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Islamic Iran: Between State and Market, ed. Thierry Coville (Tehran: Institut Francais de
¸
Recherche en Iran, 1994).
13
Bahman Abadian, interview by Zia Sedghi, tape recording no. 1, Bethesda, Maryland,
July 4, 1985, Iranian Oral History Collection, Harvard University. See Abdol-Madjid
Madjidi, interview by Habib Ladjevardi, tape recording no. 4, Paris, France, October
21, 1985, Iranian Oral History Collection, Harvard University, pp. 10“15.
14
Frances Bostock and Geoffrey Jones, Planning and Power in Iran: Ebtehaj and Economic
Development under the Shah (London: Frank Cass, 1989).
132 Bazaar and State in Iran

approach in which the regime invested all funds domestically and
immediately, rather than investing in external or internal capital mar-
kets.15 This path was taken despite evidence and warnings that Iran
lacked suf¬cient skilled labor and infrastructural bottlenecks were per-
vasive. Two members of the Plan and Budget Organization recalled,
˜˜As the Shah and his advisors saw it schools could be built, technology
could be bought, and the skilled manpower shortage could be overcome,
now that the foreign exchange constraint was removed.™™16 The
petroleum-fueled modernism resulted in the Shah™s prediction that
within twenty-¬ve years Iran would catch up to, and even surpass, the
industrialized economies of the West by ushering in a ˜˜Great Civiliza-
tion™™ that consisted of industrialization and a reawakening of Iran™s
ancient heritage.17

The replacing of traditional bazaars
One of the grandest of the prerevolutionary programs was the plan to
build a 554 hectare commercial, cultural, and diplomatic center in the
arid and vacant ˜Abbas-abad hills of central Tehran.18 Named the
Shahestan Project, or ˜˜land of the kings,™™ the un¬nished project was set
to consume the entire national budget for urban development for twelve
years, and to relocate all ministries, hotels, embassies, and major com-
mercial centers to ˜Abbas-abad. ˜˜It was to be the Pahlavi equivalent of
the Persepolis of the Achaemenian kings of ancient Iran, or the Isfahan
of the Safavids.™™19 Rather than invest in existing urban communities
and renew infrastructures, such as Ray or the Bazaar area, which would
have meant addressing property rights issues, negotiating with wealthy
constituents, and implicitly acknowledging the viability of the old urban
core, the Shah™s urban planners directed funds and attention to entirely

15
Many technocrats and economists suggested a gradualist spending schedule that
included investing abroad. Part of the problem of this approach was that OECD
countries were not receptive to OPEC nations using their windfall earnings derived
from sales of oil to buy assets in the West. Razavi and Vakil, The Political Environment of
Economic Planning in Iran, pp. 73“4.
16
Ibid., p. 89.
17
The ˜˜Great Civilization™™ was to occur some time in the 1980s and was cited as the
moment when Iranian democracy would be viable. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Beh Su-
ye Tamaddon-e Bozorg (Tehran: Ketabkhaneh-ye Pahlavi, 1356 [1977]).
18
Bernard Hourcade, ˜˜Shahrsazi va Bohran-e Shahri dar ˜Ahd-e Mohammad Reza
Pahlavi,™™ in Tehran Paytakht-e Devist Saleh, ed. ˜Adl, Shariyar and Bernard Hourcarde
(Tehran: Sazman-e Moshavereh-ye Fanii va Mohandesi-ye Shahr-e Tehran and
Anjoman-e Iranshenasi-ye Faranseh, 1375 [1996]).
19
V. F. Castello, ˜˜Tehran,™™ in Problem of Planning in Third World Cities, ed. Michael
Pacione (New York: St. Martin™s Press, 1981), p. 172.
Networks in the context of transformative agendas 133

empty stretches of land where modernist schemes could be etched onto
on arid tabula rasa.
This attitude was in part driven by pure hostility. Mohammad Reza
Shah was public and virulent in his disdain for bazaaris. He described
them as ˜˜a ¬stful of bearded bazaari idiots™™20 and bazaars as a collection
of ˜˜wormridden shops.™™21 The Shah™s long-term prime minister, Amir-
˜Abbas Hovayda, extended this enmity to the entire private sector by
routinely referring to the private sector ˜˜pejoratively as merchants (tajir)
¯
22
and at times simply as ˜bastards™ and SOBs (pedarskhtiha).™™ In a
u
slightly more contemplative mood, the Shah admitted, ˜˜Bazaars are a
major social and commercial institution throughout the Mideast.™™ Yet
he remained steadfast in his opposition, glibly adding, ˜˜But it remains
my conviction that their time is past. The bazaar consists of a cluster of
small shops. There is usually little sunshine or ventilation so that they
are basically unhealthy environs. The bazaaris are a fanatic lot, highly
resistant to change because their locations afford a lucrative mono-
poly.™™23 The irony of course is that the Tehran Bazaar had adjusted to
the new economic conditions by shifting from manufacturing to com-
merce and from retail to wholesale.
The Shah™s disdain for the Bazaar and all things ˜˜backward™™ had its
roots in the modernist developmental ideology that denied the Bazaar™s
relevance to national and international commerce and predicted its
demise. In modernization theory change is seen as an organic procession
from traditional to modern. Traditionalism signi¬es values and cultural
factors, including strong kinship ties, ˜˜simple™™ exchange, indirect forms
of governance, and nonconsensual authority relations. Modernity, on
the other hand, is conceived of as a set of values and personality traits
(e.g. mobility, individuality, and entrepreneurial spirit) necessary for the
evolutionary process that drives economic growth, social complexity,
differentiation in structures, and expanding demand for, and capacities
of, these modern structures. Explicit in this formalization of change is
the model of western experience as the universal model for change, both
analytically and normatively. Lerner, for example, calls on Middle
Easterners to study ˜˜the western historical sequence™™ to understand the

