Paradigm of Iran's Green Movement
Persian Text نسخه فارسی
In my opinion, Iran's Green Movement that has risen in the last year has started a new paradigm of social change not only in Iran but also beyond Iran (1). But before I explain my discussion about Iran's Green Movement, let me take a quick look at the paradigms of the past social movements in order to make my point more clear.
The 1789 French Revolution started a new paradigm in the socio-political developments of the world. It was as if the society was like a human or animal which would die or be born. The old society in the eyes of the revolution died and the new society was given birth by the revolution. Even a century later thinkers such as Karl Marx viewed the revolution as a midwife for a society that was pregnant with the new world. Of course, the concept of humanity was formed parallel to the concept of progress in the Western world and the term "humanity" itself was first used in the Second Century at the time of the first written laws of Roman Empire (2). But when the Declaration of the Rights of Man which was approved by the National Assembly of France on August 26 of 1789, it was as if the birth certificate of a baby just born from the womb of the mother, was being issued. At the time of the French Revolution, Immanuel Kant who was for progress and not necessarily revolution, summed up the French Revolution as synonymous with progress. Twenty five years ago, in evaluating the 1979 Iranian Revolution which did not have progress in mind and was rather retrogressive, I wrote the world needed another Immanuel Kant to say that the synonymity of revolution and progress has ended. Nonetheless whether we are asking for progress or are chasing retrogression, a fundamental revolution, had meant the death of the old society and the birth of a new one. The subsequent major revolutions such as Russia's October Revolution also defined themselves as such in history.
In other words, it was as if the society was like a human or an animal which was born and would die. Even the reformists like Kant, before the French Revolution, saw a gradual death of the old society or a gradual birth of a new society when calling for reform in their programs to achieve progress. This model of understanding the social change was a paradigm that viewed the society similar to a human or an animal. Of course, not only in the realm of social and political change we have seen such a paradigm but even in a field of knowledge like astronomy, a similar paradigm to understand the heavenly bodies has been very successful. For example we say so and so star died or so and so star was born. This paradigm at least since the Big Bang has been better than any other model to help us to understand the evolution of stars and the planets and the model is very similar to the evolution of humans and animals. Even to understand the 1979 Revolution of Iran this paradigm was able to explain it very well although one had to keep in mind the difference of retrogression in Iran's Revolution in comparison to progress in the French Revolution as I have explained in details in my book "The Futurist Iran." (3).
But Iran's Green Movement cannot be understood with the above paradigm. In other words basically the model of evolution of humans and all the animals which is based on the concept of the death of the old and birth of the new is not a good model to understand the Green Movement. In my opinion, the model of evolution of plants, for which death is meaningless, is a paradigm that gives us the opportunity to better understand Iran's Green Movement. The movement that started with the song "Winter is over," and of course I do not mean parts of that old song that mention guns which has no similarity to this movement. Iran's Green Movement was like the plants in nature which neither die in Winter nor are they born in the Spring but during Winter when the Sunlight is scarce, they shed their leaves; and their energy usage which depends on the food they get from their roots, is minimized this way, and in the Spring they grow leaves again and use the increased Sunlight to create food by their leaves as well, togrow more, but there is no death and birth involved, although for them the Winter is over and Spring has come.
Two years ago in an interview in Persian I discussed the topic of end of death for humans and the ideas of Ray Kurzweil in this area (4).
If I wanted to have the same discussion about plants, there was no death, to talk about ending it! In fact, in comparison to the animals, the evolution of plants is very interesting in this respect, because death for them is meaningless. It is true that a 10 year old tree is more stalwart than a one year old tree but it is not more aged. A plant may get destroyed because of disease or pests, A plant may be destroyed by fire. But it will not be more aged and will not die of old age. One may call the destruction of a plant as death but a death resulting from old age is meaningless for plants. In other words, the death of the old and birth of the new is meaningless in the plant evolution. Whereas the evolution of animals is not this way. In fact, the cell dividion in animals is a process which has death accompanying it from the time of conception since the telomeres at the end of chromosome from the point of conception in all animals starts to shorten till the moment of death; whereas this is not the case in plants. Also the speed of cell division in animals and humans increases from the time of conception till the time of adolescence and then it flattens and then in the old age the speed of cell division decreases till we die; whereas for the plants the first two stages happen; but the third stage of decrease of cell division *never* happens, and therefore plants never experience old age. In other words for animals and humans, when the telomeres is minimized, and the cell division drops to the lowest levels, it is old age and the death of the old. At any rates, what we see in humans and other animals is one model of evolution but that is *not* the only model of evolution; and the plants which are as big of a universe of species as the animal kingdom, in the biological world, their evolution, is based on a different model as I explained.
In my opinion, the paradigm that Iran's Green Movement has put forward for the political and social change in Iran is similar to the model of evolution of plants. It neither talks of the death of the old world nor does it talk of the birth of a new world. When it says "the Winter is over," it is as if it is talking of a plant which is growing its leaves when the increase of intensity of the sSunlight is an opportunity for it to grow leaves; whereas all these plants were still there during the whole winter. They neither had died during the Winter nor have they just been born in the Spring. It is even hard to say they were sleep and have just woken up, because they are awake during the Winter and sustain themselves through their roots, and not through their leaves, because the energy they can obtain by photosynthesis through their leaves during the Winter, because of the decrease of the sun light, is less then the energy they need to keep their leaves during the Winter and they shed. This is why the plants that keep their leaves round the year, have made their leaves in a way that need the least energy to resist the snow and are bent in a way so that would not break under the snow.
If this paradigm that I see for Iran's Green movement is correct, this movement just like plants, will encompass Iran for years to come. In its own Spring, with the warmth of the Sunlight of freedom, will blossom and under the pressure of the cold of dictatorship, its leaves will turn yellow falling on the ground, but will not die. Dictatorship may destroy a few flowers and plants and a number of trees may get destroyed by the gun shots and disease, nonetheless the flower field and forest will continue its life and this movement again and again will celebrate its Spring. Of course the understanding of the current leaders of this movement is not necessarily based on the paradigm of this movement itself (5). And as I have explained elsewhere every time this flower field is filled with blossoms, it may start from a different initial conditions and its scope may be different (just as different sizes of hurricanes form by butterfly effects as defined by the chaos laws, depending on their initial conditions).
Hoping for a Democratic and Secular Futurist Republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher/Editor
1. Here my usage of "paradigm" is similar to Thomas Kuhn's sense of the term
2. History of the Idea of Progress, Robert Nisbet
5. http://www.ghandchi.com/595-MousaviError.htm (in Persian)