Conversation With My Grandmother

The other day I had an interesting conversation with my grandmother about the Iranian Revolution and what it was like when she was growing up. She told me that her father hated Khomeini, and even had a dart board with Khomeini’s picture on it.  A large amount of this hatred has to do with the fact that my family is jewish and Khomeini had a hatred towards Israel. She also said that the Americans hated Khomeini because they thought he was corrupting Iran and the rest of the world. We also talked about current events in Iran. We both agreed that we thought it was wrong that the US was being nosy and getting involved with Iran. We said that not every country can have a government like ours and we have to accept that instead of trying to convert them to a democracy when it’s just not possible.

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Iran and Communism

As we’ve been discussion the governmental structure currently in place in Iran, I’ve noticed the strange democracy that they have in place. While the “elected” portion of their government is a democracy, the second/unelected part goes against many things that usually qualify a government as a “democracy”. Noting this dual government, I began to wonder why Communism not only was not implemented in Iran, but was widely rebuked and fought against. Perhaps it is because of the tumultuous relationship the Iranians had with the Russians, but I think that the role that Khomeini played as a religious figure in the government also contributed to the lack of Communism in Iran. What other factors could have contributed to the existence of a dual government, but a lack of Communism?

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Latest news from Iran

Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

Rafsanjani, one of the excluded candidates

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, right-hand man of President Ahmadinejad, the other excluded candiate

Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, right-hand man of President Ahmadinejad, the other excluded candiate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This just in: two more or less “opposition” candidates for president have been disqualified by the Guardian Council.  This leaves only conservative candidates still on the ballot.  You can read more here.

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US Gets Nosy

As we have discussed in class with reference to the Iranian Revolution, the US often gets involved in the political affairs of other countries in order to protect or preserve its own interests. We mentioned that one of the main reasons the US became involved in the Iranian Revolution to prevent Iran from falling under the influence of Russian Communism. The best way to do this, according to the US, was to lead a coup in 1953 against Mosaddeq, replacing him with Fazlollah Zahedi, who they felt would not fall under the influence of the Russians but would rather support US and British endeavors. The US used these concerns to justify interfering in the internal politics of Iran. The US has also become involved in the political affairs of many other countries, such as supporting a coup against Prince Sihanouk in Cambodia. Do you agree that US political and economic interests justify interfering in any other country’s internal affairs, not specific to the Iranian revolution? Why or why not?

Here is a picture of forces during the coup in Iran.

http://www.angelfire.com/home/iran/1953coup.html

 

 

 

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Gandhi vs Mao: Non-violence vs Violence

Although the China unit has drawn to a close, I would like to return to the exercise where we debated, from Gandhi or Mao’s perspective, the necessity of violence in a revolution.  Speaking of the revolution in India, Gandhi said, “I know that when conscious non-violence becomes general in India swaraj will not be far” (Gandhi packet).  Gandhi believed that the only way to ensure an effective and successful revolution is through a campaign of non-violent protest.  Mao is the antithesis of Gandhi in that he believed war and armed conflict were necessary vehicles to drive a revolution forward.  Mao powerfully wrote, “A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another” (Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan).  Gandhi would certainly repudiate this belief, and instead explained that non-violence is crucial to a revolution because, “An oppressor’s efforts will be in vain if we refuse to submit to his tyranny.  Generally, no one will kick me for the mere fun of it.  There must be some deeper reason for his doing so” (Gandhi packet).  Ironically, I believe this quote backfires against Gandhi.  Generally, when there is a tyrant, that tyrant has a specific agenda and/or goals, which can constitute for a “deeper reason.”  Thus, the tyrant will “kick” out if his subjects “refuse to submit.”  Mao echoes this truth when he wrote, “Without using the greatest force, the peasants cannot possibly overthrow the deep-rooted authority of the landlords which has lasted for thousands of years. … To put it bluntly, it is necessary to create terror for a while in every rural area, or it otherwise would be impossible to … overthrow the authority of the gentry.  Proper limits have to be exceeded in order to right a wrong, or else the wrong cannot be righted” (Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan).  Basically, Mao believed that the feudal landlords would refuse to give up their land, unless they were forced to through violence.  I agree with Mao; after all, who would give up inordinate wealth and unless threatened by extreme force?  I believe that violence is a necessity in accomplishing a revolution.  What are your opinions?

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Chinese Revolution/History Timeline

This is not a typical blog post, however, the following link is a very detailed and thorough timeline of the Chinese Revolution: http://www.indiana.edu/~e232/Time2.html.  It has been a very helpful tool in my studying, so I thought I should share it with everyone else.  Good luck studying for the test!

