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Fair to the 1979 Revolution

Contrary to mediocre belief, the 1979 revolution was not either caused by foreign conspiracies, nor an alleged “red-black-collaboration” -- it refers to an alleged collaboration between the left and clergy--, but mainly the utopia on Islam represented by Mullahs who were blindly followed by a great majority of the Muslim grassroots. The fiasco of the failed revolution is due to the lack of a democratic opposition because under the Shah’s despotism such an opposition could not survive, what left the arena empty for Mullahs as the only organised opposition in 1979.

 

The Iranian intelligentsia was present in the prerevolutionary popular protests. Later, it naively accepted the supremacy of Mullahs. In turn, Mullahs did not accept them unless as a tool of success. Members of the Front National were ousted from the Islamic governments. As Mullahs monopolised all power, the leftists and then the MKO were accorded a rapid fatal fate. The revolutionary prosecutor banned the leading left-wing newspapers, activities and rallies. The authorities looked for excuses to persecute them. The regime’s jurisprudence issued warrants for the arrest of their leaders and soon started executions of them. The 1988 notorious mass executions were the apogee of crimes against the MKO and leftists. Even many members of Toudeh Party / Aksariat (Aksariat refers to a “majority” faction of Marxist People's Fedai Guerrillas that collaborated with the regime), fell subject to atrocity of the regime too.

 

One must never overlook the fact that the roots causing of the societal and political problems today in Iran are directly attributed in largest part to Islam. Contrary to today, these roots were not at time depicted or exposed by the intelligentsia. I emphasised on this factor of appeasement as the main reason of fiasco, a factor of self-alienation among our intelligentsia who denied the spirit of Marxism/ secularism / democracy.

 

The factor was an international paradigm, developed by capitalist key powers for their colonial agenda. I the 20th century, the appeasement was followed by the two main camps of communism, Russia and China, during the Cold War. The appeasement needs to be recognised as a discursive stratagem that enabled these two communist poles in their both political and economical agenda toward the Islamic world and “anti-imperialist” Islamic movements. This appeasement stood above the “atheist” ideological values of the East and the human rights allegations of the West. It misleadingly depicts positive approaches towards Islam and appeased its past as an atrocious colonial power with its backward ambitions.

 

 For many hundreds of years Islam has imposed its totalitarian ideology and accompanying religion through force and coercion on many peoples, including Iranians. Our intelligentsia only saw the problems in largest part on the U.S.A. and U.K. … as the source of imperialistic or colonial ills, a deviation which served the colonial powers too. There was not a large movement denouncing the disastrous results of colonial and backward nature of Islam. This is the fiasco our intellectual pioneers failed to realise, not the 1979 revolution itself with its fair impetus of anti-despotism.

 

Not only the Iranian left, but also the non-Marxists, nationalists, patriots, democrats… were influenced by this appeasement and mistakenly saw in Islam a progressive source of independence and anti colonialism. This criterion dominated the force equilibrium during the 1979 revolution. Apart from protégés and followers of these two communist camps of the East, many western sympathisers or politically oriented intellectuals followed this bottom line of appeasement with Islam, and only after the 1970 revolution they realised their miscalculation.

 

It is extremely short-sighted and intellectually dishonest to label either the 1979 revolution a mistake of “ungrateful to the shah” or a product of the conspiracy theory tramped by a “red-black” collaboration or the foreign plans, even if the key powers had to accept the Shah’s day were numbered.  Only the people of Iran with self-determination toppled the Shah’s despotism and the fiasco happened after the fait accompli, quite independently from the fairness of the anti-Shah revolution. The fact is the left and secular spectrum of Iranian intelligentsia was not as present as Mullahs at this popular event. The event ended up to become a “fiasco” because of their both absence in the event and then appeasement toward Islam.

Balatarin

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Shirzadegan

Siavash

Sorry it was Temsar Ghare nee. "General Ghare Nee", NOT Gharebaghi. My mistake

Shirzadegan

Siavash

Thanks Jahanshah Rashidian,
I enjoyed reading your blog as usual.
Shia clergies attempted to take a power long time ago. It started from the time of constitutional revolution when large group of people gathered in the front of Majlis chanting " Mashroteh nemekhaheem, Din e mobin khaheem". Ayatollah Modaress was the first clergy stated :"our politic is identical with our religion"., we had uprising of Shaikh Mohammad Kheyabani in Tabriz, Mirza kochak khan in Gilan, Navab Safavi in Tehran, Mohamad Bokhari in Tehran. This line of thinking reach to Khomaini. They were shia clergy thinking who wanted to take power for a long time.
If our professionals, intellectualas made some noises, it was way minor than the main stream process of Islamic thinking process. Not even count as an opposition. Too bad they didn't know it.
Unlike many other countries, in our history shia clergies always had very close contact with deprived section of our society.They were camping to reach the power one day. None the less, among intellectuals, only one person could precisely forcast was direction our country is heading. That person was BIZAN JAZANI. Jazani in his book "Tarekh e 30 saleh" "30 years history" clearly mentioned different movements throught Middle East in those days. He predicted with all these Islamic color movement most like the hegemoney of possible social revolt in Iran would be in the hands of shia clergies. He was able to see the direction of posssible revolution. He also mentioned about General Garebaghi in his book who played a major role during 1953 event. Garebaghi was assigned by Bazargan provisional government as a head of the army for a short period of time. Most likely Jazani's scandal dismissed him from his position.

