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Free Iranian bloggers

February 22nd, 2005

As part of the general increase in repression in Iran in recent years, several bloggers have been arrested and imprisoned. You can keep up with developments and suggested actions with The Committee to Protect Bloggers

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  1. Reza Fathollahzadeh
    February 22nd, 2005 at 06:39 | #1

    Thanks John for bringing this up. May Iranians also have their own say freely? Perhaps they can retrieve their free and democratic IRAN that once American Republicans took it from them back in 1953 and replaced it with a dictatorship. Blogs seems to be a successful way for informing the masses towards this end, but yet a dangerous one.

  2. Katz
    February 22nd, 2005 at 10:24 | #2

    Once upon a time the kind of suppression of free expression cited above was a fairly reliable harbinger of political crisis.

    Since, the mechanisms of repression have been refined. Regimes now strike earlier, more accurately and harder. And their control of the mass media makes it more difficult for dissenting voices to be heard and, perhaps more importantly, to be believed. Consent is much more readily manufactured.

    But the rise of the blog is the most hopeful development for some time. And the potential for “flash mob” style events co-ordinated by internet represent the re-invention of some semblance of a public sphere where nothing of the sort previously existed.

    It is small, but it is a beginning. People living in repressive regimes have to be braver than I believe I capable of being. And I hope that my courage will never be tested in that way.

  3. February 22nd, 2005 at 15:46 | #3

    Hey guys. I don’t get it.

    Iranian authorities arrest bloggers for the temerity to express a public opinion, and yet this thread is remarkably quiet.

    I guess it must be ok!

    Of course, if the US did anything like that, can you imagine the cascade of vitriol and abuse!!!

  4. John Quiggin
    February 22nd, 2005 at 16:14 | #4

    Roberto, the usual requirement for an active thread is someone to disagree with the post. It looks as if, while quite a few readers of this blog support arbitrary arrest and torture when “we” do it, no-one supports the Iranian theocrats when they engage in such things.

    Of course, if I were writing for an Iranian audience, it would probably be the other way around.

  5. wpc
    February 22nd, 2005 at 18:13 | #5

    John, I think you are almost spot on with your observation of the double standard.

    “Almost” because I think it is “tolerance” of torture, not “support”. I’m sure I’ll get a interview/interrogation comment for that, and maybe deserve it, but I think there is a subtle difference.

    That doesn’t mean I think arbitrary incarceration is a good thing, but I do have a tribal double standard when it comes to what I consider to be a matter of survival.

    Habib may have been trying to get people killed, the bloggers might just have been criticising a government.

    I can admire your stance on “always doing the right thing”, it’s just that I fear that it isn’t helpful in a war.

    Otherwise, I agree with some of the others. Blogs show the way to a true democracy.

  6. February 23rd, 2005 at 00:47 | #6

    It’s worth noting that the Iranian Government is one we have done a secret Memorandum of Understanding with to enable us to deport asylum seekers back there.

    Some may be interested in details in this post on my site from not too long ago:

    http://andrewbartlettonline.blogspot.com/2005/02/human-rights-in-iran-how-australia.html

  7. February 23rd, 2005 at 01:52 | #7

    There is no double standard. Its in the reasoning, not in the actual act.

  8. February 23rd, 2005 at 11:53 | #8

    “But the rise of the blog is the most hopeful development for some time.”

    No, Katz and others. It’s being handled with the same technique the Leprechaun in the fable used, when the farmer made him promise not to touch the ribbon the farmer had left to mark the bush with the crock of gold under it. When the farmer returned with a spade, he found every bush had a ribbon, for as far as the eye could see.

    In much the same way, the blogosphere is drowned with the sound of many voices. All our wheels are slipping, and by itself, with no other measures in place, nothing can be done with that, But Committees of Correspondence could arise under certain circumstances, and the internet could provide blog-like tools for that – and they make a difference to events, in the right time and place.

  9. Katz
    February 25th, 2005 at 11:05 | #9

    But PML, the Democratic Republic of Germany (aka East Germany) followed your Leprechaun strategy in that their Secret Police (the Stasi) essentially employed everyone to spy and to write reports on everyone else. When the GDR finally collapsed whole warehouses of dossiers were discovered.

    If a state is reduced to this level of effort to guard against popular discontent and distaste, its days are numbered.

    The blogosphere does have the capacity to turn into a cacaphony. But my guess is that all these little lights that a present glimmer in the blogosphere will eventually coalesce around fewer more coherent nodal points. Human beings seek coherence. By a quasi-darwinian process some blogs (perhaps even JQ’s) will grow by becoming a nodal point, while others will atrophy.

  10. February 25th, 2005 at 15:34 | #10

    Katz, that wasn’t what hurt the East Germans to the point of collapse, it was the other stuff.

  11. Katz
    February 25th, 2005 at 15:40 | #11

    “The other stuff”

    Delightfully abstruse PML, but what else could one expect from someone who can speak intelligently of Banastre Tarleton (one of my own diversionary interests).

    Briefly, when we speak of the erosion of legitimacy of a whole way of life, of which the regime is only one part, it is to commit the sin of over-determination to distinguish “the other stuff” from “this stuff”.

  12. February 25th, 2005 at 16:19 | #12

    I mean, the everybody’s a spy trick (used by Mussolini’s OVRA too, BTW) may be a symptom of a regime in decline, but not in itself a cause (see OVRA).

    The costs of running Stasi may have been a last straw, but that is a different direction of causality, and there were many other things that imposed costs (the “other stuff”).

    Neither are particularly relevant to the cacophony problem in blogs in particular and the internet in general. No central system has to fund it, and the collapse – if it comes – is precisely the problem, that we can’t get the message across.

    In other words, the thing that collapses will be what we want kept, not what is strangling what we want kept.

    See what I just put on the “latest Fin article” item for an example of messages not getting through.

    Oh, Banastre Tarleton was one of the good guys – to the extent it ever makes sense to talk in those terms. What we see now is in part an outworking of internal contradictions in the rebels’ philosophical position then.

  13. siamak
    February 28th, 2005 at 15:45 | #13

    This action is one of the worst behaviour which any government do it, especially if it is done by the name of a holly religion like Islam. It could be done only by some dictator regims such as Pinoshet or Sadam.I hate such actions.

  14. Razor
    February 28th, 2005 at 18:56 | #14

    Hey Katz – stop being an apologist for a bunch of cracy nasties. Yes, you read my post. You are an incidious apologist. And yes, F@#K Off.

  15. Katz
    February 28th, 2005 at 20:46 | #15

    Thank you for that suggestion Razor.

    PS. Was it sheer chance that you guessed one of my favorite pastimes?

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