If we really want it

Our unresolved national dilemma, part 2


If we really want it
by areyo barzan

Part 1

A while ago I wrote another article ("We're not Ready") on this site regarding democracy and where we are as a nation in terms of achieving it. Not surprisingly my article was misunderstood by many people and hence I was accused of being a pseudo monarchist, an IRI agent another impromptu Iranian in exile and so on and so forth. I guess the only positive comfort that I could draw from the experience was knowing that I have managed to stick to the straight and narrow right down the middle and hence had to endure such attacks, insults and accusations, not only from those on the extreme end but also by those who think their way is the only way and the rest of us are either idiots who need to be put in our place or traitors who should be exposed.

Hence before starting the second part of my current article I would like to make something clear. Unlike many of those who participate in such discussion with a preset political orientation and aim to promote an ideological agenda, I have no particular political orientation or agenda to prove here

I am here only in search of the truth, trying to make sense of it all and hopping to find some answer and/or hopefully a solution to our current problems as a nation and off course I can only do this with the help and cooperation of other Iranians. So I can confidently say that

Yes! I am a Monarchist, I am a republican, I am a green activist I am a supporter of MKO I am a communist. I am all and I am none.

Confused? Good.

May be that is the first step. By breaking the preset barriers and starting to see the world in a new light, where there are no black and whites and no absolutes. Just a big shade of gray where we need to compromise in a daily basis in order to find the best solutions to a set of complicated constantly evolving problems.

In the previous article I tried to point to the mistakes which got us into this mess and in here I am going to attempt use your help in order to find a way out of it.

So to cut a long storey short in here I am going to again talk about democracy, about what I have read, investigated, observed, analysed, learned and understood on the subject and why some nations have got it while on the other hand some do not, in spite of several attempts and countless sacrifices

Again to clear any misunderstanding I am NOT talking about the deserving and undeserving, as it is my absolute belief that every nation on this planed deserves to live in a prosperous democratic atmosphere, being able to talk their mind free from any fear of prosecution or discrimination. However as it is the reality of life most of them have not been able to achieve such goal and for that reason it is only natural and logical to assume that they have had an erroneous approach to the issue

Deserving and achieving are two different things and in my article here I am going to concentrate on the achieving part of it. Like it or not it doesn’t matter how much we think we deserve or we are ready for democracy, as long as we do not have the right tools, right attitude and correct state of mind we will not have it and that is the cruel fact of life. This is more about having the will to walk the walk rather than displaying the style by just talking the talk.

So what is the answer to this problem and how can a nation free itself from dictatorship and achieve democracy?

The first answer that comes into the mind of many including yours truly is the word revolution.

Well! A REVOLUTION don’t you just love the idea? Only the word on its own gives us the buzz and sends tingles down our spine. However in my case after stepping back and reflecting for just a few moments the buzz disappears and many questions start flying in.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are many cases where a revolution is the only primary step that a nation can take towards democracy and I believe ours to be one of those cases.

But the main centre of attention in the above statement is and should be on the word PRIMARY As I explained in my previous article in democracy, revolution is a double edged sword and if not used correctly it could do more harm than good and the disaster of 1979 is a perfect example

Furthermore one need to understand and accept what can realistically be achieved by a revolution. The best that a nation can realistically hope to achieve by a revolution is dismantling and elimination of the old order. Bringing down the current dictator and punishing those who committed crimes against the people. Hence preparing the ground for democracy to flourish and this is where the mission will come to an end. That would be all a revolution can do, as this is the natural course of any revolution’s life cycle. Hence although a revolution can prepare the ground for democracy to start and flourish it can never guarantee one.

Democracy however is a different kettle of fish altogether. If a nation do not have a set of solid principals, a blue print and a prototype of progress to move forward and construct democratic establishments and if this plan is not vigorously put into action from the very next day after the victory is achieved and more importantly if they do not have an attitude to practically back those principals and hence their democratic establishment, it is almost certain that they will slip back into another dictatorship just like the one they got rid of, if not more brutal and deadly. The only different would be the name.

There are many examples of such occurrences around the world such as Cuba, China, Russia, Zimbabwe, and of course Iran where one dictator was replaced by another one

You see? Building is always more difficult than destroying as it needs more planning, more precision and not to mention right national state of mind and course a rigours course of action. While revolution is about dismantling the old order, democracy is about building a new and adequate one, by establishing institutions which could and would follow specific rules and walk on the straight and narrow within a framework of predefined rules.

