Iran News ...


6/13/05

Iran's Elections: Ask Them, Too!

By Kam ZarrabiIntellectual Discourse

 

When the Ghajars handed over Iran's oil reserves, lock, stock and barrel, to the British interests early in the 20th century, the people were not asked whether they'd approve of that generous gesture. Neither was it put to a public referendum whether the nation would accept the young son of Iran's deposed Pahlavi monarch to be installed as the new Shah by the victors at the conclusion of WW II.

 

The nation did decide to rise up and make itself heard in 1951; but that attempt at democratic reform, nationalism and independence was decapitated by the unpopular military coup of 1953; yet another "imposed" blessing! The ensuing infrastructural and industrial developments, the unavoidable global phenomena of the mid 20th century world, introduced the fruits of the Western civilization into the awestruck nation in intoxicating heavy doses. Modernization, in a sense not yet quite digestible to the masses, rapidly took hold and marginalized much that used to be cherished as traditional values.

 

The burgeoning new bourgeoisie, attempting to mimic and blend in with the established aristocracy, immersed itself in consumerism, like sharks in a feeding frenzy. And, by the time plays by Berthold Brecht and music of Karlheinz Stockhausen began to be staged at the annual Shiraz Arts Festival, it was clear that the fast moving trendsetters were not going to slow down and look back at the bewildered masses they were leaving behind. The nouveau riche gagged at the unfamiliar flavor of Caspian caviar until they adopted a taste for this aristocratic treat. They bought the costliest imported cognac or scotch and, to make it palatable, diluted it with "Kooka", as they drooled over scantily clad dancers at the Shokufeh-No night club.

 

It became a source of decadent snobbery for the uppity West-struck pretenders, donned in fashionably worn-out blue jeans and Dior sunshades, to visit "prehistoric" Kashan or Kerman and show off their flair for the avant-garde chic to the "primitive" natives. They'd intentionally sit in a visibly uncomfortable position on the floor of the typical Ghahveh Khaneh and casually order pamplemousse and eggs-benedict for breakfast. Of course, they knew fully well that those "backward" people would have no clue as to what these strangers were asking for. Actually, better than ninety percent of the people were quite out of touch with what was happening around them, to them, and to the spirit of their nation in those days of runaway modernity and Imperial Glory. They didn't even know who or what that "Light of the Aryans" stood for; but, who cared?

 

Nobody ever asked them what they'd prefer.

 

The disenfranchised peasantry swarmed into the ghettoes in the margins of the Capital, attracted by the glitter of neon lights like moths around a lantern, hoping to eek out a living at the zillion construction sites all over town. Modernity had not spared them, either. Those among them who could afford it, would pile onto small three-wheeled pickups and fight the heavy traffic for most of the day to the elegant foothills of Shemiran on weekends. There they'd wait in long lines to taste the ultimate symbol of otherworldliness, the wonderful "hambergerd", as they called the tasteless, leather-tough, hamburger; after all it was "gerd", round, that is!

 

Yes, those were the good old days, days of technological advancements and rapid industrialization; money was good and millions were made left and right. Many made unimaginable fortunes in real estate; formerly worthless acres of land outside the cities were now gobbled up and slated for housing developments.

 

We were all doing well, all of us riding the crests of the waves, of course; and laughing at the folks on those ridiculously overloaded three-wheelers heading for the hambergerd stands was a way for at least some of us to hide our discomfort and anxiety; we wondered when our house of cards was going to come down.

 

Come down, it did; and how!

 

Now, twenty-six years later, those same aristocrats, along with their wan-o-be counterparts, and with their children who have been born and raised in the United States or Europe and know hardly anything about Iran, are awaiting the return of the same glory days for the forsaken homeland. In the comfort of their luxury homes they can picture themselves driving their Porsche Cayenne or Hummer SUVs on now widened and paved roads to Kashan or Kerman, where they are sure the innkeeper will know, or can be taught, what Pample-effing-mousse or eggs-effing-benedict is!

 

O, yes; they want nothing but democracy for Iran. They are really sick and tired of what they often call the "mullacracy" that has kept Iran from returning to those familiar days. But, if they could just calm down a minute and think about the meaning or the spirit of the word democracy, they might easily change their minds.

 

"Democracy", they all cry out for. Democracy means that it is the will of the people that decides how and by whom the nation is to be governed; the PEOPLE, the majority, not just a select or advantaged group who'd like to be the voice of the people. They like to discredit what they call the unelected leadership of Iran's theocratic regime; implying that, were the PEOPLE to decide, the regime would return to a secular Western style democracy overnight. The question is: What PEOPLE are they truly talking about?

 

Are the people who are to participate in the anticipated reform movements for a future democratic Iran those who can pronounce the word pamplemousse with the proper French accent, or are they the people who'd rather eat fresh farm eggs fried over charcoal fire in animal fat, sunny side up and crisp on the bottom, in large blackened frying pans, people who, on a good day, might have some goat cheese and walnuts on flatbread on the side, and slurp their scorching hot tea from the edge of the saucer decorated on its edges with those small winged angels.

 

Have they really ever bothered to ask what these PEOPLE would prefer? I do believe these PEOPLE would insist on being asked this time around. Don't you; or don't you think they deserve to be considered now, either?

 

 

 

 

... Payvand News - 6/13/05 ... --



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