In the process of voting

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"Guys, don't you get it, every time we vote we are voting against ourselves", I tried to point out to my colleagues-cum-team mates as we sat huddled around a table for our end of year party. "Hey come on, we gave you four votes on the last round!", gasped an opponent on the neighboring table as an end of round vote count was taking place. To say that the system descended into chaos would be to suggest that it was ever anything else; true, the lady who beat me by one point in the acting round of the competition did do a great job of convincing us she was constipated, but merit was long forgotten by that point.

It was a simple situation; ten tables with roughly five or six people per table; each round we'd send a suitable candidate to either sing, draw, dance or appear a little clogged up. Following each round we were asked to vote on the performance but with the exception of not being able to vote for one’s own representative. Yet, with this haphazard recognition system it soon became apparent to me that one should never rightly cast a vote for they'll only vote against themselves. Regardless, the voting went on; be it for recognition of merit and a willingness to ‘enjoy-the-taking-part’, or be it for the tit-for-tat; back scratching; "we voted for your shit skit, where's our payback?".

Naturally I took it all very seriously, paying careful attention to the new and unavoidable vote bartering, yet conscious that we'd always schemed the better result. As the competition concluded our mixture of great team performances and vote trading brought about a tie for first place with the Media Monitoring department, for which was oddly settled with a round of tug-of-war. Our failure here was in accepting the newer and shinier end of the two-part, make-shift rope, leading to a swift demise and very sore hands.

Another small voting matter took place this weekend, with equally as many peculiarities and equally as contended. This weekend saw the elections for the parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran; which – depending on what side of the Atlantic you stood – was an event that would test of the president’s approval, or be a display of defiance against the Grand Arrogance.

‘who’ and ‘what’ were therefore interchangeable; without somebody to vote for there was nothing to vote for

“Are you going to vote?”, became a repeated question asked by very few optimists. Many considered that I’d presented my willingness with these words, for which were often thrown back with a, “what is there to vote for?”. This question would rouse resentment, for which seemed to centre around the vetting process, whereby many so called reformist candidate didn’t gain prior approval by the Guardian Council (the supreme authority in Iran). The words ‘who’ and ‘what’ were therefore interchangeable and thus without somebody to vote for there was nothing to vote for.

A friend of mine assured me that one must be pragmatic; that one must pick the lesser-of two-evils and to at least put an, “urgently needed halt to some upcoming disastrous policies”. I could appreciate his desire for crisis management but wasn’t convinced that this is a sensible solution.

My friend stood alone among all those in my circles. “What for?”, became the reasoning for a boycott, but yet again I found no comfort in this being a solution. I was reminded of the end of year work party, "guys, don't you get it, every time we vote we are voting against ourselves", but like the party we would surely end with a tug-of-war.

I’d gathered a few friends for lunch on the big day, whereby we’d hoped to reach a decision for the will-we-won’t-we? I’d pitched my optimist friend against a self proclaimed intellect with opposing views, yet the resulting sparks – though entertaining –still had me sat on the fence. The decision tormented me as I tried to openly consider all options. My immediate options were as follows: to vote (pragmatically and based on trusted advice; for I was desperately lacking), to boycott or to spoil the ballot. Each option held a weight that tugged hard against the other, yet the rope seemed to somehow be wrapped around our throats with only the means to breathe being the thing that would give.


“I think Iran is a relative beacon of light in the region and in some ways refreshingly honest with its democratic process”

“So who did you vote for?”, came a microphone to my face, “I don’t know”, I responded, being half true and slightly ambiguous in my words. “So what do you think of the elections so far?”, returned the microphone, “In what respect?”, I questioned, conscious of all the eyes turning in my direction as I spoke in English. “It’s interesting to observe so many people having faith in a strange ideal”, I continued, sticking with the ambiguity. Her questions were also vague as she alluded to how things compared in a global context, “I think Iran is a relative beacon of light in the region and in some ways refreshingly honest with its democratic process”. Her astonished face led me to want to retract my words, “how do you mean?”, she came back at me, “well, the controversial vetting process, I’d say other nations have more subtle means, but nevertheless have some form of vetting; it’s interesting to see that it’s rather straight-up here”. My indifference almost silenced her; it seemed too much to consider that somebody from beyond these borders wasn’t bleeting for democracy. Again she asked what I thought of this local display, yet I didn’t know what to add, “you tell me, you’ve been here longer. How does it feel for you? Do you think this is going well?”, I said in agitation. As I turned the questions around, she turned her microphone around, flicking the off switch underneath and indicating to the cameraman that they were done.

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A poster campaign, "It's our own fault", promoting good hejab in Iran.

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A lot of changes have been taking place in Iran over the last week, the Islamic Republic has been remembering itself, taking further steps than enforcement of the dress laws. Coffee shops have been closing due to women smoking in them, clothing shops will have to have their stock put to the scrutiny of the Islamic ideals and Satellite dishes have been torn from roofs.

I occasionally duplicate my blog at an interesting site by the name of MidEastYouth.com, a site that brings folk from the Middle East together to share and publish words and ideas. I'm flattered that they except me as a youth and often enjoy the lively debates that spin off from mine and other people's writing.

Occasionally I get lost in these debates and felt that one of the recent ones resulting from an article concerning the struggle for free press in iran [oddly enough this has now been deleted by the author who feared the repercussions, or so I was told], would be a timely one to reverse-post with. Here is my last response/rant.

Esra [site founder], I feel you've rather missed the point about Chomsky (with all due respect). The beauty with Chomsky is that he doesn't have ideas, or at least not in that way. You will often hear him state that he is far too unqualified to make predictions and you will note that he's at pains to simply present facts and make suggestions as to other ways to perceive them. It is by not sticking his neck out like this that I feel he gets a large audience and relatively little bashing.

