In This Review

Iran After the Revolution: Crisis of an Islamic State
Iran After the Revolution: Crisis of an Islamic State
Edited by Saeed Rahnema and Sohrab Behdad
I. B. Tauris, 1995, 292 pp

A group of Iranian scholars living in the West have undertaken a critical assessment of the ideological, economic, and social developments in the Islamic Republic--and finds little to praise. The editors are highly critical of well-meaning liberals in the West who profess to see a progressive side to the Iranian Revolution. Instead, they argue, in the struggle within the opposition to the shah between populism and Islamic conservatism, the conservatives clearly won. The populists were never realistic, and when they clashed with vested interests, the clerics mobilized Islamic jurisprudence in defense of the propertied classes, not the downtrodden. Thus Iran still has many of the old inequalities and little in the way of coherent policy, with only a stultifying cultural conservatism to point to as an achievement after 16 years of upheaval and repression. The dominant tone is one of disillusionment; these are not royalists hoping for restoration but rather secularists hoping to see Iran as a modern, democratic country. On the whole a very good set of essays.