Faculty Writing: Iranian Women, the Politics of Exhaustion, and Liberalism’s Illiberal Turn

In Forbes, Kristin Soraya Batmanghelichi reflects on the Iranian women’s movement 40 years after the Iranian Revolution. Despite “the standard Western narrative” of total acquiescence to theocratic authority, Iranian women continue to “struggle against gender discrimination, whether in law or in social mores,” and participate in public life, “from the labor force, which is about 19 percent female, to the higher echelons of government.” Nor, Batmanghelichi writes, “does it speak to the resilience of the women’s movement in Iran, and attempts by conservative forces — clerical and political alike — to discredit its cause and destroy its intellectual-activist base.”

In Political Theology Network, Ajay Singh Chaudhary asks whether, in the downward spiral of anthropogenic civilization, “exhaustion” might serve as the basis for a new kind of identity and impetus to political activity. Exhaustion, he writes, “is a vast potential political subject that can be found across disparate lines of Global North and South, of gender, class, race, nationality, religion, sexuality, and so on. These are people who feel the overall system-exhaustion characteristic of our global human ecological niche, who can act politically, and are driven, through differently articulated interests by a desire for an anti-exhaustion agenda.”

In the Hedgehog Review, Chaudhary dissects Yascha Mounk’s anti-democratic and strangely illiberal The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It. Mounk’s book, like so many political tracts published in the wake of Trump’s election, is “clinically incapable of squaring its goal of fundamental system preservation with the truth that its prized system is an underlying cause of so much of the present instability. Which is to say, there is much to learn from The People vs. Democracy—but almost none of it to be found in the actual arguments.”

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