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The causes for the failure of White Revolution Essay


The circumstances of the events between the years 1960 and 1963 are considered as the background and basis for the proclamation of the White Revolution. The general atmosphere of political uncertainty and poor economic prospects reduced domestic saving and investment. Thus the inflationary pressure continued and the cost of living rose day by day. In addition the Iranian economic situation was conditioned by the political conflict.

In 1960, one of the most important events was the election of the twentieth Majles. The two parties that the Shah created, the Melliun (Nationalist Party) and the Mardom (People Party) were rivals. Under U.S. pressure, the Shah allowed independent Second National Front candidates to enter the race. Despite the promise of the Shah that the elections would take place in greater freedom than in the past, it seemed that he hand picked all the candidates of both parties and as the elections proceeded, it became clear that it was his authority that was influencing the result. Thus, the Shah cancelled the elections and on 10 January, 1961,held new ones.

Another important event in this period was the appointment of Sharif Emami to the post of Prime Minister on 3o August 1960. Hence, as Ghods explained, because “Emami was affiliated with no political party and had close ties to the religious establishment, but, because he did not implement any reforms, he failed to achieve either politic popularity or U.S. support.” Thus he resigned from his post on 4th May 1961.

On the 6th May 1961, Dr ‘Ali Amini replaced Emami and for the first time promised a “White Revolution”. Amini was one of the American favourites in Iran. Abrahamian explained that “the United States favoured Amini for a number of reasons. As ambassador in Washington during the late 1950s, he had won the confidence of the State Department. As the chief Iranian negotiator with the oil companies in 1954, he had shown that he had the strength of character to take unpopular decisions.”

During the period that Amini held the post of Prime Minister, he began one of the most important reforms in the social life of Iran under the name of the Land Reform. This reform was designed to create a population of small landowners. He was serious about this programme of reform and forced the Shah to dissolve the Majles, since the influence of the landlords there would be an obstacle to reform. However, within a few months of Amini becoming Prime Minister the situation began to change. He had clashed with the Shah by insisting on a reduction of the military budget. On this occasion, one of the opposition parties, Second National Front was with him because the Shah had failed to hold free elections.

On 10th April 1962, the Shah had a visit from Washington. As the result of this visit, a general agreement on the military, economic affairs and a reaffirmation of the bilateral security arrangements between the two countries was concluded. Following an address to Congress by the Shah, President Kennedy agreed in principle to consider the supply of more modern military equipment to Iran, provided certain changes were first made to the armed forces. However, in reality, the Shah was unable to obtain further budgetary assistance inside the country.

Moreover, according to H.Phillips, writing in the 1962 annual review of the Britain Embassy in Tehran, reported that the Minister of War in his dispute with the Prime Minister was sustained by the Shah, with whom Dr Amini’s relations had always been uneasy and without whose backing he could not carry on. On the 17th of July (1962) he tendered his resignation, which the Shah accepted without delay, and with a marked degree of personal satisfaction.”

On 19th of July 1962 the Shah appointed Asado l-Lah ‘Alam to the post of Prime Minister. ‘Alam took power with two promises, first, to proceed with the radical reform including the important plan made by the ex-Prime Minster Amini under the name of the “White Revolution” and the second to complete the preliminaries for the election of the 20th Majles and the Senate.

It seems that, by the end of 1962, the Shah had secured his position, due to the support of the United States. Hence, he seemed stronger than ever. However, Katuzian mentions that “The Shah was aware that his espousal of the land-reform programme still involved a serious risk to his position.” The economy was still in poor shape, and political dissatisfaction and opposition were still strong. Also in spite of the feebleness of the National Front’s leadership, and ‘Ali Amini who had achieved some popularity after his resignation, had not yet given up the fight.

On 26th January 1963, The Shah planned the greatest project of his life, the introduction of the “White Revolution”. He called it the “White Revolution”, because, according to him, unlike all other revolutions, which are accompanied by bloodshed, this one would be peaceful. It seems that at that time he became convinced, with some influence from U.S advisers, of the need for certain reforms. It is possible that the reform was a logical part of a general strategy of capitalist development and of greater governmental control in the countryside.

