In this time of global awakening, where countries that were once struggling under the control of the world’s Western powers are now prospering with newfound economic success. This new success brings improvements in education, quality of life and foreign relations. All of these aspects promote a sense of nationalism.
Nationalism, a patriotic devotion to one’s own country. It includes movements for independence and unification. It is correlated with the success that countries like China and India have had economically. Nationalism is asserting your nations identity as a unified one on the world stage.
Iran is currently experiencing a rise of nationalism, which is causing conflict. According to Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, nationalism is un-Islamic. It opposes the concept, unmah, which rejects divisions and borders between Muslim countries. Conservatives in Iran are threatened by this surgence of nationalism. One example of this movement is on Oct. 28 2016 hundreds of people gathered at King Cyrus’ tomb on his birthday. King Cyrus was the founder of the Archaemanid Empire in 500 BC.
Here protestors are seen chanting “Iran is our country. Cyrus is our father.”
In Zakaria’s chapter, “The Rise of Nationalism”, he views several dangers with the rise of nationalism. He considers the central challenge of the rise of the rest to be to “stop forces of global growth from turning into forces of global disorder and disintegration,” (Zakaria 34). With the rise of other super powers, the risk of more conflict and disorder arises as a nation’s sense of pride and desire for recognition and respect has been known in history to cause global conflicts. Zakaria also criticizes the UN Security Council as an “antique global governance structure.”
Starting from the 1960s on the shah implemented “The White Revolution”, an attempt to Westernize Iran that was highly opposed. This was one of many events that led to the Revolution of 1979, including the hostage crisis that is remembered in US history. The Iranians were divided between those who wanted a republic based on Islamic principles or an imperial based Persian style government that was already in place. Now, in 2017, there seems to be a re-occuring divide amongst the people of Iran.
Inequality is on the rise in Iran. The Statistical Center of Iran (SCI) released a report showing that economic inequality had increased for the first time in four years in 2015. Iran is currently trying to re-integrate themselves into the global economy so growth is expected. However, reports show that the growth in terms of personal consumption is highly unequal. While this could just be a fluctuating rise or decrease of inequality, one could estimate that like many other powers in the global economy, it is rare that the entire nation benefits from the growth. It is more likely that a select few will reap most of the benefits from global economic participation at the expense of the working class. This is correlated with the fact that there are more Iranians living in poverty today than there were four years ago. Also, a survey conducted by SCI revealed that in 2014, 9.27% of the rural population was poor (using a lower poverty line of about $3 purchasing power parity), compared to 3.74% in 2012. So, while one could argue that the Iranian economy is growing, the growth, per usual, is not distributed equally among the citizens.
President Rouhani has worked to transform the Iranian economy, and has succeeded by the rising growth rates. However, it appears his administrations’ focus is more on continuing to grow the economy on a global scale. It appears that the economy will continue to grow, and it will be revealed shortly if that will also continue the growth in inequality in Iran.