شنبه, ۲۷ تیر ۱۳۹۴
07 October 2016
An Epistemological View to the Fundamental Myths that Perpetuate the Ideology of the Islamic Republic in Iran

“The Ideomythology of the Islamic Republic”

۱۳۹۰ خرداد ۲۱

Reza Parchizadeh

Introduction

In a period when two of the ancient autocracies of the Middle East, namely Tunisia and Egypt, have been transformed to the preliminary stages of a “democratic society” through either popular civil rights movements or growing revolutions, and Libya, Syria, and Yemen are about to join them sooner or later, many domestic and international eyes yet again have been turned toward and fixed on Iran as the original instigator of this wave of civil rights movements in the region, and the one that must naturally and with not much of a physical and intellectual “effort” and even less “cost” come next in this line. However, in my opinion, this euphoria proves to be the product of a gross misunderstanding of the situation in contemporary Iran on the one hand and a rather deliberate understatement of this very situation on the other.

Just to make a long story short, while in many Middle Eastern countries we simply have cases of classic dictatorship or autocracy with no binding, articulated ideologies, in Iran we are first and foremost faced with a strongly articulated “regime of truth” that in the first place presupposes and perpetuates the existence of the status quo, by engaging them on a psychological level, in the minds of a considerable portion of the population, including the military and paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Basij, that wholeheartedly contribute to the cause of the Islamic Republic by any violent means. In other words, while the “classic” dictatorships are only dictatorships because they have clout – and thus their position is firm as long as they are “materially” able to maintain that clout, modern “ideological” autocracies enjoy a dual position of ideological and material power. Therefore, my foremost aim in this article will be to produce a pathological study of the epistemology that brought about, and still perpetuates, the Islamic Republic in Iran.

In this study, I will try to demonstrate that how the Islamic Republic, though patently influenced by a host of foreign concepts, stays indigenous to the root by adopting its defining assumptions and subsequent distilled convictions from a solidly-articulated native ancient attitude; and then to indicate that as long as this attitude prevails in Iran – though it shows signs of subsiding and ameliorating to a considerable extent during the past decades for a myriad of reasons, any subjective and halfhearted attempt to establish a “civil society”, without taking this mindset and the practical implications it makes into account, would be amiss in this country.

The Ideomythology of the Islamic Republic

It is a convention, according to a rather established modern narrative tradition, that almost all the accounts of the classical mythologies around the world more or less follow an unbroken and consecutive pattern of establishing the myths of creation (and devastation), moving through the chronicles of gods and goddesses to the adventures of mythological heroes, and down to the trials and tribulations of the epic champions, and then to the eventual merger of myth with folklore in historical times.[1] Modern ideological mythologies, of which one of the most patent examples proves to be the mythology that led to the revolution of 1979 in Iran, however, continuously reinventing themselves in order to retain the capability to keep interacting with the psyche of their audiences on a daily basis, start, and stay, for that matter, in medias res.

When Ruhollah Khomeini died on June 3, 1989, he bequeathed to his successors a rich and dynamic compendium of highly-charged concepts that were to keep unfolding, reproducing, and reasserting themselves up to the present time. Far from being the sole originator of those concepts, Khomeini in effect proved to be the aggregator, propagator, and articulator, with a high rate of selective assimilation and condensation, of the many concepts which had already become known on the political stage of Iran for the past quarter of a century by such sundry ideologues as Mehdi Bazargan (of the Islamic-nationalist Liberation Movement of Iran), Mahmoud Taleqani (of the Islamic-nationalist Liberation Movement of Iran), Noureddin Kianouri (of the Communist Tudeh Party), Ehsan Tabari (of the Communist Tudeh Party), Morteza Motahari (Islamic thinker and activist), Ahmad Fardid (independent philosopher and theorist), Jalal Al-e Ahmad (independent writer and journalist), Ali Shari’ati (independent thinker and lay preacher)[2], who in turn had adopted their ideas from a wide range of heterogeneous ancient and modern ideational springheads such as Shiism, Sunniism, nationalism, Marxism, Liberalism, Existentialism, and so on.

