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Iran: Revolution

Roya's Corner...
By Roya Monajem, Tehran

Let us see what I Ching, or the Chinese Book of Changes written 4000 years ago or so, tells us on this subject.

Apparently, one meaning of the Chinese word for Revolution "is an animal's pelt which is changed in the course of the year by molting." So when applied to politics, Revolutions are the means of replacing the old pelt with a new one. So let us ask which pelt did we wish to shed in our recent Islamic Revolution?

At that time as a young woman, full of dreams, I was hoping to see what I understood of Marx's description of the last social formation of human history when there will be first of all justice (which at that time I confused it with social material equality), no sexual discrimination, no apartheid and no racial humiliation (for it felt very humiliating to belong to a 'backward' country, particularly for an Iranian with more than 6000 years of history), when one's social and economic position is determined on the basis of his/her talents and abilities or strengths. This is what was expected from the post-revolution government, the establishment of justice, which on the one hand necessarily entailed the freedom of speech that in turn would have necessarily put an end to the whole human history of persecution, imprisonment and execution of the critics, the opposition, and on the other hand necessarily involved the disappearance of poverty.

What did we get instead?

First of all, the war with Iraq and eight years of breathing 'death, destruction, imprisonment, persecution, brother killing' in both foreign and home fronts. Not only sexual discrimination did not lessen, but young girls were forbidden to study "masculine" fields of knowledge in the universities (including almost all courses of engineering, gardening, agriculture, animal husbandry, and law of course), and to make it short they were deprived almost totally of the freedom of choice in many aspects of life including outfit. To summarize the social changes of the first decade of the post-revolution: all the non-Islamic values were regarded non-human deserving punishment, and religion became not a choice, but a compulsion.

On the economic level, the majority of the educated, professional people started to have an ever decreasing standard of life, while just the opposite happened to the uneducated. Not only that, but the most talented individuals were forced to adopt an isolated ascetic way of life, most probably in the hope that they will die out of this self-imposed suffocation. Or the busses carrying them were thrown down the cliffs. "Accidents" after "accidents," chain murdering and.

Is it surprising that the first generation of the post-revolutionary period, particularly among the educated families, rebelled and showed no interest in academic education? What they were witnessing in the world of reality was just the opposite of what their parents regarded and preached as values, which in one word was the 'nobility of the mind' that now a days includes having formal education, a profession, some sort of expertise, productivity, creativity and the like; these all turned to anti-values for this generation.

Meanwhile, life was continuing on the everyday level with all its up and downs which made us (the revolutionary generation) think more realistically, more maturely, more logically, less emotionally, less sentimentally, less romantic, less idealistically. We began to realize the truth in the old proverb 'Every nation deserves the kind of political system that rules over it.'

The pelt we really needed to shed through the Revolution in order to deserve a better ruling system was the pelt of illiteracy, prejudice, bigotry, tyranny, backwardness, ignorance and other characteristics that inhibited the formation of the ground for the so-called democracy. [1]

Could it be that the main reason for the failure of the Islamic Republic in this respect was the fact that we still were not ready for a Revolution in that sense? In the era of Neo-Colonialism, one of the ways to control people is to mislead or abort the normal course of events. When a fire starts it is more difficult to control the course it will assume than to extinguish it somehow even if through a sham fire, when it is still a spark.

And considering the fact that so far there has not been one single revolution in the human history from the French Great Revolution, to the Russian Great Revolution, to the Chinese Great Revolution and... that has not been followed by comparatively a greater amount of violence, bloodshed, suppression and oppression and severer purges, we better think and ponder much more about the subject of revolution.

And so let us go back to see what I Ching has to tell us in this respect: "Political revolutions are extremely grave matters. They should be undertaken only under stress of direst necessity, when there is no other way out."

And when do we know that there is 'no other way out?' According to the Book of Changes: "When we have tried in every way to bring about reforms, but without success, revolution becomes necessary."

So now in relation to the present situation in Iran, we may ask: "Is it really the time to reach the conclusion that the reformist movement that started seven years ago with the election of Mr. Khatami as the President has completely lost its capacity and potential to carry out the necessary reforms? Is it really true that there is no longer 'any way out?' How can we know whether the time has arrived for a radical change?

On the subject of the 'time of change' I Ching says:

"Times change and with them their demands. Thus the seasons change in the course of the year. In the world cycle also there are spring and autumn in the life of peoples and nations and these calls for social transformations."

Seven years ago the rulers of the Islamic Republic must have felt that way that they allowed their 'reformist group' to come to power. They must have felt that "the time had really changed and with it its demands." The new generation and their demands was the evidence. How sad they must have felt. The children that they had tried so hard to educate in the way they considered "righteous, humanitarian in the sense of their interpretation of Islam" have turned against their own educators! They have more or less proved to be something completely opposite to what they wanted them to become. So many years of "Death to America" has produced just the opposite effect. America and the West for that matter have turned to be the 'dreamland' of the Islamic schooled youth. This was beautifully shown in Hatami Kia's movie "Low Height." Faithful genuine believers, who really fought for their belief in Islamic values are now witnessing their own children growing up to crave for the Western way of life. That is why it seemed like a "Cultural Invasion!" to the Islamic Rulers.

