Saturday, June 02, 2007

Lipstick Jihad

The Israeli journal, Azure, has an interesting review of two books on Iranian youth culture: Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and American in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni and Warring Souls: Youth, Media, and Martyrdom in Post-Revolution Iran by Roxanne Varzi. Each of these books, according to the review, provide insight into the complexity and paradoxes of the Iranian youths. Iran, ruled by a click of dictatorial theocrats, is largely inhabited by disaffected and alienated young men and women who want nothing more than to drink alcohol, have sex, and listen to rock music.

The hopeful elements presented in these books are that the youth appear to want liberty and to dislike the authoritarian regime. This holds the promise of new Iranian revolution that could oust the current repressive and dangerous regime. Whether this can happen before Iran must be bombed to prevent it from going nuclear is an important question.

A most disheartening element,however, appears in the review. According to one of the authors reviewed, Varzi, there is a deeply ingrained reliance on authority and little individualism. She describes how even in simple social activities like a ski trip or party, there was "nothing that was done spontaneously or from individual initiative. The group was always consulted; everyone participated once the activity was decided on, and there was always somehow a de facto leader (chosen usually for age and experience) whom everyone deferred to." This is hardly promising. Even if a revolution could occur, it could very well usher in just a different authoritarianism. Nonetheless a more secular authoritarianism might be preferable to the maniacal, death-obsessed Islamic authoritarianism already in power.

The review has piqued my interest enough to add these to my amazon wish list.

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