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Monday, February 18, 2019


Yesterday, I linked to an interesting Op Ed on Iran and asked whether anyone had real knowledge of the situation there.  I imagined perhaps a response from someone with scholarly expertise, even direct familiarity with the country.  Instead I found this morning a six part impassioned response running more than 3700 words by an Iranian student.  Since any readers may skip the comments and just check the posts, I have decided to reproduce the entire series of comments seriatim and unedited.  They are an astonishing window on Iran.  I shall not make any comment, but I invite you to do so.  I am sure the author, who signs him/herself as “Underoverrateds,” would be interested in your views.  Here is the entire comment, verbatim:

Dear professor Wolff
you may not actually believe this but I currently live in Fact I and most of my friends were deeply involved in the green movement that accrued in 2009.we were among the crowds ; at that time I was an undergrad student of Chemical engineering in Amirkabir University of technology(Tehran Polytechnic) which is generally recognized as one of the major political forces in Iran's history . I and most of my close friends were heavily involved in the protests and everything that has happened after those years .
recently I stumbled upon your videos on YouTube since I became interested in psychoanalysis and philosophy , actually more to the fact that I just simply fell in love will your unbelievable stories to be honest and somehow ended up here , looking to find the books you mentioned but found the first topic in the top on your blog about my Country ...what a ride life is !
all right , so I guess I should begin by saying that Yes most of the article is accurate about the current state of affairs in Iran but there's more it than just simply reducing the oppositions to two major forces namely the " Mojahedin " and the " Monarchists ".or mentioning the two " masih alinejad " and " masoumeh ebtekar ". that is just not fair and not the whole picture . there are many people who has had a significant effect in the recent political narrative of Iran whom I simply cant name because they are so many of them .
actually most of the debate and activism that is happening,always, in Iran currently is ignited by the new found powers of Social media and the discourse that it brought to the younger generation . in 2008 specially all the discussion of the "Green Movement" was on facebook . many activist ( in the form of anonymous university students using aliases and so forth ) tried to change the narrative established by the government media (IRIB TV , which is the standard TV stations backed and dominated by the government ) towards specific poetical everyday lies and atrocities happening around us.people being murdered in the streets , being arrested and so forth and this force is still very much alive and run by ordinary people ,even though the narrative sometimes gets caught up to very tedious details of the even or argument which loses its significance of forgets the whole picture .
for instance one of our close friends
namely Majid Tavakoli , a student and activist in the university was arrested and put to prison simply because of his speeches and criticism . so we should have no illusion
Iran is not a free country , just like china or Soviet Russia If you were to even mention Leaders name or criticizes the government you would certainty be considered as " enemy of Islam " or stuff like that and put to jail ; even lately the lawyers of activist been arrested and charged on preposterous charges that If I were to tell you wouldn't even believe me . activist in all fields whether be environment , childmarrige , animal rights to all the other kind ; even in the recent years some of the more important sociology professors have been suspiciously arrested and later found dead by suicide a very clear move by the government to silence not only the opposition and the ordinary people but also destroy its intellectual professors ....very sad what's happening to our country before our eyes 

