Sam GhandchiTurkey Showed 28-Mordad is not the Problem!

Sam Ghandchi


We are at a juncture in Iranís history when the society is not in its usual development pace, and using Stephen Gouldís model of Punctuated Equilibrium, I can say we are at another punctuation, and it is important to find out what is holding Iranian opposition from offering a viable solution for this critical time of Iranís life.  Such punctuations are like the times of the end of Iran-Iraq War that called for wakeful attention by all Iranians and by anyone concerned about Iran, considering the bizarre measures of the regime both in its relation with foreign countries and towards the Iranian people such as the massacre of political prisoners, as once noted in the following writing:


Some disillusioned with former political forces of Iran, mistakenly believe the problem is that the opposition has tried to take over the state power, and imagine focusing on civil institutions, than fighting for state power, is the solution for Iran.  Although it is very important to emphasize the need for the growth of civil institutions in Iran but it is misleading to do it at the expense of misrepresenting the role of political activists as mystics, or as journalists, as extensively explained in a different article:


The political activists, even in a democratic society, like the United States, when not in power, still try to take over power by building support for their own party, the way for example Democratic Party today tries to build support for the upcoming 2008 presidential election, since the Republicans have the control of executive branch at this time. 


In countries that are not democratic, still taking power is central to the goal of political activists, although in a case like the American Revolution, the taking of power was achieved by an armed revolution, and in what we saw at the end of the Soviet Union, such a change was accomplished through peaceful transition.  Nonetheless, the goal of political activists in both cases was to take the state power and there is nothing wrong with this goal and thinking such a goal. 


I have discussed this topic in details in the aforementioned article and this is not what is discussed in this passage.  Letís go back to the issue of what has been holding our political opposition from coming up with a viable political solution for Iran.




The two main proponents of nationalism in the Iranian opposition, namely the Pahlavists and Mossadeghists, from their own respective outlooks, have been arguing for a long time about 28-mordad (August 19, 1953), as the pivotal event leading to our current situation at this juncture of history.


The Pahlavists argue that contrary to Reza Shah, Mossadeghís alliance with Islamists from the start, finally showed its outcome in Khomeiniís rule of 1979, thus failing nationalism. On the other hand, the Mossadeghists proclaim that Pahlaviís connections to foreign powers jeopardized nationalism and that the overthrow of Mossadegh in the 1953 coup was the end of nationalism, and paved the way for the 1979 success of Islamists in Iran.  In a way they are the two main nationalist traditions pursuing the nationalist platforms of Iranís mashrootiat, although holding opposing views.


The Pahlavists considered Mossadeghists as a natural ally of Soviet Union, and thought if Mossadegh had stayed in power, the Iranian nationalism would have been vulnerable and would have been devoured by the Communists. In contrast, the Mossadeghists beside considering Pahlavi regime as dictatorship, considered Reza  Shah as a British-supported dictator even though turning towards the Germans at the end, and they thought of his son Mohammad Reza Shah as the puppet of the US and UK.


Of course Iranian nationalism has not been limited to the above two forces and many of the Iranian communists, such as Khalil Maleki, especially after the success of Islamism in 1979, in various degrees, have adopted nationalism.  And the Islamic version of nationalism has been present alongside Jebhe Melli for a long time, with organizations like Nehzate Azadi and leaders like Mehdi Bazargan who was a high-level associate of Mossadegh.  The presence of these shades of nationalism in Iran and their relations with Pahlavists and Mossadeghists at different junctures of our history is not the topic of this discussion, and it will not change the main argument of this article.


Pahlavists and Mossadeghist are the focus here as they are the two main sides of the huge chasm of 28-mordad.




In contrast to Iran, the nationalism in Turkey has never had a huge split like 28-mordad in its history and has been more clearly secular than all shades of Iranian nationalism, and this is what I mean when writing that 28-mordad cannot be considered as the reason for the defeat of nationalism by Islamism, in Turkey, in the latest election of that country. 


Please note that I did not say defeat of *secularism* by Islamism, rather wrote defeat of *nationalism* by Islamism.  This is what will be the main issue of my discussion here.


I would like to suggest to watch the following interviews, that are excellent presentation of what happened in the latest election in Turkey:


Turkey is not a country like Pakistan.  A country like Pakistan with its highly religious society may be in danger of falling to the hands of Taliban fighters who want to take control of such a nuclear state in the region and are not only using all the legal channels in that country to achieve their goal in the cities but are fighting an armed war in the mountains to take control of the country side. In contrast, Turkey has one of the most secular populace among the so-called Islamic countries and the results of this recent election are alarming for a country like Turkey and shows the problem relates to nationalism itself, not being able to respond to the issues of freedom, justice, and prosperity in todayís world, and losing to Islamism.


Nationalism is another obsolete ideology of the Industrial Age, the same as Communism, Socialism, Liberalism and others and none of these *ideologies* can provide solutions to the dilemma of progress in our times, namely to be the solution for freedom, justice, and prosperity in the world of today. Nonetheless, certainly these old platforms of Industrial Age have had achievements that humanity can learn from, the same way the religions of the era of *birth* of world religions (about two thousand years ago) had achievements, as well as calamities, from which humanity has learned from and can learn, in all areas of ethics, human rights, democracy, economic justice, peace, prosperity, progress, etc.


This is why I am not comfortable when people use the word *we* meaning nationalists, etc to include me, and I reject critics of ethnic or Islamist platforms of Iran when they are done from the viewpoint of nationalism.  True that I see liberalism has advanced beyond the Industrial Age in some parts of the world, and in political theory in the works of John Rawls, but I cannot say the same thing about nationalism.  Nationalism was the ideology of the time of French Revolution and later Napoleonic Wars to establish nation-states in Europe.  This is an obsolete paradigm today. 


