Listening to the interview of Hassan Shariatmadari by Ali Nourizadeh, it becomes clear that the Iran Transition Council (ITC) has hit a significant obstacle in the U.S.: The absence of visiblilty of the popular support for it has caused the U.S. government to avoid dealing directly with the ITC.
Arguably, in hindsight, this ought not to be a surprise: By gathering together academics and major opposition figures, in a closed-door effort at constructing the beginnings of a transitional government/process, foreign governments--who are never as tuned-in to the regime's opposition as Iranians are--see the ITC as intelligentsia without popular support! Faced with the very potent, and meticulously maintained, imagery of tented women, one cannot blame them!
But this can easily change. And I am submitting a specific method for so doing.
During the interview, Mr Shariatmadari's de facto proposal for solving this was--in emulation of #اعدام_نکنید #StopExecutionsInIran--that 'the people' must start a hashtag against the proposed Iran-China deal: #TheCountryIsNotForSale. (In Persian and English, of course. Notably, and characteristically, it immediately got forked into two, by the interviewer and the interviewee: #TheCountryIsNotForSale and #TheNationIsNotForSale) Rightly, he suggested that if this goes viral, then the ITC can claim popular support, and thus recognition from international governments. (This is a reduction of a longer argument which ought to be listened-to in context.)
The concept is sound, but the implicit 'method' is not. Merit, and popularity, of the idea expressed in a hashtag are necessary for virality, but far from sufficient. This may sound obvious once stated, but only so!
There is a fundamental misunderstanding of how virality occurs on the Internet. The Internet is chaos. It is randomness perceived as patterns. Why one hashtag fails but another (even a variant) succeeds is not due to merit, but to luck! Witness no shortage of popular causes which generate no tweet-storms, despite numerous attempts. Merit is necessary, but far from sufficient. Organization replaces reliance on luck.
In our case, the means for snowballing has to be constructed. There are eighty million voices out there, wanting to shout out against the regime; we need only co-ordinate them.
In brief, the proposed method is as simple as this:
- gather email addresses for everyone interested in participating;
- devise a concise and meaningful hashtag, in both Persian and English;
- email everyone to start a tweet storm;
- gather up more email addresses.
For interested people to discover this service, they need to be told about it. The problem becomes easier once a small mass of participants forms: Through posts, retweets and word-of-mouth, they will inform others. But the crucial obstacle is in forming that initial mass of participants. For this, the ITC and others can help by informing their base. The ITC might be averse to formally backing this initiative, but they can certainly retweet my announcement about this service. Similarly with any other member/organization of the opposition.
So, please, let's get this moving!