Sam Ghandchiسام قندچي Futurist Party is Iran's Option

P.S. Oct 11, 2017: The following link is to the new edition of Persian Version

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I have been arguing for a futurist option for Iran's progress into the 21st Century for over 20 years and two years ago I wrote the Iranian Futuirst Party Platform, which was a proposal for the program of such a party.  Since then I have written extensively as to why I think even if power was taken by the Iranian opposition, still such a party would be needed to ensure the progress of Iran towards a post-industrial society, after the regime change .  At the end of this article, I will discuss some of the practical real issues that have blocked such a development.  But let me first discuss the misconceptions about the models of how the regime change will happen and the wrong expectations of the Pro-Democracy Students' Movement.


I have detailed my views about Iran and the futurist party about two months ago, in my book Futurist Iran, where I noted the best way to end Islamist terrorism in Iran and beyond, is by forming a futurist Iranian leadership.  In fact, if Jefferson saw the need to form a new party to build the ideals of the American Revolution, even after the Revolution had succeeded, the same could have been true for Iran, even if the regime had already been changed.


Last year's powerful student protests of Aban, Azar,  and Khordad, till the July 9th anniversary of 1999 Iranian student protests, have put a question mark into every Iranian's mind as to whether the Students' Movement can really change the regime in Iran, and thus whether the need for formation of an alternative party is something that would be felt after the fall of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), or is needed now to make the regime change?


Most Iranians have been looking at the events of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Block and think the regime change in those countries was not based on a strong opposition party, and believe the developments in Iran may happen the same way.  Some others mention that Soviet leadership was not as ruthless as IRI and they conclude that armed opposition is needed.  I think both groups are not seeing a more important factor about the regime change in the Soviet Block which I explain below.


The change in the Soviet Block basically was led by factions inside the Communist Parties in those countries and the leaders like Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and even to this day Putin and others, were top brass of the former Soviet Communist Party.  And the exceptions like Czech experience were based on a very close relation of the Communist reformers like Dubcek with opposition outside the system such as Vacalv Havel.


So the question for Iran is whether we think there is such a close relation like the Czech experience and if our answer is no, then whether the change and its leadership would be by some faction of IRI like the Soviet Union?  And if we think neither one and that the change will have to be done by an opposition outside IRI, then the main factor is not about how ruthless IRI is.  Even if it is not ruthless, still to win power by an opposition outside the regime, the model of Soviet change will not work, if we believe the IRI reformists are for keeping the IRI and not for changing the regime.


Now the above does not mean the opposition will have to do armed struggle.  Even the whole change is by political means,  the opposition outside the regime will still need a powerful organization if it is going to lead the change.  In the 1979 revolution, Khomeini till the last days, basically did not do any armed struggle against the Shah's regime, but he had the powerful Islamic traditional organization siding with him, an organization which was outside of the regime and almost parallel with it in its power.  Now where is the organization of the Iranian opposition today?


The monarchists and most republicans say they want to have nothing to do with the IRI reformists and that is great.  They also say they do not want armed conflict and would like to use civil disobedience which is also great.  But do they have a real organization politically active inside and outside Iran? 


Real political organizations outside regimes, that have won power in history, have had professional leaders and cadres, dedicated to the task, and not just being part time sympathizers of a movement.  Anywhere that the opposition *outside* the regime has won power politically or militarily, the opposition has had an organization of full time leadership and cadres that have been dedicated to the work of the party and not just doing it on the side. 


Of course helping the cause on the side is fine for party sympathizers, but not for party leadership and cadres in a real party.  A real party leader's job is the leadership of the party and not being a doctor or engineer or professor.  Not only I do not belittle those who are a fulltime doctor, engineer, university professor, teacher, or worker, I actually applaud them for supporting Iran's Pro-Democracy movement, in any capacity they do, but a party claiming to fight to win power cannot be lead by sympathizers. 


Today, the only party where its leaders are really full time involved in Iranian politics is Jebhe Mosharekat in Iran, where its leaders are IRI parliamentarians or are other functionaries of IRI.  If the secular opposition does not like Khatami and the IRI reformists, and wants to have a real alternative outside of IRI, it cannot be achieved by giving insults to Khatami.  The work is to put together the organization of full time politicians of the secular opposition outside IRI.  I think such an organization would be a futurist party and it needs people who are ready to work in such a party full time, and also it needs financial means to support qualified leaders and cadres.


In conclusion, let me make a note about the Students' Movement.  It is wrong to expect from the Students' Movement and its leadership to act as a futurist party or any party for that matter.  By its nature, the students' organization is not a professional political organization and the movement of university students is not the main part of Iran's Pro-Democracy movement to change the regime and is part of the youth movement of Iran which is stronger than it has ever been in the last 100 years. 


Nonetheless, setting too high of an expectation for such a movement will cause disappointment both for this movement and for others.  I hope nobody to take it as being harsh when I write this note.  I have the highest regard for Iranian students' movement but thinking of a role which it cannot play, is hurting it as well as hurting the rest of Iran's Pro-Democracy movement.


I think students' leaders like Mr.Tabarzadi are dedicated people risking their life for the Iranian movement, but the kind of political experience and knowledge needed for a party leadership is different from the students' movement, and setting wrong expectations even hurts these real dedicated people, and causes disappointment among the ones expecting them to lead the regime change, and they both end up making it a personal plea for unity, when in practice it fails over and over again, in the absence of discussing platforms and financial and organizational needs to build a real party, and it cannot be skipped by glossing over these realities and just hoping that all can be magically accomplished. 