also as far as my own experience goes I saw many of my own close friends in our own dormitory being arrested and send to prison which created and sustained an atmosphere of oppression amongst student and set a stage for what was to come in the coming years.
. most of these people so traumatized by the experiences of torture and isolation that essentially they were forced to drop out of university leave Tehran or to escape the country.
to this day and after the shift that has happened with so called " the Iran nuclear deal " as a political maneuver to present Iran as a country of reason in the international world and then the subsequent Trump shenanigan isolating Iran more and more ,
there is still a great deal of fire under the ashes of Iranian political unconsciousness even rooting back to the revolution and the war with Iraq . many people because of the oppressive nature of this strange Islamic dictatorship which moves closer and closer hijacking everyday economic and social life , have inevitably chosen to distance themselves from politics altogether .which creates different more troublesome Ideologies .
actually most of the activist in the past ten years have been either arrested , tortured , forced into false and public confessions in the national TV or mysteriously killed. the ones who where able to escape Iran also have a troublesome view , on the one had the have all the freedom they want but they are now disconnected with everyday Iranians and in a very perverted manner would eventually tell Iranian paradox stories to get the attention of the western media somehow , like the whole infamous " Masih Alinejad " complex . someone who has been established by the media company VOA as a journalist but constantly whether consciously or unconsciously hijacks the opposition narrative of Iranian political Struggle into a very waterd-down entertainment of sorts . Iranian oppositions has become an entertainment , a spectacle , a very weird on too .but that's not the whole picture .
there are much more important things going on in Iran which are overshadowed by these sorta people who try to narrate everything into a simple no-Hijab fight which is why this person and most outsiders are seen as opportunistic by oppressed Iranians . unfortunately these sorta movements have some populist attraction but lack the depth of argument and planing and will never become a political party or real civil rights movement . all the true movements in Iran have already been diminished by the secret Intelligence of the government
as you can see from all sides ordinary people have been under more and more pressure .
secondly there are multitude of other serious problems which dictated the conversation , namely the " migration" and " economic collapse " mixed with the " threats of war"
in the past years the sheer number of people migrating from Iran to Europe and recently even to neighboring countries such and turkey and even Georgia has had a very serious effect of the way the people perceive their life even . somehow very strangely this has made a strange dynamic in the people that they think they have a new hope of escaping this prison which is called their country . the sheer access to internet , English learning institutions , movies and social media has at the same time enlightened the youngsters of Iran but at the same time has made them into a very strange and complicated characters . they rebel and argue against different conservative and theological antiquated topics of Iranian culture while pursuing to be accepted in universities in Canada or Germany whilst coming to terms with their old-fashioned oppressive families and society

