Liberal as in Liberty and Freedom. Iranian as in Cyrus and Ferdowsi.
On August 16, 2006 Akbar Ganji
met for the second time with Noam Chomsky at MIT in Boston. Though it is a very strange choice of person to meet given that Ganji's writings
in recent years have been laced with names, such as de Tocqueville and Popper, who are the intellectual antidote of whatever Chomsky says and stands for, the meeting may not have been comepletely without benefit. Here is my selective translation of parts of their dialogue in Persian
, since I could not find an English source to quote:
Ganji: The picture you have of the government in the US is one that is completely non-democratic [...]
Chomsky: [...] Polls are freely available, but not in the media. [...] There is an open society. I repeat that the US is the freest society of the world. [...] You face a paradox: on the one hand there is an open and free society, and on the other people are deprived of information. [...]
Ganji: I don't think I got my answer. On the one hand, you say that the US is the freest country of the world, and on the other that, there is a vast public dissatisfaction. I ask why this dissatisfaction does not turn into a social movement? If you ask me why public dissatisfaction is not seen in Iran, I answer that one of the important reasons is that the regime strongly suppresses any social activity by the dissatisfied. The regime claims that the NGOs pursue a velvet revolution. The bus drivers' gatherings were brutally suppressed and many were arrested. Women's gathering in Tehran was severly suppressed. Now, even the kind of student gatherings that existed before Khatami are banned. But you say that the US is the freest country of the world, so what is keeping the people of the US from expressing their views or peacefully demonstrating?
Chomsky: When I say that we have the freest socity in the world, I mean that over the years many popular movements have succeeded. [...] It took over a century for the capitalists in the US and Britain to relaize that they cannot block people's will through violent means. In both countries, which are the freest countries of the world, they have taken on new ways of suppression [...] like controlling the media. When you turn on the TV you see a superficial life. [...]
I just hope that Ganji sees that Chomsky is ultimately unable to form even a single rational thought on the question he is asking. The simplest consequence of Chomsky's claim that the media are controlled in the US and Britain would be that they are not free societies at all, let alone the freest in the world. But he chooses the way of insanity and claims both. In contrast, Ganji's first-hand experience of the tyranny in Iran has shown him what real oppression is and how it is implemented in reality. I hope he sees the true message of his meeting with Chomsky: never listen to him again