International relations, politics, revolutions, theories
THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION 1979
PART-IThe Islamic Revolution of Iran (1979) appeared in the reaction of the exploitative Imperialistic political system prevailing under the monarchical rule of Muhammad Reza Shah Pehelvi (1941—1979) in the country. The revolution cracked Capitalistic nuisance from Iranian society by changing the very scenario of the country’s political and economic systems, and serves as the cresset to show the path of glory and light to the seekers of truthfulness and social justice.
Being one of the most significant incidents of the second half of twentieth century, the Iranian revolution not only influenced the Iranian state by turning it from Monarchy into an Islamic Republic, but also left its indelible imprints on the international politics and strategies. Many of the Eastern and Western countries including the Middle East, the USSR, Europe and the USA had to revise their foreign policies and new friendships and rivalries came into existence in the wake of the great revolution.
The revolution of 1979 was not only the outcome of one single factor; rather, there were chain of reasons that paved the way towards revolution. There were inequalities and social injustices prevailing on the land during the Shah’s regime that instigated the people to rise against the powerful monarchical rule. The Reza Shah II of Iran had become the Emperor during the World War-II, and exercised pro-western imperialistic policies in the country. He had been installed by the American agency C.I.A, for the USA required her agents to counter the Communist advancement in the region. Iran, being one of the most ancient countries of the world with excellent geographical and strategic position, maintains great significance in the globe. The country is rich with the natural resources including petroleum and natural gas etc. Reza Shah was thought to be a reliable ally of the USA, which was not acceptable for the religious circles and the masses at any cost. Further, there had been the Capitalist system of economy in vogue during Shah’s era, and the development plans were only benefiting the upper stratum of Iranian society. Though, the country was making progress because of its oil productions and high export merchandise, yet the effects of these developments were unable to benefit the common man. Consequently, the gulf between the classes started increasing day by day and people rose to the occasion under the banner of the dynamic Imam Khomeini to combat liberalism and capitalism prevailing in the society. The Shah of Iran claimed to turn Iran into the fifth most powerful nation in the world, but the plenty of oil revenues and other resources brought only fast inflation, enormous migration into urban vicinities, housing scarcity and a widening gulf between different income groups. “Wages remained derisory”, Calvocoressi (1981: 354) views, “supply of goods was inadequate and housing was shamefully insufficient before revolution in Teheran.” This situation was really worrying for the majority of the population and aggravated a profound bitterness among the workers, peasants and middle classes, which exploded in a hot-blooded revolutionary mass-movement to overthrow the curses of western imperialism and monarchical political system. In addition, Shah had endorsed favoritism in respect of promoting officials in military and other armed forces. “All that”, Mahajan states, “created turbulence and turmoil among the civil and military bureaucracy and establishment in the country, which supported the revolutionary leaders in exile.” (1995:835). Everyday strikes by workers and peasants paralyzed the system. Subsequently, Shah had to surrender and the religious groups were there at the helm in February 1979.
Founded on the footings of social equality, impartiality and jusbtice, the Islamic revolution of Iran contained Marxist element in it. Marxist perspective is based on conflict theory articulated by Karl Marx and believes that a constant state of conflict always exists between different classes of each society. “This conflict”, according to Ritzer (1997: 56), “is due to the divergence in the interests between haves and haves-not.” Marxists believe in the equal distribution of resources and opportunities as well as chances of growth for all individuals. Marxist theorists suggest that as the proletariats or working classes have major share in the mean as well as mode of production, so they must be equal shareholders in the profit and resources. Marxism also opines the Capitalism as exploiter politico-economic system and declares its abolition to replace it with communism and socialism. Islamic teachings also lay stress on fair play, egalitarianism and parity, and seriously condemn favoritism, nepotism, corruption and concentration of wealth in few hands and families. The term “Marxist-Leninism”, derived from Marxism, signifies the adaptation of Marxist perspective articulated by Russian leader Vladimir Lenin. The perspective strongly believes in the overthrow of the Capitalism, along with all its profanities and curses, with the help of the alternate communist revolutionary ideology. “The core ideological features of Marxism-Leninism”, according to Wikipedia Encyclopedia, “are those of Marxism and Leninism, viz. belief in the necessity of a violent overthrow of capitalism through communist revolution to be followed by a dictatorship of the proletariat.” History reflects the very fact that Capitalism and Imperialism are the bleakest of the politico-economic systems prevailing in the globe. “Imperialism caused the division of society into different classes and strata”, Turner (1978: 129) notes, “where one social class is seriously engaged in the exploitation of others.” Marx has linked the social stratification to the means of production. The major modern classes are, according to him, “the owners merely of labour-power, owners of capital, and landowners, whose respective sources of income are wages, profit and ground-rent. Different individuals make up the production of an organization, but the major profit goes to the upper class or bourgeoisie only, which works far less than the labour classes. The deprivation of rights arise the sentiments of revenge in labour class and conflict arises in society. “Marxism perspective shows”, Skocpol (1980) states, “that Karl Marx lists a number of classes and (antagonistic) social relationship such as freeman and slave, lord and serf, oppressor and oppressed in describing different classes in a society that characterize different historical stages or modes of production.” The Marxist conflict approach emphasizes a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical method of analysis, a critical stance toward existing social arrangements, and a political programme of revolution or, at least, reform.
