Understanding Iran: Yet another variation on an ongoing theme


Understanding Iran: Yet another variation on an ongoing theme
by bahmani

As the pressure on Iran mounts, the fear many of us have is that final destination, namely an attack on our homeland by our current homeland, causing insecurity in one homeland, in the name of homeland security in the other.

Confused? Good!

Because this is precisely why things are equally confused and even more complicated vis-a-vis Iran, the US, and now the sanctions-happy UN, these days.

Because like most of us, I too think I know a little something (debatable), and since I/we do it at least once a day, let us break it down, as if doing it one more time will even matter. A variation on a theme.

Il Persiano Obsessione Compulsivo, in E-minor. (because E minor is truly the saddest chord)

To be absolutely crystal clear, lest no one object to it, let me say that the government of Iran is not a representative government. It rules (absolutely) the Iranian people with undeniable, provable, day-to-day illegitimacy. Precisely because it can only claim, as it does repeatedly, that it's entire right to rule was given to it by the Iranian people, in the referendum of 1979.

The 1979 referendum asked Iranians, recently freed from that other oppressive regime under the Shah, the following simple question: "Do you want a Constitutional Monarchy? Or, Do you want an Islamic Republic?" The answer then was obvious. Of course, no one or relatively few (and they became substantially fewer shortly after the referendum!) wanted anything to do with the Monarchy, constitutional or not. So the majority of Iranians who voted in the 1979 referendum picked the other. Obviously at the time, this was a relatively clear choice, if the ramifications of that choice was as has now been proven, unclear.

That is it! That is the entire basis for the mandate that the Iranian government, to this day, uses as it's sole justification for the kind of governance that it has imposed on Iranian society, perfecting and modifying it over the course of these past 30 years.

For lack of a better term, the Iranian eslamic model has been a 30-year work-in-progress. Self described and admittedly imperfect, but at the same time unwilling to surrender power to free choice or free will, essentially anything with the word free in it, with the slightest objection, immediately deemed damnably heretical.

Slowly after 1979, by instituting the kinds of religious committee-based decision-making by unelected religious "experts", the Iranian government began to take on an entirely new form of governance from what was traditional in Iranian and before that, Persian culture and society.

This new form of governance, was based on a version of religious laws as vaguely depicted and unclearly described in the ghoran. Rules of food, dress codes, gender roles, crimes and punishment, every aspect of daily life was dissected, digested, interpreted, and regurgitated by these same committees of "knowledgeable" experts. For the first time since the reformation of Christianity, the absolute governance of an entire society was based solely on a religious faith, this time, it was eslam's turn.

Traditionally eslam (like most religions) has been shunned as a means of governance by eslamic countries, who refused to share power or be completely governed by it, and only deferred to it for occasional national moral counsel, or as the slightest link to cultural traditions and social identity. Eslamic religious leaders were rarely involved in governance. For the most part, Iran not-withstanding, today, most eslamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, even Pakestan and Indonesia, who base many of their laws on eslam, still do not allow eslamic religious leaders anywhere near power, never mind run the actual state.

But after 1979, under the influence of Khomeini and his charismatically logical sounding speeches, many Iranians bought the thinly veiled line of basing Iran's next government on ghoranic principles. And why not? The ghoran's seeming clarity on good versus evil sounded like it could deal with the massive corruption, oppression, and indignity that the Shah's government had become famous for.

So, a constitution based on good examples of other constitutions in the world, with the added flavors of a relatively simple and secular ghoran was drawn up and put into place. Good moslems with French PhDs like Bani-Sadr and Bazargan eagerly hand-calligraphed elegantly impressive examples of elsam's new age of secular enlightenment, not knowing that they would never be considered. Things seemed to be working for about 5 minutes, until the Iran-Iraq war destroyed Iran's new social order of optimism and potential overnight.

Never having faced a war never mind an actual invasion, an entire modern generation of Iranians saw hope instantly replaced by real fear, as Iran faced a newly fanged foe in Saddam, whose dormant hatred now threatened a newly freed and obviously vulnerable Iran with nightly bombardment. This is precisely when Iran shifted from potential to pandemonium.

Suspicion and distrust ran rampant in Iranian society caused a naturally conservative mood to take hold. When people feel unsafe, the semblance of a strong heavy handed government can give solace. Iran became the moral good Yin in the war, opposite Saddam's evil Yang, as nationalism and self sacrifice became the only important aspiration of Iranians. Consuming an entire generation in the process.

Soon after, the same constitution that allowed free speech, debate, and discussion, was amended to address "security concerns", giving untold emergency powers to religious leaders now in firm control during Iran's crisis, who based on their positions as men of God, were deemed naturally above any suspicion of treason or betrayal.

