Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, Princeton University Press, 1982
Big fat (500+pages) academic book full of detail. Have to watch out for Abrahamian's Marxist and nationalist bias. I'm reading it for my gems of Khomeini page, in large part to get the goods on ulema's obscurantism before Reza Shah kicked their ass. We'll see what I find. (circa July 2006) .....
alas, Abrahamian has almost nothing on the ulema. (Nov. 2006)
"... Thus the Qajars were Shadows of the Almighty whose writ often did not extend beyond the capital; monarchs who considered themselves to be God's representatives on earth but were viewed by the main religious leaders to be usurpers of God's authority.... shah-in-shahs who ruled not other kings, as they claimed but through, and so with the kind permission of, `minor kings`, such as tribal chiefs, local notables, and religious leaders. In theory the shahs were omnipotent; in practice they were politically impotent." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.41)
"Paradoxically, improvements in transportation did not necessarily facilitate social communications. De Bode noted that
the establishment of security on the Tehran-Tabriz highway had helped the tax collectors, and thus, had encouraged the local
peasants to settle in more distant regions. `In Persia, the richest villages generally in some retired valley in the
mountains or far from the high roads.`
Sykes observed the same phenomenon: `The main roads are shunned by the villagers owing to the fact that Governors generally take supplies without payment.` Likewise, a survey for the British Foreign Office reported: `There are large tracts of fertile land which remain waste owing to their proximity to the main roads, as no village having cultivators on such spots can possibly prosper or enjoy the least immunity from the pestering visits of Government officials, and thefts and robberies committed by the tribes.` (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.14)
The Qajar Shah had no army to speak of so they did stuff like this to put down rebellions or potentially rebellious
"When, according to a court chronicler, the 'ungrateful inhabitants` of Nishapur rebelled, the shah encouraged the local tribes to lay waste the city. Faced with a discontented but popular governor in Hudar, the monarch declared the whole city to be open booty for his loyal tribes. The same chronicler boasted that
the wealth which the inhabitants of the city had, in the course of so many years, collected and stored up, became in one instant the object of plunder and the subject of devastation."The Qajars, by playing off one section of the society against another were able to stand over the whole society with such grandiose, but nevertheless significant titles as King of Kings, Supreme Arbitrator, Shadow of God," etc. (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.46-7)
"The Cossack Brigade, growing to nearly 2000 men by 1896, provided the shah with a small but disciplined palace guard." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.57)
Sales of titles, patents, privileges, concessions, monopolies, lands, ... high offices" paid for "court consumption but also new projects. The telegraph network, expanding to cover 9000 miles by 1900 connected not only London with India, but also Tehran with the provinces, and thus the shah with his provincial administrators. ... at the same time, the capital obtained a regular police force, a municipal civil service, a host of road sweepers, a medical clinic, a central mint to replace the many provincial mints, and a network of paved streets, gas lanterns, and horse-drawn trams." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.57)
"Naser al-Din Shah instructed his governors to keep the ulama out of politics and to confine them within the realms of 'praying, teaching, observing the sharia, and communicating with God.` He permitted Catholic and Protestant missionaries to work among Jews, Assyrians, and Armenians [i.e. non-Muslims] and to open schools medical clinics, and printing presses in Tabriz, Uramiah, Tehran, Isfahan and Hamadan." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.57)
"The influx of mass-manufactured products, especially textiles, undermined the traditional handicrafts, and consequently presented for many bazaars a mutual enemy -- the foreigner." In Isfahan `at least 1/10 of the guilds in this city were weavers; not even 1/5 have survived.` Widows and orphans hurt. (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.59)
The price of a bushel of wheat declined from $1.50 in 1871 to $0.23 in 1894.
"Outside the bazaars a comprador bourgeoisie" grew. Contrary to popular myth it was not non-Muslim. "A British who's who" counted the 53 wealthiest Iranian businessmen "active at the end of the century. [O]ne was a Zoroastrian, five were Armenian, 47 were Muslim."
(Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.165)
Was greatly influenced by the Indian Mutiny and its failure which led him to three principal conclusions:
There is enough documentary material to indicate that during the second half of the century the population, especially the urban population, increased its hostility toward the West, the Qajars and communities closely associated with the West. In the first half of the century, Europeans, such as Ouseley, Morier, and Sheil, freely attended mosque services, passion plays, and even Muharram flagellation ceremonies. ... Western visitors experienced almost no public hostility. ...."
