Political Career in Iran?

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To say to someone to consider a political career in Iran is like saying to a newly wed couple to go for their honeymoon to Damascus or Sana’a!

The perils of pursuing a political career are not new in current Iran. I don’t remember during the Pahlavi regime anyone ever talking about a political career either. If the door to politics was not entirely closed no one knew where it was and how to enter it. The fact that no soul talked about getting involved in politics speaks volume about its exclusive and insidious nature of that time. People in my generation considered almost every possible career except in politics. There was a ‘political party’ and a parliament with ministers sitting in its chamber but it was merely a facade and as relevant to the general population as the monarchy themselves.  

Interestingly when the revolution started many wanted to carve out a political career for themselves. They saw the imaginary doors of politics open to them for the first time.  It was almost dizzying to keep up with people’s political ideas and leanings. They bombastically spoke of themselves as the chosen ones holding the key to a better society. The monarchy failed to see that Iranians had strong political instincts as any other nations and they only were waiting for the right opportunity to unleash their political visions.  Although the Mossadeq era was not far behind us the regime clearly chose to ignore peoples’  enthusiasm in wanting to have a say and be involved in their own affairs.

After 1979 the speed by which various political manifestations spread was faster than any plague. But the excitement was short-lived. As we gradually witnessed the annihilation of various political factions by the Islamists as Hezbollah and the revolutionary guards began to violently remove them one by one from the political scene.  

Strolling down memory lane to the streets of Tehran in 1977/78 (by those of us who were there)  one important word was often missing from all the slogans against the regime shouted by the demonstrators was “justice”. Was it because it didn’t rhyme as well with the other words like Islam, Islamic republic, Khomeini, freedom and Quran? Or was it because people had no clue what it meant?  I wonder how much resonance the word “justice” has even today among people who oppose IRI?

It was this lack of understanding of the word “justice” that people’s conscience did not get stirred to speak up against the political executions that the Islamists carried out immediately after they came to power, targeting the remnant of the ‘monarchists’. Nobody cried out for a fair trial, or punishment that matched their crime. It became clear that many of the executions were not about serving justice at all but eliminating threats against the Islamists in the future. But the barrel of the gun slowly turned and pointed at those who were cheering the executioners. Alas, it was only then that they realised what a terrible mistake it was to keep silent because they were next in line for they too could pose a threat to the Islamists’ hold on power. 

Justice is not a relative term. It should either apply to everyone or to no one at all. 

But why Iran after such a long history has not been able to grasp the full meaning of justice, citizenship and human rights?

For much of Iran’s history right up till now the structure of the society has been a pyramid shape. Power has always come down from the top. What distinguished the ancient Greeks from their archenemies, the Persians, was the way they viewed their government. Greeks were cynical toward authority, Persians devotional and trusting. Both societies had laws and rights but Greeks looked at people in authority as fallible human beings that if given too much power could turn them into tyrants and become self-serving and make grave mistakes.  Power, unfortunately, does have this inherent quality which is to corrupt if it goes unchecked. Persians perceived their kings as divine who could do no wrong.      

A political ploy the Islamists used in order to topple the monarchy was they were denied the right to participate in politics (see the photo).  But time has only proven that they are not interested in allowing any one else to participate in governing the country. The Iranian Green Movement back in 2009 showed that the ruling elite had no moral qualms to devour and eat their own fellow statesmen if they stepped out of line.  Hardly anything in the Islamic regime is as it seems and everything needs to be decoded in order to be fully comprehended. Why, because the power structure is highly engineered to ensure the survivor of a corrupt system that does not want to be accountable and scrutinised.   

z6yzjkol.jpg

Theocracy is not a new political system. Ancient Egypt and Tibetans had it. Byzantine Empire was a form of theocracy between A.D. 324-1453. The Islamic Caliphate was a Sunni version of theocracy that ruled for centuries.  There are also similarities between oligarchy (which was the Spartan system of government) and theocracy. 

During the period of democracy in Athens, the Greeks fought against the Persians and the Spartans in order to avoid giving absolute power to a few. Greek democracy by no means was perfect and had many flaws, for example, women were excluded from participating in politics, but,  nevertheless it was worth the experiment and proved that it can work as an alternative model where for the first time more people can vote (especially the poor) and debate their different perspectives on things. 

The reason Persian empire was so successful on the other hand it was for the autonomy they gave to their subjects to follow their native laws, speak their own language and keep their own customs. This policy was very attractive to those who were regularly trampled by the bigger and more powerful tribes, for example, the Jews. Persians gave all the nations under their jurisdiction equal protection. It is interesting to note the word satrap is from late Middle English: from Old French satrape or Latin satrapa, based on Old Persian kšathra-pāvan ‘country-protector’. 

But still, the power structure of the Persians was not transparent. The justice system took people’s grievances seriously but no one could challenge the status quo. The Achaemenid generosity and inclusiveness were their winning cards but the law (dāta) was given by Ahura Mazda and the king his representative.  This attitude placed the king and their laws beyond criticism.

