10 The Constitutional Revolution of 1906–1911 was an attempt to create some of the democratic institutions that the intellectuals of the period prior to it had envisioned. The Constitution Revolution, after a period of struggle with absolutists, succeeded to limit the absolutism of the Qajar monarchy, creating a relatively autonomous parliament, and other accoutrements of a budding semi-democracy such as a relatively free press, and some free associations, and independent political parties. 11 Yet, since the social, political, and cultural undergirding for democracy had not developed in Iran, these institutions soon failed and the road was paved for the emergence of a strong man, Reza Khan, who in 1925 abolished the Qajar Dynasty (1785–1925) and declared himself Reza Shah, the new monarch of the Pahlavi Dynasty. With the abolition of the Qajars also came the abrogation, or at least severe weakening, of the budding but largely dysfunctional semi- democratic institutions that were created by the Constitutionalists in the first two decades of the twentieth century. After the advent of the Pahlavi Dynasty, the process of modernization in Iran changed its course and character. Whereas the Constitutionalists emphasized social and political institution building, Reza Shah and his lieutenants embarked on a course of economic renovation and structural transformation from above, and often by brutal force. F. Vahdat 86
The changes that Reza Shah brought to Iran were integrally connected to each other and should be viewed as an ensemble that goaded Iran in the direction of inchoate agentification. The most important link in this chain was the goal of unification and centralization of the country that in turn necessitated the creation of centralized and systematic modern military and bureaucracy. These goals and means in turn necessitated the sedantarization of tribes, urbanization, and expansion of education, all which entailed the development of a limited but effective industrialization and growth of communication. The impulse for these undertakings had existed in the country ever since the military and political encroachments by the Russians and the British in early nineteenth century. But it was Reza Shah who succeeded in implementing them effectively with the support of, at least in the beginning of his career, the intellectuals as well as significant segments of the urban population. Even before his accession to the throne, Reza Shah who was the Prime Minister and Minister of War simultaneously established a modern cadet college in Iran and planned for the sending of Iranian youth to Europe to be trained as military officers (Cronin 2003 , 39). The most significant act of Reza Shah in the creation of a modern military in Iran was his introduction of the conscription system that attempted to level most of the regional and tribal forms of particularism. It is estimated that the Iranian army increased from 42,000 to 127,000 strong between the period of 1930 and 1941, which could be expanded to a force of 400,000
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- Fall '19
- The Land, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Reza Shah, Pahlavi dynasty