That Chomsky 'doesn't try hard enough' [referring to Esra's comment] to enforce any ideas might make sense with what I say above. Although it should be added that Chomsky was very active in his early years as far as protesting and organising.

As for Chomsky not being a force for change [referring to Esra's comment], I very much disagree here. When the people have access to such a wealth of mostly hidden facts, then has them presented in a way that exposes alternative agendas - I feel this is a very powerful source of change. he has been a huge influence for me, a true intellectual power-house with such a perfect form of presentation, modest, selfless and relentless. He has inspired me to dig deeper, try harder and alway reflect upon my bias.

Which leads me on to City boy [the author of the article in question], maybe I need to be clearer here [referring to his response to mine]. Yes, we can be reductionist about bias and suggest that all individuals include an amount of prejudice in their words, actions and behavior, this should be universally appreciated. But we must look at the bias in the institutions and corporations.

To get back to Chomsky, he asks us to consider that the media's market is the advertisers and their product is the consumers - with a bias toward more wealthy consumers. With this in mind we have our understanding as to the trail of influence. Jina [commenting on City boy] suggests that Fox news is a mirror for the government, yet I feel this also misses the point, again, Chomsky would tell us that the Government is the shadow created by the corporations, and especially so in the USA I would add. Regardless, the media simply align themselves to the market thus adapting what we consume.

Where this is slightly different is in cases like the BBC, whereby license payers contribute with the government to provide a service. Yet I see this as a more interesting form of media distribution of which is certainly still open to bias. One may simply read of BBC Persia's reporting during 1953 when Mosadegh lost power. More amusingly the BBC did a documentary about it recently.

But one sees these cases where the consumer is fed to fulfill the needs of the government and those higher up: the corporations. Was it no small coincidence that the largest company of the that period ('53 coup) for Britain was British Petroleum which pretty much functioned only in Iran.

The field may be larger, the fence maybe lower but we are still sheep

City boy, aziz e delam [returning his Farsi endearment], please do not purport to be a tour guide for 'reality'. "Freedom of democracy" is an illusion for a few countries and although I have also heard our dear Chomsky suggest that indulging the political process has benefits, he is never a faithful for the concept and neither am I. The farce of a system that we have in those countries (that feel so enlightened to export such a virtue) is simply a means to control the masses. The field may be larger, the fence maybe lower but we are still sheep to use the metaphor. My guess is that soon the fence won't even be needed as we will simply obey.

But you know my field is different with methods such as these [blogging] although my basement [term used by City boy] doesn't have the resources to compete with the majority of the established media. Yet it is not the resources I desire as this will then create a market and thus I am no different.

So OK, as you suggest I can write for these institutions and corporations [in my basement as is suggested], but you honestly think I am at liberty to say what I will.

But then we can get on to systemic failings, which I might state is where America struggles more. Robert Fisk talks occasionally about this subject whereby career mindedness or even the need to maintain a job has sucked the life out of any ability to counter the corporate line. So we can sees the compounding distortions.

The 'West' is afforded 'freedom' and 'democracy' as the results are not as harmful

But yes City boy, there is a difference between Iran and the 'West', but this difference is – in my mind – to do with the ruling family or party's strength. The 'West' is afforded 'freedom' and 'democracy' as the results are not as harmful or at least comfortably undermined. In nations like Iran, the clamping down is a reflection of the weakness in dealing with it by other means.

But City boy, I don't much care for revolutions [he suggests we should conspire to one] nor think it would be wise, I might rather evolution - it's less bloody among other things. Regardless, optimist or pessimist, keep on writing and thinking, moving and progressing.

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How I see the world.

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"Are they coming? Are the Americans coming?", is a question I'm being increasingly asked - yet the answers to my family's anxious questions change with each day. "Can I go back with you to England - in your suitcase?", asks a distant relative - she's a big girl, but I tell her what she needs to hear.

The increasingly obsessive reading on Iran's near future – or lack of – has led to me being an alternative news source among my relatives. 6-months ago I might have entered their homes dressed in a dooms-day A-board, bringing silence to those that dared inquire, yet shortly after I'd abandoned the opinions in favour of history and facts – thinking it better to distinguish words from events.

I've abandoned this distinction for now though as it appears that the words are the preparation for damaging events.

The '2nd Holocaust' I've heard is a popular mix

Take a few selected moments – possibly true but not essential – frame them in the right way, chuck in some "officials" – whack the blender on [loud whiring noise] and in a remarkably quick time we have a stinky, mucky pulp. These concoctions are tasteless yet easy to digest with many exciting and emotive names - the '2nd Holocaust' I've heard is a popular mix.

For the everyday folk of Iran the noise is disconcerting and rather familiar, yet although we are not the ones swallowing this stuff, we're the ones that suffer from it – even before any bomb has landed.

But we don't recall being asked what power source we'd like and also don't recall anyone suggesting countries be wiped off maps, but we expect to be held responsible for it. We are simply observers, sitting in the stands, able to root for the home-team – to shout, to comment even, but the games goes on despite us. It's the Supreme PR Machine playing at home to the Empire's Noise Engineers, yet worryingly the referee and commentators seem more involved in the game than maybe they should be.

"Two military ships are on their way to the Persian Gulf from the US, – one with anti-missile capability", I inform my family, leaving out any speculation. They are coming, they are here, we are surrounded – I imagine the game will commence once the supporters appear to be sitting comfortably.

RELATED LINKS - These guys say it better than I:
Lost in Translation – Wiped off the map?
Ahmadinejad's interview with SPIEGEL
Iran and impending war
Oil business and war
Wikipedia on Campaign Again Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran
Scott Ritter: Sleep walking into disaster in Iran
Stephen Zunes: Analysis - possible attack on Iran

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