The mood, however, changed gradually as a result of the foreign war, and particularly after the humiliating Turkomanchai treaty. Immediately after the treaty, the tsar sent Griboyedov, a dramatist notorious for his contempt for all Asians, especially Iranians, to implement its degrading clauses. After arriving in Tehran, Griboyedov permitted his Cossack bodyguards to roam drunk through the streets; insulted the court by refusing to take off his riding boots; and ordered his troops into private homes to `liberate` former Christians who were now Muslim slaves. The consequences were not surprising. ..." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.71)
Interested in the overthrow of the Pahlavis and history of 20th century politics in Iran (especially leftist politics) Abrahamian has pretty much nothing to say about the clash, if any, between ulama and the modern world. He does make one brief mention in passing about how (circa 1906) one Haydar Khan gave up trying to organize an Iranian Social Democratic party in Mashad and lost his job as a manager of an electrical plant after "the local ulama, feuding with the owner of the electrical plant, incited a religious mob to burn down the factory as a `heretical innovation.`" (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.87)
Flush with success of Qajar agreeing to a constitution, liberals pressed for electoral reform, lowering property qualification, redistributing seats in favor of the provincial cities and establishing representation for the religious minorities. One deputy "protested that special representation to the religious minorities would violate the fundamentals of the sharia. Yet another denounced the bill as the heretical scheme of foreign agitators: `Since we have treated our minorities so well for over one thousand years, I don't understand who else can be behind such an outrageous demand.`" (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.93)
Reza Shah voted Shah. "This new alliance between Reza Khan and the conservative deputies reached its culmination in the autumn of 1925. The revival party, supported by almost all of the deputies from the Reformist' party, introduced a bill to depose the Qajars and entrust the state to Reza Pahlevi until the convening of a Constituent Assembly. 80 deputies voted for the proposal, 30 abstained, and 5 opposed. The main spokesman against the bill was Dr. Muhammad Mossadeq... a European-educated aristocrat who had served recently as minister of justice, finance and foreign affairs, as well as governor of Fars and Azerbaijan." Mossadeq thought Reza was "an excellent prime minister and commander in chief" but so much power in one hand would threaten the constitution”, and indeed it did. (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.135)
"Reza Khan began his rise to power by forming an alliance with the conservative Reformers' party in the Fourth National Assembly. ... Reza Khan released the aristocrats who had been imprisoned by Sayyid Ziya; supported the election of Qavam al-Saltaneh to replace Sayyid Ziya as prime minister ... welcomed members of the Shi'i ulama who had fled from Iraq after an unsuccessful revolt against the British ..."
This alliance however, ended abruptly in the last days of the Fourth National Assembly, as soon as Reza Khan introduced a bill for compulsory military conscription" for "every adult male" to serve two years in the armed forces, which rural magnates opposed because it would withdraw labor from the countryside. (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.131)
"His practice was to draw up, with the help of the police chief, a list of parliamentary candidates for the interior minister. The interior minister then passed the same names onto the provincial governor-general. Finally, the governors-general handed down the list to the supervisory electoral councils that were packed by the Interior Ministry to oversee the ballots. Parliament ceased to be a meaningful institution, and instead became a decorative garb covering the nakedness of military rule." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.138)
"To ensure his absolute power, Reza Shah closed down independent newspapers, stripped the deputies of their parliamentary immunity and even more important, destroyed the political parties." Even the remnant of the faithful Revival party was banned. (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.138)
In 1927 "the government banned all trade unions, especially the CCFTU and between 1927 and 1932 arrested 150 labor organizers."
He left behind no major thesis, grand speeches etc. but "he implemented reforms that, however unsystematic indicated that he was striving for an Iran which, on the one hand would be free of clerical influence, nomadic uprisings, and ethnic differences and, on the other hand would contain European-style educational institutions, Westernized women active outside the home, and modern economic structures with state factories, communication networks, investment banks, and department stares. (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.140)
"Dvar, the Swiss-educated jurist was assigned the arduous task of completely reorganizing the Ministry of Justice. He
British minister's response to his foreign office (p.141):
The Shah in destroying the power of the Mullas, has forgotten Napoleon's adage that the chief purpose of religion is to prevent the poor from murdering the rich. There is now nothing to replace religion, save an artificial nationalism which might well die with the Shah, leaving behind anarchy.
From 1925 to 1941 enrollment of "theology students in the traditional madresehs" [equivalent of secondary schools apparently] declines from 5984 to 785. (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.145)
"As the Shah admitted to an American correspondent [in US News and World Report, 27 January 1969], it was the Kennedy administration that had forced him to name Amini [a "maverick aristocrat" who favored land reform but whom "the shah intensely disliked"] as prime minister." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.423)
"To bolster the military pillar [after 1963], the shah also expanded the security organizations. SAVAK grew to a total of over 5300 full-time agents and a large but unknown number of part-time informers. Directed mostly by General Nasiri, one of the shah's old associates, SAVAK had the power to censor the media, screen applicants for government jobs, and according to reliable Western source [New York Times 21 September 1972], use all means necessary, including torture, to hunt down dissidents." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.437)
"According to one reliable Western economist, in the last few years of the regime substantial sums - perhaps as much as $2 billion - were transferred directly from the oil revenue into the secret foreign bank accounts held by members of the royal family." (p.437) source: W. Branigin, `Pahlevi Fortune: A staggering Sum,` Washington Post, 17 January 1979. Also business activity by the royal family. "The Shah himself partly owned tow machine-tool factories, two car plants, two brick-manufacturing companies, three textile mills, and four construction companies."
behind the facade of charitable activities, the foundation is used in three ways: as a source of funds for the royal family; as a means of exerting influence on key sectors of the economy; and as a conduit for rewards to supporters of the regime. [Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.438, New York Times A. Chittenden, `Bankers Say Shah's Fortune is Well above a Billion.`]
In 14 years the bureaucracy grew from 150,000 to 304,000 civil servants. (p.438)
"Its strength declined drastically after the 1953 coup, and by the late 1950s the party was a mere shadow of its former self. ... Tudeh bore the brunt of police repression," and was treated much more harshly than the National Front. After the 1953 coup "40 militants were shot, 14 were tortured to death, and another 200 were sentenced to life in prison. (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.451)
The Tudeh being under such intense repression, and Mao, Giap and Guevara having such success, leftist started up Maoist and Fidelist guerilla groups. Their strategy: heroic deeds of violent resistance to break the spell of government terror.
