Iran-Futurist Republic-Third Edition
ایران-جمهوری آینده نگر-ویرایش سوم
The president of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami, after 8 years of his presidency, has given a passionate speech about defense of Iran in face of US aggression, emphasizing the need for Iranians to uphold Moharram, Ashoora and other Shi'a rites and stressing how these traditions had comprised the spirit of Iranian 1979 Revolution. In his speech, he also tried to support the view of unity of different pro-IRI groups, by referring to late Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of Islamic Republic, favoring such unities.
The reality is that today, we are not in the first years after the 1979 Revolution, to use the impending threat of foreign aggression, to gather support for IRI. The biggest threat to Iran's independence is IRI itself, and it is time to end IRI, and to start a Futurist Republic, a republic based on elected officials and with full separation of state and religion.
Contrary to what Mr. Khatami claims, not only Ashoora and other Shi'a traditions are not uniting Iranians, these religious rites coerced by the state, have divided Iran and Iranians, and exactly this is what was wrong with the Revolution, making it a retrogressive revolution, as I wrote in Futurism and Iran's 1979 Revolution (http://www.ghandchi.com/355-Iran1357Eng.htm) and no need to continue down that failed path anymore.
And Mr. Khatami still quotes Ayatollah Khomeini, as if Khomeini is the unifying beloved personality of Iranian history. The Khomeini who internally ordered the 1st of Sept 1988 massacre of Iranian political prisoners, right after signing the Peace Treaty with Iraq, to diffuse protests of Iranians about his failed leadership of Iran and the War. On the international scene, Khomeini's hostage-taking and his infamous fatwa to kill Salman Rushdie not only damaged the image of all Iranians abroad, but Khomeini himself also became one of the most hated personalities of modern history. Thus Mr. Khatami 's call on Khomeini's legacy, to unite the pro-IRI factions is a futile attempt, and all these factions will fall together, with the sinking ship of Islamic Republic.
In the eyes of Iranian people, contrary to what Mr. Khatami is asking us, to spend all our energy to go to the polls of IRI, to elect what IRI wants, our vote is what we want, which is to *end* the Islamic Republic and to begin the Futurist Republic. Yes, we do not want IRI. Our vote is to start a Futurist Republic which will not be based on Ashoora and other Shi'a rites as political vehicles to enforce the rule of Islamists. Our vote is to have a secular, democratic, and futurist republic. Yes, we will vote for ending the IRI and starting such Futurist Republic.
Why do I write Khatami's *failed* presidency? Because his presidency was with the promise of reforming the Islamic state, and bringing democracy to Iran. In effect, at best his so-called Islamic democracy (http://www.ghandchi.com/308-IslamicDemocracyEng.htm), meant recognition of a few more Islamist groups, than the previous IRI administrations, but still failed to even recognize the right of non-Islamic political groups to exist, let alone for them to be elected in the three branches of government. And even worse, it was Khatami's total failure to *protect* democratic groups, the Achilles heel of all Iranian governments.
I should note that even at times of real democratic governments in Iran, like the government of ِDr. Mossadegh, when the state was democratic for real, and not a pseudo-democracy like Khatami's, still we had the problem of *protecting* democracy, as I noted elsewhere (http://www.ghandchi.com/379-ProtectionEng.htm). In other words, existence of the democratic state meant that the pro-democracy groups, to be good citizens, would rely on the state for protection, and would lay down arms and other means of protecting themselves. Thus, when the state did not reform the police, and did not stop the dictatorial extrajudicial forces, from being armed, and from attacking the democratic groups and publications, in effect, the pro-democracy groups would be defeated, and dictatorship would return.
In absence of a democratic state with effective *protection* of democracy, democratic political groups are better off to keep the option of self-defense and *protecting* themselves, rather than wishful thinking that the state will support them, unless a real *effective management* of a democratic government to *protect* democracy is in place, and not just a government proclaiming to be impartial and democratic. Why? Because ineffective *protection* is like the Persian proverb from Iranian poet Saadi in his Golestan, where he says the rock is locked but the dog is left unleashed, and such pseudo-liberal conditions, can work more against the democratic forces, than to help them.
