Modernity in Iran

The Iran’s history since 19th century has been represented by a struggle between the iranians and external powers. The country was divided, some people supported a governor who accepted the “help” of external powers and others just prefered (and prefer) others who dont listen to any external influence, and this has been like that for centuries. We can see an example of this in the putsch of 1953, or in the 1978 revolution in Iran.

Modernity is specially difficult in arab countries because “the process of modernity did not come about as a result of indigenous factors but followed outside domination” ( page 6). We find again the struggle between the internal and the external. By precluding legitimate means to assert autonomy, only deviance or resistance remained as possible reactions ( page 6). And this is the key. For example, the 1978 revolution was against the Shah, who had been supported mainly by the United States, and had became a real dictatorship. So we cant say iranian history is isolated, because every important issue has had a close relation with external powers and their support for some iranian leaders (as the Mohammad-Reza Shah, in this case).

Apart from this, theres a special feature on arab law that makes a little more difficult to reach the stability on the law. There is a special code in the arab countries, known as sharia, that makes it difficult to reach the modernity in law. The sharia is not as strict as the Coran can be, because it depends on the interpretation of the ruler, but it requires some important characteristics in the law that make it different from the western law and it makes specially difficult to create a really democratic constitution for these countries (like Iran). Sharia Guarantee Clauses” (“SGCs”)try to realize through the lens of modern constitutionalism the classical Islamic political principle that a ruler’s laws should respect the fundamental principles of sharia. The SGC provides that, even if a law has been enacted according to constitutionally correct procedures, that law must be treated as void if it is inconsistent with sharia ( page 2).

Therefore, its is really difficult to get a democratic constitution if this one has to carefully respect the laws of the sharia some of which are clearly antidemocratic. The secularism of the states is impossible to reach in the arab countries, if theres a rule which says that they must respect some religious mandatories, and this is an important step to achieve modernity. The respect of liberal rights are almost compulsory to accomplish modernity and, of course, sharia doesnt respect them (in the theory, we should remind that the interpretation is up to that moment’s governor).

This “respect” for the sharia dissapeared for a while because there were some attempts to install secularism in Iran, but in the 20th century people recovered the Islam’s fervor. The failures of many secularist states either to provide for their people or to guarantee their rights contributed to a reaction against secularism ( page 9). We can see again the struggle between the secularism and the traditionalism and fundamentalism, which seems to be eternal. If we take a look at this, we can clearly see theres no secularism on iranians law: “A new institution called the Guardians Council was given sole authority to conduct abstract constitutional review of laws. One half of its members were lawyers nominated by the judiciary subject to confirmation by an elected parliament. The other members were clerics appointed by the Supreme Leader. Only clerics voted on whether the law violated the constitutional Islamization provision” ( page 32). Anyway, the Iranians relation between the religion and the state is explicit. Maybe in other countries that are supposed to have modern constitutions (like Spain, in my case), it is said to be a clear distinction between the religious power and the government but it is not like that if we take a look at the reality. Spain is declared to be a secular country, but religion (catholic religion) is a compulsory subject at school, we can see crucifixes on the classroom’s walls (Im talking about public schools) or the recent abortion law, who is clearly relationed with the religious power and their view on this issue. So its a little hypocrite to talk about secularism here, and how the arab countries cant be secular at all because the religion and the state are almost the same, because in some countries like mine, this separation is only on the papers.

Maybe its a matter of time to reach a real secularism (in Western and Arab countries) but I think, while the intervention of external powers continue to be like now in countries like Iran, where they try to nationalize oil and inmediately external powers try to derrocate the governor, the secularism is not going to be reached, because iranians will want to defend themselves against external influences and nationalism (and so traditionalism and fundamentalism) will just continue growing and growing


How did the American Constitution protect slavery?

At the moment of the Constitution signature, slavery was a huge reality in the United States. Slaves were generally accepted by society and there were no movements against slavery (talking very generally, because there were some northern states that were against slavery, but my point is that it was not the main problem of the country, from the eyes of free people).

Slaves were part of the population and, in fact, they were counted to determine the representation in the United States House of Representatives. Some states didn`t agree with that, but it happened.

The constitution could have been a good way to finish with slavery, it could have been the perfect way but it wasn’t the perfect context, because the people weren’t demanding it (and neither the state, of course).

Instead of finishing with it, the constitution covered slavery, protected it. In the section 9 of the 1st article, it is said : “The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person”. It forbids the Congress to forbid, at the same time, slavery. By this article, the american constitution legitimates the slavery in its area.



However, it specifies “prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight”, so, it gives the states 30 years to solve anything in relation with it. Therefore, the constitution doesn’t completely countersign slavery, because it can be inferred the intention of finishing with it in a short-term, but, at this moment, maybe it was a huge problema to deal with, more than the acceptable, so it just delays the problem, to deal with it later.

