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Democracy in Modern IranIslam, Culture, and Political Change$
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Ali Mirsepassi

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814795644

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814795644.001.0001

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The Predicaments of Iranian Public Intellectuals

The Predicaments of Iranian Public Intellectuals

(p.149) 7 The Predicaments of Iranian Public Intellectuals
Democracy in Modern Iran

Ali Mirsepassi

NYU Press

This chapter examines the principal waves in Iranian intellectual thought that emerged from the political experiences of the twentieth century, and argues that new cognitive tools and a new imaginative vocabulary are needed to meet the challenge of building a democratic society in contemporary Iran. The prevailing ideological discourses as they stand—nativist, nationalist, and Islamist—reflect an obsession with securing “national independence” against an outside enemy. The one-sidedness of this focus has produced a rigid and dogmatic intellectual perspective based on claims to various forms of either absolute truth or identity. This perspective lends itself to a totalitarian politics and is therefore detrimental to the implementation of those democratic institutions which create the basis for open public discussion or a “public sphere.”

Keywords:   Iranian intellectual thought, contemporary Iran, nativist, nationalist, Islamist, national independence, totalitarian politics, public sphere

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