Iran’s insistence on exporting its Islamic revolution doomed it to eternal irrelevance
Marxist theory rests on a trifecta of foundations, though only two get the attention they deserve. Everybody knows about the Marxist principles of collective ownership of the means of production and the rejection of religion as “opium for the people”, but what is less visible today is the Marxist rejection of the concepts of nationhood and patriotism. That is too bad, because of the three foundational principles of Marxism it is that last one that is the most pernicious. Without it, the rest of the theory immediately loses logical cohesion and makes no sense.
Marxism seeks to shift the paradigm of human conflict away from that between nation states, empires, republics, or any other political groupings and redefine it solely in terms of class. Marx and his followers sought to break the bonds that exited in every society between its working, middle, and upper classes. In the post-feudal European nation states and empires, these bonds were many centuries old and were based on a long common history, the origins of which were shrouded in shared myths. Workers, engineers, and factory owners may have not lived in the same neighborhoods or shopped in the same stores, but they went to the same churches and shared a love for their motherland. In America, with its short history, but strong upward mobility, the classes were tied together by the hope that they or their children, through hard work and sacrifice, can always do better.
The goal of Marxism was to break the bonds of brotherly love between the classes in a given society and replace them with burning hatred, a hatred that is based on envious, impotent rage. Marxism preached that the English coal miners were one not with their own supervisors, but with other coal miners, in places like France, and Germany, and Poland, people with whom they shared nothing except for their “class”. The Marxist attack on religion was designed first and foremost to eliminate the one place where all classes came together and where they were all equal in the eyes of God: the Church. The Marxist slogan, the first official slogan of the first Marxist state – the Soviet Union, was “Workers of All Nations Unite!” After the Bolshevik coup, the first act they undertook was order the Russian troops fighting on the Eastern Front of WWI to cross the lines and embrace the Austro-Hungarian or German soldiers they were facing and then leave the battlefield and head for home. In this, they were following the Marxist dogma that wars were profit-making enterprises designed by the owner class, the bourgeoisie, to cull and keep in check their own lower and working classes. In the Marxists’ view, there were no “national interests”, only the interests of the international cabal of greedy capitalists.
All of this may sound rather good, but there is one little problem: human nature. It turns out that an English coal miner may hate his supervisor’s guts to say nothing of the mine owner, but they are still his people. This coal miner knows nothing about other coal miners who speak German or Czech, who dress funny and eat funny stuff. These people are utterly foreign to him. People will shed blood for one thing and one thing only: their own tribe. Learning this lesson cost Russia and its client nations tens of millions of casualties and the world is till paying a very high price for it today.
In the immediate aftermath of the Bolshevik coup, the fledgling Soviet Union under the leadership of the Marxist ideologue Vladimir Ulyanov (Lenin), spent countless resources that it didn’t have on futile efforts to export its “revolution” to Western Europe. In their rush to demonstrate their disdain for nationalism and commitment to multiculturalism, the Bolsheviks, most of whom were not ethnically Russian, divided the Russian Empire they had inherited into numerous “republics” and “autonomous zones”, such as “Ukraine”, “Belarus”, “Georgia”, “Armenia”, etc. They put pen to pencil and drew up frivolous borders between these newly cobbled together entities, borders that took little heed of ethnic, religious, or linguistic realities.
The results of this Marxist policy were and still are disastrous. Bolshevik meddling in the recently defeated Germany during the 1920’s was sufficiently scary to most middle and upper class Germans that it pushed them into the arms of an ultra-nationalist demagogue, Hitler. When that same demagogue attacked Russia in 1941, the Soviet Union had forces that were much larger and in many cases better equipped than the Wehrmacht. Regardless, the Red Army was knocked on its heels and ran, leaving huge swaths of territory and tens of millions of civilians to the “mercy” of the German murderers.
The only way that Stalin, never a devout Marxist anyway, could get the Red Army to fight was to quickly jettison any vestiges of Marxist post-national rhetoric, get rid of the “workers unite” slogan, and quickly dust off whatever icons of the Blessed Virgin the Bolsheviks have not yet burned. From late summer of 1941 and on, Russians would fight for the motherland, for their brothers and sisters, for their God, in other words, for the only things worth fighting for.
