IRI: White Revolution or End?

Sam Ghandchi


Persian Version




It takes years for a generation that does not like the political system of its country to find out *what* they want in its place.  For example, a generation of Iranians, after the fall of Reza Shah's regime and the end of World War II, entered the political and social life of Iran.  During the 12 years of semi-democracy of 1941-1953, they asked themselves this same question, over and over again, and even till the time of Mossadegh's government, they did not have a clear answer for it, and the same question continued to be on the mind of political activists in the years after the 1953 CIA coup.  Finally the movement in the years of 1961-63, depicted two paths for the future in front of itself.


One was the religious path with the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini which sought an Islamic state.  The second one was the secular path which was summarized in the government of law and reform.  In 1961-63 period, both main secular forces, that is Jebhe Melli and Hezbe Tudeh, called for reforms in their programs, whereas before 1953 coup, they did not have such a consensus in their views of what they wanted for the future.  In fact, with the 1963 uprising, Shah's regime suppressed the religious fundamentalist trend, and took the program of the second trend, i.e. the secular trend, in its own hands, and offered it as the White Revolution, and simultaneously, as far as the political activity was concerned, it suppressed both secular forces of Jebhe Melli and Hezbe Tudeh.


This way, the reformist trend within the Shah's regime, under the leadership of Dr. Ali Amini, entered the political scene of Iran in 1963, and those like Dr. Arsanjani, within Amini's Cabinet, were even more radical than many in the political opposition, in ending the Iranian feudal system of arbAb-raiiati, and in implementing women freedom reforms.  But Amini's government, and tolerating the presence of the ones like Arsanjani by the Shah, was shortlived, even with the pressure of JFK, and the old entourage of the royal court (darbAr) came back to power, and till the end of the Shah's regime, Dr. Amini did not have much of a significance in the political regime of Iran, and in the mosque of gholhak on Shemiran Road, he would try to keep his friendship with the clergy, so that he would not become the subject of the wrath of the clergy, because in reality, the secularism of Shah's White Revolution,  was indebted to him, and was dwindled after the fall of his cabinet.


Current Conditions:


My purpose for the above historical introduction was to review a similar conditions today, which in my opinion has been shaping in Iran since the elections of the Seventh parliament of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI).


Let's first review how the generation following the fall of the Shah has answered to the question of *what* we want.  In the semi-democratic years of 1357-1360, various political forces of Iran asked themselves this question.  But they did not have a clear answer to it.  In fact, the error of the majority of these forces was in considering Khomeini's Islamism as a progressive movement.  And this error caused these forces to become victims of the retrogressive Islamist movement, and many of the most honorable freedom fighters of Iran, lost their lives in 1981 and 1988.


In the subsequent years, there was still no clear vision of the question of *what* we want.  I remember in 1994, I published an article on the Internet entitled "What Do We Want", and in there I wrote if each one of us thinks that we are the president, or the one in power in Iran, what platform would we want to lead.  Even on the issue of secularism there was not much of consensus in the responses.


In the last ten years, there has been an important change in this respect, that all political forces of Iran, today have platforms in a written form, meaning that not only they know *what*  they want, they have even put it in writing, and this is the first time in Iran's history that political parties, are coming forward with a political platform, and in my opinion, this is the greatest achievement of the generation following the fall of the Shah, in response to the question of *what* we want, and this is a major advancement as compared to previous generations.


Furthermore in January of 2002, in an article entitled "Federal Democratic Republic of Iran", I wrote that the demand of the majority of Iranian people at the present era is not any kind of Islamic Republics, and is not the return of the monarchy, but it is a secular, democratic, and federal republic.  But it was still difficult to observe this common denominator then, whereas today it is easily observable.  In fact, today just like in 1963, the demand of majority of Iranian people is very clear and in fact this time is equal to the demand of the majority of Iranian secular forces, namely a secular, democratic, and federal regime which can respond to the dilemma of social justice in our times in the context of a global economy.


