ABBAS MILANI: "Problems and Prospects for Democracy In Iran"


ABBAS MILANI: "Problems and Prospects for Democracy In Iran"
by Darius Kadivar
The Graduate StudentCouncil and the Caltech Y Social Activism Speaker

A Series on Iran: Struggle of a Nation DR. ABBASMILANI

Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University,Co-director of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution

"Problems and Prospects for Democracy In Iran:A Historical Perspective"

7:30 PM, Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Beckman Institute Auditorium, (Bldg 74)

The dream of democracy in Iran is more than a century old. It began with the Constitutional Movement (1905-1907) and continues today with the Green Movement. What are the problems and prospects of democracy coming to Iran in future?

 Part I:   Part II: Part III: Part IV: Part V:



The dream of democracy in Iran is more than a century old. It began with the Constitutional Movement (1905-1907) and continues today with the Green Movement. What are the problems and prospects of democracy coming to Iran in future? Why did the dream fail to materialize in the past? Must Iran emulate the West, if it wants to become a democracy? Are there cultural, sociological or religious obstacles to democracy in Iran? Has Shiism been an obstacle to democracy or its ally? Where is Iran of today heading?

Dr. Milani wil review and discuss the recent events in Iran, and place them in the historical context of their roots. By analyzing the past and the present of these patterns, he will try to suggest patterns of future development, and the reasonable possibility of a democratic transition in Iran's near future. He will also touch upon the complexities these patterns pose for the Obama administration and discuss whether in his view, and in the assessment of the Iranian democrats, they have been handling the Iranian democratic crisis well, or whether they have missed an opportunity in helping the Iranian democrats by focusing solely or predominantly on the nuclear issue. Is there a solution to the nuclear issue independent of the democratic prospects? Dr. Milani will argue that these two are inseparable questions and it is dangerous folly to think that one could be solved in the absence of careful, cautious, prudent and wise attention to the other.

BIO: Abbas Milani is the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University and a visiting professor in the department of political science. In addition, Dr. Milani is a research fellow and co-director of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution. His expertise is U.S./Iran relations, Iranian cultural, political, and security issues.

Dr. Milani is the author of "Eminent Persians: Men and Women Who Made Modern Iran"; "King of Shadows: Essays on Iran’s Encounter with Modernity", a Persian text published in the U.S.; "Lost Wisdom: Rethinking Persian Modernity in Iran"; "The Persian Sphinx: Amir Abbas Hoveyda and the Riddle of the Iranian Revolution"; "Modernity and Its Foes in Iran"; "Tales of Two Cities: A Persian Memoir"; "On Democracy and Socialism", a collection of articles coauthored with Faramarz Tabrizi; and "Malraux and the Tragic Vision". Milani has also translated numerous books and articles into Persian and English.

This event is made possible by the generous support from the Moore Hufstedler Fund. The Series on Iran: Struggle of a Nation is a forum aimed at bringing various perspectives in raising awareness of and encouraging dialogue on the recent events in Iran. For more information about this event or the series, please contact the Caltech Y at 626.395.6163 or email


Related Pictory:


PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY: Mozaffaredin Shah Signs First Draft of the Constitution (1906)



PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY: Shah Delivers Speech to Parliament (1951)

pictory: Bakhtiar Denounces Bazargan's Provisionary Government in exile (1979)

Recommended Blogs:


THE PAST IS A FOREIGN COUNTRY: How Would You Evaluate Iran's Democracy Index in 1953 ?


Isn't Calling for the Head of State's Death usually called "Treason"?


Other Related Blogs:

HISTORY FORUM: Nader Naderpour on Iran's Constitutional Revolution and European Rennaissance (1996)


Mehdi Bazargan and the controversial legacy of Iran's Islamic intellectual movement


SPIRIT OF RESISTANCE: Iranian Intelligenstia Remembers Shapour Bakhtiar


Mahshid Amirshahi speaks about Shapour Bakhtiar's political legacy and criticizes the Diaspora Intelligenstia's silence


HISTORY FORUM: Mashallah Ajoudani on Intellectuals and the Revolution 


more from Darius Kadivar
Darius Kadivar

Abarmard Jaan Seems you have a Short Memory ...

by Darius Kadivar on

Middle East expert Abbas Milani and USA Today reporter Barbara Slavin argue that U.S. "surgical strikes" are not a practical option for dealing with Iran's alleged nuclear program. Foratv February 16th, 2008


i know dr milani very welll

by shushtari on

and have had the honor of having dinner with him many times....


he was in fact a cell mate with none other, than seyed ali ye-dast aka ali geda aka khamenei....


the fact that dr milani has remained very objective throughout his career, without spewing bs about the shah(whom he should despise for imprisoning him) speaks volumes about this man's character


I have read most of his books, including eminent persians......some of the bache akhoonds here should learn to read, and go read his books- maybe you guys will learn something LOL 

G. Rahmanian


by G. Rahmanian on

That is the only solution! IR is not interested in democracy, so it must be removed. As simple as that. Now, let's discuss how democracy can be achieved.

homo sacer

جانا سخن از زبان ما میگویی؟

homo sacer

Milani is at his best, and deservedly so, while in his comfort zone - when he presents his findings in an academic setting (his presentation in the first three segments of these clips is a good example of his mastery of the subject). However, as soon as he replaces his academic hat with an activist one (e.g. during the Q&A segment), he steps onto a shaky ground. He no longer commands the subject. His simplifications, idealizations and conjectures – and sometime his worldview, or even his wishes – are presented as though they are established facts. In this regard he is no longer an objective researcher, but a biased observer  - very much like the rest of us.

Not surprisingly, those of us who share his worldview and ideals, even his suppositions, embrace him, and sometimes go as far as accepting his prognosis as though it is divine prophesy. How else can one interpret the type of reaction his detractors are subjected to around here?


Mr. Gilani

by Abarmard on

I am not accusing him based on what he says here. I am not questioning his judgement during his early years either as people change. Yet he is part of a warmongering camp called Hoover insitute and that's questionable. You may agree with that organization, and that is your right. The conservative think tank does not play a positive role in the peace and prosperity of the Middle East and Iran and I don't agree with them. 

You may be a Liberal or Conservative, that's You your choice. If you choose one over the other, you also choose the people that you listen to from those camps, who naturally would represent you ideology. I am not a conservative. Make sense?



Mr Milani, one of very few unbiased Iranian Scholars.

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

I find him to be quite factual, although I do not agree with every conclusion he reaches. He certainly has my respec.t

I find the personal unsubstantiated attacks against him by user ID's "abarmard" and "sargord_firooz", cheap and betraying their sense of deep frustration, anger  and hate. Perhaps because Mr Milani's comments are critical of islamist regime of Iran .

Thank you for the good blog Darius. 

"Personal business must yield to collective interest."


as usual the cyber basijis

by shushtari on

are out in full bs mode here


you guys don't have 1/10 the brain or intelligence of dr milani....

keep cashing your IR checks

















One wonders

by Abarmard on

If Rafsanjani did agree to pay Mr. Milani money, refer to his book, would he be anti or pro IRI today?

Seem like he would switch ideas once he has security and money. However overall I would not judge him based on his history but where he works today and who he works for!

Sargord Pirouz

Ugh, our own version of

by Sargord Pirouz on

Ugh, our own version of Charles Krauthammer, minus the wheelchair

This is what you get from the guy: a skewed sense of history and utterly unreliable political analyses

You know, if this guy were anywhere near objective, I'd attend. But he's not, so I won't be wasting my time

The only guessing game in all of this will be whether any of those embarrassing Lion-puss flags will make an appearance at the event