Abandoned Ideology: How the Iranian Revolution Failed Islamic Economics and Embraced Populism




In the three decades since the Islamic revolution overturned the Pahlavi regime and ushered in the Islamic Republic, the world has seen the effects, not of Shi'a Islamic philosophy constituted as government, but more accurately of the personal vision of Ayatollah Khomeini regarding the state. While Khomeini promised the regime to be the embodiment of Islamic social justice, the reality was a failure to deliver a consistent philosophy of Islamic government that could survive after his death. In no area was that more evident than the economy. The formation of the Islamic government in Iran offered the potential for one of the first modern examples of Islamic economic theory instituted on a national scale. The ideology had been well thought out by some scholars, and was fully in keeping with the espoused ideas of equality and social justice of the revolution. The implementation was never fulfilled, however, due to Khomeini's lack of interest in economic theory writ large, the influence of leftleaning populist elements of the revolution and early Islamic government, and Khomeini's creation of perennially deadlocked institutions of government. As a result, Iran has followed the same path of poor economic development common to most hydrocarbon rentier states.



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