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FUTURIST IRAN: Futurism vs Terrorism
Table of Contents
A0. WFS Review of the First Edition
FUTURISM VS. TERRORISM
Sam Ghandchi' s Note: This book was originally called "Futurist Iran: Abating the 1979 Reactionary Revolution". I adopted the new sub heading "futurism vs terrorism" for my book, in this third edition, from the above title, that World Future Society editor had used to refer to my book, when reviewing my book in September 2003. My thanks to Cynthia Wagner, the managing editor of the Futurist, for her review of my book, and for using this appropriate title for her review.
00. Preface-About 2001 Crisis
The economic crisis of 2001 was the first major crisis of the information economy and created a lot of pessimism about the Information Economy. An economy that was hoped to usher in a new parallel sector to traditional commerce, by creating eCommerce, suddenly fell apart, with the dotcom busts in the year 2000, followed by the collapse of telecom and networking industry in 2001.
The reality is that eCommerce did not die. What was needed was a change of human habits, to make use of Internet rather than traditional commerce and also new real life applications rather than the existing limited computer programs.
The change of habits is happening with the new generation doing a lot more work on computers, than all previous generations, and also Clinton administration in the U.S. started encouraging new habits for the citizens, using computers and the Internet in their daily life, and although encouraging new habits was halted during the Bush admin, it will likely continue after Bush in the U.S., and elsewhere in the world by other political leaders.
On the other hand, more applications with real life feel, are developing, to make the virtual shopping malls a match for the real malls, giving the customers the feel of going to a mall like the Edmonton in Canada. And of course the applications will not be limited to eCommerce, and they are the drivers of the next wave of the Internet, which can be readily called Internet2, which symbolizes the new class of applications, such as virtual presence, that are merged with the high-speed Internet.
In other words, it is not true that the era of computers and networks has come to an end. The reality is that the information economy will just start with the next wave of applications and networks, and although other high tech areas such as biotech and nanotechnology will play significant roles in the upcoming future, but the information economy, computers, applications, and networks will continue to be the major movers for the next decade and pessimism about these technologies is not warranted.
Even the information economy jobs that go overseas, will not make this sector any less significant in the U.S. economy, and elsewhere in the West, when the new wave of information economy starts. The new information economy will need all the human resources it can find in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world when it gets back to full bloom again, with the rise of new applications.
In fact, the pre-PC computers faced a similar stagnation in 60's and 70's, because of not opening new horizons in applications, till the PC broke that barrier, when the PCs allowed the areas of typing and word processing, accounting and spread sheets, popular graphics and presentations to become computerized and popularized in a short span of time, augmented with Local Area Networks (LAN) that quickly expanded into a world wide network that allowed every home and office user to be connected to every other in a global network.
The next set of applications will follow by newer networks bringing real life experience to every computer user around the globe, thus making the ideals of the first pioneers of the Internet eCommerce, a reality, with a significance of the first development of mercantile capital in human history, changing the whole way of the way products are produced and exchanged in the world market, and the real wealth will become the Intellectual Property rights of new technologies. Even ownership of license to a web site name can be worth more than the title to a piece of land in a commercial corner of a shopping center.
The economic crisis of the high tech starting in 2001 was simultaneous with the presidency of G W Bush in the U.S. Bush Administration emphasized on pre-high tech industries, such as oil and airlines. The falling apart of dotcoms had already started before G.W. Bush's presidency, yet the fall of telecom industry started as Bush took office. However, Bush's economic policies helped old industries like oil and airlines, but he never helped the high tech dotcoms and telecoms.
The failures of information economy in the West, particularly in the U.S., helped the stature of retrogressive regimes like the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). All these years, the main challenge of Soviet Union, IRI, and other backward regimes, was the success of post-industrial developments in the West, and not the military might of the U.S. In fact, the Soviet Empire fell apart without exertion of any military action by the U.S. or NATO.
Instead the Bush Administration tried to win over the backward Islamist and Baathist challenges in the Middle East, by resorting to military might, rather than trying to show a winning post-industrial economy in the U.S,. which could be the main allure for the people of the Middle East , away from the Islamist propaganda of the Islamist paradise. Unfortunately what was the rightful self-defense against the Sept 11th attack of the Islamists, became the main focus of the Bush Administration, at the expense of a wholly failed economy.
Within two years, the main centers of high tech like the Silicon Valley of California died in the process, and the bigger picture was that the U.S. lost its attractiveness for the people of Middle East, and elsewhere, who looked up to Silicon Valley and other high tech centers of the U.S., as their ideal for economic development, beyond the retrogressive regimes like IRI.
Iranian new immigrants headed for countries like Australia, when they heard the news of their relatives who either struggled in Silicon Valley of California to survive, or from those who had headed back to Iran, preferring to endure the hardship of living under the Islamist regime, as long as they could make a living for themselves and their families, rather than being in the unemployment lines of Silicon Valley, and other high tech centers of the West.
The high tech centers of the U.S. went South thanks to the failed economic policies of Bush Administration, and the failed Western economy helped the mollah's regime, and meant loss for the secular post-industrial forces of the Middle East, whose programs were identified with the failed economies of high tech in the West and with the U.S. invasion of Iraq regardless of reality of the new global line ups.
In reality, the post-industrial development in the West, was being hurt by the ultranationalist forces, who did not care for post-industrial development, the same way the pre-industrial forces of Middle East blocked all post-industrial change in countries like Iran. So in a way, the U.S. faced a political barrier to post-industrial development just like Iran, but by a different political force.
If in November, the U.S. passes the GW Bush intermittence of the post-industrial development, and once the information economy gets back on track in the West, the main loser will be the retrogressive regimes of the Middle East like Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), which are not only the main block for post-industrial development in the Middle East, but their backward systems are being hailed as the ideal state, by their terrorist supporters, who endanger the peaceful post-industrial development of the world at large.
June 25, 2004
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher/Editor
01. Introduction-How to End Islamist Terrorism
Almost anybody following the situation in Iran of the last three decades, acknowledges the rise of Islamism in Iran of 1979, and the subsequent rise of Islamism in the Middle East and elsewhere, and finally the global spread of Islamist terrorism. The ending of Taliban's rule in Afghanistan did not end Islamist terrorism. This type of terrorism is associated with the ideal of these terrorists, which is a state like Taliban or IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran), the same way the leftist terrorists half a century before them, saw the Soviet Union and other communist states, as their paradise, and desired to arrive at it by the quick shortcut of terrorism, in their own respected countries.
For decades, suppressing any communist state by the Western democracies, basically strengthened the legitimacy of the terrorists. Only when the Soviet Empire collapsed, not by any military intervention of the Western democracies, but by the revolt of people of Soviet Union and European Eastern Block themselves, the cause of the terrorists died with it. When the people of the countries ruled by the communists, came out and uttered that the communist paradise was no paradise, and that the make-belief paradise was in fact a living hell, where the human body and soul were in chains, it was only then that the leftist terrorists lost the reason for their actions. This is how finally the dream which had kept the leftist terrorism alive, died when the Soviet Empire fell apart.
The same process is happening in the cradle of Islamist Revolution, namely Iran. The fall of the Iranian Islamist state, not in the style of the fall of Taliban by an outside intervention, but by the Iranian people themselves, is the way to put an end to Islamism and its related Islamist terrorism. This is how the allure of paradise, will be replaced in the mind of people, with the harsh reality of the hell it has been, narrated by those who had lived in the Islamist paradise of Iran for three decades.
For years, I have been arguing for a futurist program for Iran, when viewing Iran's issues of development into the 21st Century. I have noted that the old ways of right and the left, will neither work for the freedom of Iran, nor can they be used to build a new Iran, even if the opposition succeeds to take the state power. I have shown why a futurist approach and a futurist party is needed, to form an open society in Iran. This book encompasses the various aspects of the futurist Iran.
02. Progressiveness and the 1979 Revolution
In 1986, in a series of articles entitled "Progressiveness in the Present Epoch", I wrote that the 1979 Revolution of Iran was a reversal of a Modern Times' synonymy of Revolution and Progress, a concurrence which was assumed as a given, since the American 1775 and the French 1789 Revolutions, and remarked that with Iran's 1979 Revolution, this synonymy was now reversed, and noted that the world may need a new Immanuel Kant to formulate this reversal, when the retrogression, rather than progress, has become the epitome of a major political revolution in Iran.
It is noteworthy that Kant never bothered writing about revolutions, till the American and French Revolutions happened, and before those events, when writing on topics of armed conflicts, his topics were war and peace between different states, and not revolutions internal to a state. Kant's formulations of his ideal state and individual rights were in reference to a state of affairs achieved thru reform and *not* revolution.
Therefore, Kant's support of American and French Revolutions was not because of his partiality for revolutions. In fact, the opposite was true that he was *not* a revolutionary, yet he supported those revolutions, *only* because he saw the ideals that he had advocated for years, such as the ideals of individual rights, were achieved thru those revolutions.
Kant's desire was to achieve his goals through reform in Germany, therefore as noted, Kant's support of those revolutions was not because of him being a revolutionary, which he was *not*, but was because of the progressive ideals which were pursued by those revolutions. I will explain more below, but let me first return to my main point about Iran's 1979 Revolution.
As noted in "Progressiveness in the Present Epoch", *not* all the forces in Iran's 1979 Revolution were seeking reactionary goals, but the *main* forces of the revolution sought reactionary goals. In contrast, the main forces of the American and French Revolutions sought progressive goals, such as individual rights, civil society, and fairness. It is noteworthy to mention that in contrast, in those revolutions, there were also other forces, that pursued reactionary goals, but they were *not* the main forces of the American and French revolutions.
Basically the main forces of Iran's1979 Revolution were *against* the social rights of an individual, and even the Shah's regime, which they opposed, honored social freedom (not political freedom), more than these forces. This is why the Islamists started wiping out the social rights, from the first days after the success of the 1979 revolution, with the slogan of "yA roosari, yA toosari" (meaning either wear a scarf or be hit on your head), when suppressing the demonstration of women in Tehran, a month after the February 1979 Revolution.
And the Islamists spoke of Islamic principle of "amre beh maroof va nahi az monker" (advocate virtues and prohibit the vices), an Islamic principle which became the rule of social conduct in Iran under the rule of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), and it was used to suppress the individual social rights of every citizen in Iran, by the revolutionary guards and other organs of morality police, the state organs with the mandate of upholding virtues and crushing the vices.
If during the Shah's regime, only the political rights of the individual were suppressed, the new Islamic state would not even stop at political rights and decided on how people should eat, dress, or have sex, and even decided how people should live inside their own house.
A total reactionary turn of social life in Iran ushered in with the 1979 Revolution, and it was spearheaded by the strong presence of Islamists in the revolution, thanks to Shah's blocking of formation of democratic organizations in the three decades prior to the 1979 Revolution, leaving the mosques unchallenged, as the center of social resistance to Shah's regime.
When looking at the French and American Revolutions more closely, although there were some reactionary forces on the side of the revolution, *but* the main forces on the side of the revolution sought progressive goals, such as the *individual rights* and civil society. Whereas in the 1979 Iranian Revolution, although there were some progressive forces on the side of the revolution, *but* the main forces on the side of the revolution, sought reactionary goals of suppressing *individual freedoms*, and replacing civil society with an Islamic ommat.
In other words, the French and American revolutions became the epitome of the ideals which Kant had called for in his writings, to be achieved by *reform*. Basically being progressive has nothing to do with being a revolutionary or a reformist. Kant was trying to attain his ideal social norms through *reform* in Germany of the successor of Frederick the Great, Frederick William II. Nonetheless, Frederick William II, contrary to Frederick the Great, had no respect for individual rights, and even had banned Kant from writing on religious matters, after Kant's publication of his 1793 Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, and the fact that as long as King Frederick William II was alive, Kant did not write on religion.
Thus ironically, Kant's ideals were achieved sooner by the revolutions in America and France, than by the reforms he had hoped for in Germany. And Kant's support of those revolutions, was not because of being revolutionary, which he was not, but was because of his support for the progressive ideals achieved by those revolutions.
Kant was a symbol of a democratic-minded individual doing his utmost to work by civil *obedience*, and the only reason he supported the American and French Revolutions, was because he saw them to usher in the ideals which he viewed as necessary for a modern state, and *not* because of liking to advocate civil disobedience and revolutions, which he did not.
For Kant, *progress* was important, whether it was achieved by reform or revolution, although he preferred it to be achieved by reform. In other words a revolution can be as much reactionary as a reform and vice versa, a revolution can be as much progressive as a a reform.
In contrast,, many who supported the Iranian 1979 Revolution *forgot* about the *ideals* the revolution was seeking, and did not ask if the ideals were progressive or reactionary, and they just supported it, just because it was a revolution to overthrow the dictatorial and corrupt regime of the Shah, and not because the revolution sought progressive and democratic ideals, which it did not.
03. Not a Coup but a Reactionary Revolution
Progressive development in the modern world works in tantamount with the struggle for forming an Open Society. It is noteworthy that some of those who think of 1979 Revolution, as the work of Carter's human rights breeze, have since blamed Carter and the U.S., for not bringing in the necessary mechanisms to contain the unleashing of the freedoms, and thus they think Iranian society ended up in Islamists using freedom to kill freedom, to take over the country, because of the U.S. unleashing the freedoms, while not being able to protect the democracy.
Of course, in the case of Iran, although Carter's policy in supporting the Islamists at the end, helped the Islamists to finally dominate the political scene in post-1357 Iran, but Iran's movement was not the work of the U.S., to be able to control the unleashing of the forces that were freed by the fall of the Shah, with or without proper policing, and the interim government and various political forces of the time, are more to blame for giving in to the Islamists, and as I noted in Why Shiism Became the Flag of 1979 Iranian Revolution, lack of a progressive alternative, left the scene all open for the pre-industrial forces of Shi'a Islamists, unchallenged in their scheme to fully usurp the power in Iran.
Calling the 1979 Revolution a coup, by some monarchists and others, only means they still have not understood the above reality, that the revolution is *not* synonymous with progress, and since they see the 1979 Revolution to be retrogressive, they disdain to call it a revolution, and call it a coup, as if a revolution would always have to be something progressive and good, which as I explained, is not always true, not only for all revolutions, but neither for all reforms.
For some others, the reason they call the 1979 revolution a coup, is because they want to blame the problems of Iran on foreign powers, and they do not want to believe this reactionary development to be an internal event. Again, considering the 1979 upheaval as a revolution, and not as a coup, and looking at it as an internal event, and not a foreign conspiracy, does not mean that one sees it as something "good" and progressive.
As I pointed out, I actually see the 1979 upheaval as a *reactionary* event, although I see it as a *revolution*, and as an internal development by Iranians, and not as a conspiracy.
When the world is progressing towards a post-industrial society, Iran fell to reactionary forces that offered a reactionary retrogression for the society, as the solution for the real problems of development that Iran was facing, and the Islamists were unchallenged, because the suppression of secular democratic forces in Iran's society, for three decades prior to the 1979 Revolution, under the Shah's dictatorship, meant that there were no social and political organizations strong enough to compete with the mosque, which became the center of the revolution and its leadership organization.
The 1979 Revolution symbolized the reactionary response to the crisis of industrial society, in absence of futurist social and political forces, to lead an alternative development towards a post-industrial society for Iran. Iran was a country that faced the challenge of deciding an alternative for the future. A future which was not going to be the capitalist or communist solutions of the industrial society, as they were not viable choices at the end of 1970s, and new secular organizations, with a new platform beyond the old paths of socialism and capitalism were absent, and all this vacuum helped the success of pre-industrial forces, who offered themselves as an alternative to the crisis of industrial society and its discarded options in Iran of 1979.
What follows from my theory that the Iranian Revolution was *the* major reactionary revolution of our times? Simply it follows that the futurists have the best perspective to offer for Iran and the region.
True that in this day and age, one can still try a capitalist or a socialist path, but the outcome will be another failed experience that many Latin American capitalist states or the Cambodian Killing Fields and Vietnamese socialist states have tried and failed. Those countries have not retrogressed to pre-industrial society, but the capitalist and socialist alternatives of industrial society were tried again by them, in this day and age, and the result was simply failure after failure.
The above experiences show that an alternative beyond the industrial society is needed, a solution beyond both the capitalist and socialist forms of industrial past, to drive these societies towards a post-industrial society, to tackle the dilemma of development in the world of today.
Those looking for an alternative beyond the industrial society in Iran had two choices. Either to end up in a pre-industrial solution with Islamists or monarchists at the top, or they had to be futurists, going beyond the liberal and socialist traditions and plan for a post-industrial society.
Unfortunately a futurist force was almost nonexistent in Iran of 1979, and even three years later, the first blooms of futurist thought, were strongly opposed and threatened even by the Iranian opposition itself, which was mainly leftist, and made even death threats to me for raising such doubts about their leftist doctrines, communist dogma, which they espoused like a religion.
I wrote over three years ago, that the most important lesson of the 1979 Revolution of Iran, the opposition learned, was that overthrowing the regime was not the hardest work, and lack of program and organization after the change, was the real challenge.
Furthermore, I wrote in the same article that there are no quick panaceas for those who really want to work for democracy and progress in Iran, and after the 1979 Revolution, the opposition just found out how much it did not know, in terms of answers to the issues facing Iran, when the opposition had spent all the years prior to the revolution, on polemics, rather than doing any serious theoretical work on the real obstacles hampering Iran's progress into the 21st Century.
04. Futurists and the Iranian Experience
Iran being the cradle of the first major reactionary revolution of our times, means that freeing Iran from the Islamic Republic nightmare, and moving towards the future, offers the best example for the world, as to how to overcome major pre-industrial setbacks and to go towards a post-industrial society.
Going beyond the industrial society, will be in its most explicit form in Iran, in contrast to countries like the U.S., that are gradually spawning this development. The Iranian experience will have a central role in formulating the ways to progress towards the future post-industrial societies, the same way in the 18th Century, the American and French Revolutions, were so central to set a new paradigm of building the coming industrial society, for most other countries, that were searching for solutions, to go beyond the Medieval society.
What is very disappointing is that the Futurists have mainly ignored the developments of Iran, and have only seen the Iranian situation as an issue of US-Iran relations, whether at the time of the Shah, or at the time of IRI and hostage-taking. If one looks at the publications of the World Future Society in the last 20 years, there is hardly any article about Iran. Among the futurists, only Daniel Bell has made a reference to Iran and the Salman Rushdie issue, and Alvin Toffler has made a few occasional references to Iran.
I think Iranians and those who understand the Iranian situation, will be the ones who can bring the awareness about Iran's experience to the world, and help the futurists of other countries to see the significance of the Iranian upheaval and setbacks, and to understand its relevance to the post-industrial development in general, when the epochal post-industrial change, is challenged by powerful pre-industrial forces like the Islamists, and by the retrogressive social structures of the past, such as the strength of Islamic fundamentalism shown in the Islamic Friday Prayers of Middle East.
I think the Iranian people forming a futurist party and leading and spearheading the epochal change of Iran to a full bloom post-industrial society, can become an example for the world, in making this new paradigm shift from the industrial to the post-industrial world. The challenge in Iran is forming and building a Federal Secular Democratic Republic.
As I have explained in later chapters of Futurist Iran book, the insistence of Reza Pahlavi and the monarchists to return the rule of Pahlavi family to Iran, has wasted a lot of energy of Iranian people, to deal with the monarchy, which has been history for over 25 years, and had already been even voted out in a referendum in Iran.
The monarchy distraction is just for the selfish goals of a deposed family, with another retrogressive goal of returning Iran to an obsolete past, to regain their bygone power and wealth, and it has stopped the pro-democracy movement of Iran, from concentrating all the forces of opposition on eradicating the retrogressive system of Islamic Republic, to replace it with a futurist republic, and again like the time of 1979 Revolution, a retrogressive force, this time the monarchy, is trying to restore its lost power in Iran, by using the people's movement.
Regardless of these distractions, Iran and Iranians will have a leading role in formulating the proper solutions for building the post-industrial society, and that can help others in other parts of the world, by setting an example of developing a post-industrial society in our era, especially in an undeveloped country, encompassing all aspects of life.
For the secular and democratic forces of Iran, to provide proper leadership for this future development of Iran, there is a need to form a futurist party, that can lead such a change, or else even if the power is won, a proper progressive leadership will be absent, and we all know how such absence of a futurist leadership in 1979, ended up in retrogression, and it cost Iran and Iranians so dearly, when choosing a reactionary paradigm as a solution. This is why I have proposed a detailed platform for founding a futurist party of Iran.
One may think that being a futurist is just to learn the views that are well documented in the works listed in the book catalog of the World Future Society. Undoubtedly those books are the best collection of futurist literature around. But to really understand what modern futurism involves, the experience of Iran is the most telling example for any futurist, and it is still a living event.
When approaching Iran, we have to specifically answer some important issues of the political development, firstly the continued strength of the organization of the Shi'a clergy in Iran's judicial branch, and other branches of the state, and its strength in civil institutions like the real estate title companies, and the fact that the absence of separation of state and religion, was true long before the birth of Islamic Republic.
Thus the need to specifically call for removal of clergy's status in all state offices and the need to call for removal of *all* Islamic laws in Iran, including Qessas laws, is the real definition of secularism for Iran. Secondly the absence of development of federalism, is another major factor hindering the growth of democracy in Iran. And thirdly the strength of state economy, has been the foundation of endurance of despotism in Iran, under various regimes. These are crucial issues for achieving progress in Iran.
Some of these topics, such as the position of Shi'a clergy in Iranian state, may have no significance for a futurist who focuses on the development needs of the United States, nonetheless, the pre-industrial obstacles stemming from other religious and ideological influences are not much different, and thus Iran's experience sets a paradigm for futurists, for tackling the challenge of pre-industrial forces to new civilizations, in other parts of the world.
Iranian experience highlights the pre-industrial obstacles and the relevant solutions, when progressive forces do not want to create another obsolete despotic system, with a stagnant economy and with more violations of human rights, when replacing an existing retrogressive system. Such so-called "new" pre-industrial systems, replacing the industrial system, are not progress towards a post-industrial society, and are simply a retrogression wrapped up, as a solution, to the problems encountered by the crisis-ridden industrial world.
05. Shi'a Clergy and Iranian State
For decades, absence of democracy during the Shah's regime, hampered the formation of secular organizations in Iran, and the Islamic Republic, in the decades following the 1979 Revolution, has also blocked the development of secular political organizations in Iran. The clergy which had its traditional organization was unchallenged to take over Iran, in 1979, when the Shah's regime fell apart.
Shah should have modernized the political structure of Iran, if he wanted to save his government, and the cornerstone of such modernization should have been the protection of democracy, which Shah did not care for. Also Secularism was opposed by the Shi'a clergy and this is why they opposed even the partial secularism of enghelAbe sefid (Shah's White Revolution).
Shah instead of moving forward with a thorough secularism, and augmenting it with democracy, tried to give concessions and appease the clergy on the issue of secularism, while blocking all democratic forces from forming their own organizations, using arrests, torture, and executions of the leading secular personalities like Dr. Mossadegh and Dr. Hossein Fatemi.
Concession to the clergy did not save Shah's government, and only helped the successor of his regime to become a Mediaeval Theocracy rather than a democracy. Shah was successful in his suppression of Iranian democratic movement, which curtailed the further secularization of the state, a secularism which had started long before the Shah and Pahlavi Dynasty, at the time of mashrootiat (Constitutional Movement of Iran), and had continued during Reza Khan's era.
During the Shah's regime, Shi'a clergy regained their status in the judicial branch of the state. It is a fact that the clergy's role in Iranian state is not something that happened in the Islamic Republic, and unfortunately this truth is still not understood by many monarchists, who support the 1906 Constitution, which allows the veto of 5 mojteheds (Shi'a top Ayatollahs) for any law to become the law of the land, and considers Shi'a as the official religion of Iran.
The presence of clergy in the judicial branch of state in Iran which has been the reality under monarchy, is the biggest obstacle to secularism in Iran, and this reality is still neglected by the Iranian opposition. Unfortunately most Iranian opposition groups still do not see the conflict of interest, a member of Shi'a clergy has a position in the hierarchy of Shi'a religion, collecting khoms and zakAt, while holding a civil or state office.
I wrote a detailed article about secularism and explained why the Shi'a clergy, as long as holding a position in the Shi'a organization receiving Khoms, Zakat, or religious estates like Mashhad's Asatane Ghodse Razavi, should be kept out of the civil or state offices of all three branches of the government in future Iran, and I consider this to be a key issue for any future constitution of Iran.
As I have explained in details in that paper, I do not believe that anybody should be banned from holding an office just because of being religious, or even for having been a clergy at one time. But being religious, is different from having a position in the organization of Shi'a religion in Iran. A former clergy can be looked at like a former general, when he does not have a position in Shi'a organization anymore.
A position in the organization of Shi'a religion means gaining from khoms, zakAt, religious donations, and the religious endowed properties such as AstAne Ghodse Razavi of Mashhad, which are important sources of income for the Shi'a hierarchy, and the state should tax those incomes of the Shi'a organization.
And the authorities in the religious organization who gain from these revenues, as long as they are holding positions and benefiting from these sources, should not be allowed to hold any state office in judicial, legislative, or executive branches of the government.
Let's now look at the rule of law under an Islamic Republic, which IRI reformists have been proposing as the so-called Islamic Democracy. Khatami and his supporters created an illusion that democracy is just the rule of law, which I have responded to before, in great details, in Democracy is Not People's Rule, It is People's Judgment.
I showed that when the institutions of judgment by the people are absent or destroyed, like the case of wiping out of Weimar Republic by Hitler, then the rule of law will not be tantamount to democracy, and it is an illusion to view such rule of law as equivalent to democracy.
Thus leaving the main social and political institutions of the society in the hands of the Shi'a clergy, any rule of law will not mean democracy, because the institutions of judgment of people are obstructed.
Many of the monarchists blame Shah's fall on the U.S. or the British. The reality is that the US supported the inevitable, when the time came in 1979, because the clergy were the only ones who had the organization to rule Iran at the time, thanks to Shah's eradication of secular democratic movement for over 30 years prior to the revolution.
As far as the U.S., even after the Sept 11th, it still made deals with the clergy in two opposite ways, depending on US interests at any given time, and also depending on the international circumstances.
On one hand, the U.S. not only in its fight with the Soviet Union in the past, but even still today, appeases the Islamists when it sees it fit, like it did in Afghanistan, by supporting a new state with an Islamic tag, long before Afghanistan's Loya Jirga was convened.
On the other hand, U.S. has distanced itself from the fundamentalist terrorist forces in the Middle East, and these forces are more and more using terrorism to put pressure on the U.S., as their way of attacking the progressive forces and the Western interests.
Therefore one should see how the real social and political development is unfolding in the Middle East, rather than trying to explain these events by the policy of the U.S. Both the Islamists in the Middle East, and ultranationalist forces in the West, want to block the post-industrial development worldwide.
Even the Sept 11th tragedy and the rise of Islamism in the Middle East, should not be viewed separate from the reality of the response of pre-industrial retrogressive forces to the crisis of industrial society. Again this means the absence of growth of institutions of judgment by the people and leaving the arena to the Shi'a clergy .
The issue of clergy is not even resolved by the Shi'a semi-protestant intellectuals asking for the end of religious need for clergy. Not all critics of the Shi'a hierarchy are necessarily secular or democratic. It is true that semi-protestant Shi'a opposition wants to limit the Shi'a clergy's presence in the state, but this does not mean secularism and Islamic Democracy is *not* pluralism.
For example, a radical Islamic group, mojAhedine khalgh that has been slaughtered by Islamic Republic of Iran, is more like Munzer of the time of Luther, and they share most of the Islamic dogma with the rest of Shi'a Islamists. Or Aghajari. who recently received a death sentence in Iran, was very similar to Luther of 15th Century Europe, and his words echoed Luther's questioning the need for Catholic clergy, as the intermediary of people and God, when calling for direct contact of the individuals with God, which basically would end up in equating the clergy with the layman. But at the same time, Aghajari defended Ayatollah Khomeini's death fatwa (edict) for Salman Rushdie.
Luther, just like Aghajari, was a dogmatic religious man himself, who attacked Copernicus, science, and rationalism even more than his Catholic counterparts. I would have felt not much different to live under the rule of radical Munzer, or the fanatic Luther, than the Pope himself. When Luther heard of Copernicus’s Heliocentric Theory, he strongly opposed the Copernican Theory, on biblical basis, and in contrast to the Catholic Church, he was *always* against any rational discussions of religion, and demanded the acceptance of Christianity solely on the basis of faith, and not on the basis of rational thought.
What caused the huge Protestant movement was not Munzer or Luther being less dogmatic or them contradicting religion. It was rather their putting a question mark on any need for the clergy, which gained them the wrath of the Catholic Church. And all these discussions about religious beliefs, using reason to see who is right and who is wrong, *despite* the opposition of protestants to allow reason to decide on issues of religion, opened the way for logical discourse, in a closed society, that was based on conception of indisputable religious truth, and thus helped the development of civil society in Europe.
It is interesting that the Catholic scholastics did the rational discussions on religious issues more than the protestants and they impacted later development of rationalism in Europe a lot more than their Protestant counterparts. Jesuits who played a major role in development of rationalist discourse in Western philosophy were Catholic and not Protestants.
Today, we are witnessing something very similar in Iran with the rise of secular and scientific thinking on one hand, and Shi'a semi-Protestant reformation on the other, both challenging the necessity of the clergy, although the ones like Aghajari, are even more of a religious zealot than their counterpart. Even Shariati who was a precursor of the likes of Aghajari, and is still revered by Iranian intellectuals, was not much different either.
When it comes to these Islamic Protestants' approach towards liberalism, science, and rational thought, their views are as closed-minded and fanatic, as the Shi'a clergy which they oppose. It is not even clear if the so-called "reformists" would support the exclusion of Shi'a clergy from the judicial system, which will be the key issue in the post-IRI state in Iran.
To sum up, the solution to the presence of Shi'a clergy in Iran is not thru any semi-Protestant Shi'a alternative of the kind of mojAhdein or Aghajari and only full secularism is the way to ensure that Iran's progress will not be hampered by the Shi'a clergy again. A hindrance which was true, not just under the Islamic Republic, but was true during mashrootiat and the Pahlavi era as well.
06. Kurdistan, Federalism and Iranian National Sentiments
The topic of federalism may seem not to be much of an issue in a country like the U.S. but viewing the world as a huge federation has come up again and again in science fiction, as a possible global structure of future politics.
Some people think of bureaucracy of federal institutions in the U.S. as a reason to think of federalism, as a factor hampering post-industrial development, rather than acknowledging the significant role federalism has played, in creating the necessary checks and balances in the U.S.
In fact, dropping federalism in favor of centralism, because of issues of bureaucracy, is a grave error. The bureaucracy is the problem that needs to be fixed, and not the checks and balances. The inertia of state institutions is worse in centralized capitalist countries, in contrast to the federal states, although not as bad as the socialist countries.
To eradicate bureaucracy, post-industrial information efficiency and technologies is needed, to streamline the obsolete government procedures, that are the cause of bureaucracy and not the federal redundancies that ensure checks and balances, and do not have to be bureaucratic.
The issue of federalism is of paramount importance to the Futurist Iran. This is why I wrote a detailed paper about the history of development of central government in Iran and the role of Kurdistan. Kurdistan highlights the need for federalism better than any other area of Iran.
Although my paper on Kurdistan, reviews Iran's history, it was not written as a history text, and I wrote it to show why federalism is the only way to avoid a breakup like Yugoslavia, in Iran, and to spearhead Iran, to participate in the global development as a federation. Federalism could have saved Yugoslavia from getting torn apart, following its liberation.
We are not living in the 1940's, and the main fear from centralist states, is not that they can rule for decades after decades. On the contrary, the main fear from centralist states, is that they cause breakup of the regions they rule, by pushing people to the edge to choose secession. We are not in a world that national minorities would put up with dictatorship.
We are living in a world that minorities actually do *separate* their ways, and can easily enter a direct relation with the global economy without a need to go true a bigger nation state, and calling national minorities as "separatist", or similar remarks, only makes them more determined to secede, rather than scaring them away from proclaiming their rights.
For example, if Kurdistan of Iraq, which has oil, creates an independent state, and if Iranian regime remains a dictatorship like the Islamic Republic of Iran, I have no doubt that Iranian Kurds will feel attracted to the new Kurdish state, although historically, Iranian Kurdistan has developed as part of Iran, and not as part of other four sections of the Ottoman Kurdistan and Iranian Kurds share the market of Iran with the other citizens of Iran, and Kurdistan of Iran is *not* like Khuzestan that has oil.
In other words, even though it will *not* be to the advantage of Iranian Kurdistan to join a state of Greater Kurdistan, but dictatorship of the Iranian centralized state can force the Kurdish people to choose separation.
I should note that even Iranian Persian Empire's Satraps were more like a federalist system, than like a centralist state of France, and many of the authors, monarchist, leftist, and nationalist who still cannot come to terms with federalism, misunderstand Iran's history, and are not helping Iran's future. I have noted this in my papers on federalism.
I have reviewed the astute works of Madison on this topic, which are excellent studies on the subject matter. The protection in Madison’s federalist papers is mainly against monarchy (British Monarchy). This is why he is so specific about nobility and even sees this criteria as the measure to call his respective system a republic.
There is no attempt by Madison to prove legitimacy for a federal system. The Confederacy is the reality, and the attempt is to show that this federalism is not *absolute*, and that it is also a *national* government. Thus the focus of Madison's paper is on how to implement the federal and state governments in a way to ensure the cohesiveness of the national government.
The issue that Madison is dealing with is the *implementation* of federal organs and state organs, and showing them *both* as necessary institutions, and rebuts claims that these organs of checks and balances are not needed because of being redundant, and he tries to show their existence as a guarantee against tyranny. For him the issue is implementation and not legitimacy, as federation is how the Union is, when it is formed, a conglomeration of separate states.
Now in our case for Iran, the legitimacy of a federal system is not a given. In other words, except for Kurdistan, we are not seeing separate states coming forward with their own aspirations for statehood, at least not at this time. This is why I have tried to substantiate Why Federalism for Kurdistan and Rest of Iran, from a theoretical standpoint.
Basically from the pre-Islamic shAhanshAhi system, which meant satraps each ruled by a king and all kings ruled by king of the kings (shah of the shahs), to the post-Islamic continuation of satraps in new forms, even thru the changes of Moghols era, we see a semi-federal development in Iran.
Even though in Iran, we never had such acceptance of legitimacy of federalism established, and although after mashrootia't, in Iran's 1906 Constitution, the French centralized model was adopted, I think a study like that of Madison's work on *implementation* issues, can still be done about Iran. From the first day of majles-e shorAy-e melli of mashrootia't to the present, the interaction of local and national organs can be reviewed.
