October 28, 2018
PROCLAMATION OF THE ALLIANCE FOR A NEW IRAN (ABAN)
Dear compatriots and friends,
The Alliance for a New Iran (ABAN) is a socio-political organization based on the idea of mellat-garâi or “Nation-ism.” The goal of ABAN is to build a New Iran by organizing Iranians inside and outside of the country around this idea. Iranian “Nation-ists” encourage the cooperation of non-Iranians in the achievement of this aim, albeit with regard for the maintenance of Iran’s national sovereignty and independence. The political independence of ABAN from any and all foreign governments is a steadfast principle of our organization. Preservation of the territorial integrity of the country, the unity of Iran as a nation, Persian as the national language of Iran, and social justice for all Iranians, are among the non-negotiable principles of ABAN Nationists.
This Proclamation of the Alliance for a New Iran is offered as a draft that will be finalized with a view to the incorporation of your suggestions and consideration of your constructive criticisms. Following the finalization of this Proclamation, the Board of Trustees of ABAN will be introduced, and then they will present the ABAN program of action. At the same time, we will announce the bylaws and formal structure of ABAN as an organization. ABAN aims to surmount the schisms that have hitherto divided various groups and benefit from the cooperation of all Iranians.
1. ABAN and “Nation” as Concepts
ABAN has two inseparable dimensions, namely its character as an “Alliance” and its aim of bringing forth a “New Iran.” What we mean by “Alliance” here is a strategic solidarity among forces that seek a New Iran. The basis for the alliance of these forces within ABAN is the acceptance of the principles and values upon which the New Iran of the future will be built. Another condition is acceptance of ABAN’s organizational bylaws and leadership structure. There are no other limitations on an individual or group joining forces with ABAN, and beyond the acceptance of these conditions, we respect the intellectual and operational independence of all individuals and groups who join forces with us.
The second dimension of ABAN is the idea of a “New Iran”, which is an Iran defined within the framework of the following principles: A secular and democratic regime, a powerful yet peaceful nation, a clean and cultivated country, with a rich and flowering culture, and a regime that is a lawful and lofty member of the international community. The indispensable values of a New Iran include: the will for freedom on an individual and social level, social justice and the inculcation of ethics, the struggle against prejudice and discrimination, abstention from political vengeance, the promotion of peace, and a national independence that does not devolve into isolationism within the context of an increasingly globalized world. These values and principles are the leaven of the Constitution of a New Iran, one aligned with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant international conventions.
The word mellat has been mistakenly translated as mardom in Iranian political culture. In Persian the term mellat has been understood to mean “the people” even though mellat is really equivalent to the English meaning of “the nation” in the sense of the conglomerate of a people, their land, cultural history, political state, and place in the world. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding of the concept mellat has become the basis for ideological fanaticism. It has presented serious obstacles to developing an Iranian nation-state, and to securing its proper place in the international community. With its proper use of the concept mellat in speech, theory, and practice, Nationism can foster progressive evolution in the political culture of the country and provide a more general framework within which planning for a New Iran can take place.
2. The Urgent Necessity of Forming ABAN
Four factors made the inception of ABAN urgent and vital for the country. These include: the grave crisis situation facing the country; the need for an idea that will unify Iranians; a secure and constructive transition from out of the present situation; and the construction of a New Iran. What follows is a brief description of each of these four factors.
2.1 The Country’s Deep Crisis Situation
At this crossroads marked by the fortieth year of the reigning religious government, a majority of Iranians are aware of the reality of the country’s extremely dire crisis situation. This Proclamation is not the place for a detailed anatomy of that crisis. Rather, in this declaration we are concerned to make a few important points relevant to the fundamental problems facing the country. The crisis situation will be described here in a summary fashion, together with the clear solutions that we are offering through ABAN’s program of action. The first point is that the crisis situation has become so persistent that the regime wants people to accept totally abnormal conditions as if the situation is “normal.” The second point is the comprehensive character of the national crisis. The third point is the capacity of the crisis for effecting an implosion of the country. In other words, we are faced with certain intertwined and incurable issues with the present regime. A majority of people share this interpretation, but the leadership of the religious regime pretends that the crisis is either incidental, temporary, or even normal. For example, there was a time when the dollar did not have much of a role in the lives of Iranians, whereas today it plays a determinative part and the government accepts extremely abnormal fluctuations in the foreign exchange as if they were perfectly normal.
The government’s inattention to the gravity of the comprehensive national crisis is not on account of its being ill-informed. Rather, it has roots in the religious viewpoint of the regime, which does not regard development of the country and a better material life for ordinary people as its priority. The ignorance and lack of objectivity of the governing authorities is another pain. It is not without reason that despite the needs that are insistently and frequently voiced by both national and Islamic forces, the religious rulers insist on the persistence of this gloomy state of affairs. By contrast, we in ABAN believe that continuance of the current state of affairs will most certainly push the country off a cliff and into the chasm of annihilation. For the sake of preempting this certain collapse, it is necessary to urgently contemplate solutions. Before it is too late, the country must be extricated from this aimlessness and we must plot a course for a New Iran with a bright future.
