Extacts from the Book Shah & Ayatollah:
The book is a small one and a short one, just 106 pages. It starts by proposing a thesis that the author hopes will trigger further studies and concludes we need "neithern Islamic Revolution or a White Revolution, but rather a cultural one" (page 102).
In revisiting Iranian mythologies in the light of newly acquired knowledge, and searching for "new interpretations beyond apparent story lines" (page 105) the Ambassador make some remarkle discoveries. Kaykhowsrow being an example of limiting the duration of leadership for the sake of good governance is indeed a lesson in democracy, however creating a Rostam Syndrom needs more scrutiny.
The book starts with Khomeini the badghadam (bird of ill-omen) (page 3) and compaires him with His Majesty Mohamad Reza Shah (khoshghadam) (page 5) and a comparison of these two individuals.
However, Fereydoun Hoveyda doubts without providing any reason for his doubt the Shah's contention when he said that "(In) my years in Europe... I grasped the spirit of democracy, discipline, freedom and realized that discipline without democracy is authoritarianism and that democracy without discipline is anarchy"(page 10)
He goes on to accuse Reza Shah of buying Large chunks of land from ladnowners at discount prices set by himself without elaborating on such general accusations.
MRP "Our White Revolution not only has its source but finds many parallels in the enlightened rule of Cyrus the Great. Te Persepolis celebrations signified the awakening of national pride in our rich heritage, coupled with confidence of achievements deriving from our recent successes. This provided our poeple with the stimulus to identify themselves with their ancient land and its traditional monarchy" (page 26 Karanjia, The Mind of a Monarch).
Ambassador Hoveyda "It was said at the time that communist and the big oil companies were funding the Confederation".
Page 29. Khomeini considering himslef a seyed and a representative of the 12th Imam, was not far from the Shah's who in 1971 Persepolis festivities, had linked himself to Cyrus and the Achaemenian dynasty!
Page 29 Khomeini " When I beheld the magnitute of the revolutionary movement, I saw God's intervention in it... It could not be the making of men..." Le Monde Diplomatique (April 1979)
Page 29 French proverb "les extremes setouchent" (extremist connect)
Page 30 Hoveyda "indeed, throughout history, Iranian sovereigns possessed a number of common characteristics and traits. One can even affirm that without these charachteristics they could not have ascended to the throne. It is as though some kind of Invisible crucible exists in which all the candidates to the supreme leadership of the Iranian nation must spend a period of incubation in order to acquire the necessary qualities of Iranian governance and become acceptable to the people.
Page 41 Like the Shah before them, the mulahs execute daily droves of so-called drug traffickers and other offenders. The despotic nature of Iranian rulers can be traced to several characters in ancient mythological tales and particularly Rostam.
Page 42 Iranian propensity towards exadurated mouring and sorrow on the one hand, and a deep sense of Iran's historical fate of a succession of defeats and dismemberments followed by stunning restorations. After each quirk of destiney, a saviour king appears who restablishes independance, starts a new dynasty and reimposes the national culture and mores.
Page 47 Iranian father possesses an absolute power over his children in his particular realm. Nothing stops him in weilding it. In a way he is an atavistic killer, as if he were seeking revenge for all he had suffered as a child before acceding to fathership."
Page 62 "It is as if ancient mythology were the fabric of Iranian' collective unconscious."
Page 63 "To succeed in bringing Iran into modern times, one has to change the mind-set of Iranians and at the same time the material infrastructure of their society."
Page 74 "Reza Shah was not of aristocratic origin, nor were some of the adventurers who ascended the Peacock throne for a short time."
Page 75 "illegitamacy of monarchy as stated in the unwritten constitutional law" of the Clergy.
Page 78 "Most Western commentators attributed the fall of the Shah to "widespread misery" of the Iranian People. In fact, in 1978, for the first time after many ceturies, Iranians did not suffer from hunger: overemployment had prompted the import of foreign workers.... Revolution did not aim at introducing a spiritual dimension into politics as some Westerners observes thought. Notwithstanding its religious flavour, it was in fact a class warfare in the sense that the cleric class aimed at replacing the political class.
Page 79 "The masses thought they had nothing to loose, but a lot to gain". Khomeini's promises whetted the masses never fully satisfied material appetite."
Page 80 "Out of 50 volumes that collect the hadiths (saying of the prophet), only four discuss prayer and the duties of the faithful towards his creator."
Page 80 "One more reason for the astounding success of the Islamic revolution lies in the fact that many poeple were afraid of "missing the boat": they jumped into it, hoping to share its projected profits.
Page 88 "This usual iranian practice is called ketman in religious terms and taghieh in current language."
Page 98 "The shah's mind, clouded by his delusion of grandeur, could not understand the fact that the modern technology he longed for was not neutral: it came with democratic ideologies attached to it."
Page 99 "The mistake of Irans (and probably other Thirld World) modernisers lies in the fact that they thought first the infrastructure (material basis) and then the superstructure (democracy)... Shah desired modernisation without the democratic features (page 100)
Page 101 Curiously enough, the leader almost always fails to live up to their expectations.
"The shah's mind, clouded by his delusion of grandeur, could not understand the fact that the modern technology he longed for was not neutral: it came with democratic ideologies attached to it."
Ambassador Hoveyda make no attempt to clarify why he believes the Shah was not aware of this fact and indeed encouraged democratic growth through participation & decentralisation and the education policies tha t go hand in hand with industrialisation.