The impossible is here

The 21st Century's first authentic revolution


The impossible is here
by Mahmood Delkhasteh

In 1979 Iranians introduced a new form of social revolution. In place of the guerrilla-style armed struggle that had characterized the twentieth-century revolutions in non-western countries, the Iranians modeled a spontaneous nonviolent mass movement. And much to the experts' surprise, in less than 2 years this movement overthrew a dictatorial monarchy that had the backing of both Western powers and the strongest army in the Middle East. The principles of freedom and independence that sustained this revolution were soon violated by Khomeini, who instituted an even more repressive and brutal regime than that which had been dismantled. But the methods of the early victory set a new precedent, shaping the imagination of what was possible in the Eastern European revolutions of the 1980s.

Now, after thirty years, this revolution has boomeranged back to the streets and rooftops of Iran. A new generation is determined to finish the job that their parents began but could not bring to fruition: the establishment of freedom and democracy in an independent Iran.

The violent confrontations at yesterday's Ashura demonstrations, which resulted from widespread resistance to the brutality of the regime's various security forces, have shifted the balance of the struggle towards the people. The question is no longer whether this corrupt regime will be overthrown, but rather when it will go, and how. It is clear that this struggle, which began as a simple protest against the rigged presidential election, can no longer be defined as a movement for either state reform or civil rights. Yesterday's demonstrations, occurring throughout the country and from Tehran to the smallest towns, cannot be defined by any term other than revolution.

Dictatorships always maintain a fragile balance between fear and anger, which they either inflict on or produce for the people they rule. As long as the fear of the regime's power outweighs anger at its effects, its position is relatively secure. But if this balance tips with changes in conditions either at home or abroad, and if feelings of anger begin to supersede those of fear, then given opportunity and circumstances it is safe to assume that a regime's days are numbered. Yesterday, in defiant resistance against thousands of security forces and carrying with them in demonstrations the experiences of more than a century of struggle for democracy, Iranians demonstrated to themselves and to the world that this is truer than ever of the Iranian regime. The balance has tipped from fear to anger, and there is a new determination to make Iran free and independent.

The consequences of this revolution cannot be underestimated. Many argue that it was 1979 Iranian revolution which transformed Islamic fundamentalism into a global phenomenon. If this is correct, then it is possible that the present revolution might to do the 'unthinkable' and overthrow a corrupt, fundamentalist regime. Such a non-violent revolution could secularise the state, separating it from religion, and revolutionise religion itself by redefining Islam as a discourse of freedom and a method not for obtaining and managing power, but for expanding freedom. The principles of such an Islam are already being produced, not least of all in the latest works of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, who during the course of his life became an advocate of human rights. His unprecedented burial gathering, despite being disrupted by the regime's great attempts to minimise it, suggest that the Iranian public recognises and perhaps even favours this discourse. An authentic Islamic renaissance is already sweeping through many Iranian cities, and its effect on other Islamic countries will be felt in the coming years and months.

First published in



It costs me a fortune to keep you poor Sir!

by benross on

This is what one of Gandhi supporters told him because he wanted to live like a poor, with goat milk and alike, just to keep a life style like his people, even when he was going to the regions where goat milk was hard to come by.

Gandhi non-violent message, above anything else, was an effective approach of directing a movement as a leader. He realized that uprooting colonialism, entrenched for centuries, should start with the state of mind. To rid of the sense of inferiority and validate a national proud as a superior culture to the occupiers. Thus, fighting the inferiority issue.

Rest assured I am not advocating to arm people and kill. But as a social movement, we are not fighting a sense of inferiority to IRI thugs. If anything, we should be watchful of our sense of superiority. We are not, like Gandhi, fighting a foreign invader, although they amazingly act as such, which validates SamSam argument, nonetheless, they are all Iranians not foreigners and the similarity should be explored in cultural domain.

Which brings me to the last point. This is, before anything else, a cultural revolution. It will not dismantle the current social structure, only the political structure, and the appalling gap between rich and poor in the society will be addressed based on this political structure change. It will not be the main vehicle of this cultural revolution.

Thank you DK by the way, for your excellent comment. 

Darius Kadivar

Revolution of Counter Revolution ? ...

by Darius Kadivar on

I don't see anything in the current uprising apart from the temporary leaders of the Green Movement ( who happen to be there because of being selected candidates in the elections) that is in tune with anything that happened in the previous Revolution of 1979 ...

The slogans of this uprising are more radical than the political stance of these leaders ( Moussavi, Karoubi, Khatami etc ) and given the headless leadership it is the masses which are imposing their slogans on it's leaders and not the otherway round.

Reform of the IRI is Dead and as such the separation of State and Religion is one of the major demands of this movement where the equally temporary color "Green" may well be replaced by the Sun and Lion Flag in a near future as a way of recuperating the nation's true identity ( regarldess of the Flag's Royal or Republican significance for that matter).

The fact that some slogans such as  "Jomhuryeh Irani" have appeared as opposed to "Jomhuryeh Eslami" is significant of the secular demands of the people and from that point of view the Reform minded Candidates are at least a step behind the natural demands of the majority of the people.

Personally I believe that In the abscence of a real objective pole and a serene atmosphere of debate it is impossible to truly define what  ideology or democratic system of government the Green's or Affiliated Greens actually demand. That is why Even the various slogans heard ( simply because someone shouted it out and was immitated sporadically by others (very much as the Allah O AKbar Slogan) merely indicate the temperature of public opinion and not it's exact aspirations.

In other words I think that if the movement clearly knows what it does NOT Want which is the mingling of Religion in politics. It still remains to be seen what They DO Want in terms of regime change and how they wish to define it.

