The Left is Wrong

Who are these leftist intellectuals who question the social uprising in Iran?


The Left is Wrong
by Hamid Dabashi

When a political groundswell like the Iranian presidential election of June 2009 and its aftermath happen, the excitement and drama of the moment expose not just our highest hopes but also our deepest fault lines, most troubling moral flaws, and the dangerous political precipice we face.

Over the decades I have learned not to expect much from what passes for "the left" in North America and/or Western Europe when it comes to the politics of what their colonial ancestry has called "the Middle East". But I do expect much more when it comes to our own progressive intellectuals -- Arabs, Muslims, South Asians, Africans and Latin Americans. This is not a racial bifurcation, but a regional typology along the colonial divide.

By and large this expectation is apt and more often than not met. The best case in point is the comparison between what Azmi Bishara has offered about the recent uprising in Iran and what Slavoj Zizek felt obligated to write. Whereas Bishara's piece (with aspects of which I have had reason to disagree) is predicated on a detailed awareness of the Iranian scene, accumulated over the last 30 years of the Islamic Republic and even before, Zizek's (the conclusion of which I completely disagree with) is entirely spontaneous and impressionistic, predicated on as much knowledge about Iran as I have about the mineral composition of the planet Jupiter.

The examples can be multiplied by many, when we add to what Azmi Bishara has written pieces by Mustafa El-Labbad and Galal Nassar, for example, and compare them to the confounded blindness of Paul Craig Roberts, Anthony DiMaggio, Michael Veiluva, James Petras, Jeremy Hammond, Eric Margolis, and many others. While people closest to the Iranian scene write from a position of critical intimacy, and with a healthy dose of disagreement, those farthest from it write with an almost unanimous exposure of their constitutional ignorance, not having the foggiest idea what has happened in that country over the last 30 years, let alone the last 200 years, and then having the barefaced chutzpah to pontificate one thing or another -- or worse, to take more than 70 million human beings as stooges of the CIA and puppets of the Saudis.

Let me begin by stating categorically that in principle I share the fundamental political premise of the left, its weariness of US imperial machination, of major North American and Western European media (but by no means all of them) by and large missing the point on what is happening around the globe, or even worse seeing things from the vantage point of their governmental cues, which they scarcely question. It has been but a few months since we have come out of the nightmare of the Bush presidency, or the combined chicaneries of Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and John Ashcroft, or of the continued calamities of the "war on terror". Iran is still under the threat of a military strike by Israel, or at least more severe economic sanctions, similar to those that are responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis during the Clinton administration. Iraq and Afghanistan are burning, Gaza is in utter desolation, Northern Pakistan is in deep humanitarian crisis, and Israel is stealing more Palestinian lands every day. With all his promises and pomp and ceremonies, President Obama is yet to show in any significant and tangible way his change of course in the region from that of the previous administration.

The US Congress, prompted by AIPAC (the American Israel Political Affairs Committee), pro-war vigilantes lurking in the halls of power in Washington DC, and Israeli warlords and their propaganda machinery in the US, are all excited about the events in Iran and are doing their damnedest to turn them to their advantage. The left, indeed, has reason to worry. But having principled positions on geopolitics is one thing, being blind and deaf to a massive social movement is something entirely different, as being impervious to the flagrant charlatanism of an upstart demagogue like Ahmadinejad. The sign and the task of a progressive and agile intelligence is to hold on to core principles and seek to incorporate mass social uprising into its modus operandi. My concern here is not with that retrograde strand in the North American or Western European left that is siding with Ahmadinejad and against the masses of millions of Iranians daring the draconian security apparatus of the Islamic Republic. They are a lost cause, and frankly no one could care less what they think of the world. What does concern me is when an Arab intellectual like Asad AbuKhalil opts to go public with his assessment of this movement -- and what he says so vertiginously smacks of recalcitrant fanaticism, steadfastly insisting on a belligerent ignorance.

On his website, "Angry Arab", Asad AbuKhalil finally has categorically stated that he is "now more convinced than ever that the US and Western governments were far more involved in Iranian affairs during the demonstrations than was assumed by many." He then tries to be cautious and cover his back by stipulating, "Let us make it clear: the US, Western and Saudi intervention in Iranian affairs does not necessarily implicate the Iranian protesters themselves. And even if some of them were involved in those conspiracies, I do believe that the majority of Iranian protesters were motivated by domestic issues and legitimate grievances against an oppressive government." This latter stipulation is in fact worse than that categorical statement about the conspiratorial plot behind the movement, for it seeks to play fancy speculative footwork to cover up a moral bankruptcy -- that he dare not take a stand, one way or another. AbuKhalil's final edict: "I was just looking at US and Western media coverage of Honduras, where the situation is rather analogous, and you can't escape the conclusion that the US media were involved with the US government in a conspiracy the details of which will be revealed years from now." In other words, since the US media is not covering the Honduras development as closely as it does (or so AbuKhalil fancies) the Iranian event, then the US media is in cahoots with the US government in fomenting unrest in Iran, and thus this movement is manufactured by US imperial designs with Saudi aid; and though we may not have evidence of this yet, we will learn of its details 30 years from now, when a Stephen Kinzer comes and writes an account of the plot, as he did about the CIA- sponsored coup of 1953.

One simply must have dug oneself deeply and darkly, mummified inside a forgotten and hollowed grave on another planet not to have seen, heard and felt for millions of human beings risking their brave lives and precious liberties by pouring into the streets of their cities demanding their constitutional rights for peaceful protest. Thousands of them have been arrested and jailed, their loved ones worried sick about their whereabouts; hundreds of their leading public intellectuals, journalists, civil and women's rights activists, rounded up and incarcerated, harassed and even tortured, some brought to national television to confess that they are spies for "the enemy". There are pregnant women among those leading reformists arrested, as are such leading intellectuals as Said Hajjarian, who is paralysed having barely survived an assassination attempt by precisely those in the upper echelons of the Islamic Republic who have yet again put him and his wheelchair in jail. Three prominent reformists, all heroes of the Islamic revolution (Khatami, Mousavi, and Karrubi: a former president, a former prime minister, and a former speaker of the house to this very Islamic Republic) are leading the opposition, charging fraud, declaring Ahmadinejad illegitimate. The senior most Grand Ayatollah of the land, the octogenarian Ayatollah Montazeri, has openly declared Khamenei illegitimate. The Iranian parliament is deeply divided and in turmoil. A massively militarised security apparatus has wreaked havoc on the civilian population: beating, clubbing, tear gassing, and plain shooting at them. University dormitories have been savagely raided by plainclothes vigilantes and students beaten up with batons, clubs, kicks, and fists by oversize thugs. Millions of Iranians around the globe have taken to the streets, their leading public figures -- philosophers like Abdul-Karim Soroush, clerics like Mohsen Kadivar, public intellectuals like Ata Mohajerani, filmmakers like Mohsen Makhmalbaf, pop singers like Shahin Najafi, footballers of the Iranian national team, countless poets, novelists, scholars, scientists, women's rights activists, ad infinitum --coming out to voice their defiance of this barbarity perpetrated against their brothers and sisters.

