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There is one message totalling 394 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Failure of Parliament Arianist System Gave Rise to Establishment of
Autocracy i


Date: Sun, 19 Mar 2000 23:41:36 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Failure of Parliament Arianist System Gave Rise to Establishment of
Autocracy i

Failure of Parliament Arianist System Gave Rise to Establishment of Autocracy
in Iranian Society for Several Decades
Iranvij (Morning Daily)
Saturday, Feb. 19, 2000, No. 140
By: Nafiseh Bonakdar
Page: 5
Word Count: 3328

Summary: Before the 1979 Revolution, the parliament arianist system in Iran
did not accept any form of plurality of power and the country was run under a
centralized power. But after the revolution, Iran achieved a real parliament
arianist system. Dr. Mohammad Reza Tajik, prominent Iranian researchers, in
an interview, describes the features of the parliament arianist system in

Text: Dr. Mohammad Reza Tajik is middle aged and at the height of maturity.
He is hard working, which is obvious from his activities. He received his
bachelor of arts in political science from the University of Tehran. He has
two master degrees, one in international relations from the University of
Tehran and the second one in political theories from England. Dr. Tajik has
also got his Ph.d from the famous Essex University in political theories. He
as a teacher of economics and political science at Shahid Beheshti University
answers the new questions in the political arena of Iran. In addition to
enjoying a scientific fame in the university, Dr. Tajik is also knowledgeable
in journalism. He has the license for Gofteman (Discourse) publication and he
is the editor in chief and license holder of the Political and International
Policies quarterly.

Q: Please, explain the particulars and formation phases of a parliament
arianist system and also tell us how various Iranian social forces have
contributed to the strength or weakness of this system?

A: Only those systems and societies that have accepted the principle of
pluralism can enjoy a parliament arianist system. If we decide to speak in a
special scientific way, we must say that this civil society has attained some
sort of modernism. People with their variety and plurality have accepted some
sort of regulation and discipline. These regulations are made and expressed
by their own representatives. So, the society is given an order. Naturally,
the parliament arianist system is the kind in which an indirect democracy is
enforced. The presuppositions and preliminary theories are that we must
accept the fact that society like a theme is a combination of many components
and in this theme there are many compromises. In this manner, people are able
to express their views and must have a share in drawing up the picture of
their future and their ideal society.

About a hundred years ago when the idea of a parliament arianist regime took
shape in the society, intellectuals such as Talbof, Akhoudzadeh, and Malkom
Khan put forward the idea of the parliament, they had discussions regarding
the law, democracy, councils and separation of forces as well as the
appearances of a civil society, the reasons, justifications and concepts
which they had employed were not of domestic origin and had not been able to
find domestic examples. Naturally, these thoughts instead of turning into
peaceful, challenging and regulated atmosphere, changed into a kind of
factionalism, secular tendencies and in fact totalitarianism. That is to say
the proponents of parliament arianism and democracy in the country brought up
a sort of autocratic monologue, which they would stress even though they
showed their allegiances to pluralism, but they believed this pluralism
should come from within. This would mean that anybody who finds himself among
the many is considered to be a friend, can think freely and have a political
challenge in that atmosphere. However, those individuals who were placed
outside that framework, would receive less acceptability.

In this manner our country was always suffering from political culture. This
was true both among the intellectuals of the country, who were in favor of a
parliament arianist regime and the proponents of political parties and
partisan tendencies. It was because of this that during the constitutional
movement, we see the first parliament in Iran; however the lives of these
parliaments were very short and full of tension. That is to say from the very
beginning the parliament was the center for the growth of parties and the
challenge of different factions. The only thing that was overlooked was the
national problems and interests and the objectives thereof. Every political
party and group would promote its own objectives to national level so that
they could turn Majlis into a place to derive their own objectives out of it.
Therefore, political parties such as Ejtemaiyoun (socialists) and Etedaliyoun
(moderates), who were active on those days, actually shortened the life of
the Majlis and those of their own. They also cut the ground from under the
Constitutional Revolution. It didn't take long for the leaders of the
Constitutional Revolution to uproot the sapling they had planted by their own
hands through factionalism, as well as group and secular interest seeking.
That is why we did not have a good head start in a parliament arianist
system. It was because of this very failure in the parliament arianist system
that the autocratic establishment came to power and thrived for many decades
in the Iranian society. They failed to help democracy to come true and also
institutionalize parliamentarian culture in the society.

