The Iranian Revolution

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The Iranian Revolution

Iran is a country located in the Middle East. The main source of income for the country is oil, the one object that had greatly influenced its history. Iran's present government is run as an Islamic Republic. A president, cabinet, judicial branch, and Majilesor or legislative branch, makes up the governmental positions. A revolution that overthrew the monarch, which was set in 1930, lasted over 15 years. Crane Brinton's book, An Anatomy of a Revolution, explains set of four steps a country experiences when a revolution occurs. Symptoms, rising fever, crisis, and convalescence are the steps that occur. The Iranian Revolution followed the four steps in Crane Brinton's theory, symptoms, rising fever, crisis, and convalescence occurred.

Numerous symptoms led to the crumbling downfall of Reza Shah Pahlavi, ruler of Iran until 1978. One of these symptoms is rising expectations which can be seen during the 1960's and 70's. The rich Shah cleared the way for the land reform law, enacted in 1962. The land minority had to give up its land to the government, and among those stripped of land, were the Shi'ah Muslims. Iran's power structure was radically changed in a program termed the "White Revolution". On January 26, 1963, the White Revolution was endorsed by the nation. By 1971, when land distribution ended, about 2,500,000 families of the farm population benefited from the reforms. From 1960-72 the percentage of owner occupied farmland in Iran rose from 26 to 78 percent. Per capita income rose from $176 in 1960 to $2,500 in 1978. From 1970-77 the gross national product was reported to increase to an annual rate of 7.8% ("Iran" 896). As a result of this thriving economy, the income gap rapidly widened. Exclusive homes, extravagant restaurants, and night clubs and streets loaded with expensive automobiles served as daily reminders of a growing income spread. This created a perfect environment for many conflicts to arise between the classes.

Iran's elite class consisted of wealthy land owners, intelligencia, military leaders, politicians, and diplomats. The Elite continued to support the monarchy and the Shah. The peasants were victim of unfulfilled political expectations, surveillance by the secret police, and the severe social and economic problems that resulted from modernization. The middle class favored socialism over capitalism, because capitalism in their view supported the elite, and does not benefit the lower classes. The middle class was the most changeable element in the group, because they enjoyed some of the privileges of the elite, which they would like to protect. At the same time, they believed that they had been cheated by the elite out of their share of the industrialization wealth (Orwin 43).

About this time, the middle class, which included students, technocrats, and modernist professionals, became discontent with the economy. The key event should have further stabilized the royal dictatorship, but the increase in oil prices and oil income beginning in 1974 caused extreme inflation. This was due to the investment strategy followed by the Shah, which led to a spectacular 42% growth rate in 1974. (Cottam 14). And because of the Shah's support structure which enabled the new rich to benefit from inflation, the government effort to deal with inflation was aimless. Poor Iranians and Iranians with a fixed income suffered major losses in real income. Better standards of living were no longer visible. Thus, the majority of the Iranian people developed a revolutionary predisposition.

As the middle class became discontent in Iran throughout the 1970's, the desertion of intellectuals could be found in great excess. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini represented much of the discontent of the religious sector of Iran. For speaking out against the Shah's autocratic rule, Khomeini was exiled to Turkey in...
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