A powerful Students' Movement and its organization can help the success of  IRI reformist faction *or* can help a regime change in Iran, depending on whether the political parties of the IRI reformists lead the movement, or the political parties of the opposition outside the regime lead the people. 


Students' movement avoids a lot of platform issues that are critical for a real political party, which I have detailed in the platform of the Futurist Party.  Many of these platform details may not be appropriate for the unity  in a student's movement, depending on the state of the students' movement, but are a must for a real modern party that is going to distance itself from the backward views of IRI reformists.  Political parties and student organizations are different kinds of organizations and the difference is not in the name one chooses for them, and exactly the students' movements need the leadership from the political parties.  On the other hand, the political parties should not pass the task back to the students either, which is setting them up for failure, creating a wrong expectation from the students' movement and causing disappointments for students and others.


Whether one is a monarchist or a republican, in the absence of a powerful political party of the opposition, the winner of sacrifices of Iranian student movement and the rest of Iran's Pro-Democracy movement, will be the IRI reformists.  If anybody does not like that option, instead of repeating more about the monarchy or republic or communism or whatever one had wished to be Iran's past, and instead of again calling for unity of such contradictory wishes, they better worry about making a real party rather than amateurish organizations, where the leaders and cadres are not 90% busy with their personal job and 10% supporting an organization.  Again let me repeat that such a percentage of one's dedication is fine for supporters of the opposition, but the leaders and cadres of any such organization should work full time for the party in a professional capacity.


Many people give the example of Jebhe Melli as a model for a party today, but let me say that example was never successful to take power in Iran, although it had some of the most sincere people like Iran's hero Dr.Mossadegh with it.  Dr. Mossadegh was personally wealthy to be full time dedicated to the political work, without Jebhe Melli paying him as a party functionary.  All others were not that effective because their main job was being a doctor or engineer or lawyer and not being a party functionary.  Of course, there were also platform issues too, but that is not my main topic here. 


Basically a professional party needs full time leaders and cadres or it will not be able to be effective for a major regime change, as needed in Iran, to replace Islamic Republic of Iran.   After the collapse of Communism, many Iranian intellectuals have become adamant about professional party concepts, and think that the reason for dictatorship in the Communist countries was the Leninist party professionalism or careerism. 


The reality is that anywhere in the noncommunist systems, the politicians are full time too, especially if they had the task of taking the power from another regime.  The issue of Communism and its dictatorship is related to the flaws of that ideology and has nothing to do with Lenin being a professional party member or not.  I have discussed the issue of Marxism enough and no need to repeat.


Fundraising for the party would be one of the functions of the party and this is how an independent party can exist.  It should openly raise funds in the open, and not like some cases where foreign assistance was accepted by some forces, without openly announcing it, because they thought it is below their party's dignity to accept funds.  I do not see anything wrong with any party to accept assistance from any individuals or foreign country, as long as it is all in the open, and does not compromise The party's' ideals.  Didn't the American revolutionaries accept help from France and wasn't even the Statue of Liberty built by France?  Did it make them dependent or lackey of France, which is such a taboo for Iranian independent opposition?


If an opposition wants to stay opposition forever, rather than to take power, it will not need money or professional cadres and every year on anniversary of heroic events, they can gather and pay tribute to the past, just like some annihilated nations of the past do, and they can keep everything very clean and pure, and not be so-called dirty with practical realities like running a real opposition party, and they can keep the artifacts of the past glories in their museums.  Otherwise a party needs full time leaders and cadres and needs major fundraisings in the millions of dollars if it wants to do anything serious.


I got too distracted from my main topic.  I seriously think that not just building the post-regime-change Iran, but even Iran's regime change itself, requires the formation of a Futurist Party, to make a meaningful regime change possible.  Iran is not the Soviet Block and needs the opposition *outside* the regime to make the regime change.  I have already discussed the importance of such a party in my book Futurist Iran, and not much to add to my reasons as to why that is the kind of program Iran needs, to build a post-industrial society in the 21st Century to end Islamist terrorism. 


Why instead of talking about history, we Iranians need to discuss how we can build the futurist party the same way Jefferson built Democratic Party in the U. 200 years ago?  How can we raise the money to get the initial team started?  Why Bush knows how to do fund-raising for his party, but it seems like we Iranians shy away to do fund raising for a political party?  Why on one hand we want our political leaders to be independent, and on the other hand we do not want to raise the finances for the party to keep them independent and active.


Unless one is independently wealthy like Dr. Mossadegh was, no qualified Iranian politician can work full time for the movement, if Iranians do not start fundraising for their favorite party and to actively support the fundraisers.  Why Bush can easily get a number of $2 million-dollar contributions in just one fundraising trip to California, but we have so many wealthy Iranians who live in the same California, and although they all say they want an *independent-outside-IRI-force* to succeed in Iran, they do not make any such *political* contributions, and think giving $10 to a charity is all they need to do for what they aspire to.  Would this kind of attitude ever create an independent alternative for Iran?  Khomeini had people going to Najaf and taking their khoms and zakat money to him.  How are secular Iranians going to support an independent and outside IRI force remains to be seen!



Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,


Sam Ghandchi
August 29, 2003


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