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As conspiracy theories dominate the Iranian worldview
A personal review on the circular room of August 18th 2012
Did Great Britain drive the Islamic Revolution in 1979? Is the Green Movement (Revolution) an invention of the west? Is the CIA responsible for 09/11? Is the arab invasion in the 7th century to blame for Iran´s backwardness today.
How legends are formed
It is 37 degrees outside. One of the hottest summer days in Cologne. Will the circular room still take place? Yes it will. After a short time, the room gets crowded.
To begin with, Dr. Abbas Abtahi explains, that people who have no control about their life situations are the ones more vulnerable to conspiracy theories.
When we loose control, we welcome simple contexts as reasonable explanations. Especially when particular events do not t fit in our world concept. Conspiracy theories help to close the gap between desire and reality.” They help to stand reality. They create a feeling of collectiveness. They are very useful for people who re not willed to take Self – responsibility and always consider themselves as victims. They avoid reflection and self research. Conspiracy theorists don´t look out for dialogue, they argument in a more emotional manner and see the world in black and white dualities. They reduce the complexity of the world though this simple tool and achieve to struggle against traumas this way. It can produce a high tendency toward violence. Still, conspiracy theories can contain true aspects.
The participants share their experiences and the various contexts in which they got in touch with conspiracy theories.
For some participants the term is associated too negatively. They stress, that often conspiracy theories are based on a serious background. They reveal unpopular revolutionary truth. By fighting conspiracy theories we fight freedom of expression.
Fair enough, others reply, but why should that be a secret, when the truth is easy to find out by research. When it is obvious that the world policy of powerful states is based on shortsighted self-interest. When it s obvious that powerful media is ignorant/ arrogant and powerful states not smart enough? And when certain contexts can be revealed by powerful organizations of civil society? But….is the civil society really powerful enough to seek the truth permanently?
Storyteller and warmonger
The Iranian worldview is dominated by conspiracy theories. We try to determine the causes. One reason might be lying in the numerous traumatic historical experiences – an oil producing country, the CIA Coup of 1953, the quasi colonization, the loss of national interests by corrupt governments.
One participant emphasizes the fact, that individualized societies are less easy to manipulate, but can be effected through the faceless internet. The West is more complex than Iran, and therefore Iranians would not be able to understand this complexity, one participant says.
We worked out some points, that could have nourished the common believe in conspiracy theories in Iran:
The lack of philosophical tradition, the early one-god-faith, as well as the popular penchant for superstition, the prevalence of mystic in the wordview, a constantly polarized society and also the educational system which does not leave room for open criticism.
Even if the basics of conspiracy are build on truth, how can we manage to liberate ourselves from this outside driven credo: “If you are not with me, than you are against me”. Therefore dialogue and communication are essential. As well as leaving behind absolutistic believes and convictions and again: self- knowledge and self research.
To round up the circular room we close without some persian verses about the truth we´re all seeking for. The great poet Hafiz writes in his Diwan: The war of seventy-two nations ( peoples) was just a pretext : “As they weren´t able to recognize the truth, they fell for fairy tales and legends.” And walked onto the battlefield.
Translation: Yalda Zarbakhch