Freitag, Mai 12, 2006

So I'm a lousy blogger...

Reality intrudes more than I'd like, sometimes. :-)

I'll just put a short comment here for thought. These are based on a number of blog and other articles over the last several years: a hat tip to all those willing to look at this without descending into the usual Marxist absurdities in dealing with these developments.

Iran has been, since the "revolution", an incipient fascist state. Why fascist? Fascist governments show several attributes that remain in common after you remove all the disparities. This is true for Germany, for Italy, for Japan in the 1930s, and now for Iran. Syria is also a candidate, but I know too little about Syria to say for sure.

Fascism isn't so much an ideology as much more a method of taking, keeping and extending political power. Ideologies like communism have a canon, a bible as it were, that true believers can refer to in order to convert the unbelievers or to discipline the rest. Fascism doesn't really have such a canon - sure, there are books about fascism, but there's no book that really establishes fascism, not even "Mein Kampf", which is less a book about fascism and its supposed virtues as much more a personal tirade, an example of the political pamphlet in best agitprop tradition.

Fascism is based on resentment, a population with a feeling of impotence and betrayal, with racial and societal overtones. By deliberately and carefully exploiting these feelings and by either creating or using an existing external bogeyman to concretize these generally vague public sentiments, fascists recreate a feeling of superiority, overcompensating the feelings of inferiority (justified or not), using carefully constructed agitation and control over opinion makers in order to shape public opinions to the point where they are no longer mere opinions, but gain the quality of belief. To do this you need trained orators and agitators, an intimate knowledge of the society involved, and convenient targets that either can't or don't hit back until it's too late.

Why is Iran, to date, been merely an "incipient" fascist state? Because there hasn't been a point where the fascists there have felt the need to openly act as such. One of the development principles of fascist parties is to hide their true aims and goals until they have achieved power, since those arrayed against them shouldn't be given any opportunity to enlarve them.

But now, with Iran's basically open commitment to acquiring nuclear weapons, the time has come that the government of Iran shows its true nature.

They have established what is fundamentally a religious fascism, using less the racial playing card and much more the religious one. Fundamentally the view there is that unless you are a Shi'ite, you are less than human, deserving of no considerations that you would give your fellow man. This fulfills one of the first tenets for fascism: the "we are superior" factor. The bogeyman, the external enemy (this includes those living inside the country: Jews were externalized within their own community), is of course the Little and the Big Satan, the US and Israel, with strong antisemitic underscores lifted directly from old German and Russian antisemitic agitprop. The political savior, the patriarchical, principled leader that will thrash the enemy and restore the country to its rightful place, is of course the current Iranian president. Control of society to "save" it from unhealthy, corrupting influences, is already in place in Iran and weighs as a heavy hand upon the populace.

Understanding this helps to understand why the Iranian President writes the letters he does and why he does the things he does. Nothing is not calculated: the letter served multiple purposes, not the least of which is the offering of accepting submission before the attack that appears to be a precept of Islamist expansion. The letter serves notice: it will appear for many to be the sweet voice of reason; it places the blame for all problems clearly on the external enemies of Iran for both domestic and international sympathy; to respond to it means acceptance of the game rules of who is to blame and not, while not responding at all means that you've ignored what appears to be a rational offering of dialogue; and finally it is a carefully calculated insult.

I don't, unfortunately, have the time to get into the letter and properly fisk it (and it deserves one).

Suffice to say that in the late 1930s the fascist countries united and presented the western world with one bluff after another to gain political prestige and power, which led them to believe that western countries had no backbone and were unwilling to defend themselves (which fit into their belief structure of rejection of western values as being corrupt and incapable of meeting modern international challenges). This is the same situation we are facing today with Iran: you have people in Iran that are dedicated to the re-establishment of the Persian empire within the framework of a Shi'ite theocracy. You have thugs on the street in Iran ensuring that people "behave"; you have complete and total control of all aspects of government within a facade of democracy (controlling who can be a candidate is the Iranian method here); you have an evangelical leader who knows how to use the "bully pulpit"; you have an expansionist agenda (the Iranian interference in Iranian and Afghanistan affairs is rampant and expansionary); you have increasing militaristic tendencies (the Iranians came out recently with an entire group of "wonder weapons") and a policy of using salami tactics to slowly whittle away the options and alternatives of any opposition.

It's a very, very dangerous game, since their goal is to achieve checkmate (chess being, of course, a Persian passion) without allowign the opponent to get his pieces into play. It's a dangerous illusion, since it purports two equal opponents in the game, which is not the case. It has the potential of exactly the same results of the Axis before WW2: pushing smaller countries and percieved weaker opponents around until war becomes at the end of the day the only option.

A very, very dangerous game.

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