The economic problems facing the Iranian people on a daily basis are very acute. The people of Iran, who were once in pursuit of economic growth and development, now face the problem of mere survival. Unfortunately, this situation becomes more acute every day. Iran’s economic issues include:
- The extreme diminishment of incomes.
- Rampant increase in the price of commodities.
- A high and growing unemployment rate.
- The significant increase of personal and governmental debt.
- Deepening poverty and inequality in the distribution of wealth.
Iran is in a state where industrial production is being destroyed, and the massive liquidity of the country is being wasted in unproductive trade and monetary transactions that only benefit the wealthy, which will in the end result in the further collapse of the national currency. The dollar-based economy has turned the country into a usurious bank and its government into a corrupt and defrauding banker. These issues have become institutionalized. Inefficient management and enmity toward the United States and important countries of the region have also contributed to putting Iran’s economy into a state where it runs the risk of total collapse.
The political problems of the country also become broader every day. A religious regime that was supposed to be Islamic, and promised to secure freedom, independence, justice, and an advanced and healthy society, has suffered defeat on all of these fronts. In actuality, this religious regime is no longer revolutionary, neither is it nationalist, nor for that matter even Islamic; it is essentially lacking in any identity. On this account, the people’s trust in the regime and its leaders has sunk to the lowest level yet. The lack of national solidarity, and the opening of political fissures, has reached a maximal limit of tolerance prior to a terrible fracture. The increase of governmental violence, ideological fanaticism, and monopolization, together with engineered elections that do not even yield the desired result, are among the main factors of the country’s political crisis. The Islamic Republic is not just facing enemies outside of the country. More powerful enemies threaten its very existence from within. Unfortunately, the regime’s strategy for solving these problems has consisted of the assassination, execution, imprisonment, and exile of its opponents.
The environmental crises facing the country are really lethal. The condition of water and the waterways of the country is dire, especially in the case of subterranean waters. The drought-stricken lakes and lagoons of the country have either dried up or are on the way to becoming bogs and marshlands. The soil of the country is depleted and the forests are being destroyed. Wasteful use of the country’s mines will be ruinous to them. Farming has been endangered by the squandering of above surface and sub-surface water under conditions of drought. The air of the country is not breathable in large cities. Spring water has been cut off from the source in the south, west, and east. The public health situation has become hazardous due to the lack of management of both human and industrial waste products. The truth is that environmental degradation confronts Iranians with an existential threat.
The various interwoven social problems of the country are still more significant than all of these other issues. The growth rate of Iran’s population, now at 85 million, has slowed. The majority of this population are at the age of entering the workforce and setting up a life for themselves. They are in need of a career, education, housing, healthcare, recreation, and other such services. The issues faced by women, the youth, and minorities are even bigger. We are dealing with an abnormal society with a high inclination toward immigration (the brain drain), an increase in the divorce rate, a rise in the age of marriage, a prevalence of corruption, and the erosion of people’s moral fiber on account of prejudice, theft, prostitution, lying, and swindling. Before too long, we shall undoubtedly see the implosion of such a rotten and perverse society, wherein trust and respect have perished within the institutions of the family and government, and the youth seek pleasure through drug use and other nihilistic behavior.
Iran has numerous cultural problems. Islamic Republic broadcasting has been derelict in reviving and propagating positive values from the Pre-Islamic history of Iran. Instead, we see a valorization of sorrow and mourning, and a promotion of superstition, delusion, the sowing of enmity, extremism, intolerance, fanaticism, and bigotry. The sickness of contemporary Iranian society can be seen in its love of money, the evasion of taking initiative, risk aversion and resistance against innovation to the point of rigor mortis, opting for quick fixes and the easiest (rather than the best) way to get things done, and an inclination toward waving around degrees rather than actually advancing scientific knowledge. Limitations on the transparent distribution of information, censorship of the media and the press, and the filtering of social media, are among the serious defects of Islamic governments in the modern world. Finally, these damages have been compounded by the collapse of tourism on account of a lack of attention to landmark buildings and care for the country’s historic spaces. The growth of these vices has led to more banal vulgarity in the political culture of Iran. Cultural collapse will bring with it annihilation of the national identity of Iranians.
The crisis in the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic is caused by its constitution, which is based on the exportation of the revolution and support for all downtrodden and oppressed Muslims. In the political thought of the Islamic Republic with respect to foreign policy, the political geography of the world includes three classes of countries: friends, enemies, and those who are suspect. The precedent for this classification goes back to before the revolution, when the leftist forces of the country were struggling against Imperialism and Zionism out of solidarity with their socialist “friends.” Enmity with America and Israel emerged from this viewpoint, while enmity with Saudi Arabia was defined in terms of the Shia vs. Sunni conflict. This is what has defined Iran’s “strategic depth” in the region for the sake of preserving the regime, and it has taken priority in the country’s foreign policy. This kind of foreign policy also usually understands national power in terms of militarism without democracy, and for this very reason it has compromised the independence of the country and diminished its position on the world stage. Dollarization of the economy, signing the nuclear deal, and capitulation to the Caspian Sea convention are examples of the decline of national sovereignty.
