Founded: Aug 22, 1999
Iranscope is a think tank focused on Iran’s
journey through the 21st Century facilitating work on a broad
range of projects encompassing Futuristic Thinking, Human Rights,
Secularism, Progress, Globalization, Social Justice, Peace, Democracy, and
Freedom in Iran. The studies may emphasize Culture, Issues of Women and
Various Social, Religious and Ethnic Groups, Economics, Philosophy,
Religion, Science, Art, Technology, Politics, Civil Disobedience, Sociology,
History, or other aspects of life.
Since development in today’s Iran is
inseparable from the turbulence of world movement of Islamism, the central
theme of our research is about the ways to deal with Islamism and the
alternatives that are available not only for Iran and Iranians but for the
world in the current juncture of history.
Islamism is not limited to Iran. This
retrogressive movement is even causing pessimism among the youth in the
West. The youth is at times dropping optimism in the future when feeling
helpless in face of the onslaught of fundamentalism, and specifically the
Islamic fundamentalism, which has made its impact felt, especially since
Sept 11th, 2001, in the very own backyards of the West.
The Western civilization is now an old civilization burdened with the weight
of its own complexity as some new thinkers have noted for some time. This
means the Western civilization is spending a lot of its resources and energy
just to sustain itself. A fundamentalist panacea offers simplicity by
unloading the burden of the maintenance of this complex system, for those
believing in the pseudo-promises of the return to an old golden order of the
world, offering easy answers for all hardships of the today’s world.
Not only in backward countries,
fundamentalism even offers itself as an alternative in the U.S., where the
government has a hard time to fulfill the commitments it has made to its
citizens, with staggering national debt in the U.S., lack of health care for
over 47 million people, and the uncertainty of social security benefits for
the future generation.
It seems like a huge number of think tanks
in the U.S. have been working on the same issue of Islamism, nevertheless,
they hardly offer any good recommendations or ideas as to what to do with
My own book Futurist Iran, had the subtitle of “Futurism versus
Terrorism” where I had tried to show why promoting futurism as an
alternative to Islamism, is the way to go in the Middle East and
specifically in Iran.
Nonetheless, my book is far from providing specific recommendations about
how to deal with Islamism, defining concrete solutions, a task which is
expected from a think tank. If one looks at AEI and other famous think tanks
that have been working on this topic for a long time, they are not even in a
better position as they show even an absence of the broad vision one can
find in the Futurist Iran book.
All other think tanks have done about
Islamism were modeled after an old understanding of Communism and to a
lesser degree Fascism, thus they ended up offering ad hoc advice which
mostly fails to relate to the current reality because they are based on an
outdated vision which is hardly descriptive of Islamism.
They propose human rights strategies to
debunk the Islamists, whereas Islamist rulers in contrast to Communist
rulers share their ideology with the majority of people they rule and
anything short of secularism fails to address this reality.
On the other hand, with the fall of Soviet Union, the fall of Communist
utopia collapsed as well, and thus those who are looking for a utopia as a
cure for the problems of the world, gave up on secular utopias of the last
150 years. This reality has also damaged secularism itself making many
idealistic versions of it unappealing.
Therefore in search for ready-made answers
to the dilemma of our times, many have picked up religious utopias as their
way of dealing with the predicament of a world order and its related social
structures which they resent, a perspective that has shaped a revival of
Crusades as if we are having new fights for Jerusalem.
The above analysis does not explain what to expect from Islamism's future
growth or how to deal with it, but it shows the background to the revival of
Islamic Fundamentalism in the 21st Century and with that
perspective one can try to respond to the concrete issues that were noted.
We know the first Crusades did not stop and were followed by new ones. The
question is whether the new Crusades will subside or will be followed by
stronger or weaker crusades. What have witnessed in Afghanistan was the
defeat of Soviet Utopia by the Taliban's Fundamentalism and it seems like
the Western Democracy is also being seriously challenged by the Taliban in
Afghanistan, as we see the Taliban coming back to power, this time through
not only through war but even by peace negotiations with Afghan government,
as well as fighting and peace negotiations with Pakistan's government.
In the West, not only the introduction of Shari'a courts in Canada has been
problematic but successes of Islamists in the UK in the judicial branch to
the point of Bishop of Canterbury asking for the recognition of Shari'a law
are questioning secularism in a society with such a long history of secular
tradition and show the impact of Islamism in the world cannot be viewed as
limited to developing countries of the Middle East including Iran.
Working on economic issues of social freedom is critical to our endeavors to
answer the dynamics of the successes of Islamists. Such a study is the way
to come up with alternative solutions to the panaceas offered by the
Islamists, as it is more and more clear that their focus is on social
inequalities in the world to repartition the world. This is not only the
approach of Islamic Republic of Iran with its international maneuvers in
Iraq and Palestine but this is also true about Al-Qaeda's global strategy.
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher/Editor