Reformers and Revolutionaries in Modern Iran: New Perspectives on the Iranian Left

By Stephanie Cronin | Go to book overview

7

THE STRANGE POLITICS OF KHALIL MALEKI

Homa Katouzian

Khalil Maleki was an unusual phenomenon in modern Iranian politics and society. His ideas were so original for their time that they made him many enemies from the entire spectrum of Iranian politics. He is now being acclaimed by democratic parties and groups of both Right and Left as a sincere as well as an astute political thinker and activist, too advanced to be understood and appreciated before the recent lessons of Iranian history. Indeed, a growing number of former Marxist-Leninist groups and individuals who have turned to parliamentary socialism regard him as their outstanding precursor.

Maleki was a prolific writer, thinker and analyst, who was active in Iranian and world politics for more than forty years. He put forward many theories, ideas, manifestos and party programmes, and analyses of Iranian and world affairs. He was the first and most effective critic of Stalinism and Soviet communism, and founder of a parliamentary socialist movement in Iran. However, his politics looked particularly strange because of his altogether unfamiliar method, attitude and approach.

Beginning with a short political biography, this paper discusses Maleki's general theory of the Third Force and then proceeds to those aspects of his ideas and methods which were the basic roots of his alienation from other Iranian political groups and tendencies in the twentieth century, and which have been rapidly gaining ground in recent years.


A short biography

Maleki was born in Tabriz in 1901 and died in Tehran in 1969. His father - Hajj Mirza Fath'ali - was a well-to-do merchant and supporter of the consti-tutional movement. As a boy, Maleki witnessed the siege of Tabriz after Mohammad Ali Shah's coup, during which his home was more than once looted by the government forces. The death of his father and subsequent remarriage of his mother found the young Maleki in Soltanabad (later,

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