The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2)

Monday, 27 April 2020 5:46 AM  

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2)

By Ramin Mazaheri


Part 1 
discussed how the West’s coronavirus response totally ignored the needs of their lower classes, and also how Iran’s “Resistance Economy” rejects Western economic liberalism (and neoliberalism) which has always sought to relegate non-Westerners to second-class economic partners.

As I have written previously, the West’s corona response is not just murderously mediocre but middle-class – it assumes everyone has a comfortable home, savings and a stable job. The West is employing quarantining, control methods and collective-over-individualist concepts used by Asian nations, but without having similar cultures of government economic intervention nor widespread trust in their governments. It is not hysteria to suggest that this could prove fatal to their bubble-filled, high-finance dominated economies.

There is a lot of foolish talk from Westerners, who are effectively forbidden to learn about and discuss how capitalism-imperialism truly operates, regarding how corona will cause supply chains to move back home. This has produced a lot of soon-to-be-forgotten agreement from their politicians, who are desperate to show that – all of a sudden – they care about their lower classes. Recall that the “end of irony” was proclaimed after 9/11 – will we see the “end of globalisation” because of coronavirus?

That’s funny.

The state of Delaware is where most US corporations are located and buy their charters – if it is not the world’s biggest corporate tax haven, according to The New York Times and The Japan Times, the state is certainly among the world’s top five. (Indeed, it should now be no surprise why Delaware senator Joe Biden was chosen to be Barack Obama’s running mate amid the 2008 economic crisis.) It could not be more crystal clear, even though neoliberals in the US often try to sow confusion about this fact: “Delaware corporate law requires corporate directors to manage firms for the benefit of shareholders, and not for any other constituency.” So anyone thinking corporations will sacrifice a mere fraction of their stock price in order to move supply chains back home are absolutely deluded about the possibility of patriotism, much less humanity, in “Capitalism with American characteristics”: their laws explicitly forbid it.

The post-corona persistence of neoliberalism – an ideology predicated on reducing government programs and expenditures for the 99% with ruthless efficiency – means that Western governments both national and local will be so strapped for cash in a post-Lockdown climate that they will be forced to try and save every nickel they can to maximise ever-more inadequate tax revenues and income. They will forced to buy from China, Haiti or whoever can save them pennies, because this is exactly what neoliberalism demands – it fundamentally neuters economic patriotism.

Urban hipsters who perhaps previously would pay premiums to “eat local” (because it is tastier) will soon find that unemployment (or a worsening of the seemingly never-ending underemployment for the West’s youth class) drastically alters one’s menu options. They would like to “eat local”, but many will be forced to forego the local farmers’ market to buy their food as cheaply as possible, and regardless of provenance.

So such talk from Esquire magazine bout how corona will usher in a new economy based around “resilience preparedness” is totally absurd: the very basis of globalisation is hyper-specialisation (Adam Smith) and turning every nation into a single cash crop/cow (David Ricardo’s comparative advantage) writ large, and these two concepts are the very opposite pole of resilience. Hyper-specialisation is hyper-resistant… but in one single area; if classic liberalism or modern neoliberalism or the “free market” selected your country to produce hygienic masks, congratulations! According to them you should jack up the price and the rest of us should not try to domestically produce our own.

Contrarily, we can say that Iran has tried to create “specialisation” in the normal way – within a single national economy’s different regions instead of all over the world, messianically and arrogantly. This is why they have employed a “resistance economy” (with many egalitarian principles held over from the “command/war economy” era), which is based around self-sufficiency, protectionism, government intervention to stimulate innovation in vital sectors, and government ownership in essentially every sector with medium or large importance. This, even more than the insistence that Islam is compatible with democracy, is why the West wages war on Iran.

The good news for Iranians: these economic principles are what promote resilience and preparedness, they curtail the indebtedness/poverty of the lower classes, and they will make Iran far more capable of weathering the economic turmoil of the coming months.

It is amusing that some in the West are now clamouring for sensible, humane, patriotic, efficient measures which Iran has employed for decades. Is Iran’s economic idea more exportable to Esquire if we call it a “resilience economy”, perhaps?

The Iranian economy in opposition to the West’s seemingly certain post-Great Lockdown economic chaos

At the root of this economic program is not anti-capitalism but anti-the-type-of-capitalism which today’s Iranians are violently confronted by: neoliberalism and globalisation. This form of capitalism is the most-geared towards maximising the profits and market concentration of the 1%, whereas a “resistance economy” is fundamentally-geared towards satisfying the needs of the Iranian 99%. The Koran sanctions capitalism, after all, but it bans usury and has clear exhortations to equality and the economic redistribution of massively-ordered charity. (If the West would simply follow the ban on usury – exorbitant interest and debilitating compound interest – they would be so much better off….)