Afterwards, in 1864, it was added the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This was the Amendment which abolished slavery . Nevertheless, it didn’t completely disappear, mainly in the south, where it was stronger and the white supremacy idea was still powerful. In 1935, Du Bois wrote: “Slavery was not abolished even after the Thirteenth Amendment. There were four million freedmen and most of them on the same plantation, doing the same work that they did before emancipation, except as their work had been interrupted and changed by the upheaval of war. Moreover, they were getting about the same wages and apparently were going to be subject to slave codes modified only in name. There were among them thousands of fugitives in the camps of the soldiers or on the streets of the cities, homeless, sick, and impoverished. They had been freed practically with no land nor money, and, save in exceptional cases, without legal status, and without protection”.

Instead of counting the three-fifths of slaves population, of course from this moment on they will be fully counted, so the population of the southern states would grow significantly, because there was a huge quantity of slaves in this part of the country.

 So the Constitution of the United States was a remarkable milestone for both the history of the USA and the history of international democracy. However, it could have been even better if it would have compromised with abolishing slavery and not just delay the issue.


No Job Land: a bleak reminder of Spain’s unemployement crisis

Quería compartir este vídeo con vosotros, para tenerlo en mente cuando nos digan que la crisis está llegando a su fin, que hemos mejorado, que la prima de riesgo ya no lo es tanto, que para cuando nos digan todas estas cosas, recordemos la realidad que esta viviendo cada día más gente en este país. Quizá vuestro día sea un poco más gris después de verlo, pero merece la pena. Se publicó el pasado Diciembre en The Telegraph, el audio está en español.




2.0 Politicians: Mariano Rajoy

English version. Si quieres leer la versión en español haz click aquí

I will try to analyze individually some politicians (either spanish or not) and their relation with the new media and more specif Twitter, a social network chosen by many politicians for its versatility, its necesity of sending clear and direct messages and its great options of interacting with citizens (or these with them, as we will see).

In this post  I have decided to analyze the spanish Prime Minister twitter account (@marianorajoy).


While we know he doesnt control this account by himself, we also know that he doesn’t write his speeches (and this is is extensible for most of the high hierarchical politicians), he doesnt declare anything without being supervised by his advisors, etc. It is even recognized by him in his biography on the social network, where we can read “Welcome to my Twitter, where my team is with me”. It can be perfectly said backward, its him who is, luckily, with his team.

Leaving aside this brief introduction, lets go with the analysis. The Twitter account @Marianorajoy has published 6310 tweets so far (against the 7000 written by Cayo Lara, or the more than 10000 by Rubalcaba). They are mostly institutional messages, propaganda messages, and they are not looking for the citizen’s opinion. They dont ask questions to the followers or try to get their interaction. On the contrary, the messages that the Government want to be sent, are sent. Of course, the fact that they dont look for the interaction with other users (and potential voters) doesnt mean this messages to not cause any questions or reactions, but its not usual that this questions are answered. So here we find the first mistake using Twitter because its a perfect network for the interaction with other users and to hold a horizontal communication between them, but Mariano Rajoy’s team still uses the traditional media model of communicating, a vertical model where the message is sent without waiting or looking for any response, a model that is not valid for the new media but, however, most politicians arent willing to let it go.

Moreover, his account nowadays has more than 400.000 followers (Rubalcaba 190.000, Cayo Lara 105.000). From the account @marianorajoy 9.6 tweets are written everyday which means 200 each month. His (or their) favourite moment of the day to writte tweets is since midday but most of them are written between  4 and 8 in the afternoon, as it is shown in this picture:

Fuente: tweetstats

Most of the messages are written from the website , but some of them have been written using Ipad. In the other hand, Friday is the day when they write the most during the week and, obviously, there is less activity during Saturday and Sunday.

Mentions and RT’s from @marianorajoy

If most of the tweets that appear on his profile are institutional or RT’s of other people or institutions related with the Government, some other users are often mentioned too. The most mentioned are:

Fuente: tweetstats

Source: tweetstats

As I said before, most of the RT’s  made on the Prime Minister Twitter account are to messages sent by other members of the government or institutions of it. These are the users who receive most of the RT’s:

Source: tweetstats

Source: tweetstats

So, Does Rajoy team understand what is expected about the 2.0 model of communication? With these results, we could say no. He (or they) answers some users, but these answers dont try to start a conversation with the citizen, just answer an specific, question which would be very enriching for the citizens and the system.

The answers are so formal that keep the user away because sometimes it seems to be a machine answering, instead of a group of people.

Twitter is not a press room where a notice is watched by the journalists on a TV screen and questions are not allowed. The only barrier for Twitter are its 140 letters  and that can be uncomfortable for many. Having an account on a social network doesnt mean to be a 2.0 politician.

