Brands of the Future: Through Weber to Musk

Brands of the future will not be defined solely by what they offer as a product to the world, to their consumers, to their community, but of what they offer as a sense, as an exhibition of their wisdom. Wisdom here being loosely defined. The essential importance of the experience is what most importantly thought of as their giving sense.

Brands will seek to control the way they are experienced, sensorially in the world. Due to the exponential decrease in the cost of seeking technological innovation in a variety of fields, brands of the future will be able to transform their products into experiences, such that the onus will not be on their producing a product, in the regular sense, but producing an element of engagement with the actual world, that may or may not be defined as well by a variety of other sources of experience, adding to the wealth of human experience overall.

Pessimists will attest this rise in customer experience as an ability to transform the way we experience the world in a negative light overall, such that people will be subject to strict and stringent laws, their livelihood left in tatters at the exponential rise in automatons controlling every aspect of organizational responsibility, to the detriment of their living standards, their wages, and their jobs.

But not if the good guys win.

The future human experience will be defined by two modes: action and experience. What does this mean? Humans will exist in a world defined by their sensations, freed from their reliance on gradual degradations of other people’s lives, for the benefit of their superiors.

In this world, Apple will not only provide data and information and certain other elements that currently define their brand, but will also enlist their users in a virtual replication of sensorial devices, geared to their tastes.

Brands of the future will be homes, will persist in every aspect of our lives. They will cut the costs of labor, and will introduce persons of every class and gender to the miracles of life.

Most important of these is the wealth of educational tools available to us, when automatic translations defy the laws of language, and when senses such as taste will not be characterized as hopeless to the deprived.

Not only will Brands enhance their customer’s and user’s experience of life by providing safety nets for them to best experience their product, they will also serve to protect them from those who do not, such as conditioning the space within which they exist so as to safeguard them from harm, from wrongdoing by other entities of a malicious nature, or those entities whose spirits and politics are not aligned to theirs and to their user’s best defined lived experience.

This is where the death of the nation-state will benefit the consumer, to continue in our primary pursuit of experience and culture, and to enjoy the fullest from the commodities of life, without harm from others. Who will stand in the way of a mega-conglomerate, and refuse her consumers the liberties with which it is necessary to enjoy to the fullest extent their product, in their most highly effective and advanced features, utilizing the latest technologies, the latest taste, and the latest aroma of freedoms. 

Operating Systems and User Interface will be so advanced so as to render the material world inferior in her capacities to manifest the surrounding space in as true a reflection of what is not, such as is the dream of the user’s lived space, conditioned to what they want. Once the technology is possessed, allowing users to experience life as they please, conditioned by certain senses and their imagining of a physical place, without inflicting their own idea or imposing their will on the lived life experience of someone else, users will be totally in control of the atmosphere of their lives.

What will their purpose be but to love one another, at that time?

Artificial Intelligence will be so advanced so as to render the usual functionings of government obsolete. The purpose of the State will be to regulate the Machinery of Arms, whereas all other life experience and expertise will be delegated to Operating Systems, working in place of government where great bureaucratic and normative dysfunction was.

Imagine, that you will be able to sit in one place, and to feel as though you are doing whatever you want, and to stay in one place as you exist as you like, your senses completely aligned to your tastes.

What will be the purpose of Brands in that time? The Brand will exist as a space, for you to do whatever you like. Many technicians of the future have feared that humanity, replaced in function by artificial intelligence will eventually wean out, and that our current trends towards technological advancement is an acceleration of that. Whether or not this is true, one lone assumption that cannot be denied is the flavor in which this takes place, and whether or not we are able to sense what is happening or not. Such will be the advancement of artificial space.

Brands will thus be great ideological centres where artificial intelligence exists in its place. In this space, you can do whatever you like, performing for the benefit of the brand, content to hold you in place.

These places will require Operating Codes, based on Technical Information and Ideological Intent, one of which is what we are working on.

