An Iranian exile, Professor Dr. Afshin Ellian, teacher of the philosophy of law at Leiden University in the Netherlands, has published (in the online journal Telos) a splendid open letter to the Iranian "Supreme Leader,"Ayatollah Khamenei.
Excellency Khamenei, you and I know that no tyranny has ever succeeded in creating a political system that lasts. Your advisors have been misinforming you these past years. They have made you deaf and blind to what is really happening. The truth is that the ruling elite is despised by the people. Your puppet Ahmadinejad, who likes to appeal to Iranians in populist terms, is reviled. If you continue to use violence against your people, then you have obviously learned nothing from the tragic fate of the last shah of Persia.The mothers of the members of my family who were executed will not forgive you. But they will let you withdraw peacefully, for the sake of freedom and the peace of their grandchildren. Time is pressing for the Iranian people, and for the international community. I wish you wisdom and peace. . .
The whole piece should be read, not only because it catalogues the serious grievances so many Iranians have against their rulers today; but also because Dr Eilian's letter is a window into the dreams of those, including the Professor, who made and fought for the Iranian Revolution of 1979. But Ayatollah Khomeini and his friends (including the present Supreme Leader) -- far from answering Iranian dreams of freedom -- brought nightmares instead.
Khomeini and those around him, the Professor says, repaid their millions of backers in false coin: hijacking the Iranian revolution against the Shah and using it as a vehicle to establish their theocratic tyranny. I would be less than candid if I did not admit I have little sympathy for the Professor's claims on this score. Bloody revolutions and the bastard states they throw up are themselves the very negation of the law and philosophy the professor today teaches in the Netherlands. Revolutions of the French, Russian or Iranian variety usually just replace one tyrant with a bigger one -- deadlier because the new master supposedly rests on a species of public consent. The squabbling lawyers of the Tennis Court Oath and the Estates General gave way to Robespierre and the Reign of Terror; Kerensky gave way to Lenin and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat; the moderate professor Mehdi Bazargan to the radical Islamic Republic of Khomeini. In revolutions, the democrats always, always lose out to the radicals, the fanatics and the guns. Then starry-eyed supporters and romantics elsewhere tell us that Next Time will be different.
Do not misunderstand. I hope and pray devoutly that the crowds marching through the streets of Tehran prevail. I hope they go all out, that the Islamic "Republic" is toppled, and that the Ayatollahs and thugs who run it and have caused more misery and death then ever the Shah did on his worst day are paraded through the streets in chains, and that they wind up in ditches. I hope it happens. But I don't know if it will make things any better. It's possible, but I'm not holding my breath.
Hat tip: Michael Ledeen, Faster Please.