In a situation where there are no firm links between the revolutionary intelligentsia and the masses, we are not like fish in water, but rather like isolated fish surrounded by threatening crocodiles. Terror, repression, and absence of democracy have made it impossible for us to create working-class organizations. To break the spell of our weakness and to inspire the people into action we must resort to revolutionary armed struggle... [p.485, from a tract by A. Poyan]
"The ideas of Shari'ati and the Mujahedin were so close that many concluded that the former had inspired the latter. The Mujahedin had, however, already formulated their ideas before Shari'ati came to the Hassienieh-i Ershad in 1967. But whatever the exact relationship between the two, it is clear that in later years Shari'ati indirectly helped the Mujahedin with his prolific works focusing on the revolutionary aspects of Shi'ism." (p.490)
The Mujahedin began their military operations in August 1971. Their first operations were designed to disrupt the extravagant celebrations of the 2500-year anniversary of the monarchy. Nine were arrested, tortured, gave away info so then 66 more were arrested. "in subsequent months the group lost the whole of its original leadership through executions or street battles," but "survived and found new members." Robbed banks, assassinated an American military adviser and the chief of the Tehran police, etc. "By mid-1975, 50 Mujahedin had lost their lives." (p.491)
There "ideas were so close to those of the Feda'i that the regime labeled the Mujahedin `Islamic Marxists` and claimed that Islam was merely a cover to hide their Marxism. The Mujahedin retorted that although they `respected Marxism as a progressive method of social analysis` they rejected materialism and viewed Islam as their inspiration, culture, and ideology. [source: Mujahedin Organization, Dafa'at-i Naser Sadeq The Defense Speech of Naser Sadeq), n.p., 1972), p.24]
Who is closer to Islam: the Vietnamese who fight against American imperialism or the shah who helps Zionism? Since Islam fights oppression it will work with Marxism which also fights oppression. They have the same enemy: reactionary imperialism.
BUT THEN In May 1975, the majority of [the Mujahideen] leaders who were still free voted to accept Marxism and to declare the organization to be Marxist-Leninist. In a pamphlet entitled Manifesto on Ideological Issues, the central leadership declared that after ten years of secret existence, four years of armed struggle, and two years of intense ideological rethinking, they had reached the conclusion that Marxism, not Islam, was the true revolutionary philosophy." Mujtabi Taleqani, son of Ayatallah Taleqani was one of these converts to Marxism. (p.493)
Thus after May 1975 there were two rival Mujahedins, each with its own publication, its own organization, and its own activities." (p.494)
"The guerilla movement, like the opposition organizations that came before it, failed to bring down the regime. But its work was not entirely in vain. ... [following release of prisoners and the 1977-8 "revolutionary upsurge"] all four guerilla organizations - the Feda'i, the pro-Tudeh Feda'i Munsh'eb, the Islamic Mujahedin and the Marxist Mujahedin - were well placed to take advantage of the situation. ... it was these four guerilla organizations that on February 9-11 ... delivered the regime its coup de grace." (p.495)
"Despite his views, Khomeini remained aloof from the political struggles of the 1940s and the 1950s. Three pressure explain this aloofness: the fear of communism; the disdain shown by the nationalists, especially Mossadeq, for clerical causes; and the restraining hand of patron, Boroujerdi, who continued throughout the 1930s to give valuable support to the Shah." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.425)
"Although many clerics opposed the regime because of land reform and women's rights, Khomeini, revealing a masterful grasp of mass politics, scrupulously avoided the former issue and instead hammered away on a host of other concerns that aroused greater indignation among the general population. He denounced the regime for living off corruption, rigging elections, violating the constitutional laws, stifling the press and the political parties, destroying the independence of the university, neglecting the economic needs of merchants, workers, and peasants, undermining the country's Islamic beliefs, encouraging gharbzadegi ... granting `capitulations` to foreigners, selling oil to Israel, and constantly expanding the size of the central bureaucracies." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.425)
From Kashf-i Asrar, (Secrets Revealed) (Tehran, n.d.) p.186, quoted in Abrahamian, Ervand, Iran Between Two Revolutions, p.476:.
The mujtaheds have never rejected the system of government nor the independence of Islamic governments. Even when they have judged certain laws to be against God's regulations and particular government to be bad, still they have not opposed the system of government. Nor will they. Why not? Because a decayed government is better than none at all. Consequently, the [practical] power of the mujtaheds excludes the government and includes only simple matters such as legal rulings, religious judgments, and intervention to protect the property of minors and the weak. Even when rulers are oppressive and against the people, they [the mujtaheds] will not try to destroy the rulers.
"In his lectures to theology students, Khomeini advocated the establishment of a clerical state. But in his proclamations to the public, he soft-pedaled the theocratic theme - the term velayat-i faqih was scrupulously avoided -- and instead continued his 1963-64 strategy of attacking the regime at its weakest points. ....