If the Iranian Revolution did not satisfy the needs of their 99%… how can we possibly explain its endurance amid all the growth-sabotaging Cold War from the West? The question never was growth, after all, but re-distribution. The same logical argument stands for anti-imperialist Cuba and North Korea – caricaturing these nations as totalitarian oligarchies will continue to lose its false power for as long as these countries continue to not just endure but thrive (considering Western blockades), and for as long as the West’s post-1980 inequality entrenchment continues. Despite the looming economic crisis, does anyone really believe the West is culturally capable of reversing these inequality trends?

Undoubtedly, the West’s corona overreaction will make their economies – which were already in a Great Recession – even weaker.

Yes, this will force more Western domestic criticism of neoliberalism and globalisation, but will it really? How can it when France’s Muslims, US so-called “White Trash” and their lower-class counterparts across the “West + client” world cannot even be seen on their televisions? We are logical to believe that open criticism of the ideology of globalisation will be muted very shortly, because all these nations have airwaves which are dominated by a handful of corporations; contrarily, the Iranian government owns all the radio and TV waves – to get the outlook of not-always-selfless private media one can turn to Iran’s extremely critical, thriving print press.

Yes, the West’s reduced economies will necessarily reduce the influence and local reach of governments, but this reduced reach can easily be counter-balanced by the drastic quasi-martial laws which have already been employed. France almost certainly has the most over-policed corona lockdown (800,000 citations already), mais bien sûr: they just had an Islamophobia-based two-year state of emergency, which President Emmanuel Macron legalised into normal police practice.

Yes, the gut-wrenching reduction in wealth for the West’s lower classes may provoke “Western-style populism”, but this ideology is intrinsically reformist and not revolutionary. Look at the Five-Star Movement in Italy – it took them eight years to win significant power, but they have not been able to make significant changes. In their last national election the superb Yellow Vests gained merely half the votes of the (ugh) Animal Rights Party.

Yes, Westerners can see that all the evidence points to the necessity that they must change, but we must recall how very culturally chauvinistic they are: The West is hysterically convinced that their system is supreme – even among their “dissidents”, who are usually just “semi-dissidents” at best – despite all the evidence of failure and their perennial disregard of their own lower classes.

So combine this inherent conservativeness (liberal reformism), with neoliberal cultural saturation, with laws that forbid leavening neoliberalism, with “it’s not totalitarian when the West does it”, and it’s hard to compute a conclusion where the Great Lockdown produces a drastic reform of the Western economy, no? They have to overcome all of these trends, laws and false beliefs simultaneously and in great measure.

That would be a revolution. The West, the great thwarter of progressive revolutions, is supposedly now on the cusp of having one?

The only thing more idiotic than such talk are the commentators who accuse Iranian Reformists of being “neoliberals”, which is as stupid as calling Biden-backing Bernie Sanders or the French “socialists”. The Iranians most associated with the “resistance economy” are indeed Ayatollah Khamenei, ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Principlist Party, but the idea that Reformists aren’t hugely, hugely on board with countless resistance economy principles is just eye-rollingly wrong.

The reality – well-known in Iran – is that there is absolutely no room in Iranian politics for any political group which pushes ending the pro-99%, government-interventionist, fundamentally anti-neoliberal direction of the economy for this simple fact: they would never get re-elected by the 99%, and thus such a movement is necessarily finished before it could ever even could get started in Iranian democracy. Capitalism is sanctioned by the Qur’an, so it will always have a place, but neoliberal capitalism (again, all capitalism is not “neoliberalism” just as all socialism is not “violently atheistic Russian Soviet socialism”)? Not hardly.

Smith and Ricardo’s liberal ideas that each region should produce only that which it was perfectly suited to producing had one fatal flaw: such perfect harmony cannot possibly ever exist in a capitalist-imperialist system, because such a system is predicated upon competition. This is not a small flaw in their ivory-tower thinking, nor am I resorting to a mere humbug attack on “human nature” – competition, instead of cooperation, is a poor foundation for human stability and peace.

Such harmony and mutually-beneficial arrangements (and on a global scale, no less!) could only possibly ever be achieved in a world that has a basis which is definitely not neoliberal, which is very wary of capitalism’s excesses and constant exhortations to battles both big and small, and which tacitly accepts resolutely anti-imperialist and thus essentially socialist economics as the foundation.

You may not want Iran’s culture – that’s natural, they don’t want yours.