Those within the religious government of Iran are themselves bewildered by the incoherent division of the nation’s sovereign authority between the civil administration of President Rouhani and the clerical elite led by the Supreme Leader. The structural relationship between these two with respect to the separation of powers, and also with a view to policy-making authority, is abnormal and unsustainable. Beyond this problem, the government and all of its institutions are ideological and monopolizing, and insofar as they are torn between Islam and Iran, the revolution and parasitic capitalism, realities and idealism, the regime is fraught with internal contradictions in its very being. The administrations formed in the shadow of this regime have usually been weak, ineffective, and lacking in transparency. Its administrative offices and administrators have been self-serving, deceitful, corrupt, law-breaking, undisciplined, unpatriotic, and usually the product of “engineered” elections. The administrations either lacked national legitimacy altogether or their legitimacy was only temporary. In the end, Islamic governments were neither able to build new leadership and managerial cadres, nor did they prove capable of passing and implementing programmatic policies for the development of the country. Iran under such a government and administration, which is still recycling and rotating its political elites from 40 years ago, is driving headlong off a deadly precipice and into the abyss.
2. The Need for A Unifying Idea
New ideas change countries, and for bringing a “New Iran” into being we need to make use of a “new idea.” We suggest “Nationism”, an idea that has the dimensions of the people, their land, cultural history, political state, and international position enfolded within it. A “Nationist” is an individual who sincerely strives to enhance all of these dimensions of Iran. Within the framework of ABAN, this means making people happy, building the country, making the culture flower, establishing the rule of law, and elevating Iran’s standing in the world.
Many ideas have been tried in contemporary Iran. The five of them that played a particularly prominent role are Constitutionalism, Iranism, Socialism, Nationalism, and Islamism. Unfortunately, none of these ideas was able to build a New Iran on its own, and the efforts that each of them made in this direction miscarried. These ideas, some of which were new in their own time, engaged in ideological confrontation with one another instead of allying to benefit the country. The bias of these ideas, usually on account of their one-dimensional view of Iran, was the main reason for their defeat.
The constitutionalist revolutionaries struggled against an oppressive Sultanate by taking up Western liberalism. They were successful in founding the Constitutional Monarchist regime on the basis of the mashrouteh constitution and as a replacement for the quasi-feudal system of the Qajar period. This was the beginning of nation-state building in Iran, but it remained incomplete. The main reason for the defeat of the constitutionalists, besides the interference of the great powers, was their inattention to the dimensions of the people, geography, culture, national self-determination, and Iran’s place in the world. In today’s world also, liberalism and its core idea, namely democracy, has become commonplace and even worn out. It does not have the requisite magnetism to motivate a certain segment of the population.
The Iranists (Amir Kabir, Pahlavi) made valuable efforts to build a secular and powerful New Iran with their emphasis on the geography, culture, and history of the country. The undertakings of Reza Shah the Great and the late Mohammad Reza Shah for the production of modern institutions of education and the judiciary, building up infrastructure and industry, and the elevation of Iran’s standing in the world, are worthy of appreciation. However, on account of the fact that Iranists did not sufficiently concern themselves with the civil rights of the citizenry, and ensuring the rule of law on the part of the administration, they were not able to consolidate their modernizing achievements. Meanwhile, Iranism went in the direction of a Persianism that does not have the capacity to bring about a broader unity within Iran as a Muslim nation of diverse ethnic groups.
Iranian Socialists were right to emphasize secularism and social justice, especially insofar as their struggle was taking place in a poor Islamic country. They made efforts to propagate a culture of worldliness concerned with seeking earthly justice. However, they were also responsible for giving rise to many problems within the political culture of Iran. These include a disregard for personal freedom attendant to their promotion of the dictatorship of the proletariat, rejection of the national and geographical independence of Iran (in favor of Internationalism), socialistic materialism, and the struggle with global Imperialism and international Zionism. Following the defeat of Communism, this ideology finds itself in a state of crisis.
Nationalists (Dr. Mossadegh and the National Front) helped considerably to propagate the culture of Iranian patriotism and national identity with their emphasis on territorial integrity, national independence, and nationalization of the country’s resources. However, their inattention to the democratic needs of the people, including social justice, and their inability to secure national self-determination at the same time as an elevation of the country’s international standing, must be classed as the fundamental failings of Nationalists. They pushed geographical nationalism to the point of anti-Western isolationism. In today’s globalized world, and in virtue of the fact that there are more than six million Iranians outside the borders of the country, Iran’s traditional Nationalism has lost its magnetism and is barely even worthy of attention.
