International

Iran: revolution from below?

“Farouz Farzami” (the pseudonym of an Iranian journalist) writes:

[T]he well-to-do Iranian drinks and reads and watches what he wishes. He does as he pleases behind the walls of his private mansions and villas. In return for his private comforts, the affluent Iranian is happy to sacrifice freedom of speech, most of his civil rights, and his freedom of association. The upper-middle class has been bought off by this pact, which makes a virtue of hypocrisy.

…A friend who has made a small fortune in the pharmaceutical business told me that recently that the enforcers of Islamist law appeared on the roof of his condominium in the northwest Tehran suburb of Sharak-e-Qarb to seize all the satellite dishes. Every household received an order to attend a hearing of the revolutionary court, where the magistrate–typically a mullah–will levy fines. The fines help feed the friends of the courts, while for my wealthy pharmacist friend, erecting another satellite dish is as easy as refueling his car…

“I can afford yearly two or three months’ vacation in Dubai, Europe or even America,” my friend said. “Why should I bother to organize a protest against seizing our satellite dishes? We may be forfeiting our freedoms, as you say, but when the price of avoiding the authorities is so affordable, why would we risk everything to take on the regime? We have to wait until society itself is disillusioned, and the masses open their eyes.”

Esther, an American married to an Iranian and living in Tehran, writes:

My 20-something year old taxi driver is honking like a madman, leaning out the window and shouting epitaphs at the young women in front of us, and generally behaving like a jerk.

Me: “Why are you bothering those women? Do you think they’re cute?” I’d rather say: “are you flirting?” But, oh, the limitations of a non-native speaker.

Driver: “Nah, Babba… It’s not that. These girls: just look at them. All they do all day is spend Daddy’s money. They do not have to work a day in their lives. They are the obnoxious ones, not me.”

“There are some people in Iran who go to bed at night hungry and there are some people who have so much money that they do not know how to spend it. Do you think that’s right? It’s not right.”
…..
[T]he increasing inflation and economic pressures are starting to fill their taxi drivers (and other subsistence workers) with rage. The two topics that I have ever seen Iranians in Iran get truly worked up about are the state of the economy and the mullahs. But rage? I have only seen rage when they talk about the economy.

To paraphrase Winston Smith: If there is hope for a new revolution in Iran, perhaps it lies with the proles.

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