Manufacturing Dissent Since 1996
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Uprising in tehran  keshavarz boulvard september 2022  2  cropped for itn

My take is that when it comes to establishing and trying to grow these kind of roots for democracy, I personally think it has to be rooted in resistance, originally. I think that democracy, in order for it to be meaningful and for it to thrive over time, it has to grow these kind of deep roots within the culture. And I think that when it comes to protest and resistance, these are ways of expressing these kind of desires. And for really constituting this sort of collective memory among the populace to say, you know, one: we're not going to forget these moments, these acts of brutality by the regime, we're going to make our voice heard, right? So that to me is a deeply democratic way of thinking and of beginning. I think that it's the sort of incipient and early moments of democracy.

We speak with political science scholar, Nojang Khatami who is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Justitita Center for Advanced Studies at Goethe University Frankfurt. Beginning in the fall of 2023, he will be Assistant Professor of Political Science at Fordham University. Nojang is on to talk about his Boston Review article, “The Lifeblood of Iranian Democracy: From street demonstrations to song, dance, film, and poetry, women are advancing a long legacy of struggle against authoritarianism in Iran.”



Posted by Alexander Jerri

I don’t know about you, but a little thrill goes through me every time the fates dangle the possibility that one or more Trumps or Trump followers or Trump clones or just all-around fascists might come in for some suffering.


So just imagine my giddy ecstasy watching the opening ceremonies of the January 6 Insurrection Hearings. I know it’s cheap entertainment. I know in the larger scheme it won’t change things for most people harassed by the whims of capital, but you should know I also like movies about giant monsters smashing miniature cities. And porn, I like myself some porn now and then, as a reminder that sex still happens somewhere, although evidence of it in my personal life seems to have been expunged as though from a crime scene cleaned by a brilliant, obsessive-compulsive serial killer.


And let me assure you, I’m done feeling even a twinge of envy that the fascists got so close to staging a coup d’etat by storming the nation’s capitol. I mean, these folks were operating under a delusion that their fat fascist Orange Julius was a rightful… something. Had the left done anything like this it would have at least been for a legitimate reason. The right has been building power over the last half-century by feeding a gullible, misdirected base lie after lie, each more inane and insane than the last.


This is not to say the left hasn’t aided in the project with certain clownish antics, but blaming the clownish faction of the left for the right’s success in peddling conspiracies is like blaming clowns for your uncle’s phobia of creme pies. And that your uncle organized a rabid, armed militia of vigilantes against anyone suspected of potential pie-throwing is, of course, not the responsibility of the hero who put a hateful Anita Bryant in her place back in the day with a well-aimed dessert. Face it, your uncle’s a basic a-hole, and that’s a condition he’s aspired to. He's taken his personal paranoia and whipped it into a mob movement.


Meanwhile, the left is accomplishing the unionization of Starbucks baristas in a growing number of cities, and that’s no small achievement. The labor movement seems to be back on its grassroots feet again, thanks to the Overton Window expanding to allow in general anti-corporate discourse, in part aided by the same crisis of capitalism that is the only root of the... read more

Jun 9
Posted by Alexander Jerri


On the extremely dark satirical show, “The Boys,” about psychotic superheroes and their corporate and military ties, the white supremacist leader of them all, Homelander, a kind of Superman knock-off, announces to a broadcast audience of hundreds of millions, “I’m through being persecuted for my strength.” Although having been a murderous, narcissistic rapist throughout his career with impunity, he’s now had enough. From now on he’s going to say what’s on his mind. “I’m not one of you. You are weak. I’m better than you. I’m through apologizing for that,” he says.

It's a timely speech, given that we, the unterpeople, who believe we should at least have a partial say in the color and texture of the tyranny governing us, are being backed up against the wall by the self-designated ubermenschen. In Nietzsche’s dichotomy, the ubermenschen, the selfish and self-aggrandizing who believe they deserve more and need follow no morality but their own, are realists, and the rest of us, who aspire to a society out from under the boot of such oppressive narcissists, are dreamers.

That’s a strong rhetorical current in US popular discourse. And it’s not solely the province of the right wing. Recall how often the pejorative phrases, “Bernie will just wave his magic wand,” or “leftist progressives want to give everyone a pony” have been repeated by centrists to bash the less-than-acquiescent left since 2016. Prepare for such rhetorical slime balloons to be wielded again over the next two years, kind of like a magic wand, to sprinkle condescension over every demand from their base a Centrist Democrat doesn’t find it expedient to support.

In the “strong” view, then, the “weak” are meant to drudge along, serving and slaving, pleasing and groveling, sickening and dying, never complaining, never resisting on pain of injury, deprivation, or death. And this they call “realistic.”

So, who’s the real dreamer? Those who want to contribute to society however much or little they’re able and be given back enough to thrive pleasantly, or those who want to rip us off without our objecting? Those who want “be all they can be” regardless of who they destroy

along the way, lift themselves above the herd as heroes and kings, and achieve riches... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri

The hypothesis I’m about to unveil would require more research than I’m willing to do, and might be impossible to address even if I had the diligence required: what if violence among humans remains at a constant level, statistically, but with shifting loci of activity? Hear me out, not because I think this is a worthwhile idea, but because I would like to understand, myself, what I’m talking about.


Let’s see: I’m wondering about violence. Is it a constant of human existence? I mean, in a group of, say, n hundred thousand people, is there always one who’s a mass murderer? No, that’s not it.

In any complex aggregation of complex groups of people… no, wait, let’s define our terms: no, let’s not. Forget that. I can already tell I’m not onto something there.


What if there’s a trade-off between different kinds of violence, and we have to put up with the lunatic mass shootings so that we don’t get the ethnic cleansing massacres, etc, that other countries have? No. That makes no sense either.


There’s no deterministic human constant of violence. There’s no part of human nature that guarantees violence. And, while I don’t believe by a longshot that we’re living in the least violent era ever, or that there has been steady progress toward a more peaceful civilization, I also don’t believe violence is an inevitable outcome of a certain number of people, or a certain number and level of mixture of beliefs or ethnicities sharing a given area of land or amount of resources that derives a quotient of violence.


It does seem evident to me, though, that a large population can only tolerate being lied to by its owning class to a certain degree of illogic, pettiness, popular divisiveness, and implausibility before those lies produce resentment and violence. And when a deeply-held belief, like the moral inferiority of a group within that population, is habitually used throughout a nation’s history to scapegoat that group for problems that are the unadmitted fault of the owning class in a drastically unequal society, some form of violent persecution seems, historically, to be an inevitable outcome.

The US owning class has historically resorted to blaming black people, and those who argue for redistributive solutions to inequality, for white people’s problems. The fact that there are black... read more

Jun 1