- In a series of posts, we ask why have the Iranian diasporas failed to face and struggle with the ruthless Islamic Theocracy. In 2019, the theocracy is shaken but still firmly in place. The Islamic Republic is irrigated with these bloods, our bloods.
The Stagnating and Corrupt Economy of Resistance
In forty years, the regime has been incapable of creating favourable conditions for economic innovation, distributing wealth from the rich to the poor, or transforming the economy based on the sole revenues from crude oil.
An eminent nepotist class, close to the clerics, holds nearly 70% of the wealth while the IRGC and the religious institutions control the lucrative sectors of the economy.
The national statistics are a jumble of data made to fit the political discourse and updated in such a way that Ali Khamenei can periodically boast self-sufficiency in all economic sectors: There is no problem in Iran that cannot find a solution.
Then the mob applauds, echoes Khamenei’s statement in organised street rallies, and chants Yes/Labeik to the Leader.
How can one discuss the economy when the data on enterprises’ balance sheets, public and private, the murky financial status of Islamic charitable foundations, subsidies, and capital flows are flawed, opaque, even deliberately camouflaged?
It cannot be done.
Unless, one still believes in the lies H. Rouhani said in Word Economic Forum (Davos, Switzerland, 2014): Iran has the potential to be one of the world’s 10 largest economies within the next three decades.
Wise persons did not believe him, but the WEF audience was too polite, or more like it, unprincipled, to admit to the lack of veracity and integrity of the man. Rouhani heads a system oiled with cowardice, improvisation and self-contradictory decisions in a volatile cocktail of capitalism, populism, pragmatism and corruption completed and served with fancy Islamic preaching and bullets for protesters.
Moreover, consumerism and crass materialism are fed by a vast network of informal or underground economy, operated by traffickers, calling themselves Seyed, reading the Koran in public, but organising private sleaze parties with their accompanying orgies. They unashamedly exploit Kulbaran, poorly employed to carry goods on their back across the borders, risking their life for a pittance.
As the regime asserts itself as a regional power, the Iranian population under duress pays the price for their reactionary ideology and colonialism megalomania in the Middle-East. Presently, about 80% per cent of the population live with subsidies and handouts, and 40% are well below the poverty line. Farmers have left their lands under environmental pressures. Intensive cultivation and water shortage have turned arable lands to barren plots.
Faced with pressures from the war’s destruction, growing population, pollution, earthquakes and flooding, and unable to solve even a single socioeconomic problem, the regime has used the easy way out: domestic repression and animosity. A model of violence that they have tried to export to Iraq, soon after the USA ducked out, destroyed the country, and let Daesh grow. However, the Iraqis have found their pride in a new born nationalism that encompasses the religious divides. Too annoying for Tehran.
If the Kleptomaniac Islamic gang that rules in Iran cared for the population’s welfare, they had decades to come up with consensual projects. They have no talent, skill, or proficiency in compromise, a notion far from their wretched ideology.
Internally, reckless decisions and inner fraudulence have done more long term damage to the economic sectors and social fabrics than any action undertaken by the Great Satan, i.e. USA.
The clerics don’t care what damage is done to the country as long as they believe their enemy suffers devastation. The politics of resentment are far worse than pointless. In this, the American Fruitcake, in his infinitely “great and unmatched wisdom”, competes with them. Donald Trump’s withdrawal from JCPOA, is a nonpareil and a prodigious gift from Washington to Tehran. The President of the United States has solemnly proven the veracity of Khamenei’s motto: The USA cannot be trusted.
The JCPOA issues have become the backdrop to an international scene in which the Iranian regime, paradoxically, despite its heavy bloody past and deceits, is the artful actor playing opposite a bullying and erratic US president and its dysfunctional administration.
The arm-twisting between Tehran and Washington is for now a game of words. But, who would first kindle the match near the barrel of powder remains to be seen. Would the Iranian population follow the Supreme Guide, another loathsome fruitcake, in an additional episode of دفاع مقدس / Holy Defence? Would they acquiesce once more to burying their children as martyrs for the Glory of the Revolution? Or would a civil war in the making be the alternative tragedy?
Leave the Country!
When the desperate Iranian cannot believe any more in the smallest change in the country’s affairs, or even fails to consider the vision of an alternative political system, migration is the solution. The flow of the Iranian migrants in the last twenty years has not stopped. Since 2011, they have been among the thousands fleeing from Syria and Iraq territories; seeking refuge in Europe in their company and dying in the Mediterranean waters with them.
The lack of social freedom and alternative sources of information, the abundance of interdicts, and the growing desperation and hopelessness of the young people correlate to the soaring curves of inflation and unemployment.
Distress has shrouded the zest and perverted the ambitions of the young population. Years of propaganda and religious theatricality have kept the population ill informed and deeply divided.
Fearful of the consequences of expressing one’s mind and getting old in a hand-to-mouth existence, with an eagerness to be free from religious interdicts, the cult of martyrdom, black hijab, lies and corruption, the Iranians emigrate to seek a better life.
Hundreds of rallies, sittings and petitions demanding unpaid wages to be paid, workers to be protected, and other social ills to be healed are responded to by the theocratic regime with waves of repression and unprecedented prison sentences. All are signs of the regime’s failure, a gross dereliction of duty by the wolves we choose to lead us in 1979.
But, as yet, there is not a single flame to kindle a process by which the regime, a male-dominated Shiite Republic devoid of the foundations of a democratic republic and drained of spiritual, moral, and ecumenical foundations of an independent state, can be safely toppled and disposed of.
We are still prone to repeat endless times, سبحان الله, praise to Allah, الحمدالله, thanks to Allah, and انشاءالله, Allah willing. Then we wait for something to happen. A collective action to oust a system which calls the Leader the representative of Allah on earth is beyond our will.
The prevailing feeling is: there is nothing that one could do to change things. We are just watching personal projects ruined by the interdicts. The Leader does not even pretend to listen to anything other than what he wants to hear. We don’t feel safe and there is no prospect of earning an honest livelihood.
But, and this is a highlighted but, coming forward and clearly, in one voice, telling the Supreme Guide to piss off – I am deliberately using the word – is not the way of doing in Iran.
Collectively, we have no idea how to replace a kleptomaniac dictatorship. Death to the Leader has not been followed by a positive Viva…
Maddening as it is, in stifling the aspirations and killing the germ of new ideas, we are all responsible, as base personal rows and fractional disputes take over expanding shared politics.
After rejecting the regime, we have not taken the next step, in concocting a collective, realistic vision. We have wasted forty years and many opportunities. Therefore, those of us who can, leave the unpleasantness and cruelty behind to settle somewhere that the authorities protect the civil rights, or at least leave citizens in peace.
And we take our weaknesses, social flaws and pretentious feelings with us. The very same inadequacies that have let the theocracy thrive and will encourage another dictator in new clothing to materialise.