Why Iran Matters

Among the more moving emails I've received these past few days have been from Iranians asking why on earth I seem to care so passionately about what's happening right now. The premise - that somehow Tehran-demonstrations-Dem-012 Iranians' fight for freedom is a parochial issue that the rest of us should not be concerned with - is heart-breaking. But here's my answer: this is the central event in modern history right now. The forces of democracy have marshalled in Iran for accountability, transparency and fairness. Wherever they marshall, we should stand with them, especially in the blogosphere, where our Iranian brothers and sisters built the foundation for this moment.

Moreover, Iran is at the very heart of the global struggle between the forces of distorted and politicized religious tyranny and the power of real faith and freedom. This struggle was never ours' to impose, however good the intentions. It was always there for the people themselves to grasp. And grasp it they now have - with astounding courage, clarity and calm.

And so at the white-hot center of the global conflict, this astonishing force has emerged to resist escalation, unwind conflict, get past ideology, insist on change, and demand a better future. This is hopeful enough. But the use of technology to achieve this offers a whole new paradigm for world politics. We saw its power in the Obama campaign, which harnessed a similar spirit in utterly different circumstances. Now it's transofrming the other side of this previously unstoppable conflict. Al Giordano, another foot-soldier in the Obama movement, grapples with the meaning of the Mousavi movement for the left in particular. Money quote:

Ever since I penned The Medium Is the Middleman: For a Revolution Against Media, I’ve been waiting for this moment, which I predicted, twelve years ago, would come: a great day when the corporate media got pushed out of the way by authentic media from below. What is occurring worldwide, with the Iranian crisis as catalyst, is the emergence of the very kind of media from below that the human race - particularly the working class and the poor - so desperately needs.

Following these events – including the fast-developing advances in communications strategies and tactics and the efforts from above to censor and cut those communications – provides a gigantic global teach-in and workshop (much like during the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela) on how it is done. As a journalist, I have always followed the stories that help me to learn something new and important to me. And every hour, I’m learning a new set of tricks from these brave communicators in Iran and around the world: methods and techniques that will serve us in this hemisphere, soon enough, too.

The study of how to break information blockades is a life’s study for some of us. What a wonderful classroom we’ve been provided this week. Perhaps, just as Woody Guthrie painted on his guitar, we will finally be able to mark our communications tools: “This machine kills fascists,” and then evolve it to his friend Pete Seeger’s rejoinder, painted on his banjo: “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender."

(Photo: By Saeed Kamali Dehghan, from the Guardian's slideshow.)