The Athenian democracy and Persian empire were obliterated by the Macedonians and the world has experimented with many forms of political systems ever since.  Modern democracy is relatively very new in many countries. Trump’s era is making people doubt the effectiveness of their democratic system. But also it is the first time their institutions have been truly tested.  

History teaches us that power corrupts. Accountability is needed. And no one should be above the law and the same rule should apply to all if citizenship and participation in politics are to be upheld and promoted.   Many interesting ideas were born for the first time in  Athens and Persepolis. What didn’t work can be left behind and what did work can be carried forward and further tweaked.  

As far as justice (human rights)  and freedom are concerned Iran today has regressed much further back than when it started by Cyrus the Great more than 2500 years ago. Unless the pyramid shape of the political system is changed and the door to political participation at all levels of government is open to all,  the current political system will continue to imprison, torture and execute its citizens for simply wanting to participate and be active in their own affairs.



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19 comments

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ChamoshChamoshvnd ChamoshChamoshvnd (@ChamoshChamoshvnd) Pinned comment
Thanx for another gem of observations and (almost) treaties. There are so many topics mentioned here it would take a while to go over all of them.

!سیاست پدر, مادر نداره
Above saying, literally translated as: Politics has no father or mother!, is a common phrase in our vernacular. Not only it indicates the orphan statues for politics in our culture is also implies the bastardy, untidy side of it.
And of course as your own experience in Iran of late 70's indicated during Revolutionary Situations optimism dominates politics. The exception which proves the rule? Not necessarily.

The whole issue of our common non-comprehension of Universal values: Justice,...is a long, old, sad tail.
Very few individuals and groups condemned those early summery executions on top of that school, (I forget school's name) and even now application of Justice is still selective and non-existent.
Not sure to call it Ironic or Iranic, but it's noteworthy how in 1943 khomeini's supports monarchy as the only legitimate form of government, and labels it as 'the discovery of secrets!' Kashf al-Asrar!!


Athenian Democracy with all the limitations and flaws it might have had, and even after thousands of years still has significant relevance for our body politics, nationally in Iran, regionally in our neck of the woods as well as globally. See below:


A Study of Democracy in Ancient Greece Its Meaning for Today
www.marxists.org/archive/james-clr/works/1956/06/every-cook.htm


For a cursory look at slaves status in ancient Greek the comedies of Aristophanes are invaluable; especially "The Frogs." Curious to see if there's any recent studies on slavery in Greece.

Xanthias
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Ash Ash (@Ash) Pinned comment
That Iranians were devotional and loyal to authority is debatable, as is the claim that Kurosh-e Bozorg was driven by a desire to enshrine "human rights". It must be said that the history of ancient Iran is full of examples where Iranians stood up to abusive leaders. The Shahnameh too does not shy away from pointing out the imperfection of Iranian rulers. But in spite of its flaws, ancient Iranian monarchy was certainly less hypocritical than Athenian democracy in addition to being much more functional and just. It is only with the coming of Arabs, Turks, and Mongols that Iranian political culture declined.

Democracy is a form of government, not THE form of government. It works in some countries, but not in others. So an important question begs to be asked: Are the people fit to partake in democratic governance? It seems Iranians are not yet ready for democracy. The democratic form of government demands transparency, justice, sanctity of law, and cooperation between state and society as well as between competing political camps within the system. The modern history of Iran up till the present day proves that these elements are absent not only in the successive Iranian regimes, but also in the culture and society itself. Anyone who wishes for a short answer as to why Iran is a failed government and society should take a look at Iranian traffic and the chaotic scene will speak for itself. Besides, there is no Iranian political camp worthy of assuming power in the country once the mullahs are gone. The royalists are irrelevant, the Marxists are as bad as the Islamists, the nationalists are a miserable failure, the liberals are nothing but political apes, and the Islamists are on the way out. So who's there to inherent Iran?

The fact of the matter is that Iran and Iranians have unfortunately become dysfunctional due to several historical reasons, so much so that they don't even agree on what Iranian identity is. Need I mention the self-defeating belief in the Aryan Myth? The people are truly lost, and what was known as Iranian culture is barely surviving today and has become nearly mummified. What is worse is that many believe that after the fall of the IR the situation in the country would magically improve, but this misplaced belief ignores the reality that the IR is a product of Iranian society and culture, it doesn't exist in a vacuum. So unless unhealthy Iranian habits are changed, culture is reformed, the dysfunctional mentality is remedied, and the religion of the Arabs is ditched, Iran is never going to elevate itself to the dignified status it once had as a leading civilization.