Instead of looking at the states, one can review the anjomanhAy-e iiyAlati and velAyati, which were more of a French version of distribution of power in a central state (like the mayor elections in Europe), than federalism as one sees in the U.S. However, I think such review of distributed power in Iran, can help us to come up with constitutional guidelines for federalist local and national organs in Iran.
The work of Madison is a legal work about the structures of checks and balances. We need Iranian lawyers to do this kind of work about implementation issues of federalism in Iran. Unfortunately I have not seen any work of this kind in the Iranian political circles.
I think mostly, even those who claim to be OK with federalism, are content with electoral structures of France for Iran, which is a democratic election system in a centralized government, and is *not* a real federal system. In my opinion, theoretically two areas need to be tackled, with reference to the issue of federalism in Iran:
1. To continue to argue for federalism in the Iranian political circles, and groups, similar to what I have done in my papers noted above, and to add similar studies about various provinces of Iran, and not just provinces like Azerbaijan and Baluchestan, meaning specific studies of provinces like Khorasan, Mazandaran, Gilan, Khoozestan, Hormozgan, and others.
2. To do serious study of legal codes of Iran's past constitutions, and other civil laws, and implementation details of laws, as relates to the branches of government, and their interaction at local, city, provincial, and national levels.
Missing to stress on the important issue of federalism, in any political platform for future Iran, can cause what its opponents fear most, and that is the breakup of Iran, like what happened in Yugoslavia. It is important to create the consensus on federalism among Iranian political thinkers, before it is too late, to avoid the fate of Yugoslavia, in many parts of Iran that are populated by the Iranian national minorities.
The issue of Kurds and federalism is one of those issues that touches on the region, and IRI wants to broadcast a view that non-Kurd Iranian political groups do not want federalism, and tries to depict the proponents of federalism as separatists, whereas the majority of Iranian opposition today is beginning to side with federalism, and the Fars ultranationalists are a very small minority.
As I have explained on numerous times, those acting as nationalists calling the federalist programs as separatist, are more Islamic Republic proponents rather than being Iranian nationalists, and their fear is that accepting federalism, would open the way for asking for more democratic rights for the whole of Iran by all Iranians.
It is IRI misusing
ultranationalist facade, just as they did during the Iraq War, to justify the
IRI despotism. Ultranationalist slogans are a preposterous flag for Islamists,
when they have had no respect for national demands of all Iranians all these
years, and when they have been pushing Islamism on Iran trying to eliminate even
Iran, a New Year celebration that Kurds celebrate, as much as any other part
Iranians, if not more.
As I have explained in the chapter on globalization,
nationalism in this day and age, is as obsolete
as Communism. Of course this does not mean that
national sentiments will die away or are undesired. As I have explained in
a paper on Iranian National
Sentiments, national sentiments will continue to exist the same way that
love of family has continued to exists although the political power of family
and tribe has faded in human civilization. National sentiment is not the
same as nationalism, which is a phenomena of Modern Times symbolized by the
IRI despondently accepted the peace with Saddam, on Saddam's terms. Khomeini committed a mass murder of the leftists and others in September 1988 to ensure to keep the society silent after signing the peace accord. And IRI did not stop at killing the leftists, and even slaughtered Foruhars and others later, people who were never leftists.
My disagreement with the left is because I think their program is obsolete at the time of post-industrial development and globalization. I have written my views about the left in the past, in details and do not need to repeat. Nonetheless I should note that one of the main forces in Iranian pro-democracy movement that has worked hard for federalism has been Komala, which I explained in Komala and Kurdistan.
P.S. For more explanation of state rights, please see Does Federalism Allow States To Deny Human Rights.
07. State Economy as the Foundation of Despotism
After the experience of all the communist countries, some people still do not want to take a clear stand on the issue of state ownership as the main form of the country's ownership. Dominant role of state ownership, makes the state in the undeveloped countries, to be the main owner of the country, and it becomes the economic foundation of the dictatorship. Therefore the need to clearly pronounce the opposition to any attempt to make state ownership the main form of ownership in the country, is a very important program topic for futurist Iran.
Is Socialism More Just? After so many examples of Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, and others in the last century, it seems like nobody would deny the lack of democracy in state socialism with command economy and after seeing the luxury of the state elite in all those countries, nobody denies that none of them were examples of social justice and egalitarianism either.
Nonetheless, the Left still insists that socialism is an ideal which is more *just* than a property-owning democracy, and therefore they keep advocating the leftist platform, with the hope of creating the ideal liberal democratic socialism, instead of developing the property-owning democracy and working on how to get social justice designed into the latter. They think still socialism is the quick road to social justice thru eradicating the property-owning democracies of the West, albeit this time by replacing them with a liberal democratic socialism.
The forces advocating this new left agenda in the West, have no real impact on the economics and politics of the Western countries, except for mostly siding with the old economy in most of these countries, and not the new post-industrial economy, and are active against globalization, nonetheless they are not anything of significance outside of some university departments in the West, and this is why nobody really spends the time to write critique about them. But new left has quite an attraction for the intellectuals in countries like Iran. Why?
The intellectuals in countries like Iran see the socialist solution to be a panacea, a shortcut, which is a lot easier to implement, to arrive at a just system, than trying to build justice into a property-owning democracy. Because for the latter, one would first need to create a property-owning democracy in Iran, which is a formidable task by itself, and then one would need to break up some of the state-owned enterprises, create progressive taxation, institute anti-trust laws, establish nongovernmental social welfare, as I have noted in A Futurist Viewpoint, and many other basic changes in the economy and social structure need to take shape (http://www.ghandchi.com/329-NMF.htm), to be able to build justice into such a property-owning democracy, and cannot be achieved by simply issuing a command after taking power.
We are talking about a country that people have hardly paid any taxes and the state has always been the biggest owner and has owned the oil industry which is 90% of all the revenue -generating capital that the country owns and the state has been paying the citizens and not the taxpayers paying the state. So it is a pretty tough undertaking, to plan a property-owning democracy for Iran, and wanting to build-in justice into that system. Whereas in the eyes of the leftist intellectuals, there is a shortcut of socialism where one can just make the ownership of the means of production to be public, and social justice to follow. Easy and quick panacea to all the social ills in one easy shot.
Of course, the new leftists, separate *public* and *state-owned*, because they know well that the synonymy of the two in the Communist countries, meant the tyranny of the state, and they know nobody would buy repeating the experience of Soviet Union and China, and are well aware that such a program is a total failure for both freedom and justice. So they call for a liberal democratic socialism.
The scenario they depict is very enticing even to those who have already witnessed the failure of the Soviet Path, Chinese Path, Cuban Path, Albanian Path, North Korean Path, Vietnamese Path, and all other paths of Communism. Even some of those who have seen the stagnation of the path of Socialism of the Second International in Sweden, Austria, and many other West European countries, may think the new left plan may not end in the same stagnation, because at times, it talks of strong force of market (although contradicting itself). Why is it enticing? I think Karl Popper had summed it up pretty well when he asked the same question personally from himself in his autobiography and answered it as follows:
Therefore simultaneously achieving freedom and social justice, as I have discussed in Wealth and Justice in Future Iran, is very complex.
Whereas, the social justice in the model of a liberal democratic socialism is a very enticing proposition, as it claims to usher in freedom and equality at the same time, without all the headache of progressive tax systems, anti-trust efforts, welfare initiatives, and continuous checks and balances, etc.
Let’s examine the different systems with regards to the issue of social justice and see where the liberal democratic socialism will stand.
John Rawls in his rigorous works on justice as fairness addresses the issue of justice independent of any comprehensive systems (including the liberal system), and comes up with the following two principles to define justice, which is pretty much acceptable:
The above pretty much summarizes the meaning of justice in two complimentary ways:
1- On the one hand it means guarantee of all the basic liberties that people should be *equal* in having, and one finds them spelled out in documents such as the U.S. Bill of Rights.
2- On the other hand it means *equal* opportunity to compete for a position in the state or a job where people are *unequal* in having, as fought for in all the civil code, etc. And the greatest benefit of the least-advantaged members of society which is what Rawls has always emphasized on moving the social minimum to the highest point thru equal opportunity (and welfare in systems that accept it).
It is interesting that Rawls mentions the ideas of Marx and Marxists in this regard, that property-owning democracy creates forces that block the above ideals of rights and equal opportunity, and in response, he Rawls notes that real liberalism cannot be compared with ideal socialism, and vice versa. But real liberalism should be compared to real socialism which is way worse than real liberalism in realizing both principles of justice. Then he continues his discussion of the five ideal systems.
Keeping these two criteria in mind, we can easily see which systems are better foundations for achieving social justice in our times. Actually John Rawls himself enumerates five kinds of regimes viewed as social systems, complete with their political, economic, and social institutions, which pretty much sums up all systems that one can find in the world today and in the following paragraph, he lists them and sums up the main questions that can help one to evaluate them:
Rawls does not focus on the last questions, which most of the conservative thought focuses on, when refuting the inefficiencies of the welfare state. Not that the issues of corruption and their relation to the design of the state, and the conflicts of interests of the citizens as functionaries and customers of the state, and the issue of competence needed to handle such functions, are unimportant in his eyes. But the focus of Rawls is on whether the structure, as an ideal case, is just.
I need to note that for countries like Iran, the issue of design of the state, and corruption, are very important topics to study, and even having a true democracy in Iran, although it brings the corruption more to the open, but it will not make the problem go away. If the design of the system requires state employees, who can hardly make a minimum wage, but at the same time gives them the authority in a state office to make decisions that can have the value of millions of dollars, corruption is built into such a system. Also if the design requires certain skills, but the system is unable to pay for such skills, there will be high inefficiencies in the state apparatus, which again will cause corruption. I will not discuss this further here and suffice it to say that this is an issue that hopefully I will address in a separate paper, in the future, when the time allows. For example a system may allow the equal opportunity, but may create the environment to make the realization of it impossible. In this treatise, the assumption is that all these systems work as the ideal they are supposed to be, so let’s continue our discussion of the topic.
Returning to the topic, John Rawls notes that out of the five systems noted above, the first three do not meet the requirements of the principles of justice.
Thus we are left with property-owning democracy and liberal socialism. Rawls continues that
Rawls notes that the right to property which is included in the first principle of justice does not mean private property in productive assets and thus he does not refute liberal socialism on that ground.
He notes that “background institutions of property-owning democracy work to disperse the ownership of wealth and capital, and thus to prevent a small part of society from controlling the economy, and indirectly, political life as well”. This is a very important point.
Regardless of how democratic liberal socialism to be, it will end up with small part of society to control the economy as had been seen by the elites in the socialist countries. Because they are the ones who will represent the productive assets and lack of ownership in the means of production means that such small elites *are* the owners. In contrast, the property-owning democracy avoids this, by ensuring the widespread ownership of productive assets and human capital, and this is why equal opportunity as well as political liberties are supported to make the system fair.
Nevertheless, let me emphasize that showing property-owning democracy to be superior to liberal socialism, for democracy and justice, does not mean that the current capitalist societies are the best that post-industrial society can achieve.
In fact, to maximize the minimum of the basic needs in society that John Rawls emphasizes in his book “Theory of Justice” in 1971, and his venture into enlightened self-interest are beyond the current Western societies. He always notes that for fairness, the "greatest benefit of the least-advantaged members of society" is to be guaranteed. In other words supporting the first principle, meaning political liberties, and ensuring to maximize the social minimum, does not mean to stop the motivation for activity, which is killed in the socialist societies of even the Swedish type, because is is achieved here, thru the second principle of justice, i.e. equal opportunity, and not by charity.
In conclusion, let me note again that showing that socialism is less just than the property-owning democracies, in meeting both principles of justice, does not mean to stay at the level that Western democracies are today. It means to understand that going for socialism is *not* going beyond these systems, and those who believe socialism is taking them beyond these systems, are dreaming of an old solution for a new problem.
To go beyond the existing democracies, one should look into advancements of property-owning democracies, in light if the post-industrial developments, whether in the area of Democracy or Social Justice.
08. Pre-Industrial Attack on Globalization
Before examining the pre-industrial attack of Islamists on globalization, let me first examine the taboo of relations with the West and the so-called anti-imperialist stands. Afterwards I will be reviewing the Islamists' attack on the West, and finally I will focus on the attack of pre-industrial forces on globalization.
A. Taboo of the West
The taboo of relations with the West is a big disadvantage for the Iranian independent democratic forces, and these forces may end up to become a pawn in another game like the hostage-taking.
Hostage-taking was staged by the pre-industrial forces of Islamism in Iran, to legitimize their retrogression, under the banner of fighting foreign interference, and IRI has been using the theme of so-called independence and anti-Americanism for decades to rally the democratic forces for its own retrogressive goals.
Examining the history of relations with the West will be very useful to give us a perspective when looking at today's attack of pre-industrial forces on globalization.
I believe the approach of us Iranians, when dealing with Western powers, has been flawed for over a century. All our progressive historians and politicians, have written only about the interferences and mischief of the Western powers in Iran, and have portrayed the self-pity as the independent stand, and have not reviewed whether the approach of Iranian progressive forces, in dealing with the West, has been flawed or not.
It seems like our progressive personalities, and political organizations, had viewed all relationships with the West, to end up like that of vosoogh-ed-doleh, and they always avoided any relationship with the West, especially when not in power.
When in power, some like Mossadegh, had to deal with the West, and were not well-established in their rapport, not only with the West, but even with the Soviet Union, whereas their reactionary counterparts, like Qavam-ol-saltaneh, had established a thorough rapport, not only with the West, but even with the Soviets.
I think the mistake has been that our progressive politicians had considered all relationships with the foreign powers to be that of a puppet and a master, which was mostly true about Shah's relationship with the U.S. and hezb-e tudeh's relationship with the USSR. Also our progressive politicians had thought of relations with the West, as if it had to mean a secret deal with the Western governments, whether involving territorial promises, or not, like that of vosoogh-ed-doleh in the long past.
The above are not the only possible types of relations with the West, and in fact these are the master-slave relations, that are mostly formed in secret, behind the closed doors. A proper relationship does not have to be like this.
A representative of an Iranian political or human rights organization can *openly* contact a Western government or a Western political party, such as the U.S. Democratic Party, to discuss issues of mutual interest, and there is nothing wrong with this. An Iranian political or human rights organization does not have to be in power to create such international relations, and does not have to speak for *all* Iranians before creating such relations.
Of course, such relations do not mean that such organizations are representing all Iranians, and it simply means that they are representing their constituencies, and as such are discussing issues of mutual interest of their constituencies, with the spokesperson of the constituency of their counterpart. This is something that political, cultural, and human rights organizations in the Western countries have been doing between themselves, for over a century, and their relationships are not limited to the relations of heads of states or political parties that are in power.
I think the critical point in all these rethinking of relations with the West should be *full openness* about any such contacts, and making sure that the constituencies are well-aware of all discussions, especially when such contacts are with governments, or offices related to various states.
Unfortunately, not only the hostage-taking, and death threats against Salman Rushdie by the Islamic Republic of Iran, isolated Iran and Iranians from the West, but the Iranian political and human rights organizations have also fallen in trap of isolating themselves from the West, by being scared to be called pro-US, etc, avoiding to contact various governmental, political, and human rights organizations in the West, regarding issues of mutual interest. The only organizations they contacted were the U.N. or international human rights bodies. I think this is not enough.
In a way, Iranian progressive forces self-censored themselves, even when they were living in the free atmosphere of the West for 20 years. This taboo only has hurt what they could otherwise achieve, and has further kept the Iranian progressive forces isolated from the world.
I think it is now time that all progressive forces of Iran to establish *open* and *direct* contacts with as many political, cultural, human rights, media, and governmental organizations in the West and elsewhere, to communicate their stands on Iranian issues to the rest of the world.
Staying away from *openly* discussing issues of mutual interest with political entities in the world, only helps the ones who are making secret deals with the worst enemies of Iran, behind the closed doors, to succeed. The same ones, whom at the same time, have their veins inflated giving anti-imperialist slogans, are issuing death sentence to kill pro-democracy students.
It is time that we get rid of all these nonsense taboo that we have believed as "anti-imperialism", which has only helped the enemies of Iran to speak to the world, as the sole representatives of Iranians all over the world. Below let's see how pre-industrial forces approach the West before focusing on their approach on globalization.
B. "Death to America" Slogan
Ever since the establishment of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), the IRI leaders have been repeating the atrocious “Death to America” slogan in any occasion they could find. Every week, at the main Islamic Friday Prayer of Iran, convened at the campus of Tehran University, Islamic Republic’s highest authorities agitate their audience to repeat this dreadful slogan over and over again, at every pause, before each section of their prayers, and at the end of their Friday religious sermons.
For some time I wondered why this slogan is so central to the perspective of Islamic fanaticism, until I saw the heinous terrorist crime of Sept 11th, which was premeditated and was clearly the killing of innocent Americans. Although Islamic Republic of Iran has always tried to say they mean government of the U.S. in their slogans, and although they have condemned the Sept 11, 2001 tragedy in the U.S., but their attitude, which is crystallized in this slogan, shows this kind of tragedy is the logical result of the attitude and perspective which they propagate. Let’s look at similar cases in recent history of the world of the ones who thought of their mission to be destroying America.
In the recent history, Communism was equally after the destruction of capitalism and its spearhead, the United States. Karl Popper in his “Lessons of this Century”, published in 1997, has a good expose of this topic. Popper notes that Marx’s Capital’s main argument was that “capitalism cannot be reformed, but can only be destroyed; if one wishes to have a better society, it must be destroyed” [P.19]. Regardless of all the reforms in capitalism, this tenet of Marxism, remained part of the ideology of leaders of Soviet Union, till the end of Soviet Empire. Popper notes that the Cuban Crisis of 1962 and Soviet’s possession of the H-bomb was the “first time Soviet Union had ever the possibility of destroying the United States” [P.23]
But the Soviets backed down in the 1962 Cuban crisis and Popper notes that “the Soviet Union lost the Cold War at that point, when there was an attempt to destroy America. That was when the only remaining idea of the Marxist regime failed; it was the beginning of the decline that led to the general collapse”. [P.23] “But after 1962, they went on producing bombs, all the time knowing that they couldn’t use them. That was the absolute intellectual zero point”.[P.28]
As for the Islamists, we have still not been in a situation like the 1962, when the IRI or any other Islamist force, to have the capability to destroy the Western world, and thus the answer to the question as to whether the Islamist retrogressive force will act like Khrushchev, retreating, or will destroy the world, is not known.
It is interesting to observe that this whole concept of depicting the West as an evil, and the perspective to destroy the West, became an integral part of the Soviet brainwash of its population. Gorbachev noted this phenomena when he saw the need to make the Soviet people *normal*. Here is what Popper asserts about this last episode of collapse of Soviet Communism:
“Only with Gorbachev do we find a man who realizes that he has to change the fundamental assumption of the whole of Russian politics, that they are the people whose mission it is to destroy capitalism- that is, America. Gorbachev has actually been several times to America and seen the reality there; he wants to show his understanding of a free people which is not aggressive towards Russia but hopes that Russia will come to her senses. And Gorbachev made an important statement when he said ‘I want to make the people of the Soviet Union a normal people’ …You see, Gorbachev’s merit was to have understood that his people was not ‘normal’ whereas the American people was. The attitude is really quite different in America; they do not all the time have this horrible game in their mind.”
I think the above is a very important observation that Karl Popper has made about the Soviet Union. The attempt of Soviet Communist government, party, and leaders, for decades after decades, was to create an abnormal attitude, among the people, to have a mission in their mind all the time, to destroy America. This is the same kind of phenomena we have been seeing among the Islamic fanatic governments, parties, and leaders. They have been repeating “Death to America” for over 20 years, every week at their Friday sermons. This is so much like the cult indoctrinations of Islamic Fundamentalists, pointed at the whole population of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi, and other Middle Eastern countries.
This is the perspective and attitude that is responsible for the tragedies of Sept 11, 2001, Daniel Pearl, and Nick Berg.
Islamists will not stop till they destroy the West, and the only solution for the collapse of this Islamic Republic, is just like the Soviet Union before it, and where its fall will be in the hands of the pro-democracy movement of Iranian people. This way any kind of Islamism will lose legitimacy for good, and this retrogressive force, that has arisen in opposition post-industrial development, secularism and democracy, will end for good. The first step, as Gorbachev said, is to make the people *normal*, by stopping the "death to America" slogans and critiquing the view of hatred of Western democracy.
The people of Middle East, over 100 years ago, had movements like Constitutional Movement in Iran, and supported secularism and civil law. The current Islamic Fundamentalism is not representative the thinking of Iranian people, but like Nazi Fascism, it represents a retrogressive movement, and although both fascism and Islamism are and have been religious movements, nonetheless their main tenet is their opposition to the Western democracy and secularism. and there is no so-called “historical” necessity for Islamic state in those societies, whether its fascist kind or its so-called Islamic Democracy version.
This is all related to the attack of pre-industrial forces on globalization, which is a block to an epochal change that is happening before our eyes, in our times, and I will focus on this issue in the next segment of this chapter
C. Pre-Industrial Blocks to Globalization
Many years ago when I was noting the immense technological changes that were taking place before our eyes, a friend of mine asked me what I thought about the status of countries like Iran amidst such worldwide developments? At the time, I told him that the pace of global change we are witnessing in our times is like a locomotive, which is moving very fast with high acceleration and each individual, family, nation, and country is like a passenger that needs to get on this train as soon as possible, and if they do not, their distance from the nearest station, to get on this train, will get exponentially farther and farther. Recently when I met this friend, he was telling me it seems like Africa as a continent is getting way behind this train.
So when looking at the phenomena of the global technological changes, we can see some third world countries that have made good strides forward, countries like Singapore and Taiwan, and some others that have never gotten on the train. And in many of underdeveloped countries, the political factor *is* the main obstacle blocking these developments, because the lack of freedom certainly hampers post-industrial development. Just looking at a country like Iran, where the Islamic Republic openly admits to block the web sites that they think advocate removal of Islamic Republic, shows the inertia of political factors in front of globalization and post-industrial development for a country.
If the industrial society needed *education* as a requirement of its kind of production, the new technologies *require* freedom to progress, because the unblocked flow of information for an information economy is like the need of unblocked transportation for a mercantile economy.
Let’s remember that in pre-industrial societies, education existed, but it was *not* a requirement of the production, whereas, the education became a requirement for industrial production, and this is why educational system developed into a public need, and was standardized and institutionalized in the industrial society, and this is how public school system was formed in every industrial country of the world. It was not out of any benevolence of the industrialists.
Public education was a requirement for an industrial society. The situation is the same with regards to *freedom* and the post-industrial society.
Freedom was an important ideal in pre-industrial and industrial societies and the declaration of human rights and other similar documents in history were the results of endeavors of humanity for a dignified social life for all. But only in the post-industrial society, freedom is a requirement for production, and it is being institutionalized in legal forms, to protect free flow of information, freedom of invention, and the intellectual property rights, software copyright, etc. It is not hard to see the lack of copy right laws in backward countries.
Institutionalizing freedom is a necessity for the development of the core technologies of the post-industrial development and futurist authors like Tofflers have been noting this factor in their works [for example, see Toffler’s book entitled “Power Shift”]. Some new technologies can partially be developed in closed societies like China, but the development of the codified knowledge, which is a fundamental requirement of post-industrial development, is hampered with lack of freedom, because that kind of development is not just technique and it involves various realms of knowledge and thinking and lack of freedom destroys thought..
For a good expose of codified knowledge, please refer to recent studies of Daniel Bell noted in his Foreword 1999 to the new print of Daniel Bell’s book "The Coming of Post-Industrial Society".
Now this is the background from which we should evaluate developments of third world countries. We know advancements of some countries like Singapore and Taiwan in hardware and India in software. I have written on the topic of Fiber Optics and Iran in 1998 and the differences of access to high-speed networking in different countries. Noteworthy to say that South Korea is trying hard to have early start on high-speed networking access and is even ahead of U.S. in this area.
Basically the high-speed Fiber Optics backbone for any country, and their access to high-speed worldwide transoceanic cables, is as critical as the way access to warm waters was in the industrial age. I wrote in my article about the importance of a national network backbone for Iran. I recently saw a news report from Iran' s telecom, that showed some developments in the area of fiber optics backbone in Iran which is real good news.
However, building a post-industrial economy cannot be done by ideologies of nationalism, protectionism or isolationism even if some of the above technologies are developed in Iran and the blocking of the Internet sites based on a state ideology, which treats the country as its private property, means defeating the purpose of efficient flow of information. In fact, state ideologies can compromise the real independence of a country, rather than helping the cause of independence.
Some Islamists try to justify their hampering the flow of information as a nationalist goal to stop the imperialists. Even if that was true, they are causing a reactionary block to globalization. Nationalism is as obsolete as Communism in this day and age. We do not live in an era where the imperialist powers were willing to capitalize in third world countries for cheap materials, cheap labor, and markets.
More and more the real mines of the new world are universities like the MIT which develops the materials that are made to order for any industry in its Applied Material Science research labs, for example the material with ductility and durability that is needed by an auto industry manufacturer for its car production. Daniel Bell has an excellent explanation of this change of world production: in his The Break Down of Time, Space, and Society. As I will show later, in the future, nanotechnology will offer the most important changes in this realm.
The above means that attracting capital to any country for such projects can happen if the skilled labor is viewed to exist in that country. The West is spearheading all these developments worldwide and the attitude of the politicians of any third world country in dealing with the West is very critical to their success in producing for the global market. The example of Japan that is able to produce and market its products in the world markets should be the example for any third world country to succeed in this day and age and dealing with the Western partners is a key in such endeavors.
And as explained at the beginning of this chapter, the taboo of the West among the Iranian intellectuals, where we either thought we had to become the servants of the West or we thought we had to stay isolated from the West, is counterproductive in this day and age. And Islamic Republic of pre-industrial forces of Iran and its attacks on globalization and progress, only hampers the development of Iran into a post-industrial society.
The example of hostage-taking ordeal in the aftermath of the Iranian 1979 Revolution, and the support of many Iranian political groups of this savage act, has been a strong reason for isolation of Iran and Iranians. Countries that had fought the US in wars and had killed many Americans, for example Vietnam, did not create such a bad rapport that Iranians created, when not even one American had died in the hostage-taking ordeal. Why? Because such an action questions the immunity and security of diplomatic missions, which can easily extend to business and other relations.
Hostage-taking created the image that businesses are not being respected and cannot feel secure, and such a perception is a poison for any country, in an age where global business requires such guarantees to flourish. And attack on globalization thru anti-West actions like hostage-taking, only helped the isolation of Iran, and falling behind the progress of the 21st Century.
In this era, it is critical for any individual to ask the leaders of different political and state organizations about the leader's programs for the future, i.e. their economic and political plans. We ask a lot from our politicians and leaders, but we fail to discuss their *programs* for , whereas really the main thing we should ask them about, is their program for Iran, which they will implement as a political leader, if they come to power? Will we end up with a leadership attacking globalization again, not under an Islamist flag, but using other retrogressive ideological reasons.
Iran has a choice to become a Japan or a Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia which is so backward that practices stoning and amputations and only because of its good relations with the West, we do not hear much about its obsolete system, and for now it makes money, thanks to its oil, but has not developed any significant basic post-industrial industries.
A business direction like Japan means that the only focus of the manufacturers will be serving their customers and even if the government helps the industries, the help is not by protecting them to sell low quality products to the consumers, which means depriving the customers from having the choice of products from foreign producers. Helping manufacturers must mean to help them produce at the highest world quality standards.
A successful business is the one that can sell in the global markets and can serve the customers the best, and not like many sellers in Iran, who sell in the sellers’ market, when the buyer is deprived from better choices available abroad. I have written in details about the wrong protectionist policies and economy in this day and age, and why manufacturers should produce for a buyer's market and not for a seller's market..
Progressive Iranians should oppose import and export policies that are based on any protection of local industries, rather than protecting the consumers. If the local industries cannot develop the price, features, and quality that Iranian consumers desire, they should *not* be helped by import/export policies.
Proper way to help local industries is by technical and scientific programs to help them get on par with the leading-edge industries worldwide and not by letting them stay backward like most of the Iranian bazaar merchants, and yet profitable because of stopping foreign competition, while giving rise to the black market for better foreign products.
In fact, IRI has helped some backward producers in Iran by letting them stay obsolete, but profitable thru protecting them from foreign competition, using meaningless custom laws that are all against the consumers.
Moreover the progressive parties and individuals should support programs to develop the post-industrial enterprises and to fade away the smoke stack industries of the past. Promoting the technologies of computers, communications, genetics, and satellite communications are essential to build the infrastructure necessary for post-industrial development of Iran.
They can pioneer forming independent mutual funds to help such industries and to finance entrepreneurs who want to build such businesses in Iran. We should not do all these efforts thru the government, and private initiatives have shown to work the best for such innovative endeavors.
It is very important to emphasize the main point that until any business, industry, and seller in Iran feels that they have to earn their business by offering the best price, features, and quality for their customers, Iran will not be able to be a successful country in the 21st Century. At the end of the day, this is what makes a nation successful in a global marketplace, and not the help of the state to force the buyers to buy an inferior product, when the buyer is deprived of other choices thru high customs tariffs and protectionist policies.
Finally I have described my thoughts on the political and other aspects of this change and the proper program to achieve such change in my proposal for the Iranian Futurist Party Platform.
Certainly the conflict between all the traditional political and social forces of Iran with this new reality is inevitable and the loss of the progressive forces to obsolete Islamist forces in 1979, has not helped the post-industrial development in Iran but at the same time, Iran is the best example of how a backward political and social program can cause a constant frustration for a whole nation, a nation which understands the 21st Century, and will not be held away from this rapid train of progress for long. The struggle for Progressiveness in the Present Epoch in Iran has just started.
Globalization of the world economy is moving very fast and it is not an issue of
theory anymore, and countries like Japan and later Singapore, Taiwan, and now
South Korea and India are planning and actively producing for this epochal change, and
their products have even taken lion shares of markets in the U.S. Even simple
look at the cars on the streets in the U.S. and seeing the Japanese Toyota,
Honda, Mazda, and now even South Korean Hyundai cars, can tell one about this
reality of production for the world market.
The same way that Islamists do not understand the world of today and see it as Islamist versus kAfar, the leftists see it as socialist vs capitalist. It is a religious grouping inherited from the world of 150 years ago, which is no longer the real world global line ups.
Reading works like John Naisbitt' s Megatrends can help one to change the whole dichotomous obsolete perspective of the world, and see things through new paradigms, or else one will just feel disappointed and see the whole world development of the last 150 years as one big failure, where the beloved socialism has failed in Soviet Union and China and one tries to make an imaginary one to one's liking, as if all those in Soviet Union and Eastern Block were fools who could not see what those who are trying to create "true" today.
If they get out of their
shell, they will see that in fact socialism had succeeded, and completed what it
could achieve. Both capitalism and socialism were two main ways that industrial
society started, grew, and is finished now. The world is moving beyond the
*industrial* society in both its capitalist and socialist forms and a global economy is ushering in.
Anti-globalization is taking a lot of its inspirations from the anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist movements of the early and mid 20th Century without realizing that the current globalization is not about one country invading another, albeit economically for raw materials, cheap labor, or local market.
Globalization is about the economic integration of the world, following the leadership of information economy, as it is becoming more and more the determining sector of all national economies, and contrary to the raw materials, industrial labor, and national markets of the past industrial economy, the requirements of information economy are not and cannot be confined to any national economy.
Political and Economic partnerships resulting from globalization are not based on geography or national identity, and to explain the fall of US dollar against Euro and Canadian dollar in the last three years, or to analyze India's 100 Billion dollar annual revenue of high technology, or to grasp the partnership of oil producing countries in the world economy, one cannot rely on old paradigms.
In my article entitled A Vision from City of Heretics , I explained about the misunderstanding of some leftist organizations, in their analysis of globalization and war, and noted how they had taken my opposition to the retrogressive forces like Saddam's regime and Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), as defense of Bush, and had not understood that I condemn the ultranationalist forces in the U.S., as much as I condemn the retrogressive forces in the developing countries.
But misunderstanding of the new global formations is not particular to the leftists.
Many of the Iranian technocrats of Shah's time, who currently live abroad, and the Iranian technocrats inside Iran, although acknowledge globalization, in their analysis of present political and economic forces in the world, like the years of 1900's, try to find the axis or the allies, the same way they would do in the eras of World War I and II. Even some of our astute economists, consider "the United States (appended by Canada, Mexico, and Latin American countries), Europe (with extension of European Union to Russia), and Asia (China, India, and Japan)"* as the new world blocs. I think the problem is that we are trying to explain the present, with the paradigms of the past, without even being aware of how globalization has changed the paradigm, as I have noted it Globalization & Federalism.
For example, explanation of the reality of the drop of U.S. dollar in the last three years, against Euro and Canadian dollar, cannot be explained by the geographical alliances. Or the reality of the 100 billion dollar a year annual revenue of India from new technologies, cannot be explained, like the colonial investments of 1900's for the cheap labor, even though the low labor cost is still the reason for success of India in the competition for development and production of new technologies. The same way the participation of the oil producing countries in the world economy in our times, cannot be understood the same way that the use of raw materials by colonialists in the 1900s was understood, although in both cases the raw materials is the issue at hand.
New global formations in all realms of human life are being shaped, and in different parts of the world, the ratio of these structures to pre-global structures is different, and depending on the policies of states of different countries at different times, and to the degree that they attack global formations, they hurt the relationship of their country to the global capital, the same way that ultranationalist economic policies of Bush's government in the last three years in the U.S., and the retrogressive policies of Islamic Republic of Iran in the last 25 years in Iran, have hurt their respective countries.
In my opinion, the escape of capital from the U.S. in the last three years, has been the reason for the fall of the dollar against Euro and Canadian dollar. It is true that the fall of dollar in turn makes the American products cheap abroad, but thinking that fall of dollar in this period has been done by purpose by the Bush administration is not real, especially considering the emphasis of Bush administration on free trade.
In fact, the ultranationalist policies of the last three years have discouraged the willingness to import capital to the U.S., and many owners of foreign capital, have exported their capital from the U.S. It is true that if infrastructure projects such as Broadband for Every Home had been driven in the U.S., they would have helped the volume of capital investment in the U.S., but the resulting profit of such investments, in conditions of an administration hostile to globalization, would not strengthen the national economy in the U.S.
The criteria in the world today, for any country, in all areas of economy, is its ability to work with globalization, the same way that at the time of inception of national economies three hundred years ago, the economy of locations that were hostile to national development, and were proud of their own self-sufficient economies, died very quickly.