20
Mehdi Mozaffari, ˜˜Why the Bazar Rebels,™™ Journal of Peace Research 28 (November
1991), 383.
21
Ervand Abrahamian, ˜˜Structural Causes of the Iranian Revolution,™™ Middle East Report
87 (May 1980), 25.
22
Vali Nasr, ˜˜Politics within the Late-Pahlavi State: The Ministry of Economy and
Industrial Policy, 1963“69,™™ International Journal of Middle East Studies 32 (February
2000), 109.
23
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Answer to History (New York: Stein and Day, 1980), p. 156.
134 Bazaar and State in Iran

steps and path to be taken “ a western developmental path that is
depicted as uncontentious and unilinear across western cases.24
Starting from this transformative logic, the Pahlavi monarchy imple-
mented an optimistic development agenda that focused on erecting
modern functional equivalents for traditional counterparts believed
to be antiquated.25 The regime assumed that banks would replace
moneylenders, industry would replace small-scale production, and
supermarkets and department stores would replace bazaars by evacu-
ating commercial exchanges from their con¬nes. In his memoirs, pub-
lished less than two years after his fall from power, the Shah clearly laid
out his strategy for dealing with the bazaars. He writes, ˜˜I could not stop
building supermarkets. I wanted a modern country. Moving against the
bazaars was typical of the political and social risks I had to take in my
drive to modernization.™™26 This impassioned confessional is poignant
because it demonstrates how for the Shah ˜˜modernization™™ and
˜˜moving against the bazaar™™ were articulated through the building of
parallel structures. The Shah viewed building and supporting alternative
commercial enterprises such as large department stores (e.g. Ferdawsi,
Iran, Sepah, and Kurosh) and new boulevards lined with boutiques as a
direct attack against the bazaars. His contempt for the ˜˜unhealthy™™ and
˜˜fanatical™™ bazaaris did not encourage him to mollify the bazaari class
or regulate their activities, nor did he simply level their buildings; rather
high modernism was based on the assumption of functional replacement
of structures: bazaars could be neglected and would be negated as new
˜˜alternatives™™ were built.27 Howard Rotblat, a sociologist who con-
ducted a detailed survey of the Qazvin Bazaar in the late 1960s, com-
mented, ˜˜The bazaar is not only viewed as a remnant of the past, but

24
Daniel Lerner, The Passing of Traditional Society: Modernizing the Middle East (Glencoe,
IL: The Free Press, 1958), p. 46. Similarly, Gabriel Almond writes, ˜˜The political
scientist who wishes to study political modernization in the non-Western areas will have
to master the model of the modern, which in turn can only be derived from the most
careful empirical and formal analysis of the functions of the modern Western politics.™™
Gabriel A. Almond and James S. Coleman, eds., The Politics of Developing Areas
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960), p. 64.
25
For a study of the Pahlavi regime™s rural development policy and how it was based on
the ˜˜objecti¬cation of rural society™™ see Grace E. Goodell, The Elementary Structures of
Political Life: Rural Development in Pahlavi Iran (New York: Oxford University Press,
1986).
26
Pahlavi, Answer to History, p. 156.
27
A Master Plan devised by Victor Gruen Associates and Farmanfarmaian Planners and
Architects included the building of a highway through the Bazaar, but this project was
never implemented. Martin Seger, Teheran: Eine Stadtgeographische Studie (New York:
Springer-Verlag Wien, 1978), pp. 199“204. Unlike the Tehran Bazaar, Yazd™s bazaar
was bifurcated by a road, and parts of the Mashhad Bazaar were demolished in the late
1970s.
Networks in the context of transformative agendas 135