But across the West their lower classes are clamouring for an economy with many of Iran’s motivations and practices – they will be ignored, sadly.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

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www.presstv.co.uk

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Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions

April 01, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions

By Ramin Mazaheri – for The Saker Blog

Looking back, why was there such a huge, swift economic collapse after 9/11? Doesn’t it seem to have been totally unjustified?

After all, there was no drastic global reordering, no Armageddon, no World War III. The biggest consequence was the legalisation of the 21st century Western security state, which dwarfs anything the KGB could have waged, but from an economic point of view there was absolutely nothing which justified the enormous economic downturn and its accompanying pessimism.

So what were we worried about? The economic threat caused by Islamic radicalism?

There is not (and has never been) any major threat to the global order/economy from Islamic radicals – there is no such widespread movement, period. Iranian Islamic Socialism is indeed a threat to Western capitalism-imperialism, but only an idiot, racist, Islamophobe and/or general nutcase would equate the two; Iranian Islamic Socialism only asks to be allowed to democratically experiment inside Iran in peace.

So what were we worried about? Quite justifiably, was it the economic fallout to be caused by how terribly neo-imperial Rome (the US) would react?

The US did not launch thermonuclear war in revenge. The response was – by the Pentagon’s satanic standards – only earth-shattering in two spots of the globe: The US occupied a totally poor country with very little tapped oil (but a lot of opium-production potential) – Afghanistan – and they occupied an oil-rich former client which had been decimated by two decades of Western-ordered war and inhuman Western sanctions – Iraq. Bad for Muslims? Of course. Bad for “Capitalism with Western characteristics”? Not hardly. (After all, capitalist-imperialist war is always profitable for the aggressors’ elite.) The subsequent phony “War on Terror” was ultimately bad for the US taxpayer, sure, but who in the US 1% cares about them?

So what were we worried about? The economic threat posed by the entrenchment of an existential fear which would cause people to refuse to get out of bed in the morning? Clearly, I am reaching… because I just can’t think of anything else.

The horrible thing that was supposed to happen simply never happened.

Yet the economy did crater, and everyone is now reading stuff like, “(this latest economic statistic) is the worst since 9/11.” But while the economic downturn was sharp it wasn’t prolonged.

High finance is always ahead of everyone else in understanding macro-economic trends and truths: the rich unlocked their gates in the Hamptons and it took only two months for the Dow Jones to regain its pre-9/11 levels. However, it took crude oil prices a year to regain pre-9/11 levels ($40/barrel) because people were slow to realise that the huge economic depression (sparked by the reduced economic activity which many said 9/11 was certain to provoke) did not materialise.

The only industry which was correctly hurt by 9/11 was insurance (but to hell with them). The downturns in the two other most affected industries – airlines and tourism – were provoked by the false, hysterical idea that the (nonexistent) Islamic radical movement were going to kamikaze more planes/bloody flag-waving Americans would be dropping bombs on beaches and hotels.

Yes, economic sentiment was justifiably a bit pessimistic back then because 9/11 exacerbated the already-in-progress 2001 recession, which had been caused by the totally unjustified Y2K hysteria.

Is anybody identifying a Western trend here yet?

(I mean, besides the West’s comedians? From “America’s Finest News Source”, The Onion: Historians Politely Remind Nation To Check What’s Happened In Past Before Making Any Big Decisions)

But the coronavirus… this time it’s different Ramin

Indeed, in the sense that the entire world has gone hysterical and not just the evangelist, paranoid Americans.

I feel totally justified to call it “corona hysteria” because nobody can convince me that corona is as very terrible as it seems. The data is simply not there. It might be, but as of the writing of this article nobody can claim for certain that it is there.

In this very good article from The Spectator – How deadly is the coronavirus? It’s still far from clear: There is room for different interpretations of the data – which was penned by a recently-retired Professor of Pathology and NHS (UK) consultant pathologist. He notes some very basic logic concepts are being ignored even though the ultimate policy question is, “How truly lethal is this virus?”

  • Health care and science are fields fundamentally characterised by doubt rather than certainty, contrary to what doctors on TV are insisting.
  • Testing regimes based in hospitals will always overestimate virulence: they are dealing only with the worst cases, not with the masses of asymptomatic cases of infection.
  • Most crucially, many are inflating the death tolls because the vast majority of respiratory deaths in the UK were not historically recorded as being caused by the flu, but recorded as bronchopneumonia, pneumonia, old age or a similar designation… but now the deaths are being being listed as due to Covid-19.
  • The obvious proof that we lack solid data, on which we must base policy decisions, is evidenced by the wide range of reported national mortality rates: 7% for Spain, 4% for France, 1% for the US. The author says the best example nation we could look at is Iceland: mortality is 0.3%, which is slightly above the normal 0.1% for flu but definitely not a repeat of the Spanish Flu of 1918.
  • Rushed science is bad science. However, the MSM is demanding “science now”.
  • The average age of death in Italy is 79, compared with an average Italian life expectancy of 83. Am I heartless to report this? No, because I am not advocating ending self-responsibility measures for the vulnerable and the possibly infected.

