Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fanon and Iran

The fact that protests are continuing in Iran leads me to several conclusions.

One, my initial guess as to what would happen has proved fairly correct, and my hopes disappointed. Those in power have clamped down, rather than reaching out, conducting a runoff election, and settling the matter with Mousavi, who is no radical; instead, it looks just a little more like revolution. With Mousavi and other approved candidates trying to distance themselves from the protests, there's no clear outlet left within the system, and so pressure has built.

And even though Iran is not by any means a colonized state, I always think of Franz Fanon when it comes to the question of revolution. Fanon very boldly asserted that it was better that the colonial powers were violently overthrown, rather than giving up power in a peaceful and bloodless transition; better to make a clean break with the past.

I sometimes wonder if he was right in that judgment. Violent revolution is a terrifying thing - but as dearly as it is sold, one wishes that something be gotten for the monstrous cost in blood. I suppose soon, when we start reaching forty day marks, we will see whether the pace of the 1979 Iranian revolution and this one are one and the same; I do not suppose that we will know soon, however, what to expect.

I will go as far as to predict this, though: The longer and harder the fight, the more radicalized it will become, and the sharper the changes that Iran will face. Whether or not the existing establishment falls, whether or not Mousavi or any other moderate tries to ride the tiger to tameness.

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