02 July 2014

Our ally

Iranian volunteers shipping off to fight ISIS

It’s about time.

Iran is now our ally in Iraq, against the horrifically-extremist ‘Islamic’ State, which in our magician’s-apprentice-like naïveté we summoned up to battle against Assad. Even prior to then, the ‘Islamic’ State represents a judgement upon America’s foreign-political sins. The arming of Saddam against the Iranians and both of the Gulf Wars have shown, to what ought to be a mortifying degree, our inability to learn from our political follies in meddling in the region’s affairs.

Iran, a country which never has been and never will be as anti-American as either American or Iranian hawks would like it to be, has since the dawn of its ancient civilisation been a beacon for creativity and organic spiritual unity, and one which valued the freedom of the spoken word. In its cultural infancy, in contrast to every single civilisation around it (except China, far to the East) it promulgated an ideal of just kingship – khvarenah – which blessed the right of the monarch to rule only when that monarch behaved in a virtuous and morally exemplary fashion, particularly toward his poorest and most vulnerable subjects.

When Iran forged an empire, it banned slavery and guaranteed the religious and cultural integrity of each linguistic and ethnic community it governed. When its empires fell, as under the Tatar and Mongol yokes, Iran put up an indomitable resistance. Even the form of Islam which it adopted, when Islamic Arabs overran its borders, was a radical form of Islam – best expressed in Dr. Ali Shariati’s ‘red Shi’ism’ – which placed its priorities not on attaining and keeping political power, but with speaking up for the downtrodden even at the cost of personal and national martyrdom. Iran has long integrated and infused its artistic life with its moral and spiritual life, and as its artistic traditions show, it has never had much use for or interest in modern utilitarianism. But Iran is the home of the tombs of Daniel, Esther and Mordechai (which are still in existence and under the protection of the government), was the home of the three Magi who first visited Jesus and remains one of the region’s few safe havens for ethnic Armenians and Jews.

Is it so surprising after all that, in spite of our long and troubled history with them, they would now side with us against this new-fangled ‘Islamic’ State, which no doubt represents to them every form of inhuman barbarism and vicious tyranny against which Iran has militated throughout its long and melancholy history?

Iran has long – and indeed, always! – been characterised by its unswerving, even martyric passion for independence. Not independence in the narrow, materialistic, bourgeois sense of the word as we take it in the United States (though economic independence from Britain and the elimination of BP’s corporate stranglehold over Iran was of great importance to Mosaddegh and to the Iranian democrats of the time). But more important in the Iranian lifeworld is spiritual independence from all false idols and ideologies. Even in the throes of its revolution, Iran never succumbed to the shadowplay of the two great falsities of communism and capitalism. And now, as we see, even in its ‘black Shi’ite’ theocratic state, it shows itself a ready ally against the extremes of political Islam!

In light of this, as with all our allies, we must be properly mindful that they have their own interests which may not coincide in every particular with our own. We must also learn that we should not make our friendship with Iran conditional upon ideological conformity; otherwise, they will spurn us and rightly so. Though Iran holds near and dear to its heart the principles of creativity, of spiritual unity and independence, these principles are not and cannot be held on terms amenable to bourgeois, individualistic Western-style liberalism – any more than the similar Russian principles can be.

Let this time be when we decide that we are not going to fall prey to the destructive delusions of liberal interventionism, or to the hatreds fostered by the neoconservatives who brought the last Iraq War down on our heads. Let this also be the time when we at least try to thaw and stabilise our relationship with Iran, with whom we now share a clear and urgent mutual interest in stopping the ‘Islamic’ State dead in its tracks.

No comments:

Post a Comment