The most interesting country to watch is Sweden (and Mexico and Brazil), who alone in Europe have not locked down. They haven’t done absolutely nothing, but their corona policy is relying on self-responsibility. Compare the treatment of Sweden from the non-MSM financial website ZeroHedge with the panic-inducing, hysterical treatment by fake-leftist UK media The Guardian. Sadly, the latter gets exponentially more eyeballs than an indispensable site like ZeroHedge.

So I just won’t be browbeaten into agreeing that corona is so exceptionally deadly – that might be proven one day, but anybody who says it has already been proven is pushing bad, unproven science. Corona sceptics are falsely attacked by those rushing to judgement, but the ex-doc/prof defends our scepticism quite capably:

‘The moral debate is not lives vs money. It is lives vs lives.’

Yes, because bad economics kills. Austerity kills. Neoliberalism kills. So I’ll stick with my analysis: there is an economic overreaction going on with corona similar to what happened after Y2K and the attacks on 9/11. However, the corona overreaction is way, way, WAY more shocking:

“The immediate impact of the 9/11 attack was to reduce (in the US) real GDP growth in 2001 by 0.5%, and to increase the unemployment rate by 0.11% (reduce employment by 598,000 jobs.)” (found here)

Goldman Sachs, which is more concerned about a high finance recovery than a real economy recovery, just optimistically estimated (but pessimistically when compared with their previous estimate) a jobless rate topping out at 15% and GDP sagging by a record 34% in the second quarter, followed by only a 19% rebound in the third quarter.

Such projections are… incomprehensibly bad. But especially so because we don’t even know how deadly corona truly is. The idea that such a self-induced downturn isn’t going to cause huge amounts of death, poverty and even more sickness is not just wilfully naive but dangerously wrong.

Have you never heard the expression: We’re all just 9 meals from murder? Surely, LOL, this cynical saying is especially true for people who don’t do Ramadan (which begins April 23!).

Again, socialist-inspired countries like China, Iran and Cuba control the levers of their economies for the benefit of their masses and will pull those levers – but India? The perma-stagnant Eurozone? The dog-eat-dog US? Think Iran isn’t used to war, a command economy, and unnatural impositions imposed by ruthless stifling (sanctioning) forces? I raise my scepticism because because bad economics kills, and the West especially is full of terrible economics which attack their lower classes.

“But Ramin, you are the only open Islamic Socialist I have ever heard of and, what’s worse, you work for the Iranian government. Nobody was listening to you before – because you espouse these undoubtedly nutty ideologies – and certainly nobody is listening to you now. ”

Tell me something I don’t know!

Doesn’t make me wrong, though. Doesn’t mean I should be writing human interest reports about how to cope with corona-boredom instead of writing this article.

I am drawing attention to the fact that the West – despite all their wealth, and despite their constant proclamations of being the self-appointed defenders of human rights – does not have the socialist-inspired, lower class-protecting economic safeguards to take these drastic shutdown measures. Furthermore, while The Washington Post is now running horse-is-out-of-the-barn articles such as The coronavirus crisis is exposing how the economy is not as strong as it seemed, for years I have repeatedly been among the relatively few journalists reporting about how the Western economy is even more over-leveraged in 2020 than during the 2008 crisis, which was caused by over-leveraging, so… there’s that to deal with, too.

I don’t mean to stoke economic hysteria – all the West and their client state admirers have to do is implement socialist-style measure after socialist-style measure over the next few months, and then my worries here will have proven to be unfounded.

A radical 180 from TINA – There Is No Alternative (to neoliberalism)? It’s not an impossibility… technically.

The next few months will certainly demand it.

If we could add the West’s false Y2K hysteria to their false 9/11 hysteria and then multiply it by the 2008 economic crisis, then we can get start to imagine what the West is stampeding themselves towards economically.

Socialist-inspired countries like Iran, China and Cuba should do what they have always done – hold on tight. The West’s corona hysteria will only push them more in favor of the big-government, socialist-inspired policies they have already (thankfully) adopted, anyway. That process may take years, when it needs to take mere months.

***********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience?

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for?

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire)

MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s?

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution


Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.

Khashoggi Part 2: A ‘reformer’…who was also a hysterical anti-Iran/Shia warmonger?

