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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le chaud et le froid

by Maurice Ulrich

Breathing Hot and Cold

Translated Friday 19 June 2009, by Henry Crapo

Is Iran condemned to a perpetual dictatorship of the mollahs, and to radical religious conservatism?

Certainly not, for otherwise is would be a hopeless situation. Inversely, must we expect, as a result of the today’s tensions, radical changes traced over the wishes of western powers? Certainly not, for though there was certainly electoral fraud, it’s no time for angelism, and this question cannot hide another reality, more profound and therefore more durable.
That is, the support for the president afforded by the disinherited poor and the rural populations, in a land in deep economic crisis. The experts emphasize this, since they are more prudently aware of the evidence than those who seem tempted to instumentalize the Iranian masses in the service of geopolitical interests that are not those of the people. This is no service to render them.

Yesterday the Iranian president attended the summit meeting of the Shanghai Organization for Cooperation, which brings together Russia, China, and four countries of central Asia. He seized the occasion to pose as champion of the anti-imperialist struggle, affirming that "the international capitalist system is in retreat." We understand the maneuver. Opponents of the regime will be none other than lackies of the West, this being the most obvious way to discredit them. As for the capitalism in retreat, it is certainly not the case in Iran, where inequalities have deepened with an increase in poverty over a period of many years and, on the other hand, riches have increased, following hand in hand with a chain of privatizations. In 2005, arriving in power, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had certainly some rough criticisms to make concerning the private banks, among other institutions, and this assured him a certain level of popular support. But the fact is that these speeches were not followed by actions, and the big capitalist groups in Iran are faring very well, all the while making use of public funds.

The Iranian president wants very much to pose as opponent of the American and western powers. In this, he intends even to rely on support from China and Russia. But progressive opinion in the world will surely commit an error of misunderstanding of historical proportions if they give him credit, if they follow him in this strange fantasy. With the exception of the economic situation therefore, don’t try to make Iran a champion of social justice. We know the situation of women, of the sharia, of the constant pressure exerted on the freedoms, aspirations and loves of the youth. This youth just as it is, in part, in the streets. A part of the youth, because we know so little of a deeper Iran, but it is still true that today in Iran there are more than two million three hundred students. That the women, albeit veiled, are often university graduates, that scientists are often trained within the country and are Iranian, which explains, moreover, a certain national pride concerning their nuclear research.

The repression these recent days may well give way to new revolts, of larger mobilizations. They can also silence them, for a time, and you have to be clever indeed to forecast what will happen in days to come. But one thing is sure, no repression can come to terms with the realities of a modern nation, one that aspires to another way of life, which wishes to re-appropriate a culture that has nothing to do with the sinister dictates of religious leaders who denature their own religion. The country is in motion. If the West is of two tongues, mouths breathing hot and cold, it is playing a dangerous game. If there are those in the world who want to seize the present occasion to destabilize the country and the region, they will be none other than pyromaniacs of dramatic proportions.

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