What is Being a Futurist?(New Year 2003)
For years I have been arguing for being a futurist when viewing Iran's issues of development into the 21st Century and have noted that the old ways of right and left will not work for freedom of Iran, or for building a new life in Iran, even if one holds the state power, and that a futurist approach is needed. I wrote my paper "Progressiveness in the Present Epoch" in 1986 which was published in Iran Times of Washington DC at the time. Here is the reprint of its first part with links to the other three parts of the paper:
One may think that being a futurist is just to learn the views that are well documented in the works listed in the book catalog of the World Future Society, which certainly is one of the best collection of futurist literature around:
But to approach Iran, we have to specifically answer to some important issues of the political development in Iran namely the strength of state economy in endurance of despotism in Iran under various systems, the lack of federalism, which is another major factor in the impedance of development of democracy, and the strength of Shi'a clergy in Iran' judicial branch, long before there was an Islamic Republic, and the need to specifically call for removal of *all* Islamic laws including Qessas. Such issues may have no significance for a futurist who focuses on needs of the United States but these are paramount for Iranians who look to the future, when they do not want to create another system to cause more backwardness, more despotism and more violations of human rights for another 23 years.
For example my paper on Kurdestan which reviews Iran's history was not really written as a history text and is more to show why federalism is the only way to avoid a breakup like Yugoslavia. We are not in 1940's and the main fear from centralist states is no longer the fear of dictatorship. We are not in a world that national minorities would put up with dictatorship. We are in a world that minorities actually do *separate* their ways, and calling them separatist and other similar words will make them more determined to do so, rather than to scare them away. For example, if Kurdestan of Iraq, which has oil, creates an independent state, and if Iranian regime remains a dictatorship like the current theocracy, I have no doubt that Iranian Kurds will feel attracted to the new Kurdish state, although the history of Iranian Kurdestan has always been part of Iran and not part of the other four sections of Kurdestan that grew under the umbrella of Ottoman Empire, and even though it will be to the disadvantage of Iranian Kurdestan to join such a state, but dictatorship pushes people away to separation. In fact. even Iranian Persian Empire's Satraps were more like a federalist system than like a centralist state of France and many of the authors, monarchist. leftist, and Jebhe who still cannot come to terms with federalism are not helping Iran's future. This is what I have tried to show in my papers on federalism:
Now I may differ with many people on details of our history, which is fine. Even centuries after the French Revolution, the French historians and politicians hardly agree on any of the analysis of those events. But being able to come to terms about calling for a federal state for future Iran, is not an argument about history, and it is a practical issue, and missing to stress on such an important issue, in any political platform, can cause what its opponents fear most, and that is the breakup of Iran, like what we saw in Yugoslavia. We should create the consensus on federalism soon to avoid such a path by various Iranian national minorities.
