Saturday, 1 January 2011
AN ANSWER TO UCL STUDENT OCCUPATION XMAS MESSAGE ON IRAN
[ pictured: Iranian and Bolivian Presidents join Iranian orphans on the floor for a 'Iftaari' meal ]
A New Years call to hold your tongues
By Adam O'Connell & Daniel Renwick
1 Jan 2011
Posted on Christmas day, the UCL occupation released a statement inappropriately titled “A Christmas Call to Arms”, inciting British “diplomatic” action against Iran. The student(s) who drafted the statement took offence to President Ahmadinejad’s criticism of the British Government for its handling of the student protests. Dismissing the Iranian presidents comments as “ridiculous” and “hypocritical”, the authors go on to radically detach themselves from the leadership of Iran and paint themselves in clear opposition.
The statement is of an odd variety. Nevermind its non-sensical language use (laughter is posed as a “coherent response”) or its tone (aggressive and disrespectful throughout); phrases such as “once again, Iran is brought into the spotlight for its cruel and unjust judicial practices” beg the question – “spotlight shined by whom or what?” The spotlight is shined for a reason, it is not cast down from heaven by a deity but by the will of imperialism. Funnily enough, its got very little to do with compassion for Iranian citizenry. It is a shame sections of our student movement can be enchanted by empire’s tricks so easily.
The example of Habibollah Latifi is used to attack Iran for its unjust judicial process. Being tried behind closed doors is seen as a sign of utter corruption. While we do not wish to defend Iran’s judicial process, we also have no desire to condemn it. Given that our own government has/is engaged in extra-judicial killings, torture, and detention without trial (heard of Wikileaks?) we believe that our student movement should only focus on those who it has power to influence. The will exhibited in the statement is to create the world in West’s image. Currently, that is a tory administration, “in opposition to the happiness of its own populace". Why such a potent demographic currently engaged in conflict with the British state would encourage the very same imperialist state to extend its spectre of dominance, assuming of course it can, is a matter of great confusion.
We feel saddened to make this criticism, but from what has been said in “A Christmas call to Arms”, we have no choice but the label the authors and those who support it as stooges of imperialism, infected with the “arrogance”, as Ahmadinejad labels it, to seek to interfere with the governance of another country, while disavowing the struggles with the same issues at home. It is cowardly, neo-colonial and has no place within a progressive political ethic.
The student movement would be better off positioning itself globally, loudly and clearly, against Western imperialism and with the resistance to this imperialism. We find ourselves at a juncture in history where the power of the West is rapidly depleting. The paths that can be taken once we take heed of this are simple: more war to re-establish a hegemonic relationship which is currently too punctured to ballast the New World on the US axis, or work with the leadership of the third world to establish a relation of non-interference and mutual co-operation. The implications of these different political ethics are far-reaching. The former leads to the continuation of neo-liberal orthodoxy, the other strives to create a new world upon the destruction of the old.
 With Iraq in mind, and that Iran already have sanctions imposed upon them – what is the meaning of “diplomacy” the authors intend and what gives them any assurance that the intentions of those who control diplomatic channels has changed at all since the invasion of Iraq?