This mostly impenetrable book argues against criticism of Michel Foucault, the left-wing French philosopher who romanticized the Islamic revolution in Iran. The author tells us that Foucault did not, as his critics claim, fail to appreciate the fascist tendencies of the Islamist movement headed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Instead, he "contextualized" Khomeini's turn to the right as an understandable response to the violent opposition of the Marxist-Islamist Mujahideen-e Khalq (MeK). Unfortunately, the reader will not find that conclusion in so many words—or any clear, comprehensible statement, for that matter—in the 192 bloviating pages of this work.
Ghamari-Tabrizi's Foucault in Iran drowns in a sludge of jargon and obscurantism: "The discourse of Arab Spring devoured the Egyptian liberals and revolutionaries and denied them the impetus to articulate the significance of their uprising notwithstanding the burdens of a universal history." Got that?
Foucault was roundly criticized at the time by French (and other) intellectuals for embracing Khomeini and romanticizing the Islamic revolution. Ghamari-Tabrizi demurs: "In response to his critics, [Foucault] insisted that the manner in which the revolution was lived must remain distinct from its success or failure. We need to remind ourselves that it was the realpolitik of the post-revolutionary state that colonized the spiritual novelty of the revolt." Come again?
The few moments of clarity in this otherwise abstruse and useless tome come from the rare snippets taken from essays Foucault penned during his 1978-79 visit to Iran, or from subsequent criticism of Foucault's romantic indulgence of the Islamist revolutionary orgy. Little emanates from Ghamari-Tabrizi's keyboard.
Does the revolution that spawned the modern world's first Islamic regime offer lessons for today's policy-makers, let alone the students of history? Certainly. You just will not find them in this book.