US academics sign letter supporting protesters in Iran


by Sunny
26th June, 2009 at 2:34 am    

Yesterday the New York-based Campaign for Peace and Democracy circulated the open letter below from academics in support of the demonstrators in Iran.

The statement was initiated by two scholars in the United Kingdom, Peter Hallward and Alberto Toscano. It has been signed by individuals from several countries; the initial signers include Etienne Balibar, Paris X, Nanterre, and University of California, Irvine; Jacques Rancière, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris (St. Denis); Judith Butler, University of California, Berkeley; Noam Chomsky, MIT, Cambridge MA USA; Rada Ivekovic, Collège international de philosophie, Paris, Université Jean-Monnet, Saint-Etienne; and Slavoj Žižek, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia and the European Graduate School.

The full list of signers is below.
——–

Open letter of support to the demonstrators in Iran

PETER HALLWARD, Middlesex University, UK
ALBERTO TOSCANO, Goldsmiths College, UK

This morning Ayatollah Ali Khamenei demanded an end to the massive and forceful demonstrations protesting the controversial result of last week’s election. He argued that to make concessions to popular demands and ‘illegal’ pressure would amount to a form of ‘dictatorship’, and he warned the protestors that they, rather than the police, would be held responsible for any further violence.

Khamenei’s argument sounds familiar to anyone interested in the politics of collective action, since it appears to draw on the logic used by state authorities to oppose most of the great popular mobilisations of modern times, from 1789 in France to 1979 in Iran itself.

These mobilisations took shape through a struggle to assert the principle that sovereignty rests with the people themselves, rather than with the state or its representatives. ‘No government can justly claim authority’, as South Africa’s ANC militants put it in their Freedom Charter of 1955, ‘unless it is based on the will of all the people.’

Needless to say it is up to the people of Iran to determine their own political course. Foreign observers inspired by the courage of those demonstrating in Iran this past week are nevertheless entitled to point out that a government which claims to represent the will of its people can only do so if it respects the most basic preconditions for the determination of such a will: the freedom of the people to assemble, unhindered, as an inclusive collective force; the capacity of the people, without restrictions on debate or access to information, to deliberate, decide and implement a shared course of action.

Years of foreign-sponsored ‘democracy promotion’ in various parts of the world have helped to spread a well-founded scepticism about civic movements which claim some sort of direct democratic legitimacy. But the principle itself remains as clear as ever: only the people themselves can determine the value of such claims. We the undersigned call on the government of Iran to take no action that might discourage such determination.

SIGNED BY:

* Alenka Zupancic, Institute of Philosophy of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
* Alexander Garcia Düttmann, Goldsmiths College
* Etienne Balibar, Paris X, Nanterre, and University of California, Irvine
* Jacques Rancière, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris (St. Denis)
* Judith Butler, University of California, Berkeley
* Noam Chomsky, MIT, Cambridge MA USA
* Rada Ivekovic, Collège international de philosophie, Paris, Université Jean-Monnet, Saint-Etienne
* Slavoj Žižek, University of Ljubljana, Sloveniaand theEuropean Graduate School

———————
Good to see left-wing academics not falling for the rubbish by certain people that supporting the protesters would be terrible.


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  1. munir — on 26th June, 2009 at 7:58 am  

    People like Chomsky have a distinguished record in opposing US and Israeli imperialism- so no one can accuse them of condemning whats happening in Iran because of zionist political maneouvering as many are

  2. Chris Baldwin — on 26th June, 2009 at 9:13 am  

    I know it’s a cheap shot, but I wonder how the Decent Left will deal with this…

  3. Shatterface — on 26th June, 2009 at 7:02 pm  

    I bet posters on Harry’s Place STILL manage to make Chomsky the bad guy in all this.

    There are posters there who claim he’s a ‘troofer’. Doesn’t matter what he says, they’ll still put him on the side of the nutjobs because if you’re not 100% on message, you’re 100% off.

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