Twitterized Mullahs

How they all laughed at Twitter. Well, they’re not laughing now. It will be interesting to see with just how much relish the sniggering classes eat their words. The Supreme Leaders of Iran can tell them just how wrong they were to write off an instant, open-ended means of communication. The nature of the current anniversary coverage of Tiananmen Square might be very different if the people had access then to similar ways of co-ordinating action and of broadcasting their own story to the world. Since the advent of the cameraphone, the question has been ‘Who Spies on the Spies’? and the answer is US. As both the London G20 demonstrations and the recent expenses scandal showed, public surveillance of authority is now almost as much of a civic duty as paying taxes or driving on the correct side of the road or ensuring that a child does not stand too near to an open fire.

The Iranian ruling elite is in the dilemma of depending for its economic and military power on the same technology which will undermine it. So they can’t un-invent the internet (in order to suppress organised dissent) because this is the modern world, and they need their email addresses and online banking systems and commodity exchanges as much as every other regime. Unless, of course, they choose total Talibanisation, and a return to the C13th, which the Iranian people simply do not want. Not for Osama and All His Goats. And what’s good enough for the people of Iran is good enough for people living under any other dictatorship, China included.

Whatever the result of the election MIGHT have been, or how indistinguishable the policies of the two main parties, and however hamstrung Iranian democracy might be by Medievalism, the fact is that the djinn of freedom has been let of the bottle by the actions of the tyrants themselves. A few weeks ago, most Iranians might well have been prepared to give Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the benefit of the doubt, but since the shootings and internet shutdowns, and arrests and open disrespect of the increasingly aspirational educated masses, the theocratic regime has partly replaced the West and its sanctions as a demon. The betrayal of the government and the mullahs has driven the wedge of outraged personal self-esteem into the face of theocracy. Apart from anything else, surely modern technology and religious fundamentalism are incompatible. The Quran may not proscribe computers and iPods by name, but it is nevertheless undermined in people’s minds by such innovations, just as the invention of agriculture freed us from Animism and the printing press destroyed the monopoly of Papal power.
So the political choices now are very different from the ones the Iranian people once thought were on offer two weeks ago. The internet has helped reveal the unthinkable in Iran.
In Orwell’s 1984, the ‘proles’ are pessimistically generally ruled out as agents of change, ‘Goldstein’s Book’ within the book also dismisses any hope in the masses with one proviso:

“They (the proletarians) could only become dangerous if the advance of industrial technique made it necessary to educate them more highly…”

The internet is the ultimate educational technology, which expands to fill the use and curiousity available, and is now invaluable to the efficient management of the modern state. And any attempts to limit it to the elite are futile. Even the best efforts of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s cyber-agents could not stop the flood of information from the people this week, and furthermore, the global hackocracy rallied to the defence of the Iranian people and mounted attacks of their own against state departments.
It would seem that global ignorance is less of an excuse for tyranny then ever.

Cyber War Guide for Iran Elections


BoJo Bid Botched By Backstairs Ballyhoo?

political omen

Estimated £12k worth of free office space for Boris Johnson’s mayoral campaign team from a developer who’d been given the bum’s rush by Livingstone for wanting to build a Godzilla Theme Park opposite parliament, or some such. Shirayama Shokusan, they’re called.
Still, it was only ever a matter of time.
And what does all this make David Cameron? And what does it say about his intentions for the insitution of London government, and Londoners themselves, that he should back such a predictably hapless buffoon?
Now I don’t know who was who’s bitch at Eton, but.. How could he not know that the allegations would soon start flying?
Maybe Kelvin McKenzie was right after all.