As Kamrava has argued: “the conservative religious discourse eschews theoretical and doctrinal innovativeness unless doing so is made absolutely necessary by evolving political circumstances” (80). In accordance with this maxim, in a nostalgic feat of the rise of Islamic intellectualism and politicization as a response to the strong emergence of secular politics in the 20th century Iran, the more professedly “Islamist” sector of this motley of lay and clerical thinkers, in a manner appealing to a great portion of both the populace and the intellectuals, through their highly subjective and grossly a-historical utopianism reworked and remolded the idea of Islam in general and Shiism in particular to such a degree that what came out of their forge and passed upon their anvil was dramatically different from what had been known in the course of history as Islam and Shiism[3].

On the one hand, the joint CIA-MI6 coup of 1953 which led to the fall of the moderate nationalist loose coalition led by Mosaddegh, pushed a number of imaginative and influential intellectuals such as Bazargan to put forward the “democratic” Islam as the only option for breaking the Pahlavi status quo and the panacea for the treatment of all the predicaments of the Iranian society. On the other hand, in order not to fall behind the praxis of the Marxists that advocated active struggle against the Pahlavi regime, quite a few factions of the hitherto quietist and generally passive Islamists also adopted an aggressive approach which later, in the face of severe suppression by the regime, led to the rise of militant Islamism in the form of organized armed groups with avowedly Islamic tendencies such as Fadaiyan-e Eslam and the phenomenon of Seyyed Mojtaba Navab Safavi who enjoyed the decided patronage, if not the explicit sanction, of Taleqani on his mission. Thus, contrary to all the slandering of Marxism and Liberalism on the part of the Islamists, especially after the revolution, in the guise of the now hackneyed slogan “Neither East, Nor West!” and the general policy that was implemented through it and followed by the Islamic Republic, they certainly owe their highly revolutionary temperament and also their quasi-claims to democracy, both of which alien to a large extent to the Iranian historical mentality, respectively to Marxism and Liberalism.

When the ground for the possibility of establishing a novel pseudo-Islamic ideology had been laid by such moderate figures as Bazargan and Taleqani[4], the next natural step was to naturalize this ideology among the lay people in order to secure a large following for it. This is the task that purportedly fell to the voluntary lot of a much more militant set of discrete ideologues, the most prominent of whom Al-e Ahmad, Shari’ati, and Khomeini, who with a profound understanding of the psychological peculiarities of the Iranians, and with a rather genuine personal attachment to those psychological quirks for that matter, made every effort to raise (biased?/false?) consciousness among Iranians with regard to their contemporary social, political, and philosophical predicaments.

Once John F. Kennedy, while granting honorary U.S. citizenship to Winston Churchill, said about him, “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” For better or for worse, this fact to a great degree holds true about these latter think tanks that relentlessly pushed Persian language toward eruption in the guise of a violent revolution. Al-e Ahmad’s paradoxically streetwise jeremiads[5], Shari’ati’s down-to-earth grandiloquence, and Khomeini’s confusingly syntax-flouting prelections[6] could all be taken as various instances of subliminal post-modern “jouissance” (Barthes, 1975: 4) discourse. With respect to the Derridean “phonocentric/graphocentric” binary opposition (Derrida, 1976: 11), the dominance of “speech” over “writing” in this trend could also signify the flouting spontaneity and immediacy that was injected into this discourse. These surface manifestations, in turn, were what made Foucault have it all wrong as to the interpretation of the nature of the revolution that this discourse was to produce.[7]

Contrary to the generally centrifugal post-modern discourse, however, what this kind of centripetal discourse, bound and determined to achieve a “positive”, rather than a “negative”, outcome, lacked in a sound, systematic, and non-contradictory philosophy, it made up for with its missionary zeal couched in an overwhelming rhetoric. The level of the use of rhetoric in the discourse of these militant ideologues was so high that they have been many times derisively described by various secular thinkers as “ma’rekeh gir” (wonderworker) and “rozeh khan” (preacher) (Ashouri, 2004: 16). No wonder the manner they chose to convey their message seemed more like “naqqali” (story-telling) and “pardeh-khani” (epic-raconteuring) than social science or philosophical analysis.

