Friday, May 27, 2005

Iranian Association at University of Toronto

The Iranian Association at the University of Toronto (IAUT) is the home of over 800 members who have contributed, participated and learned from each other and from the events held at IAUT.

Alidad a good friend of mine and a great colleague (we worked together at the IAUT board last year) has refelcted on his experience with IAUT as an Iranian association.

Here is what he has to say:

On the eve IAUT's annual election (tomorrow, Saturday
3:00 pm at OISE 252 Bloor West Rm 4422), the
uniqueness of the organization and its history and
future are worth revisiting.

For about a decade now, I have been interested in the
composition of Iranian organizations in North America.
Unlike many nationalities who are well organized --
Armenian, Israeli, Chinese, etc.-- Iranians abroad,
especially those in the U.S., have not created
substantial organizations that can express their
collective interests and needs. This was on full
display to me in late April, as I attended the two-day
Iranian Diaspora conference at the University of
Maryland at College Park, located in the Washington
D.C. area. A meticulously designed event, it was
addressed by noted Iranian-American journalists such
as Afshin Molavi and Tara Bahrampour, artists, and
community organizers, as well as Jian Ghoemshi and
Heide Moghissi from Toronto. Yet of the close to
100,000 Iranians who live in the D.C. area only about
100 came to the event! Why is this so? What if the
same event had been hosted in Toronto? This is a topic
for research and reflection, especially for those in
academia working on "transnationalism," "diasporas,"
"immigration," or "globalization" studies.

The Iranian community in Toronto is vibrant and on the
verge of establishing organizations that express its
collective interests and will: the list of some
two-dozen orgnizations that made up the Bam-Iran
Earthquake Relief Committee, as well as the dozen or
more organizations that have recently created
"Kanoun-e-Sepas" show that Iranians in Toronto -- and
increasingly elsewhere in this country and, slowly,
this continent, are pooling together their resources,
engaging in team work and undertaking coordinated and
sustained social and cultural projects.

Among all these organizations, however, none that I
know of has the intellectual and creative energy of
IAUT. Given how much the organization has done since
1999, -- the year it was created around Ramin
Jahanbegloo's ideas and philosophy--it is truly
inspiring to take stock of the dozens of conferences,
seminars, movie showings, artistic displays and
musical performances that IAUT's board members and
their affiliates have organized, especially noticeable
in the last two years. In many ways IAUT has become a
key intellectual home for the Iranian-Canadian
community, over half of whom live in Toronto.

I would like to cordially thank the 9 members of the
board of directors for this year-- and the subcommittee members -- for their seminal contributions to the cultural life of Iranians on this continent. We have been invaluably enriched by their
presence and their work: an unprecedented week-long
lecture series with Professor Eslami-Nodushan --
especially the co-lecture on Mowlana by Professor
Shirin Bayani, an energy-filled session with Dariush
on addiction and responses, a choir that attracted
over 600 people to its opening night, the famous
Colours of Iran event at Hart House, and many other
events have given us a boost of spirit. IAUT has
become, in the words of a friend, "an andishgah" of
sorts. I don't think I exaggerate when I say that
without it my own mental life would have been set back

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Left-leaning lens watching the election

The sad story about Iran and its politics is that people are so much fed up with the dominant political actors that are fully trapped in the agenda of their game. Even democratic-minded students or Iranians out of Iran often forget to look beyond the surface of politics even if it is serious step, which I believe it is, yet it is a serious game NOT true re-organization for true partnerships for development of the country.

Politics is the means to satisfy social and economic needs, it should either be organized according to such needs or based on regions and their specific local needs. If politics is not grounded on needs and it does solely act for its own sake, as it does in Iran now, then, it can not be accounted as a major step to pursue common good. This is the problem of contemporary Iranian politics, and in this presidential game, no candidate really represents any major socio-economic, class or even regional constituency.