I hope in the future, when those in charge of management of democratic organizations, including a democratic state, if they cannot *protect* democracy, to step down, rather than keep complaining like Barzargan, and letting the time work against the democratic forces, until dictatorial forces take power, and the chances to reverse the situation are lost.
Khatami's government was not even a democratic government like Mossadegh's. But he managed to create the image of a pseudo-democracy, when in reality Forouhars and others were killed in chained murders during his reign, and he never told the Iranian people as to who were the state authorities behind those atrocities, whereas he should have had access to all the intelligence being at top of the state for 8 years. Moreover, during his presidency, he could have de-classified the documents about the IRI murders of opponents abroad, such as the killings of Bakhtiar, Boroumand, Kurdish leaders, and many others, instead of tolerating the imprisonment of the likes of Akbar Ganji who challenged the chained murders.
And let's ask if Mr. Khatami reformed the police and pasdaran force? Did he protect the journalists from hezbollahi thugs? The students were beaten up and their peaceful leaders are even dying of hunger strike in IRI prisons to this day, when Mr. Khatami is giving passionate speeches about unity of Iranians and about supporting IRI Supreme leader at the polls for the coming election. The women are forced to wear veil and religious oppression continues. The criminal organizations freely collect money in Iran, to kill the author Salman Rushdie for his ideas and Khatami's boss reaffirms the fatwa. This is the Islamic Republic, after 8 years of Mr. Khatami's presidency and its so-called reforms.
Mr. Khatami could have started a committee to receive reports of all thug attacks and do proper investigation and report to the nation and fix the problems. These are the kinds of actions that could be called real *reformist* political steps to *protect* democratic forces, and he has basically ignored all these 8 years. Surely at times, he talked about some of these problems, but like a journalist and not like a president. He did not take any practical steps to *protect* democracy as a president, the job of a president is not the same as the job of a journalist: A journalist should talk about what is happening in the society, but the job of a president is more than reporting, it is to *act* for protection of the rights of citizens (http://www.ghandchi.com/367-tudehiiEng.htm). This is why office of presidency is part of the *executive* branch of the state and not the board room of a *media* enterprise.
As I have written before, the most important duty of pro-Democracy movement of Iran is to *protect* democracy from attacks of extrajudicial thugs, police, and armed forces. Even before a democratic state is formed, steps for the *protection* of democracy can and must start, and a committee (http://www.ghandchi.com/378-ThreatsEng.htm) to handle this important issue of democracy, should be formed, and this body should continue as a human rights vehicle, even after the democratic state has been formed in Iran, as a checks and balance organization (http://www.ghandchi.com/313-JudgmentEng.htm) , to monitor *protection* of democracy.
The 8 years of presidency of Khatami showed that the Islamic Republic cannot be reformed and it is time to form a Futurist Republic in Iran, with elected officials and full separation of state and religion based on a comprehensive social and political platform (http://www.ghandchi.com/348-HezbeAyandehnegarEng.htm). Full separation of state and religion means that no Islamic courts to judge people by Islamic laws. It means to have real parliament representative from all shades of political thought and not just the parliament of Islamist clergy and their supporters. It means to have real executive branch of the state and not a state of Islamist officials thinking their job to be upholding moharram, Ashoora, and other Shi'a rites.
Does all this mean that
religion and clergy will lose in a Futurist Republic? Not really.
Alexis de Tocqueville, the French historian, politician, and author of
“Democracy in America”, written in 1835, whom Mr. Khatami used to quote a lot at the beginning of
his presidency, had explained best that a secular state is even to the advantage
of the religion. Here are the words of Tocqueville:
“On my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country. My desire to discover the causes of this phenomena increased from day to day. In order to satisfy it I questioned the members of all the different sects; I sought especially the society of the clergy, who are the depositaries of the different creeds and are especially interested in their duration. As a member of the Roman Catholic Church, I was more particularly brought into contact with several of its priests, with whom I became intimately acquainted. To each of these men I expressed my astonishment and explained my doubts. I found out that they differed upon matters of details alone, and that they all attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country mainly to the separation of church and state. I do not hesitate to affirm that during my stay in America I did not meet a single individual of the clergy or the laity, who was not of the same opinion on this point….