JahanshahRashidian3

Jahanshah Rashidian

Shiite as state religion was brutally imposed by the Safavids at the beginning of 16th.century. Under the Qajars the shiitisation of Iranian society and even many political constitutions was complete. The political role exercised by the clergy continued, with a short interruption under Reza shah, until the 1979 revolution. The constitutional revolution of 1905-1906 was to reduce their role, but as we know we only had one freely elected Majlis. The Rezah Khan’s despotism and then that of his son did not respect the constitutional principles. The worst, under the “religious” Shah, the clergy reentered politics. Kashani, Behbahani, Brujerdi, Fasafi…used to influence the Royal Court.The Shah helped the clergy and the sect of Shiism to spread.

Shirzadegan

Siavash

In ancient time, Moghan (zorasterian clergies) were appointing shah. At the same time they had a power to abdicate Padeshah. "Mogh" played the same role as shia clergies were playing after Arab invasion. Obedient of clergy had a long ancient history in Persian culture. it is not limited to shaiism.

faraway

faraway

dear JR: prior to enforcement of shia on the population, Iranians were Sunni, right?

faraway

faraway

Though Iran is known today as a stronghold of the Shi'a Muslim faith, it did not become so until much later, around the 15th century. The Safavid dynasty made Shi'a Islam the official state religion in the early sixteenth century and aggressively proselytized on its behalf. It is also believed that by the mid-seventeenth century most people in Iran had become Shi'as, an affiliation that has continued. Over the following centuries, with the state-fostered rise of a Persian-based Shi'ite clergy, a synthesis was formed between Persian culture and Shi'ite Islam that marked each indelibly with the tincture of the other.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Iran

Zendanian

Zendanian An injury to one is an injury to all.

One big mistake of the secular opposition was to underestimate the influence of Clergy in Iran. As you correctly point out, In Reza shah's reign Clergy had much less public space or presence, yet this same wakened religious establishment was still very influential in changing Reza shah's (back then not shah yet) mind on establishing an Iranian Republic, an insisting on a continuation of monarchy led by him.
The influence and reach of the religious establishment has not been confined only to monarchs either. Ayatollah Kashani was a major ally and a good chunk of Jeb'he Meli 's popular support and base.
Besides influencing Monarchists and Nationalists , Iranian Leftists also have not been immune from being influenced either, though Left's own nativism, and populism is also very much at fault.
Any underestimation of this establishment is done at your peril.

faraway

faraway

What a horrific mistake on the Shah's part to allow these scum of the earth to claw back their way into power.

JahanshahRashidian3

Jahanshah Rashidian

Thank you Mr. Shirzadegan for your encouraging words and insightful feedback on my pieces!

Ir

Parthian

You nailed it. Our people didn't understand the real Islam due to psychological damage and disorder (ref. Your last week blog) that, has been exerted from beginning of this religion therefore, sided with the pedophile.

JahanshahRashidian3

Jahanshah Rashidian

Iranians were kept deaf and blind for centuries. Muslims propagate that Islam brought us bliss and prosperity. Amazingly, millions of Iranians believed and still partially believe these rants. We called our ancestors “majus, najes...” degrading words for non-Muslins! In addition, if all were not enough, we called our beloved sons “Gholam-Ali, Gholam-Hossein, Gholam…of those killers of our ancestors! And were proud of assigning our sons “Gholam…” or slave boy and slave sex of these “noble” killers!
Parallel to our fight against the Islamic regime, we need a cultural struggle against the Islamic imposed culture to which we have been the victims. Our cultural front decrees for the new generations a rehabilitee of honour and awareness.
I will post articles opening new discussions on these tow necessary parallel fronts, political and cultural front, against the plague, which is both political and cultural as well. We cannot separate these two from each other, as we cannot separate Hitler from fascism.

SiamakZand3

Siamak Zand

While most of our Monarchist friends claim that foreign powers had a hand in overthrowing the Shah,I say to them(khak bar sar oun Shah )who didn't know this with all of his intelligence apparatuses.

