World in View: Aramesh Dustdar

November 19, 2021

From the November-December 2021 issue of News & Letters

by Gerry Emmett

Iranian philosopher Aramesh Dustdar (1931-2021) died Oct. 27 in Germany. He was an important critic of the retrogression of the Iranian Revolution as it was turned away from a vision of human freedom by a counter-revolutionary religious fundamentalism.

He described the dilemma of Iranian intellectuals as “[We] are both Marxists and anti-Marxists, we love Kafka and [poet] Attar and [philosopher] Suhrawardi, and our heroic anti-industrial and anti-colonial ideas once crystallized in the revolt of Frantz Fanon. We met and, two or three decades later, we fell in love with the ‘religious father of the Iranian revolution’ [Khomeini].”

A world-historic freedom struggle was diverted into today’s genocidal regime, which tortures dissidents with almost as much ferocity as it massacres Syrians.


Dustdar opposed the intellectual fetters of this regime with the power of free mind: “[T]hinking that is philosophical and whose power pervades and permeates everything cannot be taught conditionally. Philosophy…is free and unconditioned in its institution and foundation and knows no reference or standard except the power of question.”

This power—which also lives on factory floors, in prison cells, and under bombardment—terrifies Iran’s ruling class. In it, they see their own ruin.

Beyond this rises a revolutionary, international culture, as in Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind where Rumi’s vision, Spinoza’s philosophy, and Hegel’s dialectic open onto the transformation of substance into free, self-determining subject; a project pursued concretely by Marx as the philosophy of revolution in permanence.

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