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Iran: authoritarian capitalism « Previous | |Next »
July 18, 2009

Slavoj Žižek has an article on authoritarian capitalism at the London Review of Books. He interprets the recent events in Iran in terms of there being a genuinely liberatory potential in Islam. The street protest movement was an opening that unleashed altogether new forces of social transformation: a moment in which ‘everything seemed possible.’

What followed was a gradual closing-down of the democratic possibilities as the Islamic establishment took political control. To put it in Freudian terms, today’s protest movement is the ‘return of the repressed’ of the Khomeini revolution. Žižek adds:

The future is uncertain – the popular explosion has been contained, and the regime will regain ground. However, it will no longer be seen the same way: it will be just one more corrupt authoritarian government. Ayatollah Khamenei will lose whatever remained of his status as a principled spiritual leader elevated above the fray and appear as what he is – one opportunistic politician among many. But whatever the outcome, it is vital to keep in mind that we have witnessed a great emancipatory event which doesn’t fit within the frame of a struggle between pro-Western liberals and anti-Western fundamentalists.

What is in formation is an authoritarian capitalism with a religious face: a Middle Eastern version of Lee Kuan Yew, the Singaporean leader who thought up and put into practice a ‘capitalism with Asian values’.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:00 PM |