DEPENDENCY AS A PROBLEMATIC: A STUDY IN THE POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF THE DEPENDENCY PERSPECTIVE (IRAN, POPULISM, ECONOMISM, VIOLENCE)
This dissertation is a theoretical analysis of the historical formation, evolution and decline of the dominant discourse (problematic) of Third World intellectuals in general and Iranian intellectuals in particular. Beginning with the mid-fifties, a radical nationalistic mode of thought gradually became dominant among these intellectuals and consequently conditioned their ideological thinking and political practice. This I have called the dependency problematic. It stems from the fact that the central question posed by these intellectuals and politically acted upon was national independence. The dependency problematic is a system of interrelated concepts, closely associated with the central notion of national independence. It also includes populism, economism and armed struggle. Populism defines the agent of social change as the "people." Economism reduces historical change to economic growth. And, finally, armed struggle is regarded as the means of achieving independence and of combating dependency. Third Worldism played a strong ideological role for nearly two decades in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Nevertheless, by the mid-seventies it was clear that its message for a new social order was illusive. In Iran, Third Worldism strongly influenced the post-1953 generation of critical intellectuals. They blamed the unequal and uneven form of Iranian socioeconomic development on its "dependent" nature and the cultural "Westoxication" of the dominant political and intellectual elite. Such overemphasis on the foreign domination of Iran led to an erroneous notion according to which all "anti-imperialist" social forces and ideologies were by definition progressive. The Iranian Revolution of 1978-79 was the manifestation of such ideological populism. Socialist, nationalist and Islamic intellectuals all united in a "populist bloc" in order to combat the Shah's government, blamed for the continuation of Iran's dependency. According to this study, socialist intellectuals' obsessions with the problematic of dependency prevented them from presenting a political program distinctive from radical Islamic forces. While ignoring many important issues such as democracy, the Iranian intellectuals totally focused on the populistic goal of "anti-imperialist" struggle. This dissertation considers such overemphasis on dependency a false question and instead suggests a new problematic based on the question of democracy.