Friday, June 26, 2009

Jackson or Ayatolahs

[From Joel] There is a certain irony in the fact that between Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson's deaths, there is almost a complete blackout of news from or discussion about Iran. At a crucial moment in history, one has to wonder about whether the fundamental premise of the mullahs is right. That premise (as relayed to me by an Egyptian colleague) is that men are dogs and need a strong leash to prevent them from descending into degeneracy. While Iranian students try to wrest a bit of personal freedom from their government, we see that the worship of pop icons move them off center stage. In the end will the death of Michael Jackson do more to muzzle the revolution in the streets of Teheran than the shutting down of the internet? Is humanity doomed to oscillate between slavery and liberty, neither of which they can handle? Were Plato and Aristotle right about the impossibility of sustained democracy? With respect -Joel


Ira Glickstein said...

Those blesssed with excessive good looks, talent, fame, and fortune always get screwed-up in the end - often by their own hand. We common folks revel in the misfortune of our pop-icon royalty which is why the media has been wall-to-wall with Fawcett and Jackson. A once most attractive woman dies a pitiful hag with anal cancer. The best singer and dancer gets exploited by his family and pill-popping doctors and dies miserable and young. The audience loves that story line because it proves it is good not to be rich and everything comes out even in the end.

Of course that is all a useful myth, like Aesop's "sour grapes". Actually, those of us with good looks and talent usually get the lion's share of fame and fortune and generally live a more satisfying life than the poor.


As for Iran, as far as the media is concerned, the story is over. Some brave souls stood up to the Ayatolahs, the Basij and Revolutionary Guards brutally cracked down, and things are back to normal again.

As for "men are dogs and need a strong leash to prevent them from descending into degeneracy" and "the impossibility of sustained democracy" it all depends upon your definitions.

Complete liberty and pure democracy are impossible in any large constituency. We will always have strong individuals who make the rules and control the police. Governments oscillate not between slavery and liberty, but between totalitarian and oligarchy. Modern western democracies are ruled by a politically-connected elite who choose the candidates of the major parties. We have a measure of liberty only because we have two major parties. One party rule leads to totalitarian excess and too many parties lead to chaos.

I hope and pray the Iranian "Green Revolution" will lead, as Tianenmen Square did in China, to a gradual loosening of the totalitarian bonds. The Chinese Communist rulers are still in charge, but the realities of global economics have forced them away from pure communism.

I take encouragement from the fact that Russia has emerged from decades of anti-religious, anti-capitalist Communism, into a country with a resurgence of religious belief and a measure of private enterprise and something like democracy.

Western democracy, I believe, has a lot going for it. All the young demonstrators in Iran have lived under the Islamic Republic all their lives, yet they still are attracted to western ideals and a measure of secularism.

Western pop-culture and fast food and technology are a toxic mix to any totalitarian regime. Unless it is blocked totally (as in North Korea) some of it will seep in and infect the young people. Once infected, something like democracy cannot be far behind!

Ira Glickstein

Ira Glickstein said...

Here's a way the massive $2M security costs for the Jackson memorial at the Staples Center could have been paid for. Of course, since it is a market-based approach, I did not hear anybody suggest it.

The Jackson event was orderly and well-staged. It is all over - except for paying the security costs. LA will recoup part of that expense through higher than usual tax revenues, but there will still be a sustantial gap. The city and state are broke and paying for necessities with IOUs.

The lucky 11,000 who won the lottery for the public tickets had to pay for their own transportation, parking, motel, and lose a day's pay, so the really poor fans were excluded. Many of the lucky winners and the far larger number of losers would have been glad to pay $100 or more to attend the event.

Why didn't LA just sell the tickets on eBay and use the money to pay for the added security?


Exactly why?

Ira Glickstein

PS: And why are you and I, having suffered through the unwanted "all Jackson all the time" media blitz, paying part of the costs through our forced contributions to the stiumulus package that is mostly going to cities like LA?