The above does not mean that nations and countries will cease to exist, and even will cease to be born, the same way that family continues to exist after the political power of extended families and tribes has long been obsolete, and tribal society is not considered as harbinger of the future. 


I still emphasize the need for independence and territorial integrity of Iran for the same reasons that I see the need for any family to stand on its own, but this does not mean that I support giving more power to nation states, namely strengthening nationalism and tribalism, which I abhor.  I have explained more about my view in a paper entitled  ďA Futurist VisionĒ:

Moreover to avoid any misunderstanding, I should emphasize that I strongly believe in Iranian National Sentiments as explained in my following article which are like love for oneís family and have nothing to do with nationalism with is a *political* ideology:


In fact, I think secularism in Turkey will have to separate itself from nationalism in order to flourish, and to become viable again, and till then, it will fail in its confrontation with Islamism.  Nationalism, whether in the version that Mohammad Reza Shah tried to build or that of Mossadegh, has long lost its viability to offer solutions to the world problems, and any futurist outlook that is still chained by nationalism, is doomed to failure, whether one uses the nationalist programs of some small ethnic groups or those of bigger nations, whether that of Pahlavists or Mossadeghists. 


I am not denying the fact that existing countries and their nation states are still impacting the global development as units of political reality, but that is no reason to cling to nationalism, which is an obsolete ideology.  Solutions for todayís world are found by coming up with programs that encompass global structures in realms of politics, economics, culture, and other areas of human life.


The nationalist platforms actually are all nostalgic in nature and at best are promising the industrial world which no longer is the world of the future and this is why they cannot attract people, and the people do not see a way forward with such plans, and this is how they have become the bait for the Islamist cults, since the Islamists have no problem to promise Heaven and Earth, freedom and justice, to the believers, in a global congregation of those who shed the nationalist boundaries to be one *ommat* of the believers, hoping to conquer the world:



The above is the reason I prefer to spend my time on issues of alternative plans for different areas of life of Iran and Iranians.  It is not something that can have the glamour of quick united fronts promising an alternative nation state, but it is something that one can do to get the basics right.  I think there is no shortcut and as far as the intellectuals are concerned, I hope to see more real works on issues of industry and agriculture of Iran, and plans for the global political and social structures that can be co-developed inside Iran, in the context of global economy, with the help of Iranians abroad, rather than spending our time to find quick shortcuts to make coalitions that boil down to another nationalist platform which is doomed even before it is accepted.


I hope more and more time is spent on studying the statistics of Bank Markazi, Iranís Central Bank, and even first hand research of industry and agriculture of Iran and coming up with plans that the future state of post-Islamic Republic Iran can execute.  I have no problem with real debates about programs, but repeating nationalist slogans of various political forces will not give us anything new to solve the issues of freedom, justice, and prosperity for Iran in todayís real world.


The big nationalist models of 2500-year-old Monarchy or that of Mossadeghís Nationalization of Oil or the smaller nationalist plans of Azeri and Kurdish nationalists of Iran are all obsolete nostalgias today that only waste our time and will not give us any real results as plans to achieve freedom, justice, and prosperity in the real world of today. 


We will end up waiting for some invisible hand to take power away from IRI and to give it to our version of nationalism and may be even if such an eventuality occurs, we may not even be able to hold it together, as we are clearly seeing in Turkey, and the result may not give us a country much better than what we are struggling with. 


All that is hoped in all these united front attempts, I just see too much fighting about this guy and that guy, this group and that group, "in" or "out", when the basics are not in place and thus much ado for nothing.  Whereas if the platform of Iranian opposition forces is really viable, then it does not matter even if a monster is inside any organization, for the platform should be a successful plan, and if nationalism was a successful platform, as it was a hundred years ago, the worst of leaders at the helm, could not make the platforms to fail.  A progressive platform like the following is what is needed rather than tons of nationalist slogans:


Nationalism in this age will not get us anywhere except for having more nationalistic conflicts of Industrial Age, the same way Islamism is getting us more religious conflicts that belong to Medieval Times and hardly are conflicts of moving forward.




When an obsolete platform is being used, people spend their time with microscopes trying to see who is the real virtuous leader and then try by force (if dictatorial) or by persuasion (if democratic) to *change* individuals, rather than to focus on platforms, plans, laws and the management of society.  What we are seeing in the valayate faghih in IRI from day one, trying to find the most virtuous to be the leaders, and to change the rest of the people first persuasion (amre beh maaroof) and then by compulsion, and we all know the result which is the worst corruption and state of affairs in Iran in history.


The end result is as if we are in a cycle of criticism and self-criticism to purify our souls than to design plans and execute the political and economic platforms that are appropriate for Iran in this post-Industrial Age, a viable platform and resulting constitution that even if a monster was at the helm, the result would be progress and not retrogression.   


If one looks at the people in advanced countries like the United States, they are hardly much different from Iranians.  This is why many of the Iranians who are in the West, function as well, or even better, than the natives.  The difference is in the legal and political processes and structures and not making the ideal man, perfect leaders, and purifying every individual to have a prosperous and democratic Iran. 


Iranian political movement not adopting a progressive platform and being stuck in nationalism has ended up spending its energy on enlightenment which is a noble activity for every single individual, in all societies, but this is not how we can end the Islamic Republic, which has lasted for 28 years, blocking the viable energies of our people.  Iranian opposition should bid farewell to nationalism and define platforms, assign owners, and execute plans that are suitable for this age of globalization:


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


Sam Ghandchi, Publisher/Editor
August 1, 2007


Text in Persian



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