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Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Spiritual-Political Importance of Iran

Most Americans who oppose the neocon-Zionist push for war on Iran don't like the Iranian form of government...mainly because they don't understand it.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is called a democracy by some, a theocracy by others. In fact, it is both.

It is democratic in two senses. First, it has competitive and relatively honest elections for all relevant national, regional and local offices. In this sense its degree of democracy is somewhere between Europe, where elections are generally legitimate, and the USA, where black-box voting machines and propaganda specialists decide outcomes and voters are almost entirely irrelevant. 

Some argue that Iran is undemocratic because certain opposition parties are not given free reign. This is true to the extent that those parties are not cats-paws of powerful foreign forces trying to undermine Iran. But the unfortunate reality is that Iran has faced a non-stop terrorist onslaught from the US and Israel since its 1979 revolution. Its republican form of government could not survive if foreign-supported entities were allowed to participate in power. Just as Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez have every right to repress those who participate in US attempts to subvert their nations, so too Iran has the same basic right of self-defense against vastly more powerful, heavily-armed, and unscrupulous adversaries.

Iran is democratic in a second sense: Its theocratic elements are supported by a strong majority of the population.

What are those theocratic elements, exactly? In effect, Iran's Islamic Republic follows the US model of the three branches of government - executive, legislative, and judicial - with one key difference: The head of the Iranian judicial system, the Supreme Leader (equivalent of the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court) has some of the powers that the US delegates to the executive. Since Iran's legal system is, quite naturally, based on the indigenous Islamic system (just as the US legal system is based on its inherited system), the executive-empowered judiciary in Iran follows a version of Islamic legal tradition and is thus "theocratic."

I think this theocratic element is a good thing. In fact, its survival is critically important for the future of humanity.

The basic political problem that confronts humanity is actually very simple: Those who want power are the last people on earth who should have it. In complex societies, power-hungry, congenitally-evil people tend to rise to the top of power hierarchies. See my essay "Twilight of the Psychopaths."

The USA kept a lid on this problem through much of its history, thanks to its Constitutionally-enshrined division of power, and more importantly its Christian ethic of public service and public morality. Now the lid is off; today's USA may be the most corrupt and evil nation ever to disgrace the face of the earth.

* * *

There is only one solution to humanity's political problem: The people must insist on being ruled by the best, rather than the worst. 

This is the political lesson of Christianity. Jesus, the prophet, the real "King of the Jews," was the one worthy of attention and obedience. The corrupt religious and political authorities were (as they always have been) worthless scum. According to Jesus, it was time to implement "The Kingdom of Heaven": rule by the good, rule by the godly, rule by those closest to God...ultimately, rule by God alone.

This is also the political lesson of the birth of Islam. Mecca had become a complex society, and corrupt lovers of power and wealth - the Quraysh - reigned. Another prophet - Muhammad - appeared, with the Qur'an as a "furqan" or criterion dividing good from evil. After more than a decade of ruthless persecution, the forces of the good took up arms and vanquished the forces of evil...temporarily.

Within a few generations, Qurayshi greed-heads had re-established their misrule. This story, told beautifully in Barnaby Rogerson's The Heirs of the Prophet, reveals something that most Muslims have never adequately understood: The Shi'a may have been wrong about details, but they were right about the central issue.

The split between Sunni and Shia was ostensibly over the question of who should have succeeded the Prophet Muhammad as leader of the Muslim community. The Sunni argued for leadership by consensus, and selected Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman before Ali, while the Shia argued for inherited succession and claimed Ali should have been the rightful successor in the first place.

In fact, both were right - and wrong.

The Sunni were right: Goodness is not inherited. But they were wrong in their choice of leaders; they chose the worldly and the popular, rather than the most righteous and spiritually-advanced.

The Shia were wrong: Goodness is not inherited. But they were right in their insistence that Ali was the best, and should have been chosen as leader.  And they were right that the martyrdom of Ali's son Hussain at Karbala was an epic tragedy that marked the end of rule-by-the-righteous, and the reinstatement of Quraishi rule-by-the-evil.

Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran carries on, however imperfectly, the Islamic (and universally human) ideal of rule by the righteous and spiritually-advanced. President Ahmedinejad is said to have no interest in worldly wealth; he even sleeps on the floor. And those chosen as Supreme Leader by their fellow religious scholars are likely to be individuals of notable piety, to say the least.