November 19, 2018

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker BlogKhashoggi Part 2: A ‘reformer’…who was also a hysterical anti-Iran/Shia warmonger?

I wouldn’t want readers to think that I egotistically view Jamal Khashoggi’s anti-Iran stance as his most important flaw….

Part two in this 4-part series only focuses on Iran because they provide a distinct counterpart to “Khashoggi Thought”: By laying out the differences between these two we can see how Khashoggi relates to the Middle Eastern world; then in Part 3 we can see how Khashoggi relates to the larger Islamic World; and in Part 4 we can analyze Khashoggi’s intellectual relation to the West, China and the entire world. Hey – since 1979 hysterical anti-Iran warmongers have been a dime a dozen! We’re just expanding outward concentrically.

One of Khashoggi’s favourite journalistic topics was Iran, which everyone will agree is the Muslim country that has mostly successfully rebelled against the Western model and the West’s dictates. Those who know some of the details of the Iranian system will agree that Iran is also the Muslim country which has burst through the furthest into political modernity.

These are the very reasons why Khashoggi called Iran “our Great Satan”. He repeatedly wrote that the JCPOA agreement on Iran’s nuclear energy program is a “war project” and not a peace project, in clear contradiction with the vast majority of global public opinion.

He viewed Iran as the biggest threat to his own happiness and to Saudi Arabia’s happiness, and so he fanatically wrote article after article to cobble together a war coalition. This article examines the question: What compelled Jamal Khashoggi to be such a horrific warmonger?

Khashoggi can rest in peace – he got some wars started, at least

From a 2016 column (fanatically) titled, You are either with us, or against us:

“Our neighboring friends say they do not want a sectarian conflict. It is too late; we have all been pushed against our will into this conflict by Iran, which might not be speaking in a sectarian way but is acting as such.”

The claim that Iran is “sectarian” is absolutely false and easily disproven: Palestinians are Sunni and not Shia. Need more? Fine: As far away as the leftist Polisario Front in the Western Sahara Iran is supporting Sunnis, even though monarchical Morocco cut ties for that reason (at least officially). This is an argument does not withstand the barest scrutiny.

I dispel such nonsense to show Khashoggi’s own, real view:

“Therefore, today’s confrontation is not between Sunnis and Shiites, but between Shiite fundamentalism (he is referring to Iran) and Sunni fundamentalism represented by ISIS.”

The only people making such a preposterously false equivalence between Iran and ISIS are located in Riyadh, Israel, Washington, New York and in mosques where the preachers have trained by radical Saudi Arabians. Would ISIS have a constitution, women in parliament, and high voter turnout? LOL, of course not – the two are absolutely not comparable. However, if you want to get a job with The Washington Post you had better write a ton of copy claiming that they are.

Khashoggi’s dishonest claim that he himself was not a sectarian is contradicted by the fact that – in clear contrast with Iran’s foreign policy – Khashoggi openly opposed every Shia movement in any Middle Eastern country: he supported the war in Syria 100%, hated Hezbollah as much as any Israeli, and only stopped openly supporting the war on Yemen after he moved to The Washington Post.

Lede sentence from a pre-“WaPo” 2016 article titled, Saudi constance in its Yemen policy:

Operation Decisive Storm will emerge victorious because its demands are simple, moral, and supported locally, regionally and internationally.”

Our first question is: who is this “Constance” he refers to and how did she get such influence in Saudi foreign policy on Yemen? I have heard of “constancy”, but apparently ole Saudi Connie was deluded into thinking that forcing the greatest famine in modern history on Yemen was “moral”.

Errors from Al-Arabiya’s editors aside, the reality is that Khashoggi viewed any demand by Shia for democracy as “Shiite fundamentalists”.

How many “reformers” or “dissidents” are warmongers at the same time? Check Part 1 for an explanation of what type of thinker in the Muslim world does and does not deserve those monikers.

Modern Iran, like all socialism, is a social experiment which was long-repressed

The problem with Khashoggi’s obsessive anti-Iranian warmongering (apart from all the obvious problems, of course) is that revolutions are not made by powers or individuals, but solely by ideas.

Like the results or not, I think any objective analysis will agree that the idea behind the Iranian Islamic Revolution was, most simply, “modern Muslim democracy”.

But to the average Westerner “modern Muslim democracy” is an extremist idea; to the average Western leftist or intellectual it is an impossible contradiction; to Arab monarchs it is a terrifying threat to their elite status; to the Muslim People, this is exactly what has been repressed by all of the above for two centuries (and then the Muslim People are accused of being intrinsically anti-democratic!).