Political Islamism (Ayatollah Khomeini) is situated at the opposite pole to traditional Iranian Nationalism. Islam puts the people at the focus of its attention, but these people are the Ummat of an Islamic government and not the citizens of Iran. Their rights are determined by religion or by the clergy. Islamists do not accept the geographical limits of the country, and their country is an expanse wherein the Muslim Ummat lives. Islamists are not seekers of independence, but they have strong nativist tendencies that internally conflict with their globalism. Another major problem with Islamists is the fomenting of terrorism by fundamentalist forces within this religion, which is radically at odds with the modern world.
Besides their particular merits and drawbacks, these ideas each have a burdensome past that they cannot disown and that prohibits them from serving as the foundation for building a New Iran. Consequently, members of ABAN are in need of a new idea, namely the “Nationism” that is being suggested here. The most important point that renders Nationism distinct from both the ideas of the past and those current within the political opposition of Iran is its power to integrate these ideas. In other words, in Nationism, the dimensions of the people, their land, cultural history, national sovereignty, and geopolitical position are not separate components. Rather, they are interpenetrating dimensions. Nationism is also the only idea that secures the interests of the individual, group, and nation for a majority of Iranians. Consequently, it will be attractive from the perspective of diverse interests and will serve to foster unity amongst them.
3. A Constructive, Secure Transition out of the Religious Regime
The Islamic Republic arose from out of a populist revolution and promised the people of Iran a healthy society that would be Islamic, free, just, and independent. Unfortunately, from the very beginning of that period after the revolution, religious forces departed from this path and resorted to violence, derailing the revolution with their religious prejudices, monopolization, and foreign adventurism. In the end, despite a few achievements, which were usually yielded by the country’s military, Iranian society after the revolution was denied the progress that it deserved on account of the country’s rich resources. Consequently, Iran has remained decades behind nations that it once surpassed. This retardation, taken together with national humiliation, has caused people to take refuge abroad. Even there, the Iranian passport and identity are often subjected to insults. Meanwhile, back at home, the Iranian people are bearing witness to the destruction of their material and environmental conditions. All of this has put the country on the brink of an impending sociopolitical explosion.
A majority of Iranians no longer want to live with the religious government of the Islamic Republic, which has suppressed and denied a large part of their legitimate demands. They have put up with this religious regime for forty years now, and have on the basis of their experience seen that the religious regime has no desire to improve their material conditions or livelihood. Instead, it is intent on promulgating superstition. Most people have been divested of their delusions regarding the destination and capabilities of the Islamic regime, and they do not see a bright future ahead of themselves. Today they are concerned about their future and that of their young children. The people of Iran have experienced hostage taking, war, sanctions, and threats. They have been divided into insiders and outsiders. They have been turned into electoral tools. In the guise of the Ummat, they have been used and abused by fanatically religious people. The majority desire transition out of this religious regime. Truth be told, for a majority of Iranians today the rhyme or reason for why things are such as they are is no longer a subject of debate or discussion. Rather, the only questions that remain are how to get out of this religious regime and where to go from here.
Despite the stubborn will of its religious leaders, the Islamic Republic does not have the power to secure a new lease on life. In addition to the deepening crises, the majority of the leadership and managerial forces of the regime have been worn out intellectually. The religious regime has lost its political coherence and its practical managerial capability. The governments of the region and in the world do not want to work with the religious regime, even if they occasionally appease it. Continuation of the two main games played by religious adherents to preserve the regime, in other words, the division of the political society into “reformists” and “conservatives” and holding elections between “bad” and “worse”, has become impracticable and unacceptable. Today both of these forces are considered untrustworthy. In such a situation, the Islamic Republic has become more dependent on the military and security forces for the sake of its own survival. It is, however, impossible for a regime that once had massive populist support to sustain its life in this manner. Iran today is in an irreversible state of transition from out of the religious regime.
That having been said, the people of Iran do not simply want an “overthrow” as they did forty years ago. They are more concerned with contemplating what constructive endeavors there may be following the overthrow. Iranians clearly feel that transition from out of this regime must come to pass with as little cost as possible, and in a realistic, secure, and rapid manner. Above all, the transition must result in a regime that is concerned with fostering development and building a New Iran. ABAN has these same preconditions as the people. But unfortunately, the options offered by most political forces opposed to the regime fail to meet at least some, if not all, of these conditions. For example, there are forces that have no problem with “overthrow” of the regime through direct foreign military intervention, even up to the level of the models of Iraq and Syria. Then there are advocates of a “referendum” who, without having a strong base in society, are after organizing mass protests to force the regime to meet their demands. By contrast, the “reformists” have effectively become advocates of continuity, because their desire for piecemeal and gradual change will never become practicable within this regime. These proposals are lacking in attention to the challenging realities of the country. They are after courses of action that either will not resolve the crisis, are not practicable, or will magnify the dimensions of the crisis and the costs of transition.