Yes, there is terrible corruption in Iran, as everywhere. And yes, sometimes the good has to be ruthless in suppression of evil, especially when it is surrounded by immense powers of evil that seek to consume it and establish a one-world Satanic dictatorship over the planet.

But despite its imperfections, Iran, more than any other nation today, carries forward that universal human ideal of rule by the good. Its system is a viable model for the re-united Islamic Nation of the future.

While I strongly opposed the Iraq war, and empathized with the Iraqi resistance, I could not have imagined giving my life to preserve the rule of Saddam Hussein.

If the Islamic Republic of Iran is ever seriously threatened, however, I will fully understand why millions will be willing to give their lives in its defense.


  1. Muhammad from IfriqyaFebruary 9, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    I think the positive image you give about so-called Ayatollah should be re-examined in light of their own writings which to say the least are kind of stabbing Islam in the back
    e.g. similarities with christian and judaic tradition in much of litigeous affairs that oppose them to sunni but in my case those to blame are scholars not the random citizen

    1. Muhammad from IfriqyaFebruary 16, 2012 at 7:30 AM

      Actually the word is litigious with "ious" at the end and not "eous"

  2. Not withstanding the succession data presented in the above piece, the Koran condemns "schismatics" in no uncertain terms, who are the ones going on with "Sunni" this or "Shia" that!

    Real Moslems cast truth at falsehood, according to the following stricture in the Koran..

    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
    Cast truth against falsehood
    The Koran: Chapter 21, verse 18

    And despise schismatics, and false Moslems who fail to "cast truth" about equally .. 60,000 or so Jews failed to turn up for work at the WTC, 11 September 2001, whence allegedly hijacked aircraft, were flown into the World Trade Center in New York.

    In an attack blamed on Arabs, which became the impetus for the current wars against all and sundry, in the name of the War on Terror.

    Mossad agents filming the drama amid “evident Jewbilation,” and Put Options on airline stocks that made hundreds of millions traced to Mossad HQ in Yisrael says Jews did it.

    http://s60.radikal.ru/i169/1003/f7/5dbc426c4403.gif .. Click the link for video of a Cruise Missile slamming into the Pentagon, in an attack blamed on a crazy Arab in a Boeing 757!

    http://s014.radikal.ru/i329/1102/51/ee7df9707ac5.gif .. This link shows a guided missile slam into the WTC on 911

    I similarly castigate all Persian, Iranian, Middle Eastern, Indonesian, and the Atalanta and Chicago False Moslem congregations in the United States, as unbelievers of the worst kind, for similarly failing to "cast truth," in a matter of such vital importance as illegal war!

    A more simple explanation - Agriculture, writing, and the domestication of animals, all originated in the Tigris Euphrates region called Iraq, the tribes that have been located there since the time of Adam, are the Sunni.

    The Shia are every one else, the Sunni are often don’t do the manual chores, so they have been bringing in workers from other places for centuries, these workers do not usually attend Sunni mosques, which are most often built and maintained by a single extended family.

    They usually attend to their religious affairs, in Mosques that are located in working class areas of the city, that have become known as Shia Mosques.

    At no time has war or conflict between the two sectors of society, been permitted, either under secular law, or within the strictures of Islam, and all parties are aware that murder is met with speedy and deadly retaliation, according to the instruction in The Koran.

  3. agreed with Muhammad comment, the clerics hijacked the jaafarism for them, look at the iran-contra to understand it as an example but your points are good as attacking Iran will be the first time in our era that a political system not entirely controlled by the West is attacked and the consequences can not be calculated but as in Afghanistan and Iraq, Somalia, Kashmir those who bear faith win all the times despite the arsenal deployed against them... here israel is working in lebanon, syria, bahrein and yemen to start a civil war sunis-shias with the help of Qatar, Saud, UAE, Koweit, and even Al Assad playing like Al Gaddafi the games of Israel...

    Thanks to Allah swt now the masses are awaken and Israel will feel the heat !

  4. Respectful disagreement on one critical point:

    "Power tends to corrupt, and abolute power corrupts absolutely."

    I have no way of knowing whether Iran's current Supreme Leader (or the religious scholars who chose him) is one of the very few human beings who can hold enormous power without being corrupted. But, I think that this is really beside the main issue.

