Sunday, June 20, 2010

Khiaban No. 74: On Moussavi's Green Charter

Translation of a lead article from the latest Khiaban newspaper. You can read most issues of Khiaban newspapers (in Persian) here.

What We Say and Their Charter
by Amir K.
Khiaban #74 / Saturday, June 19, 2010

Today is June 19. Last year on this day, the first issue of Khiaban newspaper was published. Some hours later, in his Friday prayer sermon, Khamenei threatened the people with murder. On June 20, however, people took to the streets courageously, and although their throats and chests were riddled with the Supreme Leader's bullets, they opened up an important phase in the social life of Iran. A phase in which our society came to face the existing contradiction between the political and ruling structures and relationships [on the one hand] and the people's strengths, dreams and demands [on the other], and set out to work on resolving this contradiction, specifically through the form of [mass] street protests and demonstrations.

Now, exactly one year later, in the seventy-fourth issue of Khiaban, this publication, and the society too, carry both memory and imagination simultaneously. Memory keeps our past experience with us, and imagination shapes the future. When we imagine, when we think about the future, bitter memories, sad, happy hopeful memories, memories of solidarities, memories of blood and uprising, these memories of this past year are present. And when each moment of our memories is reviewed, this or that memory becomes a seed for the formation and growth of some thought or a plan for the future.

After a year of collective memories, the need for a collective imagination is spreading wider every day. What kind of future does the society want to create? What path does it want to take? What characteristics does the future society have, and how can it be achieved? It is these questions that make obvious the need for political platforms and plans for the majority of the people.

It is in this social atmosphere that Moussavi was forced to publish a more elaborated/systematized text, titled Green Charter, as a political platform that contains his goals and views on strategy. Of course, for now we'll overlook the fact that [exactly] at a time when people expected political actions from Moussavi, he is selling a political statement to the people instead of acting politically. Nevertheless, is Moussavi's platform loyal to the memories and the imagination of the people? Let us take a more careful look at the Green Charter.

Green Charter's Goal and Strategy
Although the phrase 'Green Charter' is new and it is claimed that it is the essence of this past year's struggle and also the crystallization of the demands of the society for its future, neither the goal nor the strategy proposed by Moussavi have any connection with people's memories and imagination. The goal is the old [demand for] implementation of the constitution and nothing less; the same goal that had also been announced by the reformists for many years before the hot summer of 2009. People's memories are over-filled with moments when they saw the existing laws as [fundamentally] opposed to their demands and their existence: from the principle of the absolute rule of the religious leader (velaayat-e faqih) who sits atop the system, to the principles that qualify and condition, and therefore [severely] restrict freedom of speech, assembly and protest, freedom of forming organizations and political parties, all based on the whims and decisions of the rulers; from the laws that leave the Sepaah [Revolutionary Guards] and Basiji's completely free to murder people, to the laws that deem women as inferior and do not recognize people without religion or of other religions, and many more cases [of legal discrimination].

Whenever in heat of the arena of struggle people's imagination thinks of a society based on freedom and social equality, free from the killing machinery of Sepaah and Basij, without the guardianship of the religious jurists, based on true collective and equal participation of all members of society in shaping their social fate -- when such thoughts were imagined, they were crushed in the streets, and yet Green Charter's goal is defined and marketed as the continuation of the existing conditions, only in its green color.

The strategy of Green Charter (it should be called 'white' since it is so neutral) also has no connection to the memories that have been piling up this last year, or to the imagination that was born this past year. The proposed strategy is the same 'working within the law', non-violence, civic activities and a package in fancy wrapping paper called 'networks', all of which have been the reformists strategy for a decade. There is no sign in this platform of this past year's experiences of the people. It is the same old reformist strategy, which was marketed as 'reformism' before but now is marketed as 'green'. In response to the millions of people protesting, the regime/system did not change a bit and yet Moussavi, while suspending street protests, at the same time in his speechifying brings the promise of wanting to change things by using all the capacities of non-violent struggle. All civil rights activists are imprisoned or exiled, but the 'civil society' people [still expect miracles].

We can find the dissonances between the Green Charter and the people's street movement in this very text, where it states that it emphasizes the necessity of joining with the middle and lower classes and the meek in the society. This very sentence reveals that Moussavi and other drafters of this platform are separate from the dominated people and the oppressed, and that they are above them (even if they really want to join them, they still considers themselves separate from the dominated). They belong to the layer of the rulers, of the dominant classes. Alas, no society has ever been liberated by the dominant layers of that society. Those who in the current situation suffer the most inequalities will be the first to take steps to destroy the bars of this prison house. Only a platform that takes stock of, and bases itself on, the fighters' memories and imagination can stay loyal to the society: a platform, whose lines are not niceties and considerations of the people up above, but one that the wrath and the hopes of the people down below write its lines.

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