JahanshahRashidian3

Jahanshah Rashidian

Nobody could impede the course of revolution n Iran; otherwise the West would do that. Once they reaslised this fact, they compulsorily sided with Mullahs with the hope to stop the worst, namely a socialist revolution in Iran.

SoosanKhanoom

akaDarya With life as short as a half-taken breath, don't plant anything but love. - Rumi

I think his mistake was to rely on the foreign power instead of relying on his own people. He imprisoned many due to the fear of communism. That country never turned to a communist state but then his crack downs on people brought him down !

JahanshahRashidian3

Jahanshah Rashidian

The Bazaar is one of the most retrograde ally for the regime. We remember their protest a while ago for the quick decline of the Rial. One may ask what kind of compromises and at what prices have been made between the government and Bazaari…? How the decline of Rial is compensated by purchase and selling benefits for them…? And who pays and what these compromises bring for the national interests? Bazaari have had always a reactionary posture in Iran and whatever the catastrophes in economy, they remain a solid part of the regime. Economic problems might unite middle class with the working class, but I am afraid the Bazaaris do not join such a coalition. They alongside with Mullahs lost the constitutional revolution of 1905-07 and won the 1979.

faraway

faraway

It is much harder now to turn the Bazari's into a revolutionary force since their very economic survival is at the mercy of the mullah run state.

JahanshahRashidian3

Jahanshah Rashidian

Khomeini’s appointment of Bazargan as PM and then his support for Banisadr’s presidency at that time, this was an avail of Bazaar that oscillated between the Front National and traditional capitalism.

From religious Bazargan to the secular nationalists gathered in the Front National. Contrary to the dominant trend in bazaar and the clergy, the liberal FN was rather based in the professional middle class and advocated Western-style of capitalism. This is one reason that these two trends, the FN and clergy, split. With the collapse of big part of the productive branch of economy, Bazaari finally became the dominant capitalist class.

Zendanian

Zendanian An injury to one is an injury to all.

Not sure who, in today's Islamic Republic is the dominant capitalist class?
What's actually at work, is a competition amongst different fractions of Capital, with Sepah having a clear advantage over practically all other fractions.
"Behemoth" was name of a book by Franz Neumann, on Nazi Germany.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behemoth:_The_Structure_and_Practice_of_National_Socialism
The dominance of Sepah in Iran's economy is incredibly similar to what Neumann had written back then.
More on that later, perhaps.

Zendanian

Zendanian An injury to one is an injury to all.

Mohamed Ghaed, who used to be the editor of Ayandegan daily is perhaps THE ONLY historian of 1979, who correctly reminds all that we actually had two revolutions, not one.
The first one was the uprising of professional classes, working class and intellectuals against shah.
The second was the uprising of Bazar and Hozeh against the shah.
The first lost and the second one won.
Pretty much like what's happening right now in Egypt and Tunisia, although calling of a General Strike in Tunisia could make a difference.
http://www.mghaed.com/

P.Galenous

P_J. An Iranian!

Great analysis, interestingly enough from an entirely different angle of attack; jury is still out on the final outcome!

Thanks for the post!

Zendanian

Zendanian An injury to one is an injury to all.

The social origins of the "second one," this diabolical alliance of Bazar and Hozeh is actually extremely complex, and unfortunately not many Iranian historians and writers have paid sufficient attention to this subject, as they ought to have, except for a few: Homa Nategh, Aramesh Dostar, Tabatabaiey,..

To make a long story short, what we have in this alliance is an accumulation of highest degree of "Retrogression," as you term it.

Two aspects in this alliance stand out:

1) Destruction of Iranian Civil Society by monarchy, and instead having a national net-work of religious organizations and institutions to fill in the vacuum, as it did in Iran in 1979.
And as religious forces are doing right now in Egypt and Tunisia, because of the exact same policies in their respective countries. A sort of a historical substitution and displacement of Civil Society by religious institutions.

2) Under development and mal-development of Iranian Capitalism. In the sense that Capitalism in Iran, as a mode of production is very peculiar and "unique." This is a Capitalism severely checked by the State and held back, both in general historical terms, and specifically under shah and Khomeini.
Due to over-reliance of Iranian economy on Oil exports, and never having a proper Industrialist bourgeoisie, institutionalized in our country.
Sorry for the "speech" in response to one line!

newsjunkie4

newsjunkie news,news,news

One difference, The clergy establishment was financially dependent on the Bazar in the shah's era whereas today, we have a role reversal: the Bazar is very dependent on the largesse of clergy establishment. my 2 rial!

JahanshahRashidian3

Jahanshah Rashidian

Like it or not, the 1979 revolution has distinctive features: the unique leading role of clergy determines all including the mode of economic activities in Iran. Today,bazaar is, as before, the social base of the clergy.