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The Chinese Dream

The recently appointed Chinese president Xi Jinping has recently adopted the popular slogan the “Chinese dream,” which ironically plays on the idealistic American dream where Capitalism allows one to earn his or her money through enterprise without too much government restriction in an ideal setting.  Although China’s government is Communist, their economy is run off of a capitalist model, which makes me question how long the Chinese state structure can last until democracy is finally adopted.  The Chinese Communist Party previously established a number of goals, one of which included, the creation of a “rich, strong, democratic, civilized and harmonious socialist modern country” by 2049 (the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s rule).  In my opinion, this statement is quite contradictory, as the Chinese government cannot be socialist and democratic at the same time.  A democracy incorporates a number of political parties, whereas socialism calls for the dictatorship of the proletariat.  Despite the fact that the Chinese government openly stated that they wanted to establish a democracy in China by 2049, the Chinese state remains heavily sanctioned and has only one political party in government to this day.  In my opinion, the Chinese attempt at Westernizing will ultimately end the Chinese Communist Party’s political and possibly societal supremacy, because the Chinese people will become too educated to allow such a repressive government to rule.  Capitalism has caused the Chinese economy to rapidly expand in past years, which proves that Westernization truly benefited China.  The next step one must take in attaining a successful Western society is representative government.  It makes little sense to invigorate the Chinese masses with the vague yet deliberately Western inspired “Chinese dream,” when the government is unwilling to compromise on their authoritarian ways.  Do you feel that China can Westernize and be a democratic country with the Communist Party still solely in charge of the state?  Is the Chinese government currently stabbing itself in the back by modernizing and using a capitalist economic system?  How long can the government suppress their people until another possible revolution occurs to truly democratize China?

Article: http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21577063-chinas-new-leader-has-been-quick-consolidate-his-power-what-does-he-now-want-his

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The Indigent; The Moths To The Flame of Terrorism

Through our class studies of Socialistic China and Mao, and my own individual studies about the Shining Path Rebellion in Peru, I have spent some time contemplating why people are so attracted to the use of fear and terrorism.  Abimael Guzman was the founder of The Shining Path, a Communist party in Peru.  He idolized Mao and used Mao’s Cultural Revolution as a general revolutionary model for Peru.  Peru, similarly to China, was facing some major economical struggles leading up to the SP (Shining Path) rebellion.  Peru was heavily hit by rapid population growth, agrarian crisis, and they had become very reliant on food imports, which only perpetuated the suffering for many working farmers, who were losing business to the cheaper imports.  Guzman became a strong advocate for agrarian reform and wished to end class struggle.  In order to rid the country of capitalist “monsters”, Guzman, like Mao, felt that violence was necessary to obtain the goal of true social equality.  Guzman began forming an army similar to Red Guards in China.  Young adults often joined the Red Guards because of the attractive offers that Mao presented.  The poor peasants and uneducated youth, who had only known oppression this far in life, were so ready for change that they would nearly latch on to any movement that promised equality and reform.  In a desperate act, the peasants of Peru cling to the SP in hopes of improving their lifestyle.  These peasants have felt so exploited that they blindly associate themselves with terrorist groups, not because they agree with their methods, but because they often view these terrorist factions as the only groups capable of progressing their lives.  Leaders, like Guzman and Mao, recognize that the peasants are weak and easy to convert to their organization.  This “targeting of the poor” often plays a large role in the success of terrorist groups.  The peasants are like the moths to this flame of terrorism.  They are inevitably attracted to the flame because of the brightness it shines, regardless of whether or not the flame was sparked from guerrilla explosives.  The vulnerability of the needy stirs a deep fear in me.  We are not invincible, The U.S might not be too far from a terrorist uprising.  We have impoverished and upset citizens that could easily cling to the next terrorist group that advocates social liberation.  What will it take to prevent the inevitable attraction of the poor to terrorism?

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Surpression Of Citizens

During a bit of research for my Thesis Paper, I decided to read about China’s neighbor, North Korea. What I read was at times fascinating, funny, sad, but most of all disturbing. A government ruled over by an all powerful man at the center of an intense cult of personality seemed familiar, and the comparisons between North Korea and China are scary. The famines and periods of mass starvation that plagued China in the Great Leap Forward are similar to the periods of starvation North Korea continues to go through. The use of reeducation camps during the Cultural Revolution is similar to the reeducation camps North Korea uses to this day. However, digging deeper, North Korea drifts away from China and off in its own direction. North Korea removed any trace of communism from their constitution in 2009, meaning that the government is not considered a communist one. However, could this split be somewhat like Mao’s split from traditional communism? North Korea’s government practices juche, most easily translated as “self-reliance”. The creation of a new line of leading is quite like Mao’s acceptance of the peasants as a main revolutionary force. Does anyone have any other thoughts?

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Chechnya

In light of the egregious Boston Marathon Bombings I came across this interesting article: http://www.theonion.com/articles/study-majority-of-americans-not-informed-enough-to,32124/.  This article explains the heritage of the two bombers, whom are of Chechen decent, and how Americans lack proper knowledge of Chechnya, which in turn, inhibits their ability to “stereotype the alleged terrorists.”  So, first and foremost, what is Chechnya?  In a nut shell, Chechnya is a Muslim republic located in the Caucasus region of South-western Russia.  If Americans were to know this tid-bit of information, a multitude of Muslim stereotypes could be made, particularly linking the two bombers to Al Qaeda.  According to Dr. Tim Kinane, “Our research shows that, while many Americans would like nothing more than to make sweeping, insensitive generalizations about these two individuals based purely on their ethnic identity, this process is largely impeded by the fact that 9 out of 10 Americans truly know next to nothing about Chechnya, including even the very barest details of what or where Chechnya is.”  This quote disturbs me for two reasons: 1) we Americans can be so ignorant, especially when it comes to world affairs; 2) the fact that many Americans would blindly stereotype the bombers because they are Muslim.  Why as a people are we often so ignorant about what is going on in the world around us, and why are we so willing, and even have an instinct to make stereotypes?

 

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