A military revolt and an uprising of the working class are two other noteworthy and possible courses of action. The first would have the support of the upper class, and the second the support of the poorer people in the country. The middle class and intellectuals are, however, the most political and effective social forces in the country. They would consider the working class uprising to be a “revolution” and the military revolt a “coup d’état”, and they are terrified of both. The fear of “revolution” is an outgrowth of their experience with the “Islamic Revolution”, which gave promises of progress but in practice resulted in the retardation of the country. The word revolution has also lost much of the magnetism that it once had. This is why the opposition to the regime uses phraseology such as “overthrow”, “toppling”, and “regime change”, even though these words intrinsically have a more negative connotation than “revolution.” They place their emphasis only on a political regime change, without including a social program that would be constructive for the period after transition.
Fear of revolution is, of course, reasonable, since most revolutions, including the Islamic Revolution of Iran, were not constructive. Even so, most revolutions have indeed been constructive and many countries built themselves up and become developed through revolution. The revolutions of America, France, Russia, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Constitutional Revolution of Iran are examples of successes. Iranians speak with pride of their Constitutional Revolution, which brought an oppressive quasi-feudal system to an end in their country and led to the beginning of “Nation-building.” Consequently, even if fear of revolution has a certain logic, it is illogical to dismiss it as one option (among others for transition out of the present regime). Although ABAN has no particular desire to drive the country toward a revolution, this option may be inevitable. Revolution is usually spontaneous, but one may expect its outbreak and prepare to guide it in the most constructive direction possible.
The fear of a coup d’état also has its own logic. Many countries in the world have become backwards on account of the fomenters of coup d’états, and in some of them extraordinary human tragedies have taken place. In Iran, the 1953 “coup d’état” is not remembered as a good experience. In today’s modern world coup d’états do not seem sensible, and in virtue of this there is not much popular support for them. That having been said, it is illogical to dismiss the option of a coup d’état under any and all conditions. This is especially so if it should take the form of a “military revolt” (against the Islamic Republic), which may be the least costly option for transition out of an unreasonable regime. Furthermore, some military revolts have in fact been constructive. For example, the 1974 coup d’état in Portugal that is known as “the flower cloves revolution”, and the military revolts of Reza Shah in Iran and Kamal Atatürk in Turkey. Military men are usually patriots and modernizing men of action. The best of them are also inclined toward development, but the worst type of them can really be destructive. Even though ABAN has no particular desire to push the country in the direction of a coup d’état or military revolt, such options can be taken as exigencies that are impossible to evade.
With a view to the internal situation of the country, foreign pressures, and the regime’s stubborn insistence on staying the course, all three options, namely revolution, a coup d’état, or a military revolt, have a high chance of materializing in either a spontaneous or an imposed manner. We write “unfortunately” because the preference of ABAN is for a peaceful transition, wherein we take administrative power into our own hands. In Iran’s current situation, what is sensible is that we take all of these eventualities under consideration and prepare to manage the materialization of any one of them. The best route is “preemption” rather than “treatment.” Preemption or preparedness demands knowledge of the personalities and capabilities of those who would most probably be the political and military leaders at the forefront of building a New Iran. Even so, ABAN must be prepared for treatments in the event that they become necessary in the course of events. Support for an uprising of the working class through non-violent protests and encouragement of the populist elite to lend their backing to a military revolt are among the tactics that would certainly be beneficial in practice. The most fundamental precondition for our supporting a military revolt is the alignment of the military men involved with the populist elite of the country.
Therefore, in order of priority, the preference of ABAN for transition out of the extant sovereign government, includes:
- Dialogue and populist pressure for structural changes.
- A military revolt with the backing of the populist elite.
- A non-violent uprising on the part of the working class.
ABAN would accept the last two options manifesting as exigencies and would enter onto the scene in a serious manner with a view to constructively guiding them. At the same time, ABAN supports any course of action that meets the following conditions:
- Seeing through the transition under conditions of security.
- Having a chance of success.
- Coming to pass with the least possible cost in blood and treasure.
- Reaching its conclusion rapidly.
- Being constructive after the transition.
With faith in these principles, the members of the ABAN movement propose the transitional program below and solicit the close cooperation of all patriotic Iranian forces for the sake of its success.
3.1. The Islamic Republic is a theocratic regime that arose from out of a populist revolution whose demands were justice, freedom, independence and a healthy Islamic society. The political clergy form the upper level of Iran’s administration and there are very few without a turban in the governing elite of the country. However, those in the opposition to the Islamic Republic wrongly consider everyone who works with this governing elite to be a part of the “regime.” On account of this misunderstanding, the opposition has alienated massive Iranian-Islamic forces that it could harness – including and especially military men and Islamic forces that are more patriotic, i.e. Religious Nationalists. Consequently, transition out of this regime can in the first stage only mean replacing these rulers with the rightful representatives of the people.