Not a single sentence, not a single word that I utter comes from CNN, The New York Times, Al-Arabiya or any other sources that Asad AbuKhalil loves to hate. None of these people means anything to Mr AbuKhalil? Can he really face these millions of people, their best and brightest, the mothers of those who have been cold- bloodedly murdered, tortured, beaten brut ally, paralysed for life, and tell them they are stooges of the CIA and the Saudis, and that CNN and Al-Arabiya have put them up to it? AbuKhalil has every legitimate reason to doubt the veracity of what he sees in US media. But at what point does a legitimate criticism of media representations degenerate into an illegitimate disregard for reality itself; or has a sophomoric reading of postmodernity so completely corrupted our moral standards that there is no reality any more, just representation?

Asad AbuKhalil dismisses a mass social uprising that is unfolding right in front of his eyes as manufactured by Americans and the Saudis. What else does AbuKhalil know about Iran? Anything? Thirty years (predicated on 200 years) of thinking, writing, mobilising, political and artistic revolts, theological and philosophical debates -- does any of it ring a bell for Professor AbuKhalil? Do the names Mahmoud Shabestari, Abdul-Karim Soroush, Mohsen Kadivar, among scores of others, mean anything to him? Has he ever listened to these young Iranians speak, cared to learn the lyrics of their music, watched the films they make, gone to a photography exhibition they have put together, seen any of their art work, or perhaps glanced at their newspapers, journals, magazines, weblogs, websites? Are all these stooges of America, manipulated by CIA agents, bought and paid for by the Saudis? What depth of intellectual depravation is this?

In his most recent posting, AbuKhalil has this to say about Iran: "For the most reliable coverage of the Iran story, I strongly recommend the New York Times. I mean, they have Michael Slackman in Cairo and Nazila Fathi in Toronto, and they have 'independent observers' in Tehran. What else do you want? If you want more, the station of King Fahd's brother-in-law (Al-Arabiya) has a correspondent in Dubai to cover Iran. And according to a report that just aired, Mousavi received 91 per cent of the vote in 'an elite neighbourhood'. I kid you not. They just said that." The Iranians have no reporters, no journalists, no analysts, no pollsters, no economists, no sociologists, no political scientist, no newspaper editorials, no magazines, no blogs, and no websites? If AbuKhalil has this bizarre obsession with the American or Saudi media that he loves to hate, does that psychological fixation ipso facto deprive an entire nation of their defiance against tyranny, their agency in changing their own destiny?

What a terrible state of mind to be in! AbuKhalil has so utterly lost hope in us -- us Arabs, Iranians, Muslims, South Asians, Africans, Latin Americans -- that it does not even occur to him that maybe, just maybe, if we take our votes seriously the US and Israel may not have anything to do with it. He fancies himself opposing the US and Israel. But he has such a deeply colonised mind that he thinks nothing of us, of our will to fight imperial intervention, colonial occupation of our homelands, and domestic tyranny at one and the same time. He believes if we do it then Americans and the Saudis must have put us up to it. He is so utterly lost in his own moral desolation and intellectual despair that in his estimation only Americans can instigate a mass revolt of the sort that has unfolded in front of his eyes. What an utterly frightful state for an intellectual to be in: no trust, no courage, no imagination and no hope. That we, as a people, as a nation, as a collective will, have fought for over 200 years for our constitutional rights has never occurred to AbuKhalil. What gives a man the authority to speak so cavalierly about another nation, of whom he knows nothing?

Ten years I spent watching every single Palestinian film I could lay my hands on before I opened my mouth and uttered a word about Palestinian cinema. I visited every conceivable archive in North America and Western Europe, travelled from Morocco to Syria, drove from one end of Palestine to another, was blessed by the dignity of Palestinians resisting the horror of a criminal occupation of their homeland, walked and showed bootlegged videos on mismatched equipment and stolen electricity from one Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon to another; then I went to Syria and found a Palestinian archivist who knew infinitely more about Palestinian cinema than I did, and I sat at his feet and learned humility, and I still did not dare put pen to paper or open my mouth about anything Palestinian without asking a Palestinian scholar -- from Edward Said to Rashid Khalidi to Joseph Massad -- to read what I had written before I dared publishing it. This I did not out of any vacuous belief in scholarship, but out of an abiding respect for the dignity of Palestinians fighting for their liberties and their stolen homeland, and fearful of the burden of responsibility that writing about a nation's struggles puts on those of us who have a voice and an audience.

For people like Zizek, social upheavals in what they call the Third World are a matter of theoretical entertainment. It is an old tradition that goes back all the way to Sartre on Algeria and Cuba in the 1950s, down to Foucault on Iran in the 1970s. That does not bother me a bit. In fact, I find it quite entertaining -- watching grown up people make complete fools of themselves talking about something about which they have no blasted clue. But when someone like AbuKhalil indulges in cliché ridden leftism of the most banal variety it speaks of a culture of intellectual laziness and moral bankruptcy so outrageously at odds with the struggles of people from which we emerge. Our people are not to conform to our tired, old, and cliché-ridden theories. We need to bypass intellectual couch potatoes and catch up with our people. Millions of people, young and old, lower and middle class, men and women, have poured in their masses of millions into the streets, launched their Intifada, demanding their constitutional rights and civil liberties. Who are these people? What language do they speak, what songs do they sing, what slogans do they chant, to what music do they sing and dance, what sacrifices have they made, what dungeons have they crowded, what epic poetry are they citing, what philosophers, theologians, jurists, poets, novelists, singers, song writers, musicians, webloggers soar in their souls, and for what ideals have their hearts and minds ached for generations and centuries?