The following paper is an excellent explanation for how Iran became the traumatized and dysfunctional nation it is today:
humandevelopment.doc.ic.ac.uk/papers/Mongols-8-3-13.pdf
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Parsa Parsa (@Parsa) replied to Ash (@Ash) Pinned comment
Thanks for your comments.
Iran is not the only country with the rocky past. Take Spain as one example its colonial history, anti Muslim and Jewish past and the presence of diverse ethnic groups with their own regional dialects all have contributed in making her transition to democracy difficult. But finally Spain made the necessary leap and put fascism behind it. ‘Since 1808 no political system has lasted a full fifty years’, a Spanish writer wrote. It was only in 1975 after Franco’s death that the country made the transition to democracy. And after she joined the EU in 1985 it opened up to the world. It had high participation of women in public life (even higher than Scandinavia). And the low level of birth rates which were offset by massive immigrations from South America and Africa in the 90s.

Italy only became unified in 1861. Rome became a capital in 1870. In 1946 an Italian republic is set up by popular vote and in 1984 Catholicism ceased to be the state religion. Today Italians identify more with their Catholic faith and football team than anything else and still struggle with many democratic processes.

As much as we think Iran had a turbulent modern history I can think of few more diabolic cases. Take Brazil for example. It was only in 1888 that slavery was abolished. Before that Portugal and Holland had colonised the place. Although Pedro II in 1889 set up a republic (constitutional democracy) it ended in 1930 by a military coup and became a dictatorship until 1945. Brazil had military rule from 1964 to 1985.

Why am I giving you all these examples just to say Iran is no different to many other countries and we should learn from the past and move on toward a better future. Iran still has a unique language and a rich treasury of literary works. It is a large and wealthy country with lots of creative and clever people. What Iran is lacking is leadership.

I tend to politely disagree with most of the conclusions made in the article you sent me but I will respond in due course.
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Parsa Parsa (@Parsa) replied to Ash (@Ash) Pinned comment
I disagree from the start with the hypothesis of Mr Edalat’s thesis which is continious “trauma” is related directly to one violent episode in history in medieval Iran. Iran has experienced more trauma since the coming of Islamic republic: a million soldiers killed in war, many came back with PTSD and a body part missing. Mass executions of political prisoners, moral and thought police surveying the populations. It’s ludicrous to blame what happened nearly a thousands years ago. It’s scapegoating and ultimate victimhood mentality. Doesn’t it make far more sense to write something about the wounds that are still fresh in the memory and the trauma which still very much prevalent today and we all know the causes? Beside there is no scientific evidence that trauma can transfer from one generation to the next let alone continues in 10 consecutive generations. If that is true then Iranians have always been traumatised and suffering from PTSD, because it’s always been one catastrophe after another.

One thing Mr Edalat has missed entirely in his mini thesis is the history of Crusades. Muslims killing the Christians or vice versa was a sanctified violence. And it wasn’t always between soldiers but more often than not women and children were slaughtered and entire villages were pillaged and destroyed. During the Mongol rule there was no partaking in the Crusades any more from the Iran side (which was mainly instigated by Baghdad and the Turkic rulers ). Many Khwarazm fleeing the Mongols joined the their Muslims brothers as mercenary against the Crusaders. During the Ilkhanate three main forces remained in the Middle East. The Christian West. Mamluks in Egypt and Ilkhanate in Persia. Ilkhanate and the Christian West were at peace with each other and did try to make a pack against the Mamluks but failed. There is a very interesting cover story in the reputable magazine, History Today about Halague and his efforts to join forces with the Christian West against the Mamluks which if they did world history will read very different today (www.historytoday.com/nicolas-kinloch/hulegu-mongol).

It was very hard to swallow for the Chinese, Arabs and Turks who thought of themselves as militarily and morally superior to everyone else to be defeated by nomadic tribes with no culture or ‘religion’. It was this harsh reality that they could not come to terms with. If the Mongols were Byzantinians or the Mamluks then they could have theologically make sense of what was happening, as everyone in those days being religious had to make sense of the world and what was happening in it. (Part 1)
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Parsa Parsa (@Parsa) replied to Ash (@Ash) Pinned comment
(Part 2)

Mr Edalat’s thesis also contains factual errors: one example,

“The breakdown of the Abbasid caliphate as nominal leaders of the Sunni population on the one hand and the historic role played by Shi’ism in the Iranian nationalist and liberation movements such as the Abu Muslim rebellion against the Arabs….”
First of all contrary to what we were taught at school that Abu Muslim was an Iranian it is highly unlikely that he was. There is no historical proof. The reason he was known as “Khorasani” doesn’t make him a native Iranian. During the Arab conquest of Iran many Arabs moved to the Iranian territories. It has been suggested that Abu Muslim was a freed slave who became a military leader. Secondly Edalat’s sentence deliberately or not misleads the reader, “Abu Muslim rebellion against the Arabs…” Abu Muslim helped establishing the Arab Caliphate by defeating the Umayads. So between two rival Arab clans he gave his military support to the Abbasids.