I'm sure If you were to just ask around you would find a student in your university who recently left Tehran to pursuit his or her dream .and I'm sure he will be able confirm these problems that I'm suggesting. so you see this new found hope has had a detrimental effect of psyche of Iranians and they are dealing with a melancholic state of mind really. now their concerns are changed in a very strange manner to escape and migrate at all costs.
burning all the resources and all the people around them,exploiting every opportunity here as quickly as possible to get to Europe .
this very weird effect has had a devastating effect on the public consciousness . so in the parties and gatherings people now talk about the daily rising exchange rate of Dollar to Rial everyday or different way to Leave this place as quickly as possible . and this migration works not only on a pure physical level but on a virtual one too . many of my friends who for whatever reason where unable to migrated or find a decent life here(which is practically impossible,whether you have to become a liar-middleman sort person destroying every foundation or a agent of government ) migrated radically into constant addiction to movies , denial of their surrounding and obviously other issues such as alcohol and hashish addiction . this very disposition of the new found knowledge made possible by the access to Internet and the inability to do anything politically or socially to change the circumstance of our lives or improve even the slightest economic or social features literally destroys people willingness to take life seriously anymore. most people life and marriages are falling apart , practically everyone is depressed or suffering a severe mental illness . people of my country are the unhappiest simply by knowing how terrible their lives are and can't do anything about it .that's why illusions are big here .
whilst living in a city where in you where to go from the south to the north you can literally see the class struggle of the whole country , the horrible economic injustices. it's like going from Chicago to Detroit to Bronx to Hollywood hills in 20's terrible how Tehran has become half of the paradoxes of the country combined in a tiny space .
Iran is truely a country of paradoxes , but what I'm aiming at is that the loss of hope which seems to function in itself a conformist category in the discussions among Iranians these days has two major component .
one is that if you were to be a realist in Iran and live your life by the knowledge of all the horrible atrocities that happen around you which you see simply daily on BBC persian news or "Mana Neyestani" 's cartoons for instance ,you would literally feel like a prisoner and sink to the extreme of the depressions simply by the fact that this govenment is so rigged against you that you can never make any sense of it or change it a little bit . you are simply doomed to fail here no matter who you are or what job you have . you don't even have the basic rights of living .
on the other hand if you were to deny the reality and refuge in the govenment-islamic-conservative ideology you will have to stupefy yourself to the point of actually preventing your brain to ask serious political, social and of course logical questions .then you live your life as a sorta animal , a very troubling oppressed creature that wants to bite and resort to every aspect of violence and incivility ...usually towards children , women or other people around them .
something which I fisrt-handly saw with my own eyes among my undergrad colleges .
as the would transition from high school (a complete deprived ideological environment from their small conservative town) to a university (an open-minded modern space full of exciting progressive discussions ) simply in order to function as a human being among all the everyday paradoxes of Iran's society you have to shift,adjust and even morph your own prospective to the point of denying the reality !
which may sound weird but I feel is the exact problem which current Iranian opposition . we as the people , for instance think on two layers , if you go the twitter or even the artistic circles , galleries and cafes in downtown Tehran you will soon find an underground,counterculture vibe , a society and relation standard of like punk era of Britain even . but at the same time when youngsters go back to their homes near midnight(because there are no bars and nightlife is essential prohibited ) where they have to live with their parents mostly because the cant even afford place of their own are confronted with a systemic oppression apparatus that works because it specifically denies the " progressive thought discussion "that it had just yesterday on his or her phone .and rebellious and opposition of the youth and even the older generation can be seen through this lens . people who in their back of minds want to protest but they don't want to lose their jobs or homes or etc. a very weird duality.
this very strange and distorted condition is very clearly portrayed by the melancholy of our contemporary artists namely people like " Mohsen Namjoo " which as a musician always longs for a combination of these two paradoxical aspects of Iranian life .
but my last point
the problem of Iranian people, the major question which is one everybody's minds is why,why despite all these atrocities and oppression and the new found knowledge why don't people rise up ? well the simple answer is the did . and were brutally murdered on the streets.
from the events of 2009 onwards we the youth of Iran see really no option .there is no way out of this mess .
and I can just guess about the future but I think the economic sanctions of the U.S and the current hostile attitude of Trump has had a severe blow not just to the economy of some of the middle class of Iranians (who may want another revolution) but to their spirit in their fights against injustices in general .people are seriously tired of all these conditions .
many of the youth have had not even a single happy year and just simply can't go on so the try to forget reality.
take for instance what happened in the past months first with the teacher's strike and then shortly after with the truck drivers strike and finally with the short lived labor movement in Ahvaz , workers of steel companies there just simply demanded to be recognized as human beings and be simply paid their wages ,showing their solidarity with the French yellow vest movement . not even asking much for their work conditions to be changed or anything ... and the newspapers and the TV stations didn't even mention them once .
all captured and broadcasted in Twitter by common people .what happened in the end ? their leaders arrested twice tortured , forced to confess in in TV shamed by the government , told the truth in Instagram , arrested again and the people ....well the people can do nothing . like literally I'm risking my life writing you these words .... that's the condition here ; a long silence to save our asses and get the hell out of this god damn forsaken place. 
so you see sir we are in a bit of a pickle here ; unfortunately Iranian people also have other tendencies as well to them which is incidentally quite similar to american consumer culture which is their innate fascination by being " surfers !"
they just simply love to surf everysorta stupid wave or trend that's happening around them whether it be the worldcup happening in Russia , the Fajr stupid film festival , the Valentine and Holloween but at the same time the Ramadan and norouz or even the trend of romanticizing their own oppression ! this is where it really gets weird because you see
people here also on some level like to play the victimization card a lot and it goes even back to our cinema during the war . many people are fascinated by the different way we are exploited by our government and the latest of these people are our own so called activist . in a very complex way they try to stage every little bit of oppression as a card to further their agenda which is a really dark a sinister thing to do but unfortunately has happened in the last couple of years . people going on foreign TV shows to promote their own unique way of having been oppressed and I think this last bit is the worst thing to our general cause .
because even if we were to be authentic in telling of our stories at the end of the day we will be viewed as a opportunistic person granting his or her Visa ...
. I mean can you even imagine a more paradoxical social and political psyche than Iranian harbor in their so called "common talk" everyday . they unfortunately have been for the last 40 or even 50 years so swung to left and right , conservative and progressive waves that it seems the whole consciousness of people has gone to waste .they have become a whore of all the worst movements , a spectator , been played all sorta ways to support all sort of candidates that promised hope and freedom and all were simply a lie .
the generation of our fathers and mothers living in small cities live in such a paradoxical ideologies that I even hesitate to write about it here , fearing you wouldn't even believe a single word of mine .being a hardcore Muslim in " Moharam " grieving the death of their so called Third Imam , Hossein at the same time trying to find cheap booze and get drunk so they can perform the strange religious ceremonies better ... like the worst of the paradoxes you could find .
so to conclude Iran is a very complex country even more than Venezuela or Turkey or other so called " third world country " you may ask why is that so . and I can answer simply because of the sheer potential of its youth and the depth of its history . just follow some of the current street photographers on Instagram or the very strange artistic vibrant yet at the same time denied the opportunity and damaged artists living currently in Tehran (which resembles new york in 70s by the way ) to get a good glance of what's really happening .
people are simply migrating into their minds , to the dark and strange places or their existences full of paradoxes and confusion , full of impulsive hopes and dominating depression .
why do you think a 27 year drop out student of engineering like me would become a English teacher then study cinema then become interested in philosophy and Zizek then go to the militarily service for two years come back leave it all out, start studying philosophy and write this whole comment here .what sorta kooky people would do that really
we are seriously strange people living here 

