dowlat-Abadi says,
“I asked for help from B. Khorramshāhi and K. Fāni to arrange a meeting between myself and the brother of Mr. Masjed Jāmei, who was a turban-wearer as well. After this meeting, I went to the Ministry of Islamic Guidance … I said, this book is a national work and I have spent 15 years of my life writing it. So, if you say you would not print it, I am not going to give up so easily and I will persist, even if it becomes necessary to go to the office of Ayatollah Khomeini to get permission. …… Anyway, I convinced them to give authorization for the book, and later I heard, from not so reliable sources, that they used even Ayatollah Khomeini himself and he gave the example of Hafez and said that the printing of the work is okay. Of course, maybe he had issue with parts of the book, such as women in Kelidar.”(27)
It is clear that Dowlat-Abadi has been a supporter of Khomeini, as he felt close enough to him to think of meeting him for the publication of his book. Furthermore, his calling “Kelidar” a “national work” and speaking of unreliable rumours of Khomeini having read his very long work and compared it to Hafez, are indications of his megalomania.
*C. Regarding his meeting with one of the agents of the Ministry of the Islamic Guidance in 1981 for the publication of “Missing Solouch”, Dowlat-Abadi says, “He told me something and I gave him an answer. Now, it is thirty years past that story and let me disclose it.
“He told me: Mr. Dowlat-Abadi, we do not treat writers and intellectuals like during the Shah, to arrest them and throw them in jail and make them more popular. We cut them at once.
“Well, until that time that he said this, so much had happened, that’s why I told him: I knew this, I knew this before meeting you. But now I should tell you as well that I’m not like other intellectuals to abandon my country and go to Paris to sit in a café and drink coffee and vilify the Islamic Republic. You too should know this from me. So, you and I move like two parallel lines in Euclid geometry and we keep going until we die.
“So, I somehow gave him a negative reply and said that the gentlemen should somehow cope with me and accept me as a writer.” (28)
*D. In a December 1st, 2008 interview of Dowlat-Abadi by Davoud Khoda-bakhsh from the Deutsche Welle, the interviewer asked:
“You very rarely express your views on political issues or interfere and generally avoid political issues. However in the 9th presidential cycle, you clearly announced that one must support Hashemi Rafsanjani and vote for him. Of course, you were not alone. Some of other well-known writers and artists had the same view.
Dowlat-Abadi: But I was alone at first.
Khoda-Bakhsh: At first were you alone?
Khoda-Bakhsh: So I was not informed. Anyway, following that, some outside the country and some others inside, criticized those who had expressed this view. But you remained silent. Could you today, after four years of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s presidency, describe the reason for your decision on that day?
Dowlat-Abadi: Memory may not help, but what I can say about myself is that I think with my own mind and vision and make decisions about necessary points, and speak or write. And what is important for me is not to be wrong about that point or be less wrong. But the question of what others will say about this decision of mine never forces me to react and will never force me. Because I believe in the arbitration of time. I had the impression that Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani had more flexibility, more maturity and more experience. Until that time, I had never voted for him. But at that juncture, because of his flexibility and the probability that he would diminish the crisis in the society and between us and the world, I voted for him.” (29)
During Rafsanjani government, Jan Myrdal, the Swedish far-leftist and anti-imperialist political writer invited Dowlat-Abadi to travel to his country. Jan Myrdal had apparently defended Khomeini’s Fatwa against Salman Rushdi, stating that the anti-Imperialist Imam was right to issue that Fatwa. Apparently Dowlat-Abadi was representing the Islamic reformists in this trip (30).
*E. In the summer of 1993, when Dowlat-Abadi was in Germany, he said in
the “Hamburger Abendblatt” newspaper: “Basically, I do not consider boycott to be a right action. Supporters of these methods want to put pressure on the Iranian government.” (31)
*F. The lumpens’ behaviours are overwhelmed by their emotions. Thus, they will not show mindful behaviour in some circumstances. Concerning the shutting down of reformist newspapers and the repression of its writers, Dowlat-Abadi criticized the reformist press:
“I am pointing out at the conditions created after the 2nd Khordad 1997 when the press had become "jack-of-all-trades" and had replaced all the civil institutions; while the press has only one function, and that is to reflect different views that exist in the society. But in our country, the press suddenly became pioneers and the physical institution of the Reform Movement while in this physical structure the promoter of the reforms was not defined.”(32).
