Last week, I was in class with my political science students, discussing the subject of popular revolutions. In the course of the discussion, one student raised the issue of the Islamic revolution in Iran. The student correctly pointed out that the Islamic revolution in Iran, just like all popular revolutions, was based on certain promises. And the student therefore sought my views, as to whether, with the wisdom of hindsight, I could say that the Islamic revolution in Iran has delivered on its promises.
So, did the Islamic revolution in Iran deliver on its promises?
In answering the question as to whether the Islamic revolution in Iran delivered on its promises, I had to start by pointing out that I don’t live in Iran, and I therefore lack an insider’s perspective. I depend on various news corporations to bring me insights on how life is like inside Iran, and the news corporations are almost always biased in some way. Like many Westerners, I have not dared visit Iran and assess how things are, you know, how day to day life for ordinary Iranians is and so on. This is due to the simple reason that many of us Westerners fear going to Iran because we could easily end up being mistaken for ‘Western government spies’ and jailed for that. It has happened to many enough people. So, in giving my answer to the question as to whether the Islamic revolution in Iran delivered on its promises, I lack the insiders’ perspective.
From the various available sources though, we can pick some general facts. It would seem that, indeed, the Islamic revolution in Iran delivered on its promises, to the extent that it freed the Iranians from the (apparent) tyranny of the Shah regime. The Shah regime happened to be a darling of the west. On the other hand, I am of the view that the Islamic revolution in Iran betrayed the Iranians to the extent that it replaced the tyranny associated with monarchical rule with the tyranny associated with an authoritarian theocracy.