Today, when in India, investment for new technologies is made, it is not like the years of 1900. A global company that may even be originally American, because of cheap labor in new technologiesو may find the production to be to its benefit in India, but the profit may not come to the U.S. and could go elsewhere. For example, two years ago, in the view of Cisco Systems, president Putin of Russia, understood global economy better than the U.S. administration, and they sided with that, and thus they viewed Putin's Russia, as a partner, closer to themselves, than Bush's America.
The same way that I quoted in my article Why Vote for Kerry? , from David Bower, Chief global Investment Strategist of Merrill Lynch, "America is more dependent on the rest of the world for capital than at any time in the past 50 years" and Bush's unilateralism has aliened Europe and even investors from other parts of the world to invest in the U.S., and in a global economy, such policies from any nation are shooting oneself in the foot. In my view the fall of dollar against Euro and Canadian dollar, in the last three years, has been because the political leaders of those countries, contrary to the U.S., have been in more harmony with the global formations, that are getting shaped in the world.
The issue of war with Saddam by itself is not the cause of Bush's weakness, although even in that area, the ultranationalist policies of Bush administration, and their lack of cooperation with other forces in the world, resulted in their loss, despite their victory in the war. From a military standpoint, he acted with strength and with the minimum of casualties won the war in Iraq. Today after Bush has understood the real intentions of Shi'a Islamists, hiring Saddam's Sunni generals, and using Saudi's financial plans, reviving Saddam's regime, without Saddam, , the dreams of Islamic Republic of Iran, to play a role like Syria's role in Lebanon, has been shattered. But none of these military victories of Bush can solve his main problem of his economic advisers not understanding the global economy.
One of Kerry's supporters is the famous Hungarian billionaire George Soros. George Soros has said it clearly that he will not stop at any financial support to remove Bush's administration. What is special of Soros is that he helped the downfall of the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc states by clear support of globalization. And his supporters are playing the main role in Russia and other Eastern European countries after the downfall of the Soviet Union. In fact, despite having a Communist ideology, in politics and economy, the Soviet Union was nothing but an ultranationalist regime.
A pro-globalization state should put its emphasis on global structures. The same way that at the time of formation of national structures in Europe, progressive city states sided with the national formations, that were being shaped at the time.
In other words, from forces like supporters of Soros in the U.S., to similar forces in Europe, India, or Singapore, and other parts of the world, a global formation is being shaped. My use of the term supporters of Soros, is only to help to understand my point, otherwise the reality of these new structures, is not a traditional political and economic organization, with the leadership of any specific individual, and is essentially a network of various economic, scientific, political, financial, and associations of new global formations formed in today's world.
In contrast, retrogressive forces like Saddam and Islamic Republic, and ultranationalist forces in the U.S., are the other side of the contention of our times. Understanding this contention, as the main contention of our world at the present, can clarify the main line ups in the global world today. Part of these global formations can geographically be stronger in Europe today, and tomorrow in the U.S., or India, but essentially these line ups are not geographical.
Understanding the above, for Iranian political movement, is very important. Because it is a mistake to consider a specific country, or a specific area, as the ally of our progressive movement. Our ally is the global development across the world. Of course, the issues of Social Justice, within this development, are the paramount issues of our times, which I have discussed elsewhere.
And also my words do not mean that if, for example the leaders of Islamic Republic of Iran, cooperate with globalization, Iran can be modernized. The experience of Shiite Islamism in Iraq has proved this fact more than ever, and I have discussed it in details why Islamic Republic of Iran Must Go, and anything short of referendum for regime change, cannot open the road of progress and democracy in Iran.
My basic point here was to show that our allies are in the global partnerships of the forces that are neither Western ultranationalists nor retrogressive pre-industrial Islamists and the like. The progressive forces that are in line up for global post-industrial development are our allies as we free Iran of the rule of Medieval Islamists and as we start building the Futurist Iran.
09. Iranian Intellectuals and Leftism
In the previous chapter I noted why globalization is the progress of our times. Now what do the leftists do in the Iranian intellectual circles. Do they try to analyze and study this phenomena, and look for the best course of action for Iran and Iranians in this global market? Do they try to see how much Iran has been able to take from the global market beside selling raw material (oil). No! Even in the best of the magazines with the leftist mindset, you see articles after articles against globalization, as if this is the worst thing happening in the world.
This is just a Luddite reaction to the progress of our times. They translate and publish articles by people such as authors of Monthly Review in the U.S., those who are a very tiny group of semi-Marxist professors (just like the small group of Islamist professors in the U.S.), leftover of a past movement and not harbingers of a new thought, with no significance in the U.S. development, whether among the labor, or the American intellectuals, or the economists, or other academia. And none of the people who make any impact in the industry or labor cares for any of the publications of these leftists.
Now what do these people write? They
claim on one side that Marx also had seen the globalization (which is true)
*but* they oppose it and say until there is socialism (some imaginary kind of
socialism other than the socialism which has already been in Soviet Union,
China, etc), they want to stop the globalization. In other words, they want to
stop the real progress of the world until the world complies with them. If Marx
was alive, he would be the first to call these "Marxists" reactionary Luddites.
They remind me of the ones who quote Molavi's saying of del-e har zareh rA keh
beshkAfi (a poem by Rumi saying digging a tiny grain, you'd see a Sun in its
mid), to claim that we already knew all the quantum physics at the time of
Molavi (Rumi). Those Sufis are an insult to Molavi just like these Marxists are an
insult to Marx trying to make a "prophet" out of them.
Attempts to unite the left are like the attempts to unite Christian groups or Islamist groups. The schism of the left is the description of the reality that the time for these groups has long passed and the solution of current social and economic issues is found beyond the left. Pan-leftism is a useless ideology which thinks the backward left can do better if united.
The left just like Islamism will always exist but the bulk of Iranian intellectuals should drop leftism and need to look beyond it, if they want to be able to find viable solutions for issues facing Iran and Iranians today, and they should not waste their time with the reactionary anti-globalization movement, which is another abyss like hezbe toodeh, that exhausted the energy of a generation of Iranian intellectuals, without helping the advancement of Iran and Iranians, and caused a resentment among the Iranian working people for the intellectuals, who became synonymous with toodehii, for advocating the pride in misery, rather than advocating the advancement of the life of working people to a more flourishing development, by supporting equal opportunity, pursuit of happiness, and democracy.
In 1994, I wrote an article entitled "What Do We Want?"? In that article, I asked my readers to assume that they have won the state and as if they are at the top of state power and then my question was what they want to achieve in various areas of life in Iran, and as I will explain later, fortunately after ten years, we are finally seeing serious platforms among the various Iranian intellectuals groups, which is a good sign that Iranian intellectuals are looking at plans and reviewing the possible side effects of various plans, before committing to them and wanting to implement..
I also discussed the issue of state economy in another chapter. I have been arguing with many of the leftists that the state economy should be opposed, in no uncertain terms, in any unity plans; because if after all these experiences of world communism, and other similar states, intellectuals of a nation still are not clear on this foundation of despotism, they will do a disservice to their nation.
If Iranian intellectuals still try for statist programs, and it will be unpardonable to say later that we did not know better, after all these world experiences. This is what I have written as my comments about the shortcomings of manshoor81 which I signed, a charter signed and published by a number of Iranian intellectuals in Feb 2003 as a minimum Charter for a democratic future of Iran.
I asked people to sign the above charter and supported it, because it was the least we could expect for an alternative to the Islamic Republic of Iran and I found it to be a minimum that any democratic-minded individual should support for Iran's future, and I hoped such efforts to help the democratic development of Iran, although I believe the alternative organization to lead Iran's future can be formed by a futurist party platform.
I do not think a minimum platform can create such an alternative, nonetheless, I supported the effort hoping it may help the endeavors to create a progressive democratic alternative to the Islamic Republic of Iran. I have written my views about the various aspects of the topic of futurist party in the past, to achieve a Futurist, Secular, Federal, and Democratic Republic in Iran.
I think not being clear on these issues may get one end up like Hamid Karzai's government, where the Islamic clergy are again running the judiciary, and after all the atrocities of Taliban, the judiciary dares to punish government female officials for not wearing scarf in a foreign trip, and the government is still called Islamic after all these sacrifices for separation of state and religion.
Another issue that has continuously come up in the leftist movement of Iran has been the topic of Palestine. It is strange that the leftists have always sided with the Islamists and Palestinians against Western democracies and Israel, but ironically in the last three decades, the Iranian left has been more oppressed by the Islamists than by Western democracies, and ironically the Israelis have sided more with Iranian dissidents than the Palestinians. The issue of Islamism and its retrogression, I have discussed extensively in previous chapters. Let's look at the Palestinian issue here.
For years, democratic activists spent all our energy to get Vietnamese opposition to get to power. We made all the sacrifices from our lives to distribute the pictures of casualties of Vietnam, to get the US to sign the peace agreement. Today when talking to the Vietnamese, we are ashamed to tell them that we are partly responsible for the government they ran away from in boats many losing their lives.
It is not just enough to condemn imperialism. It is important what alternative we are supporting. PLO had more than three years after the first initiative to form the Palestinian Authority. What did they do? Did they create a democratic state? Did they grow a modern economy? Or they just continued fighting in secret, instead of developing relations and growing the society, and just wanted to get more land? If they were there another ten years, and got more land, what would they do? And we cannot solve this problem of their leadership for them. I hope the recent changes in their leadership corrects the situation.
We can support the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis but more than that, we should see what it is we are helping. Just making sacrifices will not get the people anything. Vietnam is before our eyes and not only the sacrifices of the Vietnamese people, the sacrifices from the life of every individual outside Vietnam, to make that happen thru demonstrations and protests and see what it is the state we helped to succeed. Not even any of the leftists would like to live in that place.
Palestinian Authority now has a radio station. What does it broadcast? Friday prayers (namAze jome)? Shouldn't Muslims go and create their own TV station and pay for the Islamic programming such as namAze jome from their own donations rather than the state paying for it, in this case Palestinian Authority paying for the broadcast of namAze jome. And this is what they broadcast with the state's money.
We all know what is wrong with the
Palestinian movement, but still it is a fad in the Iranian progressive forces to
always worry about Zionists ruling us, and always think of Palestinian movement
as our friends, although the reality of the last
Others like Noam Chomsky and Robert Fisk have not been much different from Edward Said either and IRI has been using the words of these authors to get the support of Iranian progressive forces all along. A short look at the policies of various forces of opposition, from leftists to MojAhedin to Jebhe, shows that they all are pro-Palestine in the Palestinian-Israel conflict, and if anybody asks to be fair-minded, and sees both side of the Palestine-Israel conflict, there is the faryAd of vAveylA (scream of "betrayal").
The more time passes, I see the wisdom of the students and workers in Iran whose slogan was "felestino rahA kon, fekri beh hAle mA kon" meaning "stop wasting more time on Palestinian issue and focus on Iran". Basically there is not much the Iranian opposition can do about Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, except being distracted from the real development issues of Iran and the Middle East, when building post-Industrial societies in that part of the world is important, rather than being preoccupied with this ethnic issue for this long.
It is in fact long overdue that we should
not be siding with IRI agents, and should not ally with them against the so-called
Zionists, who are none but those who are fed up with the Islamic republic and
its Qods anniversary days.
Forces like Iranian student groups that are directly opposed to preoccupation
with Palestinian issues*are* the groups that have formed Iran's pro-democracy movement in
10. Mojahedine Khalgh Organization (MKO)
This is what I wrote in 1994 following the Mashhad tragedy. When a friend's relative dies of old age and you attend the services, you say condolences, but what can you say to people who have lost a loved one in the Mashhad tragedy of bombing Imam Reza Shrine in 1994 killing the pilgrims? I once was in this kind of situation. The sister of a friend of mine with her three kids died in a very similar tragedy. I was speechless. I did not know what to say. After thinking it over, the following were my thoughts.
I think what killed those innocent people is an attitude which is present in some supporters of all religious and political groups. You could be the supporter of one of the most dictatorial and fascistic groups or governments, and still not have the attitude I am referring to. You can be the supporter of the most democratic organization, but have that attitude. I believe, this attitude, is the killer of the innocent, and it is responsible for many other similar atrocities all over the world. What is this attitude?
It is the attitude of believing that *end justifies the means*. Let me give an example. I have known individuals who were devout supporters of IRI, or devout communists, or devout monarchists, or devout MKO supporters, or devout liberals, but they were very good individuals. They had some personal standards which they observed. Call it the Ten Commandments of Moses. Call it simply being good.
I think we all have a feel for what it means, because we all have experienced the moments that we have known an ideology or group which we hated, but at the same time we have acknowledged some so-and-so individual in that camp as a real good person. Once I saw a devout Muslim who knew such an individual who was an atheist, and that Muslim would call that atheist, as a "real-Muslim-who-is-not-aware-of-what-he-is". So we all know such feelings.
In contrast, I have seen supporters of the same groups or schools of thought, who would lie or hurt or do anything to achieve their *end*. In other words to achieve what they want, they do not mind how they would get it. So it can be lying, it can be killing the innocent people, it can be torture, it can be anything that can get them one step closer to their goal. I think this attitude is what kills people and any cult or group or party advocating such attitude of *end justifying means* is responsible for such atrocities.
If an individual has some criteria in life that would consider such acts personally abhorrent, no matter what any group, creed, ideology, religion, party, or government says, such an individual will never commit such crimes against humanity. But on the contrary the individual who thinks end justifies the means can commit any atrocity in the name of freedom, peace, religion, love, country, and you name it there is abundance of such causes one could pick up in the attAri's (grocery box) of all schools of thought.
The ones who I call good people, would feel more hurt, if they see the group or school of thought they feel close to, is committing torture, murder of dissidents, or a crime like this massacre. They have a reference point in themselves, that does not allow them to commit such acts, and they feel hurt in their heart, when they see that there are still people in the world, who call themselves humans, and still believe in *end justifying the means*.
The rise of MojAhedine Khalgh Organization (MKO/MEK/PMOI) started with the fall of Shah's regime. Previous to the fall of the Shah's regime, Iranians thought of MKO as an armed extension of Nehzat-e Azadi liberal-Islamic organization, from which the founders of MKO had come from. Also the Iranian democratic movement thought of MKO as intellectually naive, because of its mixing of Marxism and Islamism. Those inside MKO who sincerely saw their views to be Marxist-Leninist, soon left the MKO, as they saw they were living a lie.
The killing of Sharif-Vaghefi by Taghi Shahram of one of the Marxist-Leninist factions, who had split from the MKO organization, helped MKO to justify itself as an innocent victim, and for a long time, various groups of Iranian left were in unison in their support of MKO as a democratic group, although they all fought among themselves.
Only the moving of MKO to Iraq, caused many of these radical individuals and groups to part with MKO. So they never really took a position as to what was wrong with MKO and they just separated their way from MKO because of MKO's collaboration with Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, a brutal Iraqi regime which had invaded Iran.
The reality is that MKO was never a Marxist-Islamic group, the way Shah's advisors called MKO. At the time of founding of MKO, most of the progressive movements in the world used Marxist theories to analyze their struggle and using such theories did not really define the nature of such groups.
Even Seyed Qotb of Egypt who was a prominent Islamic fundamentalist, used Marx's theories extensively in his works . This has nothing to do with the real thought structure of MKO. MKO was really not a Communist group in Iran even from the beginning. There were many groups such as hezbe toodeh or sAzmAne enghelAbi or chrikhAye fadAyii which were really Communist groups, siding with Soviets, Chinese, or Cuban Communists. But MKO was not like any of them.
MKO was from the beginning similar to a Nazi-Islamic opposition to the regime. They wanted to revive the glory of Iran's Shiism using the latest achievements of the radical theory and movement. Their formation was a lot more similar to the formation of the Syria's Baath Party and Germany's Nazi Party than being similar to any Communist or Islamic organization.
The Islamic fundamentalists separated their way from MKO. Even some factions of MKO such as Meysami's faction, which were not much different from the rest of MKO, and in their ideologies were similar to Syrian and Iraqi Baath Parties, separated from MKO and joined the fundamentalist Islam of Khomeini. But this did not change the fact that the MKO tradition has basically been a Nazi-Baathi tradition separate from a fundamentalist Islamic tradition.
I think in one respect, Iranians were lucky that MKO was not able to come to power, and thanks to their collaboration with Iraq, got isolated on a nationalist basis by Iranian people. But on the other hand because of staying as opposition for a long time, many people think of them as a democratic-modern opposition, which they are *not*.
MKO is not anything different from Nazis and Baath parties, before those parties came to power. Only those parties came to power in Germany, Syria, and Iraq, whereas MKO lost to the Islamic Fundamentalists.
I think the wrong analysis of MKO has been the main reason that the Iranian democratic and progressive movement has not been able to properly deal with it. MKO is a real fascist Nazi-Baathi-Islamist type party. I am not writing this as an insult. This is the ideology of MKO, and for over thirty years, the progressive movement of Iran, has had an incorrect appraisal of this organization.
I have explained before that MKO is a block to the development of the Iranian democratic movement and should be dissolved. Although many who have joined this fascist cult, have done it to fight the IRI, but they have been brainwashed feeling that leaving MKO means helping the Islamic Republic and betraying their democratic ideals.
The dissolution of MKO (Mojahedine Khalgh Organization) is the best for the growth of the democratic and progressive movement in Iran. It is wrong to appease MKO. Any democratic organization and individual thinking to appease MKO, to find an ally for democracy and progress in Iran, are wrong, the same way Banisadr was wrong to have such hopes in MKO.
The appeasement of MKO is just like the appeasement of Hitler by Chamberlain. The Iranian progressive movement should wake up from decades of wrong analysis of MKO.
This is how one can understand why MKO went to Iraq. They did not go there by mistake. They saw the Baath Party system as their model and they did not feel bad about living in the Baathist Iraq. True that the Syrian and Iraqi Baath Parties have had contradictions, and one can expect the same conflicts between MKO and Iraqi or Syrian Baath Parties.
Let's remember that the Communist countries and parties had conflicts within themselves, but basically they all shared the same path. There is not much of a difference between the Baathist type ideologies, and the ideal system they want for Syria, Iraq, and Iran is similar. MKO has a Nazi ideology inspired by radical Shi'a movements of the past.
The Nazis also were inspired by the past liberation movements in the history of Germany. This is how one can understand the indoctrinations of the MKO cult, and the way their female members all "accidentally" happen to like to wear scarves on their "own". This is the result of the brainwash to change their reality, like EST and other similar cults do to their members. Nonetheless, we are not dealing with something like EST.
MKO is not just some naive people joining a harmless personal adventure. It is a Nazi-type armed organization. Their terrorism is part of their ideology. Iranian people were lucky that we avoided the Khmer Rouge of the Communist alternative, and we have been lucky to have avoided the Baathist path of Iraq and Syria, which was being pursued by MKO.
If MKO had succeeded in 1981, they would have been the Khmer Rouge of Iran. Giving sacrifices does not make them right, the same way that Nazis in Germany, and Khmer Rouge in Cambodia gave many sacrifices before coming to power.
The Iranian progressive and democratic forces should take a strong position on MKO fascism and should call for dissolution and complete liquidation of this organization. This organization can become the next Baath Party of the Middle East, if they come to power, and appeasing MKO is like appeasing Hitler's fascism by the Western democracies, before Nazis took over power in Germany.
The appeasement of MKO should be avoided at all cost. Their appeasement will not help the cause of freedom, democracy and progress in Iran, the same way appeasing Hitler did not rescue the West from Stalinism, and allowed Hitler to destroy the Western democracy. MKO coming to power can push back democracy and modernism for Iran and Iranians for another 20 years.
It is time to ask international human rights organizations including UN to investigate violations of human rights by MKO. The charges of human rights by MKO leaders have been raised by former MKO and NCRI members and others. There are numerous reports from reliable sources about imprisonment and torture of former members which should not be ignored.
Human Rights organizations need to ask the U.S. to give HR groups access to that organization in Iraq, to determine the issues of imprisonment and death of dissidents by MKO in Saddam's Abu Ghoreysh and other jails, reported by former MKO members.
For years, every time anybody opposed MKO politics or ideology, MKO tried to damage the critics' reputation (heysiat) by harassment and intimidation and calling the opponents as IRI Information Ministry agents, to shut up the critics, always end justifying the means. Iranians are tired of replacing one regime with another, and still seeing violations of human rights stay intact. MKO has been using the excuse of fighting IRI, to justify the anti-human rights practices of that organization.
I have witnessed the dishonesty, intimidation and harassment of dissidents by MKO members and sympathizers, and their training which is based on "end justifying the means", the same mentality that allowed Nazi functionaries to feel fine to follow the orders to burn people in concentration camps, without feeling guilty.
MKO operatives have played with reputation (heysiat) of even the former NCRI leaders like Mehdi Khanbaba Tehrani and Hedayatollah Matin Daftari, calling them IRI Information Ministry agents, when those people had political differences with MKO and left NCRI.
I have seen this mentality of MKO on various Internet forums, which has been directed by their organization and not condemned, and if they get control over post-IRI Iran, we cannot expect anything different. This may seem like a minor thing, but it shows the mentality that is taught in the brainwash of this cult, which ends up to justify the murder of those who leave the organization as being a fine revenge.
Every free thinking Iranian should be free to express their opinion and Iranian people are *not* the sympathizers of this group or any other group, for these groups to decide how people should think, and the right of dissent is one of the most important basic rights of members in any political and ideological organization and people should not feel the life of them and their family is endangered if they decide to leave an organization.
Members or sympathizers of any groups should be able to have their freedom of thought and freedom to dissent from any organization they join. The violations of human rights by any political and religious group must be reviewed by international human rights organizations, before these groups come to power, or else we can end up with another dictatorial force in power in Iran.
HR violations have not been an issue of just IRI. HR violation were the reason Iranian people made a revolution against the Shah, and we should make sure not to end up with such dictatorial regimes again in post-IRI regime in Iran.
If any opposition group be allowed to suppress freedom of thought and expression, it is not far-fetched to say that in the post-IRI regime, we will again end up with the same despotism and violations of human rights in Iran, for which we have dedicated time, energy, and sacrifices all these years.
Any force that harasses opponents by calling them IRI Information Ministry, is doing the same thing IRI did, when IRI justified its violations of human rights, on the basis of Islamists' martyrs in the anti-Shah's uprising and in anti-Iraq war. Times have long passed for any Iranian organization to intimidate and curtail freedom of speech on the basis of political considerations.
In 1994, I wrote an article about Stoning in IRI and condemned the violations of human rights in Islamic Republic of Iran, and since then there are hardly anybody questioning the value of human rights monitoring of IRI. It is time to do the same about MKO and monarchist that are violating human rights, and any relations with any of these groups must be based on human rights conditions.
Any political group condoning the actions of MKO, because of political considerations, or blocking HR monitoring of MKO, shows its own disregard for human rights principles for future Iran.
As I wrote in What about MojAhedin-e Khalgh, I need to emphasize that there are people in MKO who have joined that organization, not to work for Saddam, but to fight the atrocities of IRI, and their human rights should be defended, and they would be the real beneficiaries of HR monitoring of MKO.
I have been harassed and intimidated by IRI for calling for HR monitoring of IRI, and I am being harassed and intimidated by MKO when I ask for MKO monitoring. I do not care for all these threats.
Human rights and freedom of thought and expression are so important to Iranian people, that even if they can shut me up, there will be others to make the same call to the international HR organizations to examine violations of human rights by MKO.
What IRI and MKO need to know is that times have long passed when Iranians would keep silent and forgo their human rights and freedom of expression, because of these forces enumerating martyrs. IRI has done enough of that to justify its violations of human rights for over two decades.
The martyrs are a better proof why we need freedom of expression and human rights, rather than replacing one dictatorship with another, and again ending up struggling for our human rights giving more martyrs. Our goal is not to give more martyrs. Our goal is to achieve human rights in Iran.
The human rights are a principle, period. Any state or organization in Iran of the future, should abide by the HR principles, and nobody should push such issues under the rug, because of their political alliances.
We do not need the repetition of what some Kurdish groups did in 1980, when they won power in Kurdistan, and they also suppressed human rights and freedom of expression, and killed people in their so-called people's courts, with no defense attorney and no proper courts, and instead used the hang him screams of agitated masses as justice.
And they attacked anyone who spoke against those practices, intimidating and calling the critics as jAsh (meaning regime's agent) and sent detectives to see what they would say to others, rather than upholding the principles of human rights rather than dropping them with excuses of exigencies of the moment, the way Lenin justified the murder of Tsar's family.
We do not need to see any errors like that by Iranian democratic opposition. Martyrs and fighting a past regime, gives no right to any organization to suppress people's human rights and freedom of speech. Or else when these groups come to power, we will end up with the same dictatorship, but with a new organization in charge.
Using tears for martyrs to justify curtailing of the human rights, with buts and ifs, is wrong, and IRI has done enough of using tears of victims of past atrocities to commit new atrocities and violate the human rights of new victims, for over two decades.
The self immolations of MKOcultists in France, further showed the atrocities of MKO leadership, who sacrificed their own members in such terrible ways, to help their leaders, when there was no threat even to their leaders, when summoned to court in a democratic country like France, and they waited long before telling members to stop self-immolation.
It is true that most people who have joined this cult, did not do it out of their love for Saddam Hussein, with whom MKO cooperated for years. In fact, those who joined MEK did it because they wanted to fight the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has been oppressing Iranian people for 24 years.
Therefore I concur with some analysts who care for the MKO membership to protect them against IRI attacks. The members of this cult should not be punished for their genuine intentions, that had been the rightful aspirations of all Iranians to oppose Islamic Republic of Iran, and they should be protected by the U.S. army from IRI attacks.
Protection is different from giving arms, while MKO structure and leadership is still intact. Actually all the records of cooperation of MKO and Saddam all these years, should be published by the U.S. and especially the records of MKO using Saddam's prisons to torture and kill dissidents.
And the leadership of MKO (also referred to as MEK and PMOI) must be tried in courts of crimes against humanity for the atrocities they have committed against the dissidents of that organization.
The MKO former members who have spoken in many interviews are credible, and their allegations about MKO leadership should be reviewed, in a court of crimes against humanity, and those in MKO leadership responsible for those atrocities must be brought to justice.
I think the former MKO members should be included in human rights teams visiting MKO camps; and the new Iraqi government should allow the HR organizations to visit those camps in Iraq, to investigate the allegations of human rights violations.
As long as the people in the leadership of MKO, who have been involved in the human rights violations, are running that organization, it is wrong for any state or organization to cooperate with MKO, without seriously taking these issues of human rights violations into consideration.
Let me repeat that there are people in MKO who have joined that organization, not to work for Saddam, but to fight the atrocities of IRI, and their human rights should be defended, and those would be the real beneficiaries of HR monitoring of MKO.
And I am sure there are reformers inside MEK, even at the leadership level, who care to end the anti-HR practices and MKO attacks on IRI opposition, and those individuals should likewise be helped by international HR organizations, in their own struggle against the dictatorial and cultish practices of MKO.
In short, any cooperation with MKO should be based on human rights conditions and those in MKO who are responsible for the violations of human rights of dissidents, and harassment of Iranian opposition, must be tried for their atrocities in an open court of crimes against humanity.
Finally it is wrong to return MKO members or leaders to IRI. IRI is the reason for all that is happening with MKO. If MKO was free to express its thought in Iran, I doubt it even if they could attract 500 people, and they would have melted down two decades ago.
The reason people have joined MKO is because of the promise of this cult to replace IRI. And IRI with all its murders of dissidents and opposition, is the last to have any right to sit in judgment of MKO members and leaders.
The MKO leaders should be tried in courts of crimes against humanity, and trading them with IRI, will only make them martyrs and heroes, and this fascist cult will continue to be, although in secret. The best way to deal with MKO is to bring out the violation of human rights into open in an open fair court like the Nuremberg.
11. Monarchy, Republic, and 21st Century Constitution
A. Reza Pahlavi and Referendum
The agents of Reza Palavi are blaring for democracy in every corner because I have said for Iranian people, that people do not want monarchy, and because I wrote that people because of fearing the return of monarchy and coming to power of mojAhedin Khalgh Organization (MKO), have not taken the last step to end Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), and the monarchists are angry that I have written Dissolving Monarchy and MKO is the Way to End IRI.
And as usual the agents of monarchy and MKO throw the dirty swear words, while Reza Pahlavi sits with so-called "humility" and pleasance in TV interviews, and talks of not having political ambitions, and repeats that he is very democratic, and says that he will follow people's vote, when people choose between monarchy and republic in a referendum. But what is the reality?
Can Ayatollah Monatazeri also ask for a referendum for the position of VF and see if Khamene'i or Montazeri, will get the popular votes? Iranian people have not voted for the person in charge of VF, and if one says that is not an elective position, then by definition monarchy and kings are not elective either.
Let's assume tomorrow Mr. Banisadr to request for a referendum about the remainder of his presidency, and says that he is a real democrat, and wants people to decide about his role, and not that the intellectuals tell him that he is not sought for by Iranian people.
In fact, Banisadr has more legitimacy to ask for such a vote by the people, because he left Iran fearing for his life from VF, and not like the Shah who left fearing the *people*. Banisadr was forced to escape before the end of his term of presidency, and no referendum was held after his departure, although he had come to his position by people's vote, and not by kinship. It is true that because of Khomeini's recommendation, Banisadr won the presidency, nonetheless it was an election.
In contrast, with regards to Shah's monarchy, not only people went to the streets shouting "Death to the Shah," for at least two years, before February 1979, people also voted overwhelmingly after the Revolution, in a referendum, for ending the monarchy, and in fact the Islamic Republic, used the anti-monarchy vote, to legitimize the Islamic Republic, because Secular Republic was not among the choices. Even now, any vote would never bring back the monarchy, and people's fear is that monarchy to be pushed on Iran again, as in the 1953 coup, by the U.S.
The Pahlavi monarchy has been history for 25 years, and even though there has been a referendum for it once, and people have overwhelmingly rejected it, Reza Pahlavi has made the monarchy, people's problem again, for 25 years, and people ask if monarchy is going to be forced on them by the U.S. again, and the choice of a CIA prime minister in Iraq, has added to these fears, and let's not ask what all this says about Reza Pahlavi's claim of so-called not having political ambitions!
Have the Iranian people come from behind the mountains (a Persian expression!) Mr. Reza Pahlavi likes to force a vote on Iranian people for the power of his family, and this is why he is not calling the end of Pahlavi Dynasty. And this way we can understand the meaning of the democracy he is advocating.
If this is democracy, why not all other Iranian families ask for vote for monarchy in the name of their respective families? Are other Iranian families any less than the Pahlavis? Is it democratic that they ask for referendum for their family to be kings and queens, and others can't?
If the criteria is a family, then the family of Dr. Mossadegh have more of a democratic tradition than the Pahlavi family. Then how about calling for monarchy of Mr. Matin-Daftari and vote for that? Of course, I know Matin-Daftari would not be interested in such a referendum.
These talks are all games. Mr. Reza Pahlavi better come down from his horse and not think that the threats of his agents and the logic that I noted above, can deceive the Iranian people.
In reaction to the threats of his agents, we will also defend ourselves, and the swear words of Sha'boon Bimokhs will be returned to Reza Pahlavi himself, the same way we defended ourselves in front of the bullets of the Shah. This is not the August of 1953 anymore, that they can deride us by their swear words and intimidations and Iranians will fight back the monarchist thugs.
25 years of continuation of Sha'boon Bimokh's legacy in Iran, by his hezbollahi colleagues, like Allah Karam, has taught Iranian people a lot, and we know that the day after the collapse of IRI, we will have to face the Sha'boon Bimokhs of monarchy and MKO. It is a shame that after all these crimes by the thugs in the last 25 years, these opposition forces are the same dictatorial forces of the Shah and Islamists.
Just recently in Spring 2004, Iranian monarchy, in the funeral procession of Susan, the Iranian singer who passed away in Los Angeles, had Sha'boon Bimokh next to the flower bouquets of Reza Pahlavi and Farah Pahlavi, escorting. If Mr. Reza Pahlavi is so much interested in democracy, the first step is to announce the end of Pahlavi dictatorship, and not to revive its symbols like Sha'boon Bimokh.
Iranian people never had the opportunity to vote for a secular republic, and in reality, Reza Pahlavi is again sacrificing secularism, for the interests of monarchy, and in his closed-door agreements with various mollahs, he is promising them sharing the power, which translates to weakening of Iran's future secularism. Why? Because Reza Pahlavi wants to trade secularism with mollah's support for restoration of monarchy.
Iranian pro-democracy movement had said about 1953 coup to be a CIA coup, years before official documents showed it to be the case, and today we are saying about the secret deals of Reza Pahlavi and the mollahs, and future will show if we are right or not about him compromising secularism for the sake of returning his family to power.
B. Monarchy distracting Iranian pro-democracy movement for secular republic
For over two decades the political debate inside Iranian political circles has revolved around the issue of so-called "monarchy" versus republic, and this has wasted so much time and energy of IRI opposition without any tangible results. One may think the Iranian monarchists are another group of Iranian intellectuals, who happen to want to form a monarchy in Iran, just as there are groups of Iranian political intellectuals who want to form a "democratic republic" or a "socialist republic" in Iran.
This is a completely erroneous view of reality, but it has become a perception, which is causing a lot of useless debates, that has nothing to do with the political reality of Iranian opposition. These technocrats were *not* political intellectuals, albeit the pro-Shah ones, but were and *are* simply the technocrats of the time of the Shah, who shared only the economic and technical aspirations of the Shah's time, and at best tolerated the repressive political system of Shah's monarchy, including its Savak.
This is why all the discussions about Mossadegh versus the Shah, or similar discussions about the system of monarchy, really have nothing to do with what these educated people are looking for, when they refer to themselves as the so-called Iranian "monarchists". They were technocrats who were thrown out of the system with Shah's regime falling apart, and in fact they shared with the political intellectuals of Iran, even during Shah's regime, the desire for a modern system in Iran.
Monarchy was a block to prevent these technocrats to unite with the majority of Iranian political intellectuals, the intellectuals who were *politically* striving for a modern system in Iran, at the expense of getting arrested and tortured by Shah's Savak. The elimination of monarchy should have helped the unity of Iranian technocrats, with the democratic and modern-minded Iranian political intellectuals, rather than setting these two main sections of Iranian educated people, face to face as adversaries, under the opposite flags of so-called "monarchy" and republic.
