Picture (modified): František Kupka, 1871 – 1957
The Core Tenets of an Abyssal Cleavage
A quote from the unavoidable Voltaire reads: La politique a sa source dans la perversité plus que dans la grandeur de l’esprit humain.
(Politics has its source in the perversity more than in the greatness of the human spirit.) In the Iranian politics, neither the rulers nor those who flee their ruthless rule can escape from the logic of this elegant phrase. In the diasporic groups, the broken bones of the Iranian society do not knit together. A naively optimistic soul would assume that having to endure shared hardship would trigger the sense of solidarity to fight back against the evil in unison and in union, thus creating a collective identity. Acting in unison and reinforcing union are anathemas to the Iranians. They stick to their skin abroad. Abyssal cleavages and divisions are the appropriate phrases to describe the Iranian diasporas and their fragmented Iranian identities. Psycho rigidity, parochial infighting and callous social relationship fuel perversion, and leave no room to express the greatness of the human spirit with the generosity that heals and the comfort that collective solidarity brings. In Iran, a close-knit group of nepotists pursuing personal gains and clanistic interests enforces its rule using oppression and baksheesh to hold a corrupt society together. If the Revolutionary Tribunals still operate in the proceedings of the regime vs people after forty years of barbarian injustice, they have also served the population for charging and demoting their relatives, friends and neighbours for immediate advantages and favours from the regime. Petty fraud, deceit and domestic violence rarely hit the headlines or are subject to an editorial analysis. The powers of a collective voice and actions are beyond the reach of the Iranian culture, despite being asserted by the Iranian diasporas in public. In practice, the Iranian culture confers a free rein to scepticism and mistrust among the Iranians themselves.
Unyielding Faith in A Personal Perception of Iran
Since 1979 and the beginning of the Shiite theocracy rule, the expressions of the Iranian identity inside and outside Iran have taken divergent paths. The Iranian diasporas have worn different glasses to look back at their homeland and describe it. Their personal experience has become the core tenet of abyssal cleavages that tear apart the diasporas and is only based on an unyielding faith in one’s personal perception. The first wave of emigrants, mostly from mature families living in Tehran, fabricated and adhered to an over-praised pre-revolution era. This was partially in line with the propagandist narration of the pre-Islamic history as propagated under the last Shah. In their eyes, the Arab invasion and conversion to Islam were parentheses, and their traces must be removed from the past 1400 years of Iranian history. A senseless endeavour similar to trying to separate sand from concrete slabs. The second wave of emigrants was formed by a younger generation. They had backed the revolution, but were rejected by it and had fled. They were ambivalent in their feelings toward the theocracy’s growing power, and despised by the monarchists as traitors, but were still warm from their revolutionary activities. They could not admit to the bitter taste of failure. Borderline paranoiacs, they could not explain the revolution’s fiasco, except by a declaration followed by convoluted theories: The revolution was betrayed by … Their puny arguments did not make much sense, since the culprits could be any name from the far-right to the far-left, an international superpower, or any international strategists known to them. Naturally, they could not stomach the first wave of migrants whom they had fought against. The third wave was formed from infants at the time of the Shah’s regime, and almost teenagers in 1978-79. They faced the violence of the Islamic interdicts, which were increasingly oppressive as the social upheavals continued. Their parents could not understand the deviances and guide them. Filled with the tales of the pre-revolution era, they needed to cling to what had constituted “normality” at that time. As schooling went haywire to conform to the Islamic dictates, they were encouraged by the teachers to spy on their parents and report back what was not conforming to the ideals of an Islamic society at home (owning and playing records and VHS tapes of Western music and films, alcoholic beverages and possessing musical instruments). In the back of their mind, they wanted to be left in peace, tired as they were from the ongoing revolution, the chaos from the Iran–Iraq war and the cult of the martyrdom. They left Iran, legally or illegally, pushed by their parents fearing for their safety if they stayed. The yarns and stories from times past in Iran were hidden behind the enthusiasm, but also the fear, that new discoveries in the West created in them. Ambivalent in their feelings toward the West and Iran, they became the front runners of an “apolitical” mood. They would avoid discussing politics and religion unless they could obfuscate the issue or elude the question. In the last two decades, the fourth wave of immigrants has been schooled by the iron fist propaganda in nationalist Islamic curricula. Overprotected by their parents from the Islamisation and a growingly violent society, for them cheating the system had become a matter of fact, and leaving Iran for the prospect of a better life part of their projects. This generation of migrants has been accompanied with the extension of the World Wide Web, social media and mobile phones. The Iranian Generation Z was born, and has created its own codes. It rejects the Islamic values, but with little or no anchor to the past, they squabble on the Iranian traditions they personally deem worthy of attention. For them, social media has created international channels of virtual links, but if the ties do not exist in the physical world, the virtual links fall short of mutual understanding.