European Liberalisms and Modern Concepts of Liberty in Iran

Published in Homa Katouzian Iranian History and Politics (Rouledge, 2007)

The subject

One hundred years ago there was a massive revolution in Iran primarily for the establishment of law and lawful government. This may still come as a surprise to some who are nurtured and versed in the history of modern Europe. Modern European revolutions, or indeed fundamental reforms which succeeded in averting revolutions, did not aim at establishing law in society. On the contrary, they intended to replace the existing law by one which would extend the rights and freedoms of the less privileged.[1] Apart from that, in the classical liberal age revolutions and reforms also aimed at limiting the law, that is, at drastically reducing the scale of state intervention in the private sphere. Indeed, the liberals of the 18th and 19th centuries virtually equated an increase in liberty with a decrease in legal restraints. Yet Iranian constitutionalists campaigned for law itself in order to attain freedom. My talk tonight aims to discuss and explain this apparent dichotomy, with reference to the basic differences in the social and historical realities of Iran and Europe.

European absolutism and Iranian arbitrary rule

European states had always been based in law, however narrow in scope or – by modern standards – unjust the law may have been. Even in the relatively short period of absolutism or despotism, the rights of the state were not unlimited, or, what is the same thing, they were not limited only by the extent of its physical power. The absolutist state was exceedingly more powerful than the European state had ever been in medieval times. Nevertheless, it was subject to definite restraints. The power of the state was absolute, but it was not arbitrary. Neither Henry VIII nor his daughter Elizabeth, nor the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, nor Francis I and Henry IV of France, or the latter’s glorious grandson Louis XIV, Le Roi de Soleil, nor Fredrick the Great of Prussia and Maria Theresa of Austria – to name but a few of the grandest and most successful monarchs of the age of absolutism – was an arbitrary ruler. Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and some other Russian rulers had still wider powers, but even they could not be described as arbitrary rulers.

European absolutism was a relatively short historical phenomenon. It reigned over Europe during four centuries for the continent taken as a whole. In England it took two centuries, from the beginning of the Tudors to the end of the Stuarts. In France it lasted for three centuries, from Louis XII to Louis the XVI. In Prussia, from the peace of Westphalia in 1648 to the Revolution of 1848. In The Holy Roman, later Austrian, Empire from the early 16th century also until the 1848 revolution. In Russia from the accession of the Romanovs early in the 17th century till the 1905 revolution.

There are two aspects – one, legal, the other, sociological – to the crucial distinction between absolutist and arbitrary states. Even during the high tides of absolutist government, although the king and state ‘had the absolute power of laying down the law’, they did not ‘have the absolute power of exercising lawlessness’.[2] Louis XIV, for example, who was the most powerful absolutist ruler of France could not blind or take the life or property of his own son, a nobleman, a state official, a judge, a merchant or trader, at will and without recourse to the existing legal framework and procedures.[3]

To this legal aspect of the absolutist state corresponded its basic sociological characteristic, i.e. the fact that the social classes were independent, and the state depended on the consent and cooperation of the propertied classes. This was possible because there were independent and inalienable rights of property-ownership so that even in the few centuries of absolutist rule the state did not monopolise the right of land-ownership, nor could it confiscate and plunder private wealth, whether in land or capital.  And, therefore, it did not, indeed could not, rise above the society. Far from lacking a social base, the absolute monarchies extended it to the lower gentry and the bourgeoisie, which is how they became known as protectors of ‘the people’ from the power of aristocratic magnates.  The aristocracy and many of their rights and privileges remained, but they lost some of their power, and it became easier for lower orders to join their ranks.  Private property ownership in land remained as strong as ever, and in capital, it became much stronger than before.  Church law was generally observed, and the church retained a considerable amount of its power and privileges.  Judicial processes – which included the prerogative courts – were respected, and any act of doubtful legality by the state was the exception that proved the rule.  It occasionally led to massive revolts, such as the English civil wars and revolution of 1641-1660. In no sense, therefore, did estebdad or arbitrary rule exist in the European absolutist state, although in Russia the absolute ruler wielded considerably more power than in other parts of Europe.[4]

‘Divine Right of Kings’ was the theory developed in the sixteenth and – particularly – seventeenth centuries as the basis for the legitimacy of absolute monarchy.  The theory was advanced in various – and sometimes conflicting – versions.  In general, they cited the divinely ordained kingship of biblical rulers such as David to prove their case (Filmer being an important exception to this), but it is sometimes believed that their real model was that of the ancient Persian kingship, which they knew from classical European sources. The divine right theory is not quite the same as the Persian Divine Effulgence or God’s Grace theory, which I shall briefly describe below.[5] Of much greater importance, however, is that the practice of absolute monarchy – which the theory sought to justify – was far from arbitrary government.  James I of England came closest to the Persian God’s Grace theory when he wrote that the kings were God’s vicegerents on earth. And in a conflict with the judges of the prerogative court he wrote that to put in doubt what belonged to the ‘mystery’ of the king’s power was against the law.[6]

Yet the very fact that he had to argue with judges about his prerogatives, and even to invoke ‘the Law’ against them, gives the lie to any supposition of the right of arbitrary rule.  Besides, James himself was emphatic about the rule of primogeniture as the basis of his own legitimacy, and his son Charles I took his stand in 1649 against his revolutionary accusers solely on the basis of the law of the land.[7]

In pre-Islamic Iran, the principle of Farr-e Izadi (God’s Grace, sometimes literally translated as Divine Effulgence) legitimised the arbitrary power of the ruler. According to this principle or myth, the power of rulers was both absolute and arbitrary for the simple reason that they owed their position to the Grace bestowed upon them directly by Divine Will. This was true both of the Just and the Unjust rulers, but it was believed that the Unjust would lose the Grace, and somehow fall from power, although in practice this did not necessarily happen. The same principle was used to legitimise Iran’s post-Islamic rulers, sometimes the term Farr-e Izadi still being applied, but later its equivalents, Shadow of God, Pivot of the Universe, etc, were preferred.[8]

When the ruler, as the personification of the state, is completely independent from the society, there may be no rights independently from him. That is, in the final analysis, no person or class of people may be able to claim any rights except that which is bestowed or reaffirmed by the ruler as a privilege. And what a ruler bestowed as a privilege he or his successors might withdraw, so long as they had the power to enforce their will.

There was no law, in the sense of basic precepts and principles, which set a boundary to the exercise of state power, and made it generally predictable.  Where there are no rights there is no law.  That is, where the ‘law’ is little more than the arbitrary decisions of the Law-giver, the concept of Law becomes redundant, even though there may exist a body of public rules and regulations which, however, may change at any moment, unpredictably and without any established procedures.  This indeed is the literal meaning of estebdad, of arbitrary government.