The Iranian monarchists of the last 20 years are basically *not* a faction of Iranian political intellectuals, alongside the liberal and socialist political intellectuals, although they *are* a very educated group of Iranians, who are basically *non-political* technocrats, who mostly *avoided* politics due to the dictatorial political system of Shah's years in Iran, and their ideals have nothing to do with the repressive political system of monarchy in Iran.
In other words, as far as Iranian *political* intellectuals are concerned, they have all been republican all these years, although some being futurist, democrat, secular, liberal, socialist, religious, or other shades of the political spectrum. Except for a very small handful of Savak functionaries, there are hardly anyone asking for the *return* of the past monarchy, and *past* monarchy is the *only* platform for monarchy, since we do not know of any group or family striving for start of a *new* monarchy in Iran.
It is now time to drop the useless discussion of monarchy versus republic, and start planning a republic that would be *modern* and *secular*, before it is too late. It is not to the advantage of Iranian technocrats (aka so-called Iranian "monarchists") to end up in a state like that of Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, which is another Islamic Republic, albeit a more liberal one.
After all these sacrifices, the Iranian technocrats, as well as all the people of Iran, deserve a true secular democracy, a federal democratic republic, rather than another version of an Islamic Republic. We should focus on developing the constitution of such a republic. We do not have an existing monarchy to look for ways to moderate it thru constitutional reforms. We need a brand new republican constitution for Iran to begin with, a document that can work as the proper roadmap for our future. Now let's take a look at the republican groups.
After Reza Khan changed his republican plan, and went for a monarchy of his own, still the opposition of Mossadegh to Reza Shah, was to block him from having all three branches of government, and basically nationalists asked for the new Pahlavi monarchy to be a constitutional monarchy. In the later years, Mossadegh and Jebhe Melli called for "shah saltanat konad na hokoomat" (king should be a monarch and not a ruler), and this became the motto of Jebhe Melli all thru the years of 1949 to 1978.
Jebhe and the Islamists were *not* republican, and as far as secularism, Jebhe did not even challenge the veto of five mojteheds in the old constitution of Iran, and always worked closely with the Shi'a clergy, and considered eslAmiat and Iraniat as the two bases of unity of Iran. When the likes of Ahmad Kasravi were murdered, Jebhe basically kept silent, and continued working closely with the clergy.
In the last years of the Shah, Ayatollah Khomeini went for an "Islamic Republic", and only in the last stages of the 1979 revolution, Jebhe Melli broke up internally, and one part headed by Dr. Shahpour Bakhtiar stayed with the monarchy, and the other part of Jebhe, finally gave up its efforts of moderating the monarchy, and supported Khomeini's plan of *Islamic* Republic.
Ever since the start of IRI, Jebhe Melli has become a republican force, but only in the sense of trying to moderate the Islamic Republic, supporting one IRI faction after another, within the so-called reformist factions of IRI, and *not* being a thorough secular republican force, calling for an end to Shi'a clergy's presence in the Iranian state.
Jebhe Melli has been calling for the removal of the VF (IRI Supreme Leader) in the Islamic Republic, or to have VF as a constitutional king who does not rule. Jebhe has never called for removal of Shi'a clergy from the judicial or other branches of government in Iran.
Furthermore, Jebhe Melli still does not support federalism in Iran, and their economic plan for Iran, as far as the oil industry is concerned, which comprises over 90% of Iran's economy, is still supporting the state ownership, the state ownership which has always been the pillar of dictatorship in Iran.
Nonetheless, Jebhe Melli and some other liberal forces of the past, alongside forces like Jebhe Demokratic (IDF) and others, who originally were Islamists, and some of the old leftist and socialist forces, are some of the forces from Iran's past political groups who have come to terms with the new aspirations of Iranian people for a fully secular republic in Iran. Even some of the political forces that used to be monarchists have also recently come to terms with this aspiration of Iranian people, and have realized that the path of monarchy is a dead-end for Iran.
C. Why monarchy in Iran will always end up in despotism?
Although I have written on numerous occasions that a secular republic in Iran is *not* a guarantee of democracy, nonetheless, I have always emphasized that a monarchy for Iran *is* a guarantee for despotism, and the myth of democratic monarchy for Iran, by giving examples of Spain or England, can only deceive those who do not understand the Iranian monarchy.
For a while I thought Reza Pahlavi's main intention was human rights in Iran, and not the return of monarchy. This is why I hoped that he would distance himself from those wanting to bring back Shah's dictatorship, and would *abdicate* the throne, and announce the end of Iranian monarchy.
I even wrote a defense for his work on human rights, and in an open letter to him, I suggested that he be the first to call for a secular republic in Iran, and initiate a constitution conference for the future, to plan a democratic constitution to avoid another dictatorship, after the fall of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI).
All my suggestions to Mr. Reza Pahlavi were based on the assumption that he would *abdicate* the throne, and when he did not abdicate, and actually added his reliance on those who want to bring back Shah's despotism, the initiative for forming the unity of Iranian movement passed Reza Pahlavi.
Around the time of July 9, 2003 (18-Tir anniversary), when there were numerous calls to him from Iranian political activists to abdicate, he just ignored them all, and this is how his dual role for the Iranian movement ended, and since then, he has been fading away in the Iranian political scene. It is noteworthy that in contrast, unity *for* a secular republic, and *not* unity of republican, is in progress, and it is having its own leaders.
Reza Pahlavi's talk of referendum proved to be a way to legitimize his quest for return of his family to the throne. He says people can choose his mythical democratic monarchy in that referendum, and he will abide by it. Well, if one was going to abide by a referendum, there was one held over 20 years ago, which overwhelmingly discarded the monarchy in Iran. And if he does not accept that result, why should he accept the result, if monarchy loses again, in another referendum! He can claim again the referendum not to be a legitimate one, and the saga can continue until the monarchy wins.
And if monarchy wins in these hypothetical referenda, would monarchy allow the people every few years, to make such a decision again by holding referenda? In other words, would the monarchy be willing to institutionalize it, that say every four years, people be given a right to decide if they want to keep the monarchy or change it to something else. If today we argue that those who made the decision in the previous referendum, did not have the right to decide for those who are now living in Iran, and are eligible to vote, then isn't it reasonable to expect to have such referenda about the system every few years?
I wrote to Reza Pahlavi in my open letter that if he sincerely believed in democracy and human rights, he should call the end of Iranian monarchy and be the first one to criticize Shah's regime for its violations of human rights, and to condemn Shah's using of Islamists, to offset the victory of the democratic forces of Iran, which is how IRI was created.
The truth of the matter is that these are all political games. If Reza Pahlavi really believed in being an ordinary Iranian citizen, he would have abdicated the throne a along time ago, to be in the same status as any other ordinary citizen, with the same political rights. People do not go to the poles to decide not to be allowed to elect anymore their leaders anymore.
If Reza Pahlavi be allowed to pass his political office by inheritance, thru this referendum, others can also get such privilege to do so, as it was during feudal times, and in Iran and elsewhere, when many state offices were also hereditary and not just the office of the king. And from the other direction, why his child should have the right to become a king but the children of others should not have such a right. What in this rule is equal opportunity of citizens, and selection by qualifications?
D. How the Myth of Democratic Monarchy is Blocking Real Unity of Iranians?
Basically Reza Pahlavi's myth of democratic monarchy has blocked the unity for a secular republic in Iran. This distraction has been the most important factor to distract Iranians from issues of the future to those of the past monarchy, impeding the progress of formation of the leadership for Iranian pro-democracy movement to remove IRI.
It is true that anyone is free to think and advocate what they believe, including Reza Pahlavi, who wants to advocate this myth. But at the same time anyone including me, has a right to show how this diversion is thwarting the change of regime to a democratic secular republic in Iran. Freedom of speech does not mean that only Reza Pahlavi can have the right to advocate his quest and others cannot. Moreover, my critic is not anything personal about him. My discussion is about political issues, that are pertinent to secularism and human rights for Iran's future.
The real nature of monarchy in Iran is not defined by what Reza Pahlavi says about "democratic monarchy", when he is living abroad, telling us the fairy tales of monarchy of Spain and Sweden. Even Ayatollah Khomeini when living abroad spoke of "democratic Islamism", but later in Iran said democracy is a Western concept and Islam is fundamentally opposed to it.
The reality of monarchy and Islamism in Iran, is independent of what the myth-makers promise. Iranian monarchy will not become a Swedish monarchy by nice talks and PR (public relations). In fact, for bad systems, the worst happens to people, when the system is sold, by the words of public relations of a sweet salesmen.
The leading monarchists of
The monarchists blamed their failure on foreigners, leftists, democrats, and again and a gain blamed their failure on treason and collaboration of some of their generals with mollahs, etc., but never cared to blame the monarchy's Savak, dictatorship, and corruption for its demise.
If one compares the leading Iranian figures
associated with the failed Iranian monarchy, with some leading
Russian figures associated with the failed
Although Yeltsin was
part of the central committee of Soviet Communism, he was the first to blow the
whistle on its dictatorial and corrupt system. Iranian
monarchists with a short phrase of "mistakes have happened" free themselves from
talking about the past atrocities of monarchy in Iran and
until they do as the x-Soviets did, all of Reza
Pahlavi's talks of referendum are nothing, but a tactic to bring the same
type of monarchy, back to power in
I think that anybody has a right to be a monarchist. Just like anybody has a right to be an Islamist, and advocate it, but anybody also has a right to be a critic of them and challenge monarchism and Islamism without the fear of being harassed by their henchmen, from Sha'boon Bimokh (a wellknown monarchist thug who now lives in L.A. and is treated as a celebrity by the monarchists) to Allah Karam (a wellknown IRI thug who worked with Sha'boon Bimokh during the Shah and now works for IRI.
I have to say what a catastrophe it would be if monarchy ever returns to Iran. The same way that the likes of Sepahbod Zahedi were followed by the likes of Ardeshir Zahedi, the progeny of them are keeping the line of succession in the ranks of Iranian monarchy today although not on the front.
E. Monarchy and Statism
Current fascinations with pre-Islamic
The predominance of state ownership of water in the past, and state ownership of oil in modern times, is one reason for strength of state central power in Iran.
Even today with the pressure of the non-centralized forces
of different Shia Ayatollahs, the Iranian state has
not broken apart, something that quickly happened in
It is more the state that pays the people, than people paying the state by taxes. The state remains the biggest landowner and the biggest capitalist in Iran
Although Reza Pahlavi has lived in the West for so long, he still has not settled the issue of his own succession when he has daughters and not sons.
One may wonder why Reza Pahlavi does not take the initiative to change the law of Iranian monarchy to allow women the right to succeed. The answer is very simple, he wants to keep the image of permanence of monarchy in people's mind, and any change can damage the eternalness of the monarchy state which is what they like to project.
Every time an Iranian dynasty changed, the suitor would act as the Naieb (deputy) of the former dynasty for some time. Nader Shah did that with regards to Safavids, and Reza Shah did it with regards to Qajars. Why? Because they do not want the mentality of change to enter the mind of their supporters who should think of it as timeless.
Thus, although changes have been pushed on Iranian monarchy, whether by Iranian people's movements or by the foreign powers, if left by themselves, Iranian kings would not wish any changes in the Iranian social psyche and prefer to project their dynasties with unchanging timelessness.
One may ask the reason of monarchy's emphasis on
projecting timelessness? My answer is that
The most prominent one used to be the
nomadic tribes (ashAyer), which are still a strong decentralizing element
In modern times,
political thought has also grown into a decentralizing element. I think with
the exception of
Also in modern times, education, health, and social
services have been primarily state-owned in countries like
As the world standards were being scaled up in these arenas, and following people's pressure from below, the main owner of the country, the state, became the deliverer for such services. In the case of education, being a *must* for industrial development, the state had no choice, but to make it happen, when Iran entered the partial industrial development, even before Reza Shah, at the time of Amir Kabir.
Monarchy gets its legitimacy from its historical roots of Persian Empires, where their "natural" way to deal with diversity was centralism, although the Persian Satraps of Ancient Persian Empire were more like federalism than centralism of French monarchy, centrist model which was followed by the modern monarchies of Iran. Central state power is how monarchy moves in the direction of despotism.
Even more than 20 years after the overthrow of the Pahlavi's, Reza Pahlavi does not even try to fool the opposition abroad, by taking a strong position against the acts of Savak. Why? Because Savak was the most suitable organization for despotism of Iranian Monarchy. The iron beds that were used by Shahpoor-e Zolaktaf of Sasanids were very similar to the torture tools of Savak. Reza Pahlavi knows that he is going to need those executioners if he comes to power, and thus his window-dressing in the democratic West is very limited.
One may argue that 70% of the above factors are also
true for a republic, and my response is that yes that is true, and such a danger
exists, and this is why I am very doubtful of using
Keynesian economics to design
This is why a republic by itself does not guarantee
The main threat of falling back to monarchy is not just
from the monarchists. Even dynastical republics like Azerbaijan and Syria are a
danger to be avoided in the new Iranian constitution. Any sincere monarchist of
the past, who claims to care for secularism, human rights and democracy in
F. Monarchy and Secularism
As far as the issue of secularism, the dilemma of monarchists is not just the fact that 1906 Constitution, which monarchists support, assumes the Shi'a religion as the official religion of Iran, and accepts the veto of 5 mojteheds (grand Shi'a ayatollahs), as the final say on all laws of the land.
The monarchists' distance from full secularism is basically due to the erroneous assessment they have of the fall of Shah's regime.
The monarchists think that Iran had progressed too fast during the Shah, and they think that had been the reason for Shah's fall, and they are taking a step backward in their current plans for Iran's future, especially with regards to the Western values such as secularism, and this is why they try so hard to give concessions to Shi'a ayatollahs and to show their following of Shi'a occasions all around the year.
In short, monarchy is the worst poison to advocate for
I have explained the issue of secularism in Iran, in another article, and do not need to get into more details here.
G. Monarchy and Human Rights
If Reza Pahlavi was honest about his dedication to human rights and democracy, he would have fully condemn the atrocities under the Shah. Once he spoke good of Dr. Mossadegh about 10 years ago, and some of his associates reminded him not to do that again, and today, when even the Islamic Republic, is disregarding Khomeini's vicious attacks on Mossadegh, and pays respects to Mossadegh’s tomb, Reza Pahlavi is way behind IRI in this charade, because of the limitations of the position of Iranian monarchy in dealing with its atrocities of the past.
Reza Pahlavi should have called the end of the system of monarchy for Iran, which is nothing but the prospect for another era of dictatorship. He should have participated in formulation of a constitution for a democratic republic, to work with others to make sure all the necessary checks and balances are predicted in the future constitution, and in doing so, I am sure the dictatorial forces would have flown away from his surrounding, and some of them would have looked for another king.
This is how a real unity of Iranians based on the possibilities of the future, and not "glory" of the past, with a real focus on human rights, could have been formed, and not using human rights slogans, to return the despotic monarchy. The unity of Iranians around Islamism or Monarchism belongs to the pre-industrial past of Iran, and ever since mashrootiat (1906 Constitutional Movement), the advanced forces of Iran, have called for the unity of Iranians around democracy, civil society, and law and other possibilities of the future, and not the glory of the past Persianism or Shiism.
Just saying unity, is not much different from what Khomeini advocated, who talked of unity to use the other forces to remove the regime, without clearly stating *what* regime was planned to replace the removed regime! And a referendum to legitimize monarchy by emotional voting after fall of IRI, is not an alternative, just as it was not in 1979!
The goal is *not* to unite the Iranian *opposition*. The goal is to *unite* Iranian *people* and any unity with the Monarchists, reduces the chances for uniting the Iranian people, who see the reality of Iranian monarchy to be a powerful anti-human rights system. The majority of *Iranians*, and not the *British* or *Swedish* or *Spanish* people, want a secular republic with respects for human rights. Iranians are not looking for a Juan Carlos.
Iranians do not want to pay for a figure-head. We want *accountable* positions, and are tired of the figure head games which Khatami and Khamaene'i have played, when questioned on human rights violations, and they have played the game better than all constitutional monarchies, which for better or worse, we never had under the Pahlavis.
Reza Pahlavi could have pulled up his sleeves and started democratic organizations in the US, where he lives, to show if he is capable of creating any democratic organization, before Iranian people would trust him as an ordinary citizen for a *democratic* leadership of the whole Iran. Abdicating the throne would have shown if he had the confidence to do it on his own. But he decided to keep his position as a future king and just talk of human rights and referendum to legitimize his bid for the return of the monarchy.
H. Reza Pahlavi and the U.S.
True that nobody stops those royalists in France, to call themselves constitutional monarchists 200 years after the fall of monarchy, and the two constitutional monarch candidates of Iraq, can dream on as long as they want, but if US and UK try to push such a so-called constitutional monarchy on Iranian people, they will only get back the hate of Iranians, the hate Iranians had for US and UK all during the Shah's time.
Iranian pro-Democracy activists do not want to become the launch pad for Pahlavi Dynasty to get back to the throne, and then Pahlavis' only loyalty again to be to their foreign masters, who bring them back to power, and to the Savakis who kill and murder for the monarchy, and have never had any respect for human rights.
The Iranian people and freedom-fighters who have been killed by IRI all these years, for speaking up for democracy and human rights in Iran, will then become the morgheh aza va aroosi (chicken of both funeral and wedding), and will go back to Evin prison, and the first to kill them will be the Savakis of the Pahlavi monarchy, who are even making threats to pro-Democracy activists abroad right now, in meetings and forums, before they have even returned to power again.
Reza Pahlavi all these years avoided to create an organization abroad, because if it turned out to be a dictatorial organization, it would be written on his record. But how does he want the people to trust him with the organization of the whole country of Iran, when the only record of Pahlavi's organization is that of Reza Shah and Mohammad Reza Shah, which was a complete despotic political organization of the country.
We do not want a constitutional monarch. Even as late as April 1977, there was a chance for the Shah to become a constitutional monarch, when in his speech, he said "people I have heard your voice". But a few months later, he ordered a military government and shot the demonstrators on the street. People go for moderating a monarchy when it exists, not twenty four years after its fall. It is time to ask the United State government to announce in no uncertain terms that U.S. forces are not going to be the launch pad for Reza Pahlavi to come back to power in Iran.
RP has stopped even responding to Iranian democratic forces, that have repeatedly asked him to hear us, that we do *not* want the return of monarchy, and until he *abdicates* the throne, he has no right to speak on behalf of Iranian people whose human rights have been violated by both the monarchy and IRI.
Reza Pahlavi does not respond to the Iranian intellectuals, the same way Shah always ignored to hear our voice, and finally the people had to come out with their feet to the streets, to say that they do not want his system.
Is Reza Pahlavi hoping for the U.S. help like the Shah, and then when failing, is he going to blame the U.S. again, rather than himself, for not responding to the call of Iranian intellectuals, before the situation gets more critical? Is he thinking the U.S. press and officials are going to make the change in Iran, or he believes in the Iranians, and if the latter then why doesn't he spend his time to answer to Iranians who have repeatedly asked him to abdicate the throne?
Many factions of monarchists have already left the monarchy platform, and have called for conservative republican political parties based on free market economy, but Reza Pahlavi is listening more and more to dictatorial shahollAhis, who are the reason why Iran is where it is today.
Pahlavi Dynasty is not a theoretical academic issue for Iranians. It is a symbol of despotism. Even today, the whole complain of Iranian people about IRI has been the fact that VF (Valie-Faghih) and GC (Guardian Council) under IRI act like offices of monarchy, and people even call the VF Khamene'i as the new Shah, to show their dissatisfaction with IRI.
This is what the connotation of monarchy and Shah is in Persian. In other words, the word new Shah people use for Khamene'i, is to show their hate for the unelected VF position, then how could people want the return of monarchy, when their main opposition to IRI is the partial monarchy of VF position of Khamene'i.
Therefore to any honest observer of Iran, it is obvious that Iranian people do not want the return of monarchy. How can this obvious fact be hidden from the eyes of U.S. experts. Reza Pahlavi is after his vested interest of returning Pahlavi monarchy to the throne, with the U.S. help, and he tries to use a formula of referendum for republic vs monarchy to deceive people, and this fact has actually turned off the people from even supporting the referendum slogan.
Shah's former Savaki beneficiaries are writing their dreams of return of monarchy for Iran, and a few U.S. officials may still believe them, but the reality is that such dreams are nothing but nightmare for the Iranian people, and the fear of people from any such eventualities has helped IRI to stay in power all these years.
I. Reza Pahlavi's Dual Role Tactic Not Working Anymore
Ever since Reza Pahlavi chose a new tactic of a dual role of calling himself a private citizen, while not abdicating as the inheritor of Iran's Pahlavi throne, he created a confusion for both republicans and monarchists, but at the same time he created a unique role for himself in the Iranian opposition movement by choosing this new tactic.
Reza Pahlavi, before using the new tactic, was not of any significance in the pro-democracy movement of Iran.. He started speaking about human rights abuses in Iran, and about serving Iran's pro-Democracy movement, and abiding by people's decision in a referendum regardless of whether Iranians choose a republic or a monarchy. Nonetheless he still kept his title to the throne.
The reason the movement finally stopped to respond to Reza Pahlavi's dual role, was when on the anniversary of 18-Tir around July 9, 2003; numerous organizations and leading figures of Iran's opposition asked RP to abdicate, if he was sincere in calling himself a private citizen, and Reza Pahlavi ignored all their calls, and took the high ground of repeating the etehAd (unity) slogan without even responding to the critics.
Let me also note that many of the so-called Iranian monarchists are really neither monarchist nor political, and are basically former technocrats, the same way many Iranian singers abroad are artists of Shah's time and are erroneously referred to as monarchists, and they >have more in common with the secular republican opposition, than with the dictatorial forces of Reza Pahlavi's *in* circle, the ones who want to bring back Mohammad Reza Shah's despotic regime.
These technocrats were *not* political intellectuals, albeit the pro-Shah ones, but were and *are* simply the technocrats of the time of the Shah, who shared only the economic and technical aspirations of the Shah's time, and at best tolerated the repressive political system of Shah's monarchy, including its Savak. They were technocrats who were thrown out of the system with Shah's regime falling apart and in fact, they share with the political intellectuals of Iran, the desire for a modern system in Iran.
In other words, as far as Iranian *political* intellectuals are concerned, they have all been republican all these years, although some being futurist, democrat, secular, liberal, socialist, religious, or other shades of the political spectrum. Except for a very small handful of Savak functionaries, there are no one political intellectuals asking for *return* of the monarchy.
Return of monarchy, calling it constitutional party or RP party, *means* nothing but return of *past* monarchy, because *past* monarchy is the *only* platform for monarchy. We do not know of any individual or group or family striving for start of a *new* monarchy in Iran.
To summarize, what made Reza Pahlavi special, is what he did for over five years, when approaching the movement not as the next king, but sitting between two seats as a king and a private citizen. This new strategy helped him to ascend in the opposition's leadership role and it is ironic that those who were responsible for this successful strategy, seems like are no longer in his *in* circle.
In the previous years prior to the dual role, just calling himself the next king, Reza Pahlavi failed to gain any status in the Iranian opposition. Reza Pahlavi's dual role ended in July 2003, when he did not respond to the calls of main political activists of Iran to abdicate, if he was sincere in calling himself an ordinary citizen. Reza Pahlavi, instead of abdicating, reinforced the shahollAhis in his *in* circle. He is now back to those days of his single role and is rapidly fading from the leadership of Iranian pro-democracy movement.
J. Unity for a Secular Republic Not Unity of Republicans
In sum, as shown above, it is a proven fact that Iranian monarchy will *not* be democratic and the myth of democratic monarchy is just used to return the despotic monarchy.
The reason I call for a secular republic in Iran is not because of having any illusion of thinking such a republic would guarantee democracy in Iran. On the contrary, anyone knowing Turkey and similar dictatorial secular republics can witness that such an illusion is very far from the truth.
In other words, with the monarchy, we will surely have despotism but with a secular republic, we may end up in a democracy or in despotism, depending on how we handle the constitution and the practice of implementing it.
This is why I emphasize that people should make sure that our secular republic does not end up in a dictatorship and thus the need for a thorough work on the constitution of future secular republic of Iran, to create a democratic blue print to strive for, as well as cultural and social work to maintain democracy in Iran.
The above is the reason why I *oppose* the programs of unity of republicans of Iran, which is *not* the same as unity for a secular republic, because many of the current republicans of Iran, are neither for democracy nor for secularism.
In contrast many of those ranked as so-called monarchist, are now forming new republican groups, with free market economy and secularism in their platforms, and they are the ones who will be the real allies for in the unity for a secular republic and not many of the mellimazhabis, who are not even thorough republicans and are busy making deals with the Iranian monarchists. Deals that are compromising secularism in the post-IRI regime.
K. Dissolve Monarchy and MKO to End IRI
It has been 25 years that Iranian pro-democracy movement is fighting the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), a regime that unlike Shah's regime, has no international support, nor does it have powerful programs and capable cadres to rule Iran. The main reason for the failure of the movement is because the opposition has become synonymous with two anti-democracy forces, and those two forces are Reza Pahlavi's monarchy and the mojahedin khalgh organization (MKO).
Every time the Iranian people were able to overthrow IRI, because of the fear of possibility of these two forces coming to power, they hesitated to take the last step to end IRI, and this way IRI has stayed in power for 25 years.
If with the help of the U.S., monarchy or MKO come to power in Iran, the next day, the people will go to the streets chanting down with that regime. The problem is not the uniting of political groups with monarchists and MKO, our issue is that unity with these two forces, will block the unity of Iranian people, who hate these two forces as much as they hate the Islamic Republic.
Iranian pro-democracy movement does not need Reza Pahlavi, to tell us about human rights and the dictatorship of IRI. We have fought Pahlavi dictatorship for over half a century, a regime that Reza Pahlavi wants to restore for us. Consequently, why should the people make the same mistake as in 1979, and to bring a force to power that has been the executioner of our pro-democracy movement.
On the other side, MKO wants to bring its own version of Islamism to power in Iran, and doing it 25 years after the imposition of another version of Islamism by IRI. Why should we want to bring to power the Islamism of MKO, that had fought alongside our enemy Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War, and has been as bad as IRI with respect to its human rights records.
Monarchy and MKO, even before coming to power, are mafia type organizations, where they send their agents, like Sha'boon Bimokh, and attack the pro-democracy forces with dirty words, while their leaders Reza Pahlavi and Mariam Rajavi, talk nice and pretty in TV interviews, the same way hezbollAhis attack intellectuals, and Ayatollah Khamene'i claims not to know about it, smiling pretty in TV interviews.
Reza Pahlavi is Iran's Ahmed Chalabi who wants to use the U.S. to get to power, and MKO is the Khmer Rouge of Iran, but an Islamist version of it, and Iranian people are very aware about it, and do not want to allow these two forces to get a chance to come to power in Iran.
The best Reza Pahlavi can do is to announce the dissolution of monarchy in Iran, and the best Rajavis can do is to dissolve mojahedin organization (MKO), because these two forces are the main obstacles in front of the success of Iran's pro-democracy movement to end IRI and to form a secular republic in Iran.
Many of those who have joined these two forces, have done so in order to end IRI, and to form democracy in Iran, and the dissolution of these two groups will help to free the honest people in their ranks, to join the pro-democracy movement, instead of wasting the time of themselves and others with the Myth of Democratic Monarchy , and instead of wasting their energy in the activities of MKO against the Iranian pro-democracy movement.
In Oct and Nov 2002, Iranian students movement gained momentum, but the moment the Los Angeles monarchist TV's tried to connect that movement to Reza Shah's 17-Dey anniversary, the movement stopped. This showed the level of awareness of leaders of Iran's pro-democracy movement, because the people hate monarchy and MKO, as much as they hate IRI.
Before July 9th (18-Tir) last year, a similar event happened, when the forces of Iran's pro-democracy movement, clearly and in no uncertain terms, asked Reza Pahlavi to abdicate from the throne, and he evaded their calls, and continued his game of dual role of private citizen and future king, and the movement left him behind. It is now obvious that his dual role is to deceive the people to restore monarchy in Iran.
Iranian people do not want monarchy. All the complaints of Iranian people during Khatami and the Sixth Parliament of IRI revolved around the issue of VF (Valie Faghih) and GC (Guardian Council) which are like monarchy institutions in the IRI law, and are not elected offices. People in their demonstrations, even express their resentment of Ayatollah Khamene'i, by calling him the new Shah, then how can they want restoration of monarchy, when the opposition of people to Khamene'i, and Khomeini before him, was exactly because of VF having a role similar to a king in the Constitution of Islamic Republic.
To any impartial analyst of Iran, it is clear that Iranian people do not want monarchy, and thus how could this obvious reality be hidden from the eyes of Reza Pahlavi, except that he is after the interests of the Pahlavi throne, so that with the help of the U.S., and using his formula of referendum, defining it as a choice between republic and monarchy, in the agitated environment of fall of IRI, to reach his goal of return of Pahlavi monarchy.
It is exactly this dreadful prospect that has made the Iranian people to hesitate to fully support the plan of referendum, and also this is the reason why Reza Pahlavi spends his time to talk to the foreign press and officials, rather than to talk to Iranian intellectuals, because he knows monarchy is finished for the Iranian people, and wants to restore it and come to power by the foreign forces.
Nonetheless, times have long passed, since the days that Iranians did not have secular republican organizations, and monarchy and MKO could show themselves as the representatives of the people. One good thing that happened during all these years of Khatami, is the fact that new secular organizations were formed in the last 8 years, organizations that have the trust of people. The republican secular organizations today, are more organized, than all the years of 1953-1979 of Shah's time.
In contrast, the monarchists are some of the old functionaries of Shah's time abroad, who are hated by the pro-democracy activists, because they are symbols of repression of human rights during the Shah, and those from the past movement, who are serving the monarchists today, are making a big mistake, to promote the "all-together" slogan of Khomeini today, this time from Reza Pahlavi, when the functionaries of the past regime, are trying to use them to come back to power, the same way that Khomeini used them by his "all-together" slogan.
As far as MKO, even raising the posters of Shariati in the students' demonstrations of Oct and Nov 2002, damaged the popular support for the students. Shariati is a reminder of IRI and MKO, and the people resent Islamism whether by IRI, MKO, or others, and they want full secularism.
Iranian people have said it time and again that they do not want Khatami, because he does not want a *secular* republic for Iran, then how could they want an Islamic government of mojahedin which is another form of Islamism, and even knowing about the violations of human rights by them against former members, and their cooperation with Saddam during the Iran-Iraq War.
If the U.S. helps IRI, monarchy, or MKO in Iran, the hope of Iranian people in seeing the U.S. as the ally of Iranian pro-democracy movement, will be diminished. Just think if the U.S. tried to support the royalists of France, to come to power by U.S. military assistance, because of its conflicts with the current French government, then the French people would hate the U.S. forever for doing that.
Iranians just like Americans, want to vote for president in a *secular* republic. When secular republic is so important for Americans themselves, why some U.S. officials prescribe monarchy for Iran. I hope the U.S. to tell Reza Pahlavi in clear and no uncertain terms, that the U.S. will not help the coming to power of monarchy in Iran, and if he wants to join the pro-democracy movement of Iran, he should announce the complete annulment and dissolution of Iranian monarchy.
The same way, if any member of mojahedin wants to join Iranian pro-democracy movement, they should dissolve MKO or leave MKO, and either form democratic organizations, or join the existing pro-democracy organizations.
P.S. For more explanation about referendum, please see One Mistake-From Constitutional Movement to Today, and New Constitution-Referendum of Progress and Petrifaction.
12. Lobbyists, Human Rights and Islamism
Now looking back, I would say if I was writing this article today, surely I would not write it the same way, but the gist of it would be the same, and in fact it proved to be true that the campaign for stopping stoning, and other similar barbaric practices of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), even within the IRI, was possible, and this is what five years later, moderates of this very system itself, the journalists of "Zan" magazine in Iran, were trying to do, when asking for ending this barbaric practice of stoning, using religious arguments, before getting shut down. And finally in response to international pressure after the EU talks, the stoning practice was stopped in Iran, albeit still not removed from the IRI laws.
Nonetheless, today it
is not enough to ask for ending these practices within the theocracy of Islamic
Republic of Iran. There is now no doubt for the Iranian
people that no reform within the theocratic system of Islamic Republic
of Iran can end the human rights abuses in
And it is all evident that the religious state, theocracy itself, must be
and should be replaced with a secular democratic
Asking for separation
of state and religion is not just a theoretical conclusion today.
It is the result of 20 years of religious apartheid in
In the past ten years, I challenged those who were asking for unconditional removal of sanctions; and all I asked for, was to put a human rights condition for any removal of sanctions, but the IRI apologists made rumors calling me MKO sympathizer, etc, and making all kinds of personal attacks on me, simply because I consider their pseudo anti-aggression stand, as playing in the hands of Islamic Republic, which tries to show itself as an anti-imperialist underdog, when in 1981 and 1988 massacred the Iranian opposition, by the director order of IRI leader that IRI lobbyists want to talk sense to.
I am glad that after the recent students uprisings, many former IRI apologists have become more responsive about the human rights issues in Iran, and actually the position of the EU countries that they support today, is all that I was asking for in those days, when I asked for connecting human rights conditions to the removal of sanctions, and it sounded like such a heresy to them in those days.
The IRI apologists unabashedly posted the news of hezbollAhi demonstrations in Tehran, on their so-called independent news websites, and used headlines like “Iranians take to the streets in nation-wide anti-US protest " when describing hezbollAhi government demonstrations in Tehran. Did hezbollAhi agents represent Iranians? If Iranians had the freedom to go to the streets, they would demand a referendum to replace Islamic Republic with a democratic futurist republic, and anti-Islamic Republic protests would sweep all over Iran.
Since the murder of thousands of innocent people by the Islamist terrorists on Sept 11 in the U.S., the IRI apologists’ websites tried their best to show the stands of Islamic Republic as the wishes of Iranian people, and tried not to mention a word about the terrorist actions of Islamists, such as the terror of Kasravi, Bakhtiar, Ghasemloo, and Foruhars or the death threat of Islamic Republic leaders against Salman Rushdie and others.
This is at the time when the world public opinion was the most receptive about the issue of terrorism, and the IRI apologists try to silence the real voice of Iranian people, the people who have suffered the most by the Islamic Republic’s terrorism for over two decades. The magazines and news sites of Islamic Republic apologists tried to depict a picture that whoever does not support Islamic Republic is with the imperialists, MKO, or Reza Pahlavi, and they used this fallacy to get many honest authors to become lukewarm towards Islamic Republic.
IRI apologists did the same thing during the bloody Iran-Iraq war. True that Iranian people never like the ones like MKO who collaborated with Iraq, but at the same time, Iranian people did not support the Islamist Fascists either. Islamic Republic is the bastion of Islamic fascism in the Middle East and the world, and trying to show Iranian people as supporters of this murderous regime is the worst any news service can do.
