Theocracy Is No Cure for the Demoralization of Society

As the United States becomes less religious, and is beset by a variety of concomitant social ills, a number of thinkers have sought out some alternative to present political arrangements in which the state will help more actively to restore moral order. Max Prowant acknowledges the appeal of such arguments, but points to the case of Iran—where Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini established a regime with the goal of combatting secularization—as evidence of their weakness:

The post-liberals will be happy to learn that there are no pride parades in Iran (the authorities do not allow that). There is also no drag-queen story hour. Religious symbols and exhortations, along with portraits of martyrs, adorn the streets of Tehran. But despite Khomeini’s efforts, Iranians are growing less and less religious. In 2020, a survey found that over 30 percent of Iranians identified themselves as either atheist or “none.” What is more, a full 88 percent of Iranians believe a democracy is the best form of government while two-thirds believe this government should be secular.

The decline in religiosity is surprising given the popularity clerics enjoyed in the days of the shah. Before the 1979 revolution, the clerics were respected to an astonishing degree, in part because they were a strong voice of resistance to the shah’s forced modernization programs. Their network of 70,000 mosques proved essential in every mass political movement in 20th-century Iran. Indeed, when Khomeini returned from exile in 1979, he was greeted by millions in Tehran and even more across the country. But because of the discretionary powers clerics enjoy in the judiciary and their privileged economic access, the clerics as a political class have proven prone to corruption.

Post-liberals are right to bemoan the sad state of social discourse and cultural stagnation in the West. But the Iranian case should serve as a warning to their authoritarian prescriptions. . . . This happens wherever final authority is endowed to a special class of persons, be they ayatollahs, popes, unchecked bureaucrats, or any messianic man with good intentions. Post-liberals would do well to remember this bit of liberal wisdom.

Read more at Law and Liberty

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran, Post-liberalism, Religion and politics

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security