Iranian Revolution Using Crane Brinton

’s Theory Essay, Research Paper

Iranian Revolution using Crane Brinton’s theory. Iran is a country located in the Middle East. The mainsource of income for the country is oil, the one object that hadgreatly influenced its history. Iran’s present government is runas an Islamic Republic. A president, cabinet, judicial branch,and Majilesor or legislative branch, makes up the governmentalpositions. A revolution that overthrew the monarch, which wasset in 1930, lasted over 15 years. Crane Brinton’s book, AnAnatomy of a Revolution, explains set of four steps a countryexperiences when a revolution occurs. Symptoms, rising fever,crisis, and convalescence are the steps that occur. The IranianRevolution followed the four steps in Crane Brinton’s theory,symptoms, rising fever, crisis, and convalescence occurred. Numerous symptoms led to the crumbling downfall of Reza ShahPahlavi, ruler of Iran until 1978. One of these symptoms isrising expectations which can be seen during the 1960’s and 70’s. The rich Shah cleared the way for the land reform law, enacted in1962. The land minority had to give up its land to thegovernment, and among those stripped of land, were the Shi’ahMuslims. Iran’s power structure was radically changed in aprogram termed the “White Revolution”. On January 26, 1963, theWhite Revolution was endorsed by the nation. By 1971, when landdistribution ended, about 2,500,000 families of the farmpopulation benefited from the reforms. From 1960-72 thepercentage of owner occupied farmland in Iran rose from 26 to 78percent. Per capita income rose from $176 in 1960 to $2,500 in1978. From 1970-77 the gross national product was reported toincrease to an annual rate of 7.8% (”Iran” 896). As a result ofthis thriving economy, the income gap rapidly widened. Exclusivehomes, extravagant restaurants, and night clubs and streetsloaded with expensive automobiles served as daily reminders of agrowing income spread. This created a perfect environment formany conflicts to arise between the classes. Iran’s elite class consisted of wealthy land owners,intelligencia, military leaders, politicians, and diplomats. TheElite continued to support the monarchy and the Shah. Thepeasants were victim of unfulfilled political expectations,surveillance by the secret police, and the severe social andeconomic problems that resulted from modernization. The middleclass favored socialism over capitalism, because capitalism intheir view supported the elite, and does not benefit the lowerclasses. The middle class was the most changeable element in thegroup, because they enjoyed some of the privileges of the elite,which they would like to protect. At the same time, theybelieved that they had been cheated by the elite out of theirshare of the industrialization wealth (Orwin 43). About this time, the middle class, which included students,technocrats, and modernist professionals, became discontent withthe economy. The key event should have further stabilized theroyal dictatorship, but the increase in oil prices and oil incomebeginning in 1974 caused extreme inflation. This was due to theinvestment strategy followed by the Shah, which led to aspectacular 42% growth rate in 1974. (Cottam 14). And because ofthe Shah’s support structure which enabled the new rich tobenefit from inflation, the government effort to deal withinflation was aimless. Poor Iranians and Iranians with a fixedincome suffered major losses in real income. Better standards ofliving were no longer visible. Thus, the majority of the Iranianpeople developed a revolutionary predisposition. As the middle class became discontent in Iran throughout the1970’s, the desertion of intellectuals could be found in greatexcess. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini represented much of thediscontent of the religious sector of Iran. For speaking outagainst the Shah’s autocratic rule, Khomeini was exiled to Turkeyin 1963. In 1965, Khomeini moved to Iraq where he became thecentral spokesperson for expatriate opposition to the Shah. OnOctober 6, 1978, Khomeini was expelled from Iraq and moved toParis, where he was accessible to a larger body of oppositionforces. He was also accessible to the Western Press. Khomeinipreached that he would displace the Shah and expel theforeigners. He also said he would enforce religious andtraditional values, and redirect Iran’s wealth away from largeindustrialization schemes and toward reforms needed by the commonpeople. Throughout the 1970’s, Khomeini gained tremendouspopularity with the masses, and he became the symbol of theopposition towards the Shah. As Khomeini gained popularity, many religious groups grew innumbers