These magazines and news sites whitewashed the murders of all the brave people like Bakhtiar and 1988 political prisoners, and did not have the honesty of even a standard news service to reflect the positions of the ones who stood up for democracy and progress against the Islamic Republic in the last two decades. They never mentioned anything about the 1988 IRI massacres of political prisoners. No matter what justification they use for their pseudo-journalism, they are in the footsteps of the lobbyist groups who are either agents or naïve supporters of the murderous regime of Islamic Republic of Iran.
Of course today the students movement is asking for secularism and these sites have just arrived at asking for human rights within the Islamic Democracy oxymoron which they support. Also not all these groups and individuals were IRI agents and many of them just cared about fighting the discrimination of US against Iranians on issues like fingerprinting. But the leaders of these groups are basically related to IRI although on surface they are independent and even some of them do not say openly that they are IRI lobbyists but they have worked with the lobbyists all these years.
Among the HR organizations, only MEHR.ORG of Dr. Mohammad Parvin has been well aware of this issue, and this is why he has been under constant attack by IRI lobbyists. The real Iran lobbyists are people like Dr. Parvin and MEHR, who in a way lobby for Iran and Iranians, and if they can create a voting block, they can really impact the US stand on IRI, and effectively defend the rights of Iranians abroad, at times like the recent discriminations in the U.S. against the immigrants.
Real Iran lobbyists are *not* those who work for IRI, but shed crocodile tears for Iranians fingerprinted, and they use all their lawyers and other means to attack and hurt opponents of IRI, and have a gossip factory against those who have challenged their lobbyist activities all these years, by calling their opponents as MKO, etc. Everybody knows that IRI which supports terrorists and has murdered many dissidents like Bakhtiar during all these years, is the real reason why Iranians have to deal with all these discriminations in the first place.
Thus it is noteworthy to remember that these kinds of issues are very significant for an Iranian who cares about future and futurist view, and futurism is not just about forecasting and analysis of trends. For example, we should stop the Western press from using terms like Iran or Iranian lobbyists, instead of IRI and IRI lobbyists, when referring to Islamic Republic and such organizations. They should call these pro-IRI groups, IRI lobbyists which they are, and also we should ask the press to stop using the words Iran and Iranian when referring to IRI and IRI reps.
It is so upsetting when I see headlines saying "Iranians rally for Hezbollah in Tehran" when the rally has been an IRI rally by its paid basijis. The correct headline should be written as "IRI supporters rally for Hezbollah in Tehran". These are all important to highlight the human rights issues, and the fact that IRI is not a representative of Iranian people.
The crimes against humanity of supporters of Islamic Apartheid and their attacks on progress and human rights, has not started with their brutal terrorist attack on World Trade Center in New York. It has been going on for a long time and the West had heard it loud and clear the first time, with the fatwa of Ayatollah Khomeini to kill the author Salman Rushdie, because of Salman Rushdie’s book opposing Islam.
Islamic Apartheid has been trying to lynch Salman Rushdie for over a decade before Sept 11th, and the West basically was appeasing IRI. Even though Iranian government distanced itself from the fatwa, but the terrorists in Iran openly collected bounty money to kill Salman Rushdie, and nobody in the Western governments took those seriously to stop those open acts of terrorism to hire hitman to kill an innocent writer in the West.
The Islamic Apartheid has slaughtered many of its opponents such as Shahpour Bakhtiar and Abdol-Rahman Boroumand, in cold blood, while basically the West stayed silent and did not take any drastic action, not wanting to risk a change in the status quo of the Middle East, where only the safe flow of oil from that region, was all that the Western states cared for. Likewise the atrocities of another state of Islamic Apartheid, the Islamic Fundamentalist regime of Taliban in Afghanistan, was known for a long time. But instead of condemning them for crimes against humanity, they were appeased for a long time, year after year.
The atrocities of Islamic Apartheid has been around long before they took power in Iran in 1979 Revolution. The fatwa to kill Ahmad Kasravi, by the mullahs in 1950’s was the best example of their resorting to murder to silence their opponents, the opponents who called for progressive society in the Middle East. Ahmad Kasravi, a progressive author in Iran, not having much security, long before Islamic Republic, was easily murdered by the Islamic Apartheid terrorists. Elsewhere in the Middle East, the Islamic Apartheid has not been any different..
The main supporter of the U.S. government in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, is a fundamentalist Islamic state, which openly discriminates against followers of other religions such as the Jews, and justifies the stone-age Islamic punishments of beheading and stoning, and discriminates against women . In fact, many of these countries have religious authorities, who supported Khomeini's murder fatwa against Salman Rushdie, but one seldom hears about it, because they are supporters of the U.S.
Things changed after Sept
11th. Regardless of what various
governments did in response to the WTC bombing, one thing was certain, that
the Islamic Apartheid lost its legitimacy with the heinous atrocity of World
Trade Center in New York. Islamic fanatics could no longer pretend as victims
anymore. The victim game that the Islamic Republic and its agents had
played for so long, while committing the crimes against humanity, would not work
anymore, to get the support of some pseudo-intellectuals in the West
Iranian government allowing terrorists to freely collect money and plan for the murder of Salman Rushdie cannot be acceptable anymore. When world opinion would hear of stoning of a porn movie star in Iran, or killing Foruhars and writers for their ideas inside Iran, which happened and were ignored before Sept 11th, one would now ask about what Islamic Apartheid is doing to humanity. Yes, their gesturing of defending themselves against the imperialists, and showing themselves as victims, does not cut it anymore.
The bombing of WTC by supporters of Islamism was equivalent to the burning of Jews in concentration camps by the Fascists, when after the publicity of their atrocities, they lost their legitimacy, and could no longer justify their murderous ideology, under the cloak of combating decadence.
Finally it is very sad that the Middle Eastern people are being attacked as Islamic fanatics in the West. Majority of the people of Middle East, in countries like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Middle Eastern countries, as well as the Middle Easterners abroad, are the ones who have opposed the Islamic Apartheid more than all the Western people and states, and they have made many sacrifices in their challenge of Islamic Apartheid. Among them, dissidents like Dr. Shahpour Bakhtiar in Paris and Foruhars in Tehran who gave their lives in standing up for human rights in Iran.
There is no doubt that the real force of retrogression in the Middle East is Islamism, whether in the form of retrogressive Islamic ideologies of Islamic fanatics in Iran, or the Islamic Fundamentalism of Taliban and Saudi Arabia, and these Dark Forces of retrogression should be challenged by all progressive-minded people all over the world.
In 1998, I wrote an article entitled "Using Freedom to Kill Freedom" to describe the actions of Islamists in Iran, when there was a partial democracy right after the 1979 Revolution, and how the Islamists used freedom of those days, to intimidate and attack women and democratic groups, to establish their power in Iran.
In April 2003 right after the fall of Saddam's regime in Iraq, the heinous murder of Ayatollah Khoi, who had just returned to Iraq happened, because he opposed the Islamists and stood for separation of state and religion, and the crime reminded me of the same intimidation Islamist dark forces had done in Iran, before they established their rule, using fatwa killing and street attacks on the democratic forces, to scare the opposition to choose appeasement of them, and finally to rule the country unchallenged.
I remember the first weeks after the 1979 Revolution in Iran, when the women had a demonstration for their rights, and these Islamists, acting as if they were the voice of the disadvantaged, would run on the streets, attacking the women with slogans like "yA roosari, yA toosari" (either cover your head with a scarf or get hit on your head).
I vividly remember those days in Tehran, when many in the Iranian democratic opposition, made a big mistake, thinking of Islamists and their tactics, as the aspirations of Iranian working people, and thus called such intimidations and attacks, as the voice of Iranian people, and advised the people not to resist it, and this is how they appeased these dark forces, and the Islamists succeeded in their attacks on women and democratic forces, and in winning full power in Iran.
The result was that after the women, it was the various opposition forces that got the same treatment by the Islamists, and were eliminated from the political scene of Iran, and then they continued their intimidations by the terror of Shahpour Bakhtiar in Paris and murdered Kurdish leaders in Europe, and finally back to Iran, they slaughtered legal opposition figures Forouhars, in Tehran. This is how the rule of Islamists was established in Iran.
Islamists' record of intimidation and cold-blooded murder is not much different from Stalinism and Nazism. Many Iranians are scared, even when living abroad, to speak up about the atrocities of Islamists. Steven Emerson has written his experiences of how he had been intimidated by the Islamists, when being a U.S. native citizen, and living right in the U.S., and the number of times he had gotten death threats to stop him from his opposition to Islamism. When they do this even in the West, then one can imagine how they act in a country like Iraq, to intimidate the democratic forces.
Also the IRI lobbyists in the West, using their money and their hired lawyers, have tried to pressure the opponents of Islamic Republic, using an independent facade, trying to close the Internet sites of the dissidents in the U.S., using fake personal charges.
Today the Islamists have started doing what they had done with Iranian opposition, now in Iraq. The heinous murder of Ayatollah Khoi, a Shi'a Ayatollah who was against them, was to show that they would not even spare people from the ranks of Shi'a clergy. This is not their way of showing force, but this is their way of showing their brutality and cruelty, which is continuing today by murdering ordinary people, to scare the opposition and secure position in the future state of Iraq.
What Iranians have learned, in a very tough lesson of over two decades, is that giving in to the Islamists, will not stop them, and they will do more. They even killed Iranian intellectual Ahmad Kasravi, during the Shah's regime, long before coming to power, because Shah's regime, as well as some forces of Iranian opposition, tried to appease the Islamists.
I have seen that even in the West, how Islamists used freedom to kill freedom , by profanity, intimidation, and death threats, even on the Internet, to shut those who opposed Islamism. They even maimed one Iranian comedian in Los Angeles, during a street demonstration, a few years ago.
The answer to their intimidations, and their use of freedom to kill freedom, is not to curtail freedom and democracy, but the answer is to protect democracy. The answer is to make sure when they break the law, they are punished accordingly. In other words, if they set up a demonstration and attack people, or if they come and attack democratic gatherings, they should be arrested.
If they make death threats, they should be investigated and those from the high-level clergy, who have issued the kill fatwa, should be also arrested and prosecuted in a court of justice. Their money sources, that is khoms and zakAt, which is received by Ayatollahs from the Muslims, must be taxed, and if they evade to pay taxes of these religious dues, they should be treated according to the law. And if their religious money resources is used to pay for hit-men, the accounts must be blocked, and their religious constituency informed about it.
The Islamists should be allowed to have rallies and demonstrations, as long as they are not using threats with guns or sticks, and are not making death threats or attack others, in other words, as long as they are civil.
But any intimidation and attacks by them on women, democratic groups, or individuals, should be severely punished. If they attack democratic newspaper offices, which is what they always did in Iran in the years of semi-democracy in 1941-53 and 1979-1981, to stop the people from gaining secular knowledge, they should be arrested and stopped, rather than allowing them to do such attacks in the name of working people.
Ordinary people do not do these actions, and these thugs, who act as ordinary people, are paid and supported by high-level Islamist clergy, who issue religious decrees (fatwas) to hit and kill opponents, and they should not be appeased, and must be stopped by the secular democratic state, or they will wipe out the secular democratic state, whether in Iran, Iraq, or Afghanestan.
The mistake of the interim government of Iran, after the revolution of 1979, was that it caved in to the intimidations of Islamists, and in less than a year, the Islamists were controlling everything. The interim government of Afghanistan, after so many years of Taleban's dark rule, still caved in to the Islamists, and called the secular state of Afghanistan, an Islamic government, and they kept the power of Islamists in the judiciary intact.
The secular people of the Middle East, are now looking at how the Islamists will be dealt with in Iraq, and whether the winner will be democracy; or the Islamism will be allowed once again, to use freedom to kill freedom.
At the beginning of Iraq War, a discussion had opened up in the intellectual circles as to whether appeasing Saddam Hussein was like Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler, and why Saddam's regime must have been overthrown, before it becomes a threat like Hitler's Nazism. Regardless of whether the assessment of Saddam's regime was correct or not, one thing for sure has been a fact in the last 25 years, and that is the reality of Islamism being a reactionary movement, threatening not only the Middle East, but the whole world, and it has been appeased until the 9/11.
The Islamist reactionary movement took power first in Iran in 1979, and then showed its ugly presence in Afghanestan and other countries of the Middle East, and not only it was appeased at the beginning, like Hitler's Fascism, but contrary to Hitler's Germany, it did not have a short life in Iran, thanks to its appeasement by the European states, and the efforts of IRI lobbyists in the U.S., it has stayed in power for over two decades, reminding one of long life of similar despotic ideological states in the Soviet Union and the Eastern Block.
With the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Shi'a Islamists have been targeting Southern Iraq, hoping to create another Islamic Republic in the Middle East. The best way to fight them is *not* by suppressing democracy, but is to *protect* democracy. What does protecting democracy mean? It means that one should not allow them to close down secular journals and media. One should not allow them to intimidate the rallies and gatherings and parties and associations of secular forces by their guns and knives, etc.
Protecting democracy means one should not believe the Islamist Ayatollahs and gang leaders to be the representatives of the Shi'a people. It means the Ayatollahs who issue any criminal fatwa, must be arrested, and punished according to the human rights standards of the world, and must be tried in the world court for crimes against humanity.
Basically Islamism is a reactionary movement, just like the rise of Nazism, when it started in Europe. But the more democracy is *protected*, this reactionary movement will break up more. In contrast, the more it is appeased, this movement will become more united, and even will control any dissent, like it has been doing in Iran for over two decades.
In Iran, the first major dissent of the Shi'a Islamism was the MKO that has been an Islamist group, but with some protestant elements in its thought, questioning the role of the clergy, and they were suppressed within two years after the success of the 1979 Revolution, and they have been slaughtered all these years by IRI, and they mainly moved out of Iran, mostly being based in Iraq.
Another major dissent in Shi'a Islamism happened recently by the speeches of Aghajari of a group called "mojAhdeine enghelAbe eslAmi", and a death sentence for Aghajari was issued by IRI courts which was finally annuled.. Aghajari's MEE group worked with IRI all these years, and Aghajari himself had supported Khomeini's death fatwa against Salman Rushdie, and even now, he still supports the death fatwa of Salman Rushdie. After students' protests, Aghajari's death sentence was changed. Now if there was any democracy inside Iran, this dissent of Aghajari would have grown into a full-blown branching of Shi'a Islam.
The Islamists want to keep the environment in Iraq a closed society. Under Saddam's closed society, they grew, although they were in opposition, and under an IRI-styled dictatorship of their own, they will be able to grow and keep a semi-unity too. But in an open society, Shi'a Islamists will break up, just like all dictatorial groups.
In other words, as soon as democracy is *protected*, these reactionary despotic groups will split, and their pseudo-unity will become history in a short while. Their unity is the unity of ignorance and intimidation, whether under a dictatorship they oppose, like Shah's regime, or under a dictatorship they control, like Islamic Republic of Iran.
Shah's error in Iran was that he thought by suppressing democracy, and not by *protecting* democracy, he could win over such forces. Whereas the best way to win over these forces in not just creating democracy, but more important than that, is to *protect* the democracy.
Finally if the democratic state develops in Iraq, the final break up of Shi'a will follow, and forces ranging from MKO, mojAhedine enghelAbe eslAmi, Moosa Sadr's son, Sistani, Hakim and others will find their own constituency, and even the extremist KKK-type groups among them, will be limited to their small constituency, and cannot claim to be representing all of the Shi'a population, and this development will help the break up of the rule of Shi'a clergy in Iran and elsewhere as well.
The only answer to Islamism is formation of secular states in the Middle East. Those who are thinking to appease the Islamists, by consenting to an Islamic government in Afghanestan, Iraq and elsewhere, are doing a real disservice to humanity, worse than what Chamberlain did in appeasing the Nazis.
Middle East is no different from Europe and the majority of people in the Middle East *want* secular states and the Shi'a mollahs and Islamists, who try to misuse the religious rituals, to create the image that people in the Middle East want Islamist states, are playing the same old trick they played in 1979 in Iran. In fact, it is the reverse, and islamists try to pretend that they have the support of the West to get the support of their own people. The issue is that creating Islamist states is the goal of the Islamist reactionary movements, and it should be opposed by all freedom-loving people of the world and this is the pre-industrial backbone of violations of human rights in the Middle East.
In the 21st Century, the Islamist Dark Forces should not be allowed to misuse the religious feelings of the people, to force another religious state on other people of the Middle East. Majority of Shi'a people inside Iran, in an open society, would tell any unbiased observer, that they want to have a secular state, and they have wanted IRI to go for a long time, and will never want any other sort of an Islamic state in Iran in the future.
13. Pro-Democracy Movement
If one looks at the Iranian movement for change of IRI, thinking of traditional political parties, thoughts, groups, etc., basically one will end up seeing nothing in horizon not only to challenge IRI but also to replace it. 99% of the movement to challenge IRI has had nothing to do with any of these groups.
The truth of the matter is that in opposition to the *theocracy* in Iran, a strong *secular* movement for a new republic has been forming in the last three decades and this movement encompasses journalists, writers, students, teachers, workers, and other social groups of Iran which are coming forward one after the other without any calls of any of the traditional groups, personalities, etc. Anytime any of those traditional groups and personalities made any calls, nobody showed up.
The organizations of writers, journalists, lawyers, students, teachers, and workers, organizations such as Jebhe Demokratik Iran and kAnoon-e nevisandegAn, are creating leaders who are the main threat to the IRI and this is why we saw the Saiid EmAmi killing of Foruhars and the writers, not that Foruhars' own organization was that important, but because he had lined up with this new trend in Iranian politics, which is commonly referred to as the third force.
I do not know how each individual in this movement, from Heshmat Tabarzadi to Simin Behbahani to a lot of lesser known other activists, writers, journalists, teachers, students, workers, and others will end up having a role in this movement and in Iran's future, but I think Hoviatis had seen it coming that they picked someone like Mohammad MokhtAri to assassinate, because exactly such individuals are the ones who will replace the IRI leadership, one way or the other.
Even the Students
Movement of the last decade in
movement is actually a part of a strong intellectual movement in
The students movement of Nov/Dec 2002 and May 2003 in Iran reminded me of the last years of the Czech's Communist Regime, where old political groupings, and the most popular figure among them, Alexander Dubcek, lost their popularity quickly, as the movement got momentum, and Vaclav Havel, an author, unknown in the political circles, rose to be the leader of the powerful new movement for change.
On the other hand, Reza Pahlavi's speeches in 1999, were taken seriously for the first time in many years, because he disassociated himself from the Shah's monarchy and wanted to play a role like Sihanok in Cambodia, where talking mostly of secular democracy, and focusing on referendum for the future of Iran. Sticking with the strong desire of Iranian people for a referendum, and having intellectual supporters of monarchy, such as Shaheen Fatemi to speak on his behalf, than staunch monarchists of Shah's time, helped his call to gain support. Although it did not take long to see that the plan of democratic monarchy in Iran is not more than a myth.
In other words, the 1979 Revolution and 1990's Reform have long faded away, and the old political alternatives have little credibility to attract any serious following. Political groupings of the past are all trying very hard to be *the* alternative, but what is obvious is that the people are looking for new leaders elsewhere, not among the old political groupings of the past.
People are looking
for new leaders among the authors and journalists and among other intellectuals,
the ones who have not been necessarily associated with any political movement.
What Iranian people are doing about politics, is a new
way of looking at the political destiny of
A. Issues facing Iran's pro-democracy movement
I do not think anybody in the Iranian opposition would disagree that there is something seriously wrong with the Iranian opposition of the last two decades, or it would not have failed so miserably to change the regime in Iran. Islamic Republic of Iran has been around for over two decades although it is one of the most undesirable regimes in the world, both by the Iranian people living under its rule, and by the people and states of many other countries. And the mullah's Islamism, contrary to Hitler's Fascism, is not good at technology to compensate for its inabilities in economic and international relations, when the people want a modern democratic system in Iran.
Also one cannot just say that this regime has been around because the mullahs of Iran, contrary to Mola Omar of Afghanistan, are very sly in game playing, both with various political forces inside Iran and the ones outside. True that Iranian clergy know how to play the game of speaking on both sides of their mouth very well, to avoid a fate like the Shah, where all forces opposing the Shah united against his arrogance. But regardless of all these tricks of the magicians of Islamic Republic, the main reason why this regime is still around is that the opposition has not been able to be a viable alternative to unite the Iranian people to replace this regime.
And the problem of Iran certainly is not the lack of opposition. Comparing Iran to all the Arab countries and Afghanistan, one can see that Iranian opposition is a very *real* thing, and anybody who thinks that change of regime in Iran should or will be done by outside forces is blind to see the extent of Iranian opposition forces. Then the question is why this opposition is so real and extensive and yet is not an alternative.
I think what is wrong with Iranian opposition is that we Iranians do not know how to work as a community of individuals and at the same time we can no longer accept a cult-like organizational structure either. In 1994, in an article about Memes, I explained the meaning of an organization of free individuals and its difference with a cult. In short, the Iranians have become very conscious about individual rights, thanks to the Islamic Republic’s wiping out of last vestiges of social freedoms in Iran, on top of the political freedoms that were already wiped out by the Shah. I noted extensively about this phenomena at the beginning of this book.
The bottom line reality is that Iranians are now very aware of individual freedoms and the genie cannot go back in the bottle. Some consciously deny the free choice to themselves to escape from this free choice, and join cults like MKO. A similar phenomena was true in Germany of Hitler and this is why Eric Fromm wrote his book "Escape From Freedom" to describe those who although have freedom available to them, escape from it to cults, to avoid decision-making as a responsible person in a free society. But those going for cults like MKO or Baha'i or Shahmaghsoodi are not the main body of Iranian opposition. The question is not about them because Iranian people have already said no to cults like MKO, and MKO has already shown that it is not able to mobilize Iranian people to change the regime.
The question is about those who respect their own individual rights. Those people have the support of Iranian people but they have not been able to form any serious organization of themselves and this is the problem that one needs to solve. I think we Iranians do not know how to work in an organization of free individuals and basically we only know how to form a political cult, but political cults cannot be formed by independent individuals, and this is why we have failed for the last two decades, when Iranians have become independent individuals, and will not accept any cults, but are not able to form democratic organizations either.
As a result, we have as many organizations as we have individuals in the opposition. Some think this is because in a democracy individuals can think for themselves and are not like those who abide by a valiye faghih. This is half true. In fact, the free individuals should be able to cooperate and they have done it for centuries in the Western democracies. If one cannot form a democratic opposition organization, one should also doubt to be able to form a democratic state later after taking power. Almost all these organizations of Iranian opposition are trying to get the support of the U.S., to be the one leading the future state in Iran. Even the Islamic reformists and the IRI regime itself, are in this race for the heart of United States.
Nonetheless the reality of presence of a large Iranian opposition means that not the U.S., but Iranian opposition is the determining factor for any regime change in Iran. How is the opposition going to solve the problem of unity?
I think the leaders of all shades of political thought should make it their first priority to create *democratic* organization of their own likeminded individuals. In other words to have very simple things like "Robert Rules of Order" voting and quorum, charters and bylaws, etc. For example, I think Reza Pahlavi, if he thinks that he is for monarchy, he should take a lead and create such a *democratic* organization of monarchists. If he abdicates the throne, then he can participate in forming an organization with a republican platform, but one has to start making organizations of free individuals, and show the people of Iran that the opposition is able to create *democratic* organizations of itself, before it can claim to run the country by free individuals cooperating in a state.
These organizations should show that they are a different kind of organization that is not based on unethical "end justifying means" principles, and that they will not defame people because of dissent, and that they respect people's right to leave the organization any time the individual desires.
For example part of a group of monarchists recently changed to republican, and the other half of the group has just been distributing insults and threats to the dissenters. These are not harbingers of a new way of thinking about organizations and this is not the way to create democratic organizations.
What I think is a step forward is that all forces of the Iranian political spectrum now have platforms. This is something hardly any of them had twenty years ago. I myself have written a proposed platform for a futurist party. It is a good thing that all different political forces now have their own platforms. Why? Well to form an organization which is a community of free individuals, one has to first have a platform which specifies the political goals of the organization. Then one has to define the organization's rules.
For example, very simple things like the right to leave an organization, something which is so clearly absent in the MKO cult, and they treat worse than Mafia with those who separate from that organization.. One should be crazy to call such a mafia cult a political organization.
So the organizational rules. And then one should democratically go about plans for different areas of politics, economics, culture, human rights, and change of regime in Iran. The organization should use voting and democratic structures to run itself and with such approach one can work for the unity of the whole opposition. An opposition which is made of a few cults can be united like a fiefdom by a khAn or a sheikh or a shah. But groups of free individuals cannot be united that way. We need to start forming democratic organizations of free individuals who share common political platforms.
Inside Iran with less democracy, there has been more attempts for democratic structures than among the opposition outside Iran where there has been more of a free environment to achieve it. The reason is that the Iranian opposition abroad is more the remainder of past groups, and is focused on quick shortcuts than on creating serious organizations. The latter may be more painstaking and time-consuming but this is the only way to go.
Some people may be able to help such efforts financially. Some others may put in more time. That is the individual' s focus. But the goal should be to form organizations of free individuals among Iranians. This is the only way to make a change in Iran that can last, because exactly such organizations will be needed not just to change the regime, but to run a future democratic Iran.
B. Students' Movement of July 9, 1999 (18-Tir 1378)
18-Tir students uprising of Iran was a bloody day that Iranian students all know very well. If a day should be picked as the beginning of formation of new secular pro-democracy organizations of Iran, I think 18-tir 1378 (July 9, 1999) would be appropriate.
The event happened two years after the election of President Khatami to office, when the Iranian people turned the table on the Islamic Republic, and even within the confines of IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran) 's selections, voted for the candidate who was not the regime’s #1 choice, in the IRI presidential election of 1997. That was the 2-khordad, when the popular hope was to start of a process that people's movement would find its *real* leaders, and not the ones selected by the establishment, such as Khatami, within the confines of IRI. Even this prospect made the regime scared, and the killings of Foruhars and writers in Nov 1998, was regime's attempt to stop such a process.
The killings backfired and the regime was forced to
admit the chained murders as the work of its own intelligence service agents, and had a
sham trial of the agents, although behind closed doors, after the mysterious
suicide of their lead hit-man, Saeed Emami, inside the jail. Saeed Emami had worked for the regime for years, making Hoviyat program on IRI Television, a program similar to TV shows
of Shah's Savak, focused on discrediting Iran’s
These university students were born at the time of 1979
Revolution, and contrary to 1981 and 1988 massacres of the regime, which were
against the remainders of anti-Shah movement, here the regime was facing a new
fresh movement of those born and raised under the Islamic Republic. The students
were vocal about their demands for change in
Khatami from the first days after July 9, 2004, was very slow to bring the murderers of Foruhars and attackers of students to justice, but he was very swift, on that day, to threaten suppression of the Students Pro-Democracy Uprising. This way basically secular Iranian students lost their faith in Khatami from that day, and took a more farsighted vision about the future steps of their struggle, and did not allow the regime to kill off the pro-democracy movement, like the Chinese Tien An Men Square.
Some of the
student leaders are still in Islamic Republic’s dungeons, some others were forced to
make TV confessions, and later told the people of the truth.
Even the TV confessions backfired on the regime, making its image more
like that of Savak confessions of regime’s predecessor,
i.e. the confessions under torture during Shah’s regime, which Iranian people still remember. The anniversaries of
18-Tir in summer, were continued and became the school of
democracy in Iran, always followed by 16-Azar (Dec 7) anniversaries in the Fall,
which I will explain later.
Two years after July 9th, in the elections of 2001, Iranian people voted for Khatami again, although this time, he was the regime’s #1 choice. People voted for him to choose the lesser evil among the candidates, and preferred to do this than boycott, when they did not see any serious alternative yet, and this helped the newly formed pro-democracy groups to solidify.
In July 2001, Khatami’s government
that had just come to its second term, with a strong vote, in its first test
after its new term, backed off from giving permission for the anniversary
demonstrations of the 18th of
Tir, nonetheless, the students did not give up on their
demonstration against the
Islamist dictatorship, and for a democratic and future_oriented government through a referendum.
One thing that was obvious for sure, was that in 2001, only two years after the 18-Tir Students Uprising, the Iranian people have found so many new leaders, who were neither from the past nor selections of IRI. Just looking at the names of the ones in IRI prisons, or newly released prisoners shows how unsuccessful the regime was, when hoping that by killings the Foruhars and writers, and the killing of dissidents abroad, to deprive the Iranian people of leadership to oppose this regime.
These were new leaders who had come out of the July 9th, 1999
students movement, leaders who were neither with MojAhedin nor with Monarchy. They were an independent new force that
Iranian progressive aspirations had created, and they were getting stronger and
stronger, and the attacks of regime’s vigilantes, would only make this force
more aware, as to how to form a democratic
In the subsequent year, the students movement reached a new height, a few months after the July 9th anniversary of 2002, in Oct and Dec 2002, on the anniversary of 16-Azar (Dec 7, 1953). I will explain about the history of Dec 7, 1953 later in here. The 2002 demonstrations broke out on the occasion of a death edict for a university professor on the charges of blasphemy, and the students movement continued into a new height into the May 2003. Khatami's government hid the murder of Iranian-Canadian reporter Zahra Kazemi, until after July 9th to prevent students' rage. Also the regime took advantage of people's grieving for the two Iranian Siamese twins, who had died under an operation to get separated, in the days before July 9th, to calm down the July 9th anniversary of 2003.
On 2004 anniversary of18-Tir ( July 9th) widespread arrests of Iranian pro-democracy activists was done, but in the words of and RSF reporter from Tehran, participation in the July 9th events, it has turned into a symbol of honor for Iranian students. This is like the way participating in 16-Azar (Dec 7) anniversary was for the students of my generation.
C. Students' Movement of Dec 7, 1953 (16-Azar 1332)
16-Azar (Dec 7) is from the days right after the CIA coup of 1953. Despite the attempts by monarchists in the recent years to remove anniversary celebrations of Dec 7th from the calendar of Iran's pro-democracy movement, Iranian students celebrate both days, because Dec 7 (16-Azar) reminds us that we do not want to trade one retrogressive regime with another.
Iranian students have been struggling for democracy for over half a century, commemorating two days shows this challenge under two dictatorial regimes. It should not be surprising why Iranian students make a point to keep both days because they want to emphasize that they will not be return to the old regime as the monarchists try to take advantage of IRI atrocities to come back to power in Iran. Below is my memories of 16-Azar (Dec 7) at the time of the Shah.
The anniversary of Dec 7, 1953, is from another generation of Iranian students who fought for democracy under the Shah's regime. The anniversary of 16-Azar of 1332, rooz-e dAneshjoo, the International Students Day. Many people who have been members of the Confederation of Iranian Students abroad in 60s and 70s, or have been students in Iran in those years, would remember the commemorations in Iran and abroad, on this special day, and still after the 1979 Revolution, the Iranian students in Iran celebrate the anniversary of this day.
When I was a student in late 60s and early 70s, I remember celebrations of this day, and it was a day that students remembered their freedom-loving peers, who were the first to oppose Shah's dictatorship of post-CIA coup of 1953, and who had given their blood to show their dislike of Shah's repression, just a few months after that dark CIA coup in Iran.
My cousin, Ahmad Ghandchi, who was sympathetic to Jebhe Melli, and two others, Shariat-Razavi and Bozorg-Nia, who were claimed by hezbe tudeh as sympathetic to Hezb-e Tudeh, were killed by the gun of Shah's police, on this 7th day of December in 1953, at the University of Tehran, when they had gone on strike, protesting Nixon's visit of Iran, following the CIA coup of 1953.
As far as calling the three students as jebhe or tudeii, this is how anybody was categorized in 1953, as either jebhe or tudeii, but they were just freedom-loving students of Technology Faculty (Daneshkadeh Fani) of University of Tehran, who were protesting the coup that had overthrown legal popular reformist government of Dr. Mossadegh.
The blood stain of the three students on the columns of the main building of Daneshkadeh Fani was still there a few years ago. I do not know if it is still there now. For years during the Shah's regime, following the bloody shooting of the Shah's regime on 16-Azar, the students of Daneshkadeh Fani, were the bastions of Iranian students movement for democracy.
Outside Iran, the main newspaper of the Confederation of Iranian students in 60s and 70s was called 16-Azar, and the day 16-Azar was always celebrated by Iranian students, who studied in universities abroad. I think all the archives of Confederation's 16-Azar paper may be found at the US Library of Congress in the Iran section.
Ahmad Ghandchi, Shariat-e Razavi, and Bozorg-nia are buried in emAm-zAdeh AbdollAh near Tehran. I was two years old when they were killed, so I just know about them from family conversations. When I was a child, I used to go to their graveside with my father, as it is also near my grandfather's grave.
My zan-amoo (my cousin's mother), who passed away just about fifteen years ago, always would cry every time remembering her son Ahmad. Ahmad was one of the brightest in the family. Ahmad Ghandchi got his diploma when he was 16 and was very knowledgeable. His story of being killed, for fighting against the dictatorship, is unfortunately the story of the life and death of many of the brightest children of Iran over the years.
The students' protest in 16th of Azar, was not only to protest the post-Coup repression and US involvement in Iran, but Shariat-Razavi, Ghandchi, and Bozorg-nia and their peers, thought that they can break that atmosphere of fear and intimidation (rob va vahshat), and perhaps they had a chance. But unfortunately they were defeated and the post-coup terror continued for decades.
The US policy was the main reason for the success of coup, and for failure of democracy in Iran in those years. I have condemned IRI hostage-taking, from day one, which happened in the aftermath of 1979 Revolution, nonetheless, I have also condemned U.S. role in Iran, during the Shah's regime, from CIA coup of 1953, to training of the Savak, to supporting the repressive Shah's government in the post-coup years.
The July 9th Uprising of Iranian students in 1999, reminded me of the 16-Azar of 1953. Again the Iranian students took the flag of asking for freedom and democracy in Iran and a few were killed and a number of them are still in jail.
After years and years of struggle for democracy in Iran, and even after going through a revolution, again the democratic law and human rights were defeated in Iran and again the Iranian students are in the forefront of pro-democracy movement, to protest the repression and to ask for democracy, and again they are paying with their blood for this great ideal of humanity.
D. Students and Democracy in Iran
What is notable today is that there is a strong
movement of pre-university youth in
I think the presence of a strong youth movement in the years after the fall of Reza Shah and following World War II, was because on one side there was a half-democracy in Iran, in those years, and on the other side, the atmosphere in the world, was very international and the youth in different countries compared themselves with their counterparts in other countries, and were demanding what their peers had.