This essay will explain the main causes for the failure of the White Revolution in Iran. First, I shall explain the main factors of the programme of the reform and the nature of the White Revolution and major factors which were against it. Then, the opposition and the circumstance of their activity and the fate of the revolution will be discussed.

White Revolution

On 26 January 1963, the Shah put this programme to the electorate, by submitting it as usual to the people in a referendum. It received the 90% vote in favour, which was usual in Iranian referendums. In total, the White Revolution involved the following twelve measures, which covered the broad direction of Iranian society:

1. Redistribution of land among the peasants (Land reform, the first stage of which already began when Amini was in power).

2. Nationalisation of forests and woods.

3. Sale of shares in government factories to the private sector as security for land reform.

4. Profit sharing for employees in industry (industrial workers).

5. The enfranchisement of women, reform of the electoral law to allow for the political participation of women.

6. Formation of the Literacy Corps (military conscripts teaching in villages).

7. Formation of the Health Corps (military conscripts as rural paramedics and sanitation teachers).

8. Formation of the extension and Development Corps.

9. Establishment of Equity Courts (rural justice system relying on arbitration and common law).

10. Nationalisation of water.

11. Urban and rural reconstruction.

12. Reform of the governmental administration edifice and education.

The first six measures in the reforms were started in 1963, the following three in 1964 and the final three in 1967, although in practice the first stage took the reform to a new level. By this means, the Shah hoped to achieve a permanent state of what he termed “Revolutionary Reform”.

The Shah in his speech on May 1975 noted that with the reform of January 26, 1963, he was able to consult the nation directly. This development, according to the Shah, came after the sorrowful and bitter World War II years, military occupation, the establishment of treacherous and front* (Marxist) parties, intellectual degeneration, the continuation of feudalism, and the exploitation of some Iranians by others.

The Shah noted that the White Revolution introduced by him on the Sixth Bahman 1341 (26 January 1963) drew a united response from the nation, largely because his ” revolution from above” was basically aimed at the liberation of Iranian farmers, who constituted more than 75 percent of the country’s total population, thus meaning in essence the freedom of the majority of Iranians from slavery or a condition close to it, or as the farmers themselves put it, their ” rebirth”.

The Shah thought that the White Revolution would represent a fundamental reform of Iranian society. However, it seems that, at an early stage of land reform and the enfranchisement of women, the White Revolution faced the major problem of who would implement executed the reform.

In other words, the Third Plan (originally for 5years but extended to 5 ½, from mid-1962 to the end of 1967) was just being completed when the Shah introduced his White Revolution. Consequently for the next plan the important question that officially the Shah and his programme for the reform faced was who could manage the reform in practice. According to Looney, the Shah’s “far-reaching land reform exceeded by far the accomplishments that the planners, especially in the Ministry of Agriculture, would have dared to suggest in the plan or upon which they were basing their development strategy.”

The fundamental factors which were not foreseen by the Shah and other members of governments at the time and because far-reaching were the following:

a. Administration:

The administration of the reform had been weak, and implementation was inadequate in most areas, because of the lack of managers, agricultural engineers and agronomists. A vital element in the reform- co-operatives existed largely on paper, and those that were operation lack skilled supervisors and managers.

b. Land Reform:

One of the main parts of the White Revolution was Land Reform, which mainly affected the rural people. The Iranian peasantry before the land reform was divided into three classes, the rich, the middle class and poor peasants. On the basis of the available information, it seemed that the substantial majority of the Iranian peasantry belonged to the poor peasant class who were dependent on the absentee landlords for their financial survival.

The aim of the first stage of the land reform was the “Abolition of the peasant-landlord tenure system, and the redistribution and sale to their former peasants (on easy terms) of all absentee- landlord holdings in excess of one village”. Thus the landowner was allowed to have one village and not more. In these circumstances, the government bought 15,000 villages and distributed these among farmers who worked in them.

The second stage of the land reform that began under the White Revolution was not the same as the first, which just mainly affected the big landowners. The intention of this second step seemed to be act in a more radical way and involved the smaller landowners as much as the big landowners. In 1967, the third stage of land reform began with the aim of completion of the second step. This final stage was focused on exploiting the resources of Iran’s system of agriculture to the fullest extent so that the agricultural sector would no longer constitute an obstacle to Iran’s rapid economic development.

