Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The existential angst

Sorry, Opip, to have kept you waiting and thanks for the word. The prospect of another move shortly-- from one side of a continent to the extreme other--has me feeling rather flummoxed. :-))

In the last post, I tried to give a feel--as concretely as I could-- for the precarious state of the ruling class on the domestic front given the existing cultural proclivities evident today and the conundrum they find themselves in due to the populace’s ever escalating insatiable expectations.

Now we should factor in the experience of these murderous creatures as byproducts of our revolutionary upheaval.

This latter is another factor observers overlook when dealing with the rhetoric of this generation in power.

Remember that in the West, or in some of the other more stable countries elsewhere, one approaches the rhetoric of politicians from a vantage point of the electoral politics. In other words, one normally asks if some message is aimed at a particular constituency within the polity in order to woe or distract them depending on the agenda of the moment.

But this is not the precise way the leading members of the Iranian regime approach words. Words and deeds, in the Iranian context, are mediated a bit more pronouncedly by that very “real” state of existential angst.

One day, some years ago, they were in the seminaries or driving a taxi or minding some grocery store watching the King feel on top of the world with his generals and assorted sycophant while our ever oblivious leading citizens monopolized the land and factories and were busy with their preposterous self aggrandizing pomp and the next day, these very same taxi drivers and shopkeepers and isolated theologians were riding high and leading millions in a war on many different battle fronts and trying to decide what to do with all the confiscated lands, factories or firms.

These creatures are astutely aware of radical possibilities. The world literally turned upside down, or downside up depending on one’s perspective in a blink. And they are highly attentive to how fortunes can wax or wane depending on how quickly one responds to opportunities.

Yes, they haven’t been the most sober minded rulers and they are mostly responsible for the degenerate state of the country because of their cynicism, ruthlessness and treachery. But for this mess that is Iran—such as it appears today—they’ve had to fight tooth and nail.

Remember that these people, whether we like it or not, were once very popular and yet, not all their domestic support could save them from being attacked by another petty tyrant fully backed by some other band of thugs. And the first few years, they also had to fight for their lives on multiple domestic fronts.

There were ethnic insurgencies among the Kurds, Turkmen and the Baluchis and, of course, those pitched battles fought against the Communists and the Mujahedin which took a heavy toll on the society in general—by some estimates close to 100,000.

And the citizens they’ve had to contend with over the years haven’t been quite the most cooperative or docile imaginable, you know. Just look at the traffic. As hard as they try, they can’t even get the people to observe traffic regulations. You can imagine how frustrated they must feel by now about some of their other plans or initiatives.

In other words, as Iranians they start with that perennial state of siege mentality to begin with. As shi’ias they have a very real persecution complex to contend with. And as a ruling class, their very existence has been under assault for as long as they remember.

And for all the babble about/from the “civilized” community of nations, Iranians generally well remember how tens of thousand were gassed to death and many thousands are still suffering with boils and welts without much protest or acknowledgment.

To this day, the likes of Karen Hughes can’t be brought to admit to the insanity publicly even at the risk of sounding ignorant about Arab history, and sadly, even our illustrious expert won’t bother to set the record straight due probably to the distractions of another one of his many pissing contests.

And the opposition’s charges of cluelessness notwithstanding, the ruling class attentively follows all the debates about the new American nuclear posture and probably senses the very frightening prospect of being nuked to smithereens—in all likelihood again without expecting much of a protest from the “civilized” contingents in our midst.

Now add to the equation the ceaseless threats emanating from Israel. We have here Mr. Sharon’s repeated warnings, on top of those bombs and the planes, and even more threats that , you should rest assured, are being taken very seriously.

Again, it’s either act now by serving notice that two can play this game or watch it spiral out of control to their detriment. It seems to me that now might have been as good a time as any to make a move.

But could they really be ready for some of the consequences of their ratcheted up rhetoric? What could their plan be?

More later! Hopefully soon.

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