and in status. In the early 1950’s, the technocrats hadshowed core support for Mohammad Mossedeq and Iran’s nationalmovement. They saw Mossadeq’s overthrow as the removal of thesymbolic leader of the Iranian nation by an American directedcoup d’etat. Many of his followers formed groups in oppositionto the Shah. Leaders of the Freedom Front, one of the groupsthat grew out of the Mossadeq movement, were a group composed ofintellectuals who tended to be centrist in philosophy, morereligious, anti-Marxist, and militant (Cottam 13). Theyrecognized Khomeini’s large and potentially enormous following,and associated themselves with him The rise of religious opposition groups and Khomeini provedto be a great test for the Shah. As time progressed the weaknessof the Shah became apparent. Waves of opposition began buildingafter 1975, due to the formation of the Rastakhiz , the legalpolitical party in Iran, and the banning of opposition politicalparties. It also became clear that the increased oil revenuesfollowing oil price increases, were spent on arms andindustrialization. In mid-1977 the religious leaders begandemonstrating against the modernization brought on by the Shah. In November, several people were killed when police broke updemonstrations. As time went on, protests became more radical. To try and quiet dissent, the Shah became more of a dictator. Asa result, those who had been moderate in demands for reformbecame more radical. In the fall of 1978, strikes against theoil industry, the post office, government factories, and banksdemolished the economy. This pattern continued throughout mostof 1978 (Orwin 45). As these protests became more frequent therewere more and more people killed. This reflects the Shah’s lossof power over his government and his people. In late 1978, the Shah came to the conclusion that he wouldand could not rule a country in which he had to stand in theflowing blood of his people. In short, he understood that hecould not militarily occupy his own country. The Shah’s earlymistakes had been devastating as the years went on. His forcefulactions did not work and it’s no wonder that his grip weakenedand his mid wavered. These events all led to the march against the government ofthe Shah, in which eight million Iranians protested on December10, 1978 (Bill 25). One-fifth of the Iranian government waswilling to join in a massive and nonviolent manifestation ofopposition even though most of them knew that thousands of theircountrymen had been shot in previous demonstrations. The bannersand slogans made clear the religious and political essence of therevolutionary movement. This massive demonstration was theturning point from symptoms to rising fever. It clearlyreflected the weakness of the Shah, and the inevitability ofrevolution in Iran. After a year of public demonstrations against him, the Shahof Iran left Tehran on January 16, 1979, for an “extendedvacation” (Orwin 46). He left the country in the hands of aregency council and Prime Minister Shahpur Bakhtiar, who was aformer member of the National Front. The opposition leader, Khomeini, was to become the newruler, and he returned to Iran on February 1, 1979. Khomeinioccupied preeminent positions among Iran’s most respectedreligious scholars, the Mujahedin-e Khalq.. Although Khomeiniwanted a stable government that could cope with the problems ofreconstruction, he wanted to eradicate the evil roots of the oldsystem, which he describes as satanic. He denounced thematerialism of the recent past and called for a climate in whichsocial justice would prevail. On April 1, 1979, after a landslide victory in a nationalreferendum, Khomeini declared an Islamic republic. This republicconsisted of a new constitution reflecting Khomeini’s ideals ofIslamic government. He was named Iran’s political and religiousleader for life. Khomeini tapped the deep-seated conservatism ofthe Muslim fundamentalists by making moderate changes in the law. Women were required to wear the veil, Western music and alcoholwere banned, and the punishments described by Islamic law werereinstated. Political vengeance was taken, executing hundreds ofpeople who had worked with the Shah’s regime (”Iran” 897). The large moderate center composed of the professional andbourgeois middle class had proved to be ineffective in theirleadership abilities. Moderate Bakhtiar, the last prime ministerunder Pahlavi rule, was very unpopular, and he was unable tocompromise with his former National Front colleagues or withKhomeini. He was then forced to flee to France. On April 1, 1979, his replacement, Mehdi Bazergan wasappointed by Khomeini (Cottam 15). This 73-year-old engineer wasa leader of the Freedom