in a very unique positions as well in history , as Europe , the US and most other countries chooses a far-right politician to be their leaders and move closer to another economic collapse , we Iranians struggle to leave this messy revolution stuff behind us not in a physical sense but in a more abstract approach .
while we saw what happened with countries like lybia our people in a panic state have unconsciousnessly decided to migrate to the underground and to the back of their minds .
aha , also I have to mention , yes unfortunately its true Iranian government is heavily involved in interfering conflicts in the region ,terrorism and stuff, mostly mirroring against the acts of suadi arabia , some analysts calling it the "cold war of middle east" . most of theses proxies wars are funded and carried out by "Sepah" of course an organisation and a complete ideological nightmare branch of government which is so crazy I can't even begin to talk about it .which on the same level has modeled its foreign policy after the U.S. by the way .... isn't that a little bit of nice Irony for US ?!!
unfortunately on the other hand people are not consistent in their views nor unmixed in their race and back ground to be united easily. we have many people from many different back grounds from different dialects to different beliefs each oppressed throughout history by the government one way or another but this gap between the people makes our country and our major city lives a place of clash of the cultures . when there is no history or established culture among the ordinary people, people from sheer stupidity and lack or theory knowledge go to either fantasy space talking about Kouroush and 2500 years of our empire or simply go all the way into becoming an agent of capitalism exploiting everything and everyone in their way not thinking about any fellow citizen or even the country. this very dichotomy of our people is core root of their problems . they live everyday between these paradoxical forces , waking up everyday,wearing a mask suitable for another lie, looking for a leader or a wave to submit themselves in not knowing what the consequences will be .
actually if you were to study the 1979 Iranian revolution you would probably find this same " Surfer " pattern there much more clearly and the instincts of Iranian hasn't change much . unfortunately many of what is considered "normal" everyday people are people who simply don't even want to think about their problems and face them since they have been oppressed and sad in a dead-end situation of constant stress for so long they see no point in engaging or the fight and the ones who engage are arrested , killed or forced to exile right in front of our eyes , essentially people here feel that nothing works . no social or political movement can change anything and its just gonna get worse , day by day , and nobody I mean it Internationally , nobody cares about Iranian people .
I hope I didn't bore you too much
by the way I just simply love your videos . wish you would do more one other thinkers like Foucault or derrida ,Heidegger or chomsky
maybe even a simple series talking a little about them would be nice .
Feb 2019


Tom Hickey said...

