20 June 2009

Twitter, other people's revolutions, vigorous masturbation

Let us be clear. Chaos Marxism disapproves of the "Islamic Republic" regime in Iran, although we should point out that the Shi'ites in Iran are significantly less cruel and crazy than the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia. Although we have no sides in the quarrel between the unpleasant reactionary clown Ahmedinejad and the unctuous blood-on-his-hands-from-when-he-was-PM-in-the-80s neoliberal Moussavi, we are at the same time heartened by reports that working class forces are getting into the action in the current uprising in Tehran, and distressed by the many similarities to the CIA/NED-funded "colour revolutions" that have overthrown inconvenient regimes in Ukraine, Lebanon, Georgia etc. just to put an oppressor pleasing to the West in charge. The obvious slogan should be "Neither the Mullahs nor Imperialism, but International Socialism, Peace and Brotherhood", if you can fit that on a placard.

But that's not the point, since it's being well argued in many places elsewhere. What I want to point out is this article, puncturing the nonsense about there being a "Twitter revolution" in Iran. While there seems to be a real-life battle going on on the streets and workplaces of Iran, the whole Twitter thing seems to be overwhelmingly about:
- feeding disinformation helpful to the US and Israel to the people on the ground in Iran;
- giving plump Westerners the ability to fap themselves off by identifying with someone else's revolution. All that "TURN YR ICON GREEN 4 FREEDUMZ!!1!" nonsense - it's about as much actual use in the scheme of things as turning your icon black to support the NZ rugby teams. Sadly, it's much more destructive. The real goal of this construction of "pre-fab identities" by the marketing geniuses at the US State department is to reaffirm the collective identity of the middle-class voting and consuming public "the West" as "the good guys, supporters of freedom", which will be very useful next time our leaders want support to invade somewhere and kill brown folks.

So, the whole point of the Twitter revolution is to confuse and demoralise the actual martyrs on the ground in Iran, and the opinion-forming layers in the West, into identifying with the forces of world capitalism and imperialism. Let's hope they don't succeed. Actually, to hell with hoping, let's make sure they don't succeed. Bring up the points raised in this post every time someone brings up the events in Iran as if there were some kind of glorious morality parade, with "pro-Western" being used as a substitute for "good guys".


  1. Thanks very much for the link and this post, and yes, I agree very much with your perspective on how to frame this struggle.

  2. This is where I go from fan-boy to harsh critic...

    Would you rather people be completely unaware of this? I admit Twitter does have something of an alienating effect. However, like other alienating media (TV, film, etc) there is the chance to do what art is set out to do: Invoke emotion. It's these invoked emotions that inspire others to pursue their own iteration of said art.

    What's more is the revolution itself. Whether or not it fits the West's or your goals, it is a revolution where change is possible. One of my firmly held beliefs is the daoist maxim, "Move against the current without splashing." Now, there is a very strong current. It'll be up to the left within the people of the revolution to to use the momentum of the current to their advantage. There is much energy there and it can be fed against itself or channeled into a new path.

  3. Your criticism is more appreciated than your fanboying, although I wouldn't call your comments "harsh" in any way.

    Seriously, I thought I made it clear that my sympathies were totally with the mass movement in Iran, although rejecting the false choice between two right-wing, privatization-happy candidates (and remaining totally agnostic on whether the election was actually rigged or not).

    My comment, as is usual for this blog, was aimed at middle-class Westerners (and their media outlets) using the blood, sweat, tears and more blood of the Iranian people as lubrication for masturbating to their own moral superiority. The Western media are openly cheerleading for regime change (to the extent of falsely labelling photos of pro-Ahmedinejad rallies as pro-Mousavi rallies), and the point of the article I linked to was that the Twitter reports you refer to are overwhelmingly Westerners getting themselves off on someone else's struggle, or CIA/Mossad spooks planting disinformation, rather than actual reports from the frontline.