Iranian Regulatory Fail

From Cameron Abadi at Foreign Policy Passport.

One of the dubious accomplishments of the Islamic Republic of Iran is how much it’s succeeded at making criminality utterly banal. The government has made so many prosaic things illegal – from certain hairstyles, to satellite transmissions — that consistent enforcement is impossible, and hypocrisy is endemic. Rule-breaking is so ubiquitous that Iranians often don’t even feel compelled to hide their flouting of the law… So you go into the supermarket, and next to the cashier you’ll see a stand holding Hollywood new releases that wouldn’t make it past the censors.

Or…you’ll drive on the highway past people selling contraband puppies off of truck beds… Dogs are technically illegal in Iran, but in a tacit acknowledgement of the popularity of the puppy black market, the government hasn’t barred the sale of dog food.

Running a comprehensive regulatory state is rather harder than most people–both advocates and opponents–realize.


About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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4 Responses to Iranian Regulatory Fail

  1. Pinky says:

    Tell me about it.
    I have close acquaintances who visit Iran frequently. All kinds of things go on over there.

  2. It is getting closer to that here than most would think. We certainly see selective enforcement.

  3. James,

    I just read the book that Chris linked the last few days. Life changing book. It really puts this whole War on Terror thing in perspective with solid historical analysis. It is amazing how many of the themes in the book echo the founding and religion discussions here and at AC. It should be required reading for all first year college students.

    One of the things it hits on was the dissatisfaction with the central planning and nanny state tendencies they incorporated from Europe and how the lack of material change led to the rise of some of the radical streams of Islam. He did not develop the point because it was not central to his thesis but I think it would be right up your alley judging by the topics you write about. Maybe a series of posts on the book would be good?

  4. James Hanley says:


    I’m impressed. I doubt I’ll get it read so quickly, but I’m encouraged to get crackin’ on it. I’m developing a course on The Contemporary Middle East, which–inshalla–will take students to the Middle East in May 2012, and alternate years after. I’m hoping I’ll find a chapter or two to assign to them in here, and you make me optimistic about that.

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