To achieve such goal the first thing that is demanded from us is an adequate understanding of what it is actually that we are trying to achieve. It needs a true understanding of the word democracy and by that I do not mean just empty slogans and passionate statements but action like change of ones mindset, attitude and behaviour.

Amongst other thing democracy fundamentally is freedom of opposition to state its mind. That means if we really want democracy we need to be prepared to engage, listen and compromise especially with those with whom we have the most quarrels.

It means that if I am a monarchist I threat the members of MKO with respect, it means that if I am a member of green movement I do not insult or dismiss those who want to see the back of IRI for good and it means that if I am a republican I should respect the monarchists and their choice of leader. But first and foremost it means that if I hear or read something that I do not agree with I will not insult the writer or accuse them of being an idiot a traitor or an agent of the enemy.

Again I need to emphasise here respecting someone and their point of view or their right to adopt a position and choose a leader does NOT mean to agree with them or refraining from questioning their logic, ideology or the motive and conduct of their leader in any form or shape. But it means keeping a political or ideological debate just that, a debate, away from any insult or baseless accusation. It means accepting the fact that each and every political faction and ideology in our current political climate has got at least a few points right and not all of their followers are brainwashed zombies who need to be converted or traitors who have to be silenced or eliminated.

On the other hand if today as a powerless commentator who hides behind an anonymous name I can not tolerate those who think different to me and resort to any unfair unethical mean to silence them, then what guarantee do we have that tomorrow when I or my preferred party is in power we will not establish another Savak, Ettelaat, Evin or Khavaraan, and attempt to science our critics by killing and torturing them

Just remember that in a debate it is always easier to convince someone of the flaws in their view if we are prepared to accept their valuable points and try to find a common ground first, instead of attempting to dismiss them point blank.

Such issues today are the main obstacle in our way to democracy. As it can be observed today all of our opposition groups are at each others throat not only fighting over the old ideological differences but also pointing finger of blame and accusation at each other. Refusing to cooperate or even sit around the same table and try to find common goals. They all claim to be democratic and claim to fight for democracy but absolutely refuse to behave in a democratic manner and to practice the most fundamental principal of democracy which is respecting the right of opposition and yes the right of everyone to state their mind freely and to select their leader, including and specially the right of those whose ideology we can not stand.

In the mean time the only looser in all this is democracy itself and the major beneficiary is the dictator currently in power

Secondly as a nation we need to change our attitude towards each other by learning to respect other citizens. Starting from the most basic things like driving on the road while respecting the right of pedestrians and other motorists, or changes in our practices like refusing to give or accept bribe and respecting the right of other people especially those who are not able to defend theirs.

It is always easy to put all the blames on one regime or one individual. But we need to keep in mind that both in today’s Iran and during the last regime most of the suppressions tortures financial embezzlements and crimes against humanity were being committed by other Iranians. That was why a change of regime on its own was not and is enough and will never be able to get rid of these problems. Just remember that the agents who torture, rape, murder and kill our fellow activists in IRI prison are also Iranian and until we as a nation are able to eradicate such behaviour from our society a change of regime would be noting but a mere window dressing.

Thirdly we need to understand and accept that whoever comes after this regime can not and will not resolve all our problems over night. In fact I can confidently say that on the contrary solving the problems with our country is the responsibility of each and every one of us. All a democratic government and a lawful system can do is to prepare the ground and provide us with the opportunity to rebuild, repair and move forward. But no government would be able to do our job for us and any one who claims otherwise is either a con artist or extremely naive

Democracy is not something that can be given to a nation or achieved over night. It has to be earned through change of attitude and hard work and that will take time and effort, in fact lot of it. Furthermore democracy is not a one size fit all entity. Every nation’s democracy is different in accordance to their culture and principals. That is why for example democracy in US and UK are very different and although they both are democratic system, each one is tailored to the needs and attitudes of those nations.

Now some of you might say, well this is stating of the obvious, what’s new and we already know this. But I am afraid until and unless we put what we know into action and practice what we preach, knowing is not good enough. In fact on the contrary. The fact that while knowing these principals we still refuse or fail to put them into practice and prefer to act on impulse instead of logic, only increases our guilt and responsibly. It simply is not good enough to just nod ones head and agree theoretically. While no practical steps are taken.

Another argument and reaction to all this however could be just to circle our hands and say: what can I do. I am only one person. How can I change the world or influence all these political groups and faction and get them to behave appropriately. It is out of my power.

