Ahmednejad Urges “Purge” of Liberal and Secular Intellectuals
President Ahmadnejad of Iran is calling for a purge of liberal and secular university professors.
Iran’s hard-line president urged students Tuesday to push for a purge of liberal and secular university teachers, another sign of his determination to strengthen Islamic fundamentalism in the country.
With his call echoing the rhetoric of the nation’s 1979 Islamic revolution, Ahmadinejad appears determined to remake Iran by reviving the fundamentalist goals pursued under the republic’s late founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Ahmadinejad’s call was not a surprise — since taking office a year ago, he also has moved to replace pragmatic veterans in the government and diplomatic corps with former military commanders and inexperienced religious hard-liners.
This sounds bad, but there’s actually a silver lining in this bit of news. Much as I hate using World War II analogies to analyze the present day, there is actually an interesting analogy to be found here.
During and after Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany, there was also a crackdown on scientists and intellectuals. Schools began teaching “Aryan science” and anything with a hint of “Jewishness” was purged. Several prominent nuclear scientists fled Germany for the United States and Britain. The result? Despite early technological leads gained simply because Germany was the only country really purusing them, during the course of the war the Allies caught up to and surpassed Germany’s lead. Why? Because American and British minds were free to think and speak freely. Additionally, many of the Jewish scientists who fled Germany became active supporters of the war effort, especially the Manhattan Project. (And Germany’s own nuclear program suffered as a consequence.)
Germany’s decline didn’t stop with just the purging of intellectuals. Military leaders who weren’t sycophantic to the Nazi cause were also purged, and Hitler was notorious for ignoring the advice of his generals. Again, this led to catastrophe for the Germans.
The totalitarian inclination to censorship and “purging” of its intellectuals is, in almost all cases, the reason why totalitarian regimes collapse. Without free thought and free expression; when people live in fear of being punished for what they say, then innovation is curbed and mistakes go unnoted. Errors creep into every aspect of life–especially in government.
If Ahmadnejad and the religious leaders of Iran are truly beginning the stage of “purging” intellectuals, then the United States can sit back and relax–the battle is already over half over. Purging intellectualism also means purging competence and purging error correction. I guarantee that their nuclear program will be thrown into disarray as some nuclear scientists are kicked out of the program (if not killed) while the others shut their mouths.
This could the beginning of the end of the Iranian threat.
(cross-posted at Heretical Ideas)