Sunday, June 18, 2006

Portugal, Spain & Greece - My case study

European countries like Spain, Portugal & Greece are countries which had very successful transition from dictatorship to democracy and freedom in the 20th century. They were run either by far right wing dictators or militarist governments. But there are no totalitarian regimes in these specific countries any more and they are part of the free world. I'm not talking about Eastern bloc of Europe where Communism ruled with an iron fist for decades. I am specifically interested in these three so-called Western European societies: Spain, Portugal, Greece and I do need your feedback in the end to help me learn more about what may be a good and useful idea for a country in the middle east named IRAN.

Can Iran go in that direction? Can Iran be the first and only true democratic state of the mideast region by taking the steps that Spaniards, Portuguese and Greek took to be free, prosperous and democratic?

I have been thinking about this for quite some time. I wish I could travel to those countries and find out how it worked for them and whether it can work for us in Iran as well or not?

Spain of the mid 20th century (1930s-1970s) resembles Iran of today and I was wondering if this can be a case-study for me to find out how this worked for a poor country like Spain.

Portugal had a dictatorship for quite a while but right now they are a democratic state within the European Union and probably a country where rule of law is their number one priority.

Iran had an autocratic monarch (Late Shah of Iran was not a dictator, far from it) up until 1979 and then the islamic revolution brought a totalitarian religious dictatorship to a country with thousands of years of proud history and civilization. I am trying to find out if there is some thing we, Iranians, may have in common with those European guys in these three countries.

I do, however, realize that these countries are not stuck between modernity & traditionalism any more, they have been taking advantages of years of enlightenment and modernization of their European neighbors and they were secular governments even during the dictatorship period and are not of the Islamic faith. But bear in mind that Iran has a very secular young populace (According to what I heard and witnessed while ago, Iran has a much higher secular youth than that of Turkey which has a secular government already) who will be the force behind any probable changes in near future in Iran and we had our own constitutional revolution almost 100 years ago and all we miss is the rule of LAW and a government which is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I'd appreciate your feedbacks as they are necessary to help me get to know more about the world!

مرتب به این فکر میکنم که آيا ايران هم ميتواند مثل اسپانيا و پرتقال يا يونان از يک کشور ديکتاتورزده به يک کشور دمکرات تبديل بشود يا نه

نظر شما چيست؟


Zionist said...

Dear Winston,

I think the biggest differences between countries like Portugal and Iran is the rate of religion penetration especially Islam. Actually, in Iran Islam has affected even many of those so called seculars. I've seen hundreds of metal music fans, prostitutes, boys who have girl friends and... who leave their interests in Mo’haram lunar month and instead mourn for Hussein. I believe that in Iran most people have an unwritten principles that interprets like Islam is an alternative for thinking (in major human problems). This viewpoint has been deployed in minds of millions of Iranians even most of secular, anti-regime ones.
Christians and followers of other religions (and those who does not believe in any religion) in EU countries were not faced with the problem of convincing their citizens about adaptability issues of religion with democracy but this in Iran matters!

Any attempt for installing democracy in Iran must be mixed with the fading of religion rule.
The propaganda machine in I.R.Iran is tremendously working in fields of opposing democracy (plus human right, women rights and...) and Islam. Maybe it's too difficult to interrupt that machine but it's much easier to prove that young unimportance of involving religion in social and political issues.

I.R.Iran has played its role in a way that it is the only true deployment of Islamic Government and all of its basic laws has been derived from the source of God. In this conditions its too difficult for opposition to prove its democratic values.

I think it's much more easier to release a nation from the constraints of Communism, fascism and similar than to release a country from Islamic dictatorship and fundamentalism.

As I know, only a few examples (like Turkey) are present about achievement of democracy from the heart of an Islamic dictatorship.

(Dear Winston, apologize me for my weakness in English writing)

John H. Costello said...

Greece, Spain and Portugal are three very different cultures with three very different histories. I will ignore Greece because I know less of the details, but both Iberian countries were dictatorships when I was growing up and I have numerous Portugese and Spanish friends and speak Spanish.
Spain became a dictatorship after a nasty civil war where everyone was killing everyone else. Portugal did not. The Portugese don't even kill the bulls in their bullrings. They are NOT Spanish. Their oldest ally in Europe is England dating from the Plantagenet era. Spain, naturally, was always the enemy (most especially when the crowns were joined.)
The Spanish civil war broke out because the Right was convinced the Left was going to murder them. They were probably right. The Franco dictatorship was essentially fascism without an ideology; it was essentially medievalist and catholic, and even Franco knew it would not survive him and thus 'groomed' the present king as a successor. Juan Carlos has been Spain's greatest defender of democracy, putting down a francoist coup attempt (the military officers took over Parliament. It was on TV. The MPs dared the soliders to shoot them, saying new people would then be elected. Spain's transition to democracy has been essentially costitituional and 'democratic.')
Portgal's revolution was a military coup d'etat that came about when the military became disgusted with its colonial wars in Africa. Everyone served in the military (other than the father of one friend who moved to the us in the 30s to avoid the draft at the time.) They threw the old dictator out (he was a beauaucrat/technocrat) who moved to Brasil and became a college professor.
In Portugal the extreme left tried to turn the revolution into someting Mao would have liked. The Portugese people would have none of it. At one point the Communists fired on a crowd of people demonstrating against them, killing a tractor driver. Portugal very quickly got a socialist government (and TV, which the dictatorship had banned), and then more elections.