In answer to those people I remind you of the statement made by another man in very similar circumstances who stated:

When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world.I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family., My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”

So here is the challenge for all of us.

I can assure all of you that the majority of those who participate in these discussions are against IRI and they all want democracy; although they may have different views on what democracy actually is.

So the next time you read an opinion you do not like or strongly disagree with, try to react and reply with your head and not your gut. Try to put your point and reasons for your disagreement across without any insult or baseless accusation and try to be fair to the other party and accept the correct and valuable points in their argument

Even if we encounter an IRI supporter or agent on this site we should treat it as an opportunity rather than a threat. As with our behaviour we can show them that there is an alternative and in future democratic Iran there is room for them as well. Show that we are willing to address their legitimate concerns and accept their correct points regardless of their point of view and political orientation.

Then by transforming ourselves and this site as result we might be able to act as a beacon of hope and a prototype model for others to follow so that our next revolution will end up in real democracy rather than another dictatorship and thirty years from now our children would not have to ask themselves the same question of

“Where did it go wrong?”


more from areyo barzan

You read my mind

by Azadeh on

Dear Areyo Barzan,

Thanks for the insightful piece. I agree 100%.

I only hope it will get people to think about our own faults instead of lashing out and deferring blame as usual. I don't believe Iranians can tolerate democracy yet...how many Iranians live by the mantra, "live and let live?" I have seen very few. Without some ability to understand tolerance and our own weaknesses, democracy is but a dream.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again....Iranians first must learn not to rule their households and relationships with controlling behavior (i.e. domestic dictatorship), then perhaps they may begin to understand the idea of tolerance which is needed for any democratic nation, and which Iranians do not yet possess (regrettably)!



by Maziari on


Democracy is just a process of governance by majority decision making. Democracy alone is NOT ENOUGH. In fact dictatorship of MAJORITY can be as tyrannical as any dictatorship.

Our problem is not just governance, it is also agreeing on basic RIGHTS of individuals within the Nation (Society) and the responsibility of Nation towards individuals. In other words we need a BILL of RIGHTS that we can all agree on. Just referring to UN Human Rights Declaration will not do!

We have to address the issue of Iran's natural resources and national wealth. Any government that has direct access to these will end up suppressing the nation. Also, they need to be shared equally amongst all Iranians.

The reverse is also true. A nation that does not PAY its government for the services it provides, ends up being its subjects.

Other issues include limits to individual freedom. We all 'think' we know what freedom is. In reality few people realize that freedom is defined by its limits and in a civilized society, limits of an individual freedom, is the freedom of others. This principle can be used to define freedom of beliefs, expression, way of life, language, etc.

One other thing, we either fight IR or IR will surely cause destruction of Iran. Standing on the sidelines and waiting and hoping will only end in a rapid demise of Iran and our own death, many years from now, on foreign lands. 

Therefore, the proper course of ACTION, RIGHT NOW, is to put together a brief list of demands (RIGHTS of IRANIANS) and have it approved by all who oppose IR of Tyranny, Lies and Corruption and then start the FIGHT to Free Iran and achieve those rights.


areyo barzan

Dear Rashid

by areyo barzan on

I believe I have already provided an answer to your question in the part 1 of this very article.

In order for any individual or nation to learn from their mistake, the first thing they need to do would be to acknowledge their error and accept the responsibility for their mistake.


As a nation we still have not achieved that threshold. That is why we still tend to blame others or resort to petty excuses.


I guess the root to this problem could be searched for in a culture that associate errors with lack of wisdom, sin or even stupidity, as appose to a fact of life and the most logical  and natural way to  learn and accumulate experience


However that is another subject for another day as it needs more analysis and soul search ifor the root causes of such cultural problems


areyo barzan


by areyo barzan on

I am not by any mean or shape disputing the services that Pahlavi Kings have done to this country..

I can assure you that I have done many research and read quiet a few books on this subject and I know very well that they have done many services to this country including services that we still have difficulty to understand.

However it is only fair to highlight their errors along with their services. Errors that Mohammad Reza Shah was man  enough to admit to and accept in here last book “Aanswer to History” and that is why I have the utmost respect for him.


However, highlighting these errors would not be in order to belittle them or dismiss their services but to understand and learn from those errors, so that they would not be repeated by the next generation.

But the most important issue of all, that you are again ignoring here is to know and accept our individual  and national responsibilities, errors and most important of all ,our place in all this.