It is common assumption that the saving grace will be Man’s ability to think outside of the box. Creativity, then, is the instinct that will allow us to persist when our labouring is no longer needed. What will be the use? Even if it is not to work, the creation of worlds will be a great and continuous pursuit.

Think, the astronomical evolution of role player video games.

Mystical Capitalism can be defined as the insistence and resulting application of mystical beliefs, values and practices embedded upon a regulated state of laissez faire capitalism so as to enrich the consumer, the producer, the entities involved and the society within which it operates. This may be called Ideological Capitalism,but what makes it mystical, per se, is the level in which the product involved caters to a spiritual enrichment as a determining factor in the production of the product, focusing on the end user experience of the consumer as an individual whose tastes and attitudes are to be enriched.

In 2013 The Economist published an article entitled “The mindfulness business”, whose subtitle read, “Western capitalism is looking for inspiration in eastern mysticism.” The purpose of the article was to underline to what extent it sometimes seems as if it is the Buddhist ethic that is keeping capitalism going.

The most obvious is omni-connectivity. The constant pinging of electronic devices is driving many people to the end of their tether. Electronic devices not only overload the senses and invade leisure time. They feed on themselves: the more people tweet the more they are rewarded with followers and retweets. Mindfulness provides a good excuse to unplug and chill out—or “disconnect to connect”, as mindfulness advocates put it. A second reason is the rat race. The single-minded pursuit of material success has produced an epidemic of corporate scandals and a widespread feeling of angst. Mindfulness emphasises that there is more to success than material prosperity. The third is that selling mindfulness has become a business in its own right.

The writer is rather cynical about the role eastern practices such as Yoga and meditation have in contemporary society when coupled with the demands to get ahead and gain a competitive advantage, but the point for us is clear. There is a fundamental lack of spiritual belonging in the world, primarily in highly developed centers of commerce, industry and culture.

Keeping in line with efforts to generate value and enrich entrepreneurial spirit, to do so by injecting a sense of aura and mystique into the product and producing by virtue of a value system that puts wellbeing and collective and self compassion first, mystical capitalism paves the way for a common future meeting our capitalist goals to produce and to innovate whilst delivering a product and an ecosystem whereby the intellect and the spirit are allowed to flourish, benefiting the consumer and the producer as a whole.

What this also means is that for the world of Artificial Intelligence, and any such venture into the mysterious world of machine learning and deep learning, a doomsday catastrophe as proposed by such revered figures in Silicon Valley as Elon Musk and Bill Gates, will be rooted in a spiritual fabric that encompasses the wellbeing of Individual Man with the wellbeing of the Collective. It is our belief that the fundamental flaw in artificial intelligence as it is operated and conceived of today, and as it has been considered since its inception as a tangible technological venture, has been to view the process of one of domination over the machine, and the product as a result as an intelligent species in so far as computation is concerned. These are enlightenment principles of intelligence, but to refer to the intelligence of the deep romantics of the enlightenment era is to regard intelligence as a holistic enterprise of the mind, body and spirit, seen by the inner lens of the individual and the outer framework of the societal whole. In this view, artificial intelligence is to deliver Man to the heights of creation by creating out of ingenuity and chance a replication of the most fundamental life affirming principle itself, a formless spirit in a material form, bound by devotion, worship and wonder to the outside, governing world, of which she is a spawn.

Late-modern capitalism since the meteoric rise of Silicon Valley and the emergence of the disruptive economy has fostered the ingredient for such a change of perspective with the fostering of the notion of conscious capitalism, defined roughly as businesses that serve the interests of all major stakeholders—customers, employees, investors, communities, suppliers, and the environment. Conscious capitalists believe that business is ethical and that capitalism can be fair, reducing the inequality and material disregard for the major stakeholders seemingly inherent to the old model. This will only go so far. What is needed beyond consciousness of the fact is the introduction of the mystical technique of internal understanding and awareness of the rule of Ra- the governing celestial world- to promote the sanctity of the self and complemented by the sanctity of the environment. As such, all products unleashed in this vein must stand with an aura so elegant, so refined, and yet so primitive and obscure, that the mystery is one of longing and belonging simultaneously.