While the previously-mentioned more moderate thinkers had struggled to create a palatable ideology, in the modern sense of the word, out of Islam and its newly-acquired foreign attachments by trying to discover or to invent equivalents for the modern concepts of “democracy” and “civil society” and the like in the historical Islam, what these frantic thinkers, by nostalgically foregrounding a utopian past that was not necessarily there on the one hand and by aggrandizing the contemporary historical predicaments to the level of myth and through this advancing a millenarian attitude on the other, aspired to was nothing less than elevating, intensifying, and galvanizing Islam to the level of a rather modern, militantly dichotomizing, phenomenon that I have come to call the “Ideomythology” of the Islamic Republic. It can be said that whereas the moderate thinkers produced the “yellow cake” of the new ideology, the militant thinkers acted as “centrifuges” that twirled and revolved and evolved this ideology to the point of the “critical mass” and then subsequent blast. In the end, however, it was Khomeini’s voice and interpretation of this mythology that set the final tone for the evolution of this ideology which propitiously shaped the contours of the Islamic Revolution and then its natural heir, the Islamic Republic.

Now, that a highly subjective ideomythology could win over a people in the late 20th century as a practical worldview does not come as a surprise if one is aware of the historical psychological peculiarities and predispositions of the Iranians in general. The most important ideas that these ideologues produced in the period of a quarter of a century immediately preceding the revolution is, in my opinion, reducible to five seminal “Ideomyths”, namely the “Ideomyth of the Pure Islam”, the “Ideomyth of the Grassroots”, the “Ideomyth of the Universal Arrogance”, the “Ideomyth of the Absolute Guardian”, and the “Ideomyth of the Islamic Revolution”. To tell the truth, all these latter-day ideomyths, as far-fetched as they might seem in the general premises of the historical epistemology of Iranians at first glance, still prove to be revertible, through a process of interpretation and then augmentation, to a set of familiar fundamental myths of the history of Iran. In other words, it can be claimed that what these thinkers did was the ideological transformation and rejuvenation in modern times of the myths that had been ingrained in the Iranian consciousness since time immemorial.

To understand these ideomyths, it proves useful to have a glance at the most appreciated piece of writing in Persian language, namely Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh. There is a famous episode in the Shahnameh, adopted from more ancient Pahlavi and Avestaic mytho-religious texts in turn, where Ferdowsi relates the story of the fall of Jamshid, the divinely-ordained philosopher-king and the herald of the Golden Age in the mytho-history of Iran, by the hand of the evil Zahhak who then appropriates Jamshid’s rightful and righteous monarchy and starts to harass his subjects and wreak havoc on his realm. Later, Fereydun, the true and legitimate heir of Jamshid’s, in a pseudo-revolution wherein he is partially aided by the people, fights against Zahhak, and after subduing him, reestablishes the line of the rightful kings, and through that the reign of paradise. Now all the elements of that ancient story, which I call the “archetype of the Iranian political epistemology”, are immediately present in the ideomythology of the Islamic Republic, as they were more or less in the mythologies of almost all those who ruled over Iran before it; with the suggestion that the readings of these fundamental ideomyths might differ at different times with regard to “maslehat” (expediency), always a central issue to the politics of the Islamic Republic. It can be stated that these ideomyths now constitute the “leitmotifs” of the Islamic Republic that are to be played before, during, and after each movement by that regime.

Within the premises of this ideomythological system, historical binarisms are worked out to the extreme to bring about a practical effect

Within the premises of this ideomythological system, historical binarisms are worked out to the extreme to bring about a practical effect. For example, in this system, the rather historically-valid “binary opposition” between the East (which in this particular context usually means the Middle East) and the West has been pitched quite a few notes up to produce an ideomythologically iconic binarism of “Good Vs. Evil”, which in effect leads to the legitimacy of those who propagate this ideomythology at the expense of their ideological (or ideomythological) rivals. It can be said that a whole new binaristic or diptych mythological system was created out of a sundry of ancient and new materials to respond to a particular kind of epistemology, or that an ancient epistemology was evoked to sustain a hybrid mythology. Either way, the result has proved to be the same: the myths purport to be the perpetuators of ideology, which means, through them, ideology is promoted to the level of mythology so that it could be perpetuated for practical reasons[8]. When the background and the mindset is already there, you just simply tap on it whenever feeling necessary.

