Freedom, Bought and Sold

It always interests me to see what our readers are reading here. Yesterday, close to 20% of you were reading a fairly old article of Jessica’s, entitled The Exhausted West?.  In it, she spoke about Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s 1978 Harvard Commencement address. It is, I think quite appropriate to today’s subject, especially one of the paragraphs she quoted from the speech.

Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, the misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counterbalanced by the young people’s right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil. 

Indeed, we have lost here, and even more in Europe, the key fact that freedom imposes responsibility, and that there is much more to life than material possessions.

Today, we are going to speak of the late/current demonstrations in Iran, and even more the reaction to them in the west. The source of today’s is Douglass Murray in The Spectator (UK) article entitled The Iranian revolution the world wants to ignore.

If there is one lesson the world should have learned from Iran’s ‘Green Revolution’ of 2009 and the so-called Arab Spring that followed, it is this: the worst regimes stay. Rulers who are only averagely appalling (Tunisia’s Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak) can be toppled by uprisings. Those who are willing to kill every one of their countrymen stay. So it is that after almost half a million dead we enter 2018 with Bashar al-Assad still President of Syria and with Iran’s mullahs approaching the 40th anniversary of their seizure of power in 1979. […]

Yep, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and quite a few more died peacefully in bed, few of their opponents did.

Yet anyone who expects these demonstrations to lead to swift change in the nature of the Iranian government remembers no history. Shortly after the latest protests began, the country’s security forces, including the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, were seen photographing the events. In Iran, a regime camera is as deadly as a sniper’s sights. Only more delayed. As in 2009, the photographs will be used by the police to arrest demonstrators and also family members unconnected with the protests. This will be followed by the torture and rape of men and women in prison by the theocratic regime’s frontmen. As after the Green Revolution, there will in due course be show trials, forced recantations and executions. This is how a police state with four decades of experience goes about its business. In 1979, the behaviour of the Shah’s dreaded Savak secret police was one of the spurs for revolution. The Ayatollahs have superseded the Savak, fine-tuned their brutality and learned from their mistakes.

Anyone in doubt about the capacity of the Supreme Leader to hang on to power need only watch the footage of crowds in the city of Rasht advancing down the street on one of the first nights of protest. You can see the exact moment when the regime’s Revolutionary Guard starts attacking the protesters. The crowd that is marching one way down the street suddenly finds an organised army running towards them. These are trained killers being unleashed on angry but peaceful civilians. Six hundred people have already been arrested and dozens already killed. The civilians don’t stand a chance. […]

None whatsoever, the Supreme Leaders people are not fully trained troops, probably, although they are inured to killing, which is all it really takes, plus a modicum of organization to easily defeat a mob in the street. Not much different than murder on an industrial scale, but it is effective.

Unless, that is, the outside world takes any interest in their plight. In the early hours of the demonstrations, the US President took to Twitter to warn the Iranian authorities that ‘The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!’ But such is the obsession with Donald Trump and the parochialism of all our politics that Trump’s critics immediately took to the media to condemn his condemnation of human rights abuses. Again on Twitter, the most powerful man on the planet — determined not to replay the actions of his predecessor in office, who was highly reluctant to speak out during the crushing of the Green Revolution — warned that ‘The world is watching.’ He may be right. But the world may watch in silence.

This is one of those occasions where, whatever you think of Donald Trump, he is correct, the west invented human rights, and are the only guarantor. And yet, many, maybe most around the world for whatever reason decided to side with the Ayatollah against the west, personified by Donald Trump. Speaking for myself, I found it sickening.

Some international caution is justified. People have their reasons. Our own Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, has expressed ‘concern’ over events, but has been careful not to go further. Fresh back from a visit to Tehran, the Foreign Secretary has been working to obtain the release of the British–Iranian dual citizen, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been imprisoned in Iran for the last 18 months. Thanks to a campaign by Labour MPs, the issue of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release has been turned into an issue of the Foreign Secretary’s personal competence (at times as though it is Boris Johnson, and not the mullahs, who imprisoned the woman). Johnson’s Iranian counterparts know that he has a lot riding on his efforts to release her and have used this advantage well. So a campaign for one woman’s freedom has hindered a Foreign Secretary from campaigning for a nation’s freedom.

Other silences have been less defensible. The leader of the opposition is not normally silent when there is an opportunity to talk about unfairness or injustice. Yet after days of protests in Iran, Jeremy Corbyn said nothing.

One reason may be that the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition was until recently in the pay of the Iranian regime. For presenting programmes on its propaganda wing, Press TV (before becoming Labour party leader), Corbyn received up to £20,000. Damningly — or it would be damning if more people cared — he appeared on Press TV even after the channel lost its broadcasting licence. It lost that licence not because of its always clear political support for a sectarian, gay-hanging, women-oppressing dictatorship. It lost it because during the channel’s campaign to delegitimise the 2009 protests, Press TV broadcast a forced confession from a journalist who had been abducted by the regime and was being held in prison. Ofcom thought this crossed a line. Jeremy Corbyn did not and was happy to continue to take his apple-juice money from Tehran.

Elsewhere the silence indicates the dream-puncturing of an entire political class. In 2015 the UN security council agreed a deal with Iran to limit elements of its nuclear programme for a period. Iran’s incentives included a freeing up of trade and a delivery of billions of dollars in cash. For their part, companies and governments across Europe hoped to get their own cash bonanzas in the wake of that deal. Such deals always compromise the people who make them. One of the chief defenders of the 2015 deal, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, has spent recent days being studiously silent on the uprisings in Iran. When President Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital she couldn’t tweet enough condemnations of his action. Yet five days into the protests in Iran, she hadn’t even said that she is watching events closely. Europe’s leading foreign affairs ideologue needs Iran’s governing status quo to stay in place so that nothing about her own deal, future cash prize or putative Nobel award is in any way disturbed.

We’ve said speaking of the election that Donald Trump has F**k you money. He has enough that he can do what he thinks is right without regard to his next paycheck. It’s a major advantage. It applies here, as well. The US, seemingly alone in the west has F**k you money, too. Not that we do, but we have a historical record of trying to do the harder right instead of the easier wrong. Do we always succeed? Of course not. But maybe that is the reason why we, of all the nations of the west, still will go out into the world to fight evil.

But I suspect the day is coming when we will come to the conclusion that if the people of Europe amongst others value money above all things, especially above their own freedom, well, why should we care. That will be the day that Europe falls. Of its own volition, bribed by its own money. It will be a sad day, but it begins to appear inevitable.

 

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One Response to Freedom, Bought and Sold

  1. Reblogged this on boudicabpi2015.

    Like

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