July 23, 2006
A pictorial answer to one lie about Iran
Well... I, for one, would definitely think twice before I try to oppress Iranian women who play rugby football:
The pictures are from a series of national tournaments in various sports currently being held in Iran. True, the women are dressed in an extremely modest manner, showing no "skin" whatsoever. In my opinion, only voyeurs and misogynists object to modest dress in women.
Humanity is very far from achieving equality for women, or for men for that matter. At the same time, the American propaganda about the situation of women in Iran is no more than the usual bunch of lies that are meant purely to serve American interests. Iranian women are no more or less oppressed than women in any other part of the world.
For good measure, here are a couple of pictures from an Iranian fashion show:
Thanks for the correction about the difference between rugby and American football. Spectator sports are a mystery to me.
Actually, I think it would be boring to have a homogenous world, with no differences. Stereotypes about Americans and the western world are found among Iranians or others in eastern countries also. The point is, it should be an individual work to stop wrong stereotypes and try hard to discover others without going from the point " I have the absolute truth"!...
In the same way, the stereotypes that Iranians hold about Americans don't cause any harm to Americans. BUT the stereotypes that Americans hold about Iranians can be used by the US Government as an excuse to make war on Iran. It is therefore urgent to fight the stereotypes and misconceptions that are commonly held by Americans about Iran.
As to your point that the West wants to "impose" certain standards in order to "liberate" eastern women, I don't really understand what you mean. Do you really believe that people can be liberated by force?
The fact that you used rugby is sort of interesting. Rugby is very much like American football, only you don't wear any protective equipment. In order to do it well, it requires a level of reckless aggression that in a way kind of mirrors US foreign policy.
Equally as important is that we should be conscious of the fact that we perceive all phenomena through the imposed filter of capitalist ideological propaganda.
If there is any kind of valid relativism, it applies to a comparative understanding of social institutions and oppression between different countries. For instance, the Iranian socio-political system is based on attaching greater weight to society’s rights as opposed to those of the individual. The reason for this choice has to do with the specific historical conjuncture that Iran finds itself in, namely, the requirement to protect its social revolution within the context of imperialist encirclement. A parallel analysis may be applicable to the forms of oppression and exploitation that Western women suffer from, albeit within a context of individual "freedom."
To see all phenomena through the supposed filter of "capitalist ideological propaganda" only feeds a phenomenon that operates on a viral level. Like I have said before, "we", whatever we can be, must redefine the grounds for discourse. It is the architecture of resistance that precedes any percieved ideological moves. How does one transform the architecture of resistance? It requires that one does not fall into the comfortable categories that "captialist ideological propaganda" have traditionally exploited. I requires that "we" look at a term like "capitalist ideological propaganda" with a critical approach, to see it isn't totalizing in-of-itself - it only becomes totalizing once "friends" and "enemies" alike come to accept it as the present exisent condition. They don't have to throw you into the iron cage if you willingly walk into it. Part of that is the relative difficulty of language. You cannot communicate a "coherent argument" without clear language, nomenclature that is somewhat clear and apparently incisive. But the terms "global hegemony" and "ideological propaganda" are seen as absolutely hollow to people in general. It isn't necessarily because they are compromised by propaganda. Because ideology is at times merely the secularization of religious categories - see Ludwig Feuerbach, and we all know how well we take to Jehovah's Witnesses knocking on our doors. The problem, as abstract as it may sound, is indeed in the epistemological foundations of modern societies - this is inclusive of nations of Islam; namely that the individual as individual or the collective society as individual needs to be considered in a paramount place, for the political formation to have any clarity. It isn't the case - but someone has to tell Stephen Harper that Canada is not U.S.A junior.
In short, yes, there is oppression and conflict. Both, sadly, are part of the human condition - the ebb and flow of what is at once great and tragic about life. It is great that we are all born free, but everywhere we are in chains, with no spaces to exercise that freedom - left on a terrain largely constructed by those in power, unable to step out of a political illusion that is so readily accepted. This illusion is not the specific occurences of propaganda - that is often the smokescreen in front of the curtain. The illusion is that we have to take sides in that great apocalyptic battle between "us" and "them"; between "righteousness" and "oppression"; between the "Great Satan" and "Children of Allah". The reign of the political is indeed illusion. Venom only feeds venom - until all is consumed.
The relativism that I have in mind is the post-modernist kind that rejects the absoluteness of the correspondence between material processes and their concepts. That is why I said, for instance, that oppression is real, and not just something that may look like oppression one day and like something else the next day or from another point of view. In other words, if a philosophy fails to recognize oppression as oppression, then that philosophy is wrong.
What I am "contending" is certainly not a Baudrillard-Borges postmodern simulacrum upon simulacrum, where no grounds are readily present. The existentialism inherent in my words is definitely not the solipsistic account of Sartre, but rather more akin to Camus'. Oppression is real. It does exist. Whether or not I can see it is irrelevant to its presence in the world. Oppression is represented by faces, i.e. George Bush, concepts - global hegemony, and ideas - globalization. Indeed, the absolute relationship between material processes and concepts does not exist in the world - even Plato would admit. For the concept of a Republic does not being on this earth, it exists merely on a transcendental plane. The concepts and ideas are imperfect descriptions and prescriptions for an existent condition. That is the point I wanted to convey. The term itself is perfect. To accept a term, a word, or a process as somehow infallible is, as Lukacs said, to reify it. Reification, I don't have to explain, leads away from genuine human thought about their general conditions. Hence, a concept does not perfectly describe a current material process it corresponds with. That much I can admit. But rather than leading to relativism, it hopefully leads to a redefinition of the concept-idea. The idea-concept that stagnates, that is accepted as absolute, becomes anachronistic.
The main point, if there is a point to what I am saying, is that oppression, repression, or the exercise of political power is beyond just raw force. Hence, in order to confront oppression, one must not simply see the concepts already constructed to describe it, but rather engaging with others about the complexity of the situation. To act politically is not to throw ourselves out as "soldiers" for one Cause against another - that is making a stand, but merely capitulating to the logic of oppression - friend-enemy. To make a stand is to state that neither side is absolutely righteous or inexorably evil.
The U.S. government may be hazardous and malicious in its policies, but the American people on a whole cannot be demonized. Conversely, the Iranian state is not the the repressive regime - that the West purports it to be, but it is not without fundamental flaws itself. And all one can do is to make a stand for life - believe in life, in the human spirit, and see life as it is, between peoples with differences whom nonetheless share a existent condition. And in doing so, people can come to reject the myths spun by both sides - living the truth rather merely following truth-concepts, which describes experiences of a given time and place. We do not live in the eternal world of forms; the correspondence between concept and reality is invariably flawed.
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