If someone writes about trauma they should also acknowledge the fact that during Khawarzmshah there were many wars and massacres. The Khwarazm ruled with an iron fist. It was a military rule and the local indigenous populations living under them were in constant fear and alienation as the Turkish soldiers controlled the environment.
The area that Mr Edalat is writing about needs far more research by scholars. It’s best to leave the ‘trauma’ out of it until more historical and unbiased facts are discovered and written about. For example, the sacking of Baghdad and destruction of the Abbasids Caliphate by Halague was not something that Halague wanted to do but gradually convinced by the Christians, Jews and the Shiites living under the Abbasids who were treated discriminatory? No tears were shed by them when the Caliphate was uprooted.

It is interesting to note both the names, Baghdad and Iraq are from Middle Persian but everyone associates them with the Arabs. The extent of Arabs taking over many parts of the Iranian culture and territory was huge. Iranians had no choice but to work with them and adopt their religion, customs etc… I don’t really think Iranian culture would have survived under the Arabs (Abbassids) and the Turks. There were no more local dynasties left. That’s my area of research I guess to try to prove and satisfy my own curiosity about yet another painful period in Iranian history.

Some further readings:
-Ghenghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford.
-The Mongol Empire : Genghis Khan, his heirs and the founding of modern China / John Man.
-The Mongols / by Robert Nicholson
-The rise and fall of the second largest empire in history : how Genghis Khan's Mongols almost conquered the world / Thomas J. Craughwell.
-The Mongols by David Morgan
-Medieval Persia by David Morgan
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Parsa Parsa (@Parsa) replied to Ash (@Ash) Pinned comment
This is an excerpt of a book (The Mongol Conquests in World History by Timothy May) reviewed by Peter Jackson whom Mr Edalat had consulted:

"Much of May’s book is concerned with the Mongol impact on the diffusion of ideas, technology, raw materials and manufactures, which he terms ‘the Chinggis Exchange’. The unification of much of Eurasia under a single imperial regime considerably eased long-distance communications across this vast region and reduced the costs and hazards of trade and travel. For a century or so after 1240 merchants, missionaries and adventurers from western Europe were able to reach the Far East and those who returned brought back new ideas and techniques. Far from exercising the passive role often imputed to the nomads Mongol rulers actively encouraged these exchanges and orchestrated the transfer of skilled personnel and material goods. This persisted even after the fragmentation of the united empire into four independent and often hostile states (c.1260).

Especially pivotal in this context were the close political ties between the Ilkhans (ruling Iran and Iraq) and the Great Khans (reigning over China as the Yüan dynasty), whose dominions together embraced the two culturally most advanced areas of the Old World – the Chinese and the Perso-Islamic. We thus find, for instance, Chinese medicine and cuisine betraying Middle Eastern influences and the motifs and techniques of Chinese art imported into Persian miniature painting. Symptomatic are the works composed under the aegis of the Ilkhans’ minister Rashid al-Din, who wrote treatises on agronomy and medicine that drew partly on Chinese expertise and whose universal chronicle, Jami‛ al-tawarikh (c.1303), comprised histories not only of the Mongols but also of China, India, the Jews, the Armenians and Catholic Europe (‘the Franks’). Without the Mongol conquests such a project would have been unthinkable.

This is a far cry from the popular image of the Mongols as merely the agents of depopulation and devastation. Yet the negative aspects of Mongol expansion are not played down. While the movement of bodies of skilled craftsmen and larger population groups across vast regions of Asia may have contributed to the ‘Chinggis Exchange’ it was usually involuntary and occasioned great suffering. May further endorses the view that the Mongols inadvertently made possible the emergence and spread of the Black Death, an event which perhaps did more than the collapse of the Ilkhanate and the Yüan to bring to an end the world system they had created. Their legacy in the military sphere also included the transmission of gunpowder technology from China to Europe and, in the much longer term, efforts to replicate the mobility and striking power of Mongol strategy during the 20th century.
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Parsa Parsa (@Parsa) replied to Ash (@Ash) Pinned comment
This is an interesting entery in Wikipadia on the History of Masshad and Shiraz:
Masshad:
Mongolian invasion: Ilkhanates[edit]
Although some believe that after this event, the city was called Mashhad al-Ridha (the place of martyrdom of al-Ridha), it seems that Mashhad, as a place-name, first appears in al-Maqdisi, i.e. in the last third of the 10th century. About the middle of the 14th century, the traveller Ibn Battuta uses the expression "town of Mashhad al-Rida". Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the name Nuqan, which is still found on coins in the first half of the 14th century under the Il-Khanids, seems to have been gradually ousted by al-Mashhad or Mashhad.[citation needed]
Terken Khatun, Empress of the Khwarazmian Empire, known as "the Queen of the Turks", held captive by Mongol army.
Shias started visiting there for pilgrimage of his grave. By the end of the 9th century, a dome was built on the grave and many buildings and bazaars sprang up around it. During more than a millennium it has been devastated and reconstructed several times.[10] In 1161 however, the Ghuzz Turks succeeded in taking the place, but they spared the sacred area in their pillaging.[citation needed] It was not considered a great city until Mongol raids in 1220, which caused the destruction of many large cities in Khurasan, leaving Mashhad relatively intact in the hands of Mongolian commanders because of the cemetery of Ali Al-Rezza and Harun al-Rashid (the latter was stolen).[11] Thus the survivors of the massacres migrated to Mashhad.[12] The only well-known food in Mashhad, "sholeh Mashhadi" (شله مشهدی) or "Sholeh", dates back to the era of the Mongolian invasion when it is thought to be cooked with any food available (the main ingredients are meat, grains and abundant spices) and be a Mongolian word.[13][14] When the traveller Ibn Battuta visited the town in 1333, he reported that it was a large town with abundant fruit trees, streams and mills. A great dome of elegant construction surmounts the noble mausoleum, the walls being decorated with colored tiles.