The fruitfulness of this thinking has found a home in many modern thinkers, including the sociologist Max Weber, who coined the term inner-worldly asceticism to refer to the point, defining it as the concentration of human behavior upon activities leading to salvation within the context of the everyday world.[1]

He saw it as a prime influence in the emergence of modernity and the technological world,[2] a point developed in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism…Weber’s typology of religion set off the distinction between asceticism and mysticism against that between inner-worldly and other-worldly orientations, to produce a four-fold set of religious types.[3][4] otherwordly stances provided no leverage upon socio-economic problems, and inner-worldly mystics attached no significance to the material world surrounding them,[5] the inner-worldly ascetic acted within the institutions of the world, while being opposed to them, and as an instrument of God. However Stefan Zaleski showed that inner-worldly mysticism that is magic was interested in active transformation of reality.[4]



Unlikely Companions: From Plato to Khomeini, a Gramscian reading of the Iranian revolution and its influences


Gramsci, Khomeini, and Revolution in Iran

The success of the Iranian Revolution has changed the way Islamism is perceived. It had been the subject of many desirers and hopeful Islamist theorists to instigate and implement an Islamic government based on the traditions and laws of Islam, but until 1979 none had succeeded. One could cite Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states as being examples, but the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded as an Islamic state, and some, including Khomeini, argue that the Qur’an does not legitimize monarchies. Thus, the Shiite Islamic Republic of Iran is an unprecedented example of Islamic ideology entrenching itself on the governance of a nation.

The question then arises: why was the revolution successful? What sort of factors differentiated Khomeini’s Iran from, say, Sayyid Qutb and Hassan al-Banna’s Egypt or Mawdudi’s Pakistan? One framework to examine the process of revolution itself, and apply it to the Iranian Revolution, is Antonio Gramsci’s conceptualisation of the revolutionary process as detailed in his notebooks from prison. Gramsci provides a thorough examination of what factors generate revolutionary sentiment, how that sentiment can be spread to garner support for a cause, and how that cause can turn into a revolutionary movement. By examining Gramsci’s process and inserting Khomeini’s revolution into that framework, it becomes clear that the success of Iran’s Islamic revolution was due to its meeting all of Gramsci’s standards, methods, and requirements. In fact, not only does Islamist Iran emerge as an agent of Gramscian prophecy, Gramsci himself seems to have created a systematic method that suits Islamist movements perfectly.

Gramsci and the concept of the ‘hegemon’

Gramsci’s conceptualization of the revolutionary process begins with his conceptualization of the mechanism by which the ruling, dominant class maintains power. Gramsci holds that, ‘Each individual is fundamentally influenced by the ideas of the ruling Hegemon…This influence is felt unconsciously through the hegemon’s projection of ‘common sense’.[1] Common sense, as applied by Gramsci, is intended to mean the, ‘Unquestioned acceptance of the customs, morals, and beliefs of everyday society’.[2] Through this common sense the ruling hegemon is able to manufacture consent of the masses without resorting to forces of coercion. Butko asserts, ‘As a result, the masses accept the morality, the customs, and the institutionalized rules of behavior disseminated throughout society as absolute truths that cannot or should not be questioned’.[3]

While Marx viewed the state, ‘As an exclusively coercive instrument of the ruling class’[4], Gramsci stipulates that a manufactured ‘consent’ is much more effective and continuous, simply due to the fact that the people have been fooled into believing in their own subjugation and are willing to take part in the system that ensures it. Thus:

Gramsci argues that only by exposing these supposed ‘universal truths’, and assisting the individual in rejecting this so-called ‘common sense’ conception of the world reproduced by the hegemon, can the individual assume the first step in the creation of an alternative hegemon, a new way of thinking free from the constraints of the ruling class.[5]

Islamist theorists of the twentieth century have also argued that human nature is, ‘Malleable and open to influence by the dominant forces of society’.[6] Mawdudi himself argued in The Islamic Movement:

