History of Federalism in Iran
Chapter Two: Federalism through Historical Periods
January 15, 2010
Iranian National Heroes
L: Abolqasem Ferdowsi Tusi, Reviver of the Persian Language
R: Yaqub Leis Saffarid, Liberator of Iran and Resurrector of the Persian Language and Culture
And now here is the rest of the story, on to Chapter Two …
Federalism in Ancient Persia
How many Iranians are aware that Iran is a pioneer in Federalism?
How many Iranians know that if not invented, then surely we contributed to the concept of Federalism?
How many Iranians have the knowledge that once upon a time we ran a Federal Empire?
Maybe a slim few Iranians with advance historical knowledge are the only Iranians today who are aware of these facts!
Allow me to elaborate,
Achaemenid Federal Empire
Iranian Federalism dates back to Achaemenid Empire where all Khashtarahs (States) were autonomous, yet together they formed the greatest and the sole superpower of the earth, named The Persian Empire. If we want a strong Iran with satisfied ethnic groups, then Iranian Federalism is the way to go.
Federalism, Iranian Style?
Countries such as Russia or Iran are not nations with a unified race, ethnic groups and religions. They own many minorities. Iran is not a unified nation by race but an empire of many people from various cultures.
Throughout our history, Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Gilan, Khuzestan, Baluchistan, Turkmenistan, etc. have had tried to become independent and separate from Iran for so many times! Every time they tried to separate, we have clung them back to Iran by sheer force.
If Iran had a Federal System, do you really believe that these minorities would try to separate from Iran? If Iran had a Federal System, do you even believe that the very thought of separation from Iran would have ever occurred amongst these minorities? Fat chance!
Separatism occurs when there exists oppression by a majority via centralism. When there exists no Centralism and Majority Oppression, then there is no demand for separatism. There exists no need for separatism. This is the miracle of Federalism.
If you want to link Azeri, Baluch, Kurd, Turkmen, Lor, Gilak, Arab and other Iranians together, make them united and avoid separatist movements, then give them their natural rights and what they have been denied for centuries. Give them something substantial, which is their natural rights. Give them Federalism. Allow them to have absolute autonomy in their own states. And let them be only dependant to Tehran, for foreign policy, military needs and international trades. This is how it has been done fully, in Achaemenid Empire, this is how it has been done partially in Sassanid Empire and this is how it is done in United States of America. Federalism is not a western concept, yet Persian Empire mastered it over 2000 years ago. Federalism was how Darius and Shapour ran their Empires. Once Islam hit Iran, Centralism replaced Federalism! Centralism is yet another Islamic present for Iran.
I will even go one step further and state that during the Achaemenids, all Persian Khashtarahs (States) ran everything internal except the foreign policy which was ran by Persepolis! Each Khashtarah had their own military force protecting the khashtarah and even contributing to the security of the Persian Empire as a whole. Each Khashtarah was prepared to send troops to the borders, to Persepolis or inside their own territory to battle the external or internal adversaries.
Persian System of Government
A Democratic Federal Empire!
Persia’s system of government was a primitive and elementary form of A Democratic Federal Empire! Artemisia I, was not of the three main Satrapies (Persia, Media and Parthia), yet she was a Persian and according to the Persian Law, all citizens of the Empire were Equal, in religion, rights, and in expression. Persia was governed like a fearful Empire, yet unlike what Herodotus’ pro-western revised history states, Persia was a Democratic system of government in nature.
There was no slavery practiced at the time. Cyrus even freed 42,000 Jews from the slavery of Babylonians. Darius kept up the tradition and of course Xerxes followed the tradition of his ancestors Cyrus and Darius the fair Shahanshah. Persia being an Empire with many colonies and Expansionism policy, emphasizing on Pure Persian Pride, Aryan Culture, Zoroastrianism, and Aryan Race, yet it was in an absolute Democratic style of the internal governing system and state of homeostasis. It might sound contradictory but Persia was a Democratic and Federal Empire in nature. Internally, all citizens of the Persian Empire had equal rights. Once one would dedicate and devote himself to the Empire, as a servant of the Empire, he would have equal rights to everyone else of “his social class” in the whole Empire. Now do not mix this with the social system.
Aristocracy, Holy Zoroastrian Temple system, Military, administrative, merchantship, public, etc., they all had their own social classes, but this was the norm of the world during that era and century. Still Persian Empire was a Democratic Empire internally and in comparison to many totalitarian slavery systems of Empires and Kingdoms of that era in the 6th, 5th, and 4th centuries BC. One can easily refer to History books; even Bible and Torah had mentioned this fact.
So, all citizens of the Persian Empire had equal rights amongst their own social class; however, there existed different social classes in the empire (same as everywhere else in the world at the time).
For more on Grand Admiral Artemisia I, read:
Grand Admiral Artemisia of the Persian Imperial Navy (The Lioness)
For more on the Persian Federal System versus the Greco-Roman Slave System, read:
Civilization: Persia versus Greece and Rome
For more on Cyrus the Great’s Cylinder, the First Declaration of Human Rights in the World, read:
The Cyrus Cylinder
For more on Iranian Federalism versus the Islamic Centralism and the history of slavery in Iran, read:
History of Slavery in Iran
Persian Empire and Federalism
Let’s start from the basics,
Darius had divided the Persian Empire to a number of:
Khashtarah = Nations (Keshvar), States (Eyalat), Provinces (Ostan)
Shatrah = Cities (Shahr)
Khashtarah was ran by Khashtarah-pavan, later called Khashtarah-ban (Governor)
Shatrah was ran by Shatrah-ban (Mayor)
Greeks referred to Khashtarah as Satrapy; however, later on this term had entered the Persian language. The reason for it was years of Greco-Macedonian occupation of Iran (330 BC – 225 BC). After this era, the term stuck with Persians. So:
Satrapy (Greek and Sassanian Pahlavi) = Khashtarah (Ancient Persian)
Satrapies = Plural for Satrapy (States)
Satrap = Governor
Historical Types of the Persian Language
Persian Language (Timeframe Spoken)
Proto Persian (1600 BC – 1000 BC)
Gathic Avestan Persian (1000 BC – 200 AD)
Young Avestan Persian (200 AD – 650 AD)
Median (700 BC – 560 BC)
Ancient Persian (500 BC – 350 BC)
Parthian Pahlavi (200 BC – 250 AD)
Sassanian Pahlavi (200 AD – 660 AD)
Middle Age Persian (660 AD – 870 AD)
Modern Persian (870 AD – Present)
What was the term for “State” throughout the history of Persian Language?
Khashtarah (Gathic Avestan Persian)
Khashtareh (Ancient Persian)
Satrapy (Parthian Pahlavi)
Satrapy (Sassanian Pahlavi)
Farmandari (Middle Age Persian)
Ostan (Modern Persian)
State, Province (English)
For more information on the correct term for the name of the country