Is Iran a republic, a dictatorship, or something in between?

In this thread on “Islamofascism,” I pointed out, at post #10, something that appeared to me fairly inarguable: That theocracy is not necessarily an inherently totalitarian form of government, because neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia are totalitarian states. But FinnAgain argues the contrary, and also contradicts my assertions – which I thought were fairly common and noncontroversial knowledge – that Iran at least has a thriving civil society independent of the state, and that Iranian elections, while not entirely free (the Council of Guardians gets to strike any candidate off the ballot), are still not total shams like elections were in Hussein’s Iraq. I think Iran, at present, can better be likened to Mexico as it was for most of the 20th Century – a one-party state, but not a dictatorship, totalitarian, military or otherwise. Certainly Iran is more democratic, although probably less libertarian, now than it was under the Shah. Does anyone have a different view?

Sort of a Republic, with veto power given to the Islamic Supreme council. So a Theocratic Republic would be more appropriate. It’s not a dictatorship.

Both are Totalitarian states however. Saudi Arabia being a religious monarchy. The hallmark of Totalitarianism is whether or not you can deviate from the ruling faction, which in neither state you can do. So both are Totalitarian. Saudi Arabia as a Monarchy could be considered a Dictatorship.

A one party state, by definition is totalitarian. One party is in TOTAL control. Totalitarian and Dictatorship are not synonyms though they are often seen together.

Ok, one last thing. Iran under the Shah WAS a Dictatorship, and was probably less free than it is today.

No, the hallmark of totalitarianism is that the state controls everything. The old Inca Empire, where there was no commerce of any kind and all produce was collected and distributed by government officials, was a (fairly benevolent) totalitarian state. The old Chinese Empire was not, even though criticizing the emperor could get you and your entire family put to death. The medieval Islamic Caliphate was not a totalitarian state; neither is contemporary Saudi Arabia (it’s really more like a family business owned by the Sauds).

Mexico was never totalitarian, even back when there was no realistic chance of anyone beating the PRI.

Depends on what form of “freedom” you value most, I guess. SAVAK cracked down hard on political dissent but never tried to arrest people for adultery or blasphemy, AFAIK.

It calls itself an “Islamic Republic”, as in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

And NK calls itself the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. What’s in a name?

And the current government of Iran does both.

You might want to read this article, from 2000, which looks at the idea of Iran and civil society:

and looks at the fundimental disconnect between the Iranian people, who want some sort of civil society, and the government, which cracks down on the ideas of civil society and public participation in government.

You’re asking what’s in a name, when your whole topic is asking what to call it? And for whatever reason, you think that what they call themselves is discredited because of what North Korea calls itself? Even when it makes perfect sense? It’s Islamic. It’s a Republic. It’s an Islamic Republic.

Well, yeah, it’s definately a republic. If you aren’t ruled by a king, queen, duke, etc., you’re a republic. It’s also a dictatorship…the people don’t really have civil rights.

True, but the dictatorship part is just an extension of the officially Islamic part, specifically Hujjatiyyah Shiism. Ahmadinejad sees himself as the “Mahdi-Messiah” (or Hidden Imam), and his closest advisor is Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, who once famously declared, “If anyone tells you their own interpretation of Islam, punch them in the mouth”.

I think BG meant that it doesn’t really matter what they call themselves, since that doesn’t make it true. Just as North Korea calls itself democratic but is manifestly not, so too is Iran calling itself a republic not proof of it actually being one.

Iran could be considered a form of elective monarchy.

Umm, I’ve never heard that claim before. I’ve heard that Ahmadinejad says he knows the Mahdi, not that he IS the Mahdi.

It’s not an elective monarchy or any sort of monarchy, because there isn’t a king. The concept of an elective monarchy isn’t contradictory, plenty of monarchies used to be elected rather than inherited, albeit by the nobility rather than the people.

And Ahmadinejad might be the president, but he’s not the supreme ruler of Iran, he is answerable to the council of imams. Iran can’t really be considered a dictatorship, since dictatorship requires a dictator. It is an authoritarian state ruled by an oligarchy of religious leaders. Similar arrangements have happened in Europe

It’s a country is deep doo-doo, that’s what it is.

Iran lost huge numbers of young men & women in the Iran Iraq War (22 September 1980–20 August 1988).

8 years of Total War.

Now, it has a decent youth population again, & their economy needs them. Badly.

But they are getting discontent with the Imams. And, because they are needed, the Government is reluctant to crack down. The kids could emigrate, after all.

Change is in the wind.

Iran is an occupied state. We’ll only find out what kind of government it has when we get our boot off its neck.

Could they? The old USSR (definitely a totalitarian state) generally did not allow people to emigrate. Neither does Cuba nor NK, AFAIK.


Have you confused “n” with “q” here?

I sure did.

[ Emily Litella ]Never mind.[ /Emily Litella ]

To answer your question, a relgious dictatorship at present.

Pakistani border–rivers & lots of trade. Easy sneak.
Western border–several nations, hill tribes unsympathetic.

South–ocean. Harder, but not impossible.

North/russian–very hard.

According to the US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2005 Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor March 8, 2006

On this basis Iran complies with the requirements of the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam 1990 but would not comply in any meaningful way with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights 1948.

Under the current set up in Iran:

From the State Department report:

In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter what a country decides to name itself. Actions speak louder than words.

You would need to read the whole report to get the full flavour. In my view, Iran’s current government is a tyranny, with the greatest share of oppression and discrimination falling on the non-Shiite, non-Muslim and non-male sectors of the population. From the point of view of minorities who are persecuted in matters great and small under the current “legal” framework the question of whether Iran is or is not “totalitarian” is of secondary importance.

Saudi Arabia is, in several ways, slightly worse than Iran. However, only the wilfully blind could regard either regime as a shining beacon to help guide the future progress of civilisation.