In fact, the generation that after fall of the Shah has been searching for *what* it wants, today is clearly saying that it wants a secular, democratic, and federal regime, with a proper program to ensure social justice.  Thus the question of *what* we want, although like any other area of social life, this realm of *what* we want also, will be evolving all the time, but it is not the central problem of the movement today.  What today is central is the issue, is the question of *how*, meaning that how we can achieve this goal.


Let's remember the discussion of the introduction of this paper.  The response of the past generation to the *what* question in 1963 was summarized in the demand for a legal government and reform.  Thus as far as *how* to arrive at that, they brought forward the slogan of "Shah should reign not rule".  But a force from within the Shah's regime took their program, and the regime simultaneously suppressed the opposition outside of the system.  On the other end too, the opposition hit all parts of the regime the same way, and attacked Dr. Amini as much as it attacked the likes of Dr. Eghbal and Alam.


Today we are in a similar condition.  Outside of Iran, one of the steadfast supporters of Islamic Republic, Dr. Hooshang Amirahmadi, in his March 29, 2004 article, essentially does not have much difference with what I have noted in my article of January 2004 , and basically his demands do not have much of a difference with the demands of political opposition all these years, namely calling for a secular, democratic,  federal republic, with social justice in a future oriented system in the framework of a global world.


In fact, we are in a situation which is similar to the conditions of Iran of Shah's White Revolution, when from one side the obsolete forces like the Council of Guardians, represent a system whose time has long gone, and from the other side, there are even those from the in circle of Hojatoleslam Rafsanjani, who are proposing a program similar to opposition's platform, just as Dr. Amini in 1963, had a program which was not much different from Jebhe Melli and Hezbe Tudeh. 


Now the question is what is the proper response to this development?


Response to the Present Conditions:


In my opinion, the forces of opposition at the time of Dr. Amini made a mistake to attack him.  Their difference with Dr. Amini was no longer in the *what* question, but it was in the *how* question.  They should have said that they want what Dr. Amini wants, but achieving it would be possible by eliminating the Shah's regime, and not through it.  If at that time, Jebhe Melli had offered a plan for a republic, maybe the United States of Kennedy's era would have joined them, and instead of Allahyar Saleh's and Sadighi's being pushed out, the Shah himself would have resigned, and Dr. Amini's White Revolution would have been done in the new republic.


Similarly those others who tried to make their *what* answers more ambiguous, to differentiate themselves from Amini, were in error, and they opened the way for the repressive forces of the regime.


Today I basically do not have a difference about the *what* question, with what Dr. Amirahmadi has written in his above mentioned article.  My difference is about *how* to do it.  I do *not* believe that a correct vision of the above program, executed at the top of the Islamic Republic, is the solution to the problem, and I think in the best case, the result will be another White Revolution, where in facade the program of the opposition is executed, but in reality the opposition is dragged in blood.


In surface, Islamic republic will quit terrorism in the world and for example in Palestine will stop terrorist actions, but will continue to kill its opponents inside Iran, and the end result will be the opposition resorting to guerilla warfare.


I am not against any similar force like Dr. Amini of 1963, and if Dr. Amirahmadi keeps steadfast to what he has written in the above article, in my opinion, it is a welcome change.  But I say it clearly that the central question today is about *how* and not about *what*, and the answer is very simple and clear, and is summarized in one sentence and that is to end the Islamic Republic, and any illusion that with this regime, such demands can be achieved, and to hope for the transformation of this regime, are misleading the people, and like the deceptions of Tudeh party in 1981, can end up in the destruction of Iran's political forces.


Yes, no reform for development of Iran to a secular, federal, and democratic system, is possible, without completely ending the Islamic Republic, and any illusions among the Iranian opposition, and even among the former supporters of this regime, will make this change more difficult. The regime of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) at this time is in conditions similar to the regime of the Shah in 1963, which is looking for a White Revolution, not for people's sake, but for saving itself, a white revolution which can be very red for the opposition, and like the years of 1360 and 1367, the blood of freedom fighters of Iran can be shed by this brutal regime.


It is time for a referendum under UN supervision, to vote to end the Islamic Republic of Iran forever, and to establish a new constitution for future Iran.



Hoping for a Futurist,  Federal, Democratic, and Secular Republic in Iran,


Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher


April 2, 2004








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