It's very unlikely that Khamenei personally believes in religion


by FG

History is full of men who exploited religion for personal gain. Consider the notorious Caesare Borgia and other "Bad Popes" of the Italian Renaissance. Consider cult leaders like Jimmy Jones (the Guiana massacre) and David Koresh (Waco). Consider high living American TV evangelists (Jim and Tammy Baker, Jimmy Swaggert) who shocked followers when caught in tax evasion, adultery or even homosexual behavior.

Whether Khamenei has similar inclinations is unknown, but there is no doubt this so-called "holy" man has repeatedly sanctioned torture, rape, imprisonment and murders of the innocent for his own gain.

Historians find no evidence that Stalin actually believed in communism. Nevertheless he cynically exploited the official state religion to justify his excesses. Communism had every attributes of a religion: an obligatory belief system, a holy book (The Communist Manifesto), dogma that could be manipulated to taste one dead god (Lenin) and one living god (Stalin). Khamenei exploits and reinterprets the official state religion in the same way.

Iranians say Khamenei could not truely believe in Islam and behave so immorally. He deliberately chose an ultraconservative interpretation of Islam not because he believed in it but to enhance his power over everything. Today the sole difference between Khamenei's "Islam" and Mesbah Yadzi's Islam is a formality. While Yazdi opposes elections, the Supreme Leader supports them providing they are totally meaningless. Khamenei does so not out of idealism but for the same reason early Roman emperors preserved a toothless Senate--to keep up the pretense that a republic still existed.

Failure was built into the flawed Iranian and Russia revolutions from the start. Each began as a coup d'etat within a superbly organized and wider revolution. Each was led by an individuals who firmly believed in "doing good" even if "You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs." Like all arguments by analogy, that is a formal fallacy. Thousands or millions of innocent people were equated with "eggs"--an abstraction that, once accepted, made substantial brutality OK.

Even so, both Lenin and Khoumenei had some internal restraints on their character that limited excesses. Lenin felt free to experiment with a New Economic Plan (NEP) that granted people more economic freedoms. He tolerated dissent within the Politburo if not elsewhere. He allowed social experiments and considerable artistic freedom. Even while murderinh thousands, Khamenei insisted on constitutional guarantees of freedoms which became totally worthless under his successor.

Nightmare successors had no such internal restraints. Neither cared a fig about "doing men good." Their sole goal was to monopolize power. Both men exemplify historical ironies. Where Lenin had been wary of Stalin, Khoumeini warned Iranians of the danger of clerical tyranny. Both men held "we can fix these things later" illusions that proved fatal. Their worst predictions proved accurate first, because the system they designed was almost totally lacking in transparency and secondly, because it left only one real road to power for the most ambitious of men providing they were willing to play the game. Mouthing the "right" words and obsequiously carrying out every task, such opportunists ride a revolutionary tide and bide their time. If they are clever, they wait until the original leader is dead to make their final move.

In the subsequent Darwinian struggles, any potential rival with scruples--and that means idealists especially--stand no chance (Zinoviev and Bukharin in Russia, Montazeri and Karoubbi in Iran). Once on top, an opportunist can attract men ruthless enough to commit any crime in return for a few crumbs from his table. Where Stalin found Yeshov, Yadoga, Beria and Molotov, Khamenei sought out similar types among the clergy and security services. Meanwhile the Founder's ideology is always reinterpreted in the strictest and most ultraconservative fashion. Traces of idealism may remain in official rhetoric for appearance sake but idealists are always purged in practice.

Stalin and Khamenei consolidated power by eliminating rivals, especially fellow revolutionaries, though Stalin did so more quickly and more "efficiently" (a euphenism). Both placed the original Founder in a spectacular mausoleum as a combined tourist attraction and symbol of legitimacy. Just as Stalin ended Lenin's NEP experiment and eliminated freedoms (economic social, artistic) Khamenei undermined every single reform introduced under the liberal President Khatemi and strengthened social policing. In both nations the Supreme Leader's tentacles took control over every institution and even extended into the private life of citizens.

Khamenei been less shrewd than Stalin in one area only: He allowed his chosen tools--the IRCG and Basilj--to accumulate such power they constitute a potential threat especially once all rival bases are eliminated. Perhaps Khamenei figures he'll before hat time, a la France's Louis XV ("Apres moi, le deluge"). Perhaps he has made a deal with the IRCG under which is hated son Mojtaba would inherit a token throne. Little Calgula is so deeply unpopular that he could never become Supreme Leader by any ordinary means.


more from FG