The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future

James Buchan writes:

The People Reloaded, a collection of essays and interviews assembled by Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel, often from out-of-the-way journals and websites, gathers much useful information. It also pursues a feud with those leftists in the United States and Latin America who insist that, since Ahmadinejad is anti-American, he must be all right . . . That Ahmadinejad is erratic in his office work, and that his appearances abroad resemble cabaret performances, may not matter much. As the editors of The People Reloaded write, ‘Iran is a rentier state, which means it pays its bills from the sale of oil rather than through taxation. This gives the regime a significant degree of autonomy from society, which immunises it from popular pressure.’ Indeed, oil permits the regime to ‘buy the allegiance of millions of people whose livelihood is tied to its survival’. Yet Ahmadinejad’s promise in 2005 to put the country’s oil wealth on the people’s dinner table or picnic rug has not been kept. His dole to the poor of surplus potatoes from government stocks was ridiculed by the opposition candidates. ‘Death to Potatoes!’ their placards said.

(LRB 17 March 2011)

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