MELLI-MAZHABIS AND REZA PAHLAVI ALTERNATIVES FOR IRAN?
Let me note that I think Nationalism is another obsolete ideology of the Industrial Age, the same as Communism, Socialism, Liberalism and others and none of these *ideologies* can provide solutions to the dilemma of our Times. But at the same time, I think they all have had achievements that humanity can learn from, the same way the religions of the era of *birth* of world religions (about two thousand years ago) had achievements and disasters, from which humanity can learn, in all areas of human rights, democracy, economic justice, peace, freedom, etc.
This is why I am not comfortable when people use the word *we* meaning nationalists, etc to include me. True that I see liberalism has advanced beyond the Industrial Age in some parts of the world, and in political theory in the works of John Rawls, but I cannot say the same about nationalism. Nationalism was the ideology of the time of French Revolution and later Napoleonic Wars to establish nation-states in Europe. This is an obsolete paradigm now.
It does not mean that nations and countries will cease to exist, and even will cease to be born, the same way that family exists, but the political power of extended families and tribes has long been obsolete, and tribal society should not be considered as harbingers of the future. I still emphasize the need for independence of Iran and still I see the reasons for any family to stand on its own, but this does not mean that I condone nationalism and tribalism. I have explained more about my view in my other writings such as in my paper “A Futurist Viewpoint”:
Moreover to avoid any misunderstanding, I should emphasize that I strongly believe in Iranian National Sentiments:
I am all for voting to abolish *Islamic* Republic and make Iran a "Democratic* Republic and in recent history such a development was done in South Africa and Soviet Union without a Revolution. Would Iran go this way? I hope so, but I am not the one to decide. It depends on one hand on what Iranian people demand and on the other hand how the regime responds. What I care for is to have a good understanding of what each individual or group wants regardless of how we get there. So if I get what I wished for, it be what I really want and not be surprised again like 1979:
This is why I do not get much involved in all discussions about unity, etc. I wonder if any of the groups much talked about, really has a clear platform and knows where they want to take Iran to. This is why I think many of these efforts do not get anywhere. These opposition names do not represent specific organizations with clear platforms. So we may end up with same sacrifices like 1979, without clear reason to expect to accomplish what one desires for.
I disagree with the view that Melli-mazhabis are the choice to achieve full secular democracy in Iran. I think their ideological support in Iran will fall with the Fall of Islamic Republic. In a way they are like the legal opposition of the time of the Shah, Bani-Ahmad and Pezeshkpour in Shah's Majles (Parliament) at the end, and they evaporated with the Fall of the Shah. I even think the same way about the ideology of MKO (please note that I am not talking about their politics here). These are all variations of Islamic State and are attractive to some as an alternative within that paradigm. Once the whole paradigm falls, these qualified versions of it will also lose attraction.
As far as Reza Pahlavi and his attempts for leadership in Iran, contrary to the ones who are happy that he does not have an organization, I think this reality makes him dangerous and a wild card to be the launch pad to bring back the worst forces of monarchy, with the same ruthlessness of the time of the Shah. He does not have any organization and is acting like Khomeini before the Revolution and this makes it a wildcard. I think if anybody makes an organization, like MojAhedin, the ways and means of that *organization* before coming to power, is a microcosm of the society they will create, and in a way will show a preview of things to come, as what would become the reality of the whole society, when that force takes power. One can see it in the case of the Soviet Union and Bolsheviks.
always good to deal with organizations claiming power, than to deal with a
charismatic individual. True that in the case of Soviet Union in 1917, the
people knew what they were getting, and went for it, by mistake, but in case of
Iran and Khomeini, it was harder to see what he represented in politics,
because of not having a clear party organization, before he came to power. This is something that nobody discusses when
they discuss Khomeini in the past and Reza Pahlavi
now, but it is a very important issue, I believe.
As far as MojAhedin, I do not care much about all the unity plans etc. and my point about them is simply that MKO has organization and others who talk of overthrowing IRI may just help MKO, and act as its launching pad. Frankly I think the problem is not MKO or Monarchy. The problem is that others do not have a real organization which can go for coalitions with such forces or with sections of the regime itself or do X or Y on tactical or strategic matters as needed. In the absence of such a democratic and future_oriented organization, all efforts at coalition meetings and unity plans only may lead to MKO or Monarchy or a foreign coup to get to power in Iran.
This is why I prefer to spend my time on issues of alternative plans for different areas of life of Iran and Iranians and this is what I have tried to do in a span of 25 years. It is not something that can have the glamour of quick united fronts, but it is something that one can do to do the basics right. I think there is no shortcut and as far as the intellectuals are concerned, I hope to see more real works on issues of industry and agriculture of Iran, than spending time to find quick shortcuts to make coalitions to overthrow this and that. I hope more and more of our youth spend their time studying the statistics of Bank Markazi and even first hand research of industry and agriculture of Iran and coming up with plans that future post Islamic Republic of Iran can execute. I have no problem with real debates about programs. But in all these united front attempts, I just see too much fighting about this guy and that guy, this group and that group, "in" or "out", when the basics are not in place and thus much ado for nothing.
I think what we should do is to discuss programs for the future and what we want after IRI or we may end up like 1979 again:
Hoping for a Secular, Democratic, Federal,
and Future_Oriented Republic of Iran.
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher
January 12, 2002