ONE LESSON OF 1979
I think one lesson that Iranian 1979 Revolution taught everyone in the opposition, and the regime, was that overthrowing the regime was not as much of a big deal as it was thought. The issue was not *how*. The issue was *what* and *what next*!
I remember in the years before the 1979 Revolution, the main topic of discussion among the opposition was about *how* to overthrow Shah's regime. Some proposed reformist paths, e.g. jebh-e melli and nehzat-e AzAdi. Some proposed guerrilla warfare, like cherikAy-e fadAyii and mojAhedin-e khalgh. Some leftists talked about "mohAsereh-e shahr-hA az tarigh-e dAhAt" , like the Kurdish movement of 1345 and its leaders, like sharif-zAdeh and mollA-AvAreh . Some others proposed various forms of efshAgari of the monarchy and informing of the "masses" about the reality of the regime for revolution or evolution.
On the opposite side, the regime itself thought of itself as ghadar-ghodrat and eternal in *what* it offered and only worried how to contain the opposition. This is how Shah celebrated 2500-year anniversary, and spoke to Kourosh that "Kourosh rAhat bekhAb keh mA bidAriim"
Shah also focused on *how* to stop the various paths of opposition, by building a brutal Savak and arresting the cheriks and mojAheds and slaughtering the peasants of Kurdestan, who had supported Sharif-zAdeh and mollA AvAreh. At times would arrest the ones who sympathized with Ayatollah Khomeini in 15th of Khordad 1342 and at other times would leave Dr. Shariati free to damage the left, and inadvertently help the strengthening of the Islamist opposition. At times, talking to jebh-e leaders and at other times, to close down any clubs of jebh-e or toodeh-iis. It was all about *how* and ways to contain the opposition to keep the regime eternally.
In short, both the opposition and the Shah, thought the main issue was to overthrow or to stop the overthrow of the monarchy. If one would tell them that this is the easiest thing to get done, they both would be surprised.
In reality, no mohAsereh shAhr-hA az tarigh-e dAhAt and no wide-spread guerilla movement was needed to overthrow the Shah's regime. The *how* seemed a lot easier than imagined.
So many people in opposition were doing "rooz shomAri" for the day that Shah's regime would fall. They would wake up every day listening to the news of any source they could think of, to see if the regime is gone yet or not. They would spend countless hours to guess whether the regime has one more week, one more month, one more year, ten more years, etc. Nobody would spend the same energy on asking and working on "what next?" And one day when they saw the regime fall, both Shah and his opposition, were surprised. They both thought they had more time.
Nobody cared about the "future". They cared more to attack the individuals that presented different shades of future political and economic alternatives of Iran, whether Liberal, Communist, Nationalist, or Islamist. They would not spend the time to examine the different alternatives, rather than wasting energy on the *who*. Many of the specific individuals who represented different paths, were gone long before actually the opportunity for change in Iran happened. But the programs of different forces were neither deep, nor were they discussed much, and the individuals were gone before their time came, whether they had been sincere or not.
Lot of people would just say, well people will find the programs and answers, once they overthrow the regime. But in reality, even twenty years after the overthrow, nobody has any answers for many of these issues, as to what political and economic model would be suitable for Iran, with its particular background, historical, geographic, geopolitical, economic, etc.
In reality, when the Shah's regime fell, none of the forces in opposition had any plans or answers for any of the opportunities that were wide open for them. They had wasted so much energy to ridicule each other on things that did not matter, rather than spending their energy on constructive research and having *solutions* for economic, political, and cultural issues of Iran, so when they had the opportunity to try their solutions, they had no programs to offer.
Many new newspapers were published in Iran after 1979, in the democratic atmosphere that followed the Revolution. Some papers, within two months, were closed down, not because of any dictatorship yet, but because they had nothing to say.
April 20, 2000
* The above article was first posted on SCI (soc.culture.iranian) Usenet newsgroup on Apr 20, 2000.