"In offering an alternative, Khomeini did not publicly refer to his work on Islamic government; on the contrary,
his entourage later disclaimed this work, arguing that it was either a SAVAK forgery or the rough notes of an student
[cited by J. Cockroft, `Iran's Khomeini,` Seven Days, 23 February 1979, pp.17-18]
Nor did Khomeini commit himself to precise proposals and specific plans; as one journalist later observed, `imprecision was a way of life` for the entourage. (p.478-9)
Khomeini attacks on the regime. went after "its weakest points."
And when offering an alternative, "Khomeini talked in generalities of
"In offering an alternative, Khomeini did not publicly refer to his work on Islamic government; on the contrary,
his entourage later disclaimed this work, arguing that it was either a SAVAK forgery or the rough notes of an student
[cited by J. Cockroft, `Iran's Khomeini,` Seven Days, 23 February 1979, pp.17-18]
Nor did Khomeini commit himself to precise proposals and specific plans; as one journalist later observed, `imprecision was a way of life` for the entourage.
"Moreover, Khomeini worked to rally behind himself all opposition groups - with the exception of the `atheistic Marxists` - while taking care not to be identified too closely with any particular group." Avoiding messing with Shariati supporters as his "leading disciple in Tehran" Ayatallah Mottaheri did in attacking Shariati in 1968. "Khomeini, knowing the latter's popularity, refused to take sides. Instead he kept silent on the quarrel, and without citing Shariati by name, continued to use stock phrases that [Shari'atia's] Husseinieh-i Ershad lectures had popularized - phrases such as the `mostafin` (the wretched), the rubbish heap of history,` and `religion is not the opiate of the masses.` Hearing these phrases but ignorant of the Najaf lectures [on VF Islamic Government], many members of the intelligentsia jumped to the conclusion that Khomeini agreed with Shari'ati's interpretation of revolutionary Islam." (p.479)
Thus Khomeini intentionally propagated a vague populist message and refrained from specific proposals, and thereby created
a broad alliance of social forces ranging from the bazaar and the clergy to the intelligentsia and the urban poor, as well
as of political organizations varying from the religious Liberation Movement and the secular National Front to the new
guerilla groups emerging from Shari'ati's followers in the universities.
Khomeini has often been described as the traditional mullah. In fact, he was a major innovator in Iran both because of his political theory and because of his religious-oriented populist strategy." (p.479)
Or why the left feared the `Ulama. "Boroujerdi, .... continued throughout the 1930s to give valuable support to the Shah." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.425)
In late 1959 Ayatallah Boroujerdi, in an open letter to Ayatollah Behbehani, tried to quash all talk of land reform by declaring that Islam protected the rights of private property." [Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.459. quoted by W. Floor, `The Revolutionarily Character of the Iranian `Ulama: Wishful thinking or Reality?` (unpublished paper, Netherlands, 1979), p.8
"Growing fearful of Shariati's popularity and his more frequent references to contemporary problems, SAVAK in 1972 closed down the Husseinieh [were Shariati lectured), arrested Shari'ati, and banned most of his works. He remained in prison until 1975, when a petition from the Algerian government secured his release. Kept under house detention for another two years, in May 1977 he was permitted to go to London where he died suddenly, a month later. His admirers argued that he had been murdered by SAVAK. the British coroner, however, reported that he had died of a massive heart attack. Even though Shari'ati did not live to see the Shah's downfall, he is justly credited as the main intellectual, even the Fanon, of the Islamic Revolution." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.466)
Part of the "reason for Khomeini's success among the modern middle class was the phenomenal popularity of Shari'ati among the young intelligentsia. Although Shari'ati's words contain a great deal of anticlericalism, Khomeini was able to win over his followers by being forthright in his denunciations of the monarchy; by refusing to join fellow theologians in criticizing the Husseinieh-i Ershad; by openly attacking the apolitical and the pro-regime `ulama; by stressing such themes as revolution, anti-imperialism, and the radical message of Muharram; and by incorporating into his public declarations such `Fanonist` terms as the `mostazafin will inherit the earth`, `the country needs a cultural revolution,` and the `people will dump the exploiters onto the garbage heap of history.` (p.534)
By late 1978, such was Khomeini's popularity among Shariati supporters that it was they -- not the clergy -- who took the somewhat blasphemous step of endowing him with the title of Imam ... a title that in the past Shi'i Iranians had reserved for the Twelve Holy Imams. Lacking both the theological concerns of the 'ulama and the sociological sophistication of their late mentor, Shari'ati's followers argued that Khomeini was not just an ordinary ayatollah but a charismatic Imam who would carry through the revolution and lead the community (Ummat) toward the long-awaited classless society (Nezam-i Towhid) " (p.534)
"In the mid-1970s the Shah's regime seemed as durable as the massive dams he built and proudly named after his relatives. A vast army, equipped with ultramodern weapons and helped by an efficient secret police, appeared to have the capacity to stamp out rebellions as far away as Oman. An immense bureaucracy, bolstered by the well-financed patronage network, claimed to have the power not only to control the economy but also to radically restructure the whole society. An enormous income derived from the oil industry provided the means to buy off potential opposition and further expand the instruments of social control. This led most observers to conclude that the regime was so firmly grounded that it was indestructible. Even the scarce few who were less sanguine about the stability of the regime and more aware of the social tensions rising behind the facade expected the system to last until the late 1980s, when the oil revenues would fall." (p.496)
"... In fact, the Islamic Revolution is unique in the annals of modern world history in that it brought to power not a new social group equipped with political parties and secular ideologies, but a traditional clergy armed with mosque pulpits and claiming the divine right to supervise all temporal authorities, even the country's highest elected representatives.
