Iran’s socio-political future – Opening RemarksWritten by admin in 11 February 95
In reply to the frequently asked question as to why ‘Association des Chercheurs Iraniens’ plans such events and why it has dedicated its activities to ‘the future of Iran’, I would like to offer the following thoughts:
The truth is that we are concerned for the present and future of our country. Concerned for a country that is precious to us and belongs to us, whatever its social formation. We are not among those who say ‘It doesn’t concern us. We are not living there so why should we care! Let those who have stayed behind deal with it. It’s their problem.’
We believe that the country belongs to the people of Iran and we belong to that society and are not apart from it. We endeavour to find the reasons behind the failure of popular movements in our country during the last one hundred years; movements which have failed more often than in other similar societies.
We seem to have failed due to our extremism on two fronts: The first front sees Iran as the centre of the world and believes all events and changes happen in relation to Iran. They believe Iran to be the axis of the world and the Iranians to be the superior race.
The other front does not consider Iran worthy of anything – in particular during the last twenty years – and believes that ‘people get what they deserve.’
The truth is that we follow none of these two extremes. We do not belong to the group that gloats over Iran’s 34000 or 12000-year-old civilisation or those who introduce themselves as Spanish, Italian or in any form other than Iranian and are ashamed to be called an Iranian.
We believe that neither the pride in the glory that existed in Iran’s old civilisation nor the ever-growing internal tension and loss of international credit of today will change present day Iran and it will do nothing to build its future.
We have chosen to study and understand the realities of our own society, their relation to the greater world community and to offer solutions to the present problems of Iran with a view to a better future.
We believe that at present and in the industrial countries of the world, Iran can have a suitable place for itself and with detailed and accurate planning and programme move successfully into the future. This will only be possible by addressing the problems of today realistically and away from prejudice, and bias.
The way forward is to move away from slogans and find refuge in logic and reality.
Unfortunately, we Iranians see ourselves not in our reality but in our wishful thoughts. The important thing to realise is that our lives are hidden in the realities of today. There is no solution apart from waking up and stopping the apportioning of blame on to others. We should criticise ourselves for always being so simple even in the unjust national and international situation that we find ourselves in.
Mohammad Reza Shah or Ayatollah Khomeini are not the only ones to blame. We also share the blame. On the one hand, we believed in ‘the great civilisation’ and ‘the world’s fifth army’. On the other hand we saw the face of the Ayatollah in the moon and believed him in sharing out the oil income with the nation and providing free electricity, water, and …
Now we say ‘may the Shah rest in peace for in his time the dollar was cheap and …’ And now we curse Khomeini for the destruction of Iran.
We forget that in our enthusiasm it was us who carried Mohamad Reza Shah’s bus on our shoulders. In the years to come while welcoming back Ayatollah Khomeini to Iran the sheer number of people made it impossible for him to move. So much so, that he had to fly to ‘Behesht Zahra’ cemetery by helicopter for his address.
We have forgotten the excitement of the people for the Shah’s ‘White Revolution’ of 1962 and later the participation in ‘Tassoa and Ashura’ and the welcome to the leader of the Revolution in 1979.
Now we suffice to say that ‘It wasn’t me!’ or ‘I told you so!’
Well, the reality is that we are where we are today.
The reality also is that the country belongs to us. If it has glory all the better and if it has infamy, it is our shame.
Whatever happens, it is our country. It is for this reason that we should concern ourselves with its affairs and do this with all our might.
The Qajar kings, Reza Shah, Mohamad Reza Shah, Dr Mossadeq and Ayatollah Khomeini are pages in Iranian history and none of them can be ignored. We must have social and political fairness and examine every one of them as is fair and just to their time. We should not see everything as black and white and should introduce logic and unbiased judgement in our thinking.
The lessons learnt from our history should be the starting point and motivation for moving on. We have lived through similar experiences repeatedly and still will not face problems with open eyes.
We are a nation with particular cultural traits. Unfortunately, we are riddled with many social and cultural problems. Indifference, jealousy, hatred, and vengeance never leave us. Although we have many positive and constructive attributes, we have to accept that these negative points have had detrimental effects on our society.