3.2. These rulers were once advocates of revolution and enjoyed broad popular support, but today a majority of them are no longer revolutionaries and they do not have such support. For the same reason, for the sake of extending the life of their regime, every day they become all the more dependent on military and security forces as well as fanatical religious elements. Consequently, for the expulsion of these rulers from power, a learned and pragmatically sophisticated approach must be taken toward separating these rulers from the revolutionary Islamic forces and religious fanatics. Non-revolutionary Islamic forces, such as the “Reformists” and “Moderates”, are also supporters of the religious regime of these rulers, but they are not the mainstay or cornerstone of the regime’s power. These moderates are usually from the middle and upper class of the society. Their support for the regime is conditional on the security of their capital and their standard of living, which is becoming more critically compromised every day.
3.3. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, more or less, and more so in rhetoric, still defends the ideals of the 1979 Revolution and has the support of revolutionaries and fanatics within the religious regime. However, the remaining credit of Ayatollah Khamenei’s revolutionary reputation has been tarnished to an extent for the following reasons:
- Support for a faction of the government during the Green Movement.
- Engineering the presidential election in the interests of Sheikh Hassan Rouhani and then support for his administration full of unworthy oligarchs.
- Putting his stamp of approval on the failed nuclear accord.
- Strict silence regarding the unpatriotic Caspian Sea convention.
- Fecklessness in the face of corruption, poverty, and inequality.
Just recently turning up the flame on antagonism against America has not been able to resuscitate his revolutionary reputation either.
3.4. Despite the decreased support of the rulers for the ideals of the 1979 Revolution, a considerable part of the fanatics and religious revolutionaries still believe in loyalty to the revolution. This group needs to be divested of their delusions and the rulers given a chance for peaceful transition. To this end, the members of ABAN must apply populist pressure on the government by proposing a package of structural reforms and publicly insisting that the rulers implement these within a clearly defined period of time. ABAN proposes the following package of changes:
- Implementation of the original ideals of the revolution, including freedom, justice, and independence.
- Freeing of political prisoners and those incarcerated for their beliefs.
- The separation of religion from government.
- Dissolution of the Guardian Council and other institutions controlled by the rulers.
- Free elections to determine who serves in the executive and legislative branches of government.
- Purging the judiciary and placing a judge who is not from the clergy, and who has the approval of the people, at the head of that branch of government.
- Revision of the constitution and dissolution of the sovereignty of the clergy in favor of that of the sovereignty of the people.
- Unconditional assurance of personal and social freedoms, including freedom of speech, freedom of the press, of dress, of gatherings and parties.
- The elimination of every form of discrimination against citizens, Iranian peoples, and the minorities of the country.
- Emphasis on peaceful international relations.
- A constitutional prohibition of political revenge regardless of the excuses made for it.
All of the elements of this package are inextricable from one another and must be implemented in their totality.
3.5. The chance that this package will be accepted on the part of the rulers is very slim. However, in the event that internal and foreign pressures are sufficiently severe, or if for any other reason, this package is accepted and implemented, a huge step forward will have been taken. This would be a very good beginning for that peaceful transition that the majority of Iran’s people are awaiting. However, the chance that the package will be rejected is much greater than that it will be accepted. In the event of a rejection, an opportunity will arise for the people of Iran, particularly the Islamic revolutionaries, to more clearly perceive the unwillingness of the religious rulers to effect any change in the current situation or reconcile themselves with those who seek meaningful change in the country. This would be a strategic victory over them.
3.6. After the rejection of the proposed reform package, or the cessation of its implementation, divisions among the rulers and revolutionaries will deepen. The revolutionaries will explicitly see how the rulers have deviated from the 1979 revolution, which is the only basis of their legitimacy. At the same time, the unity among populist groups, patriotic military men, and Islamist revolutionaries, will be reinforced. All three of these forces will find that the rulers are those primarily responsible for disorder and unrest on account of their resisting structural changes. This unity will result in the seclusion and cloistering of these rulers. In the end, with the increase of civil disobedience and street protests, they will either depart voluntarily or be forced to leave.
3.7. The vacuum of leadership will in all likelihood be filled by a revolt of military men, which is either spontaneous or pre-planned. This eventuality should not be welcomed, nor should it be passed over or feared. On the contrary, the conditions for its becoming populist must be set in place, conditions which in practice consist of an alliance between the populist elite and the military. Under these conditions, the resistance of the elite against the military men could be catastrophic. On the other hand, tactical acceptance of the revolt, and entrance into leadership of it, would be a patriotic and constructive course of action on the part of the elite. After being freed from dependence on the present rulers, the military men will necessarily become dependent on the populist elite. One can even imagine them voluntarily relinquishing power to representatives of the people’s elite and, as the people’s army, concern themselves with providing security and order to a society that has undergone implosion. In other words, even if a military revolt follows it, dignified expulsion of the rulers in the first stage can make way for a powerful entrance on the part of the populist elite in the subsequent stage.
3.8. It is certainly conceivable that after dismissing the religious rulers military men might want to hold on to power and be in control without the participation of the political elite. In such a situation, where they decide to move in the direction of a military dictatorship, a working class uprising will materialize and return the country to a state of political upheaval. While supporting this spontaneous uprising, ABAN will guide it in the direction of non-violence. The leaders of ABAN will also try to open a dialogue and initiate negotiations between the military forces and the populist elite of the country with a view to bringing about a unified, patriotic power structure. At the same time, a spontaneous populist uprising with the backing of the elite will put military men under pressure to accept a compromise. It would be in the interest of both the military and the country to preempt a vast and uncontrolled revolution of the masses.