Wanting to reinvent an Islamic legitimacy for a movement that is far more stretched and colorful in it's aspirations and demands than it's temporary unified coulour ( for instance Karoubi was not initially in the same camp as Moussavi and Rezaies followers are yet to be identified given the latter's joining the ranks of the regime since.) seems a misleading assessment. 

My Humble Opinion,


Recommended Reading:

Iran's Berlin Wall Moment ? by Robin Wright


Ali9 Akbar

My definition of NON-Violent revolution

by Ali9 Akbar on

is the revolution that Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr  practiced in the 20th Century India and USA to force SOCIAL CHANGE of the structures within those 2 respective governments....


the Radicals opposed non-violence and in my opinion ruined the chance for change.... case in point when MLK jr was assassinated by the CIA the radicals felt justified in the violent uprisings in WATTS and Memphis.... Coincidently Robert Kennedy was in Indianapolis when  the civil rights leader was murdered and had PRAYER SESSIONS that evening with African-American Church leaders in Indianapolis and that was an example where PRAYER saved Indianapolis from a fate that plagued other Northern cities..... I could cite other examples but people who I will not name[but he knows who he is] would use it for their own personal political adgenda....


Also the fact that Hezbollah and other groups funded by Iran use mentally deranged  HOMICIDE Bombers to kill political opponents does not qualify as non-violent revolution


Faramarz Fateh

by Nur-i-Azal on

Are you serious?  A better version of Islam?!


One was under the impression that this is what you Baha'is have been claiming about your Baha'i faith, no? So why begrudge Muslims who wish an improved, reformed and tweaked version of their faith, and who don't wish to change labels? 

If religious diversity is to be seen as a marketplace, then often times older brands can offer upgrades of their products which newer competitors usually can't compete with because of their youth. This is one of the reasons why Coca Cola makes for a much better soft drink (not to mention company) than Pepsi!


Ali0 Akbar, how do YOU define violent?

by obama on

Please educate me! You cannot just spit out some words and calling yourself Shirley without explainig why you have problem with his point of view. Please explain! Waiting!

Ali9 Akbar

the 1979 revolution was Non-Violent??????

by Ali9 Akbar on

ummm   Surely you jest..... and I will call you Shirley.... 

Jeesh Daram


by Jeesh Daram on

how do we guarantee the "authenticity" this time around?






Your main assumption is wrong!

by eroonman on

Suggesting that 1979 was a revolution is retarded. The other side never put up a fight, it merely abdicated then vacated. If it had used it's force like this government has and will continue to do, you would not have seen dirty bearded mollahs running amok as they have for the past 30 years. The Iranian protests are nothing compared to what happens in Korea every year!, So get a clue, wake up, and just because a few youngsters get shot in the face by the cops, please don't try and make it into anything more than it is. As you will see, this government hasn't even begun to use it's brutality, and is smarter than all of us, to fall for the trap of being caught being brutal. Evidenced by the pro-government show of support they whisked into view the very next day. For every objection, they have an aswer, for every anti- they have a pro-. Get ready for a long long road ahead.

You Can't Always Get What You Want


Excellent artilce Dr. Delkhasteh!

by obama on

I read your article on Huffington Post. This regime has destroyed Islam as we knew it. Regime like this that claims it is islamic has put people like you on their black list for over a quarter of a century. Why devoted people like you who love Iran have to be separated from their mother land and family for so long since you would be killed if they get a hold of you?

Dr. Delkhasteh, I admire your life time devotion and struggle for freeing Iran from this tyrany. Please be careful and be cautious! This regime is the one who has assasinated many people like you. God bless you and God bless Iran-doostan! Separation of religion and state is a must.


Did you know?

by alipournourbakhsh on

ما اولین ملتی هستیم که قاتلین اجدادمان را عاشقانه دوست داریم



by statira on

Statira not Statrita!

I don't believe in any current  version of Islam Shitty or sunni. I just believe in God and that's all. I believe all the other religions are man made and they can be progressive or backwarded depending on the nation's cultural values. Christianity  is more of a peaceful religion just because it's  derived from Mithraism( an ancient Iranian religion). Islam is more backwarded and impractical  just because it was made by a bunch of backwarded Arab.


Abarmard & Statrita

by Faramarz_Fateh on

Are you serious?  A better version of Islam?!

So the 12 Imam Shia' "Esna Ashari" is the BETTER version of Islam?

Wow....I wonder what is the worse version.

You gentlemen seriously need a reality check.

Islam will most likely not have any role in the Iran post R3 (3rd revolution). 

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Ditch Islam

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on


I do not understand why some people want to keep Islam. It is a bankrupt ideology. We are better off without it. What possible reason do we have to try to "reform" it?

It is impossible to mix politics and religion and Islam is the worst religion to mix with politics. A secular state is the only stable path to democracy.

We are not Tazi's and don't need their religion. I despise hearing the "Islamic" prayer! Mohammad was an enemy of Iran and many of us will never accept his "religion". This "reformed" Islam was tried and failed. It was the same garbage that Shariati fed people 40 years ago.  Do we never learn Islam is not reformable?


Iranians historically introduced a better Islam

by Abarmard on

And they might do it again.


it's gonna be Iranians who

by statira on

will transform the basic Islamic ideologic from a dogmatic, harsh, backwarded religion to a more modern, peaceful one and consequenly bring the true democracy to Iranians and perhaps all the Middle East countries.

Mohamad the prephet held Salman Parsi and said," This man's nation will introduce the real Islam to the world!" Maybe now it's the time for the real Islam and faith introduction.


Velayat-e Mardom!

by Taqizadeh on