But, after toppling the Shah, and unencumbered by a legacy of colonialism like in Algeria, and also not seeking to deny a Muslim electoral victory as Algeria did in the 1990s, Iran did implement Muslim democracy more than any major Muslim nation in history. What resulted from this Muslim democracy is what I often refer to as “Iranian Islamic Socialism”.

But this revolutionary idea was not at all unique to Iran in the Muslim world, and that is something which Khashoggi himself recognized and feared. From a 2016 column titled Iran’s Regional Project:

“The leaders of Yemen’s Houthis, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iraq’s Dawa party and Bahrain’s Al-Wefaq party seek to implement their sectarian fundamentalist project in order to spread Iran’s influence beyond its borders. Those leaders consider Iran a cosmopolitan system rather than a state with defined boundaries. They have pledged unconditional allegiance, waging war and declaring peace on Tehran’s orders without taking into account the interests of their states. They do not consider Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria or Iraq as countries.”

Therein lies Khashoggi’s fundamental error: especially given that Iranian patriotism was the single-most important spark to their revolution (and not something openly internationalist, like socialism in 1917 Russia), Iran is not really a “cosmopolitan system”. However, “Muslim democracy” definitely is; “Islamic socialism” definitely is.

Houthis, Iraqis and Bahrainis are not seeking to create some sort of new “Shia Caliphate/superstate”, nor make Farsi their new official language, nor throw out their cultures for the modern Iranian one – they would certainly resist such efforts violently. Due to his 18th-century-based political beliefs – what I define as “Salafist Liberal Democracy” in the next part of this series – Khashoggi cannot grasp this.

Yet the truth couldn’t be more obvious: What those parties – all murderously repressed – truly seek is democratic representation within policy-making. Such policy-making would inevitably be, I predict, Islamic socialist, but they would certainly not be “policies-to-benefit-Iranians”.

That is why Baathist (Arab nationalist/supremacist, secular, socialist) turned tyrant Saddam Hussein banned and massacred the Dawa Party in 1979…which only pushed back their (inevitable) democratic victory until 2005. That is why Yemen is in the midst of the latest iteration of its civil war for democracy and against monarchy, and via a Houthi movement which is republican and which also includes Sunnis (contradicting the constant Western media description of them as “sectarian”). That is why Bahrain’s poor – dominated by Shia, who live under the discriminatory and Riyadh-allied monarchy – want at least one valuable commodity: the ability to vote their conscience so that modern, democratic policy-making can finally begin.

Furthermore, against the idea of Iranian cosmopolitanism is the fact that anti-Arab feeling in Iran can be disgustingly strong – they were the invaders, after all. Iranian patriots (but especially Iranian jingoists) would love to talk to you for 2,500 years about the 2,500 years of rather distinct (but not too distinct…) Persian culture. Iranians honor and adore Imam Zayn al-Abidin – the originator of the Islamic sect of Zaidism – but he took firmest root in Yemen. Is “cosmopolitan” Iran going to uproot Yemenites’ 11-century long love for Imam Zayn and force them to publicly prefer Imams Ali & Hussain, the ubiquitous religious figures of Iran? That idea is impossibly absurd and would only lead to war.

Modern Iranians are much like modern Chinese – not inclined to imperialism following much Western humiliation and repression; maybe in a century that changes (devolves, becomes reactionary, etc.) but it’s just not true in 2018. However, both are inclined to defend their neighbors, cultural kin and distant cousins when attacked, which is not at all “imperialism”.

Iran-obsessing is only to repress intellectual & democratic debate

Despite all these core-rooted differences Iran has with other “Shia nations”, Khashoggi concludes:

The crises in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq should be linked and dealt with as one Iranian project that threatens all our cultural and political components, and our vision for the future. This project poses a serious threat to our region, and should be seriously confronted with a unified project before it is too late.

For Khashoggi “Muslim democracy” has been transformed into “one Iranian project” – very flattering to Iranians, but a false exaggeration.

Iran’s “project” was to liberate themselves from Western meddling and to democratically discuss and create a new society. What they decided was to: end monarchy, reject 18th century-based liberal democracy, not attempt a phony bourgeois Muslim liberal democracy, and to instead create what is accurately termed “Iranian Islamic socialism”.

However, all of that absolutely does threaten the monarchism, elitism and power-hoarding “vision for the future” which Khashoggi supports!

Khashoggi wanted the Saudi Arabian power structure to remain fundamentally unchanged – he merely preferred a different prince than current Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. Just ask his sons: “Jamal was never a dissident.”

Let’s define another key Khashoggi’s fear, which is the unique historical choice Muslims face in 2018: between monarchy and republican theocracy. It is a unique choice because – excepting a few islands in the Caribbean – it is only Europeans who still promotes monarchy, and they certainly appear to democratically reject theocracy.

