Why do we honor the first half of the month of Mordad?
In this column we answer questions raised by CMI supporters and other readers about the position of the Constitutionalists Movement of Iran and also various political and historical issues. Please send your questions to the office of Rahe Ayandeh.
Respond By Daryoosh Homayoon
***By blending the Constitutionalists Revolution and the Pahlavi dynasty, the constitutionalists have considered all dimensions of our history.
***After the legend of Karbala, the period of two and a half years of Mossadeq s government (until the 28th of Mordad) has been turned into the biggest masquerade in our culture.
The large ceremonies that CMI sponsored last summer in memory of the Pahlavi monarchs in the first half of the month of Mordad have been criticized by a few individuals. One of those think tanks has published an article in Science and Society magazine (Washington D.C., 10/95) under the title why only pay attention to half of Mordad . Since in this article two fundamental criticisms relative to the constitutionalist position is mentioned, we are responding to those issues. Where ever necessary we will quote sections of the article here.
Their first criticism to the Mordard ceremonies is that the Constitutionalists celebrated the Day of Constitution in conjunction with a memorial to the Pahlavi Kings, which in their view is an anomaly, because in their view the Pahlavi Kings breached the constitution of Iran, the very body of laws that the Constitutionalist Revolution brought about. They also consolidated the three branches of government, the executive, the judicial and legislative branches.
Before we enter into this discussion, it would be beneficial to mention that during the same period another political figure (other than the Pahlavi Monarchs) violated the constitution (such as dissolving the Supreme Court, the Senate, the house of representatives, establishing a referendum with separate voting booths for those who voted Yes vs. No, enacting the law of social security after claiming the legislative powers), and some times consolidated the country s legislative and executive branches in his own office. He, namely Mossadeq did so because he viewed any opposition to his so called national front as an obstacle to his great cause.
The Pahlavi monarchs too had their own excuses. Reza Shah was determined to establish a country of law and order, which under the anarchy and riots that ruled at the time, the constitutionalist congress and political arena were unable to resolve. Even to the last decade, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, faced the constant threat of the Soviets from outside, fragmentation of Iran domestically, the Tudeh party, the radical left, and the separatists from inside of Iran, and the British plans for segmentation of Iran from abroad.
Even if we assume that the Pahlavi monarchs were not always democratic during the last 100 years, our society was filled by authoritarian tendencies -even among the democratic politicians- by radical beliefs, ideologies and totalitarian parties. In practice, democracy had very few defenders and proponents in those times. Every leader believed to be the only divine power and truth, while accusing his opponents of being traitors and agents of foreign governments. When they assumed power, neither one of them resigned or conceded. None of them hesitated to establish a military government or run the country as a police state. Their democrats preferred military dictatorship and spent almost all of their administration under military rule, while their dictators preferred police state.
Over the last 100 years, democracy has been so abused that many Iranians still associate a democratic government with a weak government, and one can hardly convince them that a democratic government can be powerful, and better yet, the most powerful nations are democratic. Seventy years ago and again fifty years ago, the majority of Iranian intellectuals who loved Iran, believed that a benevolent dictatorship is the solution to Iran s state of torment and stagnation at the time.
But, the answer to why in the celebration of the Constitution Day, we had placed pictures of Phalavi Kings, has to do with our view of constitutionalism. We do not view constitutionalism only from the viewpoint of the parliament. The period of constitutionalism is not limited, nor ends with exploitational outlook of the parliament, which had a short life in our country. The constitution, was not the only achievement of the Constitutionlist Revolution. The spirit, motives and meanings of constitutional movement include progress, modernization, re-construction of Iran, and providing the national independence, of which the constitution itself was a fundamental element. The Pahlavi Kings were the biggest providers to the Constitutional Revolution s demands for modernization and progress. They took these demands even further, but perhaps at the cost of neglecting the elements of democracy according to the intentions of the constitution.
One cannot abbreviate the period of constitutionalism in the few years that democracy only meant a weapon for the congress, and congress represented upper levels of society, ellites, and a small class of society. This period includes seven decades during which our country moved from a medieval society to an inquiring and progressive society, and which eventually survived threats of partition. The constitutionalists have not changed the meaning of history by blending the Constitutionalist Revolution with the Pahlavi Kings, rather they have contemplated all seven decades of history from all dimensions.