It is clear that mankind can hardly resist moving along the road shown by those who lead, if only by virtue of the fact that leaders control all the resources, hold the reigns of power and possess the means of shaping and molding minds and behavior. They have the power to influence individuals as well as social systems and moral values.[7]

To construct a social order counter to the hegemon’s monopoly of power, Gramsci adds due weight to the ‘collective’ and group, and asserts that the foundations for unity within the group must precede the desire to overthrow the hegemon. Gramsci declares:

An historical act can only be performed by ‘collective man’ and this presupposes the attainment of a ‘cultural-social unity’ through which a multiplicity of dispersed will, with heterogeneous aims, are welded together with a single aim, on the basis of an equal and common conception of the world.[8]

This is where the Islamic experience begins to show its comfort in Gramsci’s revolutionary process. For, though they may not begin as a collected and organized social unit, marginalized and disenchanted Muslims within a society already have the common grounds on which their link as a movement can be based. In fact, there are two links in the Islamist perspective that unite the Muslims of any social order; the first being their identity as Muslims, and the second being their supposed marginalization by colonial and post-colonial powers, which emerged as a key factor in the success of mobilizing Islamist social movements in the Middle East.

‘In applying Gramsci’s framework to the principal contemporary Islamic theorists, there is a clear similarity in aims and tactics…There is common belief in the need to overthrow the ruling elites and to destroy the socio-political order on which their power and legitimacy is based’.[9] The Islamists mobilisation, notably Khomeini, followed the process outlined by Gramsci’s conceptualisation of the revolutionary process and the structure it must follow to reach success.

The Construction of Ideology and Cause

We see Khomeini approach the concept of Islamic government, and its need, through a Gramscian framework. Gramsci ‘focuses on the role of ideology as a tool to unify divergent interests’.[10] Within the context of Islam, the unifying ideology is already present; all that is needed is the implementation of its principles and system, which the hegemon is preventing, through systems of ‘consent’ and ‘common sense’. Khomeini, then, becomes the agent that is generating the new consciousness; bringing the people to an Islamic awakening. And as Butko reaffirms, ‘The actual world-view and the type of State projected by the revolutionary bloc must be primarily conceived through its opposition to the ruling hegemon’. This fits in well with the Islamist perspective as, being that all Islamist’s calls for an establishing of an Islamic state emerge out of a society that has adopted Western practices, cultures and institutions, the Islamic state becomes the antithesis to the Western state, both in practice and in ideology. Butko continues, ‘A central feature of Islam, as a political ideology, is that it is conceived as both self-sufficient and autonomous in its ability to address and rectify all the contemporary problems confronted by modern Muslim societies’.[11] This is reaffirmed by Khomeini, who declares:

The ratio of Qur’anic verses concerned with the affairs of society to those concerned with ritual worship is greater than a hundred to one. Of the approximately fifty sections of the corpus of hadith containing all the ordinances of Islam, not more than three or four sections relate to matters of ritual worship and the duties of man towards his Creator and Sustainer. A few more are concerned with questions of ethics, and all the rest are concerned with social, economic, legal, and political questions- in short, the gestation of society.[12]

Khomeini is re-establishing the fundamentals of Islam in order to generate its ideological character necessary for its acceptance by the masses. He laments, ‘Islam lives among the people of this world as if it were a stranger. If somebody were to present Islam as it truly is, he would find it difficult to make people believe him’.[13] And Khomeini believes that Islam is, in essence, a revolutionary concept. He emphasizes, ‘We have in reality, then, no choice but to destroy those systems of government that are corrupt in themselves and also entail the corruption of others, and to overthrow all treacherous, corrupt, oppressive, and criminal regimes’. He continues, ‘in order to attain the unity and freedom of the Muslim peoples, we must overthrow the oppressive governments installed by the imperialists and bring into existence an Islamic government of justice’.[14]

