What to an American is Theocracy?

Iranian people have had their most basic rights trampled daily and have been subjected to all categories of random harassment by the state, based purely on whether or not we are the ‘other’. So, it is in the spirit of empathy and solidarity that Iranian socialists, and on behalf of our people — who have fought for over a century to gain dignity and basic human rights — send comradely greetings to, and stand in unity with, the oppressed peoples of the U.S. who are sowing seeds of hope through their spirited struggle against injustice and brutality at the hands of their state.

Consider the pro-corporate administration of the openly racist, misogynist, anti-Muslim, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-immigrants-of-brown-skin president Trump, an administration that you have been suffering for the past three and a half years.

Under Trump’s administration, you have been witnessing what a soft-fascist personality in the most powerful governmental position looks like.

His outright disdain of non-billionaires had been on display even before taking office. While in office, every official put in charge of different departments has overturned and reversed the very mission of their department. You need only consider DeVos actively busy destroying the public education system and successive EPA administrators actively destroying the environment. We need no further details, as the readers of this publication are only too painfully aware of the disastrous policies pursued by the Trump administration.

More currently, you have witnessed how Trump’s willful mismanagement of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, bolstered and emboldened by Republican Party hacks in the media, as well as Republican Senators and Governors and other politicians, has led the most powerful and richest nation on earth to have the most horrid scenario in the fight against this global pandemic.

They have willfully sabotaged every step of the fight against this virus. They constantly look for scapegoats and blame foreign governments, all the while denying their own responsibility in making things far worse than they need to be. They have used the aid packages passed by the Congress to line the pockets of their allies in the industrial and financial sectors, leaving tens of millions of people to fend for themselves. They have refused to carry out the most basic duties of a federal government in addressing a national emergency of gigantic proportions, as this pandemic has proven to be.

As the protests over police brutality have spread across the country, and the world, Trump’s administration has continued to intensify its antipathy toward the American public, causing even more popular outrage over this administration’s actions.

Now … imagine what would have happened if your country were a theocracy; or, as we call it in Iran, a full-on fascistic type of state. (Please spare me the professorial emails with ‘technical’, European-based definitions of ‘classical fascism’. We have been living under absolutist states for centuries!)

Consider a scenario in which the Trump administration was legally under the command of a Jerry Falwell type, say, Jerry Falwell Jr. As in, Jerry Falwell Jr. and his ministry’s edicts would dictate the laws of the land. And those laws would dictate how you may behave in public spaces and follow you all the way to your home and dictate what you can and cannot do in the privacy of your own home. Think Nineteen Eighty-Four type of control.

Now, imagine that this regime would hold elections to show that it is a ‘republic’, but in those elections only candidates vetted by Jerry Falwell Jr’s ministry were allowed to run for elections, with no legal means of overruling their decisions. Trump could stay as president forever if the Supreme Leader Jerry Falwell Jr. so decided and directed the legislature to pass a law to allow it, and if there were any term limits, people far more violent and disdainful than Trump would be allowed to run and be ‘elected’.

The judiciary would be a sub-branch of the executive, and William Barr would be the supreme judge, obeying whatever Jerry Falwell Jr. dictated, since Jerry Falwell Jr. is the head of the state. There would be a legislative branch, but, again, any and all of its legislations could, by law, be overruled and nulled by Jerry Falwell Jr., the Supreme Leader.

Now, consider that by law anybody who did not officially pledge allegiance to this theocratic structure would not be eligible to run in any elections, for any positions, no matter how low the position. Further, anybody who takes to the streets to demand the most basic of rights, by law could be arrested, jailed, tortured at will, and charged with sedition after a trial that lasts mere minutes, without the defendants having any guaranteed rights to representation or appeal.

Now consider that, semi-officially, the population was classified into three groups. The upper-tier consisting of believers in the theocracy who get all the benefits, all the privileges and all the rights to cheat, steal, bribe or get bribed, and even murder at will. In the middle are the people who are non-believers-in-theocracy but keep their heads down (the soft ‘others’); they stay out of politics and hope to live another day, can afford to get through their hellish life by bribing officials for whatever they need to get from state officials, such as a driver’s license or a permit to build a house or run a business. At the lowest level are the absolute majority of people who don’t believe in the theocratic state and have no rights at all (the hardcore ‘others’): those who refuse to praise the system, can’t make enough to even live at a sub-decent level of wellbeing, and only hope to see the system go to hell; so, they raise their voices against the theocratic regime on a regular basis by demonstrating in public spaces, both in physical spaces and online virtual space.

Now, consider what would have happened to all the people who have taken to the streets in the U.S. since the murder of George Floyd. The protestors would have met the wrath of a highly militarized police, as they have been in the U.S. But, with the exception that their presence on the streets would be met from the very start with live bullets and snipers on rooftops. The highly militarized police would not be accountable to anybody, unlike the current situation in the U.S. No police chief or police officer would dare show any mercy, any tolerance or, worse, any solidarity with the protestors. Any such act would land the police officer in jail, tortured and charged with sedition.

All telecommunication companies and all media would be state-owned. All mobile phone communications, as well as Internet activities, would be monitored, spotted for location, and all social media controlled for contents of the communication between people. As a result, all protestors’ locations could be easily traced in real-time, their whereabouts known to the security forces. There would be no Democracy Now!, no independent media, no MSNBC even. There would be no socialist organizations, no independent labor unions, no social justice organizations, no independent print or online publications. All media outlets would paint the protestors in the same colors that Fox News paints the Black Lives Matter protests, as a bunch of looters and terrorists.

The highly militarized police forces would be accompanied and supported by rightwing armed militias who are fully supportive of Trump and the theocratic state headed by Jerry Falwell Jr. These militias would have legal authority to attack and terrorize the protestors at will, using live munitions, and they would have the responsibility of identifying, pursuing and following the protestors to their homes, with the added authority to invade homes and arrest the protestors, imprison them and charge them with sedition. If any wounded protestors end up in a hospital, the state security forces would yank them out of their hospital beds, take them into custody, with certain imprisonment, torture and death as only options.

Executions of the detainees would follow swiftly. Bodies of the executed would be buried in unmarked mass graves, and their families never informed of the burial sites. Families would be charged for the bullets the executioners used to kill their loved ones.

That is the state formation we have in Iran.

So, next time Iranian people take to the streets to, just like you, demand justice and dignity, please show solidarity and sympathy. As well, next time some American feminist peace activists plan to visit Iran to convey their solidarity with the theocratic regime, remember who you are visiting to have dinner with.

Reza Fiyouzat may be contacted at: rfiyouzat@yahoo.com