Integral Perspectives on Iran's Cultural Divide
In Integral terms, the demonstrators can be distinguished from the regime’s supporters by cultural qualities relating to states, stages, and relationships to shadow.
High states are part of the ethos both of the demonstrators and of the regime’s true believers. Most of these high states are evoked by acts of self-transcendence, whether they be self-abnegation or self-sacrifice, whether they be gross physical acts or subtle emotional or mental acts.
Persians are poets and revolutionaries, a heartfelt, brooding, noble, and passionate people. Each year, on Ashura, faithful grassroots Shia men go into a trance and beat themselves bloody to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hosayn Ibn Ali, in memory of whom Shiism originally emerged. Sufi mystics go together into trances in which they dance and sing and enter into ecstatic communion with Allah. Ancient Persian poetry is full of ecstatic mystic language, expressing a rich and passionate love affair with God. Modern Persian poetry is full of ecstatic emotional language, expressing a rich and passionate love affair with life, and pain, and death.
The structure of Iranians’ values are still centered in traditional agreements about symbols, tones, morés and resonances. But their values also now include certain modern and postmodern values like common sense, respect for the dignity of others, thinking for oneself, and the curiosity to observe the modern world directly. Their values are not altogether modern; but they are not exclusively conformist.
Their eyes have noticed a myriad of details and evidence and colors and shades of grey that the regime is telling them aren’t there. “Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?” Everyone “in their right mind” knows the regime has lied to them. Read more »