Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 January 2021
In recent years the “global 1960s” and the “global 1970s” have been the focus of much interest, popular as well as scholarly, but this interest has largely concerned itself with western Europe and the USA. This chapter seeks to integrate Iran and the revolution of 1979 into the global, transnational and comparative perspectives commonly used to understand these two decades. It argues that although the multiple domestic crises besieging the Pahlavi monarchy in the late 1970s were real and serious enough, the emergence of the revolutionary movements and their character can be properly explained only by wider perspectives. These include global processes: the post-World War Two “education revolution,” the youth radicalization of the late 1960s, the ubiquity of the resort to urban guerrilla warfare by this younger generation, increasing ease of movement and technological innovations in the dissemination of ideas, through the press, radio, and cassette recordings, the creation of an activist diaspora; political influences not only from traditional Western sources but from the wider world, especially Latin America. Transnational connections include particularly those with neighbouring revolutionary movements, especially in the Palestinian refugee camps, and with new dissident movements in the USA and Europe. The chapter also argues that the profile of the opposition may be clarified particularly by a comparative approach illustrating the extraordinary similarities between the Iranian and other radical movements of the 1960s-70s across the world, in sociology, politics, ideology and objectives, and even tactics and strategies. Using the notions of global contexts, historical periods and, especially important, paradigm shifts, the chapter sheds light on an enduring paradox: how a revolutionary movement of the 1970s apparently steeped in the ideology of the Left actually produced in the 1980s an outcome so much at variance with the objectives of so many of its original advocates.