It is necessary to dwell on this point for another moment since it is far from palpable and could result in misunderstanding, even disbelief.  In Europe, the law was regarded as a binding force which regulated – i.e. brought order and discipline to – the relationship between state and society, as well as within the society itself.  It could change either as a result of organised efforts at reform through the existing legal procedures or, in the last resort, by rebellion and revolution.  The law was generally inviolable and usually difficult to change.  And it was even more so in the case of those fundamental – later described as constitutional – laws which defined the basic rights and obligations of individuals, social groups and the state.  Such (written or unwritten) laws or established traditions did not exist in Iran.  Indeed, this is what made the arbitrary exercise of power possible – in fact, normal.

There were thus no inviolable fundamental laws and traditions to make life, property and labour reasonably secure and predictable. As for judicial laws, a body of rules must have existed before Islam, and the Sharia supplied an extensive and elaborate civil and criminal code in Islamic times. Yet, the most restricting factor was that they could be applied only so long as they did not conflict with the wishes of the state.  That is why the state could plunder anyone’s property at will, or deal out such punishments against persons, families or whole towns which had no sanction in Sharia law; that is how the condemned would sometimes escape execution if they could make the shah or the local governor laugh at the right moment.

European liberalisms

I began by saying that the constitutional movement was primarily a campaign for law itself, whereas the early liberal movements in modern Europe sought to change the law in order to extend rights and liberties to the less privileged, while at the same time limiting the role of the state in society.

It would not do too much violence to our sense of political and intellectual history, I hope, to say that modern liberalism was invented in the seventeenth century; that it was invented in England, especially in the circumstances leading to the Glorious Revolution of 1688; and that its chief theorist was John Locke who openly espoused and glorified that revolution. Almost forty years before, Charles Stuart had been charged with attempting to impose arbitrary rule, and executed in the name of the law.  Whether or not the charge was fair, the revolution led by Cromwell had abolished absolute monarchy, though not absolute government itself. The Restoration of 1660 was based on a compromise that James II later tried to contravene. But his so-called abdication – for it was scarcely as dignified as that – marked the end of absolute monarchy in England.

The social contract theory was not Locke’s invention. It went farther back even than Thomas Hobbes, who is its first celebrated advocate. He too had assumed a state of nature in which at some point human beings entered a social contract. Hobbes’s state of nature was close to primeval chaos, a ‘state of Warre as of everyone against everyone’, as he described it. Therefore, in order to protect their own lives, people made a contract to surrender their rights to an absolute sovereign, ‘the Great Leviathan’. It did not matter to Hobbes whether this was an absolute monarch, an absolute parliament, or some other absolute lawgiver, so long as it had absolute power to maintain peace and security. But the theory was fundamentally different from the traditional absolute monarchy precisely because it placed the sovereign power not in any tradition, or divine right or even hereditary principle, but in the original social contract. That is how Hobbes lost the sympathy of his fellow royalists as well as the leaders of the Puritan revolution.

Locke’s concepts of the state of nature and the social contract were very different. He wrote during the following revolution that overthrew absolutist government. The state of nature was, according to him, not primeval chaos but a happy anarchy bound by the moral framework of the law of nature, which was accessible to human reason. Natural law was, of course, as old as classical philosophy, and had been popular also with schoolmen, its most intelligent medieval advocate being no less than St. Thomas Aquinas himself.  Yet Locke’s concept was far from a theological one. And at any rate, his blissful state of nature came to an end because of the need for an impartial judge in cases of criminals who violated the natural code of conduct. But the contract into which they entered was not, as in Hobbes, to surrender their rights collectively to an absolute sovereign.  They surrendered their natural rights, each one to the other, in establishing civil society.

There is, of course, no real foundation to the social contract theory of Locke or anyone else. Apart from that, the concept is highly static, non-evolutionary, unhistorical. But he used it well to justify his liberal theory of government in modern society.

Locke put much emphasis on the natural right of property, although, judging by his political economy and labour theory of value, this was a notion of property which firmly included capital as well as landed estate. And his psychological theory, the tabula rasa concept, the theory that all knowledge is acquired only by sense perception, not only rivalled the traditional theological theories, but also denied aristocratic claims to inherited superiority.[9]

Yet Locke’s theory did not offer a full justification for a democratic society.  Its practical counterpart was Whig liberalism of the 18th century, which replaced absolute monarchy by a government representing, in different portions, the claims of the crown, the church, the aristocracy and the common people. It is important to note that for a long time in Europe a liberal did not have to be also a democrat.

In the same century that Locke and other philosophers appealed to the law of nature in the realm of political theory, laws of nature of a different kind had been discovered in the realm of natural philosophy. The new physics had a great impact on liberal rationalist thought of the 18th century. And it owed so much to Newton alone that it is sometimes described as Newtonian physics. In Alexander Pope’s epigrammatic verse:

Nature and Nature’s Laws lay hid in Night:

God said, Let Newton be! And all was light!

Locke and Newton combined were the most important sources of 18th century liberal theories, led by the French philosophes, the men of the Enlightenment. These came in different generations, and were different in temper and degree of enthusiasm. There are, for example, ponderable differences in the tenor and tone, the degree of learning, the scope of vision, and the level of abstraction in the arguments of Montesquieu and Condorcet. Voltaire and – to a lesser degree – Diderot were less idealistic than some of the others, despite their greater fame as leaders of the Movement. And there was Rousseau’s exception to the rule, divided as he was between the scientific and the emotional routes to naturalism. That is, between the unmitigated rationalism of his time and the unbridled romanticism of the next century, which was partially inspired by his own appeal to the emotions; and for which the current term in the fashionable salons of the time was ‘sensibility’, the term that was later to appear in the title of a famous novel by Jane Austen.

These intellectuals of the Enlightenment radicalised Locke’s concept of liberty as well as his methodological empiricism, and combined it with a rationalism based on Newton’s physics to construct a new faith which promised the Jerusalem of freedom, reason and unfettered economic progress. The Scottish thinkers Adam Smith and David Hume, who befriended them, were more in the tradition of Locke’s English moderation and gradualism. Smith’s moral philosophy was based on the assumption of natural harmony, but later when he wrote on political economy he realised the simplicity of that assumption for a study of human society. He presented a persuasive case for freedom of trade and limitation of government, but did so in a relatively sober and moderate tone.

Some of their French correspondents and collocutors, however, predicted little short of the Millennium. Helvétius, Holbach, Turgot and Condorcet in particular put forward extremely optimistic visions of the future, once the war against the declining absolute monarchy, medieval philosophy and the Roman Church had been won. Yet, their concrete ideas did not go much further than the liberty of conscience and expression, and the economic policy of laissez faire.

And perhaps even more than their English hero, John Locke, they did not advocate representative government – certainly, not popular democracy – with any degree of enthusiasm, not even universal equality before the law. Indeed, some of the philosophes were quite prepared to settle for what became known as ‘enlightened despotism’. Diderot, in particular, used the tern ‘despotisme eclairée’ in some of his letters, while some Physiocrats spoke of a ‘despotisme légale’. There was logic to this. They saw the fundamental struggle, not against the state, but against the powerful social classes, the nobility and the higher clergy. And, as the reforming elite of the society, they preferred an enlightened monarchy to a mass revolt, to reduce the immense power and privileges of those classes.  The ideal of democratic, or at least representative, government were later pursued by the American and French revolutions, though in different forms and with different consequences.

