Reformers and Revolutionaries in Modern Iran: New by S. Cronin

Reformers and Revolutionaries in Modern Iran: New by S. Cronin

By S. Cronin

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From the most general point of view, the common thread that runs through the manifold intellectual, political and social movements of the Left is a primary concern with human equality in all its dimensions. More specifically, the Iranian Left is part of the post-Enlightenment movement to achieve a modern ideal society, conforming to the universal norms of human rationality and egalitarianism. While its historical antecedents may be found in various times and locales, the modern Left appeared first in nineteenth-century Europe in the wake of the Industrial and French Revolutions.

The particular problems this created for Iran, on the borders of the USSR, are evident, but they go to the heart of the political language, and hence political project, of much of the Left: this was designed not to create an independent, democratic, Iran, but to exchange one form of subjugation and repression for another, on the model of the eastern European ‘peoples’ democracies’. That so many sincere and courageous people believed in, and struggled for, this goal is as much a tragedy as is the fate of the movement itself.

The impact of this dogmatism was, moreover, to extend far beyond the Tudeh itself: on the one hand, it encompassed much of the independent Left that emerged before 1979, notably the Fedayin-i Khalq, and several other groups of that period, while on the other, and with greater consequence, it provided a set of dogmatic ideas and slogans that were adopted by the Islamists. The one Left group that was resolutely critical of Khomeini from the start, Paykar, a left-wing breakaway from the Mujahidin, was also an example of virulent sectarianism.

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