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Modernity

Belittling their achievements
Iranian modernists did drag Iran out of medieval times

April 25, 2004
iranian.com

As someone believing passionately in the secular republican cause for Iran I was hoping to read a well reasoned case by Ramin Kamran [See: Deltangi baraaye Reza Shah]. Yet I was bitterly disappointed not because I disagree with one of its main conclusions -- that "the biggest mistake the Pahlavis made was in the rush to reform they neglected to build lasting democratic institutions which is the main cause for the mess today" -- but because of its misrepresentation of history. It is typical of pieces written buy the left annoyingly pretentious so-called scholarly intelligentsia.

The lack of equanimity or "ensaaf" does nothing to carry the reader and convince his intended audience about his case as right as some of his conclusions may be. Neither does it help progress the debate on to the main problem facing the future which is how to establish lasting democracy in Iran.  

While the writer berates others for distorting history he is shamelessly guilty of revising history making the reader incensed by its rubbishing of our history and achievements of earlier generations who tried to build a new Iran given the constraints (dictatorship and foreign interference) of the time.

Reza Shah by his own admission said was not an educated man and the ideas for reform came not from him but by Iranians themselves. As an example, the same Davar mentioned by the writer and his young Iranian modernist group, whether Mr Kamran and the left like it or not,  did drag Iran out of medieval times.

I would challenge Mr Kamran to write and explain his reasons for belittling their achievements: A tiny example, what would Mr Kamran have against laws they introduced to prevent White slavery? Are you happy to see Iranian women exported for prostitution? What was wrong with their education reforms?

The only conclusion one could draw is that the writer is completely blinded by his prejudice.

For someone who talks about his research, it is a remarkably unbalanced piece which does the cause of republicanism more harm than good.  I am further incensed by the usual baseless slanders and particularly regurgitation of foreign propaganda of eons ago.

We will never break out of this miserable circle of blaming our ills on outsiders. The case against Reza Shah made by our pinkish intelligentsia is almost verbatim copies of BBC Persian service broadcasts against Reza Shah during the second World War as written by the self-professed anti-Iranian British Ambassador to Iran, Sir Reader Bullard (Bullard's Letters from Tehran).

Someday I will write about this and how Churchill had to rebuke him about going overboard about his anti-Iranian zeal (he was the main if not THE source of all the accusations about the trans-Iranian railway which our intellectuals are to this day happy to rubbish. Churchill knew the allies would need the railway and was fearful of sabotage against it. He reigned Bullard's constant invective against it through the BBC's Persian radio broadcasts, so Mr Kamran and the rest of the so-called scholars keep going on doing the work of foreigners by repeating the myths and untruths).  

Mr Kerman accuses "Shahollahi"s of revering Reza Shah yet he reveres in the same manner "Saint" Mossadegh, who by his own admission made mistakes. In fact if I were to take a Western selfish view of politics and ask What did he do for me? and treat history with hindsight as Mr Kerman, I would have to conclude that Dr Mossadegh did enormous damage to Iran.

Dr Mossadegh made a mess of the oil nationalisation process and caused a substantial economic loss through the loss of our shares in BP. This was a long-term as well, not to mention his stubbornness and bypassing of parliament. So he may have been a saint but he was a failure in the end, playing haplessly into the trap set by the Imperialists.  

I have faith in the new Iranian generation. They could not care less for this type of bickering. But the one thing which does worry me is that we have not completely given up revering the dead. We continue to build icons. If I were to give any advice as someone outside to the young people struggling for freedom it would be to shed icons of the past. They should look for someone of their generation who knows what they are going through.

Despite its pretensions and use of embroider Persian, Mr Kamran's piece is remarkably naive in its view of history: 2nd Parliament was good, Shah was bad, Modernists working within the system were bad, anyone educated on the right was bad, all of them agents of Imperialism, "Saint" Mossadegh was the only good person ever, his followers good etc). Moreover there is simply no allowance for the decisions made within the historical circumstances.

There is not choice but to write and fight these prejudicial and imbalanced views of history (for which WITH HINDSIGHT I do blame the rule of Pahlavis because we do not know any better). By the way ISNA has an interview with Akhound Kashani's son who is a doctor of law in Tehran -- another interesting attempt at revising history (Shah=Bad/British Agent, Mossadegh=Bad/British Agent, the other Akhounds=Not as good, Kashani=Best ever).

If there is a god: please save us from ourselves!!!

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