Weekend Warriors defining a revolution


Weekend Warriors defining a revolution
by Anonymouse

I was reading JJJ’s blog on Jainism and one statement caught my attention; In the summer of 1979, I was a 17-year-old empty vessel swimming in a sea of ideas unleashed by the revolution, from revolutionary Shiism to Marxism.

That’s a true statement and reflective of those times.  I remember those days.  We were all young and political activism was the way to go, everybody was doing it! Political groups were flexing their muscles and had newspapers, rallies and leaders who were long time political prisoners.  Political debates were hot and people were staking a claim to the revolution like American pioneers staking a claim to a piece of land during the Western expeditions. 

Then came Saddam’s attack and everyone focused on the war and for a while these political groups were still going but as the war dragged on and parliament bombed and other assassinations, regime started a brutal crackdown and managed to silence everyone and all political groups closed down shops and people went their own way.  The brutal crackdown worked back then.  The movie Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a good reference for those days.

I was thinking of writing a blog about going from revolutionary Shiism and Marxism in 1979 to Jainism 30 years later!  Not that there is anything wrong with it … Nowadays many people are ashamed of their past political affiliations and those who aren’t and say something are chastised and labeled as traitors or leftists supporters of the Islamic regime who betrayed people and sold them to the devil.  As if their opposition would’ve made a difference.  In the end wet and dry were all burned. Today the old political groups are gone but political activism is re-born with newer groups and names like Shirin Ebadi and others who have shown their support and are well known.  Regime's brutal crackdown isn’t working this time.

Then I came across Siamak Baniameri’s article about why the Green Movement is doomed based on Project Management “principles”.  I like most of Siamak’s articles from the years past but ever since this summer and the election crisis I find many of his articles odd. 

Going back to Shah’s opposition and Khomeini as a point of reference, it is a known fact that Shah feared communists and not Khomeini.  Shah’s opposition had a strong diaspora organization called Confederation that was an umbrella for small and large political groups of all kind that was later disbanded when Khomeini came along.  I’d put the main groups in 3 general categories; leftists, Jebhe Melli (nationalists) and Annjoman Islami (Islamic students organization).  

Siamak calls the 1979 revolution a project and Khomeini as its Project Manager who explained the project to “the team”.  These days there is a project management course in every curriculum from becoming a dental assistant to criminal justice.  It used to be that project management was a specialty that started in US military and mostly associated with construction or production projects with excruciating details, Gantt chart (a chart that depicts progress in relation to time) or PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) chart, milestones, dependents and precedents and finally a fixed time or duration for the whole project.  Now they certify you if you take one or two classes with a glossy Project Management book and then you can go and apply the “principles” to everything from having a weekend project planting tomatoes in the backyard to Iran’s green revolution or lack thereof!

So ok let’s apply those project management principles.  Back in 1979 did everyone like the project manager Khomeini?  No.  Did Khomeini planned the 1979 revolution and executed the project plan accordingly?  No he was a man without a country. He was exiled to Iraq and when Saddam kicked him out he went country shopping and ended in France and by the time his visa was expiring the (confederation) opposition leaders had found him.  Imagine while going through your immigration paperwork you get deported and suddenly you’re given the opportunity to become the new leader of Iran!  Sweet!  Now this is a shortcut version but based on Siamak’s shooting from the hips, it is good enough!

The green movement has leaders in Mousavi and Karoubi whether some like them or not.  They are the most visible or defacto leaders who by default have accepted being targets of terror assassinations as Mousavi’s wife has stated recently.  If they die someone will pick up where they’ve left off.  Likewise if Khomeini was assassinated someone else would’ve sprung.  I know some say the green movement’s goals have gone beyond Mousavi and Karoubi but they ignore their influence.  Some of us shun them yet we can’t wait to hear what they have to say next!