Gramsci would attribute all of Khomeini’s statements and declarations as being a part of the formation of identity and cause that follow in the necessity to implement an ideology. Khomeini is not concerned with developing a new ideology. On the contrary, he is declaring a traditional ideology has been displaced from its bearers. He reveals the present day’s hegemon, attacks them, and appeals to the present days oppressed. What is most interesting about Khomeini’s concepts, through a Gramscian understanding of each statement’s function, is that the hegemon present in Khomeini’s texts isn’t simply a national one; rather it is a global, imperialist enemy and its national agents. His ideological war is with the West, but his battle will rage at home:

How can we stay silent and idle today when we see that a band of traitors and usurpers, the agents of foreign powers, have appropriated the wealth and the fruits of labour of hundreds of millions of Muslims- thanks to the support of their masters and through the power of the bayonet- granting the Muslim not the least right to prosperity? It is the duty of Islamic scholars and all Muslims to put an end to this system of oppression and, for the sake of the well-being of hundreds of millions of human beings, to overthrow these oppressive governments and form an Islamic government.[15]

The Organisation of a Revolution

Creating a unified organisational structure is Gramsci’s second essential component for the formation of a strong counter-hegemonic bloc. For Gramsci, ‘it is the political party that must become the concrete expression of such a goal’.[16] According to Gramsci, ‘For a party to exist, three fundamental elements have to converge’.[17]

The first element is the mass element, ‘Composed of ordinary, average men, whose participation takes the form of organizational ability…They are a force insofar as there is somebody to centralise, organise, and discipline them’.[18] This leads to the next element, the principal cohesive, ‘Which centralises nationally and renders effective and powerful a complex of forces which left to themselves would count for little or nothing’.[19] Gramsci recognizes the importance of a leader, claiming, ‘The first element is that there really do exist rulers and ruled, leaders and led. The entire science and art of politics are based on this primordial and irreducible fact’.[20] The third element of organisation is the intermediate, or vanguard, element of a party. The ulema can be considered the vanguard in the Iranian Revolution. Gramsci declares, ‘the second element must necessarily be in existence…The moment when it becomes impossible to destroy a party by normal means is reached when the two other elements cannot help being formed- that is, the first element, which in its turn necessarily forms the third’.[21]

What is given heightened importance is the ability for the leadership to maintain morale and in, ‘instilling a belief in the masses about the truth and worth of their cause and a willingness to sacrifice everything- even their lives- for the movement’s objectives’.[22] When current Secretary-General of Hezballah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah proclaimed during a speech, ‘I thank God Almighty for his bounty in turning his gaze upon my family and choosing a martyr from among them…I used to feel embarrassed in front of the martyrs’ fathers, mothers, wives and children…I wish to tell these families, there is now something in common between us’, he embodied the essence of his party.[23] He had just revealed his eldest son had been killed in battle, and it reminded his followers that the ultimate sacrifice is a matter of pride and that there exists equality among them. He continued, ‘The martyr Hadi’s martyrdom is the proof that we in Hezballah’s leadership do not spare our own sons; we take pride in them when they go to the frontlines, and hold our heads high when they fall as martyrs’.[24]

The charisma of a leader has hefty implications for the movement’s success. It can sway the emotions of the people in favour of the movement’s programs. Leading to another aspect of Gramsci’s organizational structure that is highly present in the Shiite ideology: obedience to the leadership. Gramsci states ‘that obedience must be automatic’ and ‘must be unquestioning’.[25] The unquestioning status of the ulema and fuqaha is a staple of the Twelvers ideology. It characterizes both the traditional system of Shiite thought and Khomeini’s principles of wilayat-al-faqih.

Furthermore, Gramsci stresses on the importance of ‘individual traits such as loyalty, faith, and a firm conviction in the ultimate aims of the movement’.[26] He states, ‘the most important element is undoubtedly one whose character is determined not by reason, but by faith’.[27] Alas, the very word that epitomises religion has been mentioned by Gramsci himself. Islamist movements are rooted in the very conviction that their faith is being undermined, religion must be revitalized, and the successful movements have stopped at nothing to fulfil their objectives. Faith in a movement’s objectives must be unconditional and unquestioned, and seeing as how the same can be said for faith in Islam, it is unsurprising to see political Islam manifest itself as such an unbeatable force.