While I am sympathetic to the liberal cause — I self-identify as a left libertarian, I think we need to be cognizant of this in terms of the global dialectic that is now in the process of unfolding. Russian philosopher-sociologist Alexander Dugin has proposed that the of the four political theories underling the modern dialectic — fascism, communism, liberal and traditionalism, only two are left in conflict — liberalism and traditionalism — after the defeat of the fascist powers in WWII and the collapse of the USSR. While I am not sure that he is correct about the demise of fascism and communism, I believe he is correct about the present struggle between liberalism and traditionalism as liberalism (Western bourgeoise liberalism aka neoliberalism) is seeking to impose itself on traditional societies and cultures.

This is happening both internationally, e.g., in the Islamic countries, and domestically, e.g, in the US in the conflict between "godless" liberals and Christian fundamentalists, both Protest and Catholic.

This not going away anytime soon and it will characterize at least the first half of this century if not the whole century and beyond.

Iran is actually one of the most liberal of the traditional Islamic countries, where "Islamic" means governing in accordance with sharia. Iran has a democratic system in which the ayatollahs' interpretation of sharia takes precedence. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy government by the Wahhabi strict interpretation of sharia. The US regards SA as a close ally while it views Iran as an enemy. Obviously, this is not about liberalism and Western values, but the neoliberal, neoconservative, and liberal international assumption of Western global dominance.

Therefore, focusing on how "illiberal" Iran is constitutes as sidetrack in the global struggle for freedom that is being harnessed by the Western elite, in cahoots with the comprador elite, to dominate the world and extract rents. We should not be distracted by this or fooled by the propaganda for it as "spreading freedom and democracy." This is just a facade for imposing neoliberalism through neo-imperialism and neocolonialism, where any country that refused to be a vassal or colony is destroyed. Now the neoliberal elite is colonizing the people of the EU and the process has also begun in the US as the divide between the elite and "little people" (Alan Simpson) widens, constitutional rights and civil liberties are curtailed, a police state erected, and the surveillance state erected with the cooperation of corporate interests that control communications.

Pitting Western liberalism against traditionalism is the real issue and this is what needs philosophical, political, sociological and historical discussion — before it is too late and the curtain of nuclear winter descends or an extinction through climate change becomes irreversible.


Tom Hickey said...


This all without mentioning the conflict between capitalism and socialism that is also occurring, and the class struggle it involves. Those familiar with Marx know that his is the fundamental dynamic taking place dialectically in history.

Marx realized this long ago. That is why Marx, Marxism, Marxian thinking, or even any association vaguely relatable to Marx are demonized.

So let's sympathize with people like that author of the above comment but also remember than this is the stuff out of which propaganda is crafted. I am not accusing the author of that, of course, just sayin' how this kind of thing is used. And some of it is manufactured, e.g., by Western intel services, like the White Helmets as heroes, and the little Syrian girl, Bana al-Abed, on Twitter.

Let's keep our eyes on the ball and not be mislead by or as "bleeding-heart" liberals. BTW, I am a Vietnam era vet who was gung-ho at first and then gradually realized the shuck — "spreading freedom and democracy" and all that. Then I became a political activist and "alienated youth." I am still alienated and see the current situation as an extension of the shuck. Follow the power and money.


s. wallerstein said...


Thank you for explaining the situation in Iran at length.

You say that nobody cares about the Iranians. Basically, nobody cares about anyone else unless there is a well crafted campaign to awaken solidarity. Two good examples of well crafted campaigns to awaken solidarity are the one against apartheid in South Africa and the current one against Israeli "apartheid" in the occupied territories.

The well-crafted campaign generally paints things as black and white, good and bad, without subtleties, and in fact, apartheid was bad as is the Israeli occupation. I don't doubt that the current regime in Iran is also bad, but any successful campaign has to accentuate and simplify that situation. People prefer Hollywood movies where it's clear who the good people are and who the bad people are to John Le Carré novels where at times no one is particularly or particularly bad.

I genuinely wish you and your people well.

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

A note of appreciation to "underoverrateds"

Dear Sir/Madam,

I studied with Dr. Wolff while working on my Ph.D. in political science. While I certainly learned much from him about social and political theory, one of the most important things I learned was the advantage of inserting stories and humor into lectures to drive points home and make the insights more accessible.