A colonised mind is a colonised mind whether it is occupied by the European right or by the cliché-ridden left: it is an occupied territory, devoid of detail, devoid of substance, devoid of love, devoid of a caring intellect. It smells of ageing mothballs, and it is nauseating.

The writer is the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York. First published in Al-Ahram, 16 - 22 July 2009.


ex programmer craig


by ex programmer craig on

Don't feel you need to answer my questions if you need to take a break... I do that all the time, so I can't blame you for it :)


ex programmer craig


by ex programmer craig on

You may think your next reply to me addressed the above I just copied here in italics, but it didn't.

I disagree :p

rosie is roxy is roshan

ps I was just thinking, Craig....

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

Craig (or whoever), maybe we could take this offsite. You can click on my account and reach me there. Like I said below, I need toi get a break from here for a while and I'm very serious. And the last think I want is to be dominating the two most discussed threads, just because there aren't any really highly discussed ones so the two I'm active on happen to be at the top. I definitely don't want that kind of presence right now, in fact I honestly don't want to be onsite at all. It's holiday for me.

Anyone who wants to can do the same thing, contact me at my account. Or here, and when I'm ready to come back in a few weeks, it'll be on my tracking and I'll reply.

 take care,


rosie is roxy is roshan

This one first, Craigster

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

I asked you to substantiate your comment from your first post to me:

For you to admit leftists don't care about human righst but then pretend their ideas still have merit is... silly. 

I aked you to do this in my reply to you,which read:

I never said anything even remotely like that. You're totally projecting preconceived ideas of your onto what I wrote. Find anything even resembling that in what I actually wrote and I will give you a prize. I have a feeling I know the part you projected onto, but I'm not going to debate it until you first show me exactly where I said what you just said I said about the Left and human rights. :o) 


You may think your next reply to me addressed the above I just copied here in italics, but it didn't. First and foremost because I asked you to substantiate your characterization of what I said in my post to David. Because that has to be what you made your characterization based on.

Unless it was from something I said in a post I wrote before I wrote my post to David. But it can't be from anything I said in my post in reply to you. Because you made your characterization based on something I said before that. So you have to substantiate it from there.

I just told you that you are projecting your own pre-existing ideas and concepts and experiences onto me. It's like you're wearing orange-tinted sunglasses so everything I say is orange to you. That in itself isn't such a big problem, everyone does it to greater or lesser degree, me too.

The big problem is that I told you you are wearing these sunglasses but you won't admit it or try to take them off. It's as though I didn't tell you anything.

So let's backtrack. You say I admitted that Leftists' (implying ALL Leftists) don't care about human rights. Substantiate this with something I said somewhere on this thread before you made that characterization of what I said. Otherwise this is going to go nowhere.

If there is a legitimate misunderstanding, if I said something that was not 100% clear to any careful, reasonable reader, I will clarify it. If it is not a legitimate misunderstanding, but just you blindly saying 'You're orange, you're orange', I will tell you that's what you're doing and ask you to re-read 


ex programmer craig


by ex programmer craig on

I would propose a distinction between 'soft Apologists', who hushed up
the human rights violations under Bush for what always seemed to me to
be pragmatic geopolitcal concerns, with the goal of not providing
rationales for Bush to attack Iran. I did not, and never do, agree with
placing strategy over truth.

Rosie, every socialist I've ever met has done that. There is no distinction between one camp and another, you are just trying to make it so for your own peace of mind. I'm not going to draw up a list of famous leftists who have turned a blind eye to abuses taking place in socialist countries they supported, while at the same time they attacked capitalist countries where people had much more freedom and much more prosperity. You could do that as easily as I could.

What, in your opinion, is the core value of socialism? Is it not a social contract that promises to alleviate the suffering of the common man, and to use all of the resources of the society to do so? Isn't that the only claim to superiority over other systems that socialism has EVER had? So when socialist countries fail to do that, what reason is there for them to continue to exist in that form? And when proponents of socialism are so ready to "compromise" on issues of rights and freedoms for the common man, what does that tell us? In my experience, nobody compromises on their core values in order to promote something that is of secondary importance. So when leftists don't care about human rights, it tells me that they don't give a flying fuck about the plight of the common man. Since you are a leftist, maybe you can tell me what somebody like Noam Chomsky really *does* care about? Is he so heavily invested in promoting the ideology that it is the vindication of the system itself that he places first? If so, is he less of an extremist than an Islamist?



rosie is roxy is roshan

Craig, misunderstandings and misconceptions

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

The only thing that makes socialism at all tenable - on paper - is the assumption that socialism will guarantee the liberties and freedoms of individual members of society. Without that, what is socialism? A system of government where the organs of the state hold all political power, 

 When one employs all these political categories, it's to some extent subjective, as different definitions of them at different times and different places and contexts have been used. I would say in my terminology you are conflating socialism with communism, which has been a complete and utter failure and should go down the toilet bowl of history, and is about to soon.

Looking at something like the Prague spring in '68, we can see how this was considered a Socialist, not a Communist revolution. The sense is that it was something 'softer" than Communism. Over time modern Socialism has evolved into something which seems to me to advocate mixed economies, with a big place for nationalized major industries and a comprehensive soical welfare system for the poor, the ill and so on.

The latter can be distinguished, in my view, from liberalism in the States, in that, due precisely to the Marxist roots, we're a bit more hard-headed, pragmatic. We're not bleeding heart. Liberals are patronizing. From the Liberal ideology (or lack thereof) came the professional welfare moms, fingerpainting school through college, and so on. It's based on 'we help you' as opposed to 'you learn to help yourself.' Now that's a generalization, of course, but the damage the Liberals have done is well-known. My parents included.

So I think when you have more emphasis on a larger and more tightly controlled and one could say rigid social welfare system, in the long run it should get smaller, as people develop higher standards and become more independent on the workforce, and better educated to make better decisions in terms orf voting for more efficent and honest people.