That is why the Islamic Republic, since its inception, has been caught in a vicious circle of crisis creation and crisis management[9] in the guise of extreme polarizations, for the ideomythology that goes into its making squarely thrives on a kind of crisis that is brought about by the upholding and emphasizing of strained extremes. In other words, the Islamic Republic owes its entelechy to a perpetual process of popularly oversimplifying dimidiation and dichotomization – what Schattschneider has called a “mobilization of bias” (1960: 71) – on a divine level; which is what has also gone into the sinews of almost all the contemporary forms of Islamic – including both Shiite and Sunni – fundamentalism/extremism in the region, whether they are ready to admit it or not; for truth is, that kind of ideological dichotomization as the transformation of classical mythology in modern times is definitely the most enduring product of the Islamic Revolution both inside Iran and outside of it in the Middle East, epistemologically speaking.

These ideomyths in effect prove to be abstract myths of continuity with a shifting nature: they sound like Orwell’s “Newspeak” where the “signifiers” are pretty much constant but the “signifieds” could vary in a blink of an eye. That is why they, while maintaining their archetypal significance, could easily change their practical correlatives: the Ideomyth of the Universal Arrogance, for instance, could encompass as wide and diverse a range of individuals, concepts, and political entities as the Shah, Saddam Hussein, Liberalism, Socialism, Zionism, Saudi Arabia, the former Soviet Union, the USA – of course with its natural attachment Israel, the domestic dissenting demonstrators, or all of them if necessary. Also, in this trend, these ideomyths are so interconnected, incorporative, and interactive that any attempt to explain them discretely virtually proves to be impossible, for with reference to the abovementioned Persian archetype, all these factually and originally synthetic theorems strongly presuppose one another in such a manner that they have created an organically interdependent ideomythology in the mindset of many Iranians[10]. The “Zaalem” (tyrant), for example, presupposes the “Javaanmard” (champion) (far from being a “republican” freedom fighter), and the Mostaz’af (plebeian) presupposes a “Rahbar” (patriarch, with implications of patricianism) whose say equals the word of God, which again is rooted in the more general binary opposition of “Hakem/Ra’yat” (Overlord/Subject) (the rather similar, but not identical, subsidiary binary set of Mostaz’af/Taquti (Poor/Rich) actually stems from an appropriated and altered vulgar Marxist terminology). This causative/effective nature of these ideomyths is what bestows upon them some sort of systematicality which renders them viable as functional models of social life, at least with reference to the historical Iranian mindset.

All these attest to the fact that the nature of the revolution that rode the waves of these ideomyths could not have been, contrary to what is usually propagated by many of its opponents and proponents, “democratic”, so to speak, in the first place; neither the claim that it was a “stolen” revolution, made by a number of European news agencies at that time, could be substantiated. Truth is, what happened in Iran in 1979 was a “quasi-revolution”, or, to put it in more accurate wording, a “massive coup d’état” to bring down the then illegitimated Shah and then to replace him with the legitimate, divinely-ordained Khomeini, and through him to restore what was believed to be the “Golden Age” of Islam; i.e., it was more of an attempt to “restore” the a-temporally subjective utopian “Ancien Regime” than to seek for a totally new order with its dramatically different epistemological, political, and social implications. That cycle purportedly owes its existence to what Eliade calls the “Myth of the Eternal Return” (1959), which is based on “apperception”: the comprehension and assimilation of new ideas in terms of previous experiences or perceptions.

Accordingly, the majority of the populace – and the intellectuals, for that matter – who initially embraced this revolution were responding to their subconscious psychological drives for the realization and (wish)fulfillment of that very archetype which subliminally pushed them, whether they were of religious, nationalist, leftist, or any other persuasions, to work in tandem to bring it about. That is why in the heat of and immediately after the revolution, the National Front’s Bani Sadr stoops to kiss Khomeini’s hand, the Liberation Movement’s Bazargan receives his premiership portfolio from him with a fallen head while calling him Emam, and Kianouri of the Tudeh (Masses) Party feels no compunction about having the people eye Khomeini’s silhouette in the moon. Again, that is why all pretention to liberalism, socialism, and women’s rights is immediately shed and the last vestiges of them are washed down the bloody gutter of the revolution as soon as the native streak, already embodied and inherent in that movement, finds an opportunity for blooming and full expression. In other words, what was bound to come was what many of those who participated in bringing it about sincerely welcomed, only to gradually repudiate it, and in turn to be repudiated by it, in accordance with an old Persian political model[11], after the consolidation of the revolution.

