Freedom leads 3-0 against dictatorships and how can we not rejoice over this? How can we not think of the Iranians, the Ukrainians, the Chinese, the Russians themselves and so many other victims of so many other satraps who were already rejoicing to see their friend Putin push the democracy into retreat?
The Iranian theocracy, first of all, resolved to have its parliamentarians examine the law that had made the veil compulsory. A bad surprise can never be ruled out, but everything points to a relaxation and perhaps even a return to the freedom to cover one’s hair or not, since this is what the most liberal currents in the regime are calling for, the clergy itself is divided, demonstrations are continuing despite the violence of the repression, women are tending to go bareheaded in Tehran, and this dictatorship, in a word, no longer has any choice.
It could, of course, continue to fire machine guns at peaceful processions, but so far this has only thrown more and more people into the streets, detached the Kurdish and Sunni regions from an essentially Shiite state, and moved the country from anger to revolt and from rejecting the regime to revolution.
The theocracy has to let go. It seems to have understood this, but perhaps it is too late for it, since the semblance of compromise will no longer suffice and real concessions could well encourage this country to claim both its modernity and the democratic freedoms to which it aspires.
Let us not dream. It is not yet time, since a military dictatorship could succeed the theocracy, but just as the Iranian revolt of 2009 foreshadowed the Arab Spring of 2011, a victory for freedom in Tehran could give hope to the Maghreb and the Mashreq, where a women’s revolt is also brewing.
Tehran must becarefully monitored, but what about Beijing? Xi Jinping had just been inducted as the new Mao. The party congress had made a breviary of his “ways of thinking” and now, lo and behold, some demonstrators are calling for his resignation and this movement must be so strong – much stronger than we can see – that the Chinese emperor in turn is letting go of the ballast by opening the door to the confines.
This is better than persisting in the error, but in order to prevent the protests from spreading, Mr Xi is taking the risk of letting the epidemic explode because the population is poorly vaccinated, the Chinese vaccine is hardly proven to be effective, and the zero-covid policy has prohibited the development of herd immunity. Whatever he does, China’s emperor is going to face even greater difficulties, as he has made many enemies among the country’s top party leaders and wealthiest people.
The Tarpeian Rock remains as close to the Capitoline Hill as ever, and what is true in Beijing is equally true in Moscow. There, too, Vladimir Putin is the sole master of the ship, but the trouble for him is that there are fewer and fewer people on deck as his supporters dwindle and as he finds it as difficult to reverse the fate of arms as to slow the decline in living standards. The king is no longer far from being naked, as his henchmen are now starting to think that they do not wish to go down with him.
This is the autumn of the tsar, and while Mr Trump and Mr Orbán keep getting their feet stuck in the carpet, the democracies…
How shall one put this?
The situation could not be more complicated, as gas and electricity are in short supply, the major parties are at their worst, inflation is rising, the leaders’ popularity ratings are low and the far right is on the prowl. In democracies, nothing is going well, but freedom of expression, free elections and political alternation offer the safety valves that dictatorships lack, transatlantic relations are firmly tied again, European unity is closer than ever, and then there is the main thing.
Everywhere, freedom is as loved as dictatorship is hated.