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Submitted by martin on Wed, 24/09/2008 - 18:51

... says Jason. Well, yes. Most do. Even today, I'd guess that outside Northern Europe and some ex-Stalinist states, the majority in most ruling classes are practising devotees of some religion or other. Even in relatively secular Britain, it has caused a minor scandal that David Miliband says he is an atheist; if he should topple Brown, he will be the first ever leader of a big political party in Britain to be an avowed atheist.

All that, however, is of a different order of things from a regime like Iran's, explicitly modelled on rule by the clergy according to the principles of religion.

It's something we haven't seen in Europe for a long time - even the clerical-fascist regimes of Franco and Salazar were more "moderate" - but let's not see the rest of the world just as minor variations on the European model.

Of course, in general, religions serve the rich. But a politico-religious government like Iran's does not necessarily do what is "economically rational". Taliban policy in Afghanistan was not "economically rational". Sections of the Iranian regime are certainly more "moderate" and semi-rationalist than the Taliban, but Ahmadinejad is not Khatami.

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