The term realism has been very popular in the disciplines of international relations and political history since more than six decades. It identifies powerful states of the world as the primary instrument in international politics. The countries adopting realism strongly believe in the strength of the big powers in respect of solving international disputes as well as mitigating internal upsurge prevailing in the poor and third world countries. In addition, realism looks for the selfish pursuance of their national interests, the most vital being national security. (Quoted in Klarevas, 2004). Further, such countries enter into the race of gaining more and more military equipments, which are, according to them, most significant for the national interests and security measures. Almost all the third world countries including Pakistan, India, Israel, Bangladesh, Egypt, Jordan and others fall in the category of states that apply realism while developing their foreign policies. Such political strategies seriously damage their identity and keep them dependent on big powers including Russia, USA, UK, China and others. Once a country enters into contracts with big powers, it becomes very hard to get released out of the vicious cycle of dependency and economic slavery. It is therefore the Marist-Leninism theory is far superior to realism, though the latter has many flaws too.
In the same way, the theory of Liberalism maintains less significance while manipulating the international strategy in global politics. “The term often inappropriately portrayed as realism’s polar opposite”, Klarevas notes, “loosens the strict views of realism.” Liberalism obtains diversity and vastness in its scope. It intensely concentrates on the multiplicity of agents within international political scenario, and lays stress on developing relations with all big and small countries as well as multi-national trade companies and organizations to get political as well as economic gains out of these relations of global level. The personal and public relations are thought to be the key to success in this political terminology. The politicians deliver lectures at university and company level to introduce themselves as the intellectuals and brains of some specific society, so that they can be declared as the most popular and successful leaders of a nation. By this, a country can win socio-cultural gains too, and financial agreements are signed at different levels. Yet, the nations have to keep many things and issues at stake including dignity and national interests. In the same way, liberalism urges one nation to admit the superiority of other nations in some specific field, as the USA entered into many contracts with China, which clearly reveals the former’s submission in the field of international market.
Thus, it is clear that both realism and liberalism can put a nation’s dignity at stake. The countries adopting these policies seldom observe revolutionary measures in life. Further, they are unable to get unique place in the international arena throughout. But, even then the financial gains of these states may be far more than the communist countries of the globe.
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- Chander, Parkash, and Arora, Prem. International Relations. COSMOS BOOKHIVE (private) Limited, Delhi. 1999.
- Klarevas, Louis. Political Realism A Culprit for the 9/11 Attacks. Europe, Vol. 26 (3) – Fall 2004
- Mahajan, V.D. International Relations Since 1900. S. Chand & Company Limited, Ram Nagar, New Delhi, 1995.
- Ritzer, George and Douglas J Goodman. Classical Sociological Theory. 4th Edition. Mc-Graw Hill Publishing Company. 1997.
- Skocpol, Theda. States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia, and China. New York: Cambridge University Press. 1980.
- Tumin, Melvin M. Social Stratification: The forms and functions of inequality. Prentice Hall. 1978.
- www.wikipedia Encyclopedia.com. Marxist-Leninism