Att läsa Weber i Teheran

Artikel i The Chronicle of Higher Education om den iranska regimens hårdnande kontroll över de samhälls- och humanvetenskapliga institutionerna, och specifikt om rättegången mot Saeed Hajjarian, som påtvingats en bekännelse av sitt brott: att ha läst Max Weber och andra livsfarliga sociologer.

A political scientist by training, Hajjarian ”admitted” that Weber’s notion of patrimonial government wasn’t applicable to Iran. The theory, Hajjarian declared, is relevant only in countries where ”people are treated as subjects and deprived of all citizenship rights,” which is ”completely incompatible with and unrelated to current conditions in Iran.”

Hajjarian’s coerced denunciation of Weber is ludicrous but unsurprising. Since the disputed presidential elections of June 12, the hard-line government in Tehran has started a broad campaign against social scientists.

[. . .]

Max Weber is not alone in being blamed for the unrest in Iran. Other social theorists, like Jürgen Habermas, John Keane, Talcott Parsons, Richard Rorty, and unspecified feminists and poststructuralists have also been accused of ”threatening national security and shaking the pillars of economic development.”

What links this group of scholars, it appears, is their belief that an independent civil society, beyond the reach of the state, is necessary for the development of democracy and human rights. This view is particularly pronounced in Habermas’s concept of the public sphere: free spaces for the exchange of ideas among autonomous institutions and individuals. Where the public sphere is weak, society is vulnerable to domination by the state—a concern that Habermas borrowed from Weber.

[. . .]

Iranian social scientists are being harassed and imprisoned both for their participation in the public sphere and for their study of the public sphere. The Iranian government’s goal, it seems, is to undermine not only the institutions of civil society, but the very idea of it.

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