Shiraz:
The city was spared destruction by the invading Mongols, when its local ruler offered tributes and submission to Genghis Khan. Shiraz was again spared by Tamerlane, when in 1382 the local monarch, Shah Shoja agreed to submit to the invader.[15] In the 13th century, Shiraz became a leading center of the arts and letters, thanks to the encouragement of its ruler and the presence of many Persian scholars and artists. For this reason the city was named by classical geographers Dar al-‘Elm, the House of Knowledge.[16] Among the Iranian poets, mystics and philosophers born in Shiraz were the poets Sa'di[17] and Hafiz,[18] the mystic Roozbehan, and the philosopher Mulla Sadra.[19] Thus Shiraz has been nicknamed "The Athens of Iran".[20] As early as the 11th century, several hundred thousand people inhabited Shiraz.[21] In the 14th century Shiraz had sixty thousand inhabitants.[22].
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Parsa Parsa (@Parsa) replied to Ash (@Ash) Pinned comment
An interesting article about Tabriz under the Mongols:
www.thearwh.org/journal/arwh_1-2_prazniak.pdf
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Ash Ash (@Ash) replied to Parsa (@Parsa) Pinned comment
Thank you for taking the time to write a lengthy response.

Some disagreements.

Comparing Iran to other nations seems very problematic, since Iran is an exceptional nation that exists in a unique context. It is certainly inspiring that some countries managed to elevate themselves, though it is doubtful that this is an indication that Iran can follow suit, given the multitude of problems plaguing the nation.

I believe the purpose of Mr. Edalat's study is to highlight the negative impact of the Mongols in particular rather than making a political statement or blaming the Mongols in order to feed a misplaced victimhood mentality. Academic studies are required to be precise and specific, so mentioning the traumatic atrocities of the Islamic regime and Iran-Iraq War in that paper would have been an unnecessary digression.

It should be remembered that there has been a trend in Western academia whereby scholars are trying to rehabilitate the Mongols and downplay their atrocious crimes. The usual argument given by such apologetic Western scholars is that the Mongol invasion connected East and West through sheer terror and caused great transfer of art, knowledge, and technology which led to the progress of the known world. But what these Western apologists turn a blind eye to is the catastrophic effects of the Mongol conquests on the affected civilizations. Tens of millions perished, millions of women raped. infrastructure and knowledge centers destroyed, numerous cities wiped off the map, massive depopulation and environmental degradation, large-scale de-urbanization and nomadization in addition to huge brain-drain caused by deportation of talented people to cities outside of Iran (though Tabriz and Shiraz seem to have enjoyed an inconsequential honeymoon after the Mongol conquest).

We Iranians gained nothing and lost quite a lot under Mongol rule, but to the aforementioned Western scholars, these atrocities are nothing to regret, since they enabled the irreversible decline of "other" civilizations and the absolute sky-rocketing of European progress and development accelerated by the eventual discovery of the New World. The Mongols did the dirty work for Europeans and eliminated their competition, this is the reason why they are admired by some morally questionable individuals in the West today. To the West currently enjoying the fruits of progress and development, the Mongols were a force for good, but to us they were naturally quite the opposite.

(Continued in the second reply.)
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Parsa Parsa (@Parsa) replied to Ash (@Ash) Pinned comment
Perhaps more disagreements:

Mongols were just like other conquerors, we should not put them in a too hard basket. When it comes to Iran my own little research shows province to province was treated differently under them. Unless we look at everything very closely we fall into the trap of looking at everything in a negative way. Most historians are in agreement on “a few positives, that mainly came after the initial conquest, global trade, a more thought provoking analysis on history, and national unity” .

