Abolhassan Banisadr Message Following The Passing Away Of Nelson Mandela

‘Mandela joined the people who are making history and participates with future generations in doing so.’

On 5 December, Nelson Mandela returned to life and to God. Years ago, his release from prison coincided with the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution. While Mandela initially resorted to violent struggle, he later adopted pacifist methods and even method of deviolentisation. He understood well that revolution does not give birth to violence. But accumulated violence within generations reaches a pressure that needs to explode, and revolution provides possibilities for this to happen. After this, it is leadership which provides a direction for the explosion of compressed violence. If the leaders of a revolution aim to realize it without capturing the state, then they can transform violence into dynamic forces for opening up the social system. This energy can then be used to transform animosities into relations of coexistence and friendship. This is what Mandela did. Even those who had committed crimes during apartheid were given an opportunity to express their regret, to attend court and through this to gain permission to live a human and right-oriented life free from apartheid. Mandela became the founder of a new and multiracial society that is able to live in democracy and social peace. 

Mandela realized that revolution is not a reservoir of violence. It can take one of two passages of violence: one in which dynamic forces are used to open up the social system and make it transformative; the other passage in which dynamic forces are used to establish a more destructive form of despotism. Iranians knew this lesson and tried to use it. They tried to transform the social system. They stood on right and are still standing. But even though the Iranian revolution was won through peaceful means (or as we say, the flower won over the bullet), the accumulated violence within the society was used replace the monarchicPahlavi dynasty with a dynasty of clergy. As a result, the country still is burning in fires of violence. Now, if Iranians want to stand for their right and make deviolentisation their method of struggle, this lesson can also be used: violence which accumulates as a result of oppression can be used to establish an independent and free society.

Abohassan Banisadr
6 December 2013

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