Internet and Television have created a similar situation
for the youth today, where Iranian youth compare themselves to their peers
elsewhere in the world, and the
movement of the youth in
Even the teachers movement is in close relation with the
students, raising the flag of pro-democracy movement. Nonetheless, these are tough times, especially for the ones who are facing the vigilantes on
the streets of
of the current movement in
One of the leaders of Iranian pro-democracy movement, during the prolonged students demonstrations of 2002, noted an important thought. He said that students movement have their own limitations, although students movement has always been a spectacular part of pro-democracy movement of Iran. To lead the movement of Iran for regime change, a political party is needed, and although students movement and its leadership, are important parts of such an endeavor, but they are not equal. In a separate paper, I have written my thoughts on the Futurist Party, and have discussed it in relation to political coalitions as well.
14. Philosophy, Democracy, and Justice
A. Politics of Ballot Initiatives
In Modern times, most democratic societies adopted representational democracy, which simply put, means that people elect their representatives, and those representatives form the parliament and create laws for nations. In other words, parliament in the Modern times has been almost equivalent to the legislative branch of government.
Only a few occasions
like referenda of
In the last two
decades, a new political form of legislative power has developed in the West,
especially in the
What is the use of
ballot-initiatives? Well, people directly get a chance to vote for the laws they
want to see. Currently only 3% of popular signature is is needed to put an
initiative on ballots in
I was thinking of
some Propositions that could be worthwhile for a ballot-initiative in
Proposition 100: To
separate state and religion in
Proposition 101: Women be allowed not to wear hejab. Yes()No().
Abolish death penalty in
Proposition 104: Abolish conscription (sarbAzi) and only have a professional army. Yes () No().
B. What is Modern Democracy?
It is not only the political theory and practice that has advanced and new thoughts such as the above have been achieved in the last 50 years, even the basic philosophy of science has drastically changed which I have discussed in my paper entitled "Philosophy of Science in 20th Century". In my paper, I have shown how the epistemology of objective knowledge proposed by Karl Popper has an impact in the way one can see the world and understand it. His falsification theory is used by many scientists and also the contending subjective theory of Thomas Kuhn is useful for some other areas of knowledge such as the topic of shifting paradigms.
In light of practical changes such as the ballot initiatives and the theoretical works of philosopher Karl Popper, let's examine the critical issue of democracy which is a central practical topic of political movement in Iran today.
Modern democracies and Open Society are not defined by the question of *what* (i.e. who rules), but rather it is the question of *how* the state rules that makes the difference.
Today the Western governments are called democracies. The Greek meant rule of people when they talked of democracy. But in reality it is not the rule of “who”, the benevolence of ruling individual, caste or class which has mattered, whenever there has been a democracy or its lack of. For example, in the Modern Times, the Communists cared the most about the issue of rule of “who”, and in their search for the best to rule, they discovered the proletariat, and thus they talked of rule of the workers, the class which was the majority of the industrial society, and regardless of how Communist representation mechanism worked, even when that majority supported them, it was obvious that it did not usher in freedom.
One of the first people who theoretically explained this problem was Karl Popper in his book “The Open Society and Its Enemies,” around the time of WWII, where he showed that modern democracy was not about *who* rules, but it is about *how* a state rules. In other words, the mechanism of checks and balances is the crux of what separates a modern democracy from a dictatorship. More search for finding *who* is the best to rule, the attempt from Plato to Marx, is a futile endeavor to achieve an ideal government. Whether the rule of Philosopher-kings of Plato and Khomeini, or Marx’s representatives of the proletariat, the result is the same tyranny, if the *how* of state control, lacks extensive checks and balances.
The above is an important issue to understand when one reviews modern democracies. Even the rule of law, which is so central to modern democracies, because of protecting individuals from all other rules, is effective to the end of democracy, only when it is in the context of full checks and balances, instituted between the various branches of government. The following interesting point about the U.S. Supreme Court by Bertrand Russell exemplifies the above regarding checks and balances:
"The country where Locke's principle of the division of powers has found its fullest application is the United States, where the President and Congress are wholly independent of each other, and the Supreme Court is independent of both. Inadvertently, the Constitution made the Supreme Court a branch of the legislature, since nothing is a law if the Supreme Court says it is not. The fact that its powers are nominally only interpretative in reality increases those powers, since it makes it difficult to criticize what are supposed to be purely legal decisions. It says a very great deal for the political sagacity of Americans that this Constitution has only once led to armed conflict.-Bertrand Russell-History of Western Philosophy"
Karl Popper in his later works on democracy emphasizes the issue of the government being able to be removed without bloodshed, reminding us of Communist and Nazi governments that could not be removed, even with bloodshed, in contrast to Nixon’s government in the U.S., that was removed by impeachment without bloodshed. In short, regardless of the ones making the laws of the state in representational democracies, people are able to be the judge and even remove the government.
And of course, focused on Western states, Popper does not refer as much to religious states that have been basically gone in the West for centuries. So the authority of civil society over religious order is a given in the West at this time. For countries like Iran, creating various modern institutions of civil society and their authority in the law of the land are currently live debates and action issues.
This is why democracy is so much emphasized by the popular movement, as the encounter of people’s rule versus God’s rule, in popular jargon, but one should go a step further and note that people's rule to be a modern democracy means that civil society should be developed in contrast to "God's rule" and for civil society to be an open society, it is about the *how* question, and that a secular state is a modern democracy depending on how far it goes in implementing checks and balances.
Marx in Europe lived in an era when the opposition to despotism cared a lot for liberal democracy and especially in his early works, he defended liberal parliamentary system. But supporting dictatorship of the proletariat defeated his support of liberal democracy in the Communist creed that Marx left behind. True that only in works like "Critique of the Gotha Program", Marx emphasized the dictatorship of the proletariat and Kautsky and Engels did not push that side of Marxian theory after Marx's death, and only Lenin picked it up and made it the main trend of Marxism. Nonetheless this was part of the Marxist ideological empire from the beginning in the Holy Family, where the proletariat is depicted as the savior of humanity, because it had nothing to lose but its shackles, and was supposed to open the door of classless communist society. Times have passed the world of introducing another ideological empire (which thinkers like Bertrand Russell and Karl Popper realized well, and treated their own philosophies of logical atomism and objective knowledge, as reasonable discourse, rather than an ideological creed).
So in a way an icon like Marx shares the fault of yet bringing another *closed* society to the world, to the point of defeating the *open* society. It took over 100 years for the world to discard most of the Communist *closed* societies and get back to a state where most of the Earth sides with Open Society again.
C. Iran & Law: Virtue or Rights
Socrates in his defense, addresses the ideological democratic state, that had accused him of believing in supernatural Gods and corrupting the youth with such beliefs, in the following words:
"Please do not be offended if I tell you the truth. No man on Earth who consciously opposes either you or any other organized democracy , and flatly prevents a great many wrongs and illegalities from taking place in the state to which he belongs, can possibly escape with his life. The true champion of justice, if he intends to survive even for a short time, must necessarily confine himself to private life and leave politics alone." [Socrates' Defense (ََApology), Collected Dialogues of Plato, Princeton University Press, P.17]
This is as if Socrates is speaking in the courts of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), not the current IRI, but the ideal IRI of reformists, namely the Republic of "Islamic Democracy". He is tried and condemned to death in a court with the presence of a jury, in an ideological democracy, on charges of believing in supernatural, holding thoughts of other Gods different from the Gods sanctioned by the state, and encouraging the youth with such beliefs thru reasoning, and he finally drinks the hemlock, and for centuries humanity has been in shocks and is bewildered about why things went wrong, and how this treacherous murder happened in a democracy.
What has been less noticed in Socrates' defense, is the fact that he does *not * speak of his *rights*, when addressing the jury, *contrary* to the way the political prisoners in our times address similar courts. He tries to convince them that his ideas are the expression of *good* and *virtues* and not the thoughts of his prosecutors in the court. Even at the end, he says if his own sons grow up and "put money or anything else before goodness", he asks the same jury and judges to take their revenge and plaque his sons "for neglecting the important things and thinking that they are good for something when they are good for nothing." And he continues that if judges do that, "he shall have justice at their hand, both he himself and his children." [Ibid P.26].
It is as if Socrates, just like Bukharin in Stalin's court, deeply believed that the system in which he was being prosecuted, is the ideal just system, and this is why to the end, he does not want to escape from prison, because he considers the escape to be undermining the system which he considers to be just, although he thinks the functionaries of the system at the time, had distanced themselves from the just path of the regime, especially with regards to their judgment of him, and thus he does not escape although he can, and drinks the hemlock.
The same way Bukharin, centuries later, at the Soviet gallows, with the outcry of long live communism, bids farewell to this world. And today, Aghajari in Iran, although himself condemned to death for his views, does not reject the death fatwa of Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie, even when their verdicts are similar to a disinterested eye, but in Aghajari's mindset, he is representing virtue, whereas Rushdie represents vice, and the Rushdie deserves to die for his views but not him, because for Aghajari the *rights* of freedom of thought do not determine the path of the state, and virtue determines it.
What Socrates, Bukharin, and Aghajari have in common, is the dominant concept of justice of the societies of antiquity and Middle Ages, which viewed justice as equivalent to *goodness* and *virtue*, and for them justice was *not* specific *rights* such as freedom of thought, freedom of expression, and the like. John Rawls has shown this difference very well, in a new book entitled "Lectures of Moral Philosophy" published in 2000. He shows that philosophers of Ancient Times, such as Plato, in contrast to philosophers of Modern Times such as Hume and Kant, viewed justice and moral philosophy as issues of *virtue* and not *rights*.
This is why the dialogues of Socrates is about *virtue* and *goodness*, whereas the discussions of Hume and Kant is about *rights*. It is interesting to note that Rawls mentions about Ancient Greece, that religion had been civil in there, similar to what the religious reformists and their supporters propose for Iran. In fact, he mentions that religion of Ancient Greece focused on civil rituals, and the critical philosophers were the ones who were concerned with *virtue* and *goodness* in their *reasoning*, which they considered as the philosopher's search for justice. Whereas in Europe of Middle Ages, religion had a complete doctrine for *virtues* and *goodness*, and finally the modern philosophers used *reasoning* to define *rights* and did *not* use *virtue*, in order to arrive at justice and modern state.
In fact, in Iran, both Khomeini and Shariati, although in two different ways, were in search of justice of the type of the Ancients. Khomeini in his book "Velayate Faghih", calls for Plato's state of philosopher-kings, which in practice was ushered in with the position of VF (valie-faghih) and the Assembly of Experts in IRI, and the clergy took the role of guardians of virtues. And IRI constitution ended to be based on Islamic *virtues* and not human rights. Now if such a state was formed, even if it was civil and did not include the clergy, would the likes of Shariati and Aghajari, not be slaughtered by it, just like Socrates, if they remained as critics of the state?
A lot of people have been upset about my critic of Shariati and I hope my explanations here clarify that my critic is not a personal issue. Perhaps if Khomeini had had been killed at the beginning of the revolution, today he would not have been as hated as he is, and some might have called for return of Khomeini's ideology and not Shariati's, but I still would have written the same critic of his views, as I have written here, his error of placing virtue as the basis of state and law. And in this modern world, this is the biggest retrogression, even if it be in the non-religious form, such as what the communists did, and the great thinker Karl Popper had shown this error from the time of Plato to our times and I have written about it elsewhere.
The error of the model of justice of antiquity and Middle Ages is that it places *virtue* as the basis of justice, and not *rights*. And even their "philosopher-kings" cannot cannot agree on the goodness and virtue of an idea or an individual. This is why in the modern world, rights of people have been documented separate from any ideology, and today are recognized as universal human rights, separate from any religion or school of thought, and John Rawls, in his books "Theory of Justice" and his new work "Justice as Fairness", has tried to even define these rights, independent of liberal philosophy, as a logical template independent of any any religious or philosophical system.
Today, the attempts to write the future constitution of Iran has already started, and it is important that we do not make the same mistakes of 1979, and in that document we should not define *virtues* acceptable to the law, which the constitution of IRI has done, instead, we should focus on the rights of citizens and how to best limit the power of the state and religious institutions, so that again we do not become the victims of the regime we found, and establish a proper Constitution.
D. Rule of Law and *Judgment by the People*
There is a lot of confusion in the Iranian political circles about "rule of law", especially since Ayatollah Khatami, the President of Islamic Republic of Iran, has become the so-called bastion of the "rule of law".
On January 2004, in "Democracy is Not People's Rule, It is People's Judgment" I discussed about the judgment of people to be the key in evaluating any democracy, and why *rule of law* in the absence of mechanisms of *judgment by the people* is not democracy..
It is true that democracy is avoidance of a form of rule that is not the rule of law, namely avoidance of tyranny. But rule of law without the institutions of judgment by the people is not democracy either. Hitler came to power with the democratic majority vote, but from the moment the most important institution of German people's judgment, namely the Reichstag was closed down, the German democracy was ended. Although his regime was still the rule of law, i.e. the fascist law.
Karl Popper, the contemporary philosopher, in an interview during the last years of his life says that it is dangerous to teach people and particularly children that democracy was the rule of people, i.e. popular rule, which is not true, and he thought once they become aware of the truth, they will feel cheated and let down, and he thought they can get disappointed and this can even lead them to terrorism. Democracy has never been people's rule, nor can or should it be. [See Karl Popper's "Lesson of this Century", Publ. 1997]
People who elect the government are not able to make decisions about complex issues like nuclear polities or long term space projects or the likes. But after a while, people can see the results of the most complex policies, and in a system where the institutions of *judgment* by the people have power, in the next elections, those policies and the individuals responsible for those policies, can be elected again or rejected.
Many dictatorial regimes have called their rule that of workers state, or rule of the deprived, or the people's rule, to hide the reality of the state. As Popper notes, "Hitler came to power legitimately, and that the Enabling Law that made him a dictator was passed by a parliamentary majority", thus the issue of legitimacy of *who* should rule is not the issue, and as I have explained in "What is Modern Democracy", the difference is about *how* to rule.
In fact, people's *judgment* in all three areas of legislature, executive, and judicial, is the meaning of democracy, from the election of representatives of parliament and president, to election of judges, and participation in the juries. Continuous judgment by the people, at various levels, has been the main pillar of all modern democracies, and democratic constitutions should define, and support, the details of freedom of various institutions of judgment by the people.
Even unelected state organs such as the Supreme Court in the U.S. law is not part of judicial branch and is part of the legislative branch and its function has been assumed to be limited to the *interpretation* of the law, and it does not have executive authorities such as confirming the candidates of Congress, or approving the elected representatives. Nonetheless, many visionaries had thought such muscle bestowed to an unelected body could be problematic, and they thought "it was a very great deal for the political sagacity of Americans that this Constitution had only once led to armed conflict." [See Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy. Page 640]
Now if we take a look at the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), we will see that not only lack of secularism has turned the judgment in the society to apartheid against non-Muslims, but even ordinary Muslim people have no rights of judgment, and in that system, judge and prosecutor are one, and they are the Shi'a clergy, and even among them, a combination of the heads of judiciary and part of Guardian Council (GC) and other members of IRI elite forms Expediency Council (EC), which is Judicial, Legislative, and Executive branches of the state put together, and this way the candidates for the parliamentary election are confirmed by GC, when half of its members are members of EC. This is not the first task of GC and will not be its last. If in this case they have a legislative and executive role, with regards to the chained murder case trial, they had a judicial role as well.
Expediency Council (EC) was formed following the 2nd of Khordad movement, to neutralize that development. If 2nd of Khordad was a movement where the people tried to use the little republicanism and parliamentarism that was present in IRI against it, EC in contrast, was an attempt to even the minute republican traits of the regime, by creating a semi-Islamic Supreme Soviet, in parallel to the Islamic Parliament, and the result was further removal of people's judgment from the IRI system. The system uses deceptive slogan of people's rule with a sham that Communist states exploited to deceive the people, when institutions of judgment by the people, such as the political parties, newspapers, and free elections were blocked or severely censored. In practice the conflicts of various organs of IRI, such as the animosity of parliament and Guardian Council, can end up in a civil war.
Slogans of rule of law by Khatami and the IRI reformists, as democracy, are to distract the people and to offer a wrong image of democracy, when the most important criteria of democracy, i.e. the institutions of judgment by the people, are hidden from the eyes. How can a regime be called a democracy and the issue of freedom of political parties to be treated with silence for so many years?
Both Pahlavi monarchy and IRI did not allow the flourishing of the institutions of judgment by the people, and they blocked and banned these institutions. From newspapers and magazines, to political parties, courts, and parliament, all have been under control of the monarchy and clergy. The ballot boxes in both systems were meaningless. In fact, any other political force that is silent in its ideals about the institutions of *judgment* by the people, when talking of democracy, has not really understood the meaning of democracy.
When for the first time, Iranian people in 2nd of Khordad used the levers of IRI against Islamic Republic itself, IRI was so panicked that it was afraid the next step to be the real reformists of Iran such as Forouhars, Mokhtaris, and Pouyandehs to come to the scene, and thus IRI committed the heinous chained murders. Today the problem of regime is not the people's use of the levers of IRI, and even some real reformists like Forouhars to come to the political scene is not IRI's main fear.
The real issue of the regime in Iran today is people's entry into realm of judgment, which is the real meaning of democracy and the actual fear of regime is from this development. It does not seem like that even to shoot the people in the streets will stop them from entering this real realm of democracy and this is how people have been playing with boycotting and participating in IRI elections showing their resolve to be the judges of the state.
People in 1979 came to the streets and gave blood but their demand was not to get increasing role in the judgment of the state. In contrast, today the best judges do not understand the Iranian people, and they want to judge for Iranian people, the same way monarchy and later the clergy had done for centuries, to decide for people and to announce it to them. Those days have long passed.
The organs of judgment by the people, from the scientific associations to student groups , are in contact with similar institutions aboard, and these relations are increasing every day.
From the chained murders to the fatwas of Ayatollah Jannati against the Internet, these attacks on Iranian people, are not able to stop the new roaring waves. Iranian people will judge all three branches of the state, legislative, executive, and judiciary. Whether Fayzieh of Qom and OMIR (Organization of Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution) take Iran to the border of a civil war, or if they get united to draw their sword against the people, every day the Iranian people are taking another step closer to a secular republic, a republic with real institutions of judgment by the people. This time contrary to 1979, we will not be exchanging one dictatorial regime with another whether by revolution or reform.
E. Ethics, Closed and Open Societies
Does a sense of right and wrong need a creed to be achieved? Does ethical judgment of evil and good need a religion or a closed ideology to defend it? In Zoroastrianism evil and good is discussed extensively. Later on, Manichaeism viewed evil to have a separate identity and did not see it as the lack of good. In contrast, Spinoza and most of the modern Western thought views evil as the lack of good. The dualism of evil and good was brought to the Gnostic traditions of Christianity by St. Augustine and passed on to some of the post-Islamic sects and religions like Yazdanis in Iran.
The theory of evil has passed on for ages, and the Christian author Scott Peck in his "People of the Lie" has extensively used this theory, a book which I highly recommend. Although he is a Christian author, the book could have been written by a secular thinker and explains well, about issues of honesty and dishonesty. It shows how one who lies and persists in dishonesty, can end up to justify the acts of a Nazi torturer.
I have written that there are honest and dishonest people in every religion and ideology; and no ideology can make people honest, and we have seen how some people use their ideology as a justification for their dishonesty, basically by end justifying the means.
True that for those who really need a religion, if they discard a religion like Islam in Iran, they can pick up a religion like Zoroastrianism, which is more of a cultural identity and very ethical and its current organization is not cultish. But in open societies, the religion that people proclaim because of family lineage, is increasingly losing its import, in contrast to closed societies, and people are basically not that religious, and their decisions about good and evil, are increasingly based on utilitarian ethical and legal considerations, than due to any religious dogma.
There are liberal theorists like John Rawls today, who define rights without even the liberal comprehensive system of enlightenment of Kant and JS Mill. But this is not the only option to have open society.
A religious person like Krishnamurti is as close to an open society, as a secular person like Kant whose comprehensive system did not give rise to despotism. . In contrast, the irreligious system of Marx and Nazis proved to be as despotic as the religious systems of Medieval Christianity and Islam. So again the distinction is in Open Society than in following a religion or an atheistic creed.
The above is what Popper tries to show by arguing for *Open Society*. He does not discard Communism because of its Utopianism, which many previous critics of Communism before him did. He discards it because it replaced open society with a closed society. In other words, the fault of Communism was not because it was Utopian, and in fact the ethical views of Krishnamurti or the socio-political views of Kant and J.S. Mill could as well be considered as Utopian dreams, but they did not cause despotism. The crucial difference being the support for an *open society*. Therefore Popper condemns Plato's Republic as much as the Utopia of Communists or Nazis for being contrary to an Open Society.
F. Problem is not Utopianism, it is Lack of Open Society
Many of those who have come out of the experience of political and ideological dictatorship of Communism, or Islamism, think that the main reason for the despotism of the system they were part of, has been its utopianism, and arrive at negating utopianism. The reality is that even liberalism has been as utopian as the communist utopianism, whether in economic arena, or political arena, but what separates the experience of Western democracies is their dedication to *open society*.
In fact, the first critics of Leninism like Lucas and Mannheim in 1929 were wrong to think that Communist dictatorship was because of its utopian thinking. They eliminated utopianism and became neo-Marxists, with emphasis on sociology of knowledge. In reality, the democratic thought of modern society, from John Locke to John Stuart Mill, is very utopian, but not all utopians have promoted *closed society*.
This is the topic which is the important achievement of Karl Popper who showed that dictatorship from Sparta in Ancient Greece to Communism and Fascism of industrial world, has been in lack of acceptance of *open society*, and showed that from Plato's Republic, with its rule of Philosopher-Kings, to Hegel's theory of state, and finally Karl Marx, with its rule of the proletariat, the issue of allegiance to a *closed society* is the reason for creating despotism. In fact, even Ayatollah Khomeini in his book Velayate Faghih has used Plato's thought, and he even mentions Plato by name.
I showed in Iran & Law: Virtue or Rights , that in Athenian democracy of Ancient Greece, democracy was not understood as *rights*, and was understood as *virtue*, and this is why Socrates' defense (Plato's Apology), there is no mention of rights, and even his endeavor is to show that he is more virtuous than those who are prosecuting him, and the ultimate judge are the gods which both sides to try to claim to speak for.
Thus in the theory of justice of Socrates and Plato, there is no discussion of human rights, and the main discussion is about virtues. As much rights as there was in real life for the Athenian aristocracy was not due to a constitution with rights, not even for the aristocracy. And in Sparta even the aristocracy did not have such rights, and the women and slaves in both societies did not have these rights either. My point is that the concept of democracy based on rights, and not based on virtues, was introduced in the modern world.
An open society is a society in which human rights, are accepted as universal, and in practice and law are acknowledged. In fact, modern socialism in its critic of liberalism, also distanced itself from the open society, This can be seen in the Critique of Gotha Progarm of Marx and Engels, where this way the open society is negated and dictatorship of the proletariat is justified. And this is continued in the theory of state of Lenin and Stalin in the later decades. And it was their major error in the area of sociology, alongside their theory of state economy, which ended up in despotism of Leninism and Stalinism.
In fact, the Communist utopianism, long before Lucas, was critiqued by Bertrand Russell. The issues raised by them are true, as I have noted the interesting critic of Bertrand Russell of Thomas More's Utopia in Marxist Thought & Monism. Nonetheless, building the democratic society after the Renaissance was as much utopian. Popper in the 1940's in his book Open Society and its Enemies showed that the problem is not utopianism and the issue of modern socialism is its opposition to open society.
Popper does not view modern socialism as
equivalent to the pre-industrial socialist currents, although their ideals are
similar, and Bertrand Russell's critic of these ideals as plans for a boring
future society are appropriate, but the issue of despotism and dictatorship of
modern socialism is a different discussion, and Popper answers that. These
two issues, namely utopianism and lack of open society, before Popper, whether
among the liberal authors like Bertrand Russell, or among the neo-Marxists like
Lucas and Mannheim were viewed as equal.
Retrogressive utopian currents, like the present Islamic Republic of Iran and mojahedin, have existed in the past too, for example the Mazdakian, and Dehkhoda wrote the best critic on them as a retrogressive cult. In contrast, communist authors because of seeing commonality of some of the ideals of them with the Mazdakian, considered them as progressive. Unfortunately authors like Ehsan Tabari who wrote about Mazdakian and similar movements, contrary to Engles who wrote of Munzer, were not familiar with the real history of these movements, and only judged them by their ideals, and defended retrogressive movements, and the opponents of the left, most of the time did the reverse, and condemned these movements because of their ideals, and not because of the historical role in progress or retrogression they played. At any rate, this is a vast topic and I know some of the historians, who view history from new perspectives, are doing research and publishing about Mazdakian.
What should be remembered about Leninism and Islamism, is again not their utopianism, which of course is problematic, but it is their opposition to the open society, in law and practice.
The following is one of the most interesting writings about utopianism in our present era and I hope it gets translated to Persian:
In the recent years, in critic of IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran), many have written critiques of various realms of social life in Iran, and have written of their expectations from a civil society. For example, they have written critic of women scarf among the mojahdein khalgh organization. These writings are the kind of critic that was done in the West by people like Voltaire and Thomas Paine, which extremely helped the progress of *open society*. Development of open society is not only in politics, and the importance of works like Ibn Warraq or Ali Dashti, and even many of the modern novels in Iran, that deal with everyday issues, is exactly other social realms beside politics.
The new authors like Hedayat's Haji Agha examine the everyday life but they do not just critic, they promote open society.
In fact, the case of someone like Aghajari, who is against his own death verdict for blasphemy, but defends Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa to kill Salman Rushdie, is not because of his utopianism, but is because of the opposition of him and other so-called reformist Islamists with an open society, where they see democracy as an issue of virtue and think of themselves as more virtuous, and see the hardliners as villain, not that they believe in human rights in an open society. The same way the mojahedin and the lack of human rights in their organization and the problems of their defense for an Islamic interim state, head scarves in their organization, and their attacks on the opponents with lies and threats, all show their opposition to open society.
Having or not having ideals and utopianism does not mean pluralism or its lack of. The same way that I wrote in Democracy is Not People's Rule, the main issue of democracy is not in ideals or in individuals, it is in *how* it is ruled, and exactly this is why Islamic Democracy is *not* Pluralism.
To summarize, the ideals of John Locke and John Stuart Mills, were as much utopian, as the ideals of Marx. Although I think property-owning democracy is more appropriate for the post-industrial development than socialism and state economy, and have written my opinion in details in Is Socialism More just?, but what distinguishes Western democracies and has helped their thinkers to succeed in developing democracy, has not been lack of utopianism, but has been because of their endeavors in theory and practice to form an open society.
G. Social Justice and Freedom
Before the fall of the Soviet Union, the progressive thinkers were focused on freedom, whereas since the fall of the Soviet Union, more and more thinkers have been discussing responsibility alongside freedom. Karl Popper in his interviews entitled "Lessons of This Century" emphasizes the issue of responsibility.
Popper in the later years, focused more on rule of law and even regulating Television, with regards to violence, and the critical importance of children's rights. Areas such as children's rights are hardly discussed fully in the past human rights literature. Popper viewed the underdog of our era to be the children, in his interviews of 1990's. Also as far as economic justice, Karl Popper wrote the following interesting passage in his autobiography:
"I remained a socialist for several years after my rejection of Marxism; and if there could be such thing as socialism combined with individual liberty, I would be a socialist still. For nothing could be better than living a modest, simple, and free life in an egalitarian society. It took some time before I recognized this is as no more than a beautiful dream; that freedom is more important than equality; that the attempt to realize equality endangers freedom; and that, if freedom is lost, there will not even be equality among the unfree."
Social justice is a key issue of the post-industrial society. In my paper entitled "A Discourse about Value Theory in Knowledge_Based Economies" I have reviewed the post-industrial economy from this perspective and following the value theory for this economy, I discussed the issue of social justice in the new civilization. As is already evident, if there is any "surplus-value" under uniqueness value, which I have defined in my paper, it is least likely to be related to the property owners. There seems to be a major injustice in the distribution of income that, I believe, comes from the ranks of the practitioners of the free creative activity themselves and not activity as a tool-like production which follows the standard industrial production..
I claim that since free creative activity is becoming the major portion of human activity in post-industrial societies, the question of a fair or just distribution of wealth has shifted from the relationship of owners to non-owners, to the relationship of the best creator/performer to the average (or below) creators/performers. Best or perceived as best which I have explained in my paper how it is determined. In other words, injustice is evident when a top musician or movie star makes millions whereas an average musician cannot even receive a minimum wage for his/her profession. They are not members of opposite classes and with both capitalist and socialist measures, the top performers cannot be accused of "exploiting" others. Yet, it is within the ranks of the producers that one must look for answers to the question of distribution of income in post-industrial societies.
In contemporary society, the free creative activity of individuals replaces tool-like work as the major portion of human activity. The social groups that are primarily involved in such activities are the major social forces of the future society. Thus, questions of social justice shifts to their way of compensation and must increasingly take these groups into account.
For example, a musician who sells millions of copies of his tape gets the bulk of the profit even though the company that buys the copyright makes "surplus-value" from the production process. The other musicians who are suffering and feel "exploited" would not feel any better if the capitalist gave them all the proceeds of their not-selling piece of music. Neither the other capitalist who is promoting the music of their colleague is "exploiting" them. (Even though their celebrity colleague may sometimes complain about his contractors, he hardly feels exploited either.) In reality it is their colleague who is reaping the fruits of the activity of their whole social group, because his work is the best (or accepted as the best).
The same is true in movie production, book writing, software design, architectural plans, etc. For simplification purposes, let's look at a capitalist/worker model. If we had a factory with 1000 workers and only the best worker was paid the wages of 800 workers and the rest were unpaid, would the question of justice be related to the capitalist who does not pay the surplus value (say equivalent to the wages of 500 workers) or the "superworker" who is "legitimately" taking the wages of 800 (and is still himself giving out "surplus-value" to the owner!)
The carpenter of classical economists would make a table cheaper or more expensive relative to the average cost of production. But Leonardo's Mona Lisa is worth much, much more than its paper and ink and its "labor-time" cost, even if Leonardo was hired by the most generous employer. On the other hand, thousands of works of art are worth less than the paper and ink used to produce them, and are dumped as trash (any publisher could give you the figure for the dumped hard covers. It is looking for the best that justifies the fact that of one hundred text books on the Strength of Materials, ninety-nine have to fail!
Even if all revenues from the sale of the product are given to the composer of a failed music piece, the musician would still not even meet the minimum survival needs. If the publisher of a not-so-terrific book does not even take any "surplus value" and gives all the proceeds to the writer, the writer will still suffer injustice, but not from the owner (manufacturer, or publisher, etc.). If his book is really worthless, and not judged so simply because of social trends, then even public opinion is not responsible for the injustice.
On the other hand, if a best-seller book pays lots of "surplus value" to the publisher, the "superprofit" of the author is still not comparable to that of the printer. The author will sell the copyright for subsequent paperbacks, mass paperbacks, books-on-tape, movies, plays, etc., if his book keeps on selling for decades. In such cases the injustice is not due to the employer, it is not even in the industrial work-place anymore. Instead, it is within the creative groups themselves. When a top violinist is making money like a millionaire and an average violinist cannot even make a minimum wage in his profession, then the dilemma of justice is not between the owner of the means of production and the worker, but is implicit in the ethical principles governing the reward of creative activities in our society.
It is true that the same problems of just compensation could have been mentioned for creative professions in the Middle Ages. The crucial differences are: the speed in which works can be eliminated and "the best" determined (the Oscars, the Grammy's, the Pulitzers, etc.), and the continuous rise in the significance of the creative activities in contemporary life.
rewards for sports or scientific theories is similar to what was done in ancient
I think the people
who are involved in creative activities are the principle builders of the future
human civilization. The issue of justice is a central problem to our future
quality of society. Yet because it is a problem between professional colleagues
rather than between two opposite social classes, recognition of the issue is
difficult. Star performers continue to appropriate the legitimate expectations
of the average and lower ranked performers. Even rewarding on the basis of needs
(welfare state) does not solve this problem, because it does not recognize
intention as a basis for reward (such as the intention of an anonymous composer
is not legitimate for need-based reward system, which prohibits him from even
composing.) The "needs" of a well-known musician for an expensive secluded place
for mediation is the same as that of an anonymous (or even bad) musician. "Needs" independent of intentions are meaningless for these groups (just having
food and shelter is not enough to compete with Picasso, especially if you live
The difference between an advanced shoe factory and an average or a less developed one is not much and the better than average makes a super-profit which is soon averaged out in the industry. But the difference between a music tape that sells one hundred copies and a hit that sells millions, has nothing to do with averaging, etc. There is no law that obliges such hit creators to subsidize or help the well being of others in the same profession. He is taxed for his income as if he had made it in manufacturing or real estate. The allocations of money to music foundations is not directly related to the income of the stars.
In the ethics and law of the industrial society, it is assumed, rightfully, to expect factory owners to be taxed for the welfare and social security of their workers and such measures are no longer viewed as the "infringement" of freedom. But in the case of the artist/workers, to be taxed in favor of the low paying members of their own profession is frowned upon.
I think even professional organizations (in which celebrities usually do not participate) are an expression of the needs of the lower ranks of such professions to claim their share of the income. Maybe unconsciously the term social-responsibility used by some of these organizations like Physicians for Social Responsibility or Computer Scientists for Social Responsibility, is more an expression of a yearning for justice for themselves!
The value of the
commodities is determined by the law of labor-time value (averaging) in the
industries and the law of uniqueness value when human activity is not tool-like.
Nonetheless, as Marx
I believe that just as in physics there are four forces (or five as some physicists believe); in economics we have two values. And as in physics, where the unification has already been achieved between the two forces of electromagnetic and the weak force, I think my proposal for the unification is one possible way of study in economics. But my main purpose in my paper was to show the significance of the law of uniqueness value and the need for dealing with the unification problem of this scheme and to see its implication for addressing the dilemma of social justice in the near future.
H. Wealth and Justice in Future Iran
What are Patents and Codified Knowledge? Dr. Shahindokht Kharazmi in her April 29, 2004 article entitled "Iran and Digital Revolution" writes:
"From the viewpoint of Technology, Jeffrey Sachs at the Harvard University has done a study and based on two criteria of invention patent rights for every 1 million people of the population and the share of advanced technology export of gross national product has divided the world into the following three regions:
"Technology Innovators: The countries with 10 patents (registered inventions) or more, per million of population with the technology export comprising two percent of Gross national Product.