3.9. Unlike other options, ABAN’s proposed option for a multi-phased transition beyond the present rulers, does not primarily or necessarily entail “enmity” with these rulers and their followers – including military men. On the contrary, and up to the extent possible, ABAN wants these rulers to be afforded a “dignified” exit and replaced by representatives of the people or, in the event that this does not succeed, with military men and populist elites. In subsequent stages of the transition, and with the help of popular support, the real representatives of the people will rule. The rejection of political revenge under a transitional leadership structure, on the part of the members of ABAN, must be a strong incentive for the peaceful departure of the rulers from political power and their return to the country’s civil society.
4. Building a New Iran
The program of ABAN for two conditions, the immediate situation and long-term development, will be designed and prepared for implementation in two stages. In the first stage, the goal is rapidly resolving the economic, political, environmental, cultural, governmental and international crises of the country. A rapid and tactful transition from out of this hazardous situation must be the priority of the transitional government. In the second stage, the comprehensive development of the country will be considered. This middle and long-term program revolves around axes that include: the development of the government and of civil society; economic development; political development; social development; cultural development; spatial development; and development of international relations. The aim of the development program at this stage is the building of a New Iran, wherein people will be joyous, the land will be well-cultivated and industriously developed, the society dynamic, the culture flowering, and the government legitimate. The country will have authoritative power and a relationship with the world that can be a source of pride.
ABAN’s development program for a New Iran shall be subsequently supplied. In this proclamation reference has only been made to generalities. The New Iran will be built on the basis of the idea of Nationism, which naturally conceives of the country as having five dimensions, namely the people, their land, cultural history, political state, and place in the world. In the New Iran:
- The people will be democratic and joyous.
- The land will be clean, cultivated, and industriously developed.
- The government will be law-abiding and disciplined.
- The culture and history flowering and a source of pride.
- The country will have retaken its rightfully distinguished and sublimely lofty place in the world.
By taking up the aforementioned principles and values of Nationism, the government and people must design and implement specific programs for the sake of the comprehensive and enduring development of each one of these dimensions of Iran. Toward the end of building a New Iran, Nationists must also take every opportunity to strive for international cooperation and peace between countries. A strong Iran has always been a stable and peace-loving Iran. Empowering Iran and increasing the nation’s ability to act authoritatively must be an ideal that is developmentally compatible with the sustainability of the country.
The building of a New Iran begins with the comprehensive development of its people, and the ultimate goal of this development must be making Iranians happy and democratic. The people of Iran are made up of three social classes: the lower-income and working class, the middle class and intellectuals, and professionals and capital-owning people. The poor and workers have their basic needs, especially work, housing, education, health, and recreation. They seek a just distribution of the country’s resources. The middle and intellectual class needs freedom and wants political development. The upper and professional class have a need for the accumulation of capital and provision of services. They want economic and political stability.
Other important social forces exist that have their own special needs. These include women, the youth, teachers, government workers, immigrants, religious minorities, disabled people, the clergy, and military men. Besides those needs that they have attendant to the social class that they belong to, these forces have other special needs and wants that must be met. For example, there is the problem of discrimination that faces women and minorities, and the problem that the disabled and the youth have with gaining access to resources and recreation. Even though satisfying class needs and wants is possible to accomplish through pre-fabricated economic and political frameworks, the needs and wants of special interest groups come with social, territorial, and cultural complexities.
The following program for the democratic development of the country and the happiness of the people is meant to be answerable to these diverse needs. In other words, the existence of these social classes makes it necessary that the country’s economic, social, political, and environmental development program have justice, democracy, growth, and nature as its axes. But democratizing the country demands democratizing its people, and to this end the development of education and political culture must be among the main pillars of the country’s constructive post-transition program. Spatial development must be understood to include preservation of its territorial integrity, national defense, building-up of the cities and towns, infrastructure, historical buildings and monuments, and preservation of the water, soil, forests, and natural resources of the country. The relationship between the development of the people and the cultivation of their land is mutual: a clean and industriously developed land will make the people happy and democratic, and a happy and democratic people will keep the land clean and industriously cultivated.
The role of the government and civil society is decisive in making people happy and securing everlasting life for the land. However, only a government and civil society oriented toward development can play this constructive role. A developmentally-oriented government is one that has come from the people, has legitimacy, is lawful, disciplined and Nationist. Only such a government will have sufficient authority to build a New Iran. A civil society oriented toward development must also have such characteristics. Unfortunately, in Iran, we have neither a government nor a civil society that is development-oriented. Consequently, the first step for the development of the country, orienting these two players toward the pursuit of development, begins with cultivation of the political community of the country and demarcation of the boundaries that define the latter as distinct from civil society. The political community is a social sphere defined by power and party politics, whereas civil society is organized for the sake of limiting that power and protecting its members from the government and political parties.