Communism is totalitarian in theory as it specifically envisions a dictatorship of the proletariat as an intermediate period and that is totally unacceptable to modern Socialists. It posits violent overthrow. Ditto. Most of us are pacifists. It posits complete lack of individual ownership which led to such depredations as Chinese children under Mao turning in their parents for things like sewing on the side for their neighbors for pay. Horrific. On and on it goes. Communism sucks.

Rampant global capitalism has caused such horrors and they can bee seen everywhere. Forgetting major recessions and periodic depressions, we have seen in the States since Regan entire sectors of the populace impoverished. no health insurance, working two minimum wage jobs as temporary workers, no guarantee for a future, as production has been transferred to cheap er developing countries. If certain major industries were nationalzed, the two could coexist. There could be regulation and balance achieved.

The gazillion dollar salaries and bonuses of CEO's in recent years while the employees got poorer and poorer could never happen under a highly regulated system. And so on.

So basically my conception of Socialism is one of counterbalance to the excesses of what I call the Center-Right (in general, not all). The one thing from Marxism I hold near and dear to my heart is that politics is economics inasmuch as it always has been and always will be labor, in production, the  base, on the sweat of whose baciks those in super-structure land owe everything. And not the other way around. A laborer owes his job to an owner, but the owner owes his profit to the labor. Since the profit of the owner should be more than the salary of the laborer, the owner owes more.

People will come and argue with me that economically nothing I've said differs much from idealistic Liberals other than the rigor of the implementation. But the one thing that does is the concept of nationalization of major industry.

I'm not good at economcis. Everything I just said comes from my instincts and intuition. But like I always say, all these experts know so much and the different schools are always at loggerheads. So I figure none of them have the whole truth for all their knowledge, so for all my ignorance, my opinions should be as valid as theirs;.


 where the state feels no responsibilty to care for the people it has assumed control over? That's Stalin's USSR. For you to admit leftists don't care about human righst but then pretend their ideas still have merit is... silly. I honetsly don't know how anyone can take Marxism seriously, when Marxists have such a bad track record in the real world, and at the same time have such massive ideological flaws in the way they present their case in the present. Yes, I get how a 25 year old with immature political views can be sucked in by a college prof whose ego has gotten the best of him. But how can anyone with a more sophisticated worldview still fall for that? It isn't "idealism" when you see the ugly truth and choose to ignore it. 

The only thing that makes socialism at all tenable - on paper - is the assumption that socialism will guarantee the liberties and freedoms of individual members of society. Without that, what is socialism? A system of government where the organs of the state hold all political power, and where the state feels no responsibilty to care for the people it has assumed control over? That's Stalin's USSR.

For you to admit leftists don't care about human righst but then pretend their ideas still have merit is... silly. 

I never said anything even remotely like that. You're totally projecting preconceived ideas of your onto what I wrote. Find anything even resembling that in what I actually wrote and I will give you a prize. I have a feeling I know the part you projected onto, but I'm not going to debate it until you first show me exactly where I said what you just said I said about the Left and human rights. :o) 

 honetsly don't know how anyone can take Marxism seriously, when Marxists have such a bad track record in the real world, and at the same time have such massive ideological flaws in the way they present their case in the present. Yes, I get how a 25 year old with immature political views can be sucked in by a college prof whose ego has gotten the best of him. But how can anyone with a more sophisticated worldview still fall for that? It isn't "idealism" when you see the ugly truth and choose to ignore it. 

ex programmer craig


by ex programmer craig on

The only thing that makes socialism at all tenable - on paper - is the assumption that socialism will guarantee the liberties and freedoms of individual members of society. Without that, what is socialism? A system of government where the organs of the state hold all political power, and where the state feels no responsibilty to care for the people it has assumed control over? That's Stalin's USSR. For you to admit leftists don't care about human righst but then pretend their ideas still have merit is... silly. I honetsly don't know how anyone can take Marxism seriously, when Marxists have such a bad track record in the real world, and at the same time have such massive ideological flaws in the way they present their case in the present. Yes, I get how a 25 year old with immature political views can be sucked in by a college prof whose ego has gotten the best of him. But how can anyone with a more sophisticated worldview still fall for that? It isn't "idealism" when you see the ugly truth and choose to ignore it. 

rosie is roxy is roshan

David, et al, 'left' and 'right', as you know, are in many ways

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

a false dichotomy. When we focus on the true quest for Truth, all polarities dissolve. We see this on a oragmatic level, politically, when we consider how the most extreme Right, fascism, often entails populism, which has much in common with socialist ideas. For this reason Nazism was National Socialism. And Ahmadinejad is in many real ways a Populist.

We see it with Libertarianism, which could produce a Ron Paul. We saw it with a Howard Dean, an extraordinary, and for me far more appealing than the other Democratic candidates, mixture of what I saw as pretty Socialist-ish and pretty Conservative-ish ideas and programs at the same time.

We see it with the Islamic 'far Left', which has now, through the Green Movement, on this site, been exposed as fundamentally different from others who used to be confused with it. I would propose a distinction between 'soft Apologists', who hushed up the human rights violations under Bush for what always seemed to me to be pragmatic geopolitcal concerns, with the goal of not providing rationales for Bush to attack Iran. I did not, and never do, agree with placing strategy over truth. It seems to me counter-Evolutionary for us as a species. However, I understood it, and could've predicted almost to a T how in a movement such as the Greens, these 'soft Apologists would come out of the closet and prove themselves on the right side of history.

While the hardcores have proven themselves over and over again since the elections to not only continue to apologize for, but to blatantly defend murderous totalitarian actions, justifying it flying in the face of all realtiy. For this reason I call them 'Fascists in petticoats.' Above all they are mean.

They are no different from the Freds of the world on the Right who viciously attack people for no reason whatsoever. Just plain mean. And meanness is a great basis for totalitarianism.


At the same time we find people on the pretty far secular Left like Dabashi and Chomsky who came out on the right side of history and the others who Dabashi talks about, both secular and Islamo-who refuse to accept the autonomy and worth of the movement.

Niloufar (and you) suggest the categories are no longer relevant, but as long as they remain in people's minds, they need to be scruitininzed before they can be abandones. That is, resolved before they can be dissolved, because many people still identify with them.  And that's where a Dabashi becomes useful.

