Iran’s Supreme Leader Condemns Alleged Corruption of the West

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei speaks on 1 March 2022.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei speaks on 1 March 2022.

“One clear and complete example of modern ignorance is the United States.”

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is Iran’s highest authority and singlehandedly sets key social and security policies.  It is in this context that the speech excerpted here from Khamenei’s official website is important.  Speaking on Eid al-Mab’ath, the anniversary of God choosing the Prophet Muhammad as his messenger and beginning the process of revealing the Qur’an to him, Khamenei draws parallels between Meccan society at the time and the United States today.  Prior to the revelation of the Qur’an, Mecca wallowed in the “Age of Ignorance.”  Muhammad’s subsequent struggles and battles were to end the “Age of Ignorance” and bring light to the world.  Khamenei argues that today America represents the same ignorance and decadence that pre-Islamic, polytheistic Mecca did.  He singles out homosexuality as a prime example of the social chaos and decay, speaks of the shame of discussing it, and laments that the United States systematically promotes the practice.

Khamenei also uses his speech to condemn capitalism.  While many analysts describe factional differences inside Iran as being between so-called reformists and hardliners, there are also fissures that date back to the 1979 Revolution itself between proponents of a command economy and those who seek more free market reforms.  The clerical establishment often shrouds itself in social justice rhetoric.  Khamenei’s castigation of capitalists falls into this context.  An embrace of the role of the state in the economy also brings cover to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, whose role in manufacturing, construction, and the oil industry borders on monopolistic. 

Khamenei’s discussion of capitalism, however, is also meant to fuel anti-Americanism.  Not only does he claim the United States represents ignorance, but its capitalism funds and promotes various evils and crises, according to Khamenei.  He thus exaggerates and provides a paranoid twist to those who castigate the “military-industrial complex.”  To Khamenei, the capitalist cabal that shapes American policy explains not only the United States’ creation of the Islamic State but also the crisis in Ukraine.

Khamenei also exposes some of his deeper concerns when he castigates America’s capitalist cabal for helping spark revolutions and people power movements in various autocratic states.  He has reason for concern given the increasing frequencies and breadth of Iran’s protest movement.  Certainly, Khamenei’s address is not the first to voice his anti-Americanism.  By reinforcing that now, Khamenei signals that whatever the outcome and course of diplomacy between the United States and Iran, the regime’s anti-Americanism is likely to remain unchanged.


“Biyanat dar Sokhanrani Televizioni beh Monasabat ‘Eid Mab’ath (Statements in a Televised Speech on the Occasion of Eid al-Mab’ath),” (Khamenei’s official website), 1 March 2022.

…The basis of life in western civilization is greed and avarice. Today, the basis of all western values is money. Everything is measured with money. The foundation of all western values rests on money at present…. The common policy among governments moves in the direction of discrimination and the fattening of companies and cartels…. 

Sometimes, one uses money to produce such and such a vaccine and medicine to save a number of people and sometimes, one uses it to build weapons of mass destruction and chemical and atomic weapons which kill a hundred-fold amount of people. This has already happened and it continues to happen in the world.

I can equally mention the plunder of weak countries, extreme moral decadence and chaos, homosexuality and the like that one is ashamed even mentioning them. Today, a strange sexual chaos exists in the world. These are things that existed in those days [of ignorance before the Prophet Muhammad] and in the present time. However, in those days, such things were limited in scope, but today, they are very large in scope and are done in a systematic way.

For many of these forms of corruption and vices, fake rationalizations have been fabricated. They have fabricated an intellectual basis and source of support for it and they present it to humanity. So, this modern ignorance is there in the world today. Therefore, if someone refers to today’s western civilization as modern ignorance, as some people have already done, they are right because it is the same ignorance, but it is showing itself in a modern and modernized way.

So, what should we do? We should review the lessons of bi’tha [the sending to the Prophet Muhammad of the first verses of the Qur’an]. We should treat today’s ignorance in the same way the Holy Prophet (God’s greetings be upon him and his household) treated the ignorance of those past days. This is our responsibility. We should primarily strengthen faith….

Another responsibility is to strengthen the Islamic government. An Islamic government, with and under the flag of Islam, has been established in the Islamic Republic by God’s favor. Therefore, we must strengthen it, solidify its bases and expand its products as much as possible….

Of course, this modern ignorance is not the same everywhere in the world. In my opinion, one clear and complete example of modern ignorance is the United States. This form of ignorance is more serious and severe than anywhere else in the world. This is the case in the true sense of the word. America is a regime that promotes indecent conduct, in which discrimination is exacerbating on a daily basis and in which national wealth is increasingly flowing towards the wealthy and rich…. Today, the embodiment of modern ignorance, discrimination, oppression and generation of crisis in the world is America. Basically, the American regime is a crisis-making and crisis-feeding regime. It feeds off crises. It nourishes off the various crises that occur in the world….

There are networks of mafia power in the United States and these networks feed off and take advantage of the crises that occur throughout the world. The United States is basically a mafia regime. The United States is a mafia regime: political, economic and weapons-manufacturing mafia…. These mafia cartels and this mafia regime need crises to exist throughout the world. Therefore, they create centers of crisis. Notice how many crises they created in West Asia. The Americans even felt the need to give birth to a creature called the Islamic State that was their trained dog….Today, in my opinion, Ukraine is a victim of this policy as well. Ukraine’s situation at present stems from this American policy. It was the United States that dragged Ukraine to this point. Naturally, interfering in the domestic affairs of Ukraine, organizing rallies against governments, launching velvet revolutions and color coup d’etats, American senators being present in demonstrations, and replacing a government with another, leads to these crises.

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Image: Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei speaks on 1 March 2022