I am not up on exactly why the colonels overthrew the monarchy in Greece, but the dictatorship fell after the colonels institgated a Greek nationalist takeover of Cyprus and the Turks responded by taking over half the Island. Much like the fall of the Argentine dictatorship after Margaret Thatcher's reconquista of the Falklands. The Greeks have since then elected antiAmerican socialists.

So, in two cases out of three, the key to a dictatorship falling is to do badly in war. For a military dictatorship to lose a war shows weakness, which can be exploited.

Papa Ray said...

I can't contribute to your knowledge about those three countries.

But I can contribute this for your consideration.

Are We a Republic or a Democracy?

I think sometimes its better to look at the forest first before examining the trees.

There are many, many Americans looking at the Congress that has emerged in the last few years. I think that we have decided there are going to be many in congress that are going to have to be replaced, and soon.

There are millions of Americans that are retiring, or just getting out of our Armed Services over the last few years. That turn over, of course will continue.

That group of Americans know what they and others have sacrificed for our Republic and are not going to stand by and see it corrupted by those in congress.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, lets just say that it's information you might need someday.

At least we can hope that.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last post. What you should be more worried about is what you get once you get democracy. Spain and Portugal have socialist democracies. These work fine in theory but they draw off the existing capital of the state to force fraternity. This is merely a two or three generation fix because once the capital runs out then its back to square one.

I find it a bit odd that everyone in this world wonders why america is so successful economically and personal freedoms but then refuse to emulate it.

Of course it isn't as if the United States doesn't have its flaws but it form of government, when observed as the framers intended, is about the best a human can hope for.

Now to get back on to Iran. I am not sure Iran can follow these similar models. Iran needs two revolutions at once. The first should be religious - the laws of the land should be taken completely out of the mosque. Religion having control of law is ALWAYS a recipe for abuse.

You need to overthrow the current government and establish a constitution that forbids religion of any kind to dictate and form laws binding to the citizens. You also need to allow freedom of religion.

I know that many younger people seem to be secular in Iran but I also feel that they are aware that in order to do this, there is going to be alot of death because these religious nuts aren't going to give up their power easily.

شراره said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
سيدعلی گدا said...

ملّتها لايق همان حکومتهائی هستند که از آن برخوردارند

وينستون جان تا ملّت ما ، لايق چه حکومتی باشند! هر چند از قديم ونديم گفتند : خواستن توانستن است

Sahar said...

Watch Ganji's interview in VOA. He talks about this... :)

Winston said...

I watched it! In fact I think he should cut the "PIECE" thingy in his speeches though.

You won't make peace with people who want war and destruction, that is the Mullahs of Iran

Sahar said...

No, I disagree Winston. War will destroy Iran, and that is not what I (and many others) want. See what has happened to Iraq. It would be much worse in Iran.

I agree with his Peaceful movement. I know what you mean, but I agree with him that any goverment that comes up with war and violence will end up being violent. The only positive possible chance is a peaceful movement.

a Duoist said...

Dear Winston,

The underlying sociology of the three European nations you mentioned is derived from the Judaic/Christian influence which overwhelmed the earlier Greco-Roman grounding. European states (Christendom) have what is known as 'guilt/righteous' societies, while Islamic nations, like Iran, have what is known by sociologists as 'honor/shame' societies.

In a guilt/righteous society, blame for an offense attaches to the act. In an honor/shame society, blame for an offense attaches to the individual, hence the much higher degree of suicide as an honorable means of avoiding the 'shame' that attaches to the person because of surrender, capture, or compromise (think of the bushido code of the Samurai warrior).

There will be no peaceful resolution of the growing impasse between the US (guilt/righteous culture) and Iran (honor/shame culture) without some very intelligent insights by the American government on how to frame the resolution of the controversy so that Iran gets to keep its sense of honor.

As for internally-grown Iranian democracy - the key is the psychology of improvability, and the institution which has the best sense of moderate improvability is the military. Unless democrats in Iran actively court the support of the military (by its nature, any military is an honor/shame culture), as a measure of national pride, then democracy is unlikely to emerge as some kind of peaceful, evolutionary change in Iran.

Iran is now a theofascist state, the world's first. Fascism, once it has gained control of a government (Catholic Italy and Protestant Germany), has never been defeated by peaceful means.

'Be free.'

Maya M said...

I see two obstacles to democratization of Iran (from inside). First, although the younger and many of the older people seem disappointed by Islam, I don't see a rush to embrace another culture. Second, possibly more important, most Iranians seem to think that they have no control over their country and their lives, that nothing depends on what people want.

Rosemary said...

Dear Winston,
I do believe you may have to go back a bit further. Yes, to the Revolutionary War.

We were under the thumb of the Queen. We had no rights, we were pushed around, and we were forced to believe as the Queen did.

If you would like a copy of the Declaration of Independence, you can fine it here:

Our Constitution you can find here: I surely hope this helps in your search. Have a great day.