The pragmatic conservative

A recent article in the German magazine Spiegel features a brilliant idea man who may just be the one they're grooming to replace Khatami.

The article profiles Mohammad Javad Larijani, who is a powerful member of Iran's ruling class. This is a class that consists of high ranking Shiite clergy, their relatives and close allies, with almost exclusive control of all commerce, business and anything that will produce political power and influence.

The men in this group are mostly the offspring and close relatives of the ruling Shiite clergy, many of whom are educated abroad, many in the United States and the Western Europe These are the backbone of Iranian regime's administrators and managers, also called the Islamic technocrats!

Doctor Javad Larijani who apparently holds a PhD in mathematics is the son of a middle ranking ayatollah. Daddy's connection, as well as his fluency in English has apparently done him good. He has been in several political positions, including deputy foreign minister and member of parliament.

The Spiegel article introduces Larijani as a “pragmatic conservative” and a respected ideologue for the Islamic theocracy who sees a bright future for the Islamic Republic. Larijani's optimism for the future of the regime arises from his vision for an economic bloom, similar to that of post-Mao China, which resulted in the fastest growing economy and enormous improvements in the people's standard of living, without having to give up the dictatorial and centralized one-party rule or allowing social reforms.

I'm sure that such a solution would appeal to the likes of Larijani. Apparently he believes you can implement an economic and industrial renaissance, and at the same time withhold the much needed social and political freedoms and keep the populace under the strict and unconditional rule of the ayatollahs.

There are so many holes in Larijani's theory that one is almost embarrassed to even attempt to counter it, as I can hear the collective “Duhhh!” coming from the readers. But I just can't help it. At the very least, maybe Larijani will read this and realize that although his head is stuck in the snow, everyone can see him and his brilliant ideas for what they really are!

Doktor joon, when Mao's successors began their economic revolution, they had a few essential ingredients that you guys do not and will not have. The first thing was an environment that is inviting to anything foreign, not only foreign investments but foreign people, tourism and the open cultural exchange with the rest of the world that will be an essential ingredient of such a renaissance.

Your father's cronies have setup a closed theocratic fortress that has actively and dutifully repelled any meaningful exchange with anyone worth exchanging with. Before the post-Mao Chinese leadership could start herding the peasants to foreign owned factories to assemble the billions of toys and gadgets that turned around China's fortunes, they had to make foreign investors and partners believe that China was stable, dynamic and receptive. How much help do you think smashing a photographer's brain would have been to China's future plans?

Foreign investors require a day when a foreign female can walk the streets of Tehran or Isfahan and sit in a sidewalk cafe without the fear of harassment from bearded juveniles. But thankfully, your system is fundamentally and inherently incompatible with the creation of such conditions.

The second big problem with your doctrine is the people's expectations. The political awareness and expectations of Iranian youth, who make up nearly three quarters of the population, and are your regime's number one problem, in no way compares with the Chinese population back in the late 1970's and 80's when they began implementing their plans.

In the age of widespread access to the Internet, personal blogs, satellite TV and the ever-increasing exchange of ideas with the rest of the world, people's expectations are far above and ahead of Chinese peasants, most of whom didn't even know something like television or the computer existed.

Therefore, the Islamic Republic is out of time. The people were ready for grand plans 25 years ago. The Chinese model worked for a post-Mao China as a next move, rightfully expected for that milestone and a way to keep the most populated country on Earth from falling into starvation, chaos and anarchy. It was time for it and no one held it back or resisted it.

Larijani's brilliant idea would have been quite perfect as a fresh post-Khomeni switch and people would have jumped on it. They could have even changed directions when they put on that Khatami show back in 1997, but they took the people for granted again. But the Islamic Republic has squandered all opportunities for a positive change of direction in its 25 years of existence and ploys like this doctrine are exposed as what it is; just a scheme to keep current rulers from sharing their exclusive power!

Larijani is a U.C. Berkeley-educated mathematician. My question is what the hell was he doing during the years he spent in California of all places? Did he live in a closet or a basement somewhere? How could he have lived in such a beautiful, peaceful, and freedom inspiring place and end up being an ideologue for a repressive, murdering theocracy?

How could he have gone to UCB library and mingled with the youth from all manner of cultures, attended lectures and classes where they discussed and exchanged ideas freely and then end up condoning a system that puts a young student in years of solitary confinement simply for the “crime” of picking up a bloody T-shirt from the pavement and displaying it to the public?

How could he produce any work of authorship as a scholar or thinker and then end up in a band of thugs who kill a woman just because she snapped some pictures outside a prison?

How could he be a student of mathematics, science and history and not see that he's part of a brutal power grab that has no way to go but down?

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