When the world is crazy, who better to trust than the preacher?

Now, of course, this isn't the way it happened per se, and this like any other is a bit of a rewrite of history, as much as it is an oversimplified illustration of how it was allowed to happen. Because in effect, everyday Iranians fearing Saddam and the war, sold Iran and her freedom to the religious leadership in return for security and safety. At the bargain price of, everything.

Once the religious leaders were in place, and they realized that what people really feared was fear, they used the war to control, even extending and prolonging it to solidify their consolidation of power.

Slowly, as Khomeini aged and became ill and less visible in the revolution he had led, then at full speed after he died, the good vestiges of the constitution were removed one by one, replaced by doctrines and mission and legitimacy of a newly adapted ghoran. The infamous "Twelver Jaafari School" (as opposed to the Hanafi, Shafi'i, Maliki, Hanbali, and Zaydi schools) interpretation of the ghoran and eslam was put into place to ensure a complex set of confusing and often counter-logical rules, would stand against any blasphemous attempts to question the new base of power.

This now legal foundation of eslam was supported by the heavy hand of brutal suppression, formally using a newly created insurance policy, the revolutionary guard, and informally using basijis and "government supporters" who were merely exercising their free (if violently enthusiastic) will as free to express themselves moslems.

Power was taken away from the Majles (senate), the position of Prime Minister a traditional counter balance to the Presidency, was eliminated, and even the President's traditional role as the commander of the military, and ability to declare war were all taken away. Deemed unnecessary now that all matters were safely in the hands of morally superior leaders. Supreme Leaders.

Eslam now cemented firmly in place, with influence in even the most intimate and traditionally secular places within all Iranian society, the religio-clerical control of governance was complete. A new constitution amended all the old speech and debate and representative majority rule by vote options that could take power, and as a final touch, the amendment procedures themselves were completely removed from it's final current form. The constitution was declared to be a "perfect document" under God, any opposition to it obviously treason, immediately punishable by death.

Welcome to 2010 Iran.

As a result of Iran's historic constitutional swindle, Iranian society held hostage ever since, has not been allowed to speak, nor heard from. Iranians famous for surviving oppression over thousands of years, living and indeed thriving under the most brutal rulers in history, did what Iranians always do. They survived.

The commonly held World belief has always been that Iranians are somewhat complicit in the nefarious activities of their governments, merely allowing them to do what they do. Because after all, if Iranians didn't agree with their government, wouldn't they certainly simply just stand up to it like everyone else does?

This was the common held belief. Until during the Green movement protests, the world caught a glimpse of a different Iran and what it is really like to be an Iranian, and it seemed that the World finally realized how Iran works and what the truth there, is. That the claims by the Iranian government that they were a legitimate government of willing citizens who chose the better eslamic way, was now in obvious question, as discontent over a stolen election poured out along with the blood of the protesters into the streets.

But as quickly as the Green movement seemingly roared to life, it immediately died to a whimper as the same government that mistakenly allowed it to raise it's head, promptly cut it off without the slightest regard that a world was watching it beamed from countless cellphone cameras.

Even with it's ulterior motives towards it's own citizens now more than exposed, the Iranian government, continued on it's safari hunt for more challenging game, having provoked and poked the nest of Israel and the US and spat in their eyes repeatedly for the past 30 years, having taken innocent US embassy hostages, threatening and in some cases outright sponsoring belligerent attacks on Israel via contracted Hamas and Hezbollah, while sitting on the 3rd or 4th or 5th largest supply of energy in the world, Iran now claimed it simply had the right to develop that special kind of nuclear energy, that happens to be the same kind usable for a weapon. And, that it specifically has the right to do so simply because lesser governments with far greater belligerency have them today.

Today with the track record of being a proven serial dishonest broker, wringing it's own very sullied hands behind it's back, the US and Israel can offer no moral argument of it's own, against Iran's moral argument. And Iran knows it, and relishes each and every chance to argue the ongoing argument, twisting and turning the knife slowly, with glee. The US and Israel assume no one knows of or remembers their hand in history, or that no one reads, or understands any of this, and falls for Iran's baiting, blurting out the most ridiculous points of objection, stupidly presents arguments that Iran need only answer with, "Oh Yeah? Then why do Pakestan and North Korea get to have them?"

Back and forth, on and on,"He stole my crayons!" "She called me a poo-poo head!", so it goes.

Meanwhile, none of this, has anything to do with the true nature of the innocent yet puzzlingly powerless people on both sides of this relatively silly (if the consequences weren't so damn serious) argument.
It appears that whether you are an eslam-enslaved citizen of Iran, or a supposedly "free" citizen in the West, every-day average people are ultimately powerless in the face of governments who intend to rule them with malicious if cleverly packaged promises. One promising eternal redemption, the other commercial intention.