Making people happy and democratic, making the land clean and industriously cultivated, and orienting the government and civil society toward development, means being pledged to support the growth and revitalization of culture, including the political culture of the society, and revitalization of the historical achievements of the country. No country has undergone development under conditions of cultural collapse and when lacking a sense of its historical identity. Actually, countries that have fallen into such a state are doomed to annihilation. Education of thought, support for literature and the arts, revitalization of history and the restoration of ancient monuments and other landmark buildings, has the biggest role to play. The tourism industry can function as the driving motor of this culture and history. This in turn requires reasonable and sensible relations with the world within the framework of national interests. In other words, a developmentally-oriented foreign policy and diplomacy are among the other tools for producing the happiness of the people, the industrious cultivation of the land, and the flowering of the culture. The foreign policy of ABAN shall be firmly grounded on the principle that “Iran has no enemies in the world” and on striving for friendship with all nations and peace amongst them.
United Nationists will build the New Iran on the basis of political liberalism, social capitalism (following the example of Scandinavian countries), and global convergence. However, in implementing these concepts we will make use of the experience of recently developed countries.
Firstly, no developed country fully privatized its economy in the initial stages of development. On the contrary, all of these countries, including the latest examples of China, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, and India, were able to undergo development only with their government manning the levers of the economy. However, all of these governments were disciplined and lawful, not servile, thievish, and lawless.
Second, by contrast with the development ideas of neo-liberal economists, these governments were oblivious to indicators from the free market. They designed their program and determined their policies on the basis of the present national interest of the country.
Third, development in these countries began by making use of internal resources and forces, and only resorted to foreign procurement in the face of the dearth of capital and technology.
Fourth, their entrance into the world market was in stages and began with the increase of the competitive strength of domestic producers. The role of government in the development of exports and the restriction of imports was also determinative.
Fifth, these precedents teach us that enduring development is impossible without industrialization of the economy and careful attention to the standard of living. Properly attending to this matter requires making work, production, and living standards the axes that orient economics.
Sixth, the taking shape of sound money markets, the independence of the central bank, and the expansion of domestic trade alongside balanced foreign trade, were all very important.
Seventh, effort must be expended for a quantitative and qualitative development of the workforce, employers, the capital and commodities market, technology, research and development, other institutions deserving of support, and the construction of sufficient infrastructure.
Eighth, creating these conditions for microeconomics in turn requires appropriate distributive, consumptive, financial, monetary, foreign exchange, trade, and industrial policies on the macroeconomic level. These policies must be developed in a mutually reinforcing relationship with each other and not in such a manner that they conflict with one another.
Ninth, the protection of private property, the encouragement of a culture of healthy competition, and a relentless struggle against monopoly and bribery must take their place as the top priority of a development-oriented government.
Tenth, as the final and most important condition, let us recall that the struggle against corruption, and popular assessment of the performance of governmental departments and authorities at all levels and in all fields must be conducted regularly, so that the government of national development takes shape in a disciplined and lawful manner.
In conclusion, we refer to a few points. This proclamation as it has been offered up is still at the stage of generality. It is a draft that needs help from your thought and guidance in order to be finalized. We eagerly await and look forward to your criticisms, but what is more important, are your specific suggested revisions – ones that are pragmatic and realistic. Building a New Iran requires the cooperation, collaboration, and alliance of all Iranians, and national enmity is destructive regardless of whatever excuse is made for it. Given the issues that the ruling clergy have brought about for the country, we want their dignified exit. We insist on this departure for the sake of both Iran and Islam, and not on account of any enmity toward the clergy. We believe that building a New Iran begins with the dignified departure of the clergy from power. Consequently, it is the clergy themselves who will lay the cornerstone of the New Iran with their peaceful exit. Transition beyond the reigning clergy is not all that occupies the thoughts of ABANists. What is more important for us is the democratic development of Iran.
Building a New Iran without building new Iranians is impossible. We are hopeful that the ideal of “good thoughts, good words, and good deeds” will become the leaven of the character of all Iranians and of their political culture. In order to build such Iranians, we Nationists of ABAN will, on the basis of the idea of Nationism, struggle with our heart and soul and make sacrifices for the progress of all of our people, land, government, and culture and to promote positive international relations for Iran. We want you to join us and do likewise. The most important value that must be our guide in this movement toward a New Iran is the principle of citizenship, the equality of all citizens, and an end to discrimination amongst them on any basis. We ABANists will not compromise on this principle, and we shall not rest until Iranians of all social classes and from all particular groups of society have secured their legitimate rights. In the end, the ultimate aim of ABAN is making the people of Iran happy and rendering their civilization-building land immortal. We warmly press your hand dear fellow compatriot, your hand and the hands of all those who want the happiness of Iranians and the immortality of their land. Onwards then with the Alliance for a New Iran!