The Rise and Fall of Pseudo-Modernist Despotism, 1933-41

  • Homa Katouzian


In the first parliamentary session which followed Reżā Shah’s coronation, a few genuinely-elected deputies, all of them in opposition, managed to get back into the Majlis; among these, Mudarris and Muṣaddiq were the most able and the most uncompromising. At first, Mudarris tried by his usual pragmatic tactics to control the situation as much as possible; but he soon realised that the Shah was in no mood for a genuine compromise. Muṣaddiq, on the other hand, took a consistent, tough and courageous oppositionist line: one way or another, he opposed nearly all the bills which the cabinet submitted to the Muftis, if only because all such legislation had originated with the Shah; that is, whatever the bills’ contents, the procedure for their conception and formulation had been unconstitutional. The régime did not have much joy from Mudarris either: he once publicly explained that the reason why he had supported the bill for compulsory military conscription was that it would enable the people to use guns, and so bring down the new régime! Although they did not normally co-ordinate their activities, the two men together caused a considerable amount of embarrassment, even anxiety, to the Shah during this session. Muṣaddiq’s last parliamentary speech under Reżā Shah was a fierce, sarcastic, factual and documented attack on the way in which the army, the police and the gendarmerie were engaged in determining the full outcome of the impending general elections.1


Social Progress Percentage Share Iranian Woman Personal Dignity Public Bath 
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© M. A. H. Katouzian 1981

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  • Homa Katouzian

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