Iran was not the first nation to prove that a monarchy is totally incompatible with socialism, but they were indeed the first to prove that in the Muslim world. That’s no small potatoes in a region full of kings….

More crucially, though, is this: Iran was the first to prove was that theocracy is not totally incompatible with socialism – this is Iran’s most radical contribution to modern history.

This is why Iran is such an electrifying, polarising example in the resolutely-religious Muslim World. It is also why those opposed to the political & economic democratic dictates of socialism, and those pushing capitalism, imperialism and monarchy – like Khashoggi – are trying so hard to destroy Iran.

What is certain is that Liberal Democracy is not compatible with socialism: Socialist Democracy is fundamentally different in structure, motivation and application, and the West will continue to totally oppose Socialist Democracy wherever it is found.

Khashoggi’s ‘cry of a Saudi prince’ in 2018: “I am not king….waahh waaahh!”

The reality is that Khashoggi himself admired and envied the Iranian Revolution. What did Khashoggi want to emulate? From his columnThe Alienation of the Saudi Legacy:

“I consider it the second most important book to tackle the crisis of Saudi identity and alienation after Egyptian researcher and journalist Mohammed Jalal Kishk’s book “The Saudis and the Islamic Solution.”

This book was published more than 30 years ago, when the question of an Islamic solution emerged with the return of political Islam and the victory of its sectarian version in Iran. It is time to put this book back on school shelves, so the current generation learns and feels proud…” blah blah petty nationalism blah blah Saudis are the best blah blah.

Per Khashoggi, he wants an Islamic solution to be promoted and to be a “victory”- like in Iran – only he wants a Saudi version.

First, an aside: the problem is that a just society according to Kishk was staunchly, resolutely anti-leftist. Khashoggi, like seemingly all Westerners, completely misses the socialist aspects of the “victory of the sectarian version” in Iran. Iran’s solution was both Islamic and modern; the latter is proven by its rejection of antiquated monarchy and the implementation of democratic structures, and Islamic because many of its rules which were inspired by Islamic knowledge. (That Iran’s government is not based on “religion” but based on “religious knowledge” is literally the first piece of ignorance I sought to overturn in my recent 11-part series on modern Iran.)

Many Muslims will say today that Khashoggi’s proposed monarchist, anti-socialist, sectarian and jingoist solution is not at all Islamic, but let’s play along anyway:

One cannot be both “modern politically” and a “monarchist”. Whoever heard of a socialist king? Now that is an impossibility. The only place you would hear such fake leftism is from Europe, Canada or Australia. Khashoggi reveals this contradictory absurdity when he refers back to the second-most important book, written by Saudi Prince (shocker, eh?) Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman:

“The book comes as an outcry from a Saudi prince…” stop right there Jamal: the worker of 2018 cares not for the “outcry” of any prince!

Neo-imperialist Europe may disagree with that, but any empowered, educated worker knows that there can be no princes in 2018 – to maintain doing so (or to return to doing so, perish the thought!) is what is accurately called “reactionary” in 2018. For God’s sake, even a devilish, bourgeois banker in New York City or Paris has enough political modernity (republicanism: popular sovereignty, instead of the sovereignty of a monarch) to know that!

But I have not the power to stop Khashoggi, because he has all the powerful allies while Iranian Islamic Socialists and Muslim Democrats have only the lower classes. He continues:

“The book comes as an outcry from a Saudi prince calling for an awakening that revives what was inherited from our grandparents…” again I wrest control!

What I inherited from my two grandfathers appears limited to the shape of my hands and legs, the desire to respond to silly questions with silly answers, and the monetary fortune left over from a 95 year-old’s modest pension… after being divided with at least 10 other people. Contrarily, Khashoggi inherited more money than he could spend and the keys to the kingdom’s journalism! Thus, it is no wonder he espouses a reactionary, backwards-facing view…there is a reason most revolutions are started by the “barefooted”, as in Iran.

Instead of having a revolution to depose the anti-democratic, damned monarchy, Khashoggi – like all modern right-wingers from Europe to the US to Brazil and beyond – can only offer the dying light of the past as a beacon. It is mere nationalism – an ethos which was “modern” in 1848.

Contrarily, plumbing only the past for answers is the opposite of socialism, which demands that the People be empowered in their daily work to excitingly construct and maintain a new society where everyone can finally reach their full potential.

Khashoggi illustrates what Muslims have been fighting against ever since the Industrial Revolution proved to workers what their unified power could produce: Western-backed monarchists who fear the democratic judgment of their own people.

