Hitchens in Iran
Hitchens ponders Iran’s Persian soul in the context of the Islamic republic in his article, Mind over Mullahs
The Islamic republic actually counts all of its subjects as infants, and all of its bosses as their parents. It is based, in theory and in practice, on a Muslim concept known as velayat-e faqih, or “guardianship of the jurist.” In its original phrasing, this can mean that the clergy assumes responsibility for orphans, for the insane, and for (aha!) abandoned or untenanted property. Here is the reason Ayatollah Khomeini became world-famous: in a treatise written while he was in exile in Najaf, in Iraq, in 1970, he argued that the velayat could and should be extended to the whole of society. A supreme religious authority should act as proxy father for everyone. His own charisma and bravery later convinced many people that Khomeini was entitled to claim the role of supreme leader (faqih) for himself.
But the theory has an obvious and lethal flaw, built into itself like a trapdoor.