Those of us who do, certainly have the right to support talks and negotiations with the US choosing to accept the legitimacy of the Iranian government (rather than the obvious alternative), and to think that things will get better over time if everyone just keeps talking.

You certainly have the right to that opinion.

But while you are waiting for the US and Iran to iron out their differences and change their ways, keep in mind that you are also supporting the ongoing oppression, brutal inhumanity, and unfair inequality, and the idea that some people are just better suited to rule than others, purely by their claim to virtue.

My right as a human being (funny enough created by the same God!) is that of all the things I am being sold each and every blissful day on this rock that is seemingly hurtling randomly and without any purpose whatsoever through and endless space, I for one, don't have to buy that.

So I say, No thanks.

Note: eslam, ghoran, moslem are spelled that way in this piece, I'm tired of blindly adhering to ill-fitting theories and opinions on phonetics.


more from bahmani

The version I voted...

by bahmani on

I don't know if there were other ballots. I was 18 in 1979, and I remember clearly that the ballot I was given was a piece of paper printed in 2 colors, or in 2 parts, one red and one green.

The Green ballot was for the Islamic Republic, or "Jomhoorieh Eslami", the Red ballot was for Constitutional Monarchy, or "Saltaneteh Mashrooteh".

This was the ballot I was given.

The mis-leading advertising in the papers and media several days before the referendum was centered around that the referendum was for the first time going to ask the people if they wanted the monarchy or if they wanted a democracy.

The last minute switch to Eslamic Republic was shocking when we were standing in line and word of the change began to trickle back to the end of the line, so when I got to the poll, by then my Father who was with me and knew that I was planning to come out of Iran for college, realized if we objected in any way there would be consequences, ushered me to vote for the ER option. I remember that I was fuming and about to make a scene because this was not what was advertised, and I knew that they were trying to slip in the Eslamic part on purpose. My Dad told me to shut up and put the green one in and I did as I was told, despite my objection to it. During the ride home, we were both angry at what had happened.

Today, and everyday I contemplate what would have happened if we had stood up then and called them on the great fraud and swindle.

I will always stand on the claim that in 1979 they cheated us out of our democracy, and under fear made us choose them.



by jeromeco on

Each Human Being is as precious as it gets

Each One of Us has our chance to say No to any hurt visited upon Another Human Being

There is no good reason to ever visit hurt of any kind on any Human Being

We Each have our choice about what we use our short lives for

While Any Human Being is being mistreated by any Other Human Being we Each have our chance to find out how we will stand up against such choices and start to stop the mistreatment of Humans by Humans

By the time we each come to our turn to die it will be too late to make any choices to help

We need to choose to help now

Each one of Us




Their referendum was IR

by benross on

Their referendum was IR yes/no. Reza Pahlavi has preference for exact same questioning for next referendum. He argues that the first referendum should have been Constitutional Monarchy yes/no.

Regardless of the wording, a referendum can only give two options. Multiple choices is not for a referendum. And the outcome of a referendum should contain clarity not mayhem. Therefore the next referendum, regardless of the wording of the question, is a choice between two historic documents.

There is a structural discrepancy if the outcome of a referendum does not contain clarity. In first referendum the clarity was ensured by actual power of Khomeini on the ground. Even if we assumed the massive manipulation and brainwash could possibly leave a chance for a no majority, Khomeini was still in control and could decree something else. Now suppose next referendum is a majority no to IRI. Then what? One may assume a preparation for a constituent assembly. This is where multiple choices can be debated. But this preparation under who's authority? This authority should be clarified at the outcome of the referendum. Therefore constitutional monarchy and authorities derived from it.

We rejected modernity in a referendum. Now we reclaim it in a referendum. As simple as that. The rest is semantics.


'The 1979 referendum asked Iranians, recently freed from that

by Rosie. on

oppressivev regime under the Shah, the following simple question: "Do you want a Constitutional Monarchy? Or, Do you want an Islamic Republic?"

To my best knowledge (and wiki's...) the wording of the ballot was 'Jomhuriye Eslami  Areh/Neh'.There was no specific mention of Monarchy. Theoretically there were other possible choices, including secular republic. The simple question that was asked was if the Iranian people wanted an Islamic Republic. Period.

I did see one person on this site categorically insist that the ballot gave only the two choices. If more people swear that this was true it could mean there were two different ballots going around (unlikely).

Whether the difference is theoretical or not, the actual four physically written words were a fact, not theory. Ascertaining and stating that fact correctly, in a history riddled with divergent narratives, is important.

So which one was it? Islamic Republic yes/no, or two different versions of the ballot?