Also, on the other hand the Iranians living abroad are faced with the added and particular difficulties of living in ‘exile’ and their problems have multiplied. Without doubt, it is lack of trust and not having a sense of unity that stops us moving together.
The way forward for a society, which wants to have a place in the modern and changing world of today, is through clear thinking and choosing representatives who reflect their clear thoughts and beliefs.
We should put an end to this social anger, and hatred.
We should overcome personal selfishness and self-importance.
It is only then that we can begin to move forward.
At that moment, we should not destroy the shrine to Ayatollah Khomeini in anger but we should protect and erect memorials and statues to other pages of our history and never allow them to be taken down by any group or ideology.
With the first move we should erect the powerful image of ‘Amir Kabir’ in every major square and pay homage to him as the founder of new Iran and honour his thinking.
We should erect a statue of Reza Shah and convert his home to his museum. We should honour and respect him for modernising and constructing Iran, founding universities and …
At the same time we should not forget his style of dictatorship that did away with freedom and we must always remember all those who lost their lives fighting for it.
Mossadeq’s golden statue, as a symbol of fighting for freedom and independence, should be placed high above the Iranian parliament. We should remember and honour him as the first man in Iran’s contemporary history who stood up to the colonial policies of Britain and established ‘independence’ and ‘nationalism’ in Iran.
However, we should not forget his emotional approach that resulted from his uninformed advisers on oil and other matters. We should not forget the separatist behaviour, which resulted in unfounded accusations causing protests from and alienation of people like Dr Seddiqi, Dr Baqaie, Khalil Maleki and many others and ultimately paved the way for the present predicament that we find ourselves in.
We should look at Mohamad Reza Shah’s time fairly although it is too soon to control our emotions and judge impartially. On the first instance, we should remember that his era like the rest of our history was filled with strengths and weaknesses – We cannot deny his love for Iran.
There should be no doubt that in his time Iran prospered on all levels. There is no doubt that thanks to the oil income people’s standard of living improved greatly.
There is also no doubt that due to his weak character and dependant nature and ultimately his dependence on America the most unforgivable events took place resulting in 1979 in a way that could have been handled far more logically.
We should forget none of them. We should also not forget to return his body to Iran and offer him his due respect. We should build a museum where the positive and negative experiences of his time should become an important and unforgettable lesson for our young.
It is no different when dealing with Ayatollah Khomeini. We are principally a forgetful nation. Although we may regret events and this regret helps us to forget, but if we return to the archives of the beginning of the 1979 Revolution we will realise certain things. We will remember that at the time the only wish for most Iranians in and out of Iran was for the victory of the Revolution, the exile or execution of the Shah, and the return of Ayatollah Khomeini to Iran. Without doubt, this part of Iranian history will never be forgotten. Whether the wishes of the majority of the Iranian nation were right or logical or futile or completely emotional requires an accurate, scholarly approach. This must be carried out and the conclusions and its consequences must be taught as a historical experience for the future of our society and the young generation.
We must not forget that Khomeini’s time was also filled with its positive and negative points. The negative points resulted in the destruction of the country, the loss of hundred of thousands of young lives, the loss of international credit and all their related consequences that must be examined in detail.
However, the most important positive point of his era is the fact that people have no illusions and they now evaluate events more seriously and deeply.
- Now, the people are not as trusting and as easily lead.
- Now, they are aware of empty promises and if religion is the aim it is in its truest essence.
- Now, the belief in many ideologies and ‘clich? thinking which previously seemed the only solution have shown their true colours and have lost their superficial charm.
It is in this way that the road to true and fundamental change has been paved and this awakening leaves great room for hope in Iran’s future.
If one day the reality and truth hidden underneath the cloud of emotional and unfounded hatred and jealousy finally surfaces, without doubt that day will be a day of freedom and pride in the history of our country.
That day will add another golden page to our ancient history and national identity.
That day will be the day that Iranians will not allow the surfacing or setting root by any person, group or ideology that wants to ruin their social foundation or by being dependent on this or that power sell Iran short and hinder true progress.
We look forward with hope to that not too far away day.
Dr Hossein Ladjevardi – President – ACI
February 1995 – London