The thing is, that whatever is going on in Iran at the moment, politically, socially, is not a revolution, of course. It is most certainly protest, which may or may not lead to revolution. The chances of it leading to revolution (read, affecting profound change away from the political status quo) are slim, anorexic really, given the "moderate" who "lost" the "election" is moderate only in a very relative sense. For example, compared to the current (contested ?) President of Iran, Dick Cheney is a moderate.
What we need not forget, and few are talking about this (thanks be to The Big Bang for The New York Times and some European papers, among other not widely read or watched news media, but even there the discussion is lost), is that the self proclaimed "martyr" in this is NOT against the power holding religious whackjobs who actually run Iran. Well, I don't know his mind, but he certainly didn't run for President to overthrow the mullas.
What is exciting in a Solidarity, or the wall is coming down sort of way on the political change continuum is that there is bold protest in Iran, that people are standing up for what they believe in and are willing to have their heads bloodied (or removed as the case may be) in support of that belief. The realist in me, however, continues to drag my mind to a historical spring in Prague -- not because in anyway the two situations are the same, but because of what power can do when it is threatened and holds the ultimate recourse of power -- military might (violence).
Unfortunately for lovers of Western styled democracy and the right to drill for oil wherever you want, or to manufacture big energy inefficient cars that people don't want until the people fork over lots of dough to give the manufacturer enough life to continue to make those cars the people don't want, is that the ayatollah structure ain't going nowhere in Iran. WHOEVER is named president will not change (revolutionize) a thing. Granted, that is so very true in a Western democracy, as well, so granted the level of debate and tone of rhetoric could change (which is all we really get on election day in the West) and things could appear or even become more civil if Admadinejad's mouth were smacked by his having to give up the corner office. But, and its a biggie, Iran would remain at its political heart a political and philosophical enemy of the West.
Yes, there are reports that Iran's religious leaders are considering a wee makeover of the religious based power structure, which is news comedy at its grandest. So to be clear, the mullas are plotting to strip themselves of power? Oh dear.
But back to the protests. The projection onto those dying and bleeding in the streets of Iran the hopes and dreams of democrats everywhere is of course, simply, hope. Misguided, as it may be. That others might know our freedom which, political cynicism and bitterness aside, we have in spades in the West, prompts us to effectively lose our minds and cheer on the dying and bloodied from the comfort of our armchairs, or The Big Bang forbid, by "tweeting."
Which brings me to what prompted this blog. I heard a debate on the CBC last week as to whether the "Iranian Revolution", by which was meant the current clash between one ruling elite and another, would have been possible without Twitter. Not even Dr. Laura has energized such a need to reach into my radio and throttle as did that discussion. I do belive that social media are proving effective at allowing protestors in Iran to communicate and coordinate their efforts for maximum result. And if so, that would be a tool not before available.
But to suggest as I'm now hearing ad nauseum that because the West (read, news media in the West) are getting reports out of Iran via Twitter and its brethren with more characters than 140, the holders of power in Iran, those bloodying heads, are less likely to succeed is ludicrous. If Twitter helps "get the news out to a waiting world" the world still has to do something if there's to be any true consequence of breaking silence. Iran's leadership ultimately doesn't give a damn about what the rest of the world thinks, in any event, so to suggest that when it is fighting for its very specific hold on power that if ABC and the New York Times can generate support outside of Iran...
Backup a second. Any ban of foreign media in Iran during the conflict has nothing to do with what in the end is PR, or building support outside of the country for the protestors. No, the ban is to ensure that there is no coverage that the INTERNAL audience can see which is critical of leadership, and thus motivating for the protestors. The real usefulness of twitter et al must surely exist if they allow those actually protesting to remain in touch and to know they are not alone! But, again, unless the West is going to invade Iran (or turn to some other at the moment unknown leveraging device) in support of the protestors as a result of the information we're able to access (because, say of the ruling elite's inability to block Twitter), well then that WE know about things via Twitter is useless; as contextual-less as most news in our lives.
To suggest that it is somehow instrumental to a (misnamed) fight for "justice" that Sally and Bob in Ohio or New Brunswick can follow the action in Iran is just stupid.