Iran: Origins of Social Democracy in Modern Iran

By Bayat, Mangol | The Middle East Journal, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

Iran: Origins of Social Democracy in Modern Iran


Bayat, Mangol, The Middle East Journal


IRAN

Origins of Social Democracy in Modern Iran, by Cosroe Chaqueri. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2001. 197 pages. Chron. Appendix to p. 219. Illust. to p. 257. Notes to p. 327. Refs. to p. 343. Index to p. 352. $40.

Reviewed by Mangol Bayat

Cosroe Chaqueri's new book is yet another monographic study of the 1905-1911 Iranian Constitutional Revolution to be added to a number of works on the subject published in the last decade. Chaqueri is best known for his multi-volume publication of documents and primary materials related to the history of social democracy in Iran. Specialists have judiciously consulted them, corroborating information thus gathered with other sources, and giving their own respective analysis from within a broader historical context.

In the present book, Chaqueri proposes to study social democracy as a "decisive component" of the 1905-1911 Revolution. His self-appointed task is to set the "record straight by restoring to its veritable proportions the history of the social-democratic contribution...doing away with the mystification that have, from all sides, veiled and thereby distorted" its role (p.18). In seven chapters, he discusses the political and socio-economic system (viewed in the singular form) prevailing in the country, and the "dysdevelopment" of the domestic economy resulting from European colonial encroachment, which caused mass emigration to the Caucasus and the rise of socialdemocratic movements outside Iran. Following a brief summary of the Constitutional Revolution, he describes the genesis of three distinct social-democratic groups: the ferqeh-ye ejtema'iyun ammiyun mojahed (Muslim Social-Democratic Group, or FEAM), the Armenian social-democratic groups, and the Democratic Party of Iran (DPI).

Quoting Ann Lambton and Maxime Rodinson, the author argues that traditional Iranian society experienced neither feudalism nor a class struggle in the European sense of the terms. Instead, he explains, there was widespread social mobility and "intraclass" struggle that periodically propelled the rise to power of ambitious individuals of humble origins. There also existed in premodern Iran several "means of control" and "checks and balances" that successfully prevented the Shah's autocratic rule from "exceeding a certain level of oppression" (p. 43). The traditional economic system also had developed its own traditional self-protecting mechanisms, such as rural "collective self-management." This "democratic instinct," however, degenerated with the advent of European imperialism and the disintegration of domestic manufacturing industries.

Yet, relying mostly on European consular and travel reports, and some Western secondary sources, Chaqueri offers no new research finding of his own to substantiate this thesis. His refutation of some scholars' contrary view of economic prosperity in the second half of the 19th century (G. Gilbar, V. Nowshirvani), and some others' depiction of the wealthy merchants as imbued with a sense of "professional solidarity" (ft Adamiyat, H. Nateq), is thus seriously weakened. The merchants, he simply writes, lacked concern for their own long-term interests or for their country (p. 67). Carrying on with the same polemical undertone, and equally devoid of solid new research, Chaqueri severely criticizes Soviet and "some contemporary Iranian" historians (F. Kazemi and E. Abrahamian) for their portrayal of Iranian peasants as non-revolutionary. Relying on a few cases of peasants' protests in Azerbaijan and Gilan, as reported in British consular reports and some Irano-Armenian articles published in Tblisi, he concludes that the peasants had proven their ability to rise against tyranny and control their own affairs. The revolutionary peasants, he claims, were in fact deprived of support, as the constitutionalist leaders of the Tabriz and, eventually, Rasht anjomans were dominated by the "merchantry's vested interest in agricultural land" (p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Iran: Origins of Social Democracy in Modern Iran
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.