A Conceptual History of Democracy in Iran

  • Yadullah Shahibzadeh


This chapter examines the historical transformation of the concept of democracy as an essential concept of the Iranian political language since the constitutional revolution. A conceptual history of democracy may help us to understand the Iranian people’s spaces of political experience and democratic expectations. Through their political experiences and expectations, the Iranian people have defined their own historical time. According to Johann Gottfried von Herder, “Every mutable thing has within itself the measure of its time.” 1 The Iranian measure of time established a relation between the Iranian society’s past and present, and enabled the Iranian people to regulate their expectations and hopes concerning their space of experience. Thus, the Iranian people’s experiences of historical times are expressed through different concepts they exchange with one another in various ways and in different historical periods. Through a historiography of the concept of democracy, we can distinguish between democracy’s different meanings and scrutinize the political passion these meanings of democracy have generated among the Iranian people.


Political Participation Democratic Socialism State Sovereignty Western Democracy Conceptual History 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Reinhart Koselleck, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), p.2.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Gregory Vlastos, Studies in Greek Philosophy: The Presocratics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), pp.89–96.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    John Dunn, Setting the People Free: The Story of Democracy (London: Atlantic Books, 2005), p.114.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (London: Penguin Classics, 1986), p.191.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    John Dunn (ed.), Democracy: The Unfinished Journey (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), pp.239–266.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    John Dunn, Setting the People Free: The Story of Democracy (London: Atlantic Books, 2005), p.130.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    John Dunn, Democracy: A History (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005), p.185.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (London: Rouledge, 2003), p.242.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    Giovani Sartori, The Theory of Democracy Revisited: Part One, The Contemporary Debate (New Jersey: Chatham House Publishers, 1987).Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    Robert Dahl, Democracy, Liberty and Equalit y (Oslo: Norwegian University Press, 1986), pp.230–232.Google Scholar
  11. 13.
    Robert Dahl. Democracy and Its Critics (New Haven: Yale University Press, l989), p.120.Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    Guillermo A. O’Donnell, “Democratic Theory and Comparative Politics,” Studies in Comparative International Development, Vol. 36, No.1 (Spring 2001), p.22.Google Scholar
  13. 17.
    Hyland, Democratic Theory: The Philosophical Foundations (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995), p.3.Google Scholar
  14. 19.
    John Burnheim, Is Democracy Possible? (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1988), pp.1–18.Google Scholar
  15. 20.
    Alan Ritter and Julia Conaway Bondanella (eds), Rousseau’s Political Writing (London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1988), p.93.Google Scholar
  16. 23.
    J. L. Talmon, The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy (London: Secker & Warburg, 1952), p.249–53.Google Scholar
  17. 25.
    Karl Marx, “On the Jewish Question,” in Karl Marx: Selected Writings (edited by David McLellan), (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), p.46.Google Scholar
  18. 30.
    Thomas Hobbes, On the Citizen (edited and translated by Richard Tuck and Michael Silverthorne) (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p.131.Google Scholar
  19. 33.
    Samuel P. Huntington, Michel Crozier, Joji Watanuki, The Crisis of Democracy (New York: New York University Press, 1973), p.74.Google Scholar
  20. 40.
    Bernard Lewis, The Political Language of Islam (Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1988).Google Scholar
  21. 41.
    Yahya Sadowski, The New Orientalism and the Democracy Debate, Middle East Report, No.183, Political Islam, (Jul. August) 1993, p.19.Google Scholar
  22. 44.
    Bernard Lewis, The Roots of Muslim Rage: Why So Many Muslims Deeply Resent the West, and Why Their Bitterness Will Not Easily Be Mollified (The Atlantic Monthly, September 1990), pp.56–57.Google Scholar
  23. 48.
    Hamid Dabashi, Theology of Discontent: The Ideological Foundation of the Iranian Revolution, (New York: New York University Press, 1993), p.13.Google Scholar