Nationalism produces racism but patriotism does not. No surprise Khashoggi pushed ‘Saudization’

Patriotism is what we are striving for, but Khashoggi reminds us that “patriotism” must necessarily be combined with something larger than just a “love for our land and our past”. Twenty-first century modernity simply must be combined with a multicultural ethos due to absolutely everyone’s recent history of immigration (which only excepts Japan, the Koreas, Tunisia (they were all trying to get into Ghadaffi’s Libya) and Yemen among major countries).

This why the West truly has no idea what patriotism truly is: they mistakenly think “patriotism” includes jingoism, racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia.

Iran is a “cosmopolitan” system only in the sense that it speaks this long-suppressed but still vibrant anti-sectarian, leftist language both within and beyond its borders. Khashoggi constantly distorted this reality and told his readers that all Shia are “tools of Iran”, and that they cannot be trusted as citizens across the Middle East. All Shia have apparently renounced their nationalities and have no heart at all for their surroundings nor those in them…but this is all untrue.

Untrue, but normal to Western ears: this is undoubtedly exactly what is said in the centre and left across the West – “Shia” must simply be replaced with “Mexicans” or “Muslims” or “Roma” as needed.

This is scapegoating and racism, and verboten in socialism; China, Iran and Cuba have NONE of these “identity” problems. “Our country is losing its identity” is only a pathetic problem for those nations not inspired by socialism; socialist nations are making a new identity, and it is patriotic (inclusive of all within its borders). This short section is, sadly, necessary for many Western readers who are not true patriots but who falsely they think they are.

It is unsurprising that Khashoggi supported the monarchy’s “Saudization” policies to the hilt – all their migrant workers were only oil money-bloodsuckers, not people who helped build modern Saudi Arabia. The recent expulsion of 700,000 Yemeni migrants, along with other deported nationalities, is something many in the West would love to achieve.

A “reformer”, despite being anti-Iran, anti-Shia, anti-migrant….

2018 choices for the Middle East: democracy & religion or monarchy

Of course the West loves Khashoggi – just like they do, he hated Iran and sough to create a Sunni-Shia divide which has no precedent in Islamic history.

A Khashoggi could never exist in Iran – that is the glory of their popular revolution. Promote anti-democratic monarchy in Iran? That’s only among the lunatic exiles. Promote aggressive and obviously-imperialist war in Iran? War is only for self-defense against invaders, which is ordered in the Koran – Muslims do not turn the other cheek.

That Khashoggi is celebrated in the West is to their great shame, and I’m sure many Westerners are ashamed of that. These honest people instinctively know that Khashoggi is no “refomer”, but hopefully this series reminds us exactly why.

The Saudi People also know Khashoggi is no reformer. I recently covered a pro-Khashoggi demonstration in front of the Saudi embassy in Paris – there were twice as many journalists there than Saudis. Saudis know this guy was no hero – he was part of the system of Saudi oppression.

But I am well-aware that Westerners do not really care about Khashoggi – it’s just an interesting tabloid story.

Those who care about Khashoggi are the leaders of the Mainstream Media, Western politicians, and Western CEOs – sadly, this is who controls things in Western liberal democracy’s “rule of law”. They care about Khashoggi because he represented the possibility of bourgeois revolution within the Muslim monarchical world, which would create the opportunity for international high finance to legally wrest control of the Saudi Arabia’s oil from the Saudis – what else would result from installing bourgeois liberal democracy in Saudi Arabia?

Khashoggi has passed, and the push to prevent democracy for Muslim people – by protecting monarchs and their intellectual toadies – will continue. However, socialism and democracy cannot be denied in the Muslim world forever.

Please note that this entire Part 2 only discussed political ideas which the West can relate to – liberal democracy, republicanism, socialism, true patriotism, etc. Part 3 discusses a political concept which most Westerners cannot discuss intelligently – Salafism. It also discusses the very-unintelligent ideology Khashoggi promoted: what I term “Liberal Democratic Salafism”.

In 2018 Salafism is a politically-reactionary concept, and it is absolutely opposed in Iran for that reason, but it is so prevalent in the Muslim world and in Muslim history that it must be properly understood. Westerners must understand it because they have it too.

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This is the 1st article in a 4-part series which examines Jamal Khashoggi’s ideology and how it relates to the Islamic World, Westernization and Socialism. Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!

Khashoggi, Ben Barka & PressTV’s Serena Shim: A 4-part series

Khashoggi Part 2: A ‘reformer’…who was also a hysterical anti-Iran/Shia warmonger?

Khashoggi Part 3: ‘Liberal Democratic Salafism’ is a sham, ‘Islamic Socialism’ isn’t

Khashoggi Part 4: fake-leftism identical in Saudi Arabian or Western form

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

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