    The main issue, to me, is that we are seeking to instate 'Rule by the Good' and to sustain it for as long as possible. This means that the individual (or present day group of scholars) is not really important. What is important is to have a system in place that protects itself from the evil and power-hungry across many generations.

    A quick analogy from the US might help:
    When Obama signed the NDAA into law earlier this year, he included a Signing Statement pledging that his administration would not abuse this new expansion of police state powers. However, even if he stayed true to this pledge, it does nothing to insure that future administrations will not abuse them.

    It is my belief that it is very rare for an individual human to be able to wield enormous power without becoming corrupted. Simultaneously, most human groups (cultural and national entities) are very bad at identifying the rare philosopher-king and putting them in power. Much more common to see large groups misled, misinformed, and successfully pandered to with a slew of techniques that the power-hungry and evil have spent generations protecting.

    Another way to say the above:
    The evolution of the tricks and traps used by the few to control the many far outpaces the evolution of defenses against those tricks and traps.

    My conclusion is that, until humans evolve some better means of controlling the powerful and keeping them Good, we must collectively strive to keep anyone from becoming too powerful.

    The practical outcome of this is that all countries and cultures need to make a fairly radical shift toward direct democracy. No Supreme Leaders, no Presidentes, no Houses of Congress, and no inner circle of scholars choosing the next Ayatollah.

  5. I respect the efforts of people trying to preserve and expand democracy, including Mike Gravel, who promotes direct democracy: http://noliesradio.org/archives/35465

    But ultimately democracy (or any other system) is just a means to an end: the rule of the good. And I'm less optimistic than Gravel about majorities choosing what's good.

    TV is one example of rule-by-numbers. The show with the highest ratings wins. Does that really produce quality?

    Or books. Is the NY Times bestseller list a guide to overall quality?

    Ortega y Gasset's Revolt of the Masses may not be the be-all end-all of human development. It may just be a symptom of Western decadence.

    I think any kind of democracy, or any kind of social organization, needs to have a strong spiritual component. To the extent that spiritually-developed people uplift others, by rule or by example, that system will flourish.

    Value-neutral materialist "democracy" tends to produce the opposite effect: rule by the spiritually least-developed, those focused most on the material world and earthly power, i.e. the psychopaths.


  6. "But ultimately democracy (or any other system) is just a means to an end: the rule of the good. And I'm less optimistic than Gravel about majorities choosing what's good."

    I don't think I am overly optimistic about this either. I am well aware that the practical outcome would likely be very messy and chaotic, at least at first. Mistakes would no doubt be made, and some of them would be large ones. But, given that the majority have no choice but to seek their own best interests, the long-term result would be a process filled with lessons learned and a gradually more intelligent approach to governing. This is very similar, in my mind, to the way an infant gradually learns to employ all its faculties in concert so as to avoid bumps and falls.

    TV and books are, respectfully, very poor choices to qualitatively exhibit what kinds of choices majorities will make. This is partly because TV and books are largely entertainment (or art) and, thus, irrelevant to a discussion about governance. Why? Because with entertainment and art there is no right or wrong answer. You may not care for the aesthetic taste of the majority, but the outcome does not affect whether you have access to healthcare, whether your lights stay on, or whether you live in a country governed by practical and enforcable laws that apply equally to all citizens.

    "I think any kind of democracy, or any kind of social organization, needs to have a strong spiritual component. To the extent that spiritually-developed people uplift others, by rule or by example, that system will flourish."

    I agree completely and I am very glad that you used 'spiritual' instead of 'religious'. To my mind, the difference between the two is that the former is anti-dogmatic and individual and private, while the latter has dogma and a priest caste to interceed (and interpret) on behalf of the unwashed masses.

    In fact, I would love to go so far as to say:
    'Spiritual' is to 'religious' as 'direct democracy' is to 'representative democracy or meritocracy or pathocracy'. Because I see the corruptive influence of power as the parralel between them. And it is important to remember that it is not only the powerful that are corrupted when power becomes too concentrated in too few hands.

    "Value-neutral materialist "democracy" tends to produce the opposite effect: rule by the spiritually least-developed, those focused most on the material world and earthly power, i.e. the psychopaths."

    I never said anything about materialist or value-neutral. I was talking about direct democracy. In that scenario, the question of whether or not the psychopaths are in power becomes moot. If ~5% of the population are psychopaths, and there are no positions of power (no hierarchy) but only 'majority rule/minority rights', then the psychopaths will never have more than ~5% of the vote.