June 25, 2009

Age of Ahmadinejad

Few days before the election, I met an old friend. As an educated man with a sense of humor, and as a father of two young babies, he made a nice point regarding Ahmadinejad: “when your boy is peeing, don’t stop him. Let him complete his task.”

Ahmadinejad, Miracle of the Third Millennium [1], was a new phenomenon in Iran’s modern politics. As a demagogue, he is capable of convincing ordinary people not linked to intellectuals. This point could be easily observed in the results of the presidential election. Ahmadinejad barely had the support of intelligentsia, the educated people and experts. Rather, his main constituency was composed of rural, suburban and less-educated voters to whose tables were brought some of the oil revenues. Frequent visits he paid to provinces and the huge amount of cash his administration distributed among people were more than enough to convince ordinary people that he would be the one.

Considering pre-election events and official results, one can easily find out that there is a wide gap between experts and masses in today Iran. Lots of voters didn’t pay a minimum attention to the expert’s ideas and this led to the overwhelming victory of Ahmadinejad [2]. This might be a classic example of populist figures winning an election.

Let’s consider some of the examples of the gap between experts’ ideas and those of ordinary people.

In the term of economy, a better part of his supporters fail to understand that Ahmadinejad “is robbing our future to pay us.” With regards to oil income, most of the economists believed that we should follow the example set by Norway, i.e. turning oil revenues into a sustainable capital. (Many Arab countries followed that path.) Ahmadinejad, however, decided to share the cash with the people. It should be noted that, for instance, 50$ donated by the government means a lot to a simple farmer in a far-located village of Iran. However, this farmer can’t understand that deferring his gratification can lead to a more stable (and perhaps larger) source of income. (This is, again, a classic example of a traditional society compared to a modern one. [3])

In the term of politics, his fans can hardly realize long-term consequences of his policies. For example, many political analysts believe that “Ahmadinejad is the kind of enemy Israel likes to hate” [4] for he makes it possible for Israeli officials to justify some of their extreme acts. (As an instance, Israel publicly confessed to having nukes just few years ago for she thought she could justify it, at least partly, referring to Ahmadinejad’s policies and positions he publicly made.) However, many of the hardliners only support him as a symbol of resistance against Zionist regime and international imperialism.

In my opinion, Iran is experiencing populism, full scale. An important feature of this atmosphere reveals itself in paying no attention to the experts and intelligentsia. However, after a while, long-term consequences of populism will be made clear to masses and they will turn again to elites.

Societies usually need to experience populism. This is an almost inevitable part of democratization enterprise. And Iran is no exception to the rule.

Before the election, I used to think that the people were not still ready to swear by expert bodies for they were yet to realize long-term consequences of populism. I’m personally happy that Ahmadinejad won the election. It costs us a lot, true. In my opinion, however, better to experience it once and forever. Better to let Ahmadinejad complete his task.

[1] A term used by a hardliner fan of Ahmadinejad, wife of his spokesman.
[2] In my opinion, even though there are some indications of limited fraud, Ahmadinejad won the election.
[3] Communication for Development in the Third World, chapter 3.
[4] A France24 commentator once used this phrase.


oasis said...


agar in neveshtehatoon zeir neveise
farsi dasht kheili khoob bood :D

مهتاب نامه said...

ممنونم از حضورتون
گاهی دلم برای مهتاب نامه ها تنگ می شود سری می زنم و دوباره می خوانم
دوستش داشتم و دارم
بعد خوبی از وجودم بود
راستش این که یک وبلاگ دیگر هم دارم با این نشانی
که گذاشتم
ولی بیشتر هذیان هایم را می نویسم
به لطافت مهتاب نامه ها نیست
نشانی ایمل هم در همان وبلاگ است
دوباره ممنون از لطف شما

ebrahim said...

سلام به حاج آقای فیلسوف خودمون

آهسته آهسته به روز بعثتش نزديك مي‌شويم
او مبعوث شد براي ما
و شما دعوت شده‌ايد به چهارمين مراسم هيات وبلاگي سبو
با عنوان "فرستاده"
قدمي در راه محبوب‌ترين انسان زمين
با برداشت‌هايي از آيات كلام الهي
منتظرت هستيم

Anonymous said...

شما انگار كلا آدم زرنگي هستيد!
هربار براي مراسم هيئت اسم‌مي‌نويسيد و بعدش هيچي نمي‌گذاريد توي وبلاگ
دليلش چيست را الله اعلم!

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