Azmi Bishara examines the causes and ramifications of post-election unrest in Iran
I Posted the Arabic version of this comment on June 20.
"Iran does not just have an authoritarian system of government, it has a totalitarian one. It is powerful, highly centralised, with sophisticated administrative and control systems, and it applies an ideology that claims to have answers for everything and that seeks to permeate all aspects of life. Instead of a political party and youth organisations, it relies on mass organisations, such as the Basij, that blend security with ideology and even with the benefit of broad sectors of the populace. It also depends on a broad and well-organised network of mullahs and on a politicised security agency and Revolutionary Guard. However, it differs from other totalitarian systems in two definitive ways.
Firstly, no other totalitarian system has incorporated such a high degree constitutionally codified democratic competition in the ruling order and in its ideology.....
The second difference between Iranian totalitarianism and other totalitarian systems is that the official ideology that permeates institutions of government, the public sphere and the educational and other formative systems as the primary definer of identity and shaper of moral and ethical conduct is a real religion embraced by the vast majority of the people.....
The Iranian regime will survive the current crisis using the instruments mentioned earlier. However, it will have to address an important question. Will it heed the lessons from this experience, seize the reform banners from the corrupt and ally with the reformist left against the pseudo reformist right? Or will it rely on repression alone, justifying this on the grounds of Western meddling? The last option is a recipe for future and, perhaps, more intense and tragic turmoil. "