I am afraid it is not good enough to blame it all on the foreign conspiracy and corrupt politicians, or even the measlead intellectuals or the even evil Mullahs. In my opinion it was us (YOU, I and other Iranians) and us alone who have brought this disaster upon ourselves..

As I wrote in grate extend on the first part of this article, many people like Shah, Reza Shah, Modaddegh and Bakhriar did their best for this country.

Were they perfect? Of course not! And they did not need or even claim to be either.

But their best did not prove to be good enough because of the lack of wisdom and vigilance on our side as a nation.

As I told before the mistake was ours and ours alone and until and unless we could bring ourselves to swallow our pride, accept our fatal error and more importantly change course as result, noting much will change around here


P.S. I personally do not believe that a Turkish style democracy is workable or good enough for us .Our democracy should reflect our History, our culture and our values


I dispute the article on its analysis part

by amirparvizforsecularmonarchy on

Implying or accusing the late Shah as a Dictator is not just completely wrong, its also dishonest/unfair.  Iran didn't just enjoy evolution, the creation of the largest growth in skilled & educated middle class, it had its people make the greatest advances towards becoming more democratic. Clearly had the Iranian Nation been allowed to keep its path without foreign exploitation of its weaknesses and the interference/betrayal that did follow, Iran would be more democratic today than 90% of the world, surpassing the USA (which isn't even in the top 10% today with respect to democracy according to the independent democracy index).


Turkey is being sold as the model for Muslim States to follow, that would not be good enough for Iran in my opinion, for people living in freedom stating their wishes.  That said today it must be clear to everyone on this site that Iranians are at the bottom of the list when it comes to beggar nations, in the same league as libya and saudi arabia.  We used to be far better.  As for where we go from here.  Wisdom states that beggars can't be choosers, lets at least acknowledge that those in Iran don't have a say and that those who believe they do and have the capability to influence have no idea the mess iran is in and the agenda of the free western world for the middle east and north africa.

The national dilemma comes from not knowing the difference between populism and democracy.


Maryam Hojjat

afshinazad, Great response

by Maryam Hojjat on

I agree with all your comment. 



by afshinazad on

Democracy cannot be without solid foundation of social reform and knowledge and compromise, seems like building house on a sand.


it is not that our people cannot digest the democracy, it is our politician and intellectuals are who hungry for power , either their way or the highway, no one puts country and the nation first but they have self interest and their interest comes first, and everyone of them are preaching democracy but it is only chanting not acting.

 We need people who care about country and nation, like REZA SHAH with one goal built the country and Mohammad reza shah advance the country and the nation, even if you think they were dictators, but at least they were patriot who cared about evolution not devolution like clerics and Islamic minded people.

Democracy is not easy thing to keep, it is quite challenge to keep it alive! It is like living thing  or the engine and must be nourished and maintained constantly , otherwise will disappear before you know it.


چرا هزاران سال تجربه اثر نکرده ؟


نوشته بسیار ارزشمندی است . قابلیت های شخصیتی مردمانی که در عمل خواهان پیشرفت ، سازندگی و در نتیجه کامیابی عمومی باشند ( دموکراسی واقعی ) را به خوبی برشمرده . من کلمه دموکراسی را به کار نبردم زیر این مفهوم هرچند که در ذات  و کلیت خود یکی از قوانین ذاتی طبییعت است و انسان هم بخشی از آن ، ولی به تعداد ملتها و آدمها متفاوت و حتی متضاد فهمیده و عمل میشود . باورمندان و نه تظاهرکنندگان به هر دین و یا مسلکی و یا حکومتی طبعن خود را دموکرات یا دموکرات تر و دیگران را مستبد یا کمتر دموکرات میدانند . بر چه مبنائی میتوان گفت آمریکا و انگلستان دموکرات هستند یا نیستند ؟ تا ابد میتوان بحث کرد و آخر سر باز همان میشود که امروز هست یعنی عده ای میگویند این دو نمونه دموکراسی هستند و گروهی خلافش را .
پرسش مشخص من اینستکه : با وجود آنکه هزاران سال است در گوشه گوشه ادبیات و فرهنگ ایران و به صورتهای بسیار متنوع  همین دیدگاه نویسنده این مقاله دائمن گفته و خوانده و تجربه شده  و هزاران بار چوب نادیده گرفتنش را خورده اند، چرا باز مردم همان راه تباهی و خصومت و خود زنی را در عمل دنبال میکنند ؟

البته من پاسخ خود را دارم ولی علاقه مندم  نظر نویسنده یا خوانندگان این نوشته را دریابم .