I found your description of just how thorough and total the repressive forces are to be extremely informative. It is one thing for the state to take over the University and fire dissident and critics. It’s a significant escalation of terror when professors are “disappeared” and turn up dead. Your appreciation of the relationship of the contradictory forces that influence your fellow citizens and the psychological impacts these relations have on one's mental health is also quite informative and sophisticated.

Be careful, and I hope it is possible for you to maintain communications with this blog.

UnderOverrateds said...

so hello again (from the heart of Bourgeois Tehran ) first and foremost hello to dear Professor Wolff,and then to all the people who took the time to read what I wrote.I honestly don't know where to begin .
before I write any serious stuff, I should apologies ,sincerely, by mentioning that I know my English writing skills are not up to par with this sort of discussion and I should really first learn how to write polite formal letters then come here and reply but well here I am I might as well say how I feel .I truly apologies in advance.

well I guess It is only polite to introduce myself when I am speaking among probably academic scholars and well educated readers.
My name is " Milad Moatamed Dezfully" ( and yes that double "lly" is a very old personal joke on my own last name ) you can easily find me on the app Instagram with the same name.
there you could clearly follow me and my other friends who are trying to document our everyday life using amatuer street-photography and all other sort of crazy amateur artistic thought experiments ! a lonely soul floating in ship wrecked world .
I'm not Malala , not a propaganda machine , just some random dude who watches too much Youtube !
Nonetheless,I would like to begin by pointing out how unbelievable I feel at the moment , being finally recognized by someone whom I followed for so long and had never courage to write to .as a 27 year old I shall admit that I just can't shake the feeling that when You ,professor Wolff, told your story about visiting "Bertrand Russell" in your youth and all the conflicting feeling you had about the experience , it isn't far reach for me to see myself In sorta similar place .
however I should definitely mention what truly pushed me to write to you (riding a weird impulse) was in fact the immense power of "honesty" you expressed with each and every single word that you told that story ; In a very strange way , crawling away from all the lies we had to endure on a daily basis in our deeply indoctrinating high schools , I just simply can't help to breath in this breeze of fresh honesty in having a discourse , speaking here .
the fact that you read my comments are reposted them ... I'm heaven . I seriously can't thank you enough for the amount of time and attention you all gave me.

but since my last comments were too long I plan to keep this one short,as much as I can. and put a little effort into further explaining the factors that has gone into " breaking the Ideology bubble " in my generation's psyche .
I see the current situation in Iran and specially the somewhat progressive developments in minds of my fellow millennial under the influence of some very basic and strange factors(that I'm sure when I share them with you you will certainly find them very odd to say the least )

factor 1. the cheap English learning Institutions
factor 2. the access to movies and internet
factor 3. the disillusionment of the events of 2009 with the Government and the national TV
factor 4. migration of grad students to prestige universities all around the world

UnderOverrateds said...

2nd part
all of these and of course the new forms of social media and satellite tv stations like
VOA , BBCPersian , Manoto helped pushed the majority of people out of their conservative-relegious bubble

even though Iranians these days try to reconstruct their double lives as a super progressive modern intellectuals there are multitude of problems and paradoxes still remaining.
for instance on of the more interesting struggles in the problem of "marriage"
on the one had people brag about being totally open-minded and try to achieve a polyamorous status like fame among friends yet when they go back to their parents they are planing their traditional fancy and expensive wedding preferably with a close relative .
this strange dichotomy of melancholic experience dominates every inch of my generation .why ? because the society is build( or I should say broken ) around such behavior . our so called famous " Instagram Influences " advertise plastic surgery and stupid make up products whilst talking about the benefits of Hijab .

