East Trapped in Utopianism
خاورمیانه در دام اتوپیسم
Daniel Bell in his End of Ideology in 1960, concluding from Stalinism, thought the time of ideologies which were at their zenith in 19th Century is over, and predicted parochial currents of thought after that. But his prediction failed and we witnessed comprehensive ideologies again in 60′s and beyond including Maoism, feminism, antiwar currents, etc. (1)
Nonetheless a half century later, we see that the utopianism of Maoism not only is forgotten in China but it hardly exists anywhere else in the world and East Asian countries are all focused on economic development. Same is true of Communist Utopia in Latin America and none of the socialist parties in Central and South America has anything to do with Utopian panacea. Russia and former European Eastern Bloc countries do not chase any Utopian dreams. It seems like the only part of the world that still cares for Utopia is Middle East and with the fall of last secular Utopias of Maoism, Castroism, Ba'athism and Pan-Arabism, a new Utopia of Islamism has been invented in various forms.
In Iran, where the main Islamic Revolution happened at the end of 20th Century (2), in real life, the Utopia is being replaced more and more with pragmatism, and the various extremist groups are under control of the state. But elsewhere in the Middle East, new Utopianism has had its ebb and flow with Taliban, Al-Qaeda and now IS spearheading the crusade.
The desire for Utopia is a solace especially for the opponents of dictatorial regimes when one would not need to worry about retirement for old age, life insurance for survivors, income and other personal responsibilities hoping that when the ideal system replaces the existing regime, all will be taken care of. But the harsh reality of all post-revolutionary societies in 19th and 20th centuries, time and again, proved that such wishful thinking is unwarranted and one can read about it, in all kinds of disappointments of those who did not die in the revolutions, and lived to see how those utopian promises were unfounded. But all this does not stop the religious fundamentalists from promising paradise on Heaven and Earth (3).
True that even the seculars in the Middle East still are struggling with the Utopian perspectives of life (4). But the real issue in the Middle East is the response of Islamists to this desire for Utopia at the time of end of secular Utopias such as Maoism. These Islamist groups promise their followers that not only they will be rewarded in eternity by martyrdom but their family and friends will be living in the land of milk and honey, thus no need to worry about the hardships of supporting families in the old age, health issues, well being of survivors, etc. This is why any challenge to these groups is about their thinking and just military attacks may not be the solution to the current situation in the Middle East.
Hoping for a democratic and secular
futurist republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
October 9, 2014
1. Why Secularism Failed in Half of the World
2. FUTURIST IRAN: Futurism vs Terrorism
3. وعده بنياد گرائی مذهبی: بهشت هم در زمين و هم در آسمان
4. مشکل اصلی سکولارهای ایران