To an effective end, through an effective strategy

The final component in Gramsci’s construction of a counter-hegemonic bloc is the need for a well-developed strategy.[28] Gramsci’s perception of strategy is that it is the divulging of the counter-hegemonic culture at precisely the right time.

The underlying assumption will be that a collective will, already in existence, has become nerveless and dispersed, has suffered a collapse which is dangerous and threatening but not definitive and catastrophic, and that it is necessary to reconcentrate and reinforce it…And a definition must be given of collective will, and of political will in general, in the modern sense: will as operative awareness of historical necessity, as protagonist of a real and effective historical drama.[29]

Planting the seeds of revolution, ‘preparing the ground for revolutionary activity’, is central to Gramsci’s model of strategy.[30]

The paramount aim in a ‘war of position’ is to infiltrate civil society through the dissemination of new ideas and, in the process, to intellectually and culturally prepare the ground for the revolutionary movement’s assault on hegemonic dominance. Consequently, it is only by demonstrating to society in general that its conception of the world is superior to the ‘common sense’ view of the current hegemon that such a force can ‘win over’ the masses to the counter-hegemon’s cause.[31]

The many speeches Khomeini gave in Iran, along with the other ulema, reveal that they employed such a strategy. In Khomeini’s speeches, he clearly outlines exactly what is wrong with the pro-Western government, its ties to Israel, and the materialism destroying the Islamic character of Iranian society. The first real seeds of discontent were spread in the early 1960s, around the time of the proposed land reforms and women suffrage by Mohammed Pahlavi Shah around 1962, and the consequent waning strength and influence of the ulema.

What instigated the back and forth conflict between the religious leaders of Iran and the Shah’s regime began with the clerical opposition to the two reforms; though of course, the clerics had been in a constant state of dispute with the regime since its illegal inception in 1953 and had some had even called for an end to the unconstitutional rule of the Shah. But the reforms sparked a bitter tug of war that divided the public across two lines: the nationalist and religious movement versus the loyalists to Pahlavi Shah and his Prime Minister Alam.

The bill published on 8 September 1962 that allowed women to vote was when, ‘Ayatollah Khomeini made his first appearance on the national political scene’.[32] The bill was eventually dropped, but, ‘Because of the continuing opposition of religious leaders as well as the nationalist middle class, the shah decided to outmanoeuvre them by calling for a national referendum to demonstrate that the Iranian people favoured the reforms’.[33] As a result, ‘The National Front, other political parties, and religious leaders ordered their followers to boycott the referendum’.[34] After a series of conflicts and demonstrations, ‘the unrest finally led to an attack by government forces on 23 March 1963 on the Faiziyeh theological school in Qom. Many students had gathered there to commemorate the death of Imam Ja’far’.[35] The government began to attack the ulema, deeming them ‘a hindrance to the country’, and ‘the ulema replied by printing and secretly distributing pamphlets attacking the government and shah’.[36]

An interesting phenomenon that is highly unique to Islamist movements is the locations of such strategical awareness awakenings. The program is usually transmitted through society in religious schools, at mosques, and in speeches, especially during important religious days, evident in a letter sent by Ayatollah Milani to Khomeini that read, ‘all honourable preachers must use the occasion of the Moharram mourning days to enlighten the Muslims on the subject!’[37] On the day Khomeini received the letter he delivered a very antagonistic speech in Qom, rallying the people with passionate rhetoric:

Khomeini asked his audience why it was that the tyrannical government of Iran opposed the ulema…told his audience that this was because the government opposed the foundations of Islam and its ulema, because it did not want this moral foundation to exist…Khomeini spoke about harassment by government agents who yelled at the ulema and students that they were parasites. He asked his audience who were the real parasites… The real parasites were those who were filling foreign banks with their ill-gotten gains and who build big palaces.[38]