"The paradox is compounded by the fact that in the intervening period between the [secular] Constitutional Revolution and the Islamic Revolution, Iran underwent a major socioeconomic transformation. The processes of urbanization and industrialization, the expansion of the educational and communication systems, and the creation of centralized bureaucratic state all served to swell the ranks of the modern classes .. and to reduce the relative size of the traditional classes, notably the bazaar petite bourgeoisie and its clerical allies. ....
The prominent role played by Islam in the 1977-1979 revolution not only creates a paradox in Iranian history, but also seems at glance to debunk the generally held notion that modernization brings secularization ... why did the 1977-1979 revolution, whose content was predominantly social, economic and political, take an ideological form that was undoubtedly religious?
Two competing cause advanced by supporters and opponents respectively:
Abrahamian says they're both wrong and proposes his theory:
March 1975 dissolved the two parties (the New Iran and People's Parties)... "and announced that in future he would have a one-party state. In making the announcement, he argued that those reluctant to join the single party must be secret `Tudeh sympathizers.` These traitors, he continued, could either go to prison or else `leave the country tomorrow.` When foreign journalist pointed out that such language differed sharply from the pronouncements in favor of the two-party system, the shah restored:
Freedom of thought! Freedom of thought! Democracy, democracy! With five-year-olds going on strike and parading in the streets! ... Democracy? Freedom? What do these words mean? I don't want any part of them. [Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.440-441, source: Quoted by F. Fitzgerald, `Giving the Shah What He Wants," p.82 Harpers November 1974 DATE MUST BE WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
the party was organized on the principle of "democratic centralism" in part by ex-communists. It had a Politbureau with the Premier as its secretary general. Threatened those who did not register to vote: `those who do not register are answerable to the party` [Kayhan International 31 May 1975]. (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.442)
"Helped by SAVAK, the Resurgence party took over the ministries that controlled thousands of livelihoods - particularly the Ministries of Labor, Industry and Mines, Housing and Town Planning, Health and Social Welfare, and Rural Cooperatives and Village Affairs - and tightened state supervision over organizations dealing with communications and mass media - the Ministries of Information and Tourism, Art and Culture ... The impact on the realm of publishing was immediate. The number of titles published each year fell from over 4200 to under 1300. One well known writer was arrested, tortured for months, and finally placed before television cameras to `confess` that his works paid too much attention to social problems and not enough to the great achievements of the White Revolution. .... By the end of 1975, twenty-two prominent poets, novelist, professors, theater directors, and film makers were in jail for criticizing the regime. And many others had been physically attacked for refusing to cooperate with the authorities." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.442-3)
"Even more significant was the impact of the Resurgence party on the propertied middle class. The party opened branches in the bazaar, forced donations from small businessmen, introduced a minimum wage for workers in small plants, and required shopkeepers and workshop owners to register their employees with the Labor Ministry and pay monthly contributions for their medical insurance. ... [created] a tightly controlled Chamber of Guilds .... Moreover, the government directly threatened the economic basis of the bazaar by setting up state corporations to import and distribute basic foods, especially wheat, sugar, and meat. The government had rushed into a territory in which previous regimes had feared to tread. " (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.443)
"Furthermore, the government-controlled press began to talk of the need to uproot the bazaars, build highways through the old city center, eradicate `worm-ridden shops,` replace inefficient butchers, grocers, and bakers with efficient supermarkets ..." A bazaari "confided to an American journalist that `if we let him, the Shah will destroy us. The banks are taking over. The big stores are taking away our livelihoods. And the government will flatten our bazaars to make space of state offices.` (p.444) [J. Kendell, `Iran's Students and Merchants Form an Unlikely Alliance,` New York Times, 7 November 1979]
"The regime carried out a simultaneous assault on the religious establishment. The Resurgence party claimed the shah to be a spiritual as well as a political leader; denounced the `ulama as `medieval black reactionaries`; ..." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.444)
The Resurgence party also discouraged women from wearing the chadour on university campuses; sent special investigators to scrutinize the accounts of the religious endowments; announced that only the state-controlled organization of vaqfs could publish theology books, and encouraged the College of Theology in Tehran University to expand the recently created religious corps (sepah-i din) - modeled on the literacy corps - and send more cadres into the countryside to teach peasants `true Islam`. Moreover, the Majles, disregarding the shari'a, raised the age of marriage for girls from 15 to 18 and for boys from 18 to 20. ... [a new divorce law] stipulated that men could not divorce their wives without valid reasons and could not enter polygamous marriages without written permission from their other wives. ..." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.444)
