Modernity and Nonviolence in Iran

On Saturday October 2nd 2010 Farzin Vahdat, a founding member of Nonviolent Initiative for Democracy (NID), gave a talk at Agora Philosophical Forum at the University of Toronto entitled “Modernity and Nonviolence in Iran.”  

In this talk Dr. Vahdat analyzed the process of development of modernity in Iran and its relations to violence and nonviolence.  In the lecture Dr. Vahdat argued that the process of modernity in most parts of the world has encompassed two concurrent phenomena, i.e., promise of emancipation and liberation on the one hand, and the threat of domination and violence on the other.  The first stages of the long process of modernity, historically speaking,  has very often involved much violence because modernity is possible only when a critical mass of a given society is transformed from a state of passivity and inactivity to a state of being active and developing sense of agency and power.  Since the process of developing power always entails domination, the early stages of modernity have always been accompanied by violence.  Yet, once the process of acquiring agency and power by a large number of people in a society reaches a mature stage, there are chances that the society could embrace and ethos of democracy wherein conflicts are resolved through nonviolent means and a more comprehensive ethics of nonviolent action. Dr. Vahdat concluded the lecture by saying that large segments of Iranian society seem to be in transition to this later stage and the current civic movement in Iran, by and large, exhibits the traits of nonviolent ethics and action.

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