Sunday, April 23, 2006

Iran's lesson for Nepal

The protests against king Gyanendra of Nepal are reminiscent of the 1979 protests in Iran when Iranians of all political persuasions banded together to oust the Shah. The powerful Islamic faction led by Ayatollah Khomeini promised that once the Shah was gone political power would be shared democratically. Today in Nepal the powerful Maoist faction is making similar promises. The Ayatollah didn't keep his promise and it is unlikely that the Maoists will either. Like the Iranian intellectuals in 1979, The Nepalese intellectuals are fooling themselves if they think they are leading this revolt; they are simply useful at the moment and will be discarded once the palace has fallen.

With Iran's lesson in mind, is there anything the pro-democracy Nepalese intellectuals can do to avoid the fate of their Iranian counterparts? Yes, they should stay focused on their goal of achieving democracy and dismantle the throne one piece at a time. If they indulge their emotions--and in the midst of batons, riots, and teargas it is easy to do--and take the monarchy off the board, they will have removed an important chess piece in their upcoming power game with the Maoist's.

There's nothing wrong with Maoism or Islam that can't also go wrong with a democracy, so I am not attached to any particular outcome. But the way things are going in Nepal, I don't see democracy in her future, I see Maoism.


Michael Morris said...

Maoist, schmoist. What about those great hats?

How's things Ari?

Ari Siletz said...

Hard to say if the hats will be replaced my Mao hats, Michael. But now that you bring it up, I guess I do have a preference between Maoism and democracy after all. Democracy has my vote but only as long as the Nepalese don't start wearing cowboy hats.