Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 31st, 2010

The two brothers live in the poorer quarters in south Teheran.  Ehsan, the eldest brother of 26, is studying cooling systems engineering; he is a musician and a movie lover, especially keeping up with Al Pacino  and Robert De Niro films; he is not interested in politics.  Sadjad (carpet in Arabic) is 23 and studying Islamic jurisprudence at Tehran University.   When Ehsan was 8, he used to stop on his way from school and listen at a center of Sufis chanting and dancing and started to learn music.  By the time Sadjad was 8, the Islamic Republic had closed that center and he joined the basseji at age 8:  The basseji is a voluntary organization maintaining security in the streets at night such as arresting drug dealers, drunkards, women not wearing proper islamic garment, not married couples, and guiding school children to schools, and participating in vaccination campaigns . (more on the basseji later on).

The two brothers share the same room at their parental house and share the computer.  Ehsan writes to music and film blogs;  Sadjad surfs the basseji net and writes in the basseji blog; he watches only Iranian war movies.  Both brothers attend Ashoura (anniversary of the martyrdom of Hussein in 860 at Karbala by the Umayad caliph Yazid.  They join different groups in that crying and flagellation celebration:  Sadjad hits his chest violently with his palm for hours on while Ehsan just shares in the crying.  The Shias are trained from childhood to cry profusely at Ashura.

On Thursday night, representing Saturday night in Islamic States, Ehsan sees his girlfriend discretely while Sadjad is attending his weekly meeting with the Bassiji of the corner:  The bassiji pray and then listen to the mullah (cleric) explaining the Iranian and foreign political events.

The basseji is currently organized within the Republican Revolutionary Guards, a military organization equipped with better weapons than the army and obeying directly to the Supreme Guide Kamenei.  At the onset of the Islamic revolution in 1979, the basseji was instituted to round up the youth, indoctrinate them in Islamic religions, and make them useful and role models for not drinking alcohol or getting addicted to drugs.  The war broke with Iraq for 8 years in 1980 and the basseji were used as living mine detonators to clear a way for the more experienced soldiers; more than 300,000 kids of less than 15 years of age were “martyred in that was.  After the latest election in June 2009, the basseji were used as field repressive forces of marchers and demonstrators of the “green movement” supporters of Mir Hussein Moussavi.  The Revolution Guards would block the streets and the bassji would step down off their motorcycle and brandish batons and spray tear gas at the gathering of opposition members.

Ehsan tells me in a sad smile: “I am a curious type of guy; I love to experience everything and travel.  My brother is very content and seeks peace of mind within the framework of the basseji ideology”  The father of the brothers repairs carpet and participated actively during the Islamic revolution, but he feels discontented with the current President Ahmadinejad who humiliated Iranians’ intelligence and set the country decades back.”  The father is willing to believe that Sadjad does not carry batons to disperse demonstrators.

Sadjad feels bitter because the demonstrators insults with vile words even when he approaches them politely and talks to them calmly; he said: “and they claim to be intellectuals, lawyers, and physicians!  We are keeping the streets safe of murderers and drug traffickers and the only reward we get from these rich people is insults.  I feel very tired of ingratitude after all those non paid overtime hard tasks.  Last night I studied till midnight, slept for a couple of hours, and then up to my round on the block streets.  Yesterday, an opposition motorist purposely over ran my closest basseji friend and killed him”.  Ahmadinejad had extended privileges to the bassejis and organized them under the Revolution Guards after so many years of unpaid voluntary work.

Sadjad is not such a bad guy.  A couple of days, I was insulted by bassejis and he cooled it down and gave me his phone number.  When I met him at our appointment, he was carrying a bouquet of flower for me and a bottle of perfume so that I may accept his apology.

There are my documented stories of Russians and Germans betraying their fathers and members of their close family members for ideological basis; they were even acclaimed as hero and movie made of their “heroic” betrayal for the motherland and the one party.  You won’t hear such kinds of betrayal stories among Iranian families:  Family is the center of life and Iranian returns from overseas because they miss family bonding and the happy climate of friendship and Iranian joyful culture.  I think that government would not even contemplate any one betraying members of his family, encouraging, or allowing these kinds of treachery.