They have no choice but to go with the flow.  When Lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation did he plan for it?  No the civil war was based on federalism vs confederacy and more states’ rights vs federal rights. Slavery would’ve been abolished one way or another but it became in focus during civil war and was abolished once the cause of federal rights prevailed.  Now I don’t know if Mousavi is going to be Iran’s Lincoln (Lincoln's body is rolling over in grave :-) I just wanted to mention that not all social events are exactly planned in advance but the just causes out there will come in focus and gain the attention and actions that they deserve.

Since 1979 so much has changed in the world stage and changes in Iran are inevitable.  Something positive will definitely come out of the green movement and it is certainly not doomed to failure.  The regime (like a bad project manager :-) is not able to stop opposition from coming to streets and people are fed up with corruption over all these years.  Other factors such as economic hardships or international relations will come to play later.

The 2 main slogans of the green movement are Death to Dictator and Allah-o-Akbar, just like during monarchy.  There are other slogans that come up based on current events like Azhari the calf, cassette tapes don’t have legs during Shah and Vasiyate Montazeri, marg bar een diktatori (Montazeri’s will, death to this dictatorship) now.

So things will change and this may not be a text book revolution project with pre-approved leaders that some people are looking for nor is it nothing or a riot which is how regime and its supporters would like to frame it.  Some argue that the green movement is a continuation of a movement that started in 1905, with milestones in 1953, 1979, 2009 and counting.  Green movement is a popular movement; it has leaders and the momentum.  It is certainly not a weekend project!

Photo caption: an uncertified Project Manager is involved somewhere in the project


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more from Anonymouse

Hamsadeh yes once you dish the green move, the rest is easy!

by Anonymouse on

Isn't it interesting that there are so many different takes on why the green movement will fail one way or another?  How many cartoons and analysis that tie the organic and home grown green movement to BBC and in one case The Daily Show?!

How hard is it to simply acknowledge the presence of millions of people in the streets of Tehran and other cities?  If life under this regime is so good or good enough, people would not protest, much less risk their lives.  And you don't risk your life for nothing.

Everything is sacred.

hamsade ghadimi

anonymouse, ari, hovakh

by hamsade ghadimi on

great points in the article and by the commenters.  it's much easier to put a social movement in the project management model in retrospective and fudge over the timeline of previous uprisings to make them fit into the model.  the apartheid example that was used in siamack's article didn't include the time period of resistance in south africa and many leaders other than nelson mandela who contributed to the movement.  and as you mentioned, it did not include the dynamics of such a complex "project."  these type of "projects" include many trials and errors. if one was to make a projected time of completion for every task of the "project," then one can anticipate many "failures" throughout the duration of the "project."

i agree with you that something good will come out of it this movement.  i think something good has already come out of it.  thanks.


Anahid jaan lazy people = pacifists = naesheh!

by Anonymouse on

H yes the fact that dispora is not writing Iran off (anymore) and foreign press and media are covering the news and Iran is not allowing foreign reporters inside Iran are all various indications that what we see is Iran is something and not nothing. This in addition to all other indicators.  

Green movemnt is certainly not doomed to failure.  In order to be a failure you must be on to something first, on to success, before you get on the path of failure. 

Everything is sacred.

Anahid Hojjati

Dear anonymouse, this is great what you wrote about lazy people

by Anahid Hojjati on


Dear anonymouse, you make a great point where you write in your comment:"If I were to guess I'd say people who dismiss the green movement are generally lazy people in their personal lives.  They think just because they're too lazy to do anything everyone is like them!"  Thanks. 


You make several solid points. I liked Setareh's overview

by Hovakhshatare on

featured. I had made some points on Siamak's article which I won't repeat here including in a response to Hakeem.

It seems many are looking for some kind of blue print but there is not one. Saying Iran is a very unique situation is neither arrogant not avoiding structure. Social movements are very dynamic to start with. Throw in a savage theocracy ruled generally by a 'shunned' part of the society and supported by the lowest and least 'civilized' layers of the society, and funded by all kinds of skewed scheme and rich by Oil wealth meaning no accountability. Then the centralization of global power and dependency, and everything else in on a country with unique history & cultue.

