Berlusconi in Tehran

Berlusconi in Tehran

Slavoj Žižek in the LRB:

Two crucial observations follow. First, Ahmadinejad is not the hero of the Islamist poor, but a corrupt Islamofascist populist, a kind of Iranian Berlusconi whose mixture of clownish posturing and ruthless power politics is causing unease even among the ayatollahs. His demagogic distribution of crumbs to the poor shouldn’t deceive us: he has the backing not only of the organs of police repression and a very Westernised PR apparatus. He is also supported by a powerful new class of Iranians who have become rich thanks to the regime’s corruption – the Revolutionary Guard is not a working-class militia, but a mega-corporation, the most powerful centre of wealth in the country.

Second, we have to draw a clear distinction between the two main candidates opposed to Ahmadinejad, Mehdi Karroubi and Mousavi. Karroubi is, effectively, a reformist, a proponent of an Iranian version of identity politics, promising favours to particular groups of every kind. Mousavi is something entirely different: he stands for the resuscitation of the popular dream that sustained the Khomeini revolution. It was a utopian dream, but one can’t deny the genuinely utopian aspect of what was so much more than a hardline Islamist takeover. Now is the time to remember the effervescence that followed the revolution, the explosion of political and social creativity, organisational experiments and debates among students and ordinary people. That this explosion had to be stifled demonstrates that the revolution was an authentic political event, 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 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.


  1. Το είχα διαβάσει μεταφρασμένο… Πού ήσουν να το βάλεις στο blog μου, όταν μου την έπεφταν που τάχωνα στον Αχμαντινετζάντ.

    • MadNihilist said:

      @ProkopisDoukas Oh, don’t be greedy. Half of the Greek blogosphere (au féminin) are currently commenting at your blog. Let some of us opt for silence. =))

  2. Maurice Politis said:

    “Iranian Berlusconi” is an affront to the Cavaliere and his cohort of pin-ups. Seriously, great Zizek piece.

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