"Technology Users: Countries that have a high capacity to attract advanced knowledge and technology and have created the necessary infrastructure for this task.
"Eliminated: These countries in production, attraction, and use of advanced technology do not have an important share or their share is very minimal.
"Iran is in the third group. Perhaps it may be said that since the model and numbers of this classification is not available, it is not possible to verify the credibility of this classification. But there is no doubt that the share of Iran of export of advanced technology and patents that are representative of production of new technologies, is very minimal. Iran in 2001, only had one patent. This is in circumstances that in 1997, this number for the United States has been 111906."
Let me repeat her last statement again, where she writes that Iran in 2001, had only one patent, whereas U.S. in 1997 had 111805 patents. Is the significance of this number like 100 years ago, only meaning that one society is more educated than the other? No.
The figure related to patents, in our times, is representative of the future wealth of the two societies, because the most important wealth of the world of future, is neither land property, nor industrial factory property, but it is the intellectual property, which is best represented in the number of registered inventions. Consequently the basis of production and distribution of wealth of Iran in the future, is intellectual property, and in better words, production and ownership of codified knowledge.
About codified knowledge, Daniel Bell in the 1999 Preface to his book The Coming of Post-Industrial, has extensively explained. What he calls codified knowledge, today is easily seen in the complex design of ASICs in the production of Semiconductors, and these designs, separate the real post-industrial economies from old service-oriented economies.
What is the Wealth of Societies? Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations is the most important book in history, which has been written about the *wealth* of human societies. It is interesting that at the start of his work, he compares the hunter societies with the pasturing societies, that have domesticated animals, and writes that the latter can accumulate its product, and for the product, he gives the example of cattle. In fact, the difference of a wild deer and a domesticated cow is in the latter being controllable, and ultimately with the guarantee of law and state, can be owned as property.
The same way, intellectual property, such as inventions, or software, in countries where the rights are secured by the state, is different from free thought and science, and can be controlled and owned, and thus is representative of wealth of a society.
Adam Smith's book was published the year America's Declaration of Independence was written. At that time, the main form of wealth, even in Europe and America, was still landed property. But Smith correctly realized that factory ownership was the future wealth of the world. In cities, this wealth, either grew in relation to the agricultural regions around the city, or in case of cities on the shores of the seas, connections to the foreign trade, were the guarantee for the growth of wealth of the cities.
Today the first case, meaning the new economy benefiting from the needs of the adjacent industries of the past, has been the basis of growth of post-industrial economies in the West. In other countries like Japan, new economy essentially has grown in connection to the global economy. For example, in the recent two decades, economies of India and Singapore were the best examples of this kind of post-industrial development.
It is interesting to note that India's economy was able to seriously grow, when India's government took the securing of Intellectual Property rights very seriously, and companies like Wipro in India, have even done a better job than their Western counterparts, in securing these legal rights for their customers. Ten years ago, in a professional engineering management position at Adaptec, I had an engineering development office in Bangalore, where I used Wipro's services, and they would keep various operations of companies like Adaptec and Tandem, thoroughly shielded from each other, and used separate staffing and other resources, even when doing similar projects in the same building.
Let me return to the discussion, what is the wealth of Iranian society and what will it be into the future? It is true that until a serious alternative to oil is created, the main wealth of Iran is its oil reserves. But the essential issue for Iranian society is creating new wealth, and even the distribution of wealth, should be mainly in the framework of creating new wealth, and not redistributing the old wealth.
Why Adam Smith, in his discussion of Wealth of Nations, starts with *division of labor* in the industrial society, and states that agricultural production could not easily be subject to division of labor, and why in contrast, he emphasizes, that factory production, in his time, which was a young production, had already divided into thousands of parts. I think he wants to understand and move with the future trend of wealth building, in other words the dividing of work and the plenitude of the parts, meant the ownership of greater number of parts, and thus was a representative of the expansion of industrial property. If the growth of industrial society was measurable with the growth of division of labor, in our times, the post-industrial development, is exactly measured by the degree of expansion of intellectual property, and the number of registered inventions is a good indicator for this expansion, and this is the subject to consider whether in relation to production of wealth or its distribution,
In my paper on Post-Anthropocentric Production, I noted that molecular production, which basically does not need human activity as a tool, will be the main way of production in the future. And a country like Iran will not be able to compete with post-anthropocentric production in the world, in the global economy, using old anthropocentric production. Therefore, post-industrial production for creating wealth in Iran is as important in Iran as in the U.S., and the competition will be on the best inventions and their growth, and the cornerstone of value of such production is none other than the intellectual property of the processes involved.
It is interesting that today, India and Singapore have started doing many *basic* projects which were previously possible only in the West. Thus it is apparent that such production endeavors for the developing countries are not only possible, but are the key to their future success, and in fact, these productions, will be the main source of wealth in Futurist Iran.
What is social justice? The capitalist and socialist approach to social justice will not work for future Iran, and neither will any middle road between the two, such as social-democracy. And obviously the return to the past has lost for a long time. One has to go forward beyond the capitalist and socialist solutions:
a. Those who think social justice in the post-industrial economy is not an issue of Iran, and think they can use capitalism as the solution for Iran, in effect are offering the capitalist solutions of the kind of privatizations of IRI, and will be quickly defeated in competition with the West, and will end up in protectionism, and ultimately will again cause the distancing of Iran from the global economy, this time in the framework of a private economy.
b. The dream of socialists who want distribution of wealth of industrial society, in the world of today, and are thus promoting a state economy, in practice will scare the foreign investors from investing in Iran, because of the state privileges. Moreover, internally, corruption and misuse, as it has been tested over and over again in socialist countries, will paralyze Iran's economy.
If in the developed countries, the achievements of socialist movements within capitalist systems, have created adjustments like welfare state and social rights, in Iran, even such systems do not exist, and moreover, the new development, will not be gradual like the Western democracies, and in practice, similar to the experience of countries like Zimbabwe, such plans can oscillate the country from one of these two scenarios to the other, and the result will be nothing but the destruction of society.
In other words the old capitalist and socialist solutions, or mixtures of the two in programs of social-democracy, are not a solution, rather are repetition of the same defeated vicious circles of the past, even though the issue of social justice, is an inseparable part of post-industrial development plan for Iran, and without an effective plan of social justice, no development plan can be successful in Iran.
In my opinion, with regards to social justice in Iran, the following points should be considered:
1.The state to spend its resources on supporting the educational institutions to create multitude of new inventions in the next 10 years.
This way Iran can reach an acceptable level relative to its size and population, in this regard, to be able to compete in the global economy.
2. A property-owning economy be accepted as the main form of economy in Iran with the necessary exponential taxes.
As I noted in Is Socialism More just? , the panacea of socialism has a lot of attraction among Iranian intellectuals:
"We are talking about a country that people have hardly paid any taxes and the state has always been the biggest owner and has owned the oil industry which is 90% of all the revenue -generating capital that the country owns and the state has been paying the citizens and not the taxpayers paying the state. So it is a pretty tough undertaking, to plan a property-owning democracy for Iran, and wanting to build-in justice into that system. Whereas in the eyes of the leftist intellectuals, there is a shortcut of socialism where one can just make the ownership of the means of production to be public, and social justice to follow. Easy and quick panacea to all the social ills in one easy shot.
"Regardless of how democratic liberal socialism to be, it will end up with small part of society to control the economy as had been seen by the elites in the socialist countries. Because they are the ones who will represent the productive assets and lack of ownership in the means of production means that such small elites *are* the owners. In contrast, the property-owning democracy avoids this, by ensuring the widespread ownership of productive assets and human capital, and this is why equal opportunity as well as political liberties are supported to make the system fair.
"In fact, to maximize the minimum of the basic needs in society that John Rawls emphasizes in his book “Theory of Justice” in 1971, and his venture into enlightened self-interest are beyond the current Western societies. He always notes that for fairness, the 'greatest benefit of the least-advantaged members of society' is to be guaranteed. In other words supporting the first principle, meaning political liberties, and ensuring to maximize the social minimum, does not mean to stop the motivation for activity, which is killed in the socialist societies of even the Swedish type, because is is achieved here, thru the second principle of justice, i.e. equal opportunity, and not by charity."
In sum, the property-owning economy, more than a property-less economy, has the capacity to establish social justice, but the issue of income from national mutual fund alongside income from work, and a proper tax system, are the key issues for social justice that I note below:
As noted in Post-Anthropocentric Production , "if the worldwide need for human labor drops, people in all countries, whose income is based on human labor as an intelligent tool in manufacturing or agriculture, will lose their source of income, and their lives will be directly impacted by such changes."
It is important to note that the welfare system that is being proposed, is a *non-governmental* pension fund, but it is for all people of all ages, and this way the minimum income of the society will be maximized, by owners of shares of this pension, and this income, will be independent of the citizen's income from work.
This plan, by creating an income, separate from work, for all people, will reduce the human damages of the economic change as the society moves towards a post-industrial production.
As we know, someone like the singer Britney Spears, or soccer player Ali Dai, or a successful software developer, may end up with millions of dollars of income from their work, whereas others in similar profession may have no income from their work, because the work of the former have been recognized as *best*. I have discussed this issue in details in Knowledge Economy & Social Justice.
Should the above differences be removed? I do not think that should be the goal, because that way the incentive for creating intellectual property will vanish, and the result will be like the slaves in the U.S., who basically had incentive for consuming more and working less. In fact, at the time of Abraham Lincoln in the U.S. of 1862, The Homestead Act was done to create the incentive for property, in opposition to the Southern states of slavery, and it was successful and was continued till 1976, and even halting it 100 years later, was because no more land was left for such plan. Therefore, if today, a similar plan, for granting the rights of individual inventions of educational and government entities, to the inventors themselves, is executed, for example within a time period like the 5 years of Homestead act, that was the time allowed for building a house and cultivating the land, such a plan can become a strong incentive for entrepreneurial activity.
In other words, my intention is not to prevent income from work, but it is to create appropriate laws for taxation, and also suitable laws for companies to give shares to their employees, companies that produce these kinds of intellectual property. And this way an increase of wealth and a fairer and more just distribution of wealth will be resulted. Perhaps it would be right to set aside a portion of the shares of these companies, at the time of them going public, to be allocated to the whole profession, to help the activity of the members of that profession who have less income. I have extensively discussed the formation of value in new economy in A Theory of Uniqueness Value and those same criteria should be used to determine the exponential taxing of this income.
Finally, the issue of production and distribution of wealth in future Iran cannot be solved by the programs of capitalism or socialism, and the post-anthropocentric production of post-industrial societies, have as much significance for Iran's future economy, as for the U.S Economy. Working for molecular prodcution, development of intellectual property in the universities governmental private firms, and NGOs, and creating a welfare system based on national mutual funds, are the type of work needed for production and distribution of wealth in future Iran.
I. Monism and Pluralism
For years I could not understand the animosity of Marxist groups such as hezb-e toodeh with Iranian liberals, such as the Bazargan government and its spokesman Amir Entezam. I was always surprised why these leftists sided with hezbollAhis during the hostage crisis and were happy about the subsequent overthrow of the Bazargan government. I also was surprised why the Soviet and Chinese Marxist hardliners were always against the liberals.
of the Marxist groups in
I did a research about "Marxist Thought & Monism", which answered some of the questions I had about the anti-liberal stand of many Iranian revolutionary organizations. My paper has since been mentioned in a bibliography, alongside many other works, that in one way or other, have dealt with related topics.
Of course, Marxism being a major school of thought in the last century has had so many versions and some of them are even pluralist. Moreover, regardless of the issue of pluralism, Marx and Marxists have contributed a lot to many areas of modern social sciences, and humanities, and my critic of monism in Marxist Thought, is not aimed at discrediting those contributions. Also in contrast to Monism, I studied the subject of pluralism in the Western Philosophy and wrote a paper about Pluralism in 1985. Furthermore, wrote a a short paper on New Paradigms going forward..
Some of the leading thinkers of the 20th Century, such as Bertrand Russell and
Karl Popper, had noted the importance of pluralism in the Western Philosophy.
And of course, one could find pluralistic metaphysics in philosophical works
ranging from Aristotle's Metaphysics to Leibniz's
and Russell's logical atomism. Russell's Logical Atomism, which he
proposed at a juncture of his philosophical journey, was a very pluralistic
philosophy, and even some philosophers of our times, such as Nelson Goodman, in
And there are many less known works such as a book called "Architectonics of Meaning, Foundations of the New Pluralism" by Walter Watson, that have tried to better understand the fundamental attributes of Pluralism in the philosophical thought.
I think the Iranian intellectual thought can benefit a lot from the contributions of philosophers who have worked more on pluralistic approach in philosophy, whether they have worked on topics of moral philosophy like John Rawls in his "Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy" or those who have focused on topics of logic like Quine.
I think Iranian intellectual thought has had more tendency
towards monism than pluralism and this is why Marxism and especially the more
monistic versions of it, have had more appeal among the Iranian revolutionaries.
We have not had an abundance of people partial to James, Russell or Popper in
Let me finish my note with the following passage from William James, from his lectures in 1907 entitled "A Pluralistic Universe". I find this passage an excellent explication of Pluralism:
"Pragmatically interpreted, pluralism or the doctrine that it is many means only
that sundry parts of reality *may be externally related*. Everything you can
think of, however vast or inclusive, has on the
pluralistic view a genuinely 'external' environment of some sort or amount. Things are 'with' one another in many
ways, but nothing includes everything, or dominates over everything. The word 'and' trails along after every
sentence. Something always escapes.
"Even not quite" has to be
"Monism, on the other hand, insists that when you come down to reality as such, to the reality of realities, everything is present to *everything* else in one vast instantaneous co-implicated complete-ness-nothing can in any sense, functional or substantial, be really absent from anything else, all things interpenetrate and telescope together in the great total conflux." (William James, Pluralistic Universe, Harvard Edition, Page 45, 1977 print).
The above does not mean that I agree with the philosophy of William James. In fact, in my paper about Pluralism, I have written a critic of James for his support of Bergson, which I find odd considering James's partiality towards pluralism.
Finally let me close this by stating that I doubt it that humanity in any country can achieve the American ideal of *pursuit of happiness* within the confines of monism, whether it is a religious monism or an atheistic monism.
J. Postmodernist Fallacies
The definition of Postmodernism by its advocates is hardly consistent, and in way if it was consistent, it would be antithetical to the premise of this school of thought, which basically strives to be "as every thing goes" or simply put as anti-method.
Basically Postmodernism is the anarchism of the late part of 20th Century. The following is what I wrote in a different paper about Cynics, i.e the predecessors anarchists in Ancient Greece, and I think the 19th Century anarchism and 20th Century Postmodernism have very similar traits to the Cynics of Ancient times:
"THE CYNICS rejected all the achievements of civilization such as government, private property, marriage, and established religion. In fact, they can be regarded as the predecessors of modern anarchists, which I have discussed elsewhere. They did not try to correct the social ills by any reform, nor did they advocate any alternative society to be reached by revolution, their only alternative to the existing social order was a 'return to nature' and living like animals. One of the most prominent figures, Diogenes, even believed in brotherhood of human race and animals. In short, their rejection of established order was a blow to monism, but their doctrine was detrimental to intellectual activity as a whole. [From my paper entitled "Pluralism in Western Thought"]
Let's now look at Postmodernism in more details. I think Daniel Bell's exposition of Postmodernism in the Part II of "Afterword 1996" to his book "The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism" is one of the best analysis of the topic. Daniel Bell defines Postmodernism as follows:
"Postmodernism is a flight from philosophy-I think of Foucault or Derrida or Rorty -into cultural history, rhetoric, or aesthetics and the denial, if not the subversion, of universalist and transcendental values" [Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, Daniel Bell, P.298]
"For Foucault, the contemporary epistemological rupture was with the Enlightenment concept of Man, ... [and] mounted a challenge to Western humanism ...Derrida wanted to reject philosophy, in search for an ontological center .... Instead of philosophy (or, in his language, "the signified"), there is only literature, and in literature, there is only text, and in text, there are only signs. ... Although Derrida perceived as the voice of wild interpretative freedom, he is anything but. His method and his categories are as schematic as those of a scholastic schoolman. His all-purpose tool is the technique of "deconstruction." Yet any effort to pin down the meaning of the term is invariably elided by the fact that Derrida refuses to assign any fixed meanings for terms, including, apparently, his own. In the end, textual analysis for Derrida is not concerned with "the fetishism of Meaning," which is a relation to a referent, or an outside reality. One reason Derrida is attractive, especially to literary theorists, who find their subject now designated the central focus of all inquiry, is that deconstructionism blows apart all systems in favor of a method that is also an anti-method. Derrida has it both ways. [ibid, P.302-304]
"It is foolish to seek to locate postmodernism or PoMo as either "right" or "left." What we have here is the working out of the logic of modernism (its anticognitive and anti-intellectual modes) and consumerism (its acquisitiveness) in a world where the culturati find their own worldviews incoherent-because of the absence of a secure foundation in traditional morality or in liberalism that found it difficult to set limits on permissible behavior-and have welcomed the cultural anarchism and the transvaluation of values that postmodernism set loose." [ibid, P.306]
The above clearly shows that the individual freedom for the Postmodern thinker means forgetting the achievements of humanity over the millennia, whether it is scientific facts of natural sciences, or the human rights that have been achieved universally, and instead to call for cultural relativism, and to justify the anti-human rights traditions such as stoning and amputations, because of denying the universality of human rights. This is the anarchists' view of individual freedom.
For anarchists freedom does not mean freedom within the progressive institutions of law, and is supposedly achieved by discarding the achievements of civilization, thus by throwing away the democratic institutions and human rights, one can arrive at freedom, because just like the Cynics, the existence or lack of these progressive institutions, which are the achievements of humanity, are considered as unimportant for them . Thus civilized life and a modern recognition of human rights, is seen identical with the Medieval life and acceptance of savage traditions of stoning and amputations, this way Postmodernism end up as the ideology of the return of the Medieval Islamist state.
In other words, by denying the value of science, and the value of human achievements of democratic institutions and human rights, the postmodernist becomes the management tool for the most backward Medieval system of Islamism. Anarchist denying any rules, even the liberal rules of the game, ends up justifying and helping a Medieval fascism. This is what is keeping Islamic Republic of Iran in power. This is how the ones who consider the basic moral principles of liberalism and humanism to be shackles, end up working for the worst rules of Medieval Islamism, taking pride in "elimination of the distinction between high and low culture." cultural relativism which I discussed in a different article, is the direct result of postmodernist thought.
K. Conference of the Birds
Fo llowing the
topic of paradigm shift and new theoretical perspectives, I should note my article " discussed the new paradigm in the area of human
interrelations, and the article " in the post-industrial society. I
have also discussed development of new music in my paper entitled " . Finally I
have explored this paradigm shift in poetry in
llowing the topic of paradigm shift and new theoretical perspectives, I should note my article "Dancing in the Air", where I
discussed the new paradigm in the area of human interrelations, and the article "Women/Men/Love/Commitment/Etc.", reviewing women issues
in the post-industrial society.
I have also discussed development of new music in my paper entitled "New Sound"
Finally I have explored this paradigm shift in poetry
inExpressions of Life, and in philosophical thought in a long paper entitled Meaning of Life, and discussed the impact of new technologies and space travel on our thinking in Space and New Thinking.
Shunryu Suzuki in his book entitled Not Always So, which was published thirty years after his death, in 2002, has a very interesting description of Zen and going to the rest room. He writes that one of the Zen masters in history by the name of Ummon may have been the first to make a connection between Zen and rest room. "What is your practice? What is Buddha?" someone asked Ummon. He answered "Toilet paper". Actually, nowadays it is toilet paper, but he said, "Something to wipe yourself with in the rest room." Suzuki says that is what Ummon had said and since then many Zen masters are thinking about it, practicing with the koan: What is toilet paper? What did he mean by that?
I am not going to explain the meaning of koan here. My late friend Jack Li, whose teacher was Suzuki, in his article entitled Zen Meditation, has given enough explanation for it, and those interested can refer to his paper. I should mention that Jack was not religious and the reason he choose the Zen method for mediation, was because he thought one would need to choose a way of meditation, and follow it through, for meditation to give the intended results. I should say that if I was going to choose a religion, I would choose Zen, but I am not religious, although I see Zen meditation to be a useful practice. Also I need to note that I am against Sufism and mysticism and I have explained my view thoroughly in other writings, and my use of poetic expressions of mysticism here does *not* mean that I belong to Iranian mystic tradition. Let me return to the topic of my discussion here.
I think Iranian political movement can learn from the words of this Zen master who resembles his school of thought to "Something to wipe yourself with in the rest room".
The various political and philosophical views in our movement, even the nonreligious ones, are adhered so doctrinaire, that their followers are not willing to talk of their ideologies and religions in this way, and are willing to kill for their doctrines, but are not willing to throw them out. They are not willing to go to the rest room and free themselves of the obsolete thoughts that weigh heavily on their mind. They consider such talk to be a great sin, whereas all they need is just a tool to clean themselves, so that later they can see the world with an open mind. Our problem is that all the different political currents of Iran are drowned in history, and with a thousand tricks and deception, want to color their old school of thought and sell it again. Instead of cleaning their mind of the waste, which is blocks their thinking and brings them back to the first step again and again, they keep repeating the same defeated verses of their holy books.
What is wrong with the Iranian Opposition? This was the title of an article of mine in 2002. Some international circles concluded from the described situation of discord means that Iranian political movement will have a hard time to resist the attacks of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) 's security forces. The reason for having so many groups is not because of the differences of their political programs, or because of freedom of thought and democracy. It is because as free individuals we have not been successful to cooperate with each other. If a group has remained together, it has been because it has worked like a cult, and not as an association of free individuals. All our political lines have hundreds of groups and parties where their quarrels are like the fights of Shiite and Sunnis, like hundreds of dead and living dead schools of thought.
Ten years ago I wrote in an article entitled Conference of the Birds, which where the title was the English translation of Attar's Mantegh-ol-Tair's book. Attar according to the one in charge of his tomb, whom I had met in Neishabor of Iran, was beheaded by the Moghol invaders, and according to the legend his head was still talking of the atrocities of Moghols, and the same Moghols, fearing people's revenge, made a tomb for him. In fact, the same discord that defeated Iranians in face of the Moghols, today has been with us in the last 25 years of IRI, and the murderers of Foruhars just like Attar, are hearing his voice, and make tombs for them, fearing the revenge of the people, but our birds of freedom themselves, are tearing each other apart. Why can't we discard the obsolete politics and philosophies from our minds? The best thinking is the one that has no fear to be discarded in the rest room. Because it is not scared of people viewing the world with an open mind.
Our story is the story of the birds of Attar who need to look at themselves in the mirror of GhAf Mountain, and see that the legendary Simorgh is none but the thirty (si in Persian) birds (morgh in Persian) of them, who are together, looking for the future of Iran, and the lack of discarding the waste of the past, weighing on our minds, is not allowing us to see this simple truth, and for the last 25 years, we are still busy repeating the same thoughts, that were defeated 25 years ago, and this way because of these wastes, we are still alienated from each other.
15. Futurism, Futurist Party and Iran
A. Artificial Intelligence & Nanotechnology
There was a lot of interest in the
field of Artificial Intelligence in early 80's. Marvin Minsky at the time, in
his book "Society of Mind", was talking about the coming of a new species
superseding the human species. The great expectations of 80's, were
followed by the skepticism of 90's, where the limitations of capabilities of our
current computers were emphasized.
"In this light, I welcome the coming of the new civilization and look forward to
a better future following upon the heels of the contemporary upheaval.
Pessimistic views about our future arise from viewing our own evolution to be
static, while intelligent tools progress. The emergence of artificial
intelligence has made it feasible for human beings to be intellectually
challenged by the immense tasks of exhausting the intelligent characteristics of
some artifacts- a historical first. Together with improvements in genetic
engineering and telecommunications, the production process will change so
rapidly in this space-age society that we can barely imagine even its most
general lines. But whatever shape the new social formations may take, some
possible social effects of these intelligent tools may include:
"-- A freeing of the majority of human
beings from living as tools and means of production: A greater percentage of
people should be able to do what they like rather than being forced to do
something they dislike merely to secure their basic needs.
Finally regarding more advanced species, this is what I had written in my aforementioned paper:
“Finally, it is appropriate to mention that in this treatise, I have examined robots only as tools. I know, as many authors have pointed out, there is a *logical* possibility that these robots could turn into a new species surpassing human's current intelligence (yet I think by then humans will also have moved far more ahead and may still be ahead of them). There are numerous possibilities that more advanced species may reside on Earth some day (e.g., extraterrestrials are still a good possibility), and their origins could be in anything from genetic engineering and space travel to intelligent robot production and human evolution. Perhaps we will share mostly biological needs with animals and primarily social needs with other intelligences. This may help eliminate some of our *anthropocentric* views of the world which have been a part of our world outlook since the fall of early Greek civilization. However, these issues fall beyond the scope of this review as I have focused solely on the technological basis of the subjugation of human by human.”
I should note that the issue of trans-human species introduces a new variable, beside the *intra*species social relations of all the past human societies. This area, in the past, has been addressed by science fiction authors, until the advent of technologies like AI, Genetics, and Cloning, that are making such *inter*species relations a real possibility, in our life-time, and their impact on human society is no longer just a science fiction theme of very distant future. I admire Kurzweil’s work "Spiritual Machines: The Merging Of Man and Machine", where his discussions are bold attempts to understand these new developments. I think Ray Kurzweil's book "Spiritual Machines" is a very good account of what we have ahead of us. It would be interesting to revisit the economic theory and what I already noted before about social justice in light of these epochal changes .
The new Luddites are scaring people of the new achievements. They basically do not even help humanity with the issues they seem to be worried about and they just may delay the progress a little bit. I believe as we get closer and closer to the real production of sentient beings, we should go back and read the old 1817 classic work called "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelly. Unfortunately the way that book has been popularized in popular movies is completely distorted, and is not what one would learn from the book itself. I highly recommend reading the book.
The movies try to show the message of the book as if the meddling in nature's work and "acting" God is bad and try to scare one of doing that. Whereas the book tries to show the dangers and what one has to *predict* and compensate for, when making such an attempt, albeit *acting God*. At least this is my understanding of the book. And regardless of one's understanding of Mary Shelly's book, I think the book gives one a good understanding of the feelings of the new sentient beings and the kind of things one should watch for when developing these new artifacts.
Among the new books of our times in the same vein, I would recommend Pamela McCorduck's "Machines Who Think". But as I noted nothing can replace Mary Shelly's great classic. A real work of literature where one can really feel the feelings of the new creatures and their tormenting at their creators for not having thought of the agony they are going thru.
Is Nanotechnology Real? There is a very important debate in the nanotechnology research community. The debate is called Drexler-Smalley debate and is focused on the issue of molecular assembly. K. Eric Drexler founded the field of nanotechnology about 20 years ago, and he is the chairman of Foresight Institute. Richard E. Smalley is a Nobel Laureate in chemistry and has been a researcher in the field of nanotech for ten years, working on potential applications of carbon nanotubes.
It is interesting that one of the great visionaries of our times, who is the foremost authority in the field of Artificial Intelligence, namely Ray Kurzweil, has diligently addressed the Drexler-Smalley debate. Kurzweil's article is a very detailed technical account of the debate, and he shows very scientifically why it is important to support Drexler's vision.
In my opinion, the Drexler-Smalley debate today has a significance way beyond the interests of their special research areas, just as the field of Artificial Intelligence had similar debates 20 years ago, when on the one hand, McCarthy and Minsky, believed AI was possible, and on the other side, there were those like Dreyfus and Searle, either negated the possibility of Artificial Intelligence or saw it too weak. I have written about the AI debates elsewhere.
Today twenty years later, it is obvious that Artificial Intelligence is possible, although it is not the same as natural intelligence, but in many respects, for example for handling large amounts of information, it is even more powerful than natural intelligence . So it really is *artificial* intelligence, not in a pejorative sense. The same way artificial diamonds of nanotech may prove to be a new creation, yet better than the original, in beauty, durability, and other properties.
Do Undeveloped Countries Need to Care?What is important in such debates is that if people accept the view of impossibility of artificial remaking of the world, which opponents of nanotechnology are advocating, we can end up with a loss of opportunity that may be as important as the computer revolution of the last 20 years.
One may ask what importance this debate may have for undeveloped countries like Iran, and whether the Iranian intellectuals should bother with such a topic. The same way that years ago, many wondered why Iranians should worry about AI and post-industrial society debates, when even the industrial society is hardly developed in Iran, whereas today, everyone sees the importance of computers and Internet and global economy, and why issues like joining WTO are of paramount importance to Iran, and many Iranian intellectuals are now actively involved in such endeavors.
The same way, the nanotechnology can be the most important technology that may replicate fuel cells, to put an end to the age of oil, and not only it would impact the economy of oil producing countries like Iran, but it can change the whole economy of energy production in the world, which is the basis of all industrial production worldwide, and can make a huge impact on poverty and wealth worldwide.
And there is no reason why the scientists of a country like Iran should not be involved in the nanotechnology development, when it will have an epochal impact not just on the developed countries, but can change worldwide manufacturing output beyond an order of magnitude.
The above is why I think the Drexler-Smalley debate is important for Iranian intellectuals to follow.
What is Molecular Assembly? The first manufacturing processes called manu factus date back to the end of Middle Ages, in Europe of the late 1500's. It was making things from raw materials by hand or by machinery carried on systematically with division of labor. The invention of steam engine in the 18th century made these machinery power-driven, and the manu factus developed to industrial factories, and thus changing the face of Earth in the subsequent 200 years.
Today's nanotechnology is about creating the molecular assembly, which is a miniature version of manu factus, and can basically remake the whole world more efficiently, and the result not only can end the energy dependence on all natural resources, but may finally complete the industrial development that, as best shown by Daniel Bell, was basically an energy era of human civilization, a production with power-driven machinery.
Therefore nanotechnology can successfully complete the remaining part of the past agricultural and industrial productions, not just by solving the energy issue, but also by adding intelligence to the subject of those civilizations, and in short it can help all productive activities that still lag in pre-industrial modes of production, to arrive to the post-industrial intelligent production. The way intelligent programs work in post-industrial high tech industries today, will be applied to all productive activities, once the nanotech is fully developed.
Here is how Kurzweil explains the intelligence used in nanotech using the word *software* in a very wide sense of the word:
"Although many configurations have been proposed, the typical assembler has been described as a tabletop unit that can manufacture any physically possible product for which we have a software description. Products can range from computers, clothes, and works of art to cooked meals. Larger products, such as furniture, cars, or even houses, can be built in a modular fashion, or using larger assemblers. Of particular importance, an assembler can create copies of itself. The incremental cost of creating any physical product, including the assemblers themselves, would be pennies per pound, basically the cost of the raw materials. The real cost, of course, would be the value of the information describing each type of product, that is the software that controls the assembly process. Thus everything of value in the world, including physical objects, would be comprised essentially of information. We are not that far from this situation today, since the "information content" of products is rapidly asymptoting to 100 percent of their value." [Ray Kurzweil-The Drexler-Smalley Debate on Molecular Assembly, Dec 4, 2003]
The above is the crux of what is at stake in the new nanotech paradigm. If Newton described laws of motion, and following that, Laplace argued that having the initial state of the world, and knowing those laws, one could predict the state of the world at any moment, here we are seeing that the accomplishment of science in the last 300 years, to describe the structure of things, is followed by nanotechnology pioneers to work for ultimately rebuilding the whole nature artificially "atom by atom", as in the same paper, Kurzweil quotes from Feynman's 1959 seminal speech.
Why is Artificial Remaking Important?What is the point of making water from two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. Of course, when making molecules of water this way, it will be like a manufacturing assembly, and it can be created in trillions and trillions, and it means *maneuvering* things atom by atom as Feyman had noted, and the material can become even more efficient with more desired properties. Moreover in cases where there is scarcity or environmental hazards, such as the case of oil, where there is so much dependence on fossil fuel which is environmentally lethal, nanotech can create a clean alternative with an economy of scale.
Also such a nanotech process can avoid more errors, just as the computers make less errors than humans, when dealing with huge amounts of information, and this is an important problem of current biological processes, where errors like cancer occur in the existing natural processes.
Can all this also introduce dangers and problems that the critics note? Kurzweil gives a good example of computer networks and viruses that are propagated thru them, and notes that we would not be willing today to discard the computers and the Internet because of viruses, and intead of returning to the past, we create protection against viruses.
Of course the main issue of critics like Smalley is not the dangers. Dangers such as problems of self-replicating mechanisms. Because as we all know the nature's own self-replicating systems, such as human cells, have shown the problem of bad copies time and again, which is why we have diseases like cancer. And not just that, even the whole process of aging and diseases like Alzheimer's are about errors in the self-replicating cells. So the control in artificial self-replicating systems can even be helpful to resolve those kinds of issues in the existing natural life processes.
In other words, the above dangers are not the basic issues raised by critics like Smalley. The main thrust of their arguments is like Dreyfus and his arguments of chess, at the time of inception of Artificial Intelligence, namely trying to argue for impossibility of molecular assembly, referring to issues like fat fingers in nanotech, which basically means the robot arm for bounding of atoms cannot act freely when nearing quantum sizes, because of quantum uncertainty effects. But as Kurzweil excellently shows, the nanotech size is much larger than sizes where such quantum uncertainties would even come to play, and even if they were real issues, they are issues to be solved, and not to cause discouragement for possibility of nanotechnology.
Finally I should note that basically scientists, in the last 300 years, have been describing the world by various formulas, and if genetics has been one of the first sciences to use this knowledge to remake a part of the natural reality in a controlled way, nanotechnology can remake everything in the world more intelligently, and it can create the environment for intelligent tools to be in an effective interaction with the physical world, and change nature to a wealth producing reality for the human species, and at the same time help us to go beyond our own biological limitations and deal with issues like cancer. There is so much at stake here that leaving this work, can hurt any nation, and the whole world at large, from the real potentials of our times, and can seriously impede the development of post industrial global society.
In sum, nanotechnology is tied to the impact of intelligent tools on life and the world and together they depict the tremendous potentials in front of humanity and the world. I have discussed the post-anthropocentric production, and also the issues related to wealth and justice in the upcoming civilizations.
B. Modern Futurism
For more information about Modern Futurism see The Future File (1978) by Paul Dickson and an excellent older book by Alvin Toffler called The Futurists (1972).
The discourse of futurism is not an old discourse. In the form of what we call modern futurism today, this discourse has been formulated after World War II by the German-born futurist Ossip K. Flechtheim in the U.S. and the French futurist Bertrand de Jouvenel. Prior to this date, IMO, futurism did not exist as a separate discourse and it was part of the discourse of progress in the Western philosophy.