Now, ironically, it is against this decidedly entrenched backdrop of ideomythological monologism and monophony that the so-called Reformist branch of the Islamic Republic, with the vain wish of dismantling the “nuisances” of the present regime while preserving its overall structure, has lamely and halfheartedly been attempting to foreground the polyphonous and pluralistic concepts of “democracy” and “civil society”; the process which has more contributed to the general reversal rather than the advancement of the cause of the “public sphere” in Iran during the past one and half decades. With regard to the “vertical”, dichotomizing ideomythology that lies in the heart of the Islamic Republic, which demonizes even the “notion” of any “Other” right from the start and jumps to eliminate it at first sight, the “horizontal”, liberal democratic concepts of “dialogue” and “public sphere”, advocated by modern philosophers of reason and enlightenment such as Popper[12] and Habermas[13], finding distorted, contradictorily fallacious, expression(s) in the incrementalist pseudo-philosophical doctrines of the intra-state “Reformist” theosophists[14] such as Abdolkarim Soroush and Mohammad Khatami, essentially stand at odds with and run counter to the nature and the function of the Islamic Republic, and thus, though maintaining their relative benefits in general, are highly unlikely as a “methodology” and an “expediency” respectively to find a fair chance – as they have already missed that chance, if they ever had it – to bring about any substantial change to the present adamantly “monologic” political structure of Iran.

As almost all the cards are on the table now and the rest will be dropping down from up the sleeves sooner or later, one could read the writing on the wall that forebodes the end of the petrifaction of the Islamic Republic, as the upholder of such an ideomythology, is least likely to come through a “White Revolution”, a Perestroika, a process of top-down sweeping reforms after which the happy Reformists could go hand-in-hand with the welcoming public to pre-election junkets and pretzel parties[15]. Having the benefit of hindsight, it is now easy to see how the ideomyths of the Islamic Republic unfolded themselves and came full circle, exactly as they would have in mythology and in history. After all, the very mythological Jamshid was toppled because he was illegitimated as an element of the mythology in whose creation he himself had reportedly invested a great deal of industry and devotion.

Bibliography:

Ashouri, Dariush (1383/2004). The Myth of Philosophy among Us: A Review of Ahmad Fardid and the Theory of Westoxification. [WWW] available at
http://nilgoon.org/archive/ashouri/…/Fardid-TNR-final_March28_2004_v06.pdf

Barthes, Roland (1975). The Pleasure of the Text. New York: Hill & Wang.

Derrida, Jacques (1976). Of Grammatology. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Eliade, Mircea (1959). Cosmos and History: The Myth of the Eternal Return. New York: Harper Torchbooks.

Kamrava, Mehran (2008). Iran’s Intellectual Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schattschneider, E. E. (1960). The Semi-Sovereign People. New York.


[1] For example, see Hamilton, Edith (1969). Mythology. New York: Mentor Books., or Morford, Mark P. O., Lenardon, Robert J. (2003). Classical Mythology. Oxford University Press: London & New York.

[2] Mohammad Mosaddegh (1882-1967), the formidable founder of the National Front, though the staunchest advocate of the ideals of democracy and independence, and despite his undeniable influence on all the above-mentioned thinkers, cannot be counted among them, for the obvious reason that his treatment of these ideals proved to be more in a socially and politically pragmatic vein than in a strictly ideological manner.

[3] For a rather comprehensive account of historical Shiism in English, see Nasr, Seyyed Hossein, Nasr, Seyyed Vali Reza, Dabashi, Hamid (1989). Expectation of the Millennium: Shi’ism in History. New York: State University of New York Press. See also Tabatabai, Mohammad Hossein (1975). Shiite Islam. Trans. and Ed. Hossein Nasr. New York: State University of New York Press.

[4] For example, see Bazargan, Mehdi, et al. (1341/1962). An Argument on Marja’iyat and Ruhaniyat. Tehran: Anjoman-e Ketab.

[5] For example, see Al-e Ahmad, Jalal (1344/1965). Qarbzadegi (Westoxication). Tehran: Ravaq Publications. And — (1357/1978). Dar Khedmat va Khiyanat-e Roshanfekran (On the Service and Treason of Intellectuals). Tehran: Kharazmi Publications.

[6] See Khomeini, Ruhollah (1378/1999). Sahifeh-ye Emam Khomeini: Majmu’e Asar-e Emam Khomeini (The Epistle of Emam Khomeini: The Complete Works of Emam Khomeini). Tehran: The Center for Organization and Publication of the Works of Emam Khomeini.

