Thursday, 6 August 2009

ahhhh elections...

Now, I'm not out to criticise people trying to do stuff in solidarity with Iranian activists. But daftness is a pet hate of mine, so here goes.

Right so, today I read someone at the beginning of a very moving piece about what people have suffered after the Iranian elections reference Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the loser of the election. I've no problem with saying that per se, but is it not a little ridiculous from the perspective of your average anti-Islamic Republic type? Before the elections we were informed that Iran is a theocracy, a clerical tyranny and in general a totalitarian dictatorship.

People who pointed out that the real situation was more nuanced, with a greater degree of civil society, dissent and disagreement internal to the system were generally derided as being the useful idiots of the Ayatollahs. Now, I've no problem dealing in broad brush-strokes like. But doesn't saying that Ahmadinejad is the loser of this election actually rather endorse the electoral system out there?

On some level it means that the election was a meaningful contest between real alternatives, which was outrageously tampered with to the benefit of certain people within the power structure. Like there had been a coup d'etat to overthrow a relatively well-functioning democracy, that spent the previous 30 years electing rightful presidents. Surely if it follows that the protests are about a rigged election, then the last one Ahmadinejad went off fairly?

That's horse-shit though. Iran's is a managed democracy, where the Ayatollahs pick the acceptable candidates and pretend it's a real contest. There's no more legitimacy in all the old-school reformists lining up behind the green movement, than there is in the Ahmadinejads of this world. In fact, the Islamic Republic is probably going through one of its least brutal phases.

Why give the Islamic Republic the redoubt that they're evidently looking for - that they can just retreat to the old reformism and then we'll start saying it's a real democracy. Even if they'd decided they wanted Moussavi instead of the incumbent, it wouldn't have made any real difference. If people on the streets is a meaningful opportunity to enact real change out there, then more has to be done than insisting that they stick to the logic of legitimacy within their own system.

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