We can't wave away with a magic wand (not saying you imply you can, but speaking in general to people here in general), the fact that the handful of central organizing labor groups in Iran identify with nto only old-style Socialism but Communism. And while they recognize the fraudulence of the elections, the legitimacy of the protests, and the clear depredations of the Regijme, they refuse to support a general strike based on the opposition's being avowedly Capitalist. This to me is a mistaken viewpoint, but that's the way they see things. Worse still, they are largely based in Kurdistan, where strikes appear to be common these days, although we hear little about them, and they should be organizing them centrally but they're not. And this is problematic. Are they irrelevant? I'm sure not completely. Could they be extraordinarily relevant would they relinquish at least for time being their political category in favor of human rights. There you hit the nail on the head. I am sure they would be helpful beyond belief if they could do this.

We cannot wave away with a magic wand that there are people on the center-right who identify with it, whether they name it or not. Because they name the Left as being a problem, so de fact they name themselves as not Left. They confuse Islamo-left and so on with the Dabashies and the Niloufars of the world. Whom they name even when the Niloufars don't name themselves.

Is this problematic for the site. Yes, I think it is. It's divisive and look what it did to this thread. Not in terms of a Fred, imho, because he's mean, but in terms of a Bijan, who's not, being swayed to the wrong side, when knowing him as I do, he's not like that,. and he shoudl be able to support us.

Are they relevant beyond this site? Yes I think so because first of all the more unity there is here, the more the site could be harnessed as a positive force for change. First and foremost by presenting a posiitve face to visitors here, especially non-Iranians. Second of all by doing their part to support their friends and family within Irana and withiout to participate in the movement with full commitment.

So, again, before the categories are dissolved, they must be resolved in cases such as these and more. And just saying it's aboout human rights won't be enough for most of these people. While it's the Truth, and one of the closest things to the absolute Truth that's been concisely uttered here (and you're always good at  coming up with these little gems), it's only half of the battle of winning the hearts and minds over to this Truth. There's synthetically envisioning and expressing this Truth as you just have.

And then there's analyzing and supporting it. That's where the categoires still unfortunately will come into play.


For myself, this thread has been a miserable failure. It had so much potential. My failure in it was to focus too much on lashing into the extremists on both sides, which wasted my time and energy and alienated some newcomers with amazing input. It also prevented me from finishing the post I'd promised to NP and JR, which I put a lot of effort into. Because I was simultaneously writing one to Ben and he defected. And this depressed me.

The other reason why I contributed to making this thread a failure was that as usual, I am wasting time and energy and constantly getting depressed by these eeeeeendless power struggles with the publisher, which are totally personal and stem from a difficult friendship, and which are ultimately not my fault, beccause I'm always hoping for a reconciliatin, which should be simple. Except he won't talk to me. And occasionally relents but never delivers.

So my blogs have been so blacklisted that I can't write them anymroe because if I do they won't be featured,  and that will depress me. But withhodlign wirting them likewise depresses me. So I hade in the news section which isn't really my 'thing' but I get excellent at it, and then I start getting blacklisted there, and that depresses me no end.

And that's exactly what happened here and contributed to my failure to deliver.

So I am beat. Simply beat. Tired. Drained. Exhausted. I shall need a break again. Most unfortunately, because it's just at the time when I feel I could do the most good. But you can't fight City Hall ALONE for too long without feeling defeated.

And that's where I am right now.

I shall return shortly when I have refueled. RIght now I'm out of steam.

Take care, all who give a sh-t about me. I know a number of people do. And I always feel I'm disappointing them. And even worse, myself.


David ET

Left or right, Arab or Ajam

by David ET on

Those who chose to violate fundamental human rights or ignore violations of human rights or justify such violations are wrong and must be ashamed of themselves.

No ideology, no nationality, no tactic or strategy has the right to violate human rights or to apologize for those who do so.

There are many Arabs who expect Iranians and the world to side with Palestinian struggle for their human rights but when it has come to the human rights of Iranians, for 30 years they have sided with those who have oppressed of Iranians.

It absolutely makes no difference what religion, ideology or thought one wrapped self in , if s/he does not hold human rights at the core of thoughts, words and deeds.

Dabashi is right when he says: "This is Not Another revolution. This is a Civil Rights Movement."

and that is what makes it ten times more important! because its ultimate results are and will be fundamental and lasting!

rosie is roxy is roshan

Niloufar, JR

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

I am in the process of drafting a long reply to both of you which I should post tonight, tomorrow morning latest.

In the meantime if you have some time could you please take a look at the following link from our contributed news as well as the Dabashi entry in wikipedia, which is excellent despite wiki's caveat of bias. Dabashi is so complicated and controversial he's almost impossible to deal with completely objectively, he provokes a lot of strong gut reactions in people. Niloufar has proved this beyond a shadow of doubt. She should have a strong natural affinity toward him and look what he did.

Look what you did again, Hamid. You yearn for and ask for publicly a language for the Left to stop preaching to the converted and outreach the general public, and yet you succeed in alienating even your natural allies. Substituting 'pestiferous' with 'nauseating' and not defining your own stance due to grandiose assumptions that everyone knows who you are will not clinch it, I'm afraid.





Don't forget about wiki.



rosie is roxy is roshan

Replies coming, Ben, NP, JR.

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

Please check back tonight and tomorrow.



rosie is roxy is roshan

I know, Craig (Fred)

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

I didn't have a clear idea about Fred's viewpoints either. I wasn't sure if he fell on what I would call center or right. Below I referred to him as right but maybe the proper "r" word is just rude. In trying to mediate in a situation like this where both NP and F were basically saying the same thing in their original posts (not enough tolerance toward different viewpoints on political spectrum), NP did thank & acknowledge me, Fred did not & also was flagrantly abusive elsewhere (perhaps to hide his true colors here??? don't know, don't care).

Several times previously I have addressed Fred, several times he has ignored. This time he ignored & abused. Sometimes when you mediate you get stabbed, true. When I was in my mid-twenties a 19 year old close friend of mine got killed in this way. His name was Spiro. When a mutual friend of ours told us I thought he said "Sparrow died" and didn't understand it. After a few times I realized it was Spiro. That was 25 years ago. He should've been 44 today. Brilliant, sensitive young man, very gentle. Greek.