¿Políticos 2.0?: Mariano Rajoy

Pretendo analizar individualmente a varios políticos (españoles o internacionales) y su relación con los nuevos medios, en concreto Twitter, una red social elegida por muchos políticos por su versatilidad, su necesidad de enviar mensajes claros y directos y las grandes opciones de interactuar con los ciudadanos (o los ciudadanos con ellos, lo veremos más adelante).
En este  post he elegido analizar la cuenta de Twitter del Presidente del Gobierno, Mariano Rajoy (@marianorajoy).


Si bien sabemos que él no maneja esta cuenta personalmente, también sabemos que no escribe sus discursos (y esto es extensible a la mayoría de políticos de alto nivel jerárquico), no hace declaraciones que no estén bajo la supervisión de su grupo de asesores, etc. , por lo que no voy a darle más importancia de la necesaria a este punto.  Él mismo, en su biografía de la red social, dice “Bienvenidos a mi Twitter, donde me acompaña mi equipo”, cuando perfectamente podría afirmarse al revés: él es el que, con suerte, acompañará a su equipo.

Dejando a un lado esta pequeña introducción, pasemos al  análisis. La cuenta en twitter @marianorajoy ha publicado hasta el momento de escribir este post 6310 tweets (frente a los más de 7000 de Cayo Lara o los más de 10.000 de Rubalcaba). En su mayoría son mensajes de carácter “institucional”, propagandísticos y no buscan directamente la opinión del ciudadano. No se hacen preguntas a los seguidores ni se busca su interacción, simplemente se mandan los mensajes que el Gobierno quiere hacer llegar. Por supuesto, que no busquen la interacción con los demás usuarios (y potenciales votantes) no significa que los mensajes no provoquen respuestas, pero son raras las ocasiones en las que se responde a otros usuarios a sus preguntas, quejas o sugerencias. Por lo tanto, encontramos un primer error en el uso de Twitter, puesto que es una red perfecta para la interacción entre usuarios y una comunicación horizontal entre ellos (todos se comunican con todos), pero el equipo de Mariano Rajoy sigue utilizando el modelo de comunicación de los antiguos medios, un modelo vertical en el que se lanza el mensaje sin esperar o buscar respuestas, un modelo que no es válido para los nuevos medios y que, sin embargo, la mayoría de políticos no parecen estar dispuestos a dejar atrás.

Por otra parte, su cuenta tiene actualmente más de 400.000 seguidores, frente a los anteriormente comparados Rubalcaba (190.000) y Cayo Lara (105.000).
Desde la cuenta @marianorajoy se escriben una media de 9,6 tuits diarios, lo que supone un total de 200 mensuales. El horario preferido para la publicación de tuits es a partir del mediodía, pero el grueso de ellos se concentra entre las 4 y las 8 de la tarde, como muestra el siguiente gráfico:


Fuente: tweetstats

La mayoría de tuits se escriben utilizando la web de Twitter, aunque algunos también se han escrito desde un dispositivo Ipad. Por otra parte, el día que más se tuitea desde su equipo es el viernes y la actividad decrece, como era de esperar, los sábados y los domingos.

¿A quién menciona y retuitea Mariano Rajoy?

Si bien la mayoría de tuits que aparecen en su perfil son institucionales o retuits de otras personas o instituciones relacionadas con el PP y el Gobierno, también se menciona con cierta frecuencia a algunos usuarios. Los más mencionados desde el twitter @marianorajoy son los siguientes:


Fuente: tweetstats

Como decía antes, la mayoría de retuits que se hacen desde la cuenta de Twitter del Presidente del Gobierno son a mensajes que han lanzado otros miembros del gobierno o instituciones dependientes del mismo. Así, entre los usuarios más retuiteados encontramos:


Fuente: tweetstats

¿Entiende, por tanto,el equipo de Rajoy, lo que supone el nuevo tipo de comunicación 2.0? Vistos los resultados podríamos afirmar que, en general, no. Si bien es cierto que se responde a algunos usuarios (y teniendo en cuenta que responder a todas las menciones que recibe al día @marianorajoy sería imposible) esas respuestas son precisamente eso, respuestas, no se inicia el diálogo por parte del equipo del Presidente, no se incita al debate o a la discusión colectiva sobre asuntos de interés general, lo cual sería muy enriquecedor para los ciudadanos y para el sistema. Además, el formalismo presente en cada uno de los tuits aleja al ciudadano más que acercarlo, le produce rechazo y no le invita a comunicarse con lo que muchas veces parece una máquina. Frente al tono mucho más informal que utiliza el Alcalde de Jun (@JoseAntonioJun), cuya cuenta en twitter abordaré en el próximo post, la seriedad y falta de empatía abunda en el perfil de Rajoy.

Se debería  tener en cuenta que Twitter no es una sala de prensa en la que, a través de un televisor se emite un comunicado sobre el cual no se pueden hacer preguntas. Twitter no tiene más barreras que sus 140 caracteres, y eso puede resultar incómodo para muchos. Tener una cuenta en una red social no significa ser un político 2.0.

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