1983 年 1983 巻 73 号 p. 9-27,L6
Some argue that the Iranian Revolution is a reaction to the rapid modernization carried out by the Shah. According to others it is an “Islamic” revolution. The perceptions in part stem from the dominant role played by the traditional religious establishment in Iran. The former views it as a negative reactionary force, while the latter views it as a positive progressive one.
Reality, however, lacks the neatness of these hypotheses. If the former is correct, then why was there no reaction in the period 1974-77 when the “modernization” drive was proceeding at full speed? Why did it come only in 1978 when the Iranian economy had already slowed down? On the other hand, if one attributes the cause of the revolution to the doctrine of Islam, particulary to its Shi'ite version, then one is again hard pressed to explain why the Shi'ite establishment could coexist with several Iranian monarchies for longer than four centuries since Safavid times. Why has the allegedly “revolutionary” ideology of Islam remained dormant for so long, only to be awakened in the late 1970s?
This paper rejects both of the above hypotheses and argues instead that the particular set of economic, political and social conditions in Iran during the late 1970s is responsible for the revolution. The existence of the traditional social institutions of Iran, not the ideology of Islam, has given their guardians (Mullahs) the commanding position in the revolution. They are Madrese, Bazar, Zur Khane, and Taziyeh theater and others. The colonialists and their successors have emasculated these institutions in other Islamic societies, while in Iran they were left relatively untouched, for Anglo-Russian rivalry had kept Iran independent as a buffer state. Mutual antagonism between these parties prevented the development of Iran by concessionaires (oil being a conspicuous exception). The Mullahs utilized these traditional organizations to mobilize the disenchanted masses, first to overthrow the Shah, and then to overwhelm the liberals and the leftists.
The other contributing factor is the historically enjoyed autonomy of the Iranian religious institutions from the state. Neither of these two elements exists in other Islamic countries. Therefore, we are unlikely to see another Iranian-type revolution.
The perception of the revolution as “Islamic”, however, has boosted an already surging movement of Islamic Fundamentalism. The continuing failure of the Arab regimes to recover Palestine has been feeding this movement, especially since Nasser's defeat in 1967.
The Fundamentalist forces have found an “ally” in an odd quarter, Begin's Israel. The revolutionaries in Iran and supporters outside see that the way to liberate Palestine lies in spreading the Islamic revolution into the Arab world. Thus they are hostile to the current Arab regimes. On the other hand, Israel is determined to first take on the immediate enemies such as Iraq and the PLO, ignoring the distant drums of Fundamentalists.
Here, the short-term goal of Begin and Khomeini merge. As a matter of fact, Israel has aided Iran in the Gulf War in order to weaken Iraq. Begin is helping Fundamentalism indirectly, too. Israel's invasion of Lebanon has painfully proved the impotence of the Arab political leadership including that of the PLO. This has accelerated the growth of the Fundamentalist influence among Palestinians, engendering the distinctive possibility that Palestinian Fundamentalists may split the liberation movement by breaking away from the secular leadership of the PLO. Israel is not unmindful of this potential when it tolerates the inflow of Iranian influence and money into the West Bank.
Thus, both religious states have practically entered an “alliance” of a sort against the moderate Arab leadership: Zionist Israel to defend Jerusalem, and Islamic Iran to liberate it.