  24. 49.
    Quentin Skinner, Liberty Before Liberalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p.105.Google Scholar
  25. 50.
    Mirza Yusef Khan Mostashar alDouleh Tabrizi, Yek kalemeh va yek nameh, Beh Kusheshe Seyyed Mohammad Sadeq Feiz (Tehran: Entesharat-e Sabah, 2003), p.36.Google Scholar
  26. 53.
    Fakhreddin Azimi, The Quest for Democracy in Iran: A Century of Struggle Against Authoritarian Rule (London: Harvard University Press, 2008), pp.2–3.Google Scholar
  27. 59.
    Mohammad Taqi Bahar, Tarikh-e mokhtasar-e ahzab-e siyasi-e Iran, Jeld-e avval (Tehran: Muaseseh-ye entesharat-e Amirkabir, 2001), p.2.Google Scholar
  28. 61.
    Homa Katouzian, Musaddiq and the Struggle for Power in Iran (London: I.B. Tauris, 1999), p.259.Google Scholar
  29. 62.
    Mansour Bonakdarian, Britain and the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1906–1911 : Foreign Policy, Imperialism and Dissent (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press 2006), p.77.Google Scholar
  30. 64.
    Homa Katouzian, The Campaign Against the Anglo-Iranian Agreement of 1919, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 25, No. 1, (May 1998), pp.6–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 72.
    Ali Ansari, Modern Iran (London: Pearson-Longman), 2007, p.38.Google Scholar
  32. 73.
    Hamid Ahmadi (ed.), Setareh-ye sorkh 1929–1931 (Stockholm: Nashr-e Baran, 1993), p.45.Google Scholar
  33. 74.
    Mohammadali Homayun Kaotuzian (Homa Katouzian), Etela’ate Siyasi eqtesadi, Shomareh-ye 55–56, Farvardin va Ordibehesht 1371/March–April–May 1992, p.49.Google Scholar
  34. 77.
    Touraj Atabaki, From Multilingual Empire to Contested Modern State, in Iran in the 21st Century, in Politics, Economics & Conflicts, Edited by Homa Katuzian and Hossen Shahidi (London: Routledge, 2008), p.47.Google Scholar
  35. 82.
    Hamid Ahmadi (ed.), Setareh-ye sorkh,1929–1931 Mordeh shur ham geryeh mikonad, (Raje beh etesab-e kargaran-e jonoub), p.310.Google Scholar
  36. 89.
    Ervand Abrahamian, A History of Modern Iran (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p.108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 91.
    Nouredin Kianouri, Nokati az tarikh-e hezb-e Tudeh Iran Tehran: Sherkat sahami-ye khas-e entesharat-e Tudeh Farvardin 1359 /March–April 1980, pp.8–9.Google Scholar
  38. 99.
    Fakhreddin Azimi, Iran: The Crisis of Democracy, From the Exile of Reza Shah to the Fall of Mussadiq (London: I.B. Tauris, 2009), p.274.Google Scholar
  39. 102.
    Hossein Fatemi, Nameh’ha-ye Doktor Fatemi, Majaleh-ye motaleat-e tarikhi, Shomareh-ye 8, Tabestan-e 1384/Summer 1995, p.74.Google Scholar
  40. 103.
    Mohammad Mosaddeq, Khaterat va taalomat-e Doktor Mohammad Mosaddeq (Tehran: Enhtesharat-e Mohammad Ali Elmi, 1988), p.227.Google Scholar
  41. 105.
    Abdolhassan Azhang, Tarikh-e jebheh-ye melli Iran, Doumahnameh-ye Bokhara, Shomareh-ye 44, Mehr va Aban-e 1384/ September–October–November 2005, pp.156–157.Google Scholar
  42. 108.
    Ali Rahnama, An Islamic Utopian: A Political Biography of Ali Shariati (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2000), p.25.Google Scholar
  43. 109.
    Hassan Yusefi Eshkevari, Nougerayi-ye dini (Tehran: Qasideh, 1999), p.341.Google Scholar
  44. 110.
    Mohammad Nakhshab, Majmueh-ye asar-e Mohammad Nakhshab (Tehran: Chapakhsh, 2002), p.247.Google Scholar
  45. 116.
    Homa Katouzian, Iranian History and Politics: The Dialectic of State and Society (London: Routledge, 2003), p.122.Google Scholar
  46. 129.
    Ervand Abrahamian, Radical Islam: The Iranian Mojahedin (London: I.B. Tauris, 1989), p.96.Google Scholar
  47. 135.
    Mostafa Rahimi, Chera ba jomhuri-ye eslami mokhalefam, nameh beh Ayatollah Khomeini, 25.10.1357/15.01.1979.Google Scholar
  48. 136.
    Dedier Eribon, Michel Foucault (London: Faber and Faber, 1993), p.285.Google Scholar
  49. 137.
    Rahimi, Chera ba jomhuri-ye eslami mokhalefam, nameh beh Ayatollah Khomeini, 25.10.1357/15.01.1979.Google Scholar
  50. 144.
    Mostafa Rahimi, Osul-e hokumat-e jomhuri, Tehran Chapkhaneh-ye Sepehr 1358 /1979.Google Scholar
  51. 153.
    Abbas Amanat, Apocalytic Islam and Iranian Shi’sm (London: I.B. Tauris, 2009), p.179.Google Scholar
  52. 155.
    Mehran Kamrava, Iran’s Intelllectual Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p.143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 157.
    David Macey, The Lives of Michel Foucault (London: Vintage, 1993), p.410.Google Scholar
  54. 159.
    Bernard-Henri Lévy, La barbarie â visage humain (Paris: B. Grasset, 1977), pp.61–73.Google Scholar
  55. 161.
    Jacques Rancière, The Emancipated Spectator (London: Verso Books, 2009), p.48.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Yadullah Shahibzadeh 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yadullah Shahibzadeh

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations