Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty by Ali Gheissari

Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty

byAli Gheissari, Vali Nasr

Hardcover | September 15, 2006

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Today Iran is once again in the headlines. Reputed to be developing nuclear weapons, the future of Iraq's next-door neighbor is a matter of grave concern both for the stability of the region and for the safety of the global community. President George W. Bush labeled it part of the "Axis ofEvil," and rails against the country's authoritarian leadership. Yet as Bush trumpets the spread of democracy throughout the Middle East, few note that Iran has one of the longest-running experiences with democracy in the region. In this book, Ali Gheissari and Vali Nasr look at the political history of Iran in the modern era, and offer an in-depth analysis of the prospects for democracy to flourish there. After having produced the only successful Islamist challenge to the state, a revolution, and an Islamic Republic, Iranis now poised to produce a genuine and indigenous democratic movement in the Muslim world. Democracy in Iran is neither a sudden development nor a western import, Gheissari and Nasr argue. The concept of democracy in Iran today may appear to be a reaction to authoritarianism, but it is an old ideawith a complex history, one that is tightly interwoven with the main forces that have shaped Iranian society and politics, institutions, identities, and interests. Indeed, the demand for democracy first surfaced in Iran a century ago at the end of the Qajar period, and helped produce Iran'ssurprisingly liberal first constitution in 1906. Gheissari and Nasr seek to understand why democracy failed to grow roots and lost ground to an autocratic Iranian state. Why was democracy absent from the ideological debates of the 1960s and 1970s? Most important, why has it now become a powerfulsocial, political, and intellectual force? How have modernization, social change, economic growth, and the experience of the revolution converged to make this possible?Gheissari and Nasr trace the fortunes of the democratic ideal from the inchoate demands for rule of law and constitutionalism of a century ago to today's calls for individual rights and civil liberties. In the process they provide not just a fresh look at Iran's politics but also a new understandingof the way in which democracy can develop in a Muslim country.

About The Author

Ali Gheissari is the author of Iranian Intellectuals in the Twentieth Century (1998). He studied at Tehran University and Oxford, and is currently Adjunct Professor of History and Political Science at the University of San Diego and Visiting Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Brown University. He has published broadly on the ...
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Details & Specs

Title:Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for LibertyFormat:HardcoverDimensions:232 pages, 6.1 × 9.41 × 0.98 inPublished:September 15, 2006Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195189671

ISBN - 13:9780195189674

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"Democracy in Iran is a bold and sweeping survey of the past century of Iranian political history, an absorbing drama of contending ideologies, social classes, revolutionary movements, international pressures, political factions, and charismatic leaders. Nasr and Gheissari vividly exposeIran's ongoing struggle between democratic principles of freedom and accountability, the authoritarian-modernist quest for order and development, and revolutionary idealism, both secular and religious. In the process, they show once again the folly of all forms of utopianism and the necessity ofconstitutional and representative government. This is not just a book about Iran, but an insightful study of how regimes rise, evolve, stagnate, fragment, and fall." --Larry Diamond, author of Squandered Victory: The American Occupation and the Bungled Effort to Bring Democracy to Iraq