People who mediate should not get stabbed. That (along with Fred's illogical hypocrisy) is the reason why the stabber should be (effectively) disqualified from these important discussions toward forming harmony. Stabbers are dangerous to the goal. Until proven otherwise. I used to be far more patient than I am these days. Maybe one day I will get it back. I don't know.

To Fred again:

Sorry Fred you talked about me despectively in the third person yesterday elsewhere yesterday after I wrote this. A  least I am not calling you names  like you did me(however creative, and creative you are, I'll give you that). If you really believe the Left is a necessary counterbalance to the Right (wherever you situate yourself, center or right) then you should not be abusive to me because I am AS legitimate Left as it gets on this site. And if you don't think I am then you should not be here IMHO, you should be seeking a site where you can find (in YOUR opinion) legitimate Left to establish such dialogs for sake of counterbalance. Unless you enjoy the Sysepehan task of snarling at people you disagree with (majority here) and preaching to the converted, that's what I would do if I were you..

Anyway. Moving along.

ex programmer craig


by ex programmer craig on

I've noticed you trying to be mediator here. That's one of the reasons I like you :)

Sometimes when you try to get between two people having a knife fight, you end up getting stabbed. That doesn't necessarily mean it isn't worth taking the risk. It depends on how much you care, I suppose.

I honestly don't know if Fred and I are ideological allies or not. Most of the threads I've read where either Zion or Fred were involved there was so much abuse being thrown around, I couldn't figure out much of what else was going on. And I haven't been a regular on this website since the first time I got censored. I've seen the fights, but I haven't seen what caused them.


rosie is roxy is roshan

Re-read my post, Craig. It is totally and completely the

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

ethical, intellectual, political and human responsibility of Fred to have responded to me on this thread following his original statements about the Left which I have copiously addressed to him politely and caringly regarding on ethical, intellectual, political and human level. He did not but he did respond to me in as belittling a way as possible elsewhere, absolutely trivializing. All is explained below. If you wish link to his disgusting reply to me elsewhere I shall reply.

 As I told you once before Craig, it is very important no to privilege other people's hypocrisy, abuse, etc. just because they are the enemy of your perceived enemy and/or share certain ideological affinities with you. I used to be by nature a mediator, I have lost that touch due to too much abuse onsite. But I am careful to be an equal-opportunity muchraker/mudslinger??? There are really only a handful of people here I feel have abused me chronically and savagely (and others as well, always that is a factor in my determing someone's viciousness, it CAN'T be just me..)..I count four: one on the right, two on "Left", and one in the center. Now there Fred is now the second on the right. So, so far there is a tie on the two extreme sides and I am not surprised.

If Fred = gentleman

Rosie = cobblestone.

ex programmer craig


by ex programmer craig on

I can't speak for Fred, obviously, but I've been around here long enough to notice how he's been treated. If he doesn't want to even try reconciling with his opponents on this website, that's his decision. It isn't up to you to try to force him to. If he chooses to not reply to you, that might actually be him being polite. I've made that decision a couple times myself, because I think you mean well and so I've not responded a couple times, when you said something I found to be annoying. Take it as a compliment :)

Niloufar writes a comment and Fred viciously (and childishly) attacks her as a LeftY to point of slander.

I don't know about Fred, but I don't feel any need to reply to Niloufar Parsi at all, or to be the least bit polite to her if I did. As far as I'm concerned she doesn't have any legitimate political ideology - she's all over the place, and seems to be motivated primarily by hatred for Israel and the West. US in particular. Hatred is not an ideology.

rosie is roxy is roshan

No, Bijan, Fred's input thoroughly discredited /TO ALL

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

on any political discourse until he responds appropriately to this posting and here's why:

Fred on his first post below muses on need for a viable Left to counterbalance the Right, something which probably would surprise many people here, distinguishing between the Left and a (poseur, hypocritical, etc.) LeftY. Niloufar writes a comment and Fred viciously (and childishly) attacks her as a LeftY to point of slander. I write long comments addressing Fred very diplomatically and in highly good faith trying to smooth out this situation as well as to bring it back to the important discussion (which he initiated) about the difference between the Left and...something else, something which Dabashi might call 'nauseating', in an objective and not personal manner, pointing out that unless center-left coalitions, which only recently due to the current events in Iran, have become possible both on this site and within Iran, all is lost.

Fred does not do me the courtesy of one single shred of an acknowledgment on this thread, only briefly, satirically and sneeringly on a news item where I address him again on something related to this issue, in which he refers to me a LeftY as well as an Islamic wedding photographer. And I say refers TO because he doesn't even address me directly but refers to me in third person.

Fred clearly against any ATTEMPT at peaceful dialogue, let alone coalitoin-forming of any kind. Fred clearly a hypocrite of the first order for claiming to advocate for a viable Left to counterbalance the right, and throwing me in the toilet bowl after having here identified myself as seeing my position as EXACTLY his.

Me being ONLY person avowedly by my own self-definition on the Left who consistently since October of 2007 have advocated equally vociferously against human rights violations within Iran as well as potential and actual foreign threats. Me having also during Gaza debates questioned Hamas's human rights and asked to hear Zionist narrative, getting considerable criticism for it from my 'side'-the Left (LeftIES???). Me having very vociferously debunked these aspects of the Left here, up to repeatedly saying that at least one of them for various reasons of irrationality, first order hypocrisy and sadism, imho is DISQUALIFIED from any credibility within political discourse until certain core issues and events are addressed.

You too Fred. You're with Jaleho now in my disqualification garbage bin. Congratualations. I am totally and unquestionably right: on grounds of irrationlity, first order hypocrisy and sadism. Anyone who disagrees with me, if you respect your relationship with me, please explain why.

If Fred gentleman, then Rosie fire hydrant.

Fred, waiting for your reply too.



coming up. This one was easy and quick to write. Yours require more, time, thought, organization, concentration.

Ben, don't be discouraged. New day hopefully dawning here with current events in Iran, coalitions forming and new registrants like yourself coming in. Please help it happen. Don't follow the (normal human) instinct to run away just when you are so needed.

Take care.

Truth Seeker

Stop being so Naive

by Truth Seeker on

Wake up stop being manipulated by Rafsanjani's Mafia


Bijan A M

Sassan & Fred

by Bijan A M on

Gentlemen, you have nailed it. I could have never explained the tie between the "lefty"s and the criminal rule of the IRI as eloquently as you did.