Just as the Iranians during the Sassasnids viewed the world one which Ahura Mazda created and the other Ahriman, Iranians became even more fanatical under that Arabs, in their new Sunni faith. The effect of Mongols on the Islamic civilisation was massive. It shook their world view more than anything else. And thank God for that. “In Islamic thought the world could be divided into two, the dar al-islam (the House of Islam) where Islam ruled and the dar al-harb (the House of Strife/War) where non-Muslims ruled. A popular idea was that the dar al-islam would slowly and inevitably encompass the world.” Regrettably sometimes it has to take a few tragic experiences to shatter our delusions. The Nazis also were scientifically very advanced but had a sick view of the world. IRI is no better today with their fanatical interpretation of Islam which they are forcing down peoples' throat.

Let’s not forget China was part of the Mongol empire as well. Look where China is today and who knows where it will be tomorrow. Comparison of Iran and China is more beneficial than Iran (backward) and the West (advanced because Mongols…) The Chinese historians were also very negative about the Mongols but here are some of the positives in the Chinese political realm as the result of Mongol conquest that they became to acknowledge only later:

In southern Song period China was relatively dis-unified
Mongols re-united China. 
They brought experts from Middle East, Central Asia to administer China. 
They did a census for tax collection purposes. 
They re-districted provinces, put under control of governors and increased central control. 


We cannot rewrite history but hopefully we can learn from history so we could prevent the cycle of ignorance.
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Ash Ash (@Ash) replied to Parsa (@Parsa) Pinned comment
Of course, the Mongols did not treat every province in the country the same way, but when looking at the universally unprecedented criminal record of the Mongol invaders and its long-term consequences it becomes very hard to think of them as similar to other conquerors. The effect of the Mongol conquest has been compared to that of multiple nuclear explosions. This should make it easy to realize that the Mongol invasion was a unique event which radically mutilated the world beyond recognition, and that the civilization that has suffered the most from this is Iran (especially the eastern Iranian world), not even China. Therefore it is difficult to overlook the overwhelming suffering our people went through when the Mongols arrived, especially since the negative aspects of the Mongol catastrophe far outweigh its negligible positive aspects.

It is questionable that the Mongols transformed and improved the Sunni Islamic view of the world. Quite the contrary in fact, the Muslim world view survived the Mongol invasion. The traditional Islamic Jihadist fanaticism of the Safavids, Ottomans, and Mughals are proof that the Mongols did very little to transform Islamic universalist ideology. Worse, the Mongol practice of wholesale murder and destruction became standard policy of Muslim rulers from Shah Ismael and the early Mughal emperors all the way to Nader Shah and Agha Mohammad Khan. Additionally, Muslims became backward and much more strict, so much so that religious fundamentalism triumphed over intellectual and philosophical inquiry that had characterized the previous centuries before the Mongols.

All of this serves the argument that the Mongol invasion was a unique catastrophe, particularly for Iran. Hence, the accumulative effect of numerous Iranian tragedies on top of which the Mongol invasion being the cause of the present national dysfunction in the country that I brought up earlier.
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Parsa Parsa (@Parsa) replied to Ash (@Ash) Pinned comment
It is interesting to understand the influences of Mongol on Islam as they gradually converted to Islam. But what we know for sure is the artistic expressions flourished. The following paragraph is by Suzan Yalman
Department of Education, The Metropolitan Museum of Art at MET:

“Although Mongol conquests initially brought devastation and affected the balance of artistic production, in a short period of time, the control of most of Asia by the Mongols—the so-called Pax Mongolica—created an environment of tremendous cultural exchange. Following the conversion to Islam of the Il-Khan Ghazan (r. 1295–1304) in 1295 and the establishment of his active cultural policy in support of his new religion, Islamic art flourished once again. East Asian elements absorbed into the existing Perso-Islamic repertoire created a new artistic vocabulary, one that was emulated from Anatolia to India, profoundly affecting artistic production.

During the Ilkhanid period, the decorative arts—textiles, pottery, metalwork, jewelry, and manuscript illumination and illustration—continued along and further developed established lines. The arts of the book, however, including illuminated and illustrated manuscripts of religious and secular texts, became a major focus of artistic production. Baghdad became an important center once again. In illustration, new ideas and motifs were introduced into the repertoire of the Muslim artist, including an altered and more Chinese depiction of pictorial space, as well as motifs such as lotuses and peonies, cloud bands, and dragons and phoenixes. Popular subjects, also sponsored by the court, included well-known stories such as the Shahnama (Book of Kings), the famous Persian epic. Furthermore, the widespread use of paper and textiles also enabled new designs to be readily transferred from one medium to another.
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Ash Ash (@Ash) replied to Parsa (@Parsa) Pinned comment
This seems very insignificent and short-term when contextualized within the grand scheme of things over longer periods of time. This accidental and limited flourishing of the arts neither healed the deep wound inflicted by the Mongol invasion nor did it save Iran from the path of terminal decline to which the Mongols had already condemned it to.
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Ash Ash (@Ash) replied to Parsa (@Parsa) Pinned comment
The Mongols were truly unmatched in their atrocious treatment of Iran and Iranians. Nonetheless, it should be acknowledged that they were not the only ones who traumatized Iran. The Macedonians, Arabs, Turks, Safavids, Afghans, Afsharids, and even the Russians and the British committed their shares of atrocities in country. The Pahlavi and Islamic regimes have made their own contribution too. As you said, one catastrophe after another. This is actually a proof that Iran is indeed an exceptionally traumatized nation where the negative effects of numerous past traumas are embedded within the culture. One relatively recent example of such national traumatization is the Iranian intoxication with Western culture and the people's tendency to mimic the West even in the most trivial of things. This an indirect result of the Iranian traumatic encounter with Europe in the 19th when Iran was humbled by the might of the European empires of Russia and Britain. That historical experience left the Iranian people with a shattered confidence and low self-esteem. The resulting inferiority-complex relative to Farang has survived to the present day and it is also the reason why the Aryan Myth has persisted in Iran in spite of being completely discredited in the West, which is an evidence that traumatization and subsequent dysfunction can indeed be inherited from one generation by another via culture (and probably genes too) which acts as the vehicle for such inheritance.