"... sharp reaction among the ulama. Fayzieh, the main seminary in Qum, closed down in protest. In the ensuing street confrontations, some 250 theology students were detained and conscripted into the army. Ayatollah Hassan Ghaffari, a 60-year old cleric in Tehran, was arrested for writing against the regime. While in prison he died mysteriously Hojjat al-Islam Shamsabadi, a prominent cleric in Isfahan, was murdered a few days after preaching against the new calendar." Khomeini denounced the party as being amongst other bad things "intended to destroy Islam." Shortly thereafter his lieutenant clerics in Iran were arrested and imprisoned. (p.445)
The party provoked dissenters who were forced to enroll in the party, sign petitions, and march (demonstrate) in favor of stuff they hated. "Finally the drastic surge into the bazaars and the religious establishment destroyed the few bridges that had in the past connected the regime with the society. ... it aroused the wrath of thousand of shopkeepers, workshop owners, small businessmen, and their bazaar retainers. Instead of forging new links, the party destroyed the few existing ones and in the process stirred up a host of dangerous enemies." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.446)
"On the eve of the revolution, as much as 42% of Tehran had inadequate housing. And, despite the vast oil revenues, Tehran, a city of over 4 million, still had no proper sewage system, no subway system, and no proper public transport system. ... what is worse, the lower strata of the working class - specially laborers, peddlers, small factory employees, and temporary workers -- did not benefit from the social welfare programs, since they were ruled ineligible for insurance plans and profit-sharing schemes." (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.448)
Oil benefited the rich rather than the non-rich and Tehran rather than the outer provinces. "Iran has no reliable data on income distribution, but the Central Bank carried out extensive survey in 1959-60 and 1973-4 on urban household expenditures," as opposed to household income, and they showed 10% accounted for 35.5% of total expenditures in 1958-60 and even worse (37.9%) in 1973-4. "According to an unpublished 1972 report written by the International Labor Office, this made Iran one of the most inegalitarian societies in the world. [International Labor Office, `Employment and Income Policies for Iran` (unpublished report, Geneva, 1972), Appendix C, p.6] (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.448)
"In the words of a journal associated with the Pentagon" (Armed Forces Journal International, "The Crisis in Iran" January 1979, p.33-34)
by 1977 the sheer scale of corruption had reached a boiling point ... Even conservative estimates indicate that such [bureaucratic] corruption involved at least a billion dollars between 1973 and 1976.
In the 1970s, the apolitical clergy were perhaps the biggest faction of the clergy but were "eventually dragged into politics when in 1975-77 the government initiated the onslaught against the bazaars and the religious establishment. ... Moreover, they were increasingly perturbed by the inability or unwillingness of the authorities to curb what they saw as a precipitous decline in public morality. The abrupt, unplanned and uncontrolled influx of young migrants into the cities had created sprawling shanty towns. These, in turn, had produced a vast social problem with its typical symptoms - prostitution, alcoholism, drug addiction, delinquency, suicides, and, of course, a crime wave. Shocked by these, the ulama reacted like clergymen anywhere in the world: they argued that moral laxity had produced the social problem, and that the only way to solve the problem was strictly to enforce the religious laws. In early industrial England, unplanned and rapid urbanization created John Wesley and his Methodist movement. In contemporary Iran, the same pressures helped create the Khomeini phenomenon and the Islamic Revolution. After the revolution, Ahmad Khomeini - the ayatollah's influential son - admitted that the vast majority of the akhunds (clergy) had been apolitical until the mid-1970s, neither opposing the shah nor openly supporting him, but had eventually joined the revolutionary movement mainly because the regime had failed to attack moral decadence and clean the streets of the `unseemly social filth.`" [Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.474, source: Ittila'at, 23 September 1979, `Don’t' treat the Clergy as if it was one group.` A. Khomeini]
Anti-inflation campaign first targeted rich entrepreneurs and when that failed small shopkeepers, dealers, manufacturers
"The central government imposed strict price controls on many basic commodities, and imported large quantities of wheat,
sugar and meant to undercut local dealers. Meanwhile the Resurgence party organized some 10,000 students into vigilante gangs
called `inspector teams` and dispatched them into the bazaars to wage a `merciless crusade against profiteers, cheaters,
hoarders, and unscrupulous capitalists.`" [source: A. Mas'oud, "The War against Profiteers," Donya, 3 (January 1976),
"Similarly, the so-called Guild Courts set up hastily by SAVAK gave out some 250,000 fines, banned 23,000 traders from their home towns handed out to some 8000 shopkeepers prison sentences ranging from two months to three years, and brought charges against another 180,000 small businessmen. [source: P. Balta, "Iran in Revolt" Ittila'at, 6 October 1979]
By early 1976, every bazaar family had at least one member who had directly suffered from the `anti-profiteering campaign.`" (p.498)
"This economic crisis coincided with external pressure on the shah to relax police controls. In early 1975, the London-based Amnesty International, which in the past had focused on the Soviet bloc, tuned its attention to noncommunist countries and discovered that Iran was one of the world's `worst violators of human rights.` The more conservative International Commission of Jurists in Geneva took the regime to task for `systematically using torture` and `violating the basic civil rights of its citizens. Likewise, the UN-affiliated International League for Human Rights sent an open letter to the shah in which it accused the regime of intensely abusing human rights and called upon him to `rectify the deplorable human rights situation in Iran.`" (p.498-9)
At the same time Iranians abroad worked to "publicize SAVAK atrocities."
