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 I also have to say what a catastrophe it would be if tomorrow someone like Reza Pahlavi or Rajavi comes to power and decides to form a monarchy of Pahlavi or Rajavi dynasty.  Wait a minute are you laughing because you think Reza Pahlavi has left it to people if they want republic or monarchy and Massoud Rajavi has always had a republican platform?  But Reza Khan had a **Republican** platform and at first the remainders of Mashrooe-e opposed him because of him being pro Iranian republic.  Do you remember Sheikh Fazlollah-e Noori, the leader of Mashroo-e, who was executed by the Mashrootiat activists, his followers at the time of Reza Khan were still around and actually later on Modarres was also close to them, in his viewpoints; and that explains at least Modarres’s early opposition to Reza Khan because he did not want a republic in Iran which Reza Khan was advocating at first.


So why do I oppose monarchy in Iran.  Some may say, well there are democratic monarchies in Spain or Sweden.  My response is that I see it highly improbable for Iranian monarchy ever to stay democratic.  Even republics in Iran have a hard time to stay democratic, but a monarchy with no doubt, will turn into tyranny in a short while.  Reza Khan became an autocrat in a couple of years following enthronement and Mohammad Reza Shah following the disengagement of allied forces turned autocratic.  I think it is not a psychological matter, there is a fundamental reason for this phenomena in Iran.


Current fascinations with pre-Islamic Iran and the beautiful Iranian cultural heritage should not make us lose sight of the fact that Iran’s monarchy throughout Persian history has been one of the main pillars of despotism in the Middle East.  The predominance of state ownership, and ownership of water in the past, and state ownership of oil in modern times is one reason for strength of state central power.  Even today with the pressure of the non-centralized forces of different Shia Ayatollahs, the state has not broken apart, something that has happened in Lebanon.  So the state ownership makes the state in a way the main owner of the country.  It is more the state that pays the people than people paying state by taxes.  The state remains the biggest landowner and the biggest capitalist, etc.


If you notice the Reza Pahlavi who has lived in the West, for so long, still wondered if his wife can make baby boys rather than baby girls for the throne.  You wonder why he does not take the initiative to change the law of Iranian monarchy.  Because he wants to keep the image of permanence of monarchy in people's mind.  Every time an Iranian dynasty changed, the suitor would act as the Naieb of the former dynasty for some time.  Nader Shah did that, Reza Shah did it and most others.  Why? Because they do not want the mentality of change to enter the mind of their supporters.  So although changes have been pushed on Iranian monarchy, whether by Iranian people or by foreign powers, but if left by themselves, Iranian kings do not wish any changes in Iranian social psyche.


You may ask the reason of the above reality?  My answer is that Iran has had many powerful decentralizing forces in its make-up.  The most prominent one used to be ashAyer, which are still a strong decentralizing element in Iran's social life.  The other force is the enormous number of nationalities and religious minorities including orders such as Sufis, Izadis, etc.  In modern times, political thought has also grown into a decentralizing element.  I think with the exception of Turkey, Iran has had more types of political groups than all its neighbors.  The leftists were hundred flavors, Moslem activists the same, nationalists the same, tajadood-garas the same way.  Such strong decentralizing elements were controlled by the strength of a powerful central state.  In fact, states like UAE are much less “turbulent” than Iran, because such diversities do not exist there, and Arab dominance over Indians is guaranteed.  Only Palestinian element in those countries was de-stabilizing and it was the strongest in Kuwait for a long time and that is why Kuwait developed a parliament, and real parties, etc (this is long before the Gulf War).


Also in modern times, education, health, and social services are primarily state-owned in countries like Iran, because they have been introduced from above, as the world standards were being scaled up in these arenas and because of the 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 entering partial industrial development even before Reza Shah, at the time of Amir Kabir.


So this is why monarchy will move in the direction of despotism, because it gets its legitimacy from its historical Persian Empires and that is its "natural" way to deal with diversity.  Even more than 20 years after the overthrow of Pahlavi's, the Reza Pahlavi does not even try to fool the opposition abroad, by taking strong positions against the acts of Savak.  He spoke good of Dr. Mossadegh about 7 years ago and his supporters reminded him not to do that again and today that even Islamic Republic is paying respects to Mossadegh’s tomb, Reza Pahlavi is even behind them in this charade because of the limitations of the position of Iranian monarchy in dealing with its atrocities in the past. Why?  Because Savak was the most suitable organization for Persian Despotism.  The iron beds that were used by Shahpoor-e Zolaktaf of Sassanids were very similar to torture tools of Savak.  So Reza Pahlavi knows that he is going to need those executioners if he comes to power and so even his window-dressing in the democratic West is very limited.


You may say, 70% of the above factors are also true for a republic and why shouldn't we be afraid that a republic can become a dictatorial state like Saddam Hossein's republic or Rajavi's ideal republic.  My response is that yes you are right, such a danger exists, and this is why I am very doubtful of using Keynsian economics to form Iran's economic plans, although for a country like Spain, with its European surroundings, and background, I would not be as worried.  Again this is why a republic by itself does not guarantee democracy in Iran, and the separation of power and **form** of the state is very important.  What do I mean by **form**?


Well for example a Soviet-style (shoraii) of a republic can become a pillar for dictatorship in Iran.  Why?  Because it easily overrides the separation of power in Iran.  Moreover the theory of separation of power into **three**, which is John Locke's and states such as US were founded on it, is not adequate today.  In fact, other institutions of power, have grown in Europe and the US, but the political theory is behind, and tries to explain it within the three branches of government.  Moreover the dominance of Marxism and Anarchism in political theory in the last century has prevented serious work on the theory of state.  The reason was because both Marxist and Anarchist schools of thought believed that the State will wither away soon, although the former saw it to happen later and the latter thought it will happen right away.  But they both did not find discussion of the **form**of the government important,  because in their views, state was going to wither away anyway. 


Something like John Locke's work is needed to make serious suggestions for a new form of republic in countries, that are looking for an ideal state form.  Some of the works of people like John Kenneth Galraith in his “Anatomy of Power” are good starting points to understand the structure of political power in the modern world, but I believe a serious work has not been done.  Bertrand De Jouvenel, French Futurist, started an interesting discourse in that field, but, to my knowledge,  the discourse did not continue after his death.  Also John Rawls did some valuable work in this field.


So going back to the issue of monarchy, I say this is the worst poison to advocate for Iran and the main threat of falling back to monarchy is not just from the monarchists.  The main threat is a force like MKO to come to power and turn Iran into a new monarchy afterwards.  Iran’s monarchy will never be a Sweden and monarchy is the gate to open tyranny in Iran.   Any sincere monarchist of the past, who claims to care for human rights and democracy in Iran, as his/her first step, should repudiate any monarchy platform for the future of Iran.



Sam Ghandchi, Publisher


July 21, 2001





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