For the Shah, the land reform had two aims. The first was to destroy the power of the major land-owning families and neutralise a potential source of opposition to his regime and the second was to achieve the support of the peasants and hence forestall any revolution in the countryside. However, he was not completely successful in destroying the power of the ruling families, since many of the large landowners invested their wealth in economic and business activities in the urban centres.

The second political objective of the land reform programme faced important difficulties because it seems that the agricultural labourers and village proletariat, were left out of the plan. The major reason is the fact that only one group of the poor peasantry- the former sharecroppers- received land as part of the redistribution programme. This event provided a rapid deterioration in the economic life of the already deprived agricultural proletariat.

The consequences of the land reform for the peasants were dramatic. Katozian explained the reasons for this. He emphasised that “The peasant households lost their lands, their homes, their culture and sociological entities, etc., by one stroke. They were turned into landless wage labourers enabled to scratch a living by providing (part-time) wage labour for the company. The cost to the peasants cannot be exaggerated, because, in addition to all the other material and psychological losses, they now had to purchase their means of subsistence in the market.”

Land reform substantially altered the countryside’s economy, greatly strengthening the “middle” peasantry. According to Ghods, in the first years of the reform, “some nine percent of peasants became self-sufficient proprietors- a considerable increase. Peasants who received land after 1965 usually did not receive enough to support their families, however, migrant peasants, about 40 percent of the peasant population, were completely neglected.” The latter two groups were often forced to seek employment in the cities, where they formed a sub-proletariat highly receptive to religious propaganda.

Looney believes that certain peasants benefited immensely from the Land Reform, while others suffered declines in real income due to the changes initiated after 1963. Meanwhile, the villagers, frustrated by broken promises and new expectations, had been increasing their demands for reform. Ghods, in the line with Looney, states that the other facts of the White Revolution included the establishment of literacy and a health corps, modelled on the U.S. Peace Corps: in place of military service, young educated Iranians were send to countryside to promote literacy and health.

These organisations did have some impact on the countryside, though not to the extent the Shah claimed. The principal difficulty they faced was that not enough of the people drafted into them were qualified to serve in the neglected rural regions. Also cultural and linguistic differences between provinces made the cadres’ difficulties enormous. The government itself neglected to provide the villages with the technical aid they needed to improve their condition.

a. Women

The White Revolution also extended the vote to women. The move was purely symbolic, since, in Iran, it was rare for anybody to participate in an honest election. However, this act particularly aroused the opposition of the traditional religious people led by ulama.

b. Middle Class

One of the major unintended consequences of the White Revolution was the accelerating growth of the professional middle class. Yet this was the same class that was becoming more alienated and thus threatened the traditional socio-economic system. At the same time, this class was needed to control and guide the explosive land reform programme.

Looney described the situation as follow: “in terms of numbers, the professional middle class increased by over 60 percent between 1956 and 1966. By the mid-1960s over half a million employed Iranians were part of that class. With the acceleration of reform programs and the continued growth of the educational system, there is every indication that this class will continue to burgeon and develop rapidly. Although it still represents a relatively small percentage of the total Iranian population, its relative increase has been great. In 1956 approximately one out of every seventeen Iranians belonged to the professional middle class”.

The members of the Iranian professional middle class were not satisfied because they believed the Shah excluded them from the reform. Obviously, none of the twelve points was directly related to them. Also, none of their demands for fundamental change in the political system were considered, and their hopes for growth in such fundamental areas as educational reform and social justice were omitted from the programme of the White Revolution.

Their complaints were neglected by the regime, who put them down to the intelligentsia’s stupidity, conceit, negativism and individualism. The latter regime often labelled the intelligentsia as “a threat to the revolution”. After a while, the politicians became increasingly dependent on the intelligentsia for the preservation of the revolution because the politicians and most of the older bureaucrats did not have the technical skills to execute many agricultural programmes essential to the success of the White Revolution.

