By Kian Mokhtari
On this day in 1979 a massive tectonic shift in Iran’s social and political affairs began to occur. The giant of the region, asleep for more than 150 years, awoke to find that during its long absence complacency and negligence had blighted and warped the contours of the ancient land's identity.
Those old enough to remember the former monarchy in Iran and the society formed around its tastes and decadence, also recall that all was essentially far from well.
There was a first world mirage superimposed on the true visage of a developing country. It was almost as if a fresh coat of paint had been applied to all facets of life within a society whose fabric had long withered away.
The seemingly mighty Imperial armed force of Iran, having been almost entirely equipped by the West was unable to function without western expertise and military advisors.
There were industries of sorts, whose output consisted of the assembly under license of second grade western goods for the domestic market.
The imperial court of Iran functioned hinged on foreign interference, flattery, corruption, intrigue, jealousy and rumors. And the absolute monarch lacked the strength of character to be able to exercise any kind of control over his court, let alone the affairs of the state.
The disjointed and awkward circus was held together by a brutal secret police whose appointed leaders’ allegiance was to the US and the West.
Declassified American documents on Iran show that by 1979 the former shah’s main backer had acknowledged the status quo could not be maintained. But gripped by the fear of a Soviet invasion of Iran following a popular uprising against the monarchy, Washington kept supplying arms and providing assistance to the tottering monarch.
Yet a macabre semblance of normality was maintained in which people went about everyday life like sleepwalkers near the edge of a cliff. The artificiality of day-to-day existence in Iran amazed all those who visited the country from abroad and countless foreign journalists noted the contrast between Iran’s international media image and actual reality.
Even the Iranian manufactured boxes of tissue paper arranged carefully on fashionable Tehran restaurants’ tables did not function as they should have –although they looked every bit the part. If you tried to pull one tissue out to dry your hands one of two eventualities took place: either the tissue got jammed and ripped apart in your hand, or five pieces of tissue came out at a tug!!
In a sense pre-Islamic Revolution Iran can be likened to its domestically produced boxes of tissues. On the surface all was good and well until you had to delve into it in some way; and then the can of worms would come alive.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is not about bravado and image. Its leaders do not have their suits tailored in London’s fashionable Savile Row. Iran is not about pomp and ceremony of a fake imperial court with no imperial power.
Iran is about what you see today, it is a nation throbbing with capable and educated youth trying to make their way in the world. What you see on Iranian cities’ streets is what you get. And to some that in itself is the greatest achievement of the revolution.
The Islamic Revolution has managed to put Iran’s soul back into its body. And Iran is doing just fine living in its own skin.