Thank you 



by benross on


ex programmer craig

Jahanshah Rashidian

by ex programmer craig on

In the right-wing or fundamentalist milieus especially in the US

The most liberal country planet earth has ever seen is called "right wing" and "fundamentalist" by you? And you don't see yourself as part of the problem? lol.

And before you start in with how much more "liberal" Europe is than the US, I will just point out that the facts on the ground offer much evidence to the contrary. Don't wave high-minded pieces of paper that have little to do with societal realities in my face and tell me I'm wrong about the US being more liberal than Europe on that basis. That's exactly the kind of disconnect that caused marxist ideology to catastrophically implode.


Farhad Kashani

We’ve been saying it all

by Farhad Kashani on

We’ve been saying it all along, the Left is accomplice and partner in the crimes committed by all dictators who use anti Western rhetoric to justify their behavior. The left apologizes for them, justifies their crimes, soften their image, all and all in the name of anti Westernism and anti Americanism.


Left, out of eternal animosity with Capitalism and its face, America, have always gotten it wrong. The Chomskys,, and the NY Times, and the Reza Aslan, and the NIAC, and the, and, and Michael Moore and the Jon Stewarts of the world used to tell us that : IRI has a “different form” of democracy, and that everything that happens in world politics is either out of some complicated conspiracy by multinational companies for oil and resources and/or (!!) by “Zionist” who with the support of “imperialists and Neo Cons and Republicans and the so called “military industrial complex” are trying to make sure the Jews rule the world and more weapons is sold! They said the 1953 coup and the 1979 revolution and everything in between and post that was all part of an “American” conspiracy! Well, that ideology and that thinking has shattered forever.


Not that most people believed this Socialist gibberish propaganda made up by some misguided and twisted minds previously anyways, but it really took an event like the brave Iranian people’s uprising to show the few who actually did believe them, that there is nothing more powerful than the will of a people and a movement, and it is that will that decided coups, and revolutions, and changes the destiny of people. And freedom and democracy is the will of millions and millions of people around the world, and when people like Bush used to say this and get bashed by the above mentioned elite, he turned out to be right and those buffoons turned out to be wrong.


The minority Left hijacked the Iranian voice for many years and spoke on behalf of an entire people for years. They told us Iranians shouldn’t rise for freedom because that would jeopardize their “sovereignty and independence against America!”. They used to tell us all is great in Iran and all misperception about Iran is because of “Israeli propaganda”!, and some Communist Berkley professor used to come and try to explain to us how Iran falls into the big imperialist powers’ chess game, using some 19th century political science principals!


Left has been exposed forever. Their ideology defeated and their grip on public opinion is fading away. That’s great news coming out of our people’s heroic uprising.



Dear Professor Dabashi

by KamranBehnia on

You are just a click away from cheking that  no mineral is there on Jupiter. See :


Mostly helium and hydrogen.

This doesn't falsify your point. However, consider this:

The entertaining, frivolous and ignorant Zizek got it right: There is no way to attribute an enhanced participation of voters to an enthousiastic support for the existing order represented by Ahmadinejad and co. The fraud is there even if there is no solid evidence for it...

The  "colonial insider" got it wrong. Mr. AbuKhalil's world view is not apparently sophisticated enough to let your enemy's enemy be a bad guy. He is not more interested in details than George Bush was...

This is not an issue of right v. left but curious vs. the simple-minded.

In this century, Iran's contribution to  the global civilization may consist in making the idealogical lines fuzzier than before...


Kamran Behnia

Paris, France

Jahanshah Rashidian

Left a la Hollywoodian

by Jahanshah Rashidian on

Dear Rosie,

I wait for your blog on “Left”. This theme has not been discussed on this site dominated by right-wing pro or contra IRI, but often abused a la American to insult an opponent.

Firstly in a scientific and correct terminology the word”Left” should be defined. Then we can see its spectrum from the orthodox Marxist Leninists of post October Revolution until the post World War 2-Euro-Communism or its split, Social Democracy. In all of them, Marxism with a degree of social justice, democracy, and secularism, remains the backbone ideology — also, none of these necessary elements can be found in the IRI, thus pro IRI leftism is objectively wrong. I think, a Tudehi in line of “Imam” or a veiled female close to Khatami or Mousavi must be a self-appointed vulgar "leftist”. I think, they have no right to abuse a leftist terminology to defend an anti-socialist, backward capitalist, and misogynistic Islamic regime. In reality they can be anything but not ‘Left”.

Left is familiar to intellectuals long before the IRI and Islamism came into general use. Marx (especially with his early philosophical writings), prepared ideas which inspired many schools of thoughts like Existential philosophy as developed by Heidegger, Jaspers and Sartre. None of this schools or thinkers were religious.

In spite of the fact that “Left” has become fashionable and has been popularised in Western Europe before the fall of Berlin’s Wall, it lost some “red” colour after the event. however, Left in various forms and shapes still confirm its basic truth and its adequacy to our present conditions in Europe.

In the right-wing or fundamentalist milieus especially in the US, terms like lefty, leftist… seem most obviously rather ironic, derogatory, and pejorative, used a la Hollywoodian.

Niloufar Parsi


by Niloufar Parsi on

sure i will engage, but it has to be intermittent because of the situation at home. got visitors and can't stick around continuously.

i already mentioned that we find we have a lot in common. there are those who refuse to respect or acknowledge the views of others because of their obsession with the left-right games. 

am keen to hear about dabashi.

rosie is roxy is roshan

What are you talking about, BEN????

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

You're not an intruder. It isn't a chat room. I MENTIONED you below in my SECOND POST. In bold. In the second half.  (Sorry I said Bob, I just changed it to Ben..)

Every old time registered user on this site is an 'intruder', first and foremost to ourselves...

Of course there's an 'incest fest' component to all this...and it's old...and it's TIRED...and the compulsory registration and the sending out of the mass e-mails (WHICH IS BRAND NEW, TO GO ALONG WITH THE NEW REGISTERINGS) is an attempt to STOP that.

So IGNORE the Peyton Place aspects. IGNORE, will you? Do me a favor, PLEASE. Go back down to that post and respond to my comment regarding YOU. Don't run away. It's a VERY IMPORTANT ARTICLE. Discussing it could ACCOMPLISH somethigg here. So...discuss it...and others will too.

