Once again, the world is amazed. The massive revolt of Iranian citizens has elicited the unmitigated surprise of the free world's army of experts, pundits and commentators. And yet, just like their predecessors in the Soviet Union, Iran's democratic dissidents were right. Every totalitarian society consists of three groups: true believers, double-thinkers and dissidents. In every totalitarian regime, no matter its cultural or geographical circumstances, the majority undergo a conversion over time from true belief in the revolutionary message into double-thinking. They no longer believe in the regime but are too scared to say so. Then there are the dissidents - pioneers who articulate and finally act on the innermost feelings of the nation. More than once in recent years, former Soviet citizens returning from a visit to Iran have told me how much Iranian society reminded them of the final stages of Soviet communism.
Western governments are fearful of imperiling actual or hoped-for relations with the world's ayatollahs, generals, general secretaries and other types of dictators - partners, so it is thought, in maintaining political stability. But this is a fallacy. Democracy's allies in the struggle for peace and security are the demonstrators in the streets of Tehran who, with consummate bravery, have crossed the line between the world of double-think and the world of free men and women. Listen to them, and you will hear what you yourself know to be the true hope of every human being on Earth.
Natan Sharansky spent nine years in the Soviet gulag. He is chairman of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.