Enayat Fani interviews historian Touraj Atabaki about challenges of Modernity in Iran on BBC Persian's Hard Talk
bbc persian
11-Nov-2010 (one comment)

Enayat Fani interviews historian Touraj Atabaki about challenges of Modernity in Iran on BBC Persian's Hard Talk. Watch Here

recommended by Darius Kadivar


Darius Kadivar

Interesting Outlook although from a Jomhurykhah Perspective

by Darius Kadivar on

I don't particularly agree on his assessment on the fact that the Turkish Army's Independent Structure which basically makes it a "Military Junta" within the State is a sign of modernity.  In that case Pinochet's Chili or all the South American dictatorships (where one power hungry general or officer could chase another in a coup ) would be seen as progressive regimes ...

That I believe is another "intellectualized" attempt to subtly undermine much of the Pahlavi Regime's accomplishments including in creating it's modern Military infrastructure. All the more than in ALL Monarchies including Constitutional Monarchies the King or Queen who is the Head of State IS the HEAD OF THE ARMY and Not Some High Ranking Officer. Otherwise Why would the Queen of England be inspecting the Trooping of the Colors ?

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Symbolically That is VERY Important to the very essence of the Monarchy given the fact the Monarch Embodies the Unity of the Nation just like the Flag and which explains why in All Monarchies the Prince is supposed to have a Military Training.

pictory: Imperial Iranian Airforce 53rd Year in Service Celebration (1977)

PRINCE OF PERSIA: Crown Prince Reza Graduates as Officer in IIAF (1977-78)


That is precisely something that Mossadegh Failed to understand when he tried to question the Shah's position as Head of the Army despite the fact that the latter had Liberated Azerbaijan.

In a perfect Constitutional Monarchy however the Constitution is drafted and implemented in such a way so that the Prime Minister is at the Head of the Army in Practice but in theory Carries out his decisions on behalf of the Queen or King as is the Case in England for instance, including when it comes to the Nuclear Button:

From the British Parody Sitcom: Yes Prime Minister:

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As Such No One and Not even the Prime Minister is allowed to Question the Legitimacy of the Monarch as Head of State and Head of the Army:

Queen Elizabeth Shot at during the Trooping of the Colors in 1981 by a troubled person ( JAILED FOR 5 YEARS UNDER THE TREASON ACT):

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My Assessment on the issue of Modernity is closer to the Constitutionalist Perspective of Nader Naderpour : 


HISTORY FORUM: Nader Naderpour on Iran's Constitutional Revolution and European Rennaissance (1996)

Or that of Mashadullah Adjoudani's excellent observation on the Iranian Intelligenstia specifically after the events of '53: Here 


But this was a particularly interesting Interview nevertheless specifically in that he shows that we are wrong to think that Political evolution of our societies follow a determinist path towards modernity. Hence the fact that Modernity and political evolution in France with the French Revolution was very different from what happened in England with it's Glorious Revolution which saw the advent of Parliamentary Democracy or what happened in Germany with the Kaisers.

In short that we should not have a dogmatic approach to the question of political evolution or maturity by thinking that we can simply Copy and Paste existing Models as the Absolute form of government or as a pattern of thinking for the establishment of modernity in our society.


How to achieve Modernity both socially and politically is I believe one of the an central debates in our society and within the circles of the Intelligenstia today. Abbas Milani offers an interesting but debatable perspective also and I believe it is essential for our intelligenstia to look into it more deeply and open avenues of a serious and genuine debate on this subject in the years to come. The advent of a Genuine democratic regime ( Secular Republic, Constitutional Monarchy, Federal Government, or else ? ) that would guarantee social progress and Justice within a Democratic framework will definitively depend on our collective outlook on these questions.


Recommended Blogs:

THE PAST IS A FOREIGN COUNTRY: How Would You Evaluate Iran's Democracy Index in 1953 ? 


HISTORY FORUM: Mashallah Ajoudani on Intellectuals and the Revolution


VOA ROUND TABLE: Azar Nafisi & Ladan Boroumand on Intellectuals under Dictatorships


HISTORY FORUM: Ahmad Kasravi's Life, Assassination and Intellectual Legacy 64 years On ...