Welcome to our little sandbox in c-space. Dust and dirt. Build a castle. Here. Have a plastic shovel. you think really in the current global climate there is a need and purpose or even real existence of something called a "Left" or do you in fact think that the existence of people such as myself, moderate Socialists (old Labor, pacifist, eco-Green) who see their function primarily as a coutnerbalance to the right with a vision of mixed economies in mind, should best adopt a new nomenclature and accept that we sit squarely within Capitalsim and hence should no longer use the word 'Left'. And if so, what implifications would that have for the use of the word 'Right'????





by benross on


It is not more than a week that I opened an account with and if it wasn't for the emails that I was receiving since about new postings, I would have never known the existence of such article.

So in many ways, I am the intruder in this apparently chat room. My apologies. But I'm sorry for Mr Dabashi and his engaging article, that could generate a lot of fruitful discussion.


rosie is roxy is roshan

Okay, Nilofar, cross-posted again..

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

just saw the last short one. I unmediate between you and Fred. But please then at least don't LEAVE. I won't mention your name to him again. But I have a lot of things I need to talk to you about and I'm sure others could learn a lot from you too. I have some very important and ironic things to tell you about Dabashi that are very very thought-provoking and relevant to all of us who seek to build 'center-left' coalitions at this point in time (that's what the green movement IS in essence...or should be...isn't it????)

rosie is roxy is roshan

Fascinating, CRUCIAL, and all kinds of cross-posting..PEEEACE!

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

I will just say briefly now that I intend to comment extensively and rephrase what I said below:

This is a time to look for what unites, not what separates. Fred, shock of shocks, has respect for the Left as NECESSARY within a democratic government. (Kashani, shock of shocks, is against the Israeli Regime. I celebrated this in a three-way conversatin with him and Q, Q dismissed it. My support went to Kashani for being the mroe democratic in the debate, as much as this hurt me not due to my ideology, I don't give an f. about my ideology...due to my friendship with Q).

So FreddY calls NilofarY leftY and NilofarY rightlLY calls FeddY rightY...

and I say stop! stop! stop!



and rather..




and then when you FINALLY deigned to reply to my continued bringing up of the issue, you said you hadn't replied to me because I'm not worth replying to...

you are as disqualified from political discourse as a fisherman who says the salit is the sea is from fishing...

EXCEPT as an OBJECT of analysis as THE paradigmatic representation of the NAUSEATING MIND-COLONIZED LEFT.

Niloufar Parsi

rosie jan

by Niloufar Parsi on

no point mediating here. i refuse to engage with someone who does not have the basic decency to refer to one's name. it is a pathetic attitude and not worth my time.


rosie is roxy is roshan

No, Fred, I think you misunderstood Niloufar

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

(You and I cross-posted).

I think you misunderstood Nilofar. I think Nilofar just misunderstood the article and I think you didn't understand that and I think I did. (Niloufar, please correct me if I'm wrong).

My suggestion: let us go back to Fred's distinction below as a working hypothesis: "Left"(as in "authentic' Left) versus "LeftY"..(as in hypocrite, poseur, whatever,. accepting that at VERY LEAST within a healthy democracy there is a need for A Left as a counterbalance to the Right.

(you do understand, do you not Fred, that most of the Left(IES?) on this site would be shocked to know you WANT a counterbalance to the Right..not so I. Very little shocks me because although I USE categories I don't EQUATE people with them...nor should you..)

Let us agree-I believe most of us do, as I said below--that those who blame some outside one else every time someone sneezes in Iran (or EVEN Gaza) and/or hushes up about stonings in the name of 'anti-Colonialsim' is part of the 'nauseating, colonized mind' Left of which Dabashi speaks.

Let us take Jaleho as the supreme example of this nauseating Left to such extreme that dialogue with her should only be useful to provide further analysis of the TYPE, with no illusions whatsoever that it will lead to a microshred of rational discourse, let alone progress.

Let us assume that no one else is hopeless, including ourselves in others' eyes. So let us not assume that anyone else here IS this or that but rather question and explore.. 

And let us also focus that questioning and exploration on Dabashi himself since we have him here in front of us in the Petrie Dish (and will probably never even look at this thread). He is a good place to focus. Where does he really stand? Should stand? What are his failings and WHAT ARE HIS STRENGTHS??


You see this movement in Iran has turned things on its head on this site in terms of the political divide. It can't and won't succeed without coalition-forming. The key is "center-left" coalitions and they've been possible on this site for the VERY FIRST TIME. But they're VERY shakey. Very. They need to be strengthened, not eradicated.

Dabashi says the movement is homegrown and it's democratic and severely indicts others who would say otherwise. You agree with that Fred, so what is your problem with Dabashi specifically? What makes him a LeftY rather than a LeftIST? Be objective. Be clear.

This is the historical moment when the opportunity's possible to form a coalition and if you all lose it here well that is perhaps a failure in...entertainment on this global medium...and perhaps says nothing in particular about the future of the movement in Iran and/or expat relevance to it in general, or particularly the relevance of the i.c. expat community to it..

or perhaps it does.


I met Hamid about three years ago at a talk. He was talking about the need for the Left to find a 'new language' so that it would stop preaching to the converted. He was painfully aware that the Left had lost imuch of its relevance.  I immediately offered several suggestons while everyone else sat, stymied, and he got all excited and told me he wanted to talk to me after and then he avoided me.

You see what I'd made him realize, perhaps subconsciously at that time, is that to change your language implies also changing your world view. And that's a feedback loop btw...

so the point is simply...not to be frozen and not to freeze others..

I suppose that frozenness on the part of Hamid, that fear he had of me, could be part of what I would say puts him in the LeftY camp...

but on the other hand, two things I think you would've liked about Hamid's talk very much Fred. 1) He loathes IRI almost s much as you (although you might find that hard to reconcile with his views on Palestine, the fact is he does..)  and 2) the folllowing statement of his I've paraphrased here often: Islam is obsessed with covering the female body and the West is obsessed with uncovering it and I wish they'd both just leave it alone.

So do I Fred, so do I... frozen, now not?  How Left, how LeftY is Hamid? And how about me?