In my works, I spent years to discuss that the left has been the view of majority of Iranian intellectuals, which has been like a virus as bad as Islamism for another part of our intellectuals, and that they cannot get rid of it, and internationally found the works of Daniel Bell and Leszek Kolakowski that could be read, and saw that I did not need to spend more time on the topic, and I summed up my own views in the following papers, one on Marxism , another on Pluralism and the third on New Paradigms going forward, which I wish more of the leftists would read:
Many of the X-leftists and leftists are like the remainders of Islamists, trying to save the system by either denying the reality of their collapse or by incorporating the new ideas in their old system, which is like the similar approach among a section of the Islamists, who try to incorporate modernism in Islam. Beside support of a majority of leftists of Khatami, under the banner of cultural relativism of postmodernists, their focus internationally has been in opposing globalization. I think if Marx was alive, even he would tell these people that their position is reactionary. They are like the luddites who are so unhappy to see their village falling apart that they think the world is sinking rather than see their old mode of life is sinking. I have written on this issue below:
I have shown that basically the mojAhedi's program is not much different from the leftist programs and such platforms will not get us to any democratic state as long as their programs are the way they are:
How can one view the global developments that are like a glacial change in the world. As I have noted in my profile years ago, after the 1979 revolution and the disappointments with its results, I saw that the paths of left and right of the old industrial society do not work anymore and I did a research of my own about the foundation of global changes and published it in a scientific journal called AI Journal and Daniel Bell even made comments on it:
And I even tried to discuss the issues of economic value and social justice as they need to be redefined within these global changes:
Regardless of whether one agrees with my analysis on the topic I have discussed and/or with works of prominent futurists like Daniel Bell, Alvin Toffler, or popular writers like John Nasibit, one thing is beyond doubt which is the fact that these changes have important ramifications for Iran. I wrote my view of what the implications of these changes are for Iran:
Actually one thing that I see as a result of both this global change and also as the lesson of failure of communism is to oppose any plans for Iran that wants to keep state economy as the main sector of Iran's economy, and I have been discussing with many of the leftists that the state economy should be opposed in no uncertain terms in any unity plans; because if after all these experiences of world communism, and other similar states, intellectuals of a nation still not be clear on this foundation of despotism, they will do a disservice to their nation, if they still try for statist programs, and it will be unpardonable to say later that we did not know better after all these world experiences. This is what I have written as my comments about various unity plans of opposition:
In the above commentary, beside the issue of federalism and opposing state economy, I have noted that just supporting UDHR is not enough and one should say clearly that all the Islamic laws such as Qessas laws will be abolished and especially the judiciary will *not* be Islamic. I think not being clear on this topic may get one end up like Hamid Karzai's government, where the Islamic clergy are again running the judiciary and after all the atrocities of Taleban, they dare to punish government female officials for not wearing scarf in a foreign trip.
I just wish there were a group of Iranians who would sit and work on a draft of new constitution for Iran now and not wait till IRI is gone which will be too late. A group of lawyers and political thinkers needs to start doing this task which was done partially by great intellectuals of mashrootiat era and needs to be continued in a spirit reminiscent of American Revolutionaries like Jefferson:
When I had discussed this issue
previously with some people they either said that this should be done after the majles
e mo'asessAn is formed or some others from the opposite side of the
spectrum said swallow your pride and go and just take the U.S. Constitution. I
already have responded to the former in my article above.
As for the latter, my problem is not pride. If I thought U.S. Constitution was the answer today, I would go and copy it. The problem is that even if the American people were going to make a regime change today and were going to write a constitution, they would be writing something different because times have changed. It is amazing that this document has stayed relevant even after 200 years, which even Jefferson did not think it would, and this is a great credit to it and I would applaud to draw upon it. But in this day and age there are new things that should be noted in this respect.
For example, mass communications and
its role in public opinion, and on the economic side, globalization, are two of the
new developments that are very significant for any new constitution that is
going to be written in our times. Just as the advanced Constitutions of those
countries that wrote theirs in 18th century look similar, the ones doing it
today, would have many similar traits as well, and of course they still share
clauses of human rights that were achieved in the French Revolution, and
clauses on Federalism and Pursuit of Happiness that were achieved in the
American Revolution. Here are some of my thoughts on what is different today on
As far as who is best to invite such an undertaking, I think those who really care about a futuristic constitution for Iran are the ones who should make such an invitation and those who are actually *working* on the task itself are important because that is what matters more than who signs the invitation because there are so many things that people sign to be done but never get done. As I noted, I just wish there was a group of Iranians who would sit and work on a draft of new constitution for Iran now and not wait till IRI is gone which will be too late.