This movement is very much driven by extreme choke on people's lives accompanied by elements that are inherently incongruent to the culture and national interests. It is a visceral movement which explains why for the first time ever, the diaspora, many of whom had written Iran off, is so deeply engaged. This movement is at its infancy and no one can accurately predict its outcome and certainly project approach is a guarantee of failure as IRR has proven very cunning in destroying anything that looks like opposition. This is a chess game or a hide and seek. We have to rely on our primal make up to win this one.


Yes Princess jaan photos adds life to your blog!

by Anonymouse on

I think dismissing such a popular uprising and movement in Iran is ill advised to say the least.  A country like Iran where 80% of its economy is dependent on a volatile commodity - oil - can go through massive changes overnight.

Just like Soviet Union dismanteled or Berlin Wall came down or closer to home monarchy stopped in Iran, this regime has been cracked big time and we'll see what comes next.

If I were to guess I'd say people who dismiss the green movement are generally lazy people in their personal lives.  They think just because they're too lazy to do anything everyone is like them! 

Everything is sacred.


Very nice analysis

by Princess on

Anonymouse jaan, I really enjoyed reading your take on the situation in Iran. Makes a lot of sense. Thank you.

PS: No wonder you always ask for blog photos, you seem to have many cool ones in you collection. :) 



Yes Ari jaan a # of events could've delayed or derailed Khomeini

by Anonymouse on

The whole idea of using Project Management principles to plan a revolution throws out some basic principles such as start or finish of a project.  When did the 1979 revolution start?  Some say when Shah had a glass of champagne with Shah.  Is that what Khomeini "waiting" for?!

What if Shah did not have terminal cancer and was healthy enough to stay and care and do something?  I don't know when exactly he was told that he is going to die but it surely doesn't leave you much interest in doing anything else.  He sure acted as a ruthless monarch and a dictator for as long as he could. 

Or if Khoemeini was never exiled in the first place and would've stayed in (Qom sweet Qom ;-) like any other normal akhoond.  To this day no one knows WTF he was talking about other than some jibberish and grand standing slogans, none of which was planned in advance. 

Everything is sacred.

Ari Siletz

Good points.

by Ari Siletz on

The project model approach to social movements makes any revolution appear impossibe, and this contradicts observed facts. For example, the Manhattan project employed 130,000 people at its peak and at these "low" numbers the project was already straining the limits of management control. Where millions of people are involved in coordinated action, normal project management techniques are hopelessly inapplicable.  There may be components of the movement where the techniques apply--eg. setting up communications networks--but as you seem to suggest, social movements are organic, self-organizing phenomenon driven by events and fortuitous resources. No one planned for Montazeri to die a week before Ashura.


Anonymouse. What a

by vildemose on

Anonymouse. What a refreshing piece of analytical reasoning. Thank you.


Thanks guys. BTW u can sleep through a project management class!

by Anonymouse on

Many project management books remain shiny and brand spanking new, even if you buy them used!  They have good pictures too and can be used either as a coffee table book or a decoration book on decoration shelves! 

Everything is sacred.

Anahid Hojjati

Thanks Anonymouse, I agree with thexmaster

by Anahid Hojjati on


Dear Mouse, thanks.  You are correct where you note that something positive will come out of Green movement. By the way, I also took Project Management courses many years ago and it was not fly by night classes.  However, I don't think you can use project management model for a revolution.  You can use it for different milestones. Usually you use project management model for some activity that reasonable people are involved in it and there are some expectations of levels of performance, resources, etc.  A revolution or a movement is far too complicated to use a Gantt or PERT chart for it.  I think you wrote it best that recently Siamak has been writing some odd articles.


Much Better

by thexmaster on

Far better and deeper analysis than that vague one by Siamak.