The Quest for Democracy in Iran: A Century of Struggle against Authoritarian Rule

The Quest for Democracy in Iran: A Century of Struggle against Authoritarian Rule

by Fakhreddin Azimi
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0674027787

ISBN-13: 9780674027787

Pub. Date: 04/28/2008

Publisher: Harvard University Press

The Constitutional Revolution of 1906 launched Iran as a pioneer in a broad-based movement to establish democratic rule in the non-Western world. In a book that provides essential context for understanding modern Iran, Fakhreddin Azimi traces a century of struggle for the establishment of representative government.

The promise of constitutional rule was cut short

Overview

The Constitutional Revolution of 1906 launched Iran as a pioneer in a broad-based movement to establish democratic rule in the non-Western world. In a book that provides essential context for understanding modern Iran, Fakhreddin Azimi traces a century of struggle for the establishment of representative government.

The promise of constitutional rule was cut short in the 1920s with the rise of the Pahlavi dynasty. Reza Shah, whose despotic rule Azimi deftly captures, maintained the façade of a constitutional monarch but greeted any challenge with an iron fist: “I will eliminate you,” he routinely barked at his officials. In 1941, fearful of losing control of the oil-rich region, the Allies forced Reza Shah to abdicate but allowed Mohammad Reza to succeed his father. Though promising to abide by the constitution, the new Shah missed no opportunity to undermine it.

The Anglo-American–backed coup of 1953, which ousted reformist premier Mohammed Mosaddeq, dealt a blow to the constitutionalists. The Shah’s repressive policies and subservience to the United States radicalized both secular and religious opponents, leading to the revolution of 1979. Azimi argues that we have fundamentally misunderstood this event by characterizing it as an “Islamic” revolution when it was in reality the expression of a long-repressed desire for popular sovereignty. This explains why the clerical rulers have failed to counter the growing public conviction that the Islamic Republic, too, is impervious to political reform—and why the democratic impulse that began with the Constitutional Revolution continues to be a potent and resilient force.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674027787
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
04/28/2008
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
512
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Note on Transliteration xiv

Prologue: In Search of a National Covenant 1

Part I Constituting a National Community (1906-1953)

1 Constitutional Trial and Error 19

2 Pahlavist Absolutism 69

3 Restoration of Parliamentary Politics 118

Part II Authoritarian Supremacy: Consolidation and Collapse (1953-1979)

4 The Trajectories of Monarchism 157

5 Revolution: Chronicle of an Implosion 201

6 The Edifice and Emplacements of Royal Rule 224

7 Elective Affinities: Western Imperial Interests and Authoritarian Monarchy 258

8 The Architecture of Royalist Hegemony 277

9 A Culture of Confrontation 307

Part III The Eclipse of Popular Sovereignty: Iran since 1979

10 The Unfolding of Clerical Rule: Oligarchy by Divine Right? 357

11 The Culture of Politics: The Presence and Absence of the Past 412

12 Predicaments and Prospects 423

Epilogue: The Resilience of Modernity 437

Abbreviations 453

Notes 455

Index 481

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