So, it is obvious that Dowlat-Abadi either is not or pretends not to be, aware of the radical role of the press in democratic societies. More importantly, by his negative critique of the reformist press performance, he agrees with the confiscation and closure of newspapers and basically the confiscation of the freedom of expression. This so-called a-political novelist thus abandoned his “popular and cultured” President Khātami in favour of the Supreme Leader, Khamenei and his fundamentalist politics.
*G. In the “Iran” newspaper of 2002, he said, “Also at present, we are witnessing the people who should have been social reformers in their social action, turn into social critiques; while this was not supposed to be so.” (33)
Like Khamenei, Dowlat-Abadi cannot tolerate the critiques even by the Islamic reformers.
*11. Dowlat-Abadi’s agreement with the censorship of the writers!
Dowlat-Abadi’s trivial attitude towards the IRI’s censorship of the writers and his refusal to declare it as a major obstacle to the people’s right to freedom of speech, shows itself in the following statement he made during the 2007 Radio Zamaneh interview. To the interviewer’s questions on the writers’ censorship, Dowlat-abadi responded:
“In the last year’s bookstore windows not many works were displayed, because last year (2006) was a year when censorship was more than ever harsh, and this is very bad; because many individuals, simply because their works do not receive permission for publication, imagine that those are very important works. While this is not the case, the objections they make to books at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance are very simple and motivated by seeking excuses, and this too is very bad. That this is in fact censorship is wrong because it creates misunderstanding, and this misunderstanding causes the authors not to find themselves, and this matter of censorship is the reason why not many works were delivered to the windows.” (34)
So, we notice that Dowlat-Abadi is not concerned about the censorship of the writers by the Islamic Guidance as the violation of their right to freedom of expression, but as a source of the censored writers’ self-delusion. This callous attitude demonstrates his lack of sense of solidarity with other writers and an implicit approval of the hard-liners’ position.
In the 2009 interview of “Green Word” with Dowlat-Abadi, we read the following:
“Q: Before we enter into the discussion of the “governmental management of cultural affairs”, perhaps it is better to talk about the formation of this type of management in the last 30 years. Because I think you have always had a friction with this issue and have been involved with it.
“Dowlat-Abadi: You see, we cannot say that in our country there is no need for cultural management. This management cannot be absent because our economy is a State economy, our services are governmental and any task to be accomplished is dependent on the government. Therefore, the State cannot pull itself out of the cultural supervision. But cultural supervision is different from cultural guardianship. As far as I know, except for a couple of years that Mr. Mohājerāni was the Minister of Culture [in President Khatami’s government], in the remaining periods, it has been cultural control that dominated the situation and still does. This means that this management gives itself the right to think that others should think the way it thinks, and this practically means anti-culture. Because culture inherently means creativity and creativity cannot develop with the order of the cultural director.” (35)
Here we notice that the novelist is not for the elimination of censorship, but in favour of a more moderate one. So, we could conclude that Dowlat-Abadi was talking like an Islamic reformist against harsh censorship and the imposition of only one way of thinking. However, his discourse gradually degenerated, as he expressed the opinion that “we’ve been caught in a situation where as soon as someone expresses a view, dogmatism attacks them from all sides.” (36)
To be continued.
(25)محمود دولتآبادی:ما نيز مردمي هستيم: ماهانه شرق مجله
(26) آقای دولت آبادی، شما هم؟ . ژوئیه و اوت ۱۹۹۲. پیام زن
(27) .سبز کلمه روزنامه
(29) . ۲۰۰۸ دویچه وله فارسی
محمود دولتآبادی: اجازه نمیدهم کسی به من بگوید چگونه باید بیاندیشم
(30) Politically, Myrdal belongs to the far-left and is an adherent of or at least associated with Maoism; and he has been a fervent advocate of anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist causes (Wikipedia).
(31). (۱۹۹۳ ،۲۲ ژوئیه روزنامه "کار" (اکثریت)، ۳۰ تیر ۱۳۷۲ (
(33). روزنامه " ایران"
(34) رادیو زمانه، ۲۰۰۷
(35). سبز کلمه روزنامه
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