The philosophes’ concept of liberty was therefore largely negative, in the sense used by T. H. Green, which I shall discuss shortly. That is, they demanded the removal of legal fetters against freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of trade. And the legacy of the more radical of them became the foundation of the liberal individualism of the nineteenth century, developed by thinkers known as the Philosophical Radicals, men like Jeremy Bentham and James Mill who brought to a completion the theory of utilitarian or individualist liberalism. The well known principle of ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’ was a product of ‘the calculus of pleasure and pain’: that is, maximisation of pleasure and minimisation of pain, once individuals had the maximum possible freedom from legal restraint. This was what Thomas Carlyle later mocked as ‘Anarchy plus the Constable’, a view not far from F. A. Hayek’s liberalism in the twentieth century, which at the rise of neo-liberalism in our time led to the famous remark, ‘There is no such thing as society’.[10]

John Stuart Mill had trouble with that.  He carried the mantles of Bentham’s and his father’s utilitarianism as well as Ricardo’s political economy over a single pair of shoulders, and increasingly found it difficult to wear them without some additional linings and stitches. After the parliamentary Reform Act of 1832, the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, and campaigns for a better deal for the new industrial working class, the radical wind had been taken out of the sails of utilitarian or individualist liberalism. Apart from that, the younger Mill was too sophisticated a thinker and too conscientious a social reformer to be complaisant about the universal beneficence of laissez faire liberalism.  He conceded that the highest degree of liberty was not necessarily achieved by the minimum amount of legislation.

But it fell to a new generation of political theorists and philosophers to draw explicit conclusions from Mill’s revision of individualist liberal theory. It was T. H. Green, a distinguished Oxford philosopher of the late 19th century, who first formulated the dilemma of classical individualist liberalism, and proposed a distinction between ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ freedom, which later in the twentieth century was brilliantly restated by another distinguished Oxford philosopher, Isaiah Berlin.  The negative concept of liberty, defined freedom entirely as absence of legal restraint. Green found this limited. He understood its importance for the time that classical liberals had campaigned against outmoded legislation, which perpetuated social and economic privilege. But by his time this war had been decisively won, and now the freedom of contract, i. e. lack of government regulations in the labour market, gave unequal power to employers and other privileged social classes. Apart from that, there was need for government intervention and expenditure to improve the education and health of the majority of the people.

But Green went further than just the economic necessity and social justice of state legislation, though this seems to have been overlooked by Berlin.  He saw ‘positive freedom’ (this is his own term) also as the ability of the individual personality to ‘realise’ itself by finding a significant part to play in society. Positive freedom must contribute to the enjoyment of the general public, not just of material, but also of spiritual goods.  His conception of positive freedom thus went significantly beyond the arguments and policies, even, of the welfare state in the 20th century, because it also put a high premium on moral and spiritual growth, something that had been hinted at by Adam Smith and discussed by Hegel and the young Marx, and was to become fashionable for a time, in the latter part of twentieth century, as the concept of alienation.[11]

To sum up, two principal liberal concepts of freedom emerged in the 18th and 19th centuries. The individualist or negative concept, which defined freedom as the absence of legal restraint, although it still regarded law and government as necessary for the maintenance of peace and security. And the positive or social concept of freedom, which went beyond that and demanded public intervention to enable the large majority of people to realise the rights and freedoms which they had been allowed to enjoy but did not have the means to enjoy them. But there was yet another concept of liberty that developed in 19th century Europe, though it was far from liberal. I refer to what is sometimes described as romantic individualism, to which I shall come back later when I discuss Iranian concepts of liberty.

Classical liberalism, therefore, advocated the abolition of legal restraints, so that individuals would have the maximum possible amount of freedom to enjoy life as best they could. But it did not advocate licence or chaos. It did not even imply anarchism, although, as a radical outgrowth of classical liberalism, not even anarchist theory aspired to chaos in its vision of the good society. Classical liberalism, let me emphasise, campaigned for the removal of as many legal restraints as possible, but it did not oppose law itself. J. S. Mill formulated its concepts of freedom and law, succinctly, as the freedom to pursue one’s interest to the extent that it would not deprive others to do the same.

Liberty as law

Iranian reformers and constitutionalists of the nineteenth century, on the other hand, campaigned for law as such. Mainly through Russia, Britain and France, Europe was exposed to the ears and eyes of Iranians as the magical model of power, prosperity and progress. The intelligentsia, who included many Qajar noblemen and state officials, looked for the key to this great and wonderful secret, and they found it – writ large – as LAW. They saw law first as responsible and – especially – orderly government and later as freedom. It would make private property safe and powerful, official positions less insecure and more responsible, and life and limb less in danger of arbitrary violation.

As late as 1906 when the first national assembly was about to be established, Sayyed Jamal al-Din Isfahani – the famous radical preacher and thinker of the Movement – asked his audience in a sermon what they thought the country needed most. A few individuals shouted slogans such as ‘unity’, ‘patriotism’, etc. Admitting the desirability of all of these, the Sayyed nevertheless said that first and foremost there was need for QANUN. And, in the traditional style of teachers trying to teach the Persian alphabet to little children, he began to spell out each letter, then two letters together – i. e., Q, A, QA – etc., and asking the entire audience to repeat after him. He then launched out the following, which must be the most intensive single eulogy ever sung in praise of LAW in the annals of any modern revolution (in reading the following it must be remembered that, in Persian, qanun both means ‘law’ and ‘the law’):

People! Nothing would help your country progress other than subjection to law, observation of law, preservation of law, respect for law, implementation of the law, and again law, and once again law. Children must from childhood read and learn at schools that no sin in religion and the Shria is worse than opposing law…Observing religion means law, religion means law, Islam, the Qur’an, mean God’s law. My dear man, qanun, qanun, children must understand, women must understand, that the ruler is law and law alone, and no one’s rule is valid but that of law. The parliament is the protector of law…the legislative assembly and legislature is the assembly which legislates the law, the sultan is the head of the executive which implements the law. The soldier is defender of the law, the police are defenders of the law, justice means law, prosperity means implementing the law, the independence of the monarchy makes sense through the rules of law. In a word, the development of any country, the foundation of every nationality, and the solidarity of every nation arises from the implementation of the law.[12]

Imagine what Adam Smith, Hevétius, Condorcet, Bentham, et. al., would have thought of this Sayyed and his fellow thinkers and revolutionaries, had they heard this passionate praise of law. They might have suspected the secret influence of Edmund Burke, perhaps even of Metternich, although they knew that Burke at least would not go that far.