even the ones who have some sense in any field whether be animal rights , women issues or the environment are simply ignored or bullied by general public.
I should be very careful here , there are strong and opinionated people here but the majority of people simply can not break completely from their Ideological and cultural backgrounds . that's why when faced by difficult questions and dilemmas instead of studying or even asking the right questions the fall back into arguments .
I don't know how to explain it but many people here has ideas and beliefs simply because it brings them some prestige and chicness .
it is fashionable here to say names of Derrida , Hegel and Popper !
so the surface and the artificial has again won over people in some sense ; when there are no great teachers nor good academies or literal critics to comment on your writings or artistic production the " show " becomes the aim not the question or the true problem you were trying to address .

people mostly want to inflate their none existing personality , even to some extent I myself am guilty of it .but this method of encyclopedic the knowledge is at the same time a hectic defense against the new found dumbness people find themselves in , and also an attempt to reach and study a deeper question that can not yet ask .
I see it as an amateur miner looking for diamonds in the surfaces .

UnderOverrateds said...

3rd part

so how come people turned to be this way ? somewhat snobs yet damaged and still angry and lost ?
well , this whole weird situation began with the boom of the " university entrance exam " craze ,
something very odd happened to Iranian consumer culture around the 2004-09
not only country was undergoing major political shift , something very peculiar was happening with its youth.
suddenly going to university and having a degree became fashionable . and I mean really fashionable to the extend that the sheer amount of people singing up for the test revolutionized the whole system . not only the Ministry changed and underwent on a major overhaul ( I don't know exactly how it works but there this private organization called " Sanjesh " which is essentially like the " SAT " committee I guess ) but also the private institutions and high schools changed in a major way , even the families changed for crying out loud .
it all became about numbers and names . millions of high school graduates pushed to the brink of mental breakdown under heavy stress to simply be accepted in a prestige university in Tehran or other big cities .suddenly being somebody meant that you had to be an academic person . which sounds good on the surface but there were and still are major consequences .

the amount of money and attention that went into the system created a weird Mafia of sorts , the production of books preparing you for the exam and the private institutions skyrocketed . so in a sense . the whole education system became factored.
on the one hand you had the terrible mediocre stupid indoctrinating high school teachers , in the evenings you had the very sophisticated English and physics teachers telling you the truth about the basic concepts of knowledge and science using the top of the line computers and stuff .suddenly students had to be much more engaged and well rounded to enter and it felt like a Jeopardy-like race for accumulative knowledge .

this strange disease of collecting and perfecting different (sometimes seemingly unrelated branches of knowledge ) also found its way to other fields soon enough .
namely popular fields like Cinema,Music,Countercultures ,street-art ,psychedelic drugs ,etc .these things were heavily censored and suppressed by the mainstream media and before the eventual coming of the high-speed internet .
we as the youth of 2009 were one of the first people to be able to have access to the Real World of knowledge and cinema and other cultures . and this boom , this very strange phenomena for sure had a significant effect on our psyche . suddenly our search for the truth was universalized .
we began to watch Friends and engage in all sort of globalized movements and trends .

UnderOverrateds said...

4th part

lots of other things happened that I just can't go into details here but a major component of this was the universities opened their doors to any one .
suddenly anyone could be an undergrad ,for instance our chemical engineering department went from having 70 undergrad to over 300 undergrads in 5 years . just imagine the effect it had on the teachers and the whole academic spirit . now not only they didn't care about the sheer number of people dropping out , they couldn't keep up with the number of students that were showing up ! Universities became a secondary high school were you fell in love and had some dates maybe in the cafe in Vali-asr street and talked a little about politics and arts and smoke a cigarette and thought you were cool.
literally that is what the university experience is considered by most teenager-like undergrads here ; and for the exception of some really good art departments like Tehran University .

