I am writing to you because, surprise-surprise, it happens that I like your writing style. But I have to disagree with you on Ganji. Your article “Give it up comrade” contains quite many snippets that alone by themselves are to the point and are, as expected from you, written with an unusual wit. Nonetheless, you are wrong on Ganji – looking it above and entirely.
Yes … your analysis strikes a hammer right on the nail about the recent trend in Iran – especially among youth. You are right that Iran’s youth culture is shifted from 60s revolutionary quest for utopian society to an unprecedented individualism. Something that you seem to subtly embrace as evolutionary progress and good. The merit in which, in contrast to you, I question.
The spread of individualism in Iran among our youth is, I think, very unhealthy and stems from an immature copycatting of Western pop cultures. Acquired with little homegrown substance, this petty individualism is doomed to a bankrupt social fad. It is a failure because it is not naturally evolved from enlightenment at grandeur level of Iranian social web. My understanding is that this trend among our youth is empty of the fundamental of cultural aspects that go naturally with its Western counterparts. In a way, you have pointed out that too. Although, you seem take this trend as something “cool” to be cherished.
As for Ganji’s – the mechanic of his letter [English/Persian], its size and contents, you have some valid points, which I am in agreement with you although half-heartily and with dismay I am afraid. Half-heartily because deep inside I cannot but admire him for the fact that he is standing so solemnly in face of dictatorship.
Ganji’s efforts are unique and heroic because he is hopeful at times when our society is not. By far, Iranians have not recovered yet from the failure of the 1979 revolution. A radical call for social change is a hard-sell for them these days. This apolitical trend in Iran, which is handicapping two generations but in different forms now, reflects that sense of loss and emptiness resulting from a grand failure in Iran’s current history which conformed into years of revolutionary fever and a devastating war.
Amidst this dismal hopelessness and political setbacks, a man like Ganji is standing tall and calling us back into fight for the basics rights that are so rooted now within our last 150 years of constitutional history. To finalize the democracy and rule of law in our country, it takes colossal scarifications and yes lots of luck and historical will and struggle. Nothing comes free. Freedom is not given but taken. There is no easy escape from it – not even the cheerful embracing of new-age and rap music among our youth (although that too I question its magnitude) and the forgiving of ruling elites of such deviations are much for us to be hopeful. For these changes are cosmetic at best.
The youth will age and ads die soon and even the ruling party may change its mind – should it sees a need to roll back to impose strict social code if that would prolong their rule. In this context, Ganji’s thought is indeed a revolutionary response to a circumstance that threatens our country’s historical aspiration for democracy and freedom. His call is essentially a fundamental and philosophical outcry against problems that are rooted within current political structure.
In this context, Ganji’s letter cannot be seriously questioned on solely on taste and method of delivering his message. His long letter – more fitting perhaps as few chapters of a classic text on the subject of democracy and human rights, was written under an unusual circumstance and should be granted every benefit.
Still, only to be fair to that letter, it contains many fundamental issues and hurdles in path of democratic future of Iran in which Ganji had so heroically put his life to highlight. Therefore, I call his act as a joyful and courageous move that will be credited to the future of human rights and democracy in our country.