A Re-Evaluation of Development As Modernization, Based on the Case of Iran

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 09:15
Oral Presentation
Cyrus YEGANEH, University of Art Tehran (UAT), Iran

Habermas’s essay, “Modernity – An Incomplete Project”, a critique of postmodernism in architecture, distinguishes between “Cultural Modernity”, meaning modernism in art/architecture (Baudelaire) and “Societal Modernization” or “societal modernity”, stating, “instead of giving up modernity and its project as a lost cause, we should learn from the mistakes of those extravagant programs which have tried to negate modernity…The project of modernity has not yet been fulfilled.” President Rouhani of Iran, in his inaugural speech last August, referred to two rounds of unsuccessful privatization of Iran’s quasi-socialist economy, more than ninety percent government-owned and operated since the revolution of 1979, as “privatization without the gun” (i.e., government’s upper echelons) followed by “privatization with the gun” (i.e. the Revolutionary Guards), making economic competition with them well-nigh impossible. Before the 1979 revolution during the Cold War, economic development planning in Iran followed Rostow’s “stages of economic growth” and “modernization theory” (Lipset, Bell, Lerner, Almond...), faced as it was with critiques from the Left, Frank etc. Islamicists adhere to “non-capitalist development path” from USSR (Ulyanovsky, Andreyev…), supposedly neither capitalist nor communist, while economists like Ghaninejad have critiqued this path. Development of societal modernity was analyzed by Marx, Polanyi, Moore…Stein’s industrialization-urbanization-bureaucratization showed modernity’s societal trends; and Smelser after Parsons analyzed the social institutions’ interactions; Giddens has proposed “structuration”. Contention between Iran’s Reformists, Fundamentalists and Opposition pertains to social institutions: issues of democracy and the Constitution (political institution), extent of control by religious establishment, women’s rights (institutions of family, economy, etc.), inequality, employment and unions (economy), and freedom of expression in the press, media, arts, education. By contrast, Sen’s Development as Freedom saw two translations but was removed from bookstores after publication and extensive discussions