I'm not suggesting that each and every Iranian is suffering from PTSD. Rather, I'm pointing out that Iranian culture today is an accumulation of past thoughts and experiences, some of which traumatic, and that the Iranian psyche is therefore naturally scarred, which leads to the conclusion that the people themselves are dysfunctional as a result.
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ayatoilet ayatoilet (@ayatoilet) Pinned comment
There is a major point that is completely lost in your blog. Its fundamental. Do people manage systems or do systems manage people? If a system is properly established then all people have to follow it. Usually companies, societies, nations etc. die because of systemic failures. People are all greedy, jealous, self-interested etc. If there isn't a proper system - everything turns chaotic. Systems maintain order. Yes, some societies have educational (policing and cultural) systems that inherently create ordered systems, others are chaotic. You get a spectrum from Japan to Rwanda! Incompetent leadership uses 'dictatorship' to enforce discipline and it works for some 'short' periods of time, but it doesn't resolve underlying systemic problems. Systems work best when they are self-regulating by those that participate. What makes the U.S. work, for example, despite a disparity of people is the system of checks and balances established by its founders - in many different dimensions. Yes, there are three equal branches of government. The President is balanced by Congress and then Supreme Court. That was by design. BUT there are other counter woven elements to the system. For example, the balance between Federal and State governance. This week the feds asked for voter data from states. The states turned back and told Trump to 'jump in the gulf of Mexico' (from the Attorney General of a Republican state Mississippi). Bottom line its the system that DOES NOT ALLOW someone to impose their will, and dictate. You are forced to SELL (your views, in the market place of ideas) versus TELL (others what to do, i.e. monopolize the market). Note: voting systems are kept independent in most states (unlike Iran). The same happens in the U.K, where the house of commons is balanced by the lords, and then the queen ... who technically can dissolve parliament. I could go on and on. It is NOT that people are any less dictatorial in these countries, but they have systems (and protections) that create balances of power. Everyone is forced to talk, discuss, compromise. YOU CAN NOT DICTATE. Your blog (above) is somewhat naïve and immature. You totally neglect the value of systems and their importance. Really sage management, focuses on systems, and creates balances. I have witnessed many failures, only to understand they were systemic. Iranians are no different to anyone else!! Iran today, actually does have a 'theocratic' system - that is bad, but better than some of the neighboring countries. Iran has bee an oasis of stability in a region rife with War. The Mullahs have at least kept the country together. But the system, can and should be improved. The key, is to make sure the electoral systems are independent, voting systems are robust, not controlled by the theocracy. Not enough attention is spent on understanding systems in Iranian culture. Sage, wise, and truly committed leadership - creates, improves, guards and protects 'operating' systems.
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Dakho Dakho (@Dakho) replied to ayatoilet (@ayatoilet) Pinned comment
Ayati jan you seem to be essentializing our people and our culture, whereas the whole point of this essay (at least I thought) was that different periods and different circumstances creates different sentiments, unusual reactions and novel outcomes and results.
You also seem to have forgotten that mullahs' "stability" is achieved by pushing half our population below the poverty line, treating Iranian women as second class citizens, massacring thousands of dissidents and a slow motion, nation-wide environmental catastrophe. They just declared that Water in Islamic State of Iran has become a "security threat."
Alas Khuzestan is the microcosm of what we shall be witnessing in the rest of Iran, in the near future.
This is not stability, this is living on top of a gunpowder keg, about to be blown up.
The next internal social explosion in Iran will make 1979 look like child's play.


