The Sociologist Has Left the Building

On my final day in Tehran, I chatted up the obligatory cab driver. Can Rouhani pull it off, I asked? “If his heart is pure, then it will be fine,” the old Turk said. “If the only thing that comes of it is a new group of rich sons-of-bitches, then it is over.” I rephrased the question: Is this the last chance for the Islamic Republic’s elite to reform their own system? “Yes, that’s a good way of putting it.” Iran’s elite consensus may be substantial and its mild aims feasible, but its supporting popular front is fragile. Or, to put it another way, revolutionary states are not “external to the historical system but the excretions of processes internal to it. Hence they have reflected all the contradictions and constraints of the system. They could not and cannot do otherwise.” [12] Iran’s elite may want to read Wallerstein again. Luckily, he’s still in all those Tehran bookstores.


"The good thing about the developments of the past two or three years is that most demonstrations have avoided using sectarian slogans...