Iranian nation, a historical reality or a discoursive construction

21:42 - 22 July 2019
Unknown Author
Dr. Rahim Sorkhi

University of Carlton, Ottawa, Canada

Today, in sociolinguistics, the issue of monolingualism is not debatable, and language is considered to be completely intertwined with the identity, culture, and national-ideological tendencies of its speakers. This means that, as is the case with other major social and philosophical issues, language is also the theme of the day for specialists and non-specialists.

However, some Iranian intellectuals view Iran as a developed historical reality centrally based on Persian language. In reality, Iran is and has always been a multi-national and multilingual country, that has always witnessed the challenges of the collective identities of different nationalities that inhabit it. Therefore, the dominant governments of Iran, through state institutions and official media regardless of the political, economic and national rights of speakers of the minority languages, have been forced, for the sake of political advantages of the regime (Iran’s revolution anniversary) and factional interests (such as demonstrative elections), to allow the restricted usage of non-Persian languages , or used those languages as instruments to reproduce their cultural and political domination.

It is surprising that most Iranian intellectuals willingly or unwillingly, in an idealistic way, are trying to preserve the current clearly constructed state of Iran at any price, with all the reactionary features and corruption that it involves , from the gathering storm of regional and world developments that move towards multiplicity, multinationalism and multilingualism. Although violating the full linguistic rights of nations has been accompanied by the severe political repression by the central regime, intellectuals such as Sayyid Javad Tabatabai, Alireza Alavitabar and Ehsan Shariati, who have sometimes challenged the political tyranny in Iran, have simultaneously been implicated in or supported the repression of other ethno-linguistic groups in Iran and its neighboring countries. They have not yet realized that the two elements, Persian language and Shiite religion, as constituents of the identity of the Iranian state, have not even influenced Qazipour, a pro-regime member of parliament. Essentially, such people enter the parliament by propounding identity demands of Azeri Turks, and in terms of identity they represent the \"Turkish Ethnicity\". He earns this identity based on the ethnic cleft, resistance and pressures of his Turkish compatriots, that they need to gain power and be voted for.

Kurdistan is a different issue. Its people have engaged in a long-standing national democratic struggle, and their own resistance and strikes. With a clear political discourse, they haven’t only challenged the illusion of a united and unitary Iranian nation-state but have affected other Iranian nations to struggle for freedom.
The illusion of those intellectuals who belong to or benefit from the ruling groups of Iran’s long lasting despotism, political deadlock, and advocates of baseless arguments of the \"The Iranian Unitary Nation\", historically, linguistically and nationally, has lead some of them to neglect crimes committed by the Islamic Republic in Kurdistan, Baluchestan, and Khuzestan inside Iran, along with the massacre of the Syrian people.

Moreover, they don’t avoid the usage of ethnically superior and occasionally racist expressions, such as “savage ethnicity”, “illiterate immigrants”, “sons of sword”, and others for oppressed national minorities in Iran.

The consequence of this kind of Iranian intellectual attitude towards non-Persian races, languages, and nationalities, the rights of nations, the power and type of regime governing Iran, is itself to serve the continuation of tyranny, opportunism and political corruption and the strengthening of its bases in Iran, which is one of the reasons for the instability of the constructed nation-state.

The Constitutional Revolution, and the Revolution of 1979, the Republic of Azerbaijan and Kurdistan, the continuance of the Kurdish nation’s combat, and the Turk’s, Arab’s, and Baluch’s desire for seeking their identities in the country results in the extension of the gaps between nations in Iranian. These clefts are much more realistic than the \"Iranian Unitary nation\". The cultural, identity, and linguistic convergence of Kurds among themselves in the Middle East is much stronger than their convergence with the dominant nations in their respective countries. This convergence is linked to an ethnic, historical, cultural, linguistic and territorial reality, and the contemporary Kurdish national and democratic movement, with its unique persistence against the dominant authoritarian states and the production of its own literature, has given it a discursive order.

Therefore, the pillars of the identity of the Iranian unitary nation, \"Persian language\", \"Shi\'ite religion\" and \"territorial boundaries\", that are mentioned by Mr. Alavi, and honored by Dr. Tabatabai, very much resemble the mentality of the central intellectual and political structure of the dominant regimes, which is limited, incomplete, ill, and unable to co-exist on equal footing with other nationalities inside Iran.

The linguistic and territorial boundaries of the ethnicities inhabited in Iran are not limited to the geographical boundaries of Iran. These languages are official in some of the neighboring countries of Iran, with their literary diversity with various genres that are very attractive. These languages have a territorial and ethnic continuity. Compatriots of the same ethnicity are affected by the one another through various political, economic and media relations. The religion of these nations, such as Balochis, Turkmens, and some Kurds, is not Shi\'a.

So, in general, Iran has a tyrannical, reactionary and unsustainable system, with deep national and linguistic cleft, which in a controversial manner increase these clefts in political struggles between dominant nationality factions trying to win votes.

Also, the dynamics of identity movements of oppressed nations and other social gaps have become more powerful due to the misuse of the officials’ positions who are in power which is not admirable. It is not possible to heal these deep wounds with mourning or dirging about their ancient heroic history. Just like Sohrab says: “One must wash eyes, look differently to things\".

Iran as an established country is compelled to consider the political, linguistic and cultural rights of all Iranian people, and efforts to free Iran without these rights would be fruitless.

The views expressed in this article are of the author(s) and not necessarily representative of Kurdpa editorial views.