During the Lebanese civil war, youth either joined the fight with the militias or got associated with Red Cross and crisis units.  They volunteered and even brought their own food, sharing whatever they brought with everyone.  That is the way youth met during the civil war and got married later on.

Good democracy: “Next election, Party in power should lose”

The fundamental characteristic of an oiled democracy is that political processes are transparent:  All political parties and syndicates should be able to figure out the strategies of their opponents in a short time.

An oiled democratic system opens up data, documents, political discussions, political decisions and make them available for all political parties to access them within adequate time period so that opponents get aware of the projects, programs, a changing platforms of the government in power.

An oiled democracy affords consistent and timely comprehension of the equilibrium of political, economic, and social association forces in society:  Every serious political organizations should be able to know “what is in the best interest” of all the opposing organizations, if it works for its best interest.

There are two main types or concepts of democratic systems.

1. The first political tendency is that a democracy is not meant to create laws or institutions, and much less distributing the wealth of the nation, unless it is a temporary resolution of a conflict among the main political parties.

The winning Party in election has the privilege and right  to play the ultimate arbiter of social conflicts, if the various associations and organizations fail to reach a consensus.

In this democracy, the arbiter is not devoid of any power: the government is best positioned to know first hand the causes of the main conflicts, and thus, has the advantage of collecting complete and timely intelligence pieces on all the other opposing parties.

Having the facilities and prerogatives for gathering intelligence and fast information is the main leverage of the arbiter party in power in this type of democracy.  This type of democracy has not the duty of caring for social or economic inequalities in society so long as the citizen is guaranteed equal political rights, freedom of expressions, liberty of associating, and voting.

This democracy has the responsibility of neutralizing political inequalities since every citizen are equal in all political rights and responsibilities.

2. The second type of democracy is that the winning political party has to execute its political platform and programs that it promised the electing voters.  Consequently, the elected government has the responsibility and right of satisfying the wishes and wants of the majority.

The winning party is not concerned of facilitating the job of the opposition, if it can perform without. It is focused on creating laws and institutions that precipitate the execution of the platform.

Democracy is a battle field without the physical violence; though moral, ethical, and psychological violence are permitted to staying in power.

There are several factors that maintain democratic systems:

First, political rights are guaranteed, secured, and protected for every citizen such as voting, freedom of association, liberty of expression and opinion, running as candidate…

Second, the annual income for every citizen must not drop below a certain level:  Currently, it is estimated to be around $6,000 per year as a cut-off point.  (I guess this amount represents the average income of the lower middle class in any stable democracy.)

Third, democracy can be sustained if neighboring States enjoy stable democratic systems.

Fourth, status inequalities (economic or historical) are not codified in the system as an ideology (religious, political, or other forms).  This means, citizens should not feel they are excluded by laws from public facilities on the basis of color, gender, social origin, or ethnic background… In general, stable democracy institute a moral code of avoiding blatant exposure of inequalities and wealth.

Democratic systems are adapted to managing new situations that reflect changes in the relationship of organized social forces:  This is what election is supposed to reflect.

As for managing crisis, it is advisable that stable and specialized institutions for every particular major crisis not be restructured with every new government:  Election does not substitute for professionalism.

In many developing democracies, the outgoing government foments riots and violent marches  in order to preventing smooth transfer of power and make it very difficult for the new victor realizing its platform.

In all cases, democratic systems in developing states, with all their deficiencies, have demonstrated far better efficiency in sustained development.  Colonial powers spread the fraudulent culture that dictatorship periods are essential for development before democratic systems are tried out.

Colonial powers had vested interest of blocking competitions in deals with the previously colonized country by obstructing democratic control institutions.

Note 1:  Only in the last 50 years have US governments changed parties by democratic elections.  Prior to that time, winning parties stayed in power in 5 out of six elections.  The reasons maybe that communication (including transport and trade) was low and life-style was slower in changing for drastic political reforms to be demanded.

Note 2:  Adam Przeworski, political scientist at NYU, has analyzed 3,000 elections results to study trends and causes of stable democracies using statistical mathematical modeling.

Przeworski claims that India is a democracy that spends on elections more than on health budgets.  India system flaunts all criteria for democracy, and if it is still functioning, it is mainly that no dictatorship regime is willing to shoulder the terrible headache of running and managing this vast and populous State confronted with insurmountable problems.




October 2010

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