Front, and president of the committee ofhuman rights. The middle and upper middle classes looked toBazergan to provide stability so the economy would recover andthe government services could be restored. Bazergan appointed acabinet, mainly, from the ranks of the Freedom Front, theNational Front, and the religious bureaucracy. Bazergan’sposition was weak, however, and he steadily lost ground to thedue to the attacks from the far right and left. As their base ofsupport narrowed, their dependence on Khomeini intensified. During this time, Iran’s relation with the US went downhill. It reached a stage of outright confrontation, when, on November4, 1979, 500 extremist students seized the US embassy in Tehran. They took hostage 66 citizens at the embassy and the foreignministry (”The Iranian Revolution” 835). The takeover seeminglysanctioned by Khomeini, continued for the next 444 days, andAmerican-Iranian relations sunk to an all-time low. This led totrade conflicts with the United States and its allies, causingeconomic problems. During the rising fever stage there is a presence of a dualgovernment. During Bazergan’s rule, it became difficult toadminister justice with a court system that had been particularlylenient to the royal will. To deal with these problems on atemporary basis. Khomeini set up a system of revolutionarycommittees presided over by a revolutionary council. Religiousleaders clearly predominated in the revolutionary council-committee-courts system, which came to be almost a parallelgovernment. In November, 1979, Bazergan resigned, and in his placeKhomeini appointed Abol Hassan Bani Sadr. Bani Sadr was anidealist, a bookworm, and most personally ambitious of all theliberal revolutionaries. Like the other moderates, he was arepresentative of the professional middle class, who had littleskill or patience to build political organizations. Bani Sadr’s

efforts were fruitless in dealing with the hostage releases. After being elected Iran’s first president in January 1980, heand his followers, out of self defense and desperation, formed analliance with the Mujahedin-e Khalq (”Iran” 897). He alsoattempted to work hard to establish close relations with themilitary leaders. He ineffectively tried to appeal to theIranian people, who had little in common with a Paris trainedintellectual. One can see that during this stage of risingfever, moderate control is losing power. The people of Iranbecame upset with the little change that was taking place, andwanted more extreme measures taken. In mid-1981, leaders of the Islamic Republican Party (IRP)convinced Khomeini that Bani Sadr was plotting against them, andsuggested evidence indicating that he was a threat to therevolution. This led to his dismissal on June 20, of position ofcommander-in-chief of the armed forces. His presidency lasted 17months. He was arrested and dismissed as president on June 22. Forced into hiding, he fled Iran on July 29, 1981, and wasgranted political asylum in Paris. On July 24, extremistMuhammad Ali Rajai with substantial IRP backing, won theelectoral victory over the moderates. Thus, the period of risingfever ended, and the period of crisis began. In 1981, Khomeini took complete control over Iran and tookmany extremist measures. He made sure the government completelycontrolled the media, as well as newspapers, televisionbroadcasts, and radio programs. He had strict control ofeverything, including the treasury and flow of money to religiousleaders. Those who disagreed with him faced severe economicretribution. The crisis had begun and radicals had taken over. Under Khomeini’s rule (1981-1989) came a great period ofreign of terror. For example, after a speech the Ayatollah made,right wing revolutionary guards fired into a rally ofapproximately one hundred thousand Muslim leftists outside theU.S. Embassy in Teheran. Five people were killed and more than300 were wounded. Supporters held food riots in Tunisia, andothers held six car bombings in Kuwait. The Islamic Jihad heldsuicide bombings that killed two hundred-forty one U.S. Servicemen, and fifty-eight French troops in Beirut. These actswere not looked at as being bad acts of terrorism, but rather asacts of patriotic heroes. The reign of terror, the next step inthe crisis, brought extremists into complete control. The people of Iran in the early 1980’s, had just aboutenough of all these laws and regulations, and were outraged attheir standard of living. People were finally starting to revoltagainst the way that they have been treated. This periodaccording to Crane Brinton, is known as the civil war. Civil warstarted in Iran with the conflict with the Kurds. These peoplewere pushed out of their