The second issue raised by this author is that why those who hold a memorial for the 14th of Mordad attempt to erase the events of the 28th of Mordad from the memories of the Iranian people .
Besides the fact that no one here has such intentions, there should be no concern since in the last 18 years thousands of books, magazines and articles, and from various anti monarchy points of view have been published which they all by emphasizing the 28th of Mordad and its central place in our contemporary history, hundreds of writers and researchers from their political camps have investigated for many years. Interestingly enough, they have all shared one reference from a single source (Roosevelt and Woodhouse) and have written identical accounts of those events, even with identical sentences. Only a handful can be found who have departed from this myopic course and have discovered a new insight. After all these years one of the leftist writers by analyzing the events of the 28th of Mordad and by reference to first hand sources- including documents from the United States Dept of foreign affairs -has referenced the difference in people s reaction on the 20th of the month of Teer 1331, and the 28th of the month of Mordad 1332, indicating that the government of Mossadeq was overthrown by a few hundred people from the South of Tehran. Then we must ponder what grave catastrophe would have happened to Mossadeq s government if it was confronted with Tudeh party s cadre of thousands of military people and civilians.
The two and half year period of Mossadeq's regime until the 28th of the month of Mordad not only has not been forgotten rather after the events of Karbala legend has been turned into the biggest parable in our culture. They analyze those events, by entering emotional elements into it, and by maximizing the play on dichotomy between good and evil, and representing that event as the cause of today s problems and an entrapment of the future in the past. For many years and formany people it has been translated into one formula: Pahlavi dynasty (Iron fist plus 28th of Mordad) = colonialisation of Iran.
For those who only regard the parliamentary exploitation (which had a short life) and Mossadeq and the 28th of Mordad as the only representation of our last century of history it is understandable why they emphasize the 28th of Mordad. How can they only speak of Mossadeq and not condense the past or even the future all into the events of the 28th of Mordad?
For the constitutionalists, the last century is somewhat broader and more diverse than that, such as: creating a country with unity (which until then only existed as a place on a map), return of Khuzistan to the national boundaries of Iran, gaining independence and victorious defense of Iran against the soviet Union (which by the aide of a foreign country with the direct help of those who were in contact with it happened) and providing an economical and cultural understructure worthy of the 20th century, and the nationalization of oil, establishing superior geopolitical position for Iran in the Persian Gulf and many other achievements.
The 28th of Mordad is an important event in this historical period and like other events we must study it in its realistic framework and learn from it. Looking at this historical period will help us to free history from the partisan politics and division and to find a more general view. The constitutional monarchists have no fear about entering into a realistic historical debate about the events surrounding the 28th of Mordad and any contemporary history- although truly the political climate of today is not the place to hold these discussions- and in such debate with the purpose of cleansing the political characters and explaining wrong decisions is not a bad deed anyways. The last one hundred years of our history is filled with poor decisions and events that served no purpose but caused our current dilemas. This cliche that: the Bahman revolution is the inescapable continuation of the 28th of Mordad has been repeated too many times to be ignored. The Bahman revolution is an unfamiliar name for most people. Apparantly the subject is the Islamic revolution which from 1357 has been known as the Islamic Revolution to all people in the world. The attempt of those who wish to change the name of the revolution has no historical importance and only reflects on their personal gains.
The Islamic revolution happened under very unique circumstances. Any small change of events could have shifted the revolutionaries position such that the revolution would not have taken place. Does it make sense that nationalists and those who claim to carry the nationalist flag on their shoulders fall to Khomeini s feet, and follow him only as a reaction and to avenge the events of the 28th of Mordad?
How could they be linked when the Islamic Revolution was exactly 25 years after the 28th of Mordad -what about the other historical factors such as: an increasing wave of radical and revolutionary Islam that found its prestigious leader, i.e. Khomeini, and Jimmy Carter came to power, and the terminal illness of the Shah that made events unstable...?