The discourse of progress has been around at least since Aristotle in the Western Philosophy, and as I have noted it before in other articles, the terms humanity and progress have been formed at the same time around the second century AD. In here, my main focus is on the futurism in particular and not progressive thought in general.
The primitive formation of the Industrial Society gave rise to releasing great potentials to build the human society. Thus prediction of the future structure of society became a very important criteria of progressiveness; and many sociologists started studying the structures of the future society.
The writings of Machiavelli and Sir Thomas More of Renaissance period laid out two main models of the future industrial society, the society that was built during the four centuries after the Renaissance. Two centuries after these two thinkers, the first one who noted the importance of futurism as a scientific discipline was the French philosopher and satirist Voltaire. Perhaps he, more than anyone else, had recognized the value of what we call *analytic* futurism today.
The glacial changes of the last half century and the formation of post-Industrial society (see Daniel Bell's The Coming of the Post-Industrial Society), have caused a social upheaval similar to the start of the Industrial Society. Thus viewing of the future, this time within a society with more potentials, has found a new importance.
But not only the world that is under study by the futurists is a different one from the world of Industrial Society; the futurism itself has also become more precise and its many aspects have become different fields of knowledge and inquiry. At the present, the futurist outlooks relative to the newly forming post-industrial Society are where the outlooks of industrial society were relative to the industrial society in the eighteenth century.
However, I need to point out that the speed of the progress of the post-industrial world is so much faster than the speed of the progress of the industrial world that the process of maturing of the new outlooks may take two decades rather than two centuries which took for the new outlooks of the industrial society to mature.
B0) Modern Futurism-Main Types
Viewing the future can be for answering one of the three following questions:
1. What will very possibly happen in the future? (analytic)
2. What can happen in the future? (visionary)
3. What should happen in the future? (participatory)
The answer to the first question is *analytic* futurism, to the second question is *visionary* futurism, to the third question is *participatory* futurism.
Among the famous futurists, John Naisbitt's book "Megatrends" is a good example of *analytic* futurism. R. Buckminster Fuller's works are good examples of *visionary* futurism. Alvin Toffler's works are good examples of *participatory* futurism.
B1) Modern Futurism-Analytic
The response to the *first question*, "what will very possibly happen in the future", i.e. *analytic* futurism, is studied by the evaluation of different existing social and economic trends and tendencies thru scientific investigations.
For example, using the *Delphi* method, a group of experts within a specific field of knowledge, use collective brainstorming, to come up with different alternative futures for the topic at hand.
This kind of question about the future, i.e. asking "what will very possibly happen in the future", has not been that much of interest to the thinkers of the past, whereas nowadays, it is becoming more and more a positive science, called social forecasting, and most of the university programs of Future Studies follow this type of futurism.
Future Studies or analytic futurism in the last four decades has grown tremendously in relationship to the government and corporate planning needs. For example, research works conducted by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) are good examples of such research undertakings.
The futurists involved in this type of futurism are more and more developing and testing newer models and methods, such as models of systems theory and cybernetics, and are now able to some extent to predict some future qualitative changes too.
For example, the Futures Group of Mr. John Naisbitt uses a methodology called *context analysis* to study the general social and economic trends in the world. This method uses the space allocated to different topics in various newspapers in different periods and different places as its data; and this way discovers underlying or formative trends that are otherwise hidden to sociologists. He has uncovered many glacial changes in the modern world this way. His bestseller *Megatrends* was based on this methodology.
The latest achievement of *analytic* futurism is the study of different possible futures which is called study of *alternative futures*. That is studying the different scenarios of future and the resulting consequences of their happening. Thus reviewing what side-effects each alternative can cause in different realms of life and to study to plan to compensate the ill-effects of progress in one realm of life, on the other realms. Sometimes the possible *side-effects* may become the reason to avoid a certain progress (for example studying the environmental effects can mean avoiding a certain type of manufacturing development).
In some countries such as Sweden, there is a government ministry dedicated to Future Studies which coordinates the future studies of various government and corporate agencies. Centers of Future Studies in all the developed countries have been popping up during the last three decades.
One can hardly find any prudent government or corporation that would disregard the value of this type of futurism in their respective areas of interest. Although this branch of futurism may not seem that important in relation to sketching one's ideals of a future society, but this type of futurism is definitely valuable even for forming one's ideals of the future, if used together with the other two types of futurism. The Future Survey magazine of World Future Society specifically focuses on *analytic* futurism..
B2) Modern Futurism-Visionary
The *second* type of futurism, that is *visionary futurism*, has been formed in answering to the question of "what can happen in the future?"
This type of futurism has fascinated the intellectuals long before Voltaire. Even before Plato's Utopia, various schemes of the future in the philosophic and religious texts have been examples of *visionary* futurism.
This type of futurism is more an art than science and perhaps Plato's Republic, which influenced human mind for many centuries is the best example of this type of futurism (see Karl Popper's Open Society for a good critique of Plato's Republic). Also Machiavelli' s Prince is another example of it. I believe, Even Frederick Engels's book, "Socialism from Utopia to Scientific", should be considered as a work of art than science.
The topics of interest to *visionary* futurism and depicting ideals and visions of the future cannot really be the subject of science and are generally beyond science, although it can use science. For example the analytic futurism a science) can be used to *test* the ideas offered in the *visionary* futurism, but *visionary* futurism itself is more of an art than science.
In the area of *visionary* futurism, there have existed *two* tendencies in history:
1) The *first* tendency within *visionary* futurism is the model of the Jewish religion, which offers the mythical picture of a golden era at the beginning of creation and the goal of humanity is to return to that lost paradise from which it was once driven out.
This model has been used to certain degree in Marxism too. In Marxian model, the original classless society is negated by class society and then after negation of the class society in the future, a classless society of a higher kind, i.e. communism, which is an evolved version of the original primitive communism. Thus instead of the circular movement model of Jewish religion, a Hegelian Spiral is offered.
The important characteristic of this model is that this model believes in a previous plan and design in the world, thus the plan of the future has been devised in the past. Therefore either through the prophecy of the prophets, other people are informed of *parts* of this pre-existing Plan and Design, or according to some other beliefs laymen may never qualify to know any parts of the pre-existing Plan and Design at all.
Accepting this kind of teleological causation (philosophically called *final cause* ellat-e ghAii), which accepts the priority of effect to cause, not only gives rises to many problems about the freedom of action in many such religious and philosophic schools, but the other problem this viewpoint carries is that according to this view depiction of the future is not by evaluating the achievements of the past or in evaluating the world using knowledge and rationalism, but it is to be done thru believing in the principles announced by the prophets or the benevolent leaders of a doctrine.
In other words, in this view, the future outlook is not understood as a wish or as an ideal so that others can agree or disagree with it, instead, the future outlook is presented as a pre-ordained fate, announced for all time and all place. Thus the defenders of this model, such as some apocalyptic cults, at times are very fanatic.
I should note that not all religious interpretation are fatalistic. And not all atheistic views are free of it. Many atheistic views suffer from this kind of fatalism, and at times have been worse than their religious counterparts.
2) The *second* tendency of *visionary* futurism is found in literary works as early as the books of Aristotle and after him in the works of Lucretius, the Roman thinker of 99-55 BC.
According to this view of visionary futurism, future is the evolution of the objective realities and does not have a pre-determined goal and design outside of these objective realities. Thus only by postulating indeterminacy, at least in the narrow sense of the word, talking about future has been meaningful for this second tendency of visionary futurism.
Aristotle, in the Book V of his Metaphysica, emphasizes *final causes* and thus is more teleological in that work and also in most of his biological works, and the concept of entelechy in those works, distances him from the position of efficient causation. But, IMO, essentially Aristotle's writings and general outlook espouses a non-teleological evolutionary concept of the future.
I need to point out that following the *second* tendency of visionary futurism, when responding to the question of "what can happen in the future?", does *not* mean that one is acting within the boundaries of scientific evaluation of trends and existing conditions. That would have been just *analytic* futurism.
Here, using the second tendency of visionary futurism, one actually uses rationalism and wisdom and learns in a general sense from the achievements of the past. Thus the various possibilities of future are conjectured which may not necessarily be results of any existing or immediate trends. Nonetheless, in contrast to the first tendency of *visionary* futurism, this second tendency of *visionary* futurism does not talk about anything which does not have an objective basis in the world.
Therefore, it is still different from *analytic* futurism, because the latter in addition to objectiveness, essentially focuses on the existing trends and their *existing* priorities, whereas this second type of *visionary* futurism may offer an option of the future as its ideal, and that option may in reality not be a powerful trend in the foreseeable future at all.
IMO the second tendency of *visionary* futurism, although seemingly more scientific, but at the same time this very fact is also its weakness. The element of imagination in arts and religion has a powerful creative quality, and that element has many times in history been a reason to start very new trends and institutions in the society, which have in many cases formed superior social forms than the continuation of existing trends and institutions.
Of course, unlike the anarchists, one should not consider all the evolution of existing institutions and trends as "traditional" and thus as "bad" and to admire any *new* institution as "good", because of being new (please see my article entitled "Anarchism"). In fact, if there is anything to be "admired" blindly, maybe the thousand-year old traditions deserve more to be admired, as they have been tested for thousands of years for their side-effects.
For example, everyone knew the dangers of the institution of the Church, but nobody knew the dangers of a new institution like the Nazi party when it was climbing up to power in Germany, and the unfortunate experience of genocide and World War II was needed for people to recognize the menace of this new non-Christian evil in Europe.
Returning to the issue of the two tendencies of *visionary* futurism, I need to point out that if the element of imagination is understood correctly and used cautiously, the second tendency of *visionary* futurism can be augmented to bear better fruits. Thus, IMO, the existence of a Utopia in visionary futurism does not mean a school of thought is completely partial to the first tendency of visionary futurism.
The utopian ideal does not mean an eternal destiny, it may be just the social ideal of the existing society and it is therefore not what is thought of as Utopia in the first tendency of visionary futurism, with its pre-ordained Design. Maybe the visionary futurism in some writings of the past such as Frederick Engels's book on utopia was also a combination of both of the above tendencies. A good example of such a utopian model in our times, which is a combination of the two tendencies, is a book called *computobia* by a Japanese futurist author, Yoneji Masuda.
B3) Modern Futurism--Participatory
The *third* kind of futurism, i.e. *participatory* futurism is defined as a response to the question of "what should happen in the future?"
This group of futurists, in their plans and actions, specifically have a certain future in mind, in an area of life, such as education. They focus in their actions to achieve the results intended in their plan, and thus are consciously participating in the formation of that future. If for other people, their ideals and expectations of the future play an unconscious role in their participation in making the future, for the ones who believe in participatory futurism, this participation in creating the future is done consciously.
Thus for this group of the futurists, the topic of origination and formation of *alternative futures* finds a *practical* importance and is not just limited to analytic or visionary futurism. Although participatory futurism does necessarily include other types of futurism, but these futurists make their decisions depending on their ideals of the future as to what *should* happen, and practically support those social programs which reach their ideals faster and better.
A good example of the activity of participatory futurism was the work on Proposition 13 in California. Please see Alvin Toffler's book Third Wave for details (also available in Persian called moj-e sevom, published by Nashr-e-no, Tehran) .
From a distant past, the third type of futurism, i.e. *participatory* futurism was of interest among the philosophers of politics, more than any other thinkers. The issues of ethics and law find significance in this realm of futurism, because the values and social priorities in every step, find practical importance in this type of futurism.
Thus philosophers of politics from Plato to John Locke paid a high attention to ethical and legal issues. In fact, the differentiation of the question of "what can be done?" from "what should be done?", without which this separate area of futurism would be meaningless, is emphasized in Kant's philosophy of ethics.
Even Leninist social-activists, despite opposing Kant, were not able to explain the theoretical basis of their endeavors, without accepting the differentiation of the above two questions as legitimate in their ideology. Of course, they still claimed that in the so-called "final analysis", there is no such differentiation!
One of the best examples of a plan for a participatory futurism in the modern times was the Manifesto of Condocret and its evolved version, the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels, and finally the minimum and maximum programs of the communist parties.
Nowadays the futurists, instead of using the terms minimum and maximum programs, use short, medium and long-term plans and they also separate their programs geographically into local, countrywide, regional, and worldwide plans.
In the area of participatory futurism, futurism is not just defined by the existing general trends or the future ideals of its participants. In this realm, it reciprocally interacts with the cultural, ethical, social, legal, and political values of its local and universal environment. In a word, in this type of futurism, *future* finds value as it turns into the *present*.
B4) Modern Futurism-Conclusion
With the above short description, it is evident how futurism is inseparable from the idea of progress. Needless to say that the formation of a post-industrial civilization has increased the need for paying attention to all three types of futurism.
The growth of the first type, i.e. *analytic* futurism, has been the main focus of the futurists in the last four decades and it is still their main interest.
The second type of futurism in our times, i.e. *visionary* futurism, has been essentially done by science fiction authors such as Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clarke, or Gene Rodenbury. Also some authors such as Gerard O'Neil in his book 2081, emphasizing the development of space colonies, have offered valuable insights for the future options of human race.
It is interesting to note that in the works of the science fiction authors of our time, the conditions and type of production are fantasized as changing rather than the social relations. Even the *Next Generation* series of Star Trek, in its view of social relations, is not really that far from what we observe in our world today, but fantasized technological changes are abundant in the series.
In contrast, in the works of the Utopian authors of the past, such as Fourier, the production was mostly assumed as constant, and post-factory production was not even dreamed of, and the alternative social relations was central to the past Utopias.
At any rate, the second type of futurism, i.e. *visionary* futurism, has been of interest in the works of R. Buckminster Fuller and Gerard O'Neil. I should add that the depicted new horizons are hardly anything beyond Plato or John Locke in their respective outlooks of future society.
Finally the third type of futurism, i.e. *participatory* futurism, fortunately, in contrast to the era of Industrial Revolution, is not essentially within the confines of the realm of politics, and different realms of life such as education, health, and mass media have found the utmost attention among the participatory futurists of our times.
A look at most of the programs on Public Broadcasting (PBS) channels in the US is a good illustration of this fact. At the end, no need to repeat that futurism and rational thinking, although carrying new meanings today, in contrast to the seventeenth century, but they are still both inseparable from the ideas of progress and development.
C. The Futurist Party Platform
I wrote this proposed
platform in July 2001, and my
the Persian translation, explains more about why forming a party with a platform
like this, is so critical for Iran's development. This
EDUCATION & CULTURE:
D. Futurist Party and Political Coalitions
If all parties work hard to find allies to achieve their ideals, futurist parties even before being formed, have so many political allies, who support the vision of futurists, in different realms of emerging post-industrial societies. This fortunate reality has caused almost total disregard of futurists to become an independent political party, in the most advanced country of the world, the United States, where the futurists have one of the longest histories of presence.
Futurists in the U.S. have either supported Republicans such as Newt Gingrich to represent our ideals in the U.S. Congress, or had our hopes in Democrats like Al Gore, to represent our perspective in the Whitehouse. And we have put so much efforts in various NGOs, public television or other social and cultural associations, without any independent futurist identity. At best, we have kept our membership of WFS (World Future Society), which is the biggest futurist association in the world. In other words, no Futurist Party has been formed in the U.S., and therefore there are no representatives of such a party, to work for a futurist platform in the U.S. Congress, or in other elected offices of the United States, when the postindustrial developments in centers like Silicon Valley of California are debilitating.
This is not only true about the U.S. I have detailed the same issue with regards to Iran in my paper entitled "Why Futurist Party for Iran". The Iranian Futurists have done just like the futurists in the U.S., working inside alliances within the Iran National Front (Jebhe Melli), within the newly forming unions for a secular republic in Iran, and also in many NGOs, but hardly having any independent political presence as futurists. Unfortunately these coalitions, although useful endeavors, cannot fully address the needs of post-industrial development, whether in the U.S., in Iran, or in any other part of the world.
What is United Front vs a Political Party? A united front, whether that of traditional Jebhe Melli or the newly formed unions for a secular republic in Iran, may achieve a secular republic by ending the Islamic Republic, and may even prevent the return of monarchy and stop formation of another despotic and religious republic. Nonetheless would such united fronts, by themselves, be able to ensure the building of a post-industrial 21st Century society in Iran, without the active presence of a Futurist Party in these coalitions, whether during the change of IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran) or afterwards? Certainly not! In Iran, for decades, the political leadership of the country has been pushing it backwards to the Medieval world, and a new political leadership, focused on a post-industrial plan, will have to fundamentally change course, to form the Futurist Iran.
A detailed plan, such as the Iranian Futurist Party Platform that I proposed in 2001, is needed to drive a program for 21c postindustrial development. It is interesting that since I wrote the proposed platform, a number of people have commented on this document, when discussing postindustrial visions for political parties of our times, without even knowing me. They have not even been aware that my vision for such a party, does *not* mean building the postindustrial society in Iran, with the current Islamic theocracy, and in my view, the first step is to remove this regime and to replace it with a secular republic. Nonetheless their discussions of the platform are very interesting appraisals of the central theme of the document, which is about the possibility of a third world country like Iran, to take off for a postindustrial alternative.
The differentiation of united front alliances and futurist party is true for the United States too, although the forces are different, and the issues of alliances are not necessarily the same as those for a country like Iran. Nonetheless, in the U.S. too, political coalitions by themselves cannot properly address the needs of postindustrial development.
Early developments of the technology centers, such as the Silicon Valley of California, occurred without the futurists being an independent political force, thanks to the absence of any substantial resistance from pre-industrial enterprises. But the mounting of crisis of industrial society translated to the attempts of political representatives of old industries, to use government subsidies, to keep their moribund industries alive, rather than to reinforce new-sprung postindustrial centers. And thus as time has passed, it is becoming more and more apparent, that any alliances with Republicans or Democrats, without the active presence of a futurist political party, cannot effectively drive the high tech postindustrial production, because the old parties favor saving the old agricultural and industrial enterprises.
Of course, after forming futurist parties, the futurists will still continue to have alliances with parts of the Republican and Democratic Parties (or the Green Party and others), but their independent presence will make the impact of futurists different from the days of chasing Newt Gingrich or Al Gore, inside the Republican or Democratic Parties, as the only way to drive the postindustrial development in the U.S. and the rest of the world.
What was the History of Modern Futurism and Politics? Modern Futurists in the last 50 years were proven right in their analysis of the world, because as early as Ossip K. Flechtheim in Germany, and Bertrand De Jouvenel in France, in the years after WWII, founders of futurism predicted formation of a new civilization beyond capitalism and socialism, a civilization which years later, Daniel Bell, called the post-industrial society. In reality the post-industrial information society was a right prediction. From a political analysis of the modern world, both Flechtheim and De Jouvenel reached the conclusion that one needs to go beyond capitalism and socialism, to take humanity to the next step beyond the industrial society, as they saw both liberalism and socialism no longer to be viable solutions for our future.
Although they did not know the basic economic characteristics of this new society that was being formed, their approach was not like Tito and some other third world leaders in late 40's and early 50's, who tried to have a middle road between socialism and capitalism, as a political alternative in the post-WWII era. Modern futurists knew that one had to go fundamentally beyond the whole industrial society, in both its socialist and capitalist forms, to address the dilemmas of our times.
In other words, moderating or mixing up solutions that had worked for the industrial society, was not going to be the answer for the upcoming civilization, and they looked at a fundamental break with the past, in all areas of life, and not just politics. Nonetheless early futurists never neglected politics, and were very political, especially after their own recent experience of dealing with Nazi fascism in Europe, they had learned about the resistance and return of old political forces. Nazism was some kind of returning to the past, as an alternative to the crisis of industrialism in late 20's and early 30's.
Next major futurist who finally defined the fundamental characteristics of the post-industrial society was Daniel Bell. Daniel Bell's book "The Coming of Post-Industrial Society" is a classic of futurist thought, and I do not think any other book has impacted the modern social thinking as Daniel Bell's legendary book of 1973. He defined knowledge-based post-industrial economy in contrast to the labor-based economy of industrial production, and later in the foreword to the same book in 1999, he fully elaborated his definition of codified knowledge.
Daniel Bell's paper on The Break Down of Time, Space, and Society clarifies how the service industry of a post-industrial society is different from a service sector in a backward economy, the main differentiation being the codified knowledge. What Daniel Bell called codified knowledge, can be easily seen today, defining the basic barrier to entry for complex ASIC designs in modern semiconductor production, where the codified knowledge is inherent in the design, and such designs distinguish a real post-industrial economy from service-oriented old economies and I have discussed their valuations elsewhere.
Among the three main kinds of Modern Futurism, i.e. analytic, visionary, and participatory; futurist organizations of the last few decades, mainly focused on analytic futurism, with excellent contributions in forecasting and trends analysis, and related methods, such as Delphi or context analysis, to define what *may* happen, and the achievements of analytic futurism in the last 50 years are enormous and it is taught in most universities today .
As far as visionaries, we are also in a better position in comparison to the past, and today there are great visionaries like Ray Kurzweil, whose contributions equals to a Buckminster Fuller plus an Einstein, tackling the questions of what *can* happen, i.e. visionary futurism, when examining our far-reaching horizons. And even with regards to issues like social justice, futurists have a lot to offer in contrast to both the left and right of old industrial society. Thus even in the area of visionary futurism, we are way ahead of visions of the past.
In the area of participatory futurism, when a futurist asks what *should* happen, the actions of futurists in NGOs, businesses, educational institutions, or mass media, have made important impacts in the world.
Yet in the political arena, participatory futurism has relied on the allies of futurists to represent our platform, and in that arena, we have failed.
True that analytic futurists like John Naisbitt and Tofflers have addressed political trends ,but as far as being involved in participatory futurism, their involvement with business leadership took precedence over creating a new political alternative. None cared to strive for forming a new futurist party in the U.S. or elsewhere.
What is the Platform of Coalitions & Issues of Post-Industrial Development? Many programs proposed by the old parties to solve the issues of post-industrial technologies are old solutions of old industries. For example, Howard Dean, the U.S. Democratic Party candidate today, is trying to solve the unemployment problem of Silicon Valley, by stopping the jobs from going to India and Taiwan, through bringing down the cost of production to the same level as those countries, to encourage high tech companies to hires in the U.S. If this plan even works, by using tax incentives or not, it basically means bringing down the compensation levels and environmental standards of the Silicon Valley to those of India and Taiwan and not vice versa.
This is so much like the way the Democrats tried unsuccessfully for decades, to stop the loss of auto industry jobs in the U.S., from going abroad. These are the type of ways the old smoke stack industries and their representatives, tried to compete with similar industries abroad, when they were not competitive anymore, and their use of tax incentives, trade protectionism, or government subsidies, only prolonged the demise of unviable industries, rather than creating blossoming new production.
In my opinion, Dean has no effective plans for development of nanotechnology or the last mile fiber to the home. In September 2003, I wrote about Dean's platform and the need for a last mile fiber optics project to the home, and someone from his campaign sent me a note, asking me to take back my word, because he claimed Howard Dean had a plan. I read all the references the man had sent me, and saw that the gentleman did not understand what *last mile* means.
Let me note that I think Lieberman and his team have a lot more respect for democracy and human rights than the team around Howard Dean, because when they are challenged for their *platform* and not personally, they try to bully critics like me, instead of trying to learn about the topic, a topic which is very critical to the future of telecom infrastructure, and consequently to the future of post-industrial development, in the U.S. and rest of the world. I responded to him that this is a democracy and he can publish his ideas and I can publish mine. I still do not think he understood what *last mile* means. Here is a good article about last mile fiber optics for anyone interested.
Let me return to my topic of why an independent futurist political force is needed. It is not just because of a single issue like fiber optics to the home. I am sure there are many people who are allies of futurists on this or on any other issue. The problem is that futurists without a futurist party, cannot be an effective force to be reckoned with, to drive the global postindustrial development, and after Newt Gingrich and Al Gore, we will end up supporting Howard Dean, with no major result for the post-industrial development. The problem is not about cooperating with allies, but the issue is the disadvantage of not having an independent futurist political party.
Today, the Silicon Valley is dead and to change the situation cannot be achieved only by the analysts. Political leaders with a clear postindustrial platform are needed to participate in the political process, and not just new faces with the same failed party platforms of the old parties.
I think our biggest shortcoming is that after 50 years, the futurists still do not have a political party in the U.S., in Iran, or in any other country. Then why are we surprised when the old industries like auto, airlines, and oil are promoted by the government, and even subsidized, while the Information Society is taking the back seat, and the postindustrial technologies are bleeding and suffering in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Finally, the early founders of Futurism were very political, but as time passed, futurists focused more on economic, cultural and social issues and lost sight of political arena. It was understandable why futurists made that decision. As long as futurism had not matured, getting focused on politics could have distracted the futurists from developing our own thoughts in different realms of life, and could have turned futurists into an extension of plans and platforms of other forces, that were already well-established in all disciplines. But the situation is different now, and after 50 years, the futurists have developed in all areas of inquiry.
Futurists and high tech technologists of the last five decades, were more like the early enthusiasts of industrial society in 18th Century Europe, who thought the superiority of the new industrial paradigm, would automatically translate to replacing the old agricultural society, which would usher in the new industrial world of their time. It was true that from an unbiased view they had a superior plan to the old feudal system, but that is different from actual winning in the economic, social and political arenas.
There were a few major setbacks particularly in the heart of industrial society in England, to realize that agricultural society was not going to lose its grip on the leadership of the country, and throw in the towel, and would try hard to use the resources of the state, to prolong its life, through subsidies. And the proponents of the new society had to fight a major political battles with the old, to be able to drive industrialization, and to make the industrial paradigm victorious, and the success was not given to them on a silver platter and required a real political struggle. The same is true for the new postindustrial paradigm today.
Any civilization that has succeeded to replace an older one, has done it by the advocates of the new civilization, taking on a political role to challenge the older civilization. One can try to avoid all the pitfalls of the past political forces, for example the error of statism of the socialists, but one cannot think of the need for political leadership to be frivolous, and leave it to representatives of old agricultural and industrial civilizations, and still expect things to work out for the post-industrial information economy. Futurist platform is our way of solving the current crisis in the U.S., Iran, and other parts of the world , and other political forces will not implement our platform.
A new political force in the U.S. could not be started by all the wealth of Ross Peron, but it can be started with the vision of the futurists. In the last 20 years, I have written about the retrogressive development of Iran, following the reactionary 1979 Iranian Revolution. What that event has illustrated, is that the progress of postindustrial society is not automatic, and a reversal even to a Medieval society is possible in this day and age. Therefore the need for a political force that clearly sides with the post-industrial new civilization, anywhere in the world, is a must, to avoid such reversals, and to build a new post-industrial civilization. Existence of such parties not only will not undermine the coalitions of the futurists with the other political forces, it will even strengthen such alliances.
16. Biographical Note
I am the
publisher and editor of the Washington_based
and news site and a
futurist author. I am originally from
After the 1979 revolution, as a co-founder and member of the editorial board of Nedaye Azadi, co-published this daily afternoon paper in Tehran, till the paper and all other free papers of the time, were shut down by the Islamic Republic in 1981. Nedaye Azadi was a democratic paper similar to Peyghame Emrooz, Ayandegan and other similar papers of those three years of semi-democracy in Iran of 1979-1982. The back issues of Nedaye Azadi may still be available in the archives of Library of Congress.
The 1979 Revolution of Iran and programs of different
forces during that revolution, showed me that the old ways of development do not work anymore. Thus even in an undeveloped country like
Later in 1983, I returned to the U.S., and through the same search, I found Daniel Bell, Alvin Toffler, John Naisbitt, Peter Drucker, Raymond Kurzweil, Buckminster Fuller, and the World Future Society (WFS). Daniel Bell has had a lasting impact on my thought. I can say I agree with 99% of his writings.
In Fall of 1985, I published an article called "Intelligent Tools: The Cornerstone of a New Civilization" in AI Magazine, the scientific journal of American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), where I expressed my own understanding of future and futurism. I received a letter from Daniel Bell, which helped me better understand the issues related to new technologies, inference and intelligence. I always have learned a lot from Daniel Bell.
In 1986, I wrote a paper entitled "Progressiveness in the Present Epoch", first as a small booklet, and later as a series of articles, I published from 1986-87 in Iran Times weekly journal of Washington DC, where I expressed my understanding of what being progressive means in our times, and this paper included my article "Modern Futurism," which was very well received in later years. Also in my paper on progressiveness, I first proposed my main thesis about the Iranian Revolution and wrote about the relationship of state economy and dictatorship in socialism which I have been discussing since 1981, and years later on January 2002, I touched on these topics in my interview with the site of Ayandehnegar, and finally in my book "Futurist Iran," I discussed in details on my thesis about the Iranian Revolution. I also wrote about a viable economic theory for knowledge economy and discussed Social Justice and Computer Revolution in 1987 and later on expanded on it and especially in my paper entitled "Alternative Income" expounded on my view in the discourse of social justice. I also wrote a book about the history of Kurdistan and Federalism and from 1982 to 1984 published papers on Pluralism and a detailed critique of Marxism and Monism.
to 1989, I opened the first futuristic book store, called Nova Bookstore, in Sunnyvale
of California in the
The founding and managing Nova Bookstore in those four years of mid 80's helped me to deepen my understanding of futurism, and impacted my environment, and I was able to get to know different futurists of the world. Futurists from different parts of the world when coming to the San Francisco area would stop by my bookstore. Even the late Willis Harman was one of the panelists at the Nova Lecture Series that I had in those years at Nova bookstore and also from the first day that WFS had placed an announcement about the opening of Nova Bookstore, one of the founders of IFTF came to Nova Bookstore and would visit often in subsequent years.
In 1990, after closing Nova, I wrote my paper A Futurist Vision which was also signed by Jack Li who was a co-founder of Beyond War organization based in Palo Alto and cooperated with me at Nova Bookstore, Newsletter and Lectures. And in those years, I also worked on a few new works in the area of rationalism which included papers on Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Russell that I expanded on in later years in my discussion of secularism.
Three years after closing Nova Bookstore, in 1992, I started cooperating with Mr. Hossein Mola who lived in Sweden to start the Ayandehnegar (meaning futurist in Persian) magazine. Before this time, Mr. Mola and his associates had created a radio program in Sweden by the name of Radio Azadi. The magazine was first going to be in print and I sent the texts of my articles "Intelligent Tools" and "Philosophy of Science in 20th Century," the latter being only a handwritten lecture I had given at Berkeley in those years. I suggested to use a computer and later to publish the magazine on the Internet, and was hoping some of my friends in Sweden and Switzerland who were technical experts, to help Mr. Mola which did not happen, and Mr. Mola himself found his way thru the technical maze and that year got his computer.
In August 1993, I told Mr. Mola about the lecture Break Down of Time, Space, and Society which Daniel Bell had presented for Sweden's post office, and had been published by Sweden's Institute of Future Studies, and Mr. Mola found it and sent it to me and later he himself arranged for its translation and publication in Persian. I should note that the aforementioned paper of Daniel Bell has not been published anywhere else and Daniel Bell himself had suggested it to me in 1993, when he noted in a letter that he had not written about futurism for a long time and at that time, this was his last work on the topic, and said to find it in the Swedish journal Framtider which I asked Mr. Mola to find in Sweden that he did.
From 1993 to 1996, Mr. Mola set up the computer for the magazine that we wanted to publish and finally in March of 1996 he sent me his first email and two years later the first issue of "Ayandehnegar Magazine" was published on the Internet by Mr. Mola in January of 1998 we announced the founding of Iranian Futurist Foundation and the efforts for it continued till the end of 1999, but after that date Mr. Mola continued the Ayandehnegar magazine, although from time to time published some of my articles were also published in it.
In fact, after the year 2000, on one hand many futurist sites were created inside and outside Iran where the differences of their political views were not hidden from the astute readers, and on the other hand the interest in futurist literature grew in various political and cultural publications and as far as my literary work was concerned as I have explained below I cooperated with various publications, published the archive of my works in my personal website, and created the futurist Iranscope portal.
I was active on the Internet in the early 1990's and posted my first article about Iran on soc.culture.iranian Usenet newsgroup in October 1993. The next year on the same public Usenet newsgroup, I published a series of theoretical discussions with Dr. Hossein Baghezadeh, and in March 1994 we founded the Iranian Human Rights Working Group (IHRWG) which was an Internet_based human rights group, an activity that started with my article about stoning of women and during the years, Dr. Bagherzadeh, the Chair of the group, and other associates, contributed a lot to the cause of human rights in Iran. I also helped to set up the group's first Internet site and archive with a colleague and also supported IHRWG by continuing the discussions of human rights on the Usenet especially when Dr. Bagherzadeh was threatened by Khamene'i at the time of closure of Neshat newspaper in Iran. And finally most of the members of IHRWG continued their activities in Manshoor81, which exists to this day.
After being active on the Internet, I saw the need for a futurist portal and Internet_based news distribution system related to the future and first posted the related information on Usenet and email lists and finally in August 1999, founded the Iranscope portal. In my article "Why I Created Iranscope?," I have explained in details about my reasons for starting the Iranscope portal. During those years, besides writing articles on the Usenet, I also published a mailing list called "doostAn" (meaning friends), which later developed into two yahoo lists called "Iranscope" and "future" and those two lists finally evolved to "IranscopeNews" list which is still active and it is now also accessible by RSS.
Recently an article was published about the formation of the activity of Iranians on the Internet and in that article, there was a mention of my work in the early 1990's, the title of the article is "A Brief Excursion of the History of Iranians on the Internet". The author was present on the Usenet with me and also before the Internet, during the years of 1985-1989, he had dropped by my Nova Bookstore in Sunnyvale. During the last 20 and some years, I have published in Iran Times, soc.culture.iranian, Jebhe political forum, Mehdis, AyandehNegar site, Iranscope, Brwska, Gozareshgaran, and other publications. All my works can be found at my home page.
In 2001, I finished my proposal for the Platform of a Futurist Party. I started this work in 1986 and wrote the first manuscript in 2000 and for years discussed about the need for such a political party in various articles.
Today when I look at my latest writing on futurism entitled Singularity and Us, I see what a long way it has been and all this with thanks to all those who accompanied me all these years and were friends and colleagues. Today it is a pleasure to see that so many people with various ways of thought see the importance of futuristic thinking and this thought is more and more welcome particularly among the Iranians.
Please read my online book entitled "FUTURIST IRAN: Futurism vs Terrorism" where I have explained in details my views of the world today and my thanks to World Future Society for publishing a "book review" of my work which is now included in the introduction of the book.
Chapter05. Shi'a Clergy and Iranian State
Chapter08. Pre-Industrial Attack on Globalization
Chapter09. Iranian Intellectuals and Leftism