Occupy: the view from Tehran II

Part II of the article by Arash Beidollahkhani published on Arcade (Part I).

"The Middle East Revolutions: courageous uprising of the youth against the current and entrance into the area of public policy" by Arash Beidollahkhani


Finding solution to the problems of the social world: thinking beyond the official structures

Commercialization of the world and the dominance of commercial and capitalist firms over the social and political structures in the modern world have all made it very difficult to solve structural problems. Strict and inhibitive regulations not only provide no opportunity for creativity and going beyond these structures but also have undermined people’s self-confidence accustoming them to the governmental benefits and social insurances and making people dependent on social benefits either from the government or non-governmental institutions considering the structural financial disasters. This situation has taken away from the people their bravery and their opportunity to think independently and move against the current. In addition, these official and legal structures have made the costs of independent thinking and moving against the current really heavy. But protest movements by the youths for the purpose of fighting for social equality and protection from being humiliated by official structures point to the fact that if people move against the official current not individually but in large groups and networks and base their work on mass bravery, nothing can really stop them. Certainly solving the problems and disasters of the world today is not possible only by legal structures; it requires individual and mass bravery so that all the people are awakened by criticizing and revolting against them .

The official structures can no longer help recognize and solve social problems and disasters. Youths’ uprising in Europe and America showed the authorities and decision-makers that modern capitalist structures can no longer bear the heavy load of many of the problems and cannot solve many of the issues and problems afflicting the youth.[13]

Furthermore, the youths’ uprising in the Middle East and north of Africa against their despotic governments was in the form of a bravery beyond the official structure which gave them the self-confidence to decide for their future and country.[14] In addition to these factors, this kind of moving against the current headed by the youth during the recent decades (as can be observed in the recent movements) has a number of differences with other movements that move against the current; in comparison with the youths’ movements in the 1960s in which they displayed bravery to protest against unequal legal structures, the movements originated in 2011 by the youth in the Middle East and other parts of the world were basically different. [15]The youth at that time wanted a world with more justice and without war and discrimination and sometimes expressed their dissatisfaction in the form of ideological and revolutionary schools which did not practically lead to democracy. The youths’ protest in the 1960s did not have only political motivations; sociologically, these movements were to express the youths’ presence as one of the newly-found social groups with a special culture and certain characteristics. Finally, these movements not only caused political changes in Western countries but also led the youths and especially the girls to acquire a special and new position and be recognized in the society; the youths’ culture and new behavioral patterns or sexual freedom became normalized.[16]

The movements in 2011, on the other hand, cannot be defined within the same framework as those in the 1960s. Some specific characteristics related to these movements distinguish them from other movements:

First of all, the youths created these movements on their own without being dependent on any party, groups or traditional organizations (syndicate, union, etc.) or any other popular methods of organization.[17]

Second, these new movements were not under the leadership any party or charismatic characters (intellectual, religious, political, etc.). The existence of a new generation of “intellectual mediators” including the journalists, weblog writers, civilian activists and also virtual social networks made it possible for the youth to become connected and converse and operate with each other in a joint attempt.[18]

Third, the girls (in the case of Arabian countries) had a very active role in the movements which was a kind of innovation in those patriarchal areas.

Fourth, these movements are against violence and attempt to demand their civil rights via civil movements. For the first time, in some of the Arabian countries a generation has come to the scene that presents a new culture instead of violent revolutions and without using the arms, bombing or any other violent movement and in this way, displays its future noble ideals in its bravery today.[19]

Finally, the political plans and demands of the uprising youths are simple but central. In Arabian countries the youth want free elections, an open and pluralistic society with freedom of expression and respect for human beings and equitable development; these are the demands ignored during the recent decades by the closed and despotic governments.[20]

In Northern countries(Europe and North America), the youths’ movement demanded a society full of justice, without poverty and social security in which financial capital is not allowed to dominate over people’s lives in the society.

All the features and characteristics are indicative of a new form of bravery in the people which is not longer dependent on individuals. It teaches bravery to all its members using public spheres and modern media and in the form of a comprehensive network movement.

Enhancing people’s courageous; the mission for international institutions

Although official and legal structures within the country have inhibited individuals’ sense of creativity and their bravery for moving against the current, international institutions can create optimal structures and help to enhance the sense of bravery and creativity in them in different countries so that they can move against the official and legal currents in their countries and in this way find workable solutions to their structural, political and economic problems because the legal and governmental structures are not able to provide solutions to many of the structural problems. The revolutions in the Arab world and the youths’ movement at the head of social movements in these countries are indicative of bravery enhancement in unofficial atmospheres and social networks because planning for criticizing the governments’ policies and demonstrating against them started from social networks. Different international institutions that are active for promoting freedom of expression and democracy development can help enhance bravery within official frameworks by supporting the growth and development of social networks and by supporting freedom of the media in countries under the rule of despotic regimes. Besides, international financial organizations such as the IMF, United Nations Development Fund, etc. can set certain conditions such the growth of individual creativity and bravery enhancement in deviation from the official structure for more assistance to the countries that promote it. Besides, the democratic countries in the world should support the youth and the social movements in despotic and authoritarian countries, those who are moving outside the official and legal framework and display bravery to criticize the government and discuss the main problems afflicting their countries beyond the official structures and present solutions to them in order to lower the costs of these movements for those who commit themselves to the movements so that the bravery outside the official framework would be enhanced among different individuals and the social networks to express their problems and present solutions. Providing financial and spiritual support for the social and political movements that move beyond the official frameworks and structures and international institutions’ support for these movements can lead to the development of courage because when the rewards for bravery increase, the costs for the protesting group and individual will decrease. However, it should be noted that people’s bravery against the despotic and authoritarian structures should be result-oriented and provide good solutions for the social disasters so that the global society and international institutions can support them correctly. In this respect, it should also be added that powerful countries in the world that have dominance over the international institutions should support these movements and help find solutions to the local political and economic problems in areas where bravery has been demonstrated by the people without being conservative. Certainly, their support (which is kind of a reward) for political and protest movements of the youth in different countries which is a sign of bravery can help solve these economic and political problems and disasters more quickly.

[13] For more information, see Zach Zill, "Dimensions of the global youth revolt," International Socialist Review, 81 (2012).

[14] Rama Halaseh, Civil Society, Youth and the Arab Spring, 264-66.

[15] Year 2011: return of Youth with new social movements (2012).

[16] For more Information see to Andrew B. Lewis, The Shadows of Youth: The Remarkable Journey of the Civil Rights Generation (Hill and Wang Press, 2009): 34-54

[17] Halaseh, 264-66.

[18] Farhad Khosrokhavar, The New Arab Revolutions That Shook the World, (Paradigm Publishers, 2011): 43-53.

[19] Stephen Zunes, "Arab revolutions and the power of nonviolent action," National Catholic Reporter, November 25, (2011): 26-28.

[20] Joshua Muravchik, Neoconservatives and the Arab Spring, Commentary Magazine 9 (2011): 3-34

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