If we intentionally do not remove the adjective of Islamic from the Islamic Revolution, then with the same analogy, we should be able to say the revolution was the unescapable continuation of the war of Qadessieh (against the Arab invation), and war of Nahavand, or the continuation of Shah Ismaeel s coming to power in 1500, and turning the Persian society into a clerical one. Arnold Twin teaches us that viewing history through cause and effect is incorrect. Effect comes after casue -unavoidable, unchangeable, and possible to predict. But the author s invented interpretation which is based on events is not cause, it is the threat. What happens after threat, is not effect, rather it is response to threat. Unlike cause and effect, response to a threat is not pre-determined and therefore it is essentially not predictable.
In that same year of 1952, about the same time as the coup d eta of 28th of Mordad, in a similar fashion, a coup against the leftist Guatemalan president Carlos-Castillo Armas took place, but there is no sign of its unescapable extention, or that of the Islamic Revolution. History and politics which are so dear to the author of that article can not be analyzed by pre-determined perception and approaches. This year, the Nobel prize in economics was awarded to a scientist from Chicago school of thought, who has proved that government policies for economic improvement do not always provide desired results. The same policies can sometimes provide the opposite results.
Then I ask, why do you pay attention to only half of the events of the 28th of Mordad? The author of that article believes that coopertion among diverse political groups must be acceptable to all people in terms of freedom, independence and social justice . Then he inserts his condition: that in such a national unity, with belief in freedom and Iran s independence, there is no room for people or groups who are aligned with foreigners. Therefore it is not correct that we forget the events of the 28th of Mordad.
Freedom, independence and social justice without commitment to progress and economic improvement, without a strong nation, is nothing but an empty speech. We presumed that the Constitutional Revolution and the entire period of constitutionalism, has awakened the intellectuals to the necessity of progress as the basis for people s rule and national independence. No wonder our differences with the nationalists (that has lasted 70 years) who carry the banner of national rule on their shoulders appears to be continuing.
Emphasis on believing in freedeom and Iran s independence is correct. Not forgetting the events of the 28th of Mordad is fine. But if we ever attempt to mix the political issues of today with the events of 28th of Mordad, we will never have national unity, nor a role in freedom and reconstruction of Iran. The years of exile in abroad will continue as before.
The events of 28th of Mordad happened 42 years ago. Of those who were involved a few are alive today. And those who have understood the events of that time only make up 3% of the population. It is impossible to repeat the events of the 28th of Mordad, as it is impossible to bring Reza Shah, Mossadeq, and Mohammed Reza Shah back. There is no Soviet Empire and no sign of its colonialism. There is no Tudeh party. Even America is not the same country that it was then. It is impossible to overthrow the Islamic regime (as the author has discussed) with a few tens of thousands of dollars or with a few hundered people from the South of Tehran. Even independence does not mean the same thing. To become indpendent today we must work and struggle hard, with unknown results to expect.
The most important historical day in our history, according to the story tellers of this decade happened at a time when asking for financial assistance from America - to fight the British, or fight the imperialism of the Soviets- was an acceptable necessity.
A national leader namely Mossadeq in a session of Iran s congress on 26th of Mordad in 1330, in relation to getting a $25M loan from the US said, the government that we are asking a loan from, has no ill intentions to our country and for our land. As the other congressmen know, at the time, Phillipines was a colony of the US, but gradually gained its independence thanks to the US government. Mossadeq continued: The government of the United States has established its policy based on helpig all nations of the world and its policies respect the national independence of all nations.
The US government has helped Turkey and Greece. It does not have an imperialistic and expansionist policy towards Iran.
Mossadeq's requests to the United States were provided by the US government until 1331 and for as long as the democrats were in power in Iran. After Eisenhower came to office, the US saw the most effective method for stoping communism in Iran. It was not in helping Mossadeq, but in overthrowing him.
Today the people of Iran are facing the tyrannical Islamic regime all alone. There is no fear that Iran may fall into a rival s hands. Governments in America, Europe, and the Middle-East, are brawling with the government of the Islamic Republic - for reasons that serves their interests - and if they inflict a blow to the Islamic Regime, it can be useful to the struggle of the Iranian people. But that is all there would be. We much let go of our contempt for each other, and we must learn to coexist and work together for a common cause. We can, of course remind each other of the past all we want also.
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