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ayatoilet ayatoilet (@ayatoilet) replied to Dakho (@Dakho) Pinned comment
Dakho jan: I respectfully disagree with you. People have been saying what you are saying for over 40 years. (1) Good, bad or indifferent, the Mullahs have stayed in power longer than many of their Iranian and regional rivals: The Shah, Saddam Hussein, Taliban etc. (2) Poverty etc. is a function of Iran's overall ability to trade - which if you consider the impact of the Iran-Iraq war, sanctions etc. - has actually led to a pretty robust, more diverse Iranian economy. Iran has NO external debt - zero!! Iranians (ordinary Iranians) have sovereign debt, which actually makes them richer than for example the Irish (each and everyone of them that are saddled with a $700,000 debt the very day they are born because of their countries national debt. You have to look at the whole picture. (3) Iran actually has more women in universities than men. Talk of Iranian women being second class citizens is sort of weird, compared to these great wealthy nations like UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar ... I'm not saying there isn't room for improvement, I'm just saying objective analysis would imply that there are 'some systems' in Iran. Its not a zero. And like I said, there is room for many more systems and many more improvements in the systems they do have. Outcomes are functions of they systems. Systems are established by leadership. It is blogs like this (the one above) that create an impression that Iranians are somehow inferior, or lower grade.... when in fact, its not the people of Iran that are better or worse than say Americans, its the systems they live within that are inferior. But Iran does have some systems, and some of them have had good outcomes, but overall the systems are inferior to more advanced countries (with better systems). Finally, I am not sure that your speculation of what will happen in Iran is accurate. I don't want it to be. I used to say and predict the same things many years ago, I am now a firm believer that Iran needs slow, gradual reform ... and that another revolution would not actually help... Iran would be torn apart. Not good. Systems have to be improved from within, not by an outside force coming in. Western involvement in the region has not been value added. The west hasn't really established systems in Iraq or Afghanistan that can endure, and improve those countries - and put in place poor leadership to rebuild those nations. Its been a debacle. We don't want that for Iran. (And by the way, the MEK/MKO/PMOI/NCRI/MONKEYS can keep their defunct bankrupt, disloyal, loser leadership (and systems) in Albania where they belong.)
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Parsa Parsa (@Parsa) replied to ayatoilet (@ayatoilet) Pinned comment
Systems are setup by people:

Political instinct does not belong to a particular group unless a group excludes others from being politically active. The model of exclusion, regardless of what is called, is a model that organised crime syndicate use. Monopolising the political realm for the benefit of the few.

I think it is an illusion to think we are more secure than our neighbours. The reason for that is Iranians are killed in bulks. Instead of hearing about terrorists attack every month where 30 or 40 people die, there are mass executions instead. And then nothing. Then war in Syria, Yemen, Iraq where IRI has taken an active part and God knows how many Iranians die in those battles which seem to be going on forever.

If Iranian people made a decision about their foreign policy they would rather be peacemakers than war makers. If they had the freedom to vote for a better political system they would rather vote for a political system where every parent, wishes their son or daughter all the best in their political career, whether he or she is a Muslim or not.

Patting the mullahs on the back because they have a better ‘system’ than their neighbours is being complicit in their crime against the Iranian people.

Human rights abuses in Iran have been well documented by Amnesty and UN. Numbers don’t lie.

Why do you want a have a fairer, independent voting system in Iran under the current setup, in case one mullah/fanatic cheats the other mullah/fanatic out of his votes?!?
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ayatoilet ayatoilet (@ayatoilet) replied to Parsa (@Parsa) Pinned comment
Parsa-jan: One brief comment to your reply. Systems are NOT set up by people, (ordinary citizens) but by leadership (political elite). Always. People participating in the systems (ordinary citizens) almost always follow through and function within the system. And, illusion or not, its a simple fact that the Mullahs have outlasted their predecessor systems with holding onto power for close to 40 years now. The outcomes speak for themselves. No need for debate. They outlasted Saddam, they outlasted the Taliban ... And, even overcame massive odds and resource imbalances in the Iran-Iraq war, without an Airforce etc. Part of their success was the creation of a different military system, with employment of militia forces (Basij) - and parallel military in the form of IRGC (Pasdars), which together kept the 'regular' military in check and provided an asymmetric dimension to their warfare - which was very difficult to beat. They applied that same military system now in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria... with huge militia forces fighting ISIS for example (successfully). I agree with your comments about human rights abuses mass killings etc. I am not supporting the system(s) in Iran, I am just saying Iran does have systems, and for sure, they are not great systems, (inferior systems to U.S. say), but never-the-less it has some 'order' - some 'systems' that have maintained the Mullahs in power for close to 40 years. Great countries, companies, etc. have great systems, (created by great leadership), not necessarily great rank and file people, The systems often generate more great leaders, and have 'people' development components to constantly create more great leaders... Look at GE's management development programs, or Look at Football (Soccer) academies in great clubs in Europe ... different (meritocracy) environments, but constant development (or production) of superstars.... out of ordinary 'human' environments. Interestingly, the U.S. with all its great systems, and money, can't seem to generate great soccer stars, because its soccer systems are all screwed up. Silly politics in its soccer federation, poor leadership, etc. Its all about systems.
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