The Iranian Revolution

Iran is a country located in the Middle East. The main source

of income for the country is oil, the one object that had greatly

influenced its history. Iran's present government is run as an Islamic

Republic. A president, cabinet, judicial branch, and Majilesor or

legislative branch, makes up the governmental positions. A revolution

that overthrew the monarch, which was set in 1930, lasted over 15

years. Crane Brinton's book, An Anatomy of a Revolution, explains set

of four steps a country experiences when a revolution occurs.

Symptoms, rising fever, crisis, and convalescence are the steps that

occur. The Iranian Revolution followed the four steps in Crane

Brinton's theory, symptoms, rising fever, crisis, and convalescence


Numerous symptoms led to the crumbling downfall of Reza Shah

Pahlavi, ruler of Iran until 1978. One of these symptoms is rising

expectations which can be seen during the 1960's and 70's. The rich

Shah cleared the way for the land reform law, enacted in 1962. The

land minority had to give up its land to the government, and among

those stripped of land, were the Shi'ah Muslims. Iran's power

structure was radically changed in a program termed the "White

Revolution". On January 26, 1963, the White Revolution was endorsed by

the nation. By 1971, when land distribution ended, about 2,500,000

families of the farm population benefited from the reforms. From

1960-72 the percentage of owner occupied farmland in Iran rose from

26 to 78 percent. Per capita income rose from $176 in 1960 to $2,500

in 1978. From 1970-77 the gross national product was reported to

increase to an annual rate of 7.8% ("Iran" 896). As a result of this

thriving economy, the income gap rapidly widened. Exclusive homes,

extravagant restaurants, and night clubs and streets loaded with

expensive automobiles served as daily reminders of a growing income

spread. This created a perfect environment for many conflicts to arise

between the classes.

Iran's elite class consisted of wealthy land owners,

intelligencia, military leaders, politicians, and diplomats. The Elite

continued to support the monarchy and the Shah. The peasants were

victim of unfulfilled political expectations, surveillance by the

secret police, and the severe social and economic problems that

resulted from modernization. The middle class favored socialism over

capitalism, because capitalism in their view supported the elite, and

does not benefit the lower classes. The middle class was the most

changeable element in the group, because they enjoyed some of the

privileges of the elite, which they would like to protect. At the same

time, they believed that they had been cheated by the elite out of

their share of the industrialization wealth (Orwin 43).

About this time, the middle class, which included students,

technocrats, and modernist professionals, became discontent with

the economy. The key event should have further stabilized the royal

dictatorship, but the increase in oil prices and oil income beginning

in 1974 caused extreme inflation. This was due to the investment

strategy followed by the Shah, which led to a spectacular 42% growth

rate in 1974. (Cottam 14). And because of the Shah's support structure

which enabled the new rich to benefit from inflation, the government

effort to deal with inflation was aimless. Poor Iranians and Iranians

with a fixed income suffered major losses in real income. Better

ezdards of living were no longer visible. Thus, the majority of the

Iranian people developed a revolutionary predisposition.

As the middle class became discontent in Iran throughout the

1970's, the desertion of intellectuals could be found in great excess.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini represented much of the discontent of the

religious sector of Iran. For speaking out against the Shah's

autocratic rule, Khomeini was exiled to Turkey in 1963. In 1965,

Khomeini moved to Iraq where he became the central spokesperson for

expatriate opposition to the Shah. On October 6, 1978, Khomeini was

expelled from Iraq and moved to Paris, where he was accessible to a

larger body of opposition forces. He was also accessible to the

Western Press. Khomeini preached that he would displace the Shah and

expel the foreigners. He also said he would enforce religious and

traditional values, and redirect Iran's wealth away from large

industrialization schemes and toward reforms needed by the common


Throughout the 1970's, Khomeini gained tremendous popularity

with the masses, and he became the symbol of the opposition towards

the Shah. As Khomeini gained popularity, many religious groups grew in