[7] See Afary, Janet, Anderson, Kevin B. (2005). Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

[8] See Zizek, Slavoj (2008). The Sublime Object of Ideology. London: Verso.

[9] See Panah, Maryam (2007). The Islamic Republic and the World: Global Dimensions of the Iranian Revolution. London: Pluto Press.

[10] For a cogent instance of the structural study of myths, see Levi-Strauss, Claude (1963). “The Structural Study of Myth”. Available in Structure and Dialectics. Suffolk: Basic Books.

[11] See Katouzian, Homa (1372/1993). Autocracy, Democracy, and the Nationalist Movement in Iran. Tehran: Markaz Publications.

[12] See Popper, Karl R. (1966). The Open Society and Its Enemies. London: Routledge.

[13] See Habermas, Jürgen (1989). The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

[14] In reminiscence, the secular Iranian thinker and philosopher, Aramesh Doustdar, with respect to the generally unscientific practice of the main theoretician of the Reformist Movement, Abdolkarim Soroush, has dubbed him “rozeh khan-e elmi” (scientific pulpiteer). See Doustdar, Aramesh (1375/1996). Renewing Ignorance for the Renovating Ignorance. In Cheshmandaz No 17, p 73. [WWW] available at http://www.nilgoon.org/archive/aramechdustdar/index.html

[15] Interestingly, it is with reference to this very fact that Alireza Nourizadeh, the well-known Iranian journalist-in-exile, has coined the catchphrase “Hot Summer”, with obvious hints at the inevitability of popular protest to the regime, to describe the coming summer of 2011.

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۱ Comment

  1. 1

    “…the dominance of “speech” over “writing” in this trend could also signify the flouting spontaneity and immediacy that was injected into this discourse. These surface manifestations, in turn, were what made Foucault have it all wrong as to the interpretation of the nature of the revolution that this discourse was to produce.”

    Yeah, the same technique was also applied by Hitler, Mussolini and the Likes. Fiery speech that aims to titillate the shallow populace and hypnotize them into a certain direction. Sounds like trite but it did work for anti-heroes in our intellectually bankrupt society.

    Foucault is unusually biased in his reports about a place he calls “The Spirit of a World Without Spirit”. I have heard that he later retracted his former claims when the news of mass murdering of the dissidents spread worldwide. But that still sounds too weird for a renowned philosopher of such high status to be so childishly misled in assessment of the new regime.

    “The level of the use of rhetoric in the discourse of these militant ideologues was so high that they have been many times derisively described by various secular thinkers as “ma’rekeh gir” (wonderworker) and “rozeh khan” (preacher) (Ashouri, 2004: 16)”

    Haha, yeah. They have turned into units of rhetoric! Whenever someone starts ranting mischievously others say “Bala menbar naro!”, it’s become a banter 🙂

    About the role of earlier authors who set the way for ideologues to implement their ideas, you didn’t mention the name of Ahmad Kasravi Tabrizi. I think Kasravi at least influenced Shariati to a certain degree and his ideas, though of a completely different stock, did initiate justification of violence in the name of ideology and utopian society. Don’t get me wrong here, I have a deep respect for Kasravi, regarding him as one of the true scientists in the realm of Linguistics and a person of genuine concern for improvement of his society, but facts are facts anyway.

    About your idea that “the potential for being fooled” was rooted in Persian mythology, it is very much correct. Not only was it rooted in Persian mythology but also in religious accounts of Imam Hussein fighting the evil Yazid and similar stories that are the base for annual mourning festivals round the country and in the whole shia-sphere also. Our people are very much tuned for thinking in binary terms. They don’t go beyond Boolean logic, that’s why they are easily the subjects of manipulation and exploitation by anti-heroes like Khomeini. Even in the so-called revolution Musavi’s words are sometimes elevated to the level of gospel. The same is self-evidently applied to members of Basij militia who say “Hezb faqat hezbe Ali, Rahbar faqat seyyed ALi”. Have you ever noticed the frequency of the word “Doshman” (enemy) in Khamenei’s speeches? That’s not unrelated to the point you are making. Polarizing and equalizing contemporary figures to their counterparts in religious history. Khamenei becomes Ali or Hussein, and green guys become thugs of Yazid.

    Good article, keep up the good job!