My following paper about the issue of clergy in the new constitution may seem very radical but I think if Iranian intellectuals do not make this clear today, we may not get a chance to do it in another 25 years, a mistake that I think Afghan secularists made. I think this is of utmost significance which our forefathers unfortunately basically missed except for a few who were never heard during mashrootiat. At the first glance my stand may seem too radical but really this is what New York state did, and was a leader in this approach during the American Revolution, and this is really what we need done, or we may end up like Afghanestan with a so-called moderate Islamic state::
And as far as dealing with the West, I think the Afghans and Czech knew better than us Iranians. I think our independent intellectuals have not learned that one can be a partner with the Western democracies and not a nokar:
In the past ten years, I challenged those who were asking for unconditional removal of sanctions; and all I asked for, was to put a human rights condition for any removal of sanctions, but the IRI apologists made rumors calling me MKO sympathizer, etc, and making all kinds of attacks on me simply because I think the pseudo anti-aggression stand was to play in the hands of Islamic Republic, which tries to show itself as an anti-imperialist underdog. I am glad that after the recent students uprising they have become more aware of the human rights issues in Iran and actually the position of the EU countries that they support today, is all I was asking for in those days, when I asked for connecting human rights conditions to the removal of sanctions, and it sounded like such a heresy to them:
Of course today the students movement is asking for secularism and these groups have just arrived at asking for human rights within the Islamic Democracy oxymoron they support. Also not all these groups and individuals were IRI agents and many of these individuals just cared about fighting the discrimination of US against Iranians on issues like fingerprinting, although being part of these pro-IRI lobbyists. Among the HR organizations, only MEHR.ORG of Dr. Parvin has been very well aware of this issue and this is why he has been under constant attack by IRI lobbyists. The real Iran lobbyists are people like Dr. Parvin and MEHR who in a way lobby for Iran and Iranians and if they can create a voting block, they can really impact the US stand on IRI and effectively defend the rights of Iranians abroad such as the recent discriminations in the U.S. against the immigrants.
The fact is that real Iran lobbyists are not those who work for IRI, but shed crocodile tears for Iranians fingerprinted, and they use all their lawyers and other means to attack and hurt opponents of IRI, and have a gossip factory against those who have challenged their lobbyist activities all these years, by calling their opponents as mojAhedin, etc. Everybody knows that IRI which supports terrorists and has murdered many dissidents like Bakhtiar during all these years, is the real reason why Iranians have to deal with all these discriminations in the first place,
Thus it is noteworthy to remember
that these kinds of
issues are very significant for an Iranian who cares about future and futurist
view and futurism is not just about forecasting and analysis of trends. For example, we
should actually stop the Western press from using terms like Iran or Iranian
lobbyists, when referring to such organizations and and should call these
pro-IRI groups, IRI lobbyists which they are, and also we should ask the
stop using the words Iran and Iranian when referring to IRI and IRI reps. It is
so upsetting when I see headlines saying "Iranians support Hezbollah in a
rally in Tehran" when the rally has been an IRI rally by its paid basijis. I
even wrote an article about the "death to America" slogan that one may find
worth the time and is a theoretical treatise of this infamous IRI slogan:
Also it is even more shameful that
some Iranian organizations use terms like "Iran" and "Iranian" in their
headlines when because of their racism about Iranian Fars population, they
intentionally want to blame the acts of IRI and IRI agents on Iran and Iranians
as if these are the acts of Fars people.
I also see a lot of misunderstanding about what democracy is among our intellectuals and I think this is how Khatami was able to use this naiveté to his advantage with his slogan of "Rule of Law". The following are three theoretical papers I wrote about the topic of democracy which I think all those who care about democracy in Iran may find of interest:
Finally I think of all my works during the last twenty five years, following paper of mine about socialism is the most important one. I think our intellectuals are looking for a shortcut for Iran and this is why they still are attracted to the left and socialism and are not going beyond it. I think this is the most important theoretical writing of mine which hardly anybody has read because for some reason at the first look it seems like a journalistic report, which it is not, and I think I have answered the main issue of ideals for a whole generation of Iranian intellectuals who thought the left is the way to take Iran to an ideal future, and they were wrong and I think this is my most important work in my eyes, because it clarifies on this basic issue of ideals of Iranian intellectuals who care for freedom *and* justice:
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher
Jan 1, 2003