"These activities brought results, encouraging influential newspapers that had previously praised the shah to criticize
his police methods. For example, the highly respected Sunday Times of London ran a series of exposes on SAVAK and
concluded that `there was a clear pattern` of torture used not only against active dissidents but also against intellectuals
who dared whisper criticisms of the regime. [source: P. Jacobson, "Torture in Iran" Sunday Times, 19 January 1975]
Even more serious for the shah, American Congressmen began to question the wisdom of selling so much sophisticated weaponry to a regime that depended entirely on one man; Washington insiders began to refer to the regime as a `one-bullet state.` After hearing evidence presented by Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists, the chairman of the House of Representative's Subcommittee on International Organizations declared that the Iranian regime could not be considered stable until it permitted `popular input,` created proper parliamentary structures, and allowed the freedom of press, discussion and assembly. [source: U.S. Congress, Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights in Iran, (Washington D.C., 1977), p.25.
"The program to relax police controls began in early 1977, and picked up pace in the summer of that year. In February, the
regime amnestied 357 political prisoners. In March, it allowed the International Commission of the Red Cross to visit 20
prisons and see some 3000 prison inmates. In April, it permitted foreign lawyers to observe the trial of 11 dissidents
accused of terrorism; this was the first time since the early 1960s that outside lawyers had been allowed into a military
tribunal. In early May, the shah gave a private audience to a representative of Amnesty International and promised to improve
prison conditions. In late May, he gave a similar audience to a representative of the International Commission of Jurists,
and, after complaining that the `Jewish controlled press in America` was maligning him, agreed to amend court procedures to
better protect the rights of political detainees. (p.501)
[source: W. Butler, `Memorandum to the International Commission of Jurists on Private Audience with the Shah of Iran,` 30 May, 1977]
Four major reasons.
"The death of the more realistic and experienced politicians - notably `Alam, `Ala, Eqbal, Sa'id, Hakimi, Bayat, .... had reduced the shah's circle of advisers to a small group of younger yes-men competing to tell their monarch what he wanted to hear. Thus the shah began to walk toward the abyss of revolution, with court advisers inadvertently helping him to pull down the crown further over his eyes." (p.500)
"The Shah's behavior became even more erratic when the opposition rejected the olive branch. Shariatmadari announced that negotiations were impossible, since the shah had imposed marital law and formed a military government. ...When it was later revealed that the shah had cancer, some commentators concluded that he had acted indecisively in 1978 because of the psychological side effects of his anticancer drugs. But as the events of 1951-1953 and 1960-1963 had shown, the shah was capable of acting decisively only when he could fully rely on his army and the United States. Whenever these two factors were missing he vacillated and showed sign of `psychological insecurity.`" (p.519)
"Khomeini began a propaganda campaign against the left. He claimed that the Tudeh was cooperating with the shah, accused
Marxists of wanting to stab Muslims in the back, and denounced Russia as a greedy superpower. [source: Iran Times, 20
October 1978; Washington Post, 2 January 1979; Iran Times, 2 February 1979
"He also declared that once the shah was overthrown Iran would become a reliable oil supplier to the West, would not ally with the East, and would be willing to have friendly relations with the United States." [source: Washington Post 2 and 18 1979.] (p.524)
If modernization brings secularization, and Iran had undergone decades of modernization, why was the 1977-1979 rev religious?
"Why was the modern middle class, which in the past had deeply distrusted the clergy, willing to follow Khomeini? There were three reasons.
"After the 1905-1909 revolution, the 'ulama had protested that they had been fooled by the intelligentsia. After the 1977-1979 revolution, it was the intelligentsia who claimed to have been fooled by the `ulama." (p.534-5)
"This slight loosening of controls encouraged the opposition to raise its voice. In May 1977, fifty-three lawyers - many of whom had supported Mossadeq - sent an open letter to the imperial palace and thereby initiated an intense campaign of protest through public communiqués. Their letter accused the government of interfering in court proceedings and announced the formation of a special commission to protect the judiciary from the legislative branch. This was the first time since 1963 that a group inside Iran had dared to denounce the regime publicity (sic) [publicly]. In June , the three leading personalities of the National Front - Sanjabai, Foruhar, and Bakhtiyar - wrote a more daring letter addressed to the shah, pointedly avoiding use of the royalist calendar and the title Aryamehr, and accusing the regime both of wrecking the economy through inflation and neglect of agriculture, and of violating international law, human rights and the 1905-1909 constitution. ...
Also in June, forty prominent poets, novelist, and intellectuals sent an open letter to Premier Hoveida and revived their Writers' Association, which had been suppressed since 1964. The letter denounced the regime for violating the constitution, demanded an end to censorship, protested that SAVAK stifled all cultural, intellectual, and artistic activity. ..."(p.502)
"After mid-November, ... the opposition overflowed into the streets. This marked the start of a new stage in the revolutionary process. The turning point came on November 19, when after nine evenings of peaceful poetry-reading sessions organized by the Writers' Association in the Iranian-German Cultural Society and in Aryamehr University, the police attempted to disband the tenth session with its full-capacity audience of some 10,000 students. The attempt promptly incited an angry crowd to march out of the campus into the streets shouting anti-regime slogans. In the ensuing clash with the police, one student was killed, over 70 were insured, and some 100 were arrested. The next ten days saw more student demonstrations and the closure of the main Tehran universities in protest. ..." (p.505)
Protests over Jan. 7 1978 story on Khomeini. "The article outraged Qum. The seminaries and the bazaar closed down, demanding a public apology; and some 4000 theology students and their sympathizers clashed with the police as they took to the streets ... According to the government, two were killed in the clash; according to the opposition, 70 were killed and over 500 injured." (p.505)
"To deal with the crisis the regime adopted a complicated three-prong strategy"
1) The stick of intimidation of secular opposition with agents SAVAK-manufactured "vigilante" groups threats, writings and bombings. (p.508-9)
2) The carrot of backing off from confrontation with traditional and clerical groups.