The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 did something that nobody ever though would actually happen, it gave meaning to those silly lines that the Bolsheviks scribbled on the map of the old Russian Empire seven decades prior. All of a sudden the world had many new independent states: Ukraine and Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Except Ukraine had ethnically Russian areas in its southeast and Azerbaijan had the Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh, to say nothing of Crimea, which was never a part of anything but the Ottoman and Russian Empires, but now found itself, on Khrushchev’s whim, part of Ukraine. The bloody conflicts in these regions are a Marxist Bolshevik legacy our world could well do without, as could the tens of millions of casualties of Marxism and its similarly evil twin, fascism.
Interestingly, the ayatollahs currently in charge of the Islamic Republic of Iran are facing a dilemma that is not dissimilar from the one faced by the Bolsheviks a century ago: is the Islamic revolution a gift for the Iranian people exclusively, or should it be exported, by force of arms if necessary, to other, especially Shia, corners of the world? This dilemma is rooted in the infallibility of the revolutionary ideology. The American Founding Fathers never thought for a moment that the constitutional republic they were creating would be a fit anywhere outside of the thirteen colonies and even in these colonies they were far from certain it would take root. Bolsheviks and ayatollahs, in stark contrast, believe that their revolutionary ideologies are infallible, unassailable, and globally inevitable, meaning that they MUST be the final destination for all of mankind. Once that belief takes hold, it becomes difficult to resist the urge to “nudge” the rest of humanity to hurry up and adopt its final and inevitable form of governance.
Ever since its Islamic revolution, Iran has been actively building up the strength to export it first to its near abroad, then to all Shia, and finally to the rest of the world. To this end they have deployed enormous resources, resources that literally denied its own people proper food, shelter, disaster relief, education, and economic development. In its obsession to export its eschatological ideology, Iran managed to completely miss out on the information revolution and find itself in a world in which its only abundant resource, oil, is a devaluing commodity. Since seizing power in the 1970’s around the time that the solid state transistor was first commercialized, Iran established no industries, no leading institutions of higher learning, and no R&D outside of weapons of mass destruction. In the 1970’s Israel’s per capita GDP was about twice that of Iran, just under $5,000. Today, at $40,000, it is about eight times higher compared to Iran’s $5,000. The Islamic revolution, but even more so, the ayatollah’s efforts, efforts that bore no fruit, to export it, have cost Iran its future; they have denied it entrance into the club of developed or even developing nations.
Today, the supreme leader Khamenei surrounded by fanatics like the Al-Quds force commander Soleimani are doubling down on the exportation of their revolution. While Iranians are starving and drowning, they place expensive military hardware in Syria, where it inevitably and predictably gets blown to smithereens by Israel. They send missiles to the Huthis instead of basic survival supplies to the victims of the floods in their own country. They are all in.
Russia was saved, at least temporarily, from total destruction by Marxism, because it had a leader, Stalin, who only used Marxist ideology to gain power, while not believing a word of it. Nevertheless, the wound that Russia gave itself by its early experimentation with full-on Marxism was so grave that it has never fully recovered and likely never will.
Iran is on the precipice. The world is on the verge of passing it by, never to look back just as it has passed by the entire African continent. Whether Iran manages to partially circumvent president Trump’s nearly full embargo on its oil exports is irrelevant. Oil today is a cheap and plentiful commodity, a commodity the demand for which is falling due to new technologies and the pervasive climate hoax alike. Simply put, Iran is trouble. It is more trouble than its worth. It is odious, infected, ugly. It is like a homeless person lying in his own excrement pointing a gun at the passerby – a good reason to hasten one’s footsteps and cross the street. We are told that a few so-called “moderates” are urging the ruling junta to shift at least some resources back to the Iranian people. Even if true, it is far to little too late. What has been lost, four decades in which the world made incredible progress while Iran was busy sinking into medieval despair and superstition can never be made up. Some errors are forever.
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