Excellent analysis as usual Caitlin. However I don’t think we’ve much to worry about on this one despite the noise coming from the MIC party. As we saw with Syria, Russia and China were never going to let such a strategically significant ally fall, just as the Russians acted to undermine a pro — EU, pro — NATO government in Ukraine and China is encouraging smaller states to resist U.S. economic colonialism in south east Asia.

But there is another lesson to be learned from Syria and Iraq that applies to Iran. While the large cities and coastal areas have been secularised and liberalised by western commercial influences, in the hinterland societies are still quite primitive and the Mullahs and Ayatollahs rule is unquestionable.

This was illustrated to me by an internet discussion I became marginally involved in some years ago, about a book titled “Reading Lolita In Tehran,” written by an Iranian woman who who had lived in the USA and worked as a college lecturer who had somehow set up a system of smuggling books banned by the regime into Iran and encouraging women to read them.

Armed with my BA in literature I stepped into the usual torrent of liberal, feminist celebration of this to say that on the topic of Lolita I was with the regime, nobody should be encouraged to read Lolita because it’s an effing terrible book.

Cue shitstorm.

So I defended myself. The Da Vinci code is banned in Iran — well it’s an enjoyable pot boiler, lightweight stuff to read on holiday (or in hospital as I did) but no great loss educationally. Paolo Cohelo is banned in Iran and rightly so, anyone who writes for adults in a style that assumes his readers have the ability of dull witted seven year olds deserves to be banned. Thousands of book are banned in Iran.

Why not encourage Iranian women to read The Female Eunuch, or The Handmaid’s Tale, or 1984, any books containing words declared by the culture ministry to contain words inappropriate for publication are banned. These proscribed words and topics include: swear, tattoo, cage, makeup, wine, drunk, pork, dance, rape, dog, meditation. Homosexuality and any mention of “human touch between … fictional characters who are not married” are automatically banned. Which does not leave many western books for Iranians to choose to choose from.

Ironically the subject matter that made Lolita shocking to western culture when it was first published, a relationship between a pubescent girl and a middle aged man, would not have raised eyebrows. The fact that physical interactions are described would cause Iran a problem even if Dolores had been Humbert’s granny.

This is relevant to the current neocon push for regime change I think, because it illustrates our inability in the ‘liberal democracies’ (I use the expression with reservations) to understand the mindset of the middle east and therefore the way in which they view the world. Which is the main reason regime change ops fail so tragically.

Opted for comfortable retirement before I was fifty due to health problems and burn out. Now spend my time writing and goofing around. Home: northern England..

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