Political Economy of Iran Essay

Submitted By broder22
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The political economy of a Semi-industrialized theocratic state: the Islamic republic of Iran
This chapter uses the case of Iran to explore 3 main propositions
For semi-industrialised theocracy is essentially similar to secular dictatorship (economically not socially)
Economics guideline followed to keep clerics in power not on Islamic doctrine
Guiding of political and economic affairs by duality of government (governmental and clergy)
The Iranian Religious Context
Islam, Theocracy, and the Origins of Clerical Power in Iran
-Nations with large share of muslim populations manifest lower level of democracy than other developing nations, have more male orientated, show more skew to military governemnts
-Early life of muhammed – he governed, collected taxes, commanded armies, dispensed justice. Next 4 caliphs followed this however then Sunni Shia split – Sunni accepted more secular caliph whereas shia wanted more divine insipiration. Important thing BOTH wanted strong role of Sharia Principles
-Since 19th century religious figures have played a visible and sometimes critical role in Iranian politics Ayotollahs said only those learned in Islamic way have right to govern
-after departure of shah, theocracy debate was alive – nevertheless constitution (approved by referendum) enshrined religious leaders had final right – despite revolution brought upon by multiplicity of groups religious leaders capitalized on it most (others had been marginalised)
-essential issue of defining Iran’s government
Classical Islam . . . did not recognize a separate institution, with a hierarchy and laws of its own, to regulate religious matters. Does this mean that Islam is a theocracy? In the sense that God is seen as the supreme sovereign, the answer would have to be yes indeed. In the sense of government by a priesthood, most definitely not. The emergence of a priestly hierarchy and its assumption of ultimate authority in the state is a modern innovation and is a unique contribution of the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran to Islamic thought and practice.” Bernard Lewis 2003

-essential issue of defining Iran’s government
-(last paragraph entails powers of religious leader ship – they are basically ALL POWERFUL and concludes with “Under this and other constitutional rules, it is impossible legally for the clergy to be removed from, or voted out of, political leadership”

Islam and economic (1 and 2 islamic – rest about iran)

-Islamic nations do not have economic institutions much different from those of other developing countries (backed by empirics) (e.g. the banning of interest in Islamic law is not major prohibition in laws of Islamic countries)

-Islamic doctrine for economics is quite vague (elements of capitalism present traditionally in Islam) however in Islamic countries have put in significantly more regulations

-Khamene’i was willing to accept some pragmatic economic reforms to moderate some irrationalities in Iranian economy. Also more emphasis on political power e.g. strengthening Supreme national security council (this tightening clerical control) and has worked to develop strong ties with revolutionary guard and the basij volunteer morality squad. From this power base he has interfered more with economy (e.g. giving shares to poor people by privatising big industries)

-President has more power on less important issues – Ahmadinejad advocated a full-scale populist programmes (e.g. reallocated Oil Stabilization Funds to numerous Islamic groups for poor, subsidies for consumption goods)

The Iranian context
Economic Legacy of Shah
-Under shah economy did well – 2 decades of rapid economic growth(empirical figures given, quote impressive change)
-Proportion of government role increase from 8.5% to 23% (government consumption in economy)
-criticisms that reserves being exhausted, agrarian ruined, income inequality
-main criticism of the shah was overuse of repression (ironically forces helping shah