I wish I was a little bit less bias towards academic life in Iran but ever since I myself and many others are deeply hurt by this factor I just can't help to point out this very important factor here .

institutes make everything in my opinion . and when you destroy the major ones by flooding it with people of all range of backgrounds ,ostracize the political and social movements and student unions by heavily controlling them under a ruling thumb , close down the journals,fire or force-retire their academic staff ,
build and promote private high school-like result making exam-focused institutes that pop out on every corner like supermarkets you subliminally message to the students that Universities are not the place to search for the " Truth " or to work scientifically but a playground for segregated boy and girls to play and trivialize their predicament .
and then the minds start migrating to the dark and werid spots . to the movies , to the different music genres and different fields of arts to be able to reinvent their lives or rediscover the truth. that's why Tehran sometimes feels like a compelete underground bunker in 70s people talking about a comunist revolution as if it is a marvel movie !

again sorry If I rambled too much . I just had to write another one .feels like a weird confession to the void I guess .
Feel free to ask me any follow-up questions
my email is
also you can find me in instagram @MiladMoatamedDezfully
P.S :
by the way the reason for my handlebar-name is that I just started a blog with the same name and I am currently working on an analysis on one of my favorites movies of all time " Crash " 1996 by David Cronenberg .I've written two versions of the essay in Farsi trying to connect the different ideas of Sex and Death being intertwined , game-theory and existential exploration , migration of mind to a virtual space and the position of " Scars " in our subjectivity ... maybe one day I'll finish it in English and be able to send it to Professor Wolff maybe . I hope

Anonymous said...

The last time I was in Iran, December 2016-January 2017, I observed new developments that either I had not seen before or they did not exist before.
Everywhere I went, even in some of the more remote countryside where I have extended family, I was asked to explain the Electoral College! and how Trump became president even though he had lost the popular vote. One of the more interesting questions was whether Trump is America's Ahmadinejad, a man who could look directly into a TV camera and tell blatant lies with confidence, and when asked about the veracity of his claims he would turn the question around and interrogate the questioner and his/her motivation for asking such questions. Ahmadinejad become president of Iran in 2005, about 12 years before Trump became president. [On one of his trips to New York City for the annual UN general assembly meetings Ahmadinejad was invited to give a talk at the Columbia University. When asked about the persecution of homosexuals in Iran Ahmadinejad confidently declared that "Iran does not have any homosexuals. Homosexuality is a disease of the west." People in Qazvin and Isfahan and other parts of Iran had a good laugh. The evangelicals in the US were very pleased. That, in part, prepared them to accept and vote for the American Ahmadinejad a few years later.]
It was surprising to see that the new Rouhani government, the current government in Iran, was implementing many of the Reagan/Thatcher policies of the 1980s. The Rouhani cabinet is dominated by old merchants who are implementing predatory mercantilism which is devastating domestic manufacturing. [If you are concerned about Wilbur Russ being the Secretary of Commerce in Trump administration you need to go to Iran and see Rouhani's cabinet.]
I, however, see a lot of positives in the current developments in Iran. Iran began and finished the 20th century with revolutions. Both revolutions were "hijacked" by the Shia clergy who distorted both revolutions into corrupt authoritarian regimes. The truth is that these revolutions were not hijacked but, rather, they reflect the personal/psychological/cultural dependency of a large number of Iranians on a "great Papa", the Imam, to tell them what to do, how to do it, and how to eliminate the enemies of Shia Islam/Iran even if that happens to be your parent, your child, your spouse, your sibling, or your best friend. The alienation that many Iranians feel and are suffering from is, I think, the natural outcome of such betrayals.

Alas, the Islamic regime in Iran is removing all masks of sanctimony and is revealing what it is all about: predatory merchant capitalism with unlimited thirst for wealth accumulation in the hands of a very few people while the majority is left to suffer unspeakable humiliations. The Zoroastrian/Hegelian dialectics may force a majority of the Iranians to confront the question: how long will you hold on to the childish fantasy of having "an elect" guide you through life? Or, will you assert your right to chart your own path through life? I think that Robert Paul Wolff could write an article on Kant's "What is Enlightenment" and the Iranian situation. That could be very useful.

s. wallerstein said...


There's no reason to apologize for your English writing skills. You write very very well. Many native-speakers of English do not write as well as you do. Good use of metaphor: for example, "confession to the void".

The mistakes that I see in your text above are probably due (I guess) to lack of sufficient proof-reading. I write as an ex-professor of English composition. Proof-read everything at least three times is a good rule. Make it four if you're not a native-speaker.

I hope that you keep in touch with readers of this blog.

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