Session 6: Iranian Middle-Class Analysis: Nationalism and Culturalism Critique

Guest Speaker: Behnam Amini (Ph.D. candidate, Social and Political Thought Department, York University)

OCTOBER 6th, 2022


در چند دهه اخیر، در میان جامعه مهاجران در جوامع غربی، شاهد قِسمی از ناسیونالیسم هستیم که صرفا به دلیل برجسته کردن ماهیت مسئله‌دار دولت‌های غربی و نقاط تیره و تار جوامع غربی، ظاهری چپگرایانه به خود گرفته است. برای توصیف این جریان از عباراتی همچون ناسیونالیسم طبقه متوسط استفاده شده و من از عنوان ” ناسیونالیسم چپ نما” برای توصیف این گفتمان و جریان سیاسی، مشخصا در میان جامعه مهاجران ایرانی در غرب استفاده کرده‌ام. اطلاق عنوان ” ناسیونالیسم چپ نما” به این جریان به معنای انکار تشابهات گفتمانی آن با چپ و یا نادیده گرفتن خطاهای تحلیلی برخی از جریانات چپ درباره مقوله سلطه و امپریالیسم نیست بلکه دقت علمی و تحلیلی اقتضا میکند که هر نیروی سیاسی را با توجه به خاستگاه، ماهیت و اهدافش به همان عنوانی که شایسته‌اش است نامید. در این بحث، ضمن تشریح مفهوم «ناسیونالیسم چپ‌نما»، ریشه‌های گفتمانی و سیاسی این جریان را در چرخش به نئولیبرالیسم و فرهنگ‌گرایی (با ظهور پستمدرنیسم و گفتمان پسااستعماری) از اواخر دهه ۷۰ میلادی جستجو کرده و سپس به تشریح اهمیت سیاسی این موضوع بخصوص در خاورمیانه و ایران می‌پردازم.

متن پیشنهادی برای مطالعه پیش از جلسه

Meeting report 

Behnam argued that there are distinct social forces and discourses that deserve to be called “Pseudo-Leftist Nationalism.” They are pseudo-leftists, for although they use the language of leftism in their analyses and narratives, they have no quarrel with capitalism. They are nationalist, for they keep referring to the concepts such as “national benefits,” “national security,” and so on to justify their positive views of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy in a similar spirit to the so-called “reformists” in Iran. These pseudo-leftist nationalists, to Behnam, are growing in numbers, in particular, among the Iranian diaspora in countries such as Canada. Behnam gave us his explanation about the underlying motivations of these nationalists, and he warned us about the negative consequences of the nationalist discourses for the social and political patterns. In the end, Behnam argued that the ongoing protests in Iran, despite their merits, have embodied some nationalist elements.

In the Q&A section, Behnam was asked about the methodological aspects of his work. He was asked about how he had located and detected the pseudo-nationalist discourse. And about whether using statistical methods could improve his work. Behnam clarified the theoretical background of his methodological stance by going over the post-colonial approaches of Edward Saeed and the later relevant works of the literature. He explained the limits of quantitative methodologies when it comes to the topics under his study, though he admitted that they have important merits in some other areas of research in social sciences.

Behnam’s research project indicates the usefulness of abstract theories of social sciences in explaining some hidden patterns of our social world. Behnam showed us how easy it is to fall into the trap of nationalism and how important it is to avoid it. Behnam is a humble, deep thinker eager to make this world a better place to live, not for “a nation” or “nations” but for us all. We wish him the best in his future research.