“Iran’s pragmatic centrists offer a way around that deadlock. They seek to harness the popularity of the reformists to the institutional power of the conservatives, and to define a national interest on which the most temperate elements of both camps can agree. This approach holds out hope for a more constructive and inclusive politics, and for real improvement in Iran’s material circumstances and its standing among nations. But it also comes with dangers: that the center will be defined increasingly rightward, as it has been throughout the life of the Islamic Republic, and that important but controversial reformist priorities — human rights, representative politics and the rule of law — will languish beyond the pale of political expediency. The reformists risk sacrificing their identity in this coalition; outside of it, they sacrifice their relevance.”
So many protean thoughts. This is one of the more complicated explications I’ve worked through on dear sweet Iran.
The next and last paragraph: “Iran’s revolution is a work in progress. Its protagonists and its factional alliances are protean. Yesterday’s hard-liners are today’s pragmatists. Today’s reformists were something else yesterday. The way Iranians vote — whether they see voting as an expression of support for the system, a demand for sweeping revision, a meaningful exercise of political choice or a strategic tool — is in constant flux. The demand for inclusion is raucous, relentless, life giving. The centrists must not take it for granted, for they owe it all their strength.”
Strong and complex writing by Laura Secor.
It turns out that the word “protean,” or changeable, or changing like the sea, unpredictably, comes from the Greek God Proteus, who was known as the Old Man of the Sea, and in some tales, including Homer’s Odyssey, was the first son of Poseidon, older brother of Triton. Iran is a deep, slow puzzle. We should be patient as the Chinese, and allow a hundred years to pass, to see if the reformers get the upper hand. But wait, will climate change and the threat of World War III allow civilization as we know it in a hundred years?
Perhaps an Iranian nuclear scientist will discover the fusion or hydrogen engine which will save the world from overheating. We will need more characters in a happy science fiction about the near future. Someone will have to come up with a way to curb out of control overpopulation, a way that isn’t the usual, history proven, completely expected, drought, followed by famine, followed by war and widespread cannibalism. As we face a protean future, we need skill, luck, and the help of the gods to avoid the expected outcomes of our uncontrolled fecundity.