September 24, 2006

Uncovering Iran

The BBC gets a lot of attacks upon the internet, so much so that it sometimes ressembles a wounded beast speared by many hunters reeling in its bloody death throes through the forest. Yet sometimes it does things that remind us why it is the most important and best news broadcaster in the world- giving a peerless service in educating and extending our minds- such a service is the series launched upon the BBC's Radio 4 and World Service concerning Iran.

One of the programs deals with the current controversial President of Iran Ahmadinejad, a bogeyman to many in the West and a hero to many in the East. As one of his friends says for Ahmadinenjad Islam is not merely a faith but an ideology, a man who beleives in a black and white version of justice as the guide of his world view. Ahmadinejad's view of politics seems to be very limited- based upon the idea that any politician should defend the view that no one should have privilege. The problem as it occurs within the broadcast is that this is a man whose strongpoint is ideological thinking but doesn't understand subtlety or reality- partly this is for a simple reason- what Ahmadinejad doesn't understand is that justice has many meanings and that people can have principled reasons and will have principled reasons for differing. The program leaves noone in any doubt that he is sincerely if naively religious nor that he has the political skills needed to climb to the top, but as one contributer to the program says the President's impact will not be longlasting because his systemic understanding of society is not sophisticated enough. His distribution of oil revenues which rely upon the price of oil staying high is merely one way in which his naive principles may rebound to the discredit of the Islamic Republic in the eyes of its populace.

Ahmadinejad's election has been seen in the West as the rise of the theocrats- really it should be seen as a vote against corruption and in favour of simple principles- prosperity for the poor, pride in Iran and a 'really good man' at the top- in the West we know that that is not enough to govern and consequently unless he demonstrates more subtlety there may be problems for him ahead.

Anyone who wants to take a look for themselves can see Ahmadinejad's blog itself at you can get an English transalation for the site on the site.