homes, religious temples, and places ofbusiness, because of the overpowering radicals. An entirereligious group was almost completely annihilated because of thesavage behavior of the radicals. It was later found that theKurdish problem was merely a pretext on Iran’s part to engage inmeetings and collaborations with two influential middle easternstates, Turkey and Syria. People suffered so that governmentcould gain allies. The poor treatment of the Kurds led toconfusion in the nation. Because of all of the chaos in the country, due to differentpublic demonstrations and mass rioting, government groups wereforming. The IRP, one of these groups, was in support of anationalistic movement. Opposed to it was the Hojatieh, and athird party, which represented the Mullahs and the highayatollahs. This third group thought Khomeini was reckless, sothere was great hostility towards the IRP. These groups formeddifferent factions among the people of Iran, and led to a dividednation. In the early 1980’s, patriotic fever was bordering onhysteria, and the nationalism was incredible. This patrioticfever fits in to the next part of the revolution, the republic ofvirtue. Iran’s people had a great sense of nationalism inside ofthem. People held many parades and marches to express theirnationalism. During this time, women were forced to wear veilsin public, modern divorce laws were repealed, and harsh courtswere set up, which set strict laws and harsh penalties. The colliding views of the Iranian groups, as well as therepublic of virtue, made it hard for Iran to deal with othercountries. During this period, Iran’s relationship with Iraqbecame troubled. The war began with a fight for land and oil andas a result of the personalities of the two leaders. BothHussein, the leader of Iraq, and Khomeini are headstrong. Inaddition, they disliked each other (Orwin 42). All of the circumstances that resulted from the war may havecontributed in some measure to the outbreak and continuation ofthe conflict between Iran and Iraq (Iran-Iraq War 77-78). Thesituation worsened in September of 1980 when Iraq launched anattack on Iran to take control of the waterway that divided thetwo countries (”Iranian Revolution” p. 835). During the war, industry suffered. Chemical, steel, andiron plants in the war zone were heavily shelled. There havebeen shortages in electricity, fuel, and spare parts. Theavailable pool of workers has diminished as thousands of menmarched off to the front lines to fight. This caused greateconomic problems throughout the mid-1980’s. Iraq attempted todevastate oil economy even further. Tankers and ships 50 milesoff the oil terminal were struck. Iran would be deprived of amajor source of income (Orwin 41). By 1984 it was reported that there were one million refugesin the Iranian province of Khuzestan. Some 300,000 Iraniansoldiers and 250,000 Iraqi troops had been killed, or wounded. Among the injured were Iranian soldiers who sustained burns,blisters, and lung damage from Iraqi chemical weapons (Orwin 47). The war lasted about 8 years and Iran suffered casualties, notonly in people, but in economy and leadership as well. Because of the war with Iraq, and the purges going on inIran, the economy was severely depressed. Besides the enormoushuman cost, economic losses from the war exceed $200 billion. Agricultural growth has declined as a result of war, also (Orwin34). During the crisis and during the war with Iraq, industry isplagued by poor labor management, a lack of competent technicaland managerial personnel, and shortages of raw material and spareparts. Agricultural suffers from shortage of capital, rawmaterials, and equipment, and as a result, food production hasdeclined. Also, out of an estimated work force of 12 million,unemployment is up to 3-4 million (Orwin 16). Iran’s economy wasdesperate. In connection with the devastating economy with the war,there was economic suffering through purges, the next step incrisis. Extensive purges were carried out in the army, in theschool and university systems, and in some of the departments ofgovernment although the Ministries of Justice and Commerce provedsignificantly more resistant because of the entrenched power ofconservative elements there). Additionally, new institutionswere created, like the Revolutionary Guards – including thecreation of a ministry for them – and the counsel of Guardians,along with a string of other judicial bodies (Akhavi 53). Purges eliminated many qualified personnel, and lowered themorale of the Iranian people. Finally, after about 9 years of crisis and fighting amongdifferent groups, there was a breakthrough in the revolution,with the return of conservatives. The Ayatollah