also as an institution incapable of change, and, therefore, a major
impediment to Iran™s continued economic development. Because of
this, government policy is being directed towards replacement of the
bazaar with modern marketing structures in hopes of hastening the national
economy™s growth.™™28 Seeing bazaars as a vestige of a bygone era, the
state saw no reason to come to terms with their political and economic
demands. That is, the state saw no reason to incorporate them into the
regime by dominating and institutionalizing state“bazaar relations either
through a party that mobilized and represented their particular interests
or bureaucratically, as was the case for modernist women.29
Thus, under the Shah™s rule, multinationals, the state, and state-af¬li-
ated capitalists invested in new areas of Tehran, as well as in industries and
service sectors that would replace the bazaars™ institutions and economic
position. Economists in the Central Bank predicted that the Tehran
Bazaar ˜˜will be reduced to a mere shell, maintained principally as a tourist
attraction.™™30 As a result, in 1975, when a French consulting ¬rm con-
ducted research for a national spatial plan, it concluded that one of the
most urgent and important planning problems facing the country was the
excessive capital accumulation in the modern sector of the economy and
the neglect of the bazaar region.31 Bazaaris, as members of the disavowed
traditional sector, did not have access to the distributive resources,
including tax exemptions, bank loans, tax shelters, and paternalistic
protection, that the state bestowed upon its clients (the so-called ˜˜1,000
families™™) who were busily investing in protected industrial establish-
ments, often ones that were joint ventures with western ¬rms. This pre-
judice was not lost on bazaaris. ˜˜The government has abandoned us
because we are bazaari,™™ a bazaari told Thaiss in 1969. ˜˜When people
want to belittle someone or curse him they say ˜Go away bazaari™ (boru
bazaari); yet the economy of this country is based on the bazaar.™™32

The Tehran Bazaar™s autonomy
The combination of high modernism™s disregard for the Bazaar and
the oil wealth afforded a large degree of mutual autonomy between the
28
Howard J. Rotblat, ˜˜Stability and Change in an Iranian Provincial Bazaar,™™ Ph.D.
dissertation, The University of Chicago (1972), p. 1.
29
Parvin Paidar, Women and the Political Process in Twentieth-Century Iran (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 149“51.
30
New York Times, November 18, 1973.
31
Bahram Abdollah-Khan-Gorji, ˜˜Urban Form Transformations “ The Experience of
Tehran Before and After the 1979 Islamic Revolution,™™ Ph.D. dissertation, University
of Southern California (1997), p. 85.
32
Gustav Thaiss, ˜˜Religious Symbolism and Social Change: The Drama Husain,™™ Ph.D.
dissertation, Washington University (1973), p. 25.
136 Bazaar and State in Iran

state and the Bazaar. This autonomy was two way, giving the state
autonomy from the Bazaar and the Bazaar autonomy from the state. ˜˜It
is right that as a whole the previous regime had many problems. But
when it came to material matters, we didn™t have anything to do with
them, and until right before the revolution they didn™t have anything to
do with us,™™ summarized a bazaari.
From the state™s perspective, external rents gave the regime the
¬nancial independence to buffer policymaking from interest groups.33
This state independence from social forces, however, did not lead to a
universal disconnect between ˜˜the state™™ and ˜˜society.™™ The Pahlavi
regime™s ¬nancial independence, for instance, did not protect leftists,
students, landlords, and peasants from coercion, control, and coopta-
tion. Because of political concerns and modernist agendas (e.g. land
reform that dislocated the landlords and a sizable portion of the pea-
santry), the regime confronted those strata that ideologically challenged
the state™s agenda or impeded industrial growth. The state™s monopoly
over the use of violence, including the bureaucracy and secret service,
was perpetrated against these groups, which were within the scope of the
state™s transformative agenda.
Unlike labor unions, professional associations, and landlords, who were
directly under the state™s gaze, bazaaris escaped any thorough and sus-
tained monitoring and control by the state until the antipro¬teering
campaign prior to the Revolution (see Chapter 6). The state™s antipathy
and opposition to the Bazaar was not institutionalized in a system of direct
and bureaucratic monitoring, controlling, and mobilizing of bazaari
economic and political activities. The state made only ad hoc and coercive
attempts to control the bazaars. These included state intervention in the
internal affairs of the Chamber of Commerce and Industries and Mines
and Chamber of Guilds and limiting these associations™ access to policy-
making circles.34 These associations, along with state-run trade associa-
tions, were entirely unresponsive to the demands of both big traders and
small retailers, and were used, rather unsuccessfully, to collect taxes

33
Hootan Shambayati, ˜˜The Rentier State, Interest Groups, and the Paradox of
Autonomy: State and Business in Turkey and Iran,™™ Comparative Politics 26 (April
1994), 307“31.
34
Ahmad Ashraf, ˜˜Nezam-e Sen¬ va Jame˜eh-ye Madani,™™ Iran-nameh 14 (Winter 1374
[1995]); see Akbar Ladjevardian, interview by Habib Ladjevardi, tape recording no. 1,
Houston, Texas, October 11, 1982, Iranian Oral History Collection, Harvard
University; Ghassem Ladjevardi, interview by Habib Ladjevardi, tape recording no.
1, Los Angeles, California, January 29, 1983, Iranian Oral History Collection, Harvard
University; and Mehdi Motameni, interview by Habib Ladjevardi, tape recordings nos.
1“2, St. Martin, Netherlands, April 30, 1986, Iranian Oral History Collection, Harvard
University.
Networks in the context of transformative agendas 137

and impose price controls. At the end of the 1960s, a bazaari mentioned
that the state-established trade associations played a minimal role in
structuring the Tehran Bazaar and were a government tool to administer
tax collection. ˜˜These ettehadieh [trade associations] are new and

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