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The last total revolution turns 40

22 51 529

I can close my eyes and hear the chants: "Marg bar fascism! Marg bar fascism!" It was a fine summer day in July 1979. I was a graduate student at the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I had just returned to Iran for the summer break, and my homeland was in the frenzied grips of an historic revolution.

"Death to fascism! Death to fascism!" That is all we could scream, a crowd of a few thousand gathered at the football field of Tehran University to rally against the Islamists trying to claim the revolution for themselves. We were an eclectic crowd - some were leftists, some were not; more than half of us were women, some scarfed, many not; some men wore beards, many not - but we all had one thing in common: We could all recite the poetry of Forough Farrokhzad and Ahmad Shamlou faster than we could any verse of the Quran. And we too had a claim on this revolution.

Islamist thugs were disrupting the rally, cutting the wires of loudspeakers, diving into the crowd with knives and brass knuckles, punching, kicking, cursing. They were organised, determined, fearless, violent. They knew what they were doing. We did not know what to do.

We were mostly students, inexperienced in street fights, many of us from poor or middle-class families, some from the provinces. The Persian accents of our attackers, without an exception, were from southern Tehran - nasal, colloquial, limited in vocabulary, vile, violent. They were particularly nasty with the young unveiled woman among us.

They succeeded. They disrupted our rally. The cries of "Death to fascism!" eventually died out.

Today the ruling regime in Iran is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the successful establishment of the Islamic Republic on the ruins of a collective dream for a free and open Iran whose tragic death Iranians at large have been mourning for the last four decades.

The Iranian revolution of 1977-1979, which swiftly degenerated into the formation of Shia mullahcracy thinly camouflaged as an Islamic Republic, was the last grand illusion of the 20th century. It came on the heels of two other total revolutions - the Russian revolution of 1917 and the Chinese revolution of 1949 - which inspired a number of other popular uprisings, including the Cuban revolution of 1953, the Algerian revolution of 1954 and others.

These three total revolutions - the Russian, the Chinese, and the Iranian - were all of the same significance as the American revolution of 1775 and the French revolution of 1789 in scale and universal significance.

The Iranian revolution of 1977-1979, to be emphatically distinguished from the Islamism of the Islamic........

© Al Jazeera