The Iranian Revolution Then and Now: Indicators of Regime Instability

The Iranian Revolution Then and Now: Indicators of Regime Instability

The Iranian Revolution Then and Now: Indicators of Regime Instability

The Iranian Revolution Then and Now: Indicators of Regime Instability

Synopsis

Dariush Zahedi is currently a visiting scholar in the department of political science at the University of California-Berkeley.

Excerpt

This chapter, along with Chapter 4, will examine the causes and the probable extent of the cleavages between society and the state in prerevolutionary and present-day Iran. Matched comparisons will focus on the distress levels of Iran's politically important social groups, including the intelligentsia, clerics, bazaaris, entrepreneurs, modern sectors of the middle class, and the dispossessed. As noted, although widespread dissatisfaction is insufficient to bring about a revolution, it is a necessary precursor to any revolutionary situation. It is, therefore, illuminating to contrast the present regime's social bases of support with the previous regime's. To the extent that the Islamic Republic is anchored by firmer social roots than prerevolutionary Iran, it is less likely to be overthrown as a result of revolutionary upheaval. Inter- and intraclass divisions are, by definition, inimical to the formation of cross-cutting alliances and therefore diminish the capacity for collective action.

The Intelligentsia

According to Max Weber, the intellectual community is composed of those "who by virtue of their peculiarity have special access to certain achievements considered to be 'culture values' and who therefore usurp the leadership of a culture community" (Gerth and Mills, 1981, p. 176). In this capacity, as Karl Mannheim argues, they take it upon themselves "to provide an interpretation of the world for the social settings in which they find themselves" (Milani, 1994, p. 62). Edward Shils views intellectuals as "those who concern themselves with ultimate values and live in a 'wilder universe'" (Boroujerdi, 1996, p. 20). Edward Said, by contrast, regards intellectuals as those "endowed with a faculty for representing . . .

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