Naturally, the way was paved for the Pahlavi autocratic rule up to 1979. All
through this long period we had to deal with a rubber-stamp parliament. After
1941 some sort of defective democracy was established in the country. Because
of some specific international circumstances, a number of short-lived
parliaments were formed. These Majlises only served the purpose of creating a
suitable place for factional and secular groups to challenge one another.

In 1953, a new era began in the Iranian history. The period of halfhearted
parliamentarian system came to an end and we stepped into a full autocratic
system. During this period whatever Majlis was formed, the representatives
were either appointed or the whole Majlis was a rubber-stamp one. This trend
continued up to 1979, however, afterwards efforts were made to form a
parliament arianist system on the premise of republicanism, councils and
Islamic norms in the society. In spite of the aforementioned blessing for the
people regarding a parliament or Majlis, the prevalent culture of the
country's political elites began to gradually reveal its own true face and
thus the Majlis was not left immune to factional and secular challenges. All
through the first five Majlises these challenges continued to be present. Of
course in early years of the revolution because of its own special
circumstances up to the time when the war started and during the rule of Imam
(Khomeini) these challenges were not so obvious, however, they began to
intensify in later parliaments. The situation has become so bad as to make
the present Majlis a place for factional and partisan policies and the
national interests and objectives suffer the most.

Q: With reference to your talks, political skirmishes and bickering have
always affected the Majlis performances both before and after the Revolution?

A: At a time when the Majlis was functioning actively, political currents
have mostly been affecting its performance, and when the Majlis was in the
form of rubber-stamp, there existed a government owned Majlis just like
government owned political parties. However, when there was a halfhearted
freedom prevailing over the Majlis, political problems were influential on
Majlis performances. We notice that after 1941, our Majlis, because of its
parliamentarianist ways and strategies, was the playground of the Tudeh Party
(Iranian Soviet backed Communist Party). The situation was so bad that the
Tudeh Party managed to send 8 representatives to the Majlis during the
premiership of Qavam-ol Saltaneh. They also succeeded to take hold of some
very sensitive spots in the Majlis.

So the performances of the Majlis were in this manner since political
circles' inclinations were found to be diversified. Even during the years
before the Revolution, from 1941 to 1951, it was well obvious that the Majlis
was in practice a form of playground for the politicking of powerful and
influential countries. These powerful countries were able to manipulate the
sympathetic Majlis representatives to realize their objectives. So during the
modern and contemporary times in Iran, we have always been afflicted with
this malady. Well of course the Majlis should benefit from a political
identity which is inevitable, however, there is also another assumption that
the Majlis should also possess a national identity as well. This national
identity of the Majlis and the objectives and tendencies of the Majlis
representatives supersede their individual, group and partisan inclinations
and the people of a society cast their ballots in favor of a representative
on this premise. As a result of this, a Majlis representative (MP) would
react in many different ways during the process of decision making, but he
has to look at the national inclinations more closely than his own factional
tendencies. As a matter of fact all parliaments, both before and after the
Revolution, hardly paid any attention to this important issue. Only during
early time in the post-Revolution parliaments, things seemed to be a little
different but for the time being and under the present circumstances national
priorities are of little importance.

Q: Please, tell us the difference between an administrative regime and a
parliamentarianist system?