3) an austerity budget to dampen inflation. "Amouzegar cut drastically civilian expenditures, especially the development plan.... These cuts had an immediate effect. The GNP, which had been rising at the rate of 15 to 20 percent per annum in the previous years, increased only 2% in the first half of 1978...." (p.509)
"The government strategy appeared to work. By the summer of 1978 the streets were remarkably quiet, no major disturbances occurred for two full months, and even more significant, the 40th day of the May 10-12 massacres passed without any new bloodshed. In preparation for the 40th day, Shari'atmadari and the moderate clergy beseeched the faithful to attend mosque services but scrupulously to avoid street demonstrations. ... Khomeini, on the other hand, exhorted the country to continue protesting until the `pagan regime` was overthrown. The fact that in June the public heeded Sharia'atmadari rather than Khomeini led many to conclude that the regime had weathered the storm. As Amouzegar confidently declared in early June, `the crisis is over.`" (p.510)
"The situation changed drastically after June, however, when the urban poor, especially construction laborers and factory workers, started to join the street demonstrations. Their participation not only swelled the demonstrations from tens of thousands of marchers to hundreds of thousands and even millions, but also changed the class composition of the opposition and transformed the middle-class protest into a joint protest of the middle and working classes. Indeed, the entry of the working class made possible the eventual triumph of the Islamic Revolution." (p.510)
"The first major demonstration that drew large numbers of workers occurred in Mashad on July 22. ON that day, a funeral procession for a local Hojjat al-Islam who had died in a car accident turned violent ..." (p.511)
"During the middle-class upheavals of October 1977-June 1978, there had been only seven major industrial strikes. The
number rose sharply after June, however, when the recession began to take its toll, especially in the construction industry
and the government further cut expenditures by placing a ceiling on state employees. By midsummer, real wages started to fall,
unemployment rose from almost nothing to nearly 400,000 and take-home pay in the construction industry slumped as much as
The shah didn't help matters any by making an indignant televised appearance talking about `Those who do not work, we shall take them by the tail and throw them out like mice.` (p.512)
"In late July, 1750 textile workers in Behshahr stopped work and called for higher wages and free union elections. In August, some 2000 employees of the machine tool factory in Tabriz stayed away from work for two weeks demanding annual bonuses, higher wages, and better housing. And in September, major strikes over economic grievances broke out in the paper mill of Fars, in the car assembly plants of Tehran, and in the water works and the machine tool factory in Ahwaz." (p.513)
Abrahamian seems to side with the clerics on this. "The government promptly accused the opposition of responsibility, citing the recent mob attacks on movie houses. The opposition, on the other hand, accused SAVAK of arranging a `Reichstag fire,` locking the cinema doors, and sabotaging the local fire department. It also noted that demonstrators attacked only cinemas that were empty and specialized in foreign sex films, whereas the Abadan cinema was showing an Iranian film containing veiled criticisms of contemporary society. Whatever the truth, it was clear that the 10,000 relatives who gathered next day for a mass funeral blamed SAVAK. Marching through the city, the mourners shouted: `Burn the shah, End the Pahlevis. Soldiers, you are guiltless. The shah is the guilty one.` The correspondent of the Washington Post commented that the Abadan demonstration, like the riots of the previous eight months, had one simple message: `The Shah must go.` (p.513) [source: W. Branigin, `Abadan Mood Turns Sharply against the Shah,` Washington Post, 26, August 1978.]
"The final drama began in Tehran on the evening of Friday February 9, when the Imperial Guards tried to crush a mutiny among air force technicians and cadets at a large military base near Jaleh Square. As soon as the fighting started, the guerilla organizations rushed to help the besieged cadets and technicians. After six hours of intense fighting, the rebels forced the Imperial Guards to withdraw, distributed arms to the local populations, set up street barricades and in the words of Le Monde, converted the district of Jaleh Square into a new `Paris Commune.`
Early the next morning, the guerillas and the air force rebels drove truck loads of weapons to Tehran University. And helped by hundreds of eager volunteers, they spent the day leading a series of successful assaults on nine police stations and the city's main arms factory. By the end of the day the city had been flooded with weapons. .... `thousands of civilians appeared in the streets with machine guns and other weapons.` (new york times)
The fighting reached climax the following day, Sunday, February 11, Helped by thousands of armed volunteers, the four main guerrilla organizations, the Tudeh, and defectors from the military mounted successful assaults on more police armories, on the barracks of the Imperials Guards, on Evin Prison -- the notorious SAVAK interrogation center -- on the military academy, and on the main army garrison ... At 2 p.m. the chief of general staff announced that the military would not take sides in the struggle between Bakhtiyar and the Revolutionary Council. And at 6 p.m. the city's radio station declared: `This is the voice of Tehran, the voice of true Iran, the voice of the revolution.`" (p.529)
iranshahr - country of Iran (Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.123)
farangistan - Europe
Tamadun-i Bozorg - Great Civilization
Aryamehr - Light of the Aryan Race
Nezam-i Towhid - Classless society brought by the Imam