Fariborz Rais Dana is one of those left thinkers in Iran who once in a while points out what I believe could shape the objectives of any democratic movement in Iran. He is an economist and wholeheartedly believes in local participation as a major first step for Iranians to organize themselves to pursue democracy while experientially learning it. Here is an excerpt of an interview with him on the upcoming election:
فريبرز رئيس دانا
به عقيده شما اين تضاد طبقاتي انتخابات نهم رياست جمهوري چيست و اصلاً چگونه بروز پيدا مي کند؟
تضاد طبقاتي به وجود آمده در اين دور انتخابات بيشتر درون طبقاتي است. انحصار سرمايه و قدرت در درون
خودش موجب اين تضاد شده است. البته شايد بتوان گفت گروهي از کانديداها توسط طبقه متوسط سنتي و يا مدرن و نيمه مدرن داراي ايدئولوژي مذهبي حمايت مي شوند، اما آنها مطلقاً نامزد اقشار محروم، کارگران، زارعان، زنان خانه دار، معلمان، پرستاران و حتي سربازان و پرسنل نيروي انتظامي نيستند. اين اقشار اصلاً نماينده اي ندارند، حتي اگر راي هم بدهند. راي دادن به دلايل مختلفي ممکن است اتفاق بيفتد. اما نمايندگي اجتماعي با نمايندگي پارلماني فرق دارد. چون مواضع موجود در نمايندگي پارلماني تا حد بسيار زيادي مهندسي شده است و حتي تحليلي براي کساني که راي نمي دهند صورت نمي گيرد. شما آيا مي دانيد چه کساني در انتخابات مجلس هفتم راي دادند و چه کساني راي ندادند؟
آيا اين هر دو گروه نمايندگان بورژوازي نيستند؟
من اعتقاد دارم حتي طرفداران معين هم در خدمت بورژوازي سوداگر قرار خواهند گرفت. هرچند نه به طور مستقيم، بلکه به صورت غيرمستقيم.
اين بورژوازي سوداگر چه مشخصاتي در جامعه ما دارد؟
اين بورژوازي واردات و صادرات را در اختيار دارد و به صنعت کشور از طريق رانت و مازاد تجارت نگاه مي‌اندازد.
اينکه مي گوييد که همان بورژوازي سنتي بازار است؟تقريباً همان است. بورژوازي سنتي بازار بخشي از بورژوازي سوداگر است، اما به دليل قدرتي که دارد گاهي اوقات همان بورژوازي سوداگر ناميده مي شود. اين بورژوازي در خدمت صنعت به وجود نيامده، بلکه پيشاپيش ريشه داشته است. برخورد آنها با نظام شاه از اين وجه بود. چون شاه هم به دنبال نوسازي اقتصاد بود، اما رهبري آن را به دست بورژوازي کمپرداور سپرده بود که به نوع ديگري ويرانگري مي کرد
اصلاح طلبان نمايندگي چه بخشي از جامعه را برعهده دارند؟
اصلاح طلبي به آن معني که در آغاز دهه هشتاد وجود داشت، ديگر وجود ندارد.
طرفداران معين همان اصلاح طلبان پيش نيستند؟
طرفداران معين شماري از جوانان پشت کنکوري هستند که يک اسم خنده‌داري هم تحت عنوان راي اولی‌ها دارند. در اينها يک وجدان کاذب ايجاد شده که گويا بايد بروند راي دهند. عده اي هم زنان خانه داري هستند که گمان مي‌کنند واقعاً يک آزادي هاي نسبي به وجود آمده است و مي توانند آزادانه تر تا سر خيابان بروند. بعضي هم کارمندان رده پايين هستند که خيلي دل خوشي دارند و نمي دانند که ديگر اصلاحاتي وجود ندارد. هر چند به طور کلي اگر بخواهيم از لحاظ اقتصادي بگوييم بخشي از طبقه متوسط نيمه مدرن و عده اي هم از کاسبکاران به معين راي مي دهند، چون مي‌دانند انحصار قدرت در دست سوداگران مالي باعث کوتاه شدن دست آنها مي شود.
با چه استدلالي از مرگ اصلاحات و ايجاد وجدان هاي کاذب در جوانان سخن مي گوييد؟براي اينکه اصلاح طلبان به رهبري شخص خاتمي حتي به يکي از نيازهاي مردم هم پاسخ ندادند.
حتي يکي؟اگر منظور مسائلي مثل قتل هاي زنجيره اي است که بايد بگوييم اين موضوع تحت فشارهاي بين المللي و افکار عمومي آشکار شد که دلايل آن را هم بايد جداگانه بررسي کنيم.
مطبوعات آزاد و افزايش آزادي هاي سياسي چطور؟ولي با اين شمار مطبوعات هزاران هزار جوان پرونده دار شدند و بسياري هم به زندان افتادند.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

BBC and Tehrantonian Bloggers

A couple of weeks ago, as I wrote earlier BBC crew came to Canada and had a friendly session with some of the Tehrontonian bloggers. Here is the link to all of their stories from Canada. In deed fantastic, nice and detail. Good job.

Don't miss the Persian Blogs and Canada

Sunday, May 15, 2005

شعور دموکراسی

مدتی است که میخوام درباره شاخصهای شعور دموکراسی در یک سیستم مدعی اصلاحات دموکراتیک بنویسم. اما این درس لعنتی نمیذاره!
تشویق و هدایت و تقویت برنامه های محلی دموکراسی شاید اولین شاخص ارزیابی باشه! آخه مردم ما کجا باید تمرین کنند کجا باید یاد بگیرند شدن یک شهروند مدرن را؟

Imagine there exists a wonderful consititution installed in Iran. Will this on its own democratize our paternalistic culture?
We need local practices of people getting together and make collective decisions on their own livelihood affairs. Of course, the attempt to change the constitution and even better change the damn regime in Iran is the sweetest dream in my life, but we could, within this dark and desparate times allocate our resources to strengthen the bases of local democracy in Iran.
How much of the Reformist agenda reflected this approach? I believe they could have done so much in relation to local practices of democracy without tickling the evil supreme leader. Here, it is well-emphasized that town-hall meetings have been the foundation of today's democracy.

With no practices of petit democracy! Where the hell people could learn that they should respect each other's views and that diversity as existed should be respected and that there are various realities and that there is no one truth!

شاید برای همین هست که حتی روشنفکر های ما هم نمیتونند با هم و در کنار هم در یک تصمیمگیری جمعی شرکت کنند. چون هرگز کار مشارکنی نکردند

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Up me down!

I am a bit puzzled! Why I have lost the sense of writing! A writer's block! No, I am not a writer! then what is the problem? Blogging is publicizing the private! Thus, it is not private anymore! It could be a selfish interpretation of private for public eyes.
Perhaps if I had no other commitments, I would have spent all day long to blogging. But before publicizing my interpretations of the world, I would like to appreciate and enjoy the privilige of improved understanding of the word,
I think I am now in the mood to settle down my thoughts, a silent reflection on personal observations!
Having said that, I do believe blogging is a personal experience, which could be a source of experiential learning, it gives you some sort of tacit knowledge that you do not realize you gained....

How many bloggers do you know who tend to learn through the experience and not just write for the sake of writing and to be in people's address books?