27 December 2009

More on Iran and what's going on

It's long been established wisdom that the coercive powers of any state are such that, as long as the bureaucracy of the state is willing to, any state can use its vast powers of death and extraction to suppress almost any revolt. This is expressed quite elegantly by Robert Farley here, musing on the relationship between the famous "Tank Man" and the "Tank Commander" who refused to run him over.

Therefore, I have to wonder as to what is going on as the demonstrators and protesters are able to basically take over several Basiji stations and take for themselves that very coercive power.

Another example that has been found is that a few days ago, demonstrators freed two men about to be hanged. I'm not at all certain what the crime was, but those men were later retaken by security forces (and many more were killed in the violence).

Are we seeing the demonstrators spontaneously trying to command the same coercive power as the state? Or, at the very least, diminish the monopoly the state has on it? I'm interested in Iranian freedom for its own sake, but I'm also interested in what the protesters are able to accomplish versus the power of the state, because if they succeed without the help of the Basiji or the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, it could be a whole new world. (Of course, if they are all shot to death by the same, as in the second video, then we are back in the horrible world of oppressive dictatorships we've known since the 1800s.)

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