It said that the whole process led to increasing suspicion. Many of the intelligentsia viewed government employment as simply a temporary bribe to obtain their support. Moreover, certain circles of Iranian scholars go so far as to describe the entire programme as “bribery of the intellectuals”. Also the White Revolution was viewed by them as an obvious attempt to turn the peasants against the professional middle class and in the long run enable the Shah to preserve the nation’s semi-feudal socio-economic political system, represented by the 2500-year monarchy.

e. The Socio-economic Change1963-1975

Iranian society was affected only to a limited degree by the reforms during the period leading up to the year 1975. These main interpretations have been seen to explain the causes of the failure of the programmes to have a significant effect in Iran.

The first, interpretation was that accepted by supporter of the Shah. The Court Minister in the regime of Pahlavi said that ” the Shah’s only fault [was] that he [was] really too good for his people-his ideas [were] too great for us to realise them.” They believed that the programme of reform was too much and too quick for the structure of society and for the traditional minded people in Iran. They argued that one of the main reasons for the failure of the White Revolution and development programme was the absence of harmony between the structure of the old society and the modernisation in society.

The second groups argued that the White Revolution was faced with failure because the Shah did not modernise and reform fast enough and in the period of strong nationalist and republican feeling he got support for his monarchy from the U.S.

The third way of looking at the causes of failure the White Revolution could be a mixture of the two previous views with the addition of some other facts, such as the personality of Shah, and the attitude of groups opposed to this reform.

Now, the effect of the reform on both the rural and urban circumstances will be considered in turn.

A. Rural

The most important result of the poor execution of the programme of land reform was to increase the marginality of a large section of the rural population. The basic land reform law did nothing to improve the living conditions of the agricultural labourers. Keddie noted that the labouring class was “given no protection, no minimum wage, no unemployment relief, no gleaning rights on the now-private fields, and no land.” Abrahamian concluded that as the result of land reform and the stage,* had reached by early 1970s in the countryside, there were three different classes in the rural economic.@

1. “The absentee farmers, who included the royal family, religious foundations, agrobusinesses, including multinational corporations, and old time landlords who had found loopholes left intentionally in the laws loopholes that permitted owners to keep considerable amounts of land if they merchanized, cash rented, or cultivated tea, nuts, and fruits.”

2. “Independent farmers, consisting of former peasant proprietors as well as some 1,638,000 families that benefited from land reform. Although land reform greatly increased the ranks of peasant proprietors, it failed to give most recipients enough to make them into viable, let alone prosperous, farmers…To alleviate the problem of small holdings, after 1967 the government encouraged poorer peasants to join state-run farm corporations and to exchange their plots for shares in these corporations. By 1976, over 33,000 families had joined eighty nine such corporations. Thus state was undoing Arsanjani’s* original goal of creating an independent peasantry”

3. “Rural wage earners formed mostly of Khoshneshin (agricultural labourers) whom land reform had by passed, and former nomads whose migratory routes had been closed off.”

B. Urban

Most of the development based on the reform in the socio-economic structure in Iran between 1963 and 1978 was made possible by the increasing oil revenues. The programme of land reform and the other development plans like the manufacturing revolution had* impact on the urban population than in the countryside. Based on these programme in the mid 1970s, Abrahamian explained that urban Iran was formed of the following four classes:

1. The Upper Class. They were not more than one thousand individuals. This class was divided into six groups: a. the Pahlavi family b. aristocratic families c. enterprising aristocrats d. some 200 elder politicians e. old-time entrepreneurs f. a half-dozen new entrepreneurs.

2. The Propertied Middle Class. They were nearly one million families. This class consisted of three closely-knit groups: a. the Bazaar community b. the urban entrepreneurs c. the clergymen

3. The Salaried Middle Class. The development programmes of the White Revolution onward nearly doubled the ranks of the salaried middle class.

4. The Working Class. Between 1963 and 1977 this class grew nearly fivefold.

It could be true, if believed, that the reforms of the Shah had an effect on social and economic life and somehow changed the structure of society and caused the emergence of horizontal division in Iran especially by increasing the ranks of the modern middle class and the industrial working class, but he failed to reform the political structure. So this failure inevitably strained the links between the regime and the social structure, closed the channels of communication between the political system and the general population and destroyed the few bridges between the political establishment and the traditional social elements especially the Bazaar people and the religious class.