Khomeini was arrested the following day. The next year he was sent to Turkey and did not return until 1979. The strategy employed in those early days was very different from what occurred in 1978. One understanding of the difference between the events in the early 60s and what took place in the late 70s goes as follows:

The ulema’s failure to combine efforts with those of the political opposition also suggests that their position was not aimed at radical change…The main difference now appears to be that all opposition forces worked together [77-79] until power changed hands, because of a parallelism of interests. Apparently the lesson of 1963 was not lost upon them.[39]

Khomeini had a very limited role in the political arena before and after the unrests of 1962-64, but he emerged as the face of the Iranian Revolution fifteen years later. Therefore, we can conclude his mission to reawaken the spirituality and faith of the Muslims did not halt with his exile from Iran. If we analyse the events of 1963 within a Gramscian framework, we can divulge two things: that the ideology, organization, and strategy were beginning to take shape, but that the system and the masses were not ready to assume control. Gramsci offers an explanation for the latter, best summarized by Butko:

The final component in Gramsci’s long-term strategy involves judging the precise moment when the ‘war of position’ has reached its climax and must necessarily be transformed into a ‘war of movement’. It is at this juncture that the ruling class, although still dominant (i.e., force and coercion), is no longer hegemonic (i.e., ideas and consent). At such a crisis point a power vacuum emerges in which the discredited moral and intellectual leadership of the hegemon leads to a loss of consent, and erosion of support, from the subordinate classes. It is also at such a moment that the counter-hegemonic force is afforded its most propitious, and perhaps only, opportunity to supplant the dominant ideology of the time that has become incidental, if not irrelevant, to the real needs of the people.[40]

Knowing exactly when to strike, when to mobilize in full force, is the key to Gramsci’s methodology. For coming at the government too early can be counter-productive, while waiting too long can have disastrous consequences; as Marx notes, ‘A resistance too long prolonged in a besieged camp is demoralising in itself’.[41] The leftist revolutionary figure Ernesto ‘Ché’ Guevara lends some thought on the this concept, stating in Guerrilla Warfare, ‘It is not necessary to wait until all conditions for making revolution exist; the insurrection can create them’.[42]

In the shadow of Khomeini

Ayatollah Khomeini’s legacy as a political thinker can be split in two; on the one hand, he helped manifest the seeds and eventual forces of revolution, but on the other hand, he implemented a system of government never before established. His revolution fits into the Gramscian perspective on all accounts. But the post-revolution character of Iran was not one Gramsci, as an Italian communist writing in the fascist age of Mussolini, could have ever anticipated; nor one he would admire, for I have applied a system of political theory to a wholly independent mode of political action, and the two can never be viewed in the same light. Gramsci would have never accepted that religious doctrine dictate the systems of a nation, but his application here is on the process, not the outcome, of revolution. For Gramsci, the masses are intellectuals; all individuals possess the intellect to define their identity, their followings, and their beliefs. In that light, why can’t they determine the realm they live in? Certainly, in an Islamic state, especially one constructed by Khomeini, the character of society rests in historical texts and divine dogma; nothing has been reinterpreted to dismantle the exploitation of the modern age. Where Gramsci sees the process of revolution being a process of evolution and the awakening of an inherit agency to determine one’s own destiny, Khomeini views Islamic revolution as a duty; outside the realm of self-satisfaction and benediction.

