Sunday, August 9, 2009

Iranian Analysis

The current depictions of events in Iran can be analyzed more deeply in a number of different ways, some questioning how the Islamic world can integrate into a world consumed by Western culture and others detailing how power structures work in a nation-state.
Much of what I have seen about the conflict in Iran has been illustrative of a country in turmoil over traditional vs. modern belief systems. The current government holds a very strong preference for religious affiliation within the political system while recent political candidates are in favor of less religious affiliation in the government, more freedom for all citizens (especially women) and more integration into the global market and adapting more Westernized views. Taking the perspective of Tariq Ali, I argue that the current political members may be working in a fundamentalist way; seeking to keep the current beliefs and ideologies of Iran intact without much Western interference.
In terms of the power struggle that is occurring in Iran with the government and its’ citizens there are number of different theoretical approaches that can be taken. According to Thomas Hobbes we should not look at power as existing from one source (whether it is the Iranian government or the citizens) rather, power is in and of itself. In other words, power is born when individuals buy into a socially bound contract and then combine to form a being greater than them. In the current example, power is a manifestation of all of the dynamics that are occurring in Iran presently. It is my opinion then that the struggle of power would not be occurring in Iran if it were not for the present government and the citizens that want some sort of political change. Had there not been a desire of change we would not be seeing the unrest that is currently being illustrated in the country.
Michel Foucault on the other hand, takes a different approach to power struggles. Instead of thinking of power manifesting in the government and the people either obeying or fighting for different representation, Foucault insists that power should be looked at as power relations. What this means is that in any given situation for event there is always going to be a struggle for power with one side getting what they want while the other side has to negotiate for the time being. Furthermore, this idea of power relations stresses that power is relative, just because one side has gotten what they wanted in one specific situation does not mean that the hold all the power forever instead, it is susceptible to change every time to parties do not agree on a particular issue.
The current illustration of power is relatable to the current situation in Iran in a number of ways. While the Iranian government may have been the party with more power for a number of years, the citizens have now decided that they do not want to obey or compromise. So while the protesting continues and the public defies the law it can be seen that the public has one this fight but the government is taking many more actions that question the power relations in the country. The Supreme Leader has issued a statement prohibiting any protesting, the police have been thought to injure and kill innocent protestors, the government has been accused of falsifying the conditions and treatment of the jailed protestors and even manipulating the death count and has even gone as far as the blame foreign influence on the cause of the nation’s unrest.

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