During the period of reform although the Shah had tried to help the process of modernisation, he did little to develop the political system. Instead of developping the political system, he built his power on three bases, the military and the secret police (Savak), economic controls which he used as tools to buy political loyalty and political controls, such as the large state bureaucracy.

As far as the army was concerned, Between 1963 and 1977, the Shah increased the budget and the size of the military forces and used it as a symbol of national integration and of his own prestige. Also, he helped to increase the power and size of the Savak as the internal secret police force.

Regarding economic controls, It said “the Shah did not rely solely on the threat of punishment to secure loyalty to his regime. He also used his government’s extensive economic network to associate Iranians, even in distant villages, with the state and attempted to acquire loyalty by giving job security and financial rewards to some in the upper and middle classes. Land reform had brought the state into peasant life to an unprecedented degree. Local magnates no longer acted as buffers between the state and rural population.

From another occasion government initiatives in the countryside, including education and construction of roads and dams, were undertaken in an effort to integrate the peasants into the nation and, of course, to win their loyalty to the regime…. the imperial government’s entrance into the rural economy also led to greater centralisation, which, in turn, facilitated control of the provinces” . In this state, Ghods emphasised that in urban areas this situation was clear. The Shah used his economic “control to increase his political power. The state’s immense economic role gave the monarch obvious control mechanisms….. the vast majority owed their livelihood to the state”.

The oppositions

Generally it is worth mentions here that the opposition groups, were essentially not against the reform. However, they looked with suspicion on any directions proposed by the government. This was quite apart from any particular factors which they positively opposed in the reform.

The number of political parties and groups, and the sections of society, which lost some of their benefits through the land reform came together to represent a wide opposition to the regime, with differing aims. The main parties and groups involved were the Tudeh Party, the Second National Front, the Liberation Movement (Nehzate Azadi) and the big landowners.

1. Tudeh Party

Thirteen days after the abdication of Reza Shah, some of the younger members of the “fifty Three” Marxists imprisoned in 1937 organised a political party called it Hezb-e Tudeh with the aim of uniting the workers, traders, craftsmen, peasants, and intellectuals in society. They had tried to unite all the classes and forge a party of the masses. Although, the Tudeh Party introduced itself as the “vanguard of the proletariat and land-less peasantry” but the modern middle class formed the major portion of the party’s top, middle and lower echelons and represented most of the party’s general ranks and supporters.

The Tudeh party had an important role among the modern middle class. This party recruited intellectuals and white-collar workers into its apparatus and it had an influence throughout the salaried middle class and even among engineers, university professors and student, writers, modern educated women and military officers.

It made persistent efforts to attract the agricultural masses but failed to mobilise the countryside.??? The interpretation of one historian is that the Islamic “doctrine of passive obedience” kept the peasantry unawakened and fatalistic. The other explanation that was offered by the Tudeh party itself was that not only religion but also the whole of the past forced the peasantry to accept the status quo. The other view,held by Maoist and New Left critics was that the Tudeh party failed to ignite rural revolution because it overlooked the interests, grievances and aspirations of the peasant.

The Tudeh Party “insisted that the Shah’s land reform would not benefit the peasantry.” In the words of the new party program “in the present situation the main tasks confronting those who aspire for a revolutionary transformation of Iran is the overthrow of the anachronistic monarchy, the destruction of the reactionary state machinery, the abolition of big capitalists and landlords, and the transfer of power from these classes to the classes and strata that are patriotic and democratic-i.e. the workers, peasants, urban petit bourgeoisie( tradesmen, shopkeepers, and craftsmen), patriotic and progressive intelligentsia, and strata of national bourgeoisie. In short, the task is to establish a national democratic republic.”

In other words, one of the Tudeh party’s policies based on their ideology was to encourage society to transform itself from feudalism to a bourgeois situation. Thus, it had some plan to archive this aim. Actually the Land Reform ought to have been an important part of their motivation. However, the only different was who executed this programme. Indeed with the announcement of the Land Reform by to the government they lost the chance of leadership of the country.