In the first half of the nineteenth century Iran’s growing weakness vis-à-vis European powers had been largely attributed to technological underdevelopment. From the 1850′s, however, the reformers’ attention was increasingly drawn to the social framework which lay behind Europe’s modern technical progress. This suggested an urgent need for orderly and responsible administration, and that implied government based in law; i. e. lawful as opposed to arbitrary rule. Malkam Khan was the first thinker to present a systematic framework – indeed a blueprint – for creating lawful government. Some critics have doubted the sincerity of his motives. Any comprehensive study of Malkam’s biography must involve an assessment of their arguments. But these are of little relevance to an appraisal of his ideas which – independently from his personality traits – had much influence in shaping the theory and practice of the constitutitonalist movement, just as such considerations would be irrelevant in an analysis of the role of Mirabeau and Danton in the French revolution, the charges against whom are probably both heavier and easier to prove than those levelled at Malkam.[13]

He submitted his long and comprehensive constitutional frame to Naser al-Din Shah, apparently at the Shah’s own bidding, shortly after the collapse of the siege of Herat, and the resulting Paris peace treaty, which exposed Iran’s weakness vis-à-vis Europe once again since the Russo-Iranian wars of decades before. Its most striking feature, perhaps, is the distinction he makes between absolute monarchy and arbitrary rule. There were two types of monarchy, he said at the outset: Absolute Monarchy, such as those of the Russian and Austrian empires, and Moderate Monarchy, such as in England and France. He then distinguished between two types of absolute monarchy, one that he called, ‘organised and orderly absolute monarchies’ – giving the examples of Russia and Austria. The other type of absolute monarchy, he described as ‘disorganised and disorderly absolute monarchies’. He gave no example of this, though it was obvious that he meant arbitrary governments. He said that Moderate Monarchy – by which he meant one that was both lawful and representative – was irrelevant to the case of Iran. What was needed was an orderly absolute monarchy, that is, one that was based in law: an absolute monarchy in which the crown laid down the law, and it was observed as well as executed by an organised, disciplined and responsible administration.

It was an extremely clever scheme, given that it had been intended for constitutional reform from above by an arbitrary ruler. It made the fundamental distinction between absolute government and arbitrary rule, arguing that absolute government is in reality more powerful than arbitrary rule. When it came to the legislative and executive functions of the state, however, he proposed the formation of a legislative and an executive council to which the Shah would delegate his absolute powers for the legislation and application of the law. There then followed a comprehensive draft constitution which required the entire state and religious law to be organised and written by the legislative council. Ministers must be independent and responsible. Administrative regulations must be consistent with the law. No one could be arrested except by order of the law. Nothing could be taken from anyone except by order of the law. No-one’s home could be entered into without the authority of the law.  Taxes must be collected on a basis laid down by the law. And, in the reassuring guise of ‘orderly absolute monarchy’, he even managed to slip in the rule that ‘the people of Iran would enjoy freedom of thought.’ This is a large and elaborate document, although all the other articles follow from these basic rules.[14]

It was the theoretical background to the formation of the government of Mirza Hossein Khan Moshir al-Dawleh, known as Sepahsalar, in 1871 as an experiment in lawful and orderly administration, which survived only for two years. Malkam was a chief adviser to Sepahsalar; Mirza Yusef Khan Mostashar al-Dawleh was deputy minister of justice. He is the author of the famous book, One Word (Yek Kalameh). It was a highly dramatic way of publicising the all-importance of that ‘one word’ – i. e. LAW. He had once virtually believed that the construction of railways would be the most effective instrument for inaugurating social and economic progress. This was an echo of earlier reformers such as Abbas Mirza, the Price Regent, who had seen the technological gap as the chief cause of Iran’s weakness vis-à-vis Europe. Now following the diagnosis of his master, Malkam, Mostashar al-Dawleh denied that European development was primarily due to scientific and technological progress. On the country, he said, ‘the one word which is the source of Europe’s orderly system is the book of law’.[15]

Malkam’s later writings on constitutional reforms became more open, no longer paying lip service to absolute monarchy.[16] But even in his official blueprint for reform from above, he envisaged various rights and freedoms, including freedom of conscience. So did Mostashar al-Dawleh. Such freedoms did correspond to the negative concept of liberty in Europe, except – and this is the crucial distinction – whereas in Europe, they would be realised by limiting the law, in Iran, they would be established by abolishing arbitrary rule and establishing lawful government.

The Iranian reformers’ concept of freedom was, therefore, first and foremost, law itself.  Any individual freedoms, such as freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of movement, etc, would not be possible outside a legal framework, whether in chaos or in arbitrary rule. This must be true of any society, European or Iranian, Eastern or Western. But the absence of any such framework in Iranian society made it obvious that without law there would be no freedom at all except that which may be given and taken away arbitrarily, and as a privilege.  The reformers did not tire of emphasising the primacy of the security of life and property.  So long as people’s lives and property were not protected by law, there would be no sense in advocating individual freedoms. Throughout the ages, arbitrary government had been able to take the life and property of anyone – regardless of rank and position – without ceremony, without legal procedures, without even a right of defence, so long as it had had the physical force to do so. There was no recourse to law against naked power. The only remedy, when possible, had been rebellion.

This then was the logic of the constitutionalist thinkers and reformers in placing such importance on law, in general, and on the security of life and property, in particular. In emphasising the importance of law, they were demanding a freedom that, in various ways, had existed in Europe since its classical foundations. It was the freedom from arbitrary rule, a negative concept in form, but a positive one in substance since it implied the right to a secure life. For it was only through law as freedom – i. e. as the right to a secure and predictable life – that other freedoms, which they also listed and advocated, could be pursued. It was not the removal of existing legal restraints as in classical European liberalism, but the creation of a legal framework through which it was possible to legislate for personal freedoms.

Liberty, Romanticism and Nationalism

There was disagreement among the thinkers themselves on the extent to which religion or the religious leaders would be amenable to their proposed reforms. Malkam argued consistently that there was no essential conflict between constitutionalism and the Islamic doctrine, once the matter had been clearly explained and understood and adapted to Iran’s culture and society. Mostashar al-Dawleh was of the same mind. Sayyed Jamal al-Din Afghani (Asad-Abadi) – that complex and enigmatic figure – was campaigning for modernisation in a united Islamic world, and he had no obvious quarrel with Malkam over religion, law and freedom.

On the other hand, Mirza Fath’ali Akhundzadeh, despite his great respect for Malkam and his ideas, disagreed and believed that religion would be a serious, even insurmountable, barrier. Later, Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani, who belonged to the next generation, echoed the views of Akhundzadeh, but argued that, nevertheless, they must avoid alarming the religious leaders and community.[17]

They too were aware of the central importance of law. They too advocated various individual liberties. But, contradictory as it would sound, their ideas were as much in line with the Romantic Movement of the 19th century as with the rationalist and individualist liberalism of the preceding century, which it rejected. Taking one or two leaves out of Jean Jacque Rousseau’s book, this Romantic Movement was not as coherent as rationalist liberalism, and its roots and causes differed, even conflicted, in different countries of Western Europe. In England and France, it had been both a reaction to the French revolution and Napoleon, as in the case of Coleridge, Wordsworth and Chateaubriand; and a response to the failure of revolution and Napoleon followed by reaction and the Holy Alliance in Europe, as in the case of Byron, Shelley and Victor Hugo. In Germany, it had been more a product of the Counter-Enlightenment of the late eighteenth century – which, to some extent and for some time, even included men as even-tempered as Goethe and Schiller – and of the rise of German nationalism, inspired by the thoughts of Hamann, Herder and Fichte, among others.[18]