The short space of threescore years can never content the imagination of man; nor can the imperfect joys of this world satisfy his heart. Man alone, of all created beings, displays a natural contempt of existence, and yet a boundless desire to exist; he scorns life, but he dreads annihilation. These different feelings incessantly urge his soul to the contemplation of a future state, and religion directs his musings thither. Religion, then is simply another form of hope itself. Men cannot abandon their religious faith without a kind of aberration of intellect and a sort of violent distortion of their true nature; they are invincibly brought back to more pious sentiments. Unbelief is an accident and faith is the only permanent state of mankind. …When a religion founds its empire only upon the desire of immortality that lives in every human heart, it may aspire to universal dominion; but when it connects itself with a government, it must adopt maxims which are applicable only to a certain nations. Thus, in forming an alliance with a political power, religion augments its authority over a few and forfeits the hope of reigning over all.” [Page 319-321 Democracy in America, Vol 1, Vintage Books]
The above could have been written about America today (150 years later), when over 90% of people in the United States claim to be religious believers of some sort. As noted by political philosophers such as John Rawls, the separation of state and religion means that adherents of any religion or philosophical doctrines, would expect adherents of other doctrines, possessing power in the state, not to be able to use political power to repress the ones holding other religions or doctrines. How to achieve this balance would be the crux of the question of democracy in the Futurist Republic which I try to examine below:
John Rawls in his book “Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy” published in 2000, before his passing away, makes a very interesting observation about the way the Ancient philosophers such as Plato approached the questions of justice and moral philosophy, in contrast to Modern philosophers such as Hume and Kant. He shows how in the Apology, the focus of Ancients like Socrates, is defining the virtuous or the good, whereas the moderns such as Hume concerned themselves with right. In other words, in Ancient Greece, the religion was focused on civil rituals and the critical philosophers were using *reason* to define fundamentals of *virtue* and *good* when in search of justice; whereas at the end of the Medieval Times in Europe, the society’s religion had a comprehensive doctrine defining “virtue” and “good”, and the modern thinkers were using *reason* to define the “rights” in search of justice and an ideal state.
There is also, in a different way, a contrast between the philosophers of Enlightenment such as Kant, and the moral philosophers of our times, like John Rawls himself. Kant was trying to offer a comprehensive liberal doctrine, whereas Rawls tries to present his liberal theory as a logical system, like a template, that can be independent of any comprehensive religious or philosophical system. This development is happening in a country like United States where the separation of state and religion for two centuries has made it possible that liberal state not to be something forced by adherents of comprehensive liberal doctrine, and to the credit of the execution of separation of state and religion for centuries, some adherents of religious doctrine view it as a disinterested theory, although having grown out of comprehensive liberal doctrine. This is similar to the way human rights is being viewed in most of the world in our times, as the achievement of humanity.
In short, we can see three ways of seeing an ideal moral understanding. One is trying to create a virtuous human like the way Plato presents it thru the words of Socrates in the West and a similar approach of Confucius and many others in the East, and some among Iranians, who think until you have a virtuous human, any attempts for a democratic state is useless. The Futurist approach is the one similar to the Enlightenment philosophers like Kant, who tried to define a comprehensive philosophical doctrine to achieve the *rights* in a democratic state. They are the ones who followed up and created the basis of the legal codes of the Modern Times. The best example among them is John Stuart Mill. Finally the third approach is that of philosophers of our times like John Rawls who basically have tried to define the fairness and justice independent of any comprehensive philosophical doctrine of liberalism, as a template.
It is basically the human rights as clearly stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that any society in our times needs to achieve and the most important issue for the state is *protection* of democracy. The sooner all Iranian political forces start to form the committee to *protect* democracy, the more we can hope not to fall prey to dictatorial forces as the IRI is ended, and we start building the Futurist Republic. The demand of Iranian people for a referendum (http://www.ghandchi.com/364-ConstRefEng.htm) is the first step towards forming the Futurist Republic.
Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
May 29, 2005
Note: I wrote the first edition of this article on January 8, 2003 in English. I wrote the second edition on February 12, 2005 in Persian and English.
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