2. The Second National Front

In August 1960, with the slight relaxation of police activity the Second New National Front was born. It included leading supporters of Mossadeq notably Karim Sanjabi, Mehdi Bazargan and also the younger and less prominent Shahpoor Bakhtiyar and Daryoosh Furohar. It was formed as a result of amalgamation of Hizb-I Iran (the Iran party), Nehzat-I Azadi Iran (the Liberation Movement), Hezb-I Mellat Iran (National party) and the Socialist Society. They announced that “we are Muslims, Iranians, constitutionalists and Mossadeqists: Muslims because we refuse to divorce our principles from our politics; Iranians because respect our national heritage; constitutionalists because we demand freedom of thought, expression, and association; Mossadeqists because we want national independence.”

During this time internal divisions appeared between them, not just an ideological issues but also as the tactics and organisation of party. The Liberation Movement and the Socialist Society wanted to wage an ideological war against the regime and argue theoretical topics within the National Front. They had formed an alliance with the anti-regime ‘ulama, even with the ‘ulama who opposed land reform and woman’s rights. however the Iran party and the rest wanted to keep clear of ideological wrangles and attack the regime on the real events such as the continued house imprisonment of Mossadeq, the lack of press freedom, and the proposed sale of state factories to wealthy businessmen.

The Second National Front boycotted the plebiscite of 1963 for the White Revolution. They emphasised that “such important measures [of the reform] should be ratified by the Majles”. This action was considered of little importance. It was said that, from this time, the Second National Front was of only marginal significance as a political force.

Moreover in the June 1963 the Shah arrested many of the leaders of the Second National Front and outlawed membership of it. In 1965,the frictions, in the organisation of the Second National Front divided the party into two groups. One was formed, by Iran party members and became active under the former title of the Second National Front. Most of its efforts were concentrated among the Iranian students in Europe whose aim was to establish a secular democratic state in Iran. The other group formed by the Liberation Movement, the National Party, and the Social Society became the Third National Front. Most of its activity was among the students in France and North America. They made an effort to establish a relationship with Ayatollah Khomeyni in Iraq who was exiled from Iran due to his opposition to the Shah. They believed that the Shi’i leaders in Iran’s history always helped its struggle against despotism and imperialism.

3. The Liberation Movement (Nehzat- Azadi)

Most of the supporters of this group lived outside of Iran. Its organisers in North America were Nakhshab Yazdi, Chamran and Amir Entezam, and in France Bani Sadr and Qutb Zadeh. In the early 1960s Bani Sadr by joined the Islamic Student Society and wrote many articles criticising the state of the Iranian economy. During the programme of White Revolution, Bani Sadr stated that “the Shah was systematically destroying agriculture to help foreign agrobusiness and the new industries (assembly plants) designed to increasing the dependence of Iran on the West.

The most important intellectual of the Liberation Movement was Ali Shari’ati who was educated in Paris. The Liberation Movement led by Ali Shari’ati, often sought to use Islam as an ideological base to fight the regime. Shari’ati had been exposed to radical political philosophy while pursuing his doctorate in sociology in Paris in the early 1960s, where he had joined the Freedom Movement and the Iranian Student Confederation.

When he returned to Iran in 1965,it was with the belief that Iran’s culture heritage- which he identified with Shi’i Islam- had to play a major role in Iran’s challenge to the west. His lectures described Islam as a dynamic political ideology, the chief progressive force in society. Shari’ati criticised Marx’s description of economics as the foundation of society; in his works, he described culture, particularly religion, as society’s truly formative force. Because of its materialistic roots and its dogmatic tendencies, modern Marxism had lost its revolutionary character, had become fossilised and bureaucratised into a “means to realise a bourgeois life for the proletariat”, which Shari’ati rejected on moral grounds.”(p.195,Ghods)

Particularly, the opinion Ali Shari’ati about the situation of economy and agriculture was the regime with the expense of the middle and lower classes favoured the rich. Moreover, he argued that the regime spent huge sums for buying weapon to help the American economy and ignored agriculture to help foreign grain exporters.