Khomeini also views the post-revolution age differently. He applies the concept of wilayat-al-faqih, the guardianship of the jurist, to be the ruler of the nation; much like Plato’s Philosopher-King, who is characterised by a love of knowledge and wisdom, and a continued search for justice. Khomeini declares, ‘Since Islamic government is a government of law, those acquainted with the law, or more precisely, with religion-i.e., the fuqaha– must supervise its functioning’.[43] He continues, ‘We deduce…that the fuqaha are the legatees, at one remove, of the Most Noble Messenger’, ‘the Commander of the Faithful…was able to appoint rulers and judges not only for his own lifetime…This indeed he did, naming the fuqahas rulers’.[44]

Khomeini equates the faqih with justice and knowledge of justice and laws, thus making him the best suited to rule over the people during the Twelfth Imam’s period of occultation. Plato’s philosopher stands as a sketch for Khomeini’s rule. Thus, we see another dimension of political theory that can be applied to an absolutely separate realm of political implementation. The effect Gramsci had on Khomeini and the Iranian revolutionaries was not a direct one, but the revolutionary process they undertook illustrates his theories outstandingly. The same indirect relationship can be made between Plato and Khomeini. Conceivably, it can be said that the three will continue to influence the political sphere, in intellectual and practical ways. Khomeini’s legacy will surely find a way to haunt the West for decades to come. 

Works Cited

Butko, Thomas J. “Revelation or Revolution: A Gramscian Approach to the Rise of Political Islam.”

British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (Taylor & Francis, Ltd. ) XXXI, no. 1 (May 2004): 41-62.

Gramsci, Antonio. Selection from the Prison Notebooks. Edited by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey

Nowell Smith. New York: International Publishers, 1971.

Guevara, Ernesto Che. “Guerilla Warfare.”

Keddie, Nikki R. Religion and Politics in Iran. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983.

Khomeini, Ruhollah. Islam and revolution: writings and declarations of Imam Khomeini. Translated

by Hamid Algar. Berkley, CA: Mizan Press, 1981.

Nasrallah, Hassan. Voice of Hezbollah. Edited by Nicholas Noe. Translated by Ellen Khouri. London:

Verso, 2007.

[1] Thomas Butko, ‘Revelation or Revolution: A Gramscian Approach to the Rise of Political Islam (Taylor & Francis: 2004), p. 43.

[2] Ibid., 43.

[3] Ibid., 43.

[4] Ibid., 47.

[5] Ibid., 43.

[6] Ibid., 44.

[7] Ibid., 44.

[8] Ibid., 45.

[9] Ibid., 41.

[10] Ibid., 49.

[11] Ibid., 50.

[12] Ruhollah Khomeini, Islam and Revolution (Berkley: Mizan Press, 1981), p. 29.

[13] Ibid., 28.

[14] Ibid., 49.

[15] Ibid., 50.

[16] Thomas Butko, ‘Revelation or Revolution: A Gramscian Approach to the Rise of Political Islam (Taylor & Francis: 2004) p. 51.

[17] Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, p. 152

[18] Ibid., 152.

[19] Ibid., 152.

[20] Ibid., 144.

[21] Ibid., 153.


[23] Hassan Nasrallah, Voice of Hezbollah (London: Verso, 2007), p. 173.

[24] Ibid., 173.

[25] Thomas Butko, ‘Revelation or Revolution: A Gramscian Approach to the Rise of Political Islam (Taylor & Francis: 2004) p. 54.

[26] Ibid., 55.

[27] Ibid., 55.

[28] Ibid., 56.

[29] Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, p. 130.

[30] Thomas Butko, ‘Revelation or Revolution: A Gramscian Approach to the Rise of Political Islam (Taylor & Francis: 2004) p. 56.

[31] Ibid., 57.

[32] Nikki R. Keddie, Religion and Politics in Iran (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983), p. 84.

[33] Ibid., 88.

[34] Ibid., 88.

[35] Ibid., 88-89.

[36] Ibid., 89.

[37] Ibid., 90.

[38] Ibid., 90-91.

[39] Ibid., 94.

[40] Thomas Butko, ‘Revelation or Revolution: A Gramscian Approach to the Rise of Political Islam (Taylor & Francis: 2004) p. 58-59.

[41] Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, p. 239.

[42] Ernesto Che Guevara, ‘Guerilla Warfare’, p. 1.

[43] Ruhollah Khomeini, Islam and Revolution (Berkley: Mizan Press, 1981), p. 59.

[44] Ibid., 95.