Khomeini died inMay of 1989, and a new leader by the name of Ali HashemiRafsanjani was elected and came to power two months later. Thiswould start the convalescence stage of Crane Brinton’srevolution. Rafsanjani has not actually called for a reversal ofstrict Islamic injunctions, but in oblique ways he is signalingthat he favors a more relaxed approach, especially in theenforcement of the hijab (Ramazani 7). Under Rafsanjani, the return of the church has been allowedto occur, which is another step in the theory of a revolution. On August 2, 1991, Iran resumed diplomatic relations with Iraqand had also resolved the issue over the pilgrimage of IranianMuslims to Mecca, which has been suspended for three years. Inside Iran, the most significant development in the last fewmonths took place in October, when several Iranian leaders teamedup in a maneuver to marginalize opponents (Igram A-10). Twelve years after Khomeini came to power, Iran’s Islamicrevolution has finally softened around the edges. The signs offitful change are everywhere. On Tehran’s streets women stillobserve hijab (the veil), the Islamic injunction that women keepthemselves covered except for their faces and hands. But somehave exchanged their shapeless black chedors for slightly fittedraincoats in colors like green and purple. Women’s fingernailsare starting to sport glosses, too (Ramazani 32). Obviously,the republic of virtue has been eliminated, which is the nextpart in the convalescence. After Khomeini’s death, many radical groups were weakened. This led to the elimination of radicals. President Rafsanjani,with the support of Khomeini, swiftly eliminated four of his mosthard-line adversaries from the political scene by challengingtheir right to re-election. With Rafsanjani in control, Iranianstook a new look at crisis. His pragmatic policies were firmlyestablished, replacing militancy and isolation. Rafsanjanicampaigned to decrease the influence of important opponents,therefore improving ties with the western world. As well asattracting foreign trade. The radicals were finally eliminated,and Iran could return to the way it was. Economic problems after a revolution are good. Iran hadbeen in debt from the time the revolution started, and aneconomic recovery was needed. There was an increase in oilrevenue in 1990, since ties with non-oil bearing countries hadbeen replaced. There was also and increase in oil price, as wellas other raw materials. Iran did have ten billion dollars frozein American banks, which still partly remain there today. Thecountry’s economic problems were starting to be resolved. The return of status quo, is the final step in theconvalescence stage. Iran has returned to the status quo. Theyhave many ties, including ties with North Korea, Libya, Syria,and Europe. Trade and friendliness has increased with Russia, aswell. Russia currently want to build nuclear reactors in Iran. Commerce opened with Japan, Pakistan, Turkey, and even someallies of Iraq. Rafsanjani wants to end Iran’s pariah status inthe world community and gain desperately needed aid. He thinksthey are in a period of reconstruction (Desmond 32). The Iranian Revolution is over, and the country is back onits feet. Rafasanjani was an incredible help to the economy andthe government, and remains in power today. Iran has a greatnumber of allies, which improves its ties with the west. Iran’soil industry is booming, and the country’s economy remainsstable. Americans are again allowed to be seen on the streets ofTehran, and the foreign debt has reduced. The U.S. still hastheir problems with Iran (the money in the banks), but theseproblems are still in the process of being resolved. Iran isprogressing steadily, and has recovered from the revolution. TheIranian Revolution follows Crane Brinton’s theory on a revolutionbecause the revolution included symptoms, rising fever, crisis,and convalescence, just as the theory states.

Akhavi, Shahrough. “Institutionalizing New Order in Iran.” Current History. Feb. 1987: 53-56, 83. Bill, James A. “The Shah, The Ayatollah, and the U.S.” The Economist. June 1987: 24-26. Cottam, Richard W. “Revolutionary Iran.” Current History. Jan. 1980: 12-16, 35. Ibram, Youssef. “Standoff in the Gulf: Testing the Waters in Tehran.” The New York Times. “Iran.” The New Encyclopedia Britanica. Vol. 21 1992: 860- 861, 896-897. Orwin, George. Iran Iraq: Nations at War. New York: Shirmer Books, 1990. Ramazani, R.K. “Iran’s Islamic Revolution and the Persian Gulf.” Current History. Jan. 1985: 5-8, 32. “The Iranian Revolution.” People and Nations. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc. 1993.


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