Now if we take the recent unrests as a sign of 'time change' the first question is what precautions are necessary to consider at this time as "When change is necessary, there are two mistakes to be avoided. One lies in excessive haste and ruthlessness, which bring disaster. The other lies in excessive hesitation and conservatism."

And wasn't this exactly what we actually witnessed during these past seven years? A struggle between a group of the rulers who made the mistake of showing 'too much haste and ruthlessness' in their resistance and opposition to 'changes of time and thus its demands' and the other group exhibiting excessive hesitation and conservatism?' Should really Ganjis, Abdis and other journalists, writers, intellectuals be in prison? Was it fair to free those who wanted to kill Hajarian, one of the theoreticians of the Islamic Reformist Movement? Was it an act of justice to condemn Aghajari - the university professor- to death?

Now in order to avoid these same mistakes, I Ching advises: "Not every demand for change in the existing order should be heeded. On the other hand, repeated and well-founded complaints should not fail a hearing."

Have we given enough time to the rulers of the Islamic Republic to act upon the people's "repeated and well-founded complaints?" Isn't this the main cause of our "passive reaction, silence?" "Isn't this why the majority are still continuing to play the simple, yet quite difficult role of observers?'"

And how can we know when the time of radical changes have arrived? According to I Ching "When talk of changes has come to one's ears three times, and has been pondered well..."

Why so much caution? Why should one hear it three times, and not only that but must "ponder upon it well."

There is another reason for why the time of a radical change has not arrived yet; since according to the Book of Changes: "Radical changes require adequate authority. Not everyone is called to this task, but only the man who has the confidence of the people."

Where is this man of authority? Isn't this one of our direst problems at the moment? Who can be this man of authority? What are his characteristics? How can we recognize him?

Let us see how I Ching describes this man. "He must have inner strength as well as influential position. What he does must correspond with the higher truth and must not spring from arbitrary or petty motives." And it adds: "If a revolution is not founded on such inner truth, the results are bad and it has no success." Why? Because "in the end men will support only those undertakings which they feel instinctively to be just."

Isn't this exactly what we are witnessing now? People are" instinctively supporting only those undertakings that they consider just."

Let us remember that "Changes ought to be undertaken only when there is nothing else to be done." It seems that this is what the people are wondering now. It is as though they are asking themselves: Isn't there really anything else that can be done?"

And what should they do when they reach the conclusion that 'there is really nothing else that can be done?'

The Book of Changes replies: "At first the utmost restraint is necessary. One must become firm in one's mind, control oneself and refrain from doing anything for the time being." Why? "Because any premature offensive will bring evil results." And enough of evil results! Evil results of the kind that all the Revolutions throughout the world have brought about so far.

That makes the necessity of 'refraining' even more vital; why? Because "such a thoroughgoing upheaval" in other words Revolution, "must be carefully prepared. There must be available a man who has the requisite abilities and who possesses public confidence. To such a man we may well turn."

And what should we do now that we don't see any such a man in the horizon?

"The first thing to be considered is our inner attitude toward the new conditions that will inevitably come."

But all this was written four thousands years ago. Perhaps it is time to try to imagine another course for the revolutionary political transformations. In nature, shedding of the molted skin, (in political terms: Revolution) is only one way of radical transformations. Another process that can bring about the same results is Metamorphosis (which will be the subject of the next article).

The past twenty four years of our life both as individuals and as a nation can indeed be considered as a kind of pupa life. As a nation, we were isolated -at least on the surface - from the rest of the world. On the individual level, we were indeed forced to spin a cocoon around ourselves. That was the only way that we could survive the horrors that the French and Russians and all the other nations had experienced after their own revolutions. "Revolutions eat their own children." Going inside a pupa was the only way to avoid being eaten by all the suppressions, oppressions, cruelties, lies, hypocrisies, plunders and corruption going on in the society. And hopefully Abdollah Nouris (and other similar clergies) Ganjis, Abdis, Hajarians, Aghajaris and.are going to be the last historical examples of a revolution eating its own children.

1. Every now and then I receive threatening mails from Iranians living in the West just because I try to have a 'democratic' attitude towards our ruling system. In fact in the last one I was advised to leave Iran and take refuge in a safe place before "THEY" come to replace the present ruling system as I will be one of the first to be executed by them. And I wrote back "it will be an honor to sacrifice my life for my country, whether by the present ruling system or the next one." So now I don't know whether I should be "scared" of Islamic Republicans or Anti-Islamic Republicans!

Note: An incomplete version of this article was published on July 14.

... Payvand News - 7/29/03 ... --

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