Iran since the Revolution

Iran since the Revolution

Iran since the Revolution

Iran since the Revolution

Synopsis

Routledge Library Editions: Iran will re-issue works originally published between 1890 and 2005. As well as looking at the (often turbulent) history and politics of this key power in the Middle East, the set includes works of literature and literary criticism by both Persian and Western writers.

Excerpt

Since the turn of the century Iran has experienced three major political upheavals in her relentless, but so far unsuccessful, struggle to democratize her political system. The 1906–11 constitutional revolution attempted to introduce a Western-style liberal parliamentary monarchy to Iran, but instead led to the rise of the first Pahlavi dictatorship by 1925. The nationalist movement of the Mossadegh era in the early 1950s sought to secure Iran’s economic independence as a precondition for a popularly based constitutional democracy, but resulted in the emergence of the second Pahlavi dictatorship. The authentic revolution of 1978–9 tried to terminate all forms of dictatorship once and for all, and instead paved the way for an even more despotic theocracy. The last revolution inaugurated an era of such unprecedented turmoil that in some ways it may be regarded as not one, but three consecutive and on-going revolutions. The first overthrew the Shah, the second utilized anti-American radicalism to institutionalize an Islamic Republic, and the last transformed the republic into a one-party fundamentalist theocracy.

While a consensus on the need to overthrow the Pahlavi dynasty emerged by the autumn of 1978 among the overwhelming majority of politicized Iranians, revolution meant different things to the different groups which had coalesced around that goal. Consequently, the antiShah coalition broke up as soon as the Shia fundamentalists started establishing a theocracy rather than a pluralistic democracy or a Marxist People’s Republic, as at least two other claimants to power had contemplated. In a real sense of each of the last two revolutions was waged not only to deny them a share of power, but also to divest them of the right of challenging the authority of the Shia fundamentalists.

In the process the secular forces, some of which had spearheaded the insurrectionary seizure of power in 1979, began to be devoured by the revolution itself. The progressive elimination of the opposition forces culminated in the ousting of the first President of the Islamic Republic in June 1981, and the subsequent armed struggle against the regime by the more militant of these forces. This struggle continues to date. The prospects of its success depend as much on the ability of these forces to attract massive public support as on the Islamic Republic’s determination to retain power.

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