4. The ‘ulama

In contrast to the secular reformer’s attitude of, at best, passive resistance to the Shah’s programs, religious leaders showed themselves willing to take radical action against the regime. The Freedom Movement, led by Bazargan and Taleqani, wanted to attack the regime, and Ayatollah Khomeini, Kashani’s charismatic disciple, did precisely that. Unlike other clergyman, Khomeini did not attack land reform but instead focused on popular issues, including the regime’s corruption and disregard for constitutional principles.

It thought that the clergy were hurt by the initial stages of the land reform, when some waqf lands were confiscated, and their resentment against the government began a steady rise.

In June 1963, Khomeini sparked riots in Iran’s major cities, denouncing the Shah’s “mistakes”. The Shah reasserted his control over the country and, with the help of army, put down the uprisings. He was immediately arrested and shipped off to Turkey, without incident.

The attitude of the religious leadership and the faithful requires a careful assessment. At the politico-sociological level, three distinct tendencies among the religious leaders may be identified. First, there was traditionalist conservative tendency (whose leading representatives were the Ayatullahs Khomaini, Behbahani, and Chelsutuni), which was against both land reform and “women’s rights”, and against the potential hegemony of the Shah, which- with uncanny instinct- all the religious leaders saw coming as a result of the “revolution”.

Secondly, there was the anti-despotic tendency, symbolised by the Ayatullahs Milani and Shari’atmadari, whose main concern was the threat of the return of despotism in the style of Reza Shah; they were not, however, opposed to the sprit of the shah’s reforms as such. Thirdly, there was the radical democratic tendency- best identified with the Ayatullahs Zanjani and Taliqani- which had always identified itself with Musaddiq and the Popular movement; it advocates were opposed both to the 1953 coup and its resulting dictatorship, and to the threat of despotism.

The movement was led by the Ayatullahs Khumaini, Shari’atmadari and Milani, the three big mujtaheds in Qum and Mashhad, and- more covertly- by the Ayatullahs Behbahani and Chelsutuni, the powerful ulama of Tehran. Ayatullah Zanjani and Sayyed Mahmud (later Ayatullah) Taliqani, had already been active against the regime since the 1953 coup. However the most forceful and outspoken challenge came from Ayatullah Khomaini, who thus began to lead and symbolise the whole movement.

5. Traditional landowner

The only supported source report emphasises that six tribal leaders were executed in Fars for their part in the armed opposition to Land Reform in 1963. This was partly due to the fact that they were considered as the big landowners in the region. Hence, they clearly understood that one direction of the land reform the deprivation the tribe leaders which had important role in the political circumstance of the Iranian society.


Mostly the destiny of good idea and plan failed in Iran. Sometimes this situation considered as the nature of Iranian society. However first the unsuitable of the executive system and second unfitted those plan which offered to Iranian society with reality both was the main obstacle elements for the reform. At least those were the important factor for the downfall of 1979 which Pahlavi dynasty collapsed.

Actually, the present of some factors rose the essentiality of the idea reform in Iran. The poor economic prospects in one side and on the other the political situation prepared the domestic circumstances of the reform. In this era the domestic saving reduced and the cost of living inflationary was rose. Moreover the new dictatorial of the shah, after a decade freedom 1950s required some changes.

The idea of reform partly was due to the international policy in the region. It said that the shah was advised, or in somehow forced, for the reform as the part of international policy, particularly America against the progress of the Communism of the northern neighbour in Iran. However the designer of the reform had no considered the real capability of domestic circumstances of Iran.

The wings of opposition inside and outside of the country were active. They with different point of view finally united on the turn of the dynasty. Each one with their particular theory was sabotage the reform. They recognised by the name of Tude Party, Second National Front, Liberation Movement, Ulama and the big landowner.

For Tude Party, the theory of Marks and the policy of relation with USSR was important. For the Second National Front every things had to ratified by the which was a their main policy against the shah. For the Liberation Movement and Ulama, the independence and Islam were the strategic policy against the reform that they believed it was dictated by American advisor for destroying the country. Finally, the big landlord which some of them were on the head of influential tribes, for the released of their benefit and their participation in the power came against the regime.

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