Thus nineteenth century romanticism was far more diverse than classical liberalism, to which it was opposed. And it made a definite impact on later irrationalist thinking, including nihilism and existentialism, represented by such figures as Kierkegaard, Schopenhaur, and Nietzsche.[19] It has given rise to the concept of ‘romantic individualism’, but the term individualism, being so much associated with classical liberalism, is somewhat misleading.  Yet, although not a liberal concept, the romantic dissent may still be regarded as a concept of liberty, the liberty to defy norms and traditions; reject established values; disregard popular and/or powerful opinions. It was a libertarian radicalism that did not measure truth or justice by success, and took pride in the ethic of renunciation, in loneliness, even failure, when this was a consequence of standing by one’s ideals. ‘I have written’, Byron told his publisher in 1819, ‘from the fullness of my mind, from passion – from impulse – from motives – but not for [the public's] “sweet voices” – I know the precise worth of public applause’. [20] It was from the romantic quarters that the slogan ‘Art for Art’s sake’ was first shouted.[21]

As noted, an important aspect of this Romantic Movement in Germany was the rise of German nationalism.  To a considerable extent, it was a reaction to the long period of pervasive French influence in German politics and culture since the Thirty-Year War and the peace of Westphalia in the first half of the 17th century; a product of hurt pride.

It is virtually impossible to know the extent of any direct impact made by the romantic thinkers and writers of such variety and nationalities on Iranian thinkers and reformers of the time. Certainly there is scarcely any trace of it in the thoughts of Malkam, Mostashar al-Dawleh and other like-minded reformers. But, however indirect it might have been, the romantic influence may be clearly seen in the ideas of Jalal al-Din Mirza, a son of Fath’ali Shah and head of an unofficial grouping of Freemason sympathisers (known as Faramush-khaneh) organised by Malkam, and more notably in the thoughts of Akhudzadeh, Mirza Aqa Khan, and so many other intellectuals, poets, political campaigners, etc., later in the twentieth century, who were initiated by them.

Both Akhundzadeh and Mirza Aqa Khan saw the origins of Iranian social ills in the Arab conquest and influence of Islam, and both of them romanticised the real and imagined glories of ancient Persia. Aqa Khan went even further in this, and identified other culprits as well, including Alexander the Great.[22] This was the background to the widespread romantic nationalist movement which spread later in the twentieth century, with its official and unofficial trends and tendencies.

A description and assessment of these views is beyond the present talk, assuming for a moment that I could do justice to them in the time available.[23] It is, however, interesting, that whereas the original German movement had been largely a reaction against the French cultural hegemony, against ‘progress’, so to speak, its Iranian version was a reaction to the Arabs, Turks and others who no longer had political or cultural hold over the country, except, of course, for the influence of Islam. The German nationalists’ return to their roots was a reaction against something that was supposed to be more advanced than their own, now humiliating, now patronising them. But the romantic Iranians’ return to their roots was something pro-European, looking up to the society that was more advanced and more powerful than them, and thinking, sometimes even claiming, that they would have been there already had the Persian empire not fallen to Muslim Arabs in the 7th century.

It took another century for this radical romanticism – now expressed in terms of different ideologies – to look like the original German reaction, when the hurt pride manifested itself against the West, and against all that the reformers of the nineteenth century had admired – sometimes even worshipped. The idealised roots this time – the lost paradise – were no longer the real and imagined Achaemenid or Sassanian glories, but the real and imagined post-Islamic, pre-modern, traditions.[24]

Liberty as licence

For the time being, however, the removal of arbitrary government was the reformers’ most urgent agenda, including those of them who displayed the influence of romantic nationalism. Yet there was another side to the dialectics of Iranian history, the ancient Iranian chaos as the anti-thesis of the ancient Iranian arbitrary rule. The persistent opposition of the society to the state – of mellat to dawlat – had been something normal, even when there was no chance of rebellion. Its logic is rather obvious. Since the state was independent from society, and there was no law to regulate their relationship, society – even the upper and influential classes – saw it more as an oppressive power than a guarantor of their rights. Hence the latent conflict of society with the state even in normal times. Hence also the absence of any alternative to arbitrary rule for maintaining peace and stability.

When the state was greatly weakened as a result of communal strife, or collapsed because of a successful revolt, the consequence was chaos reminiscent of Hobbes’s state of nature, the state of ‘Warre as of everyone against everyone’.  Chaos was in fact none other than divided arbitrary rule, incorporating all its ills, but excluding its supreme function in maintaining peace and stability. That is why, within a short space of time, the people – and not least the humblest of them – hoped for and welcomed the return of another absolute and arbitrary government.

Just as arbitrary rule had been regarded as the natural system of government until the middle of the 19th century, so chaos – described variously as fetneh, fesad, ashub, harj-o marj, even enqelabat - was regarded as the natural product of its collapse. When Fath’ali Shah expressed amazement to his European visitors as to how it would be possible to run a country with others having a share in the ruler’s decision making, he was reflecting the universal belief that chaos was the natural and inevitable antithesis to arbitrary rule.[25]

Later in the 19th century, greater contact with Europe – including visits to European countries by the Shah, notables, even students – demonstrated that order was possible in the absence of arbitrary rule; indeed it was even more secure and long lasting. Prince Zel al-Soltan who was not particularly noted for reformist zeal wrote after a visit to Paris:

Although they say there is freedom and republic, and there is absolute licence (har keh har keh ast), this is not the case…In this country, it looks as if everyone – whether king or beggar, rich, master or lackey – has the book of law under his arm and before his eyes, and he knows that there is no escaping from the claws of the law…The power of the police must be seen, it cannot be gauged from the description of others.[26]

This shows the extent to which fear of chaos prevailed, even as late as the end of the 19th century.  The Iranian reformers were well aware of the potency of this fear. And the more sober of them were at pains to emphasise that lawful government would bring real, long lasting, law and order, rather than chaos. Malkam wrote a whole essay arguing that, contrary to popular opinion, it was possible to establish order in Iran. He said:

No idiot has ever said that we should give people the liberty to say what they will. It is true that most foreign [i. e. European] nations speak of nothing but freedom for the sake of the progress and prosperity of their country. But what kind of freedom? Legal freedom, not arbitrary freedom. [27]

These words were written in a long essay addressed to Mozaffar al-Din Shah a year or so before he issued the order for constitutional government. A couple of years later, they were echoed in a sophisticated statement, by the ulama of Najaf, of the aims and implications of constitutional government, against arguments put forward by the disciples of Shaikh Fazllollah Nuri, who advocated Mahru’eh as their alternative to constitutionalism. It read:

The meaning of freedom in constitutional states is not absolute licence, which would permit everyone to do what they like to the point of violating the lives, property and dignity of others. Such a thing has never existed and will never exist in any community of human beings, as it would permit of none other than absolute disruption, and general anarchy in the affairs of the people. On the contrary, the meaning of freedom is the liberty of the general public from arbitrary and unaccountable government by force, so that no powerful individual – i. e. the shah – could use his power against the least powerful member of the community, and impose anything on him except that which is permitted by the law of the land, and before which all the people – be they shah or beggar – would be equal. And freedom in this sense is a rational precept and one of the pillars of the Islamic faith.[28] (emphasis added)

