Posted by: HAT | May 12, 2010

Hopes and Tears

image of home page of Mission Free Iran blog

What is must be changeable if it is not to be all.
-- Theodor Adorno

Learned that this insignificant and self-absorbed little blog is “possibly related” to the blog Mission Free Iran, via the concept of the general strike.

The difference between the concept and the concrete will presumably be illustrated tomorrow in Kurdistan. I hope that illustration will be one more to rejoice than to mourn over. I don’t know whether that is a reasonable hope, considering the circumstances. But what else would anyone hope for?

This discovery of Mission Free Iran was almost unbearably painful. Among my early political memories are the Iranian Students’ Association demonstrations that were a fixture of political life at Michigan State University in the 1970s. [See, for instance, this on the MSU Iran Film project] In those days, the students protesting the Shah’s illegal and unpopular regime wore masks, an acknowledgement of the real threat from the secret police.

Then, there really was a revolution.

The student I knew from Iran — not that well, just well enough to be in a reading group: Monopoly Capital, The Marxist Theory of Alienation — what happened to him?

Almost unbearably painful — emotionally, not physically, a significant difference; others know more than I do — because of the clear awareness that it shouldn’t be necessary. It shouldn’t have been necessary in 1953, it shouldn’t have been necessary in 1974, it shouldn’t have been necessary in 1979, and it shouldn’t be necessary now. Knowing that “ought is not is” does not have any pain-relieving power.

The history of violently crushed hopes is exactly what Walter Benjamin is talking about when he says that the past has a claim to whatever weak Messianic power the present possesses, and that “that claim cannot be settled cheaply.”

But there are lots of ways to settle any claim, even a costly one. While there are no good reasons to expect states to behave differently than they have in the past, “everyone always has a choice.”* States in the end are exactly as powerful as the people who act in their name, and their “following orders” . . . or not. So the best hope might be that the general strike would extend to the agents of the security forces.

* Got this from a film on one woman’s experience of life in Iran and Europe during the revolutionary years, Persepolis.


  1. Dearest: here is a comment from my colleague Ahmad Fatemi regarding today’s VERY successful strikes throughout Kurdistan:

    “@Hopes and Tears! Hopes and joy. We did it. Today is a historical day . Kurdistan broke through the wall of suffocating suppression, and the rest of Iran supported that. We kicked ass today but there is much more to do.
    I have received 10s of photos from different cities of Kurdistan, all the same message. News keep coming in all the time…Yes Sir! We kicked ass big time!”

    Come see the photos at and go see the joy on twitter: go to and enter the following search terms: kurdistan strike

    And then smile REALLLLL BIG! 😀


    • Great news! I am SMILING for you!

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