Reformers and Revolutionaries in Modern Iran By Stephanie Cronin, ed. (London and New York: Routledge, 2009. 316 pages.)

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Arshavez Mozafari



One cannot think of politicized Islam in Iran without thinking of the Iranian
Left’s formation and overall history. The awkward yet symbiotic relationship
between them continues to impact how political decisions are made,
especially at the parliamentary level. Given the Left’s wide-ranging linkages
with surrounding regions, including the Causacus (early twentieth century)
and the Arab Middle East (particularly during the 1970s), experts dealing
with those regions’ politics would benefit from this work. As one of the
Middle East’s strongest leftist movements before the 1980s, any discussion
of neighboring revolutionary movements must at least consider it. Although
this book assumes familiarity with twentieth-century Iran’s secular politics
and might be considered too dense, its rather large bibliographic section is
meant to encourage individual intellectual pursuits.
Many contemporary scholars of the Iranian Left agree on its adherents’
general lack of critical self-reflection throughout the twentieth century.
Reformers and Revolutionaries in Modern Iran offers a forum for critical
reassessments of organizational platforms along with constructive propositions
meant to enhance the viability of left-leaning programs – especially
social-democratic initiatives. This latter point is crucial, because several
contributors deliberately state the importance of rejuvenating the Left
through social democratic reformism. Historical examples are used to prove
this option’s viability over the more “rigid” Marxist-Leninist and Stalinist
examples ...

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