Two points are worthy of emphasis here. First, the explicit definition of liberty as freedom    from arbitrary rule, which, as noted, was the interchangeable concepts of law and freedom held by the constitutionalists. Not only the Najaf Ulama, but also the radical Democrat, Sayyed Mohammad Reza Shirazi gave the same definition for freedom at about the same time in his newspaper Mosavat. He wrote:

Whenever [the terms] liberty and equality are used in civilised countries, they render certain clear meanings which have been gradually obtained as a result of the passage of ages and centuries. For example, liberty is used in the sense of political freedom, and whenever the word is uttered it means … [freedom] from  arbitrary rule by the state[۲۹]

Even as late as the early 1920′s when both law and liberty had lost much of their force as a panacea for peace and progress, the poet and journalist Farrokhi Yazdi defined freedom as law. He wrote in a quatrain:

Since law is the cause of our liberty,

We shall survive as long as there is law,

A people will never be lost,

In a land which is ruled by law.[30]

So much about the ulama’s point on liberty as law. The second important point of the Najaf statement was the distinction between liberty and licence, between law and chaos, in a constitutional regime, which, at least in practice, many if not most of those who were both for and against constitutional government did not make.  To the latter, law meant liberty and liberty meant liberation from the state, without however making a clear distinction between liberation from the lawful state which had just been created, and from the lawless state, the antithesis to which had always been chaos.

It was destructive conflict, borne of ancient traditions, of habits that die hard, which led to chaos, and chaos resulted in the failure of the experiment of constitutionalism in the first quarter of the last century. It is very important to note that – contrary to common belief – the chaos was not just nomadic, ethnic and regional; it existed right at the centre, in the parliament, among the factions and parties, and within the ranks of the competing political magnates. Indeed, had there not been such rift and chaos in the very centre of politics, it is unlikely that such powerful centrifugal forces would have been released, or been so effective, in the provinces. For it is characteristic of the country’s history that whoever has the centre also has the periphery.

The politics of elimination – as I have called it – of each party virtually wishing to eliminate its rivals, which is so characteristic of the history of twentieth century Iran, began shortly after the triumph of the campaign for lawful government, first between the constitutionalists and the remnants of the old regime, then among the constitutionalists themselves. It was at that early point in the destructive conflict and war of elimination, that Abd al-Rahim Talebof, a foremost thinker, intellectual and writer of the Movement spoke out against the chaotic trends, and predicted darkly its consequences for the country. He wrote, barely a month after the constitution had been signed:

If liberty in fact means that anyone commit any transgression, highwaymen rob any caravan they wish, the mob grab what they like, the hooligans beat and kill, every illiterate person publishes whatever occurs to him of libel and defamation [etc., etc.], can we congratulate each other and celebrate this state of wild lawlessness and terrifying chaos? [31]

And further, as he wrote to a Tabriz newspaper:

Until now Iran was captive to the double-horned bull of arbitrary government, but from now on – if it does not succeed in bringing order to itself – it will be struck by the thousand-horn ox of the rabble and the mob. I openly declare that I see this as being inevitable.[32]

Whether or not it was inevitable, his prediction proved right, and that is how constitutionalism was effectively lost. Within a decade, constitutionalism, i. e. law and freedom, came to be known to a growing number of people as nothing but chaos. Each time they wished to say someone had achieved his selfish and corrupt aims, they would cynically say that he had ‘made it to his constitutionalism’ (beh mashruteh-ash resid). There even came a time, soon after the triumph of 1909, when they described incidents of looting and plunder by saying ‘there was constitutionalism’. This is mentioned in a comment by a contemporary historian on the lawless behaviour of a revolutionary hero who had become governor-general of Kurdistan just after the Shah had been deposed and the constitutional government firmly established in Tehran. This is what he wrote:

There was loss of faith in constitutionalism and constitutionalists alike. Indeed, among the people, the word constitutionalism came to mean killing and looting, so that whenever anyone killed anyone and anywhere was looted, they said ‘there was constitutionalism’ (mashruteh shod).[33]

By 1920, chaos and disorder resulting from the powerlessness of the state in implementing the law had reached the point where, Shaikh Mohammad Khiyabani, the prominent radical Democrat who had taken charge of the Azerbaijan province without proper constitutional authority, used the prevalence of chaos as one of the main reasons for the Tabriz Democrats’ seizure of power, so that they would be able to bring order and discipline at least to their own province. He said in a speech:

The fourteen-year-old [Constitutional] Revolution was a sudden change, and so it led to disorder. But this time discipline [he actually uses the European word] will be imposed on events, and you shall be exposed to light gradually (emphasis added). [34]

Order and discipline were the recurring themes of Khiyabani’s endless speeches, for example:

We would like Iranian democracy to become familiar with that civil and voluntary discipline … and therefore attain real and practical freedom.[35]

Much of this was clearly a reaction to how chaos and disorder had been misunderstood for law, constitutionalism, democracy and freedom after the fall of the arbitrary state. Indeed, it is against that general background that Khiyabani’s emphasis on obedience – by which he means governability – must be viewed:

No nation can progress without obedience. No concept of freedom would be imaginable if it was not combined with obedience. No matter how radical a creed might be, it could not deny the need for obedience…. [۳۶]

Khiyabani’s  ‘real and practical freedom’ and his ‘concept of freedom … combined with obedience’ were none other than freedom within the law, the common European concept of liberty, which had been understood only by a few Iranian reformists but – at least in practice – misunderstood by many as complete independence from the state, and therefore from law itself.

By this time, liberty, law and constitutionalism had fallen into great disrepute, and the 1921 coup which occurred eight or nine months after these speeches were made was largely a response to a desperate desire for a change that would end the chaos and bring stability. And this is what had happened in the country’s long history, every time the collapse of an arbitrary government had led to generalised lawlessness.

Liberty’s decline and rise

But it was no end of the cycle of chaos and arbitrary rule in the 20th century, through which liberty had a chequered career both in theory and practice, falling victim, now to chaos and now to arbitrary rule. So chequered, indeed, that in the last thirty-five years of the century, it became an undesirable commodity, hated both by the rulers, who saw it as chaos, and a product of Western decline and decadence, and by the ruled, to whom it either meant bourgeois deception, or licence for immoral behaviour, or indeed both. The large coincidence of sentiments here was remarkable, even though they were justified by conflicting arguments.  There were very few who would be ready to sing poet laureate Bahar’s song for liberty in the Constitutional Revolution, boldly and with commensurate conviction:

O’ Liberty, blessed Liberty

I shall not stop loving you

Until you call me to yourself

Or I call you to myself

And yet this moment – a hundred years after the Constitutional Revolution – law, liberty and democracy are once again heading the agenda for political change in Iran. How did this change come about (to paraphrase Rousseau)? That question I have tried to answer somewhere else.

St. Antony’s College and Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford.

Notes and references


[1] For a comparative analysis of European and Iranian revolutions, see ‘Towards A General Theory of Iranian Revolutions’ in Homa Katouzian, Iranian History and Politics, London and New York: Routledge, paperback edition, 2007.

[2] Homa Katouzian, The Political Economy of Modern Iran, London and New York: Macmillan and New York University Press, 1981, p. 21.

[3] For a more elaborate comparative study of arbitrary rule in Iran and absolutism in Europe, see Homa Katouzian, ‘Arbitrary Rule, A Comparative Theory of State, Politics and Society in Iran’, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 1, 24, 1997.

[4] See Katouzian ‘Arbitrary rule’.  See further, for example, Heinz Lubasz (ed.) The Development of the Modern State (London: Macmillan, 1964); Perry Anderson, Lineages of the Absolutist State (London: New Left Books, 1974).

[5] For a comprehensive study of divine right of kings, see John Neville Figgs, The Divine Right of Kings, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1914.  For a classical version of the theory, see Jacque Beningne Boussuet, ‘The Divine Right of Kings’ in William F. Church (ed.), The Greatness of Louis XIV, Boston: D.C. Heath, 1959.  For arguments over the divine right theory among Robert Filmer, Algernon Sidney, John Locke et al., see, for example, F.J. Hearnshaw (ed.) The Social and Political Ideas of Some English Thinkers of the Augustan Age, 1650-1750, London: Harraps, 1928, especially ch.2 .

[6] See C.H. McIlwain (ed.), The Political Works of James I, Cambridge, MA: 1918, p.307.

[7] See, for example, C.V. Wedgwood, The Trial of Charles I (London: World Books, 1964), especially chs. 6-13.

[8] See Katouzian ‘Arbitrary Rule’, and ‘Farrah-ye Izadi va Haqq-e Elahi-ye Padshahan’, Ettel’at Siyasi-Eqtesadi, 9&10, June-July 1998.

[9] References on Locke and Hobbes could be virtually endless. See, for example, John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, Peter Laslett (ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, John Plamenatz (ed.), The Fontana Library: London, 1967. C. B. Macpherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism, Hobbes to Locke, London: Oxford University Press, 1970. ‘Hobbes’ and ‘Locke’ in John Plamentz, Man and Society, vol. 1, chaps 4 and 6, London: Longman, 1963. Social Contract, Essays by Locke, Hume, And Rousseau, with an introduction by Sir Ernest Barker, London: Oxford University Press, 1958. Isaiah Berlin, The Age of Enlightenment, introduction and chapter 1, The New American Library: New York, 1956.

[10] Once again references, both primary and secondary, could be numerous. See, for example, E. Haléy, The Growth of Philosophical Radicalism, New York, 1928. John Stuart Mill, utilitarianism, On Liberty and Essay on Bentham, and selections from the writings of Jeremy Bentham and John Austin, edited with an introduction by Mary Warnock, London: Fontana Press, 1990. John Plamenatz, Man and Society, vol. 1, chaps 4, 6, 7, 8 and 10; and vol. 2, chapter 1. H. J. Laski, Political Thought in England from Locke to Bentham, London, 1920. ‘Montesquieu’ in Isaiah Berlin, Against the Current, Essays in the History of Ideas, edited by Henry Hardy, London: Pimlico, 1997. Kingsley Martin, French Political Thought in the Eighteenth Century, Boston, 1929. J. S. Schapiro, Condorcet and the Rise of Liberalism, New York, 1934. F. J. E. Hearnshaw, The Social and Political Ideas of some Great French Thinkers of the Age of Reason, London, 1930. H. J. Laski, The Rise of European Liberalism, London 1936. Roger Wines (ed.), Enlightened Despotism, Reform or Reaction? Boston: D. C. Heath and Company, 1967. Anthony Quinton (ed.), Political Philosophy, Oxford, etc.: Oxford University Press, 1977. Homa Katouzian, Ideology and Method in Economics, London and New York: Macmillan and New York University Press, 1980, ch. 2. Idem. Adam Smith va Servat-e Melal, Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1979.

[11] See, in particular, J. S. Mill, ‘Essay on Liberty’ in Warnock (ed.), Utilitarianism, etc. Y. L. Chin, The Political Theory of Thomas Hill Green, New York, 1920. F. P. Harris, The Neo-Idealist Political Theory, New York, 1944. Isaiah Berlin, Two Concepts of Liberty, Oxford: Clarenden Press, 1959. Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Edwin Cannan (ed.), London: University Paperbacks , 1961, Book 5. Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1944, Moscow: Foreign Language Publishing House, 1961, section on ‘Estranged Labour’.  Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man, Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society, Boston: Beacon Press, 1964.

[12] -See Sayyed Mohammad Ali Jamalzadeh, ‘Sayyed Jamal al-Din Va’ez-e Isfahani va Ba’zi Mobarezat-e U’ in Ali Dehbashi (ed.) Yad-e Mohammad Ali Jamalzadeh, Tehran: Nashr-e Sales, 1998, pp. 51-52. The quotation from Sayyed Jamal’s sermon is direct from the Al-Jamal newspaper (which published the text of his sermons and homilies), no. 35, 1905.

[13] For further comments on this issue, see Homa Katouzian, ‘Liberty and Licence in the Constitutional Revolution of Iran’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 3, 8, 2, July 1998. For various accounts and views of the subject, see, for example, Hamid Algar, Malkum Khan, A Study in the History of Iranian Modernism, Berkely: Californian University Press, 1973. Fereshteh Nura’i, Mirza Malkam Khan Nazem al-Dawleh, Tehran: Jibi, 1973. Khan Malek-e Sasani, Siyasatgaran-e Dawreh-ye Qajar, Tehran, n. d., date of preface 1959.  Ehatesham al-Saltaneh, Khaterat-e Ehtesham al-Saltaneh, S. M. Musavi (ed.), Tehran: Zavvar, 1988. Mahmud Katira’i, Feramasoneri dar Iran, Tehran: Eqbal, 1968. Malkam is so controversial a historical figure that many more conflicting sources may be cited over his personality, although our point about the irrelevance of this to the nature and impact of his thoughts still remains valid.

[14] See Malkam’s ‘Ketabcheh-ye Ghaibi ya Daftar-e Tanzimat’ in Mohammad Mohit-e Tabatab’i (ed.), Majmu’eh-ye Athar-e Mirza Malkam Khan, Tehran, 1948, pp. 1-52.

[15] See Mostashar al-Dawleh’s Yek Kalameh, Tehran: Nashr-e Tarikh-e Iran, p. 12. See further,  Abdollah Mostawfi, Sharh-e Zendegani-ye Man, vol. 1, Tehran: Zavvar, 1964. Nazem al-Islam Kermani, Tarikh-e Bidari-ye Iraniyan, Sa’idi Sirjani (ed.), Tehran: Amir Kabir 1983. Iraj Afshar (ed.) Ruznameh-ye Kharerat-e E’temad al-Saltaneh, Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1966.  Mehhdi Bamdad, Sharh-e Hal-e Rejal-e Iran, vol. 4, Tehran: Zavvar, 1992. Feraidun Adamiyat, Andisheh-ye Taraqqi va Hokumat-e Qanun, Asr-e Sepahsalar, Tehran: Kharazmi, 1972. Idem, and Homa Nateq, Afkar-e Ejtema’i va Siyasi va Eqtesadi dar Athar-e Montasher Nashodeh-ye Dawran-e Qajar, Saarbruken: Navid, 1989, especially ‘Resaleh-ye Siyasi’ by Mirza Mohammad Hossein Khan-e Dabir al-Molk.

[16] See his other essays in Mohit-e Tabatab’i, Majmu’eh-ye Athar.

[17] See, for example, Malkam Khan, Majmu’eh-ye Athar; Mostashar al-Dawleh Yek Kalameh; Feraidun Adamiyat, Andisheh-ha-ye Mirza Fath’ali Akhundzadeh, Tehran: Kharazmi, 1970; idem, Andisheh-ha-ye Mirza Aqa Khan-e Kermani, Tehran: Payam, 1978­;

[۱۸] As indicated, some English romantics such as Wordsworth and – especially – Coleridge do not quite answer to this description, their romanticism having more of a nostalgic quality about medieval Christian society and culture, and being closer to the German romantics’. See, for example, ‘The Counter-Enlightenment’, ‘Hume and the Sources of German Anti-Rationalism’, and ‘Nationalism: Past Neglect and Present Power’, in Isaiah Berlin, Against the Current. R. Bolster, ‘Chateaubriand and the French Revolution, Hans Reiss, ‘Goethe and the French Revolution’, S. Körner, ‘On Rousseau’s, Robespierre’s and Kant’s Criteria of Moral Action, and T. C. W. Blanning, ‘France during the French Revolution through German eyes’ in H. T. Mason and W. Doyle (eds) The Impact of the French Revolution on European Consciousness, Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1989. Isaiah Berlin, ‘The Apotheosis of the Romantic Will: The Revolt against the Myth of an Ideal World’, and ‘The Bent Twig: On the Rise of Nationalism’, in Henry Hardy (ed.), The Crooked Timber of Humanity, London: Fontana Press, 1990. Isaiah Berlin, ‘The Romantic Revolution’, and ‘Kant as an unfamiliar Source of Nationalism’, in The Sense of Reality, Studies in Ideas and Their History, Henry Hardy (ed.), London: Pimlico, 1997. Isaiah Berlin, Vico and Herder, London: Hogarth, 1992.

[19] See further, for example, H. J. Balckman, Six Existentialist Thinkers, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967. Bertrand Russell, History of Western Philosophy, London: Routledge, 1996, part 2,: From Rousseau to the Present Day. Isaiah Berlin, ‘The Apotheosis of the Romantic Will’.

[20] Quoted in Andrew Sanders, The Short Oxford History of English Literature, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994, p. 380.

[21] The theoretical origin of this goes back to German aesthetics towards the end of the 18th century, but, having been developed in the early 19th century by Benjamin Constant, Victor Cousin, etc, it found its most vocal expression in France of the 1830′s, by Victor Hugo and his admiring fellow writer and critic Théphile Gautier. But the concept later spread more widely, to be adopted, for example, by Oscar Wilde, and many of the later symbolists and modernists.

[22] See Akhundzadeh, Maktubat, Europe: Mard-e Emruz, 1985. Jalal al-Din Mirza, Nameh-ye Khosrovan, Tehran: Bist va Panj-e Shahrivar, 1976. Adamiyat, Andisheh-ha-ye Akhundzadeh; idem., Andisheh-ha-ye Mirza Aqa Khan. Mahmud Katira’i, Feramasoneri dar Iran. Nikki Keddie, Sayyid Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Berkeley and Los Angeles: California University Press, 1972.

[23] For this author’s further discussion and analysis of this, see, The Political Economy of Modern Iran, especially chapters 3-5; Sadeq Hedayat, The Life and Legend of an Iranian Writer, London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 1991, especially chaps 1 and 5; and ‘Nationalist Trends in Iran, 1921-1926′, International Journal of Middle East Studies, November 1979.

[24] I am referring to the third worldist and anti-Westernist movement, of which the two leading intellectuals were Jalal Al-e Ahmad and Ali Shari’ati.  But the movement was very widespread indeed, including most of the religious and non-religious political groups, parties and trends.

[25] See Katouzian, ‘Liberty and Licence’, P. 161. For the theory of arbitrary rule, see further, idem, ‘Arbitrary Rule’; idem, ‘Problems of Political Development in Iran, Democracy, Dictatorship or Arbitrary Rule?’ BJMES, 22, 1995; idem, ‘The Aridisolatic Society, A Model of Long Term Social and Economic Development in Iran’ IJMES, July 1983; idem, The Political Economy of Modern Iran; idem, ‘Nationalist Trends in Iran’. For the evidence of rift and chaos after the Constitutional Revolution, see idem, State and Society in Iran, The Eclipse of the Qajar and the Rise of the Pahlavis, London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2000; Wm. J. Olson, Anglo-Iranian Relations during World War I, London: Frank Cass, 1984; Ervand Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982. Ahmad Kasravi, Tarikh-e Hijdahsaleh-ye Azerbaijan, Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1992.

[26] Quoted in Ebrahim Bastani Parizi, Zir-e In Haft Asman, Tehran: Javidan, 1983, p. 55.

[27] See his ‘Neda-ye Edalat beh Majlis-e Vozara-ye Iran’, in Majmu’eh-ye Athar p. 207.

[28] See the full statement in Nazem al-Islam-e Kermani, Tarikh-e Bidari-ye Iraniyan, pp. 367-371.

[29] See his newspaper, Mosavat, no. 1, 13 October 1907, p. 2.

[30] See Hossein Makki (ed.), Divan-e Farrokhi Yazdi, Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1978, p. 213.

[31] Talebof, Izahat dar Khosus-e Azadi, quoted in Yahya Arianpur, Az Saba ta Nima, Tehran: Zavvar, 1993, p. 303. See further, Iraj Afshar (ed.), Azadi va Siyasat, Abd al-Rahim Talebof-e Tabrizi, Tehran: Damavand, 1978; Fereidun Adamiyat, Andisheh-ha-ye Talebof-e Tabrizi, Tehran: Sahar, 1984.

[32] Ibid, p. 291. See further, Katouzian, ‘Liberty and Licence’.

[33] See Shaikh Mohammad Mardukh Kordestani, Tarikh-e Mardukh, quoted directly in Mehdi Bamdad, Sharh-e Hal-e Rejal-e Iran, vol. 6, pp. 133-135. See also p. 293, on another case of  ‘constitutionalising [i. e. looting] the people’.

[34] See S. A. Azari, Qiyam-e Shiakh Mohammad Khiyabani, quoted in Homa Katouzian, ‘The Revolt of Shaykh Muhammad Khiyabani’, IRAN, published by the British Institute of Persian Studies, XXXVII 1999, p. 163.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid.



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