A: An administrative regime translates into the system of the ruling power
and is in fact a system in which power is concentrated on a single person.
According to Belair's interpretation, an administrative regime is a sort of
paternalistic regime or a Bonapartistic regime. However, in political
literature the term refers to a regime similar in form to that in the United
States. In this form of government there exists a parliament and a congress
but the authority of the president in many legal ways is above the authority
of the congress. Of course in our country, the administrative regime is not
the same as that in the U.S. and there are no special privileges for the
president. However, there seem to be some reasons that the country's laws
bestow some of this authority to the Velayat-e Faqih and as such our country
contains some sort of administrative system. The fact is that the laws have
bestowed certain rights to Velayat-e Faqih, however, his authority and
limitations have also been specified. It is here that different
interpretations come into being. One such interpretation is whether Velayat-e
Faqih is above the law or his duties are defined in the framework of the law.
The main question is whether Velayat-e Faqih is within the law or above the

Q: Where is the Iranian political regime, and Velayat-e Faqih placed in these

A: What is definite is the fact that the framework for duties and the
hierarchy of power and authority in the society have been determined by the
law. However, there are times when the law asserts that the leadership of the
country can act above the law and such a thing has not been asserted in the
country's laws; nonetheless, in different readings of the jurisprudence and
religion, the absolute guardian can act above the law, but what has been
enumerated in our law does not assert this. It is therefore preferred that
the first reading of the law be taken as true. We therefore disregard the
underlying features of different readings of the law since the reading that
puts forward the obvious layer of the law is the one that all individuals are
considered equal before the law. Then everybody's scope of duties is
determined within the law and there is no one above the law and everybody is
within the law. It would suffice to say that a parliamentarianist regime is
based on the votes of the people. On the other hand, if we use these
definitions the system ruling in our country is a parliamentarianist
republic, which goes to say that the republican regime is founded on the
premise of councils, Majlis, representation and people's votes.

Q: The parliamentarianist regime in Iran is believed to be an assembled and
imported system. What do you think the side-effects and repercussions of this
assembled parliamentarianist regime have been on the development trend after

A: The interpretation used in this case is an amalgamated definition and an
intertwining definition. Naturally the definition of our parliamentarianist
proponents with those intellectuals who have started the definition based on
parliamentarianist regime in Iran is murky and amalgamated, in such a way
that they have tried to have a compilation of the Western definition, while
larding it. Naturally this definition would neither conform with this
society's culture and norms nor would it find any meaning in the modernized
world or Western definition. So the definition changes its nature while it is
passing from the Western version and arrives in the Iranian society's
version. That is because our society, from cultural, social, religious and
value points of view, is not ready to accept and include the
parliamentarianist regime in its own definition with all its requirements
which find a meaning in the Western definition. Consequently we have always
been afflicted with an amalgamated definition.

Meanwhile, the first step to democracy is institutionalization of democracy
in such a way that a society should be able to accept democracy and a
parliamentarianist system or even accept a socialist or Marxist regime for
that matter. If the society is unable to do this or its culture rejects it,
naturally there would be challenges, just like the challenge that brought
down the Pahlavi regime. The Pahlavi regime tried to make people accept a
Western regime in our society without first making provision for its culture.
The friction between the society's culture and the regime that the Pahlavi
regime was trying to install brought about a change in the society and gave
rise to the Revolution. If we want to have democracy and parliamentarianism,
the regime would contain a native meaning and at the same time it must be
institutionalized in the society for the people to accept it and give it

Q: What do you think would be the solution for the acceptance of a
parliamentarianist regime?

A: We concede the fact that different definitions are interactive and
influence each other and we can not isolate them from one another. So whether
we like it or not we will become familiar with the culture of democracy and
parliamentarianism but we should take into account the question as to whether
we will have an active behavior and creative thinking or we will confront it
only reactively. Here we must say that we haven't done the former but these
vibrations have alienated us from ourselves and did not brought us back to
ourselves, so the only solution was to shed from ourselves whatever was
remaining from the past. We did not try to accept the principles. We only
made superficial changes.

