OUR SCHOLARS | Majid Mohammadi

Mohammadi Majid

Majid Mohammadi is a freelance writer and researcher of Iranian politics and society. He was a visiting scholar at the Stony Brook Institute for Global Studies and served as an associate professor at Glenville State College, a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University, and an International Policy Fellow at the Open Society Institute (OSI). His projects at Princeton and OSI focused on Shi’a Islamism in post-Revolutionary Iran and judicial reform in Egypt and Turkey respectively. In 2005 he became a fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. Prior to moving to the U.S. in 2000, he worked in workshops to draft legislation and policies in the area of media and culture in Iran. These policies were critical to improving the rule of law, free press, free ow of information, and vindication of human, civil, and constitutional rights in Iran. He received his education from Shiraz University (BS), Tehran University (MA), and Stony Brook University (PhD).

He is the author of several books in Persian and English, including Heaven’s Ladder: Analytic Philosophy of Religion (2002); The Quandary of Political Reforms in Iran Today (2000); Introduction to Sociology and Economics of Culture in Iran Today (1998); Authoritarian Face: Iranian TV, 1990-2000 (2001); Civil Society: Iranian Style (1999); Religion vs. Faith (1999); and Sacred vs. Secular: The Islamization Process in Iran.

What Majid Mohammadi Said

A Disaster for Farmers

The educational reform was — was because of the demand of the Iranian population to have their kids in school especially in rural areas. There were not enough schools. There were not enough teachers, so the regime established an education corp to have soldiers who were able to teach to go to the villages, to go to very far places to educate people, to educate illiterates to be able to read and write. And other one, the land reform, it was not the demand of the farmers. It was the government’s agenda to decrease the power of landlords. The government wanted to have a new, we can call it bourgeoisie if we use the marxist term. The government wants to have a new class of bourgeoisie tradesmen, industrialist entrepreneurs; wanted them to be the higher class in the country, not the old landlords. They were loyal to the government, so the government wanted to decrease the power and decrease the authority of the landlords. So it begun to disintegrate the huge lands that were under their control to divide those lands between the farmers. It was good for the farmers but it was not good for the agriculture in the country. It was a disaster, because small farmers did not have access to loans, did not have access to technology, did not have access to irrigation systems and everything was coming from the west. So, small farmers were limited to very limited kind of products. And after a while they had to move from their villages to suburbs, to slums.

 

When Everything Was Nationalized

We have had two periods of nationalization in Iran. One during Mosaddegh administration that was focused on oil and the second right after the Islamic revolution in 1979 to 1981. Between 1979 to 1981, everything was nationalized, the banking system, the industries, the agricultural industry, everything that was big was nationalized. It’s interesting that these nationalizations happened right after social movements when people wanted to have more power, to have more say in governmental policies people asked for more equalities. This was just kind of a false drug given to the patient. People thought that if big industries, big banks, if they were nationalized, people could benefit. In reality, people didn’t. Nothing happened to the poor, nothing happened to the unprivileged. After nationalization, it was the government who was managing, financing it. I believe it was a hole that public resources were going to, and nothing was coming out of it. There was no redistribution, no trickle down. If you look at big industries in Iran for example iron, steel in Isfahan, or aluminium in Arak, or sugarcane in Khuzestan, all these industries were nationalized; nothing happened to the local people. Most of them lost their jobs in those industries because when the government takes over, the corruption comes with it, the mismanagement comes with it, and after a while, these industries are gone.

 

The Three Economic Empires of Iran Today

If you ask any economist, they will tell you that it didn’t happen, the privatization, it didn’t happen. Nowadays, we have three economic empire in the country. One is the executive power companies. There are hundreds of companies, big companies that are working for the government. Established by the government, working for the government, and they have around four-fifth of the budget of the government every year. The second empire is Khamenie’s empire, he has foundations, he has endowments and he doesn’t give just the paper showing the input and the output of the system. We don’t know anything about that empire, but we know because of how he spends in Qom seminary, in seminaries, in mostly religious bureaucracy. We know that this is more than a hundred billion empire. And the third one now is the military economy empire, the IRGC. They have tons of companies; they are involved in the oil industry, in the transportation industry, they have their airlines, they have their mines. Most of the projects that are more than hundred million dollars in the country, it’s IRGCs. Nobody can nobody can compete with IRGC.

Majid Mohammadi is Featured in The Third Path