Observers of Iran at home and abroad predict that the Iranian regime is in danger of collapse. Certainly, the theocracy, led by Supreme Leader Ali Khameinei, is in trouble, threatened by economic and social upheaval, and – quite simply – the pressure of modernity.
Esmail Khoie, the exiled poet based in London, has described Iran’s post-Revolutionary Islamic government as a cross between the worst of Genghis Khan’s offspring and the 7th-century Father of Ignorance, Abu Jahl.
I see our leaders more as woolly mammoths, lumbering closer and closer to extinction.
Certainly the regime has consistently failed to provide credible, forward-looking answers to Iran’s many problems. Instead, it has provided utterly unsuitable solutions inspired by medieval religious claptrap.
For instance, in the wake of the dramatic devaluation of the rial, our woolly mammoths reached into the Ice Age of economic theory and came up with a reassuring idea. Across the country, they said, seminaries would host seminars on “Islamic Jurisprudence in the Bazaar” to help merchants and businessmen to cope.
They really are like prehistoric beasts unable to change their ways, even to save themselves.
Here’s another example of their absurdity.
Iran is suffering from epic environmental mismanagement. We face severe drought, deforestation, and pollution of all kinds. There’s the obvious air pollution in Tehran, but along the Caspian shoreline cities are dumping tons of plastic into the sea.
A modern government would put together a coherent policy of water conservation and reforestation, and find the money to build garbage treatment plants to turn rubbish into electricity.
How did our mammoths react? They arrested environmental experts and activists as CIA/Mossad spies.
To tackle the drought, they invited people to join a top marja, a Shia authority, in the desert for “Rain Prayers.”
The inspiration for this cockamamie initiative? The Revolutionary Guards leader (and conspiracist) Hassan Abbasi announced that Iranians were suffering not from an environmental crisis – but a crisis of faith.
Before science and the enlightenment re-framed our view of the world, religious figures – monks, priests, mullahs – all appealed to various deities to control the weather for human benefit. But in 2018? Really?
Of course, many Iranians are getting on with living modern lives. Young men and women, for example, are moving in together without getting married and enjoying all kinds of social and sexual freedoms.
Meanwhile the mammoths spend public money on millions of utterly irrelevant – and questionable – books like The Family Life of Fatimeh, Daughter of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon her). The message is that young people should have as many children as Mohammed’s family members did. That is a minimum of five – though this book recommends ideally 15 children, because it’s the number of immaculate leaders in Shia theology.
The poet Esmail Khoie liked the woolly mammoth metaphor too. In a metaphor for the time of the Islamic Revolution, he wrote: “The Ice Age glaciers cracked and shattered. Woolly mammoths came to life again and began to roam – out of time and place.”
They are still roaming — blundering about with their business-suited cronies, making a mess, trying to pretend Iran is still frozen in the Pleistocene.
Like the real woolly mammoths they are bound to die out. The trouble is no credible, unified opposition has yet formed to take charge afterward.
As Aristotle observed, nature abhors a vacuum and the scary truth is that plenty of criminals, fascists and opportunists are ready to rush in when our mammoths at last go extinct.