Q: What sort of influence have the political, economic, social and cultural
structures of Iran had on the formation of a parliamentarianist regime in
this country?

A: The socio-political regime of our society up until the Revolution was a
sort of patrimonialistic or neo-patrimonialistic, in such a way that the
power was wholly centralized or if there was some kind of plurality of
wielding power it was vertical and not horizontal. The kind of society based
on patrimonialism would not allow any plurality of wielding power so we have
a sort of centralized power called Loitan according to Hobbs and our society
had such a feature. Such a society would not accept a parliamentarianist
regime since the aforementioned type of government leaves a deep effect on
the society and then the king is called the shadow of God in this system.

This autocratic culture leaves an impact on the society which can be seen by
the relations between the members of a family, student and teacher, employer
and employee and the leader of a political party and member of that party. In
fact underneath our plural slogans there is an intensely monologue hiding,
which means in the back of our civil society there exist a highly autocratic
society. This sort of society creates the insiders and the outsiders and any
discussion of democratic regime here would end up in changing into
totalitarianism, and monologue in the society.

Q: What do you think the differences are between the parliamentarianist
systems before and after the Revolution?

A: During the Pahlavi regime, there was not such a thing as Majlis because of
patrimonialism. According to the Shah he introduced the white Revolution in
1960 to stop the red Revolution from taking shape. He even permitted the
creation of the government political parties in order to open up the
political climate and stop hidden radical groups. So none of them had a true
identity. After the Revolution, we can not say that our Majlis is an
appointed one since people chose their own representatives.

On the other hand we can say that after the Revolution we have seen the
distribution of power. Imam Khomeini did his best to stop the centralization
of power. The Imam would allow the power centers to grow and reach maturity
so that they would be able to make decisions. Their decisions could have been
wrong but the Imam would allow them to grow more and reach maturity. That is
why we have had plurality in centers of power throughout the body of the

Q: Has Iran been successful in passing from monarchist regime to arrive at a
parliament arianist regime?

A: We did not have a politicking experience and our parliament arianist
regime took up a trend completely different from what was exercised in the
Western society. In Western societies the cultural circumstances are first
created and then a parliamentarian regime based on political parties takes
shape, but in our society such circumstances do not take form since the idea
is imported. We have tried to have a democratic regime after the Revolution
and one aspect of this democratic regime has been a parliamentarian system.
But the fact is that our society has not yet experienced those circumstances
that allow a society to enjoy a civil society. So after the Revolution we
have had some sort of ill defined democracy. We have moved toward democracy
and a parliament arianist regime, but this parliament arianism has not become
institutionalized in our society.

Q: What do you think will be the differences between the Sixth Majlis and the
Fifth Majlis in giving shape to the public opinion assuming the fact that
there have been changes and developments in the society, population and the
emergence of hidden elites?

A: The Sixth Majlis will be immensely influenced by the controversial issues
which have taken shape after May 23rd, 1997. That is the reason for those who
think and behave in the way of what May 23rd has brought about to be able to
get into the Sixth Majlis. Naturally the present majority and minority groups
in the Fifth Majlis will swap their positions in the Sixth Majlis. What is
important here is whether the political culture of the Sixth Majlis would be
different from that of the Fifth Majlis.

Q: How much do you think the majority faction and the minority faction would
exert influence on the Sixth parliament's performances?

A: The motives in the Sixth Majlis would be very much political and factional
and this would create problems. We have not been able to institutionalize the
political culture yet so that we would not be able to keep the principles and
rules of the game in mind and play a healthy game. Our society is following a
trend which would include a lot of challenges and unfortunately the Majlis
does not act independently of these challenges and is immensely influenced by
the challenges among groups, parties and factions. So we will have a kind of
Majlis afflicted with the same problems that the Fifth Majlis was and
factional purposes have the upper hand.


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 19 Mar 2000