Problem is *Protection* of Democracy, Not Being Pro-Democracy
مسأله *حفاظت* از دموکراسی است، نه دموکراسی خواهی
There are many discussions in Iranian political circles about pro-democracy and pro-modern thinking, and I have discussed them previously in Pro-Democracy Movement of Iran, and no need to repeat here, and the issue of progress and modernism is pretty clear. Also Iranian political movement for democracy, in some periods has been able to bring about semi-democratic governments, including a few years after the mashrootiat, the time of Mossadegh's government, and the two years after the 1979 Revolution. But what has always been unsuccessful during the semi-democratic states, and has caused their defeat, has been the issue of *protection* of democracy. In my opinion, the reason has been in misunderstanding freedom, and seeing the limitations of freedom of *thought* as equal to limitations of freedom of *action*. I will explain more below.
Absence of effective *protection* of democracy, has caused the destruction of newly found democracies, and filling their place with modern or non-modern dictatorial regimes. In my paper About Designing New Democracy, I have discussed democracy and modernism, but whether modern or not, the dictatorial reality of the replacing state does not change. In fact, a modern dictatorial state, such as Hitler's fascism, was worse than many Medieval dictatorships, the same way that a non-Modern democracy, such as Athens' Democracy, was superior to many modern democracies. I moved away from the topic, let me return to the issue of *protecting* democracy.
The issue that setting up a democracy, by itself, will not solve the issue of its *protection*. Now whether attacking democracy by an action like the burning of the Reichstag by Hitler, or by the attack of the thugs to democratic parties, in th eperiods of semi-democracy in Iran. A similar problem was in the Palestinian movement, where Yasser Arafat wanted to give everyone, including the forces of Islamist terrorism, unlimited freedom of *action*, and they used freedom to kill freedom, and delayed the formation of Palestinian democratic state for many years.
The question is that what *protection* of democracy means, and whether the answer if in making democracy relative. In my opinion, the answer is in considering a difference between *thought* and *action*. A force such as the KKK or the fascists, should have the freedom of *thought* to express their ideas, and essentially freedom of thought is a lot *more* unlimited than freedom of *action*, and only in cases of death threat or advocating child pornography the expression is a crime. Whereas in contrast, freedom of *action*, has a lot of limitations, meaning that the forces of dictatorship, in case of acting on those thoughts of theirs, such as lynching the blacks, or placing the Jews in gas chambers, should be immediately arrested and punished.
The attacks of Sumka on the liberal and leftist forces during the 1941-1953 years in Iran, and the attacks of hezbollahis on the the progressive forces during the Bazargan's government, should have been severely punished by a democratic government. Meaning that freedom of *action* should have been a lot more limited than what the governments of Mossadegh and Bazargan thought legitimate, instead of using the pretext of freedom, or because of being afraid to be called dictators, to give unlimited freedom of *action* to dictatorial forces, to find freedom of *action* to do these crimes, and finally the semi-democratic governments, with the help of foreign forces in the first case, and with the cooperation of the Islamist forces in the second case, were overthrown.
For democratic forces of Iran, the day of the fall of Islamic Republic, the most important work is *not* the setting up of a democracy, but just like the time of Mossadegh and the first year after the 1979 Revolution, the most important work is *protection* of democracy.
It means that we should not allow the pressure groups to threaten the media, press, democratic gatherings, and political parties with knives and guns. Not only that kind of freedom of *action* should not be given to them, but if they take any such actions, they should be immediately arrested and in the court of law to be punished accordingly. Also the police forces should not be allowed to cooperate with the fascist groups, and corrupt police functionaries should be changed, and for this reason, the need to have frequent elections for the position of chief of police, and in my opinion the positions of police chied in every city and region should also be elected positions.
Dr. Mossadegh tried very hard to reform the state's police force, to change it from a force of coercion, and the enemies of democracy, first killed his chief of police Afshar Toos, and then CIA and the Shah, using the thugs, in 1953, made a coup against his government. Mossadegh was successful in setting up a democracy, but was unsuccessful to *protect* it. One cannot change the *action* of the enemies of democracy by advice, when they are not busy expressing their *thought*, but are a group *acting* against democracy.
At the time of Bazargan's Provisional Government, basically the police force stayed intact, meaning that he did not have someone like Afshar Toos to refomr the police, and therefore it was not just the hezbollahi thugs outside his government who put an end to his cabinet, but the police force, even at the height of Bazargan's power, were in close cooperation with the hezbollah, and Bazargan did not do anything about it, and did not pay attention to the word of the institutes of judgment of the people, such as the media, and did not take appropriate *action* to expel the police that were cooperating with hezbollahi thugs, and only complained of the parallel power to Khomeini, and allowed the parallel forces of dictatorial religious forces to get strong enough, that at the time of hostage-taking, his cabinet was easily thrown out.
In fact, the reason that in Modern Democracy, rule of law has such a central role, is because the rule of law, protects the *individual* from any other rule, but as I have written in Democracy is Not People's Rule, it is People's Judgment, rule of law when accompanied with institutions of *judgment by the people*, can result in democracy. In other words, the democratic governments, must protect the institutions of control of police, meaning the institutions such as the free press should be strengthened and protected, and also to establish elections of the heads of police in cities and region, so that the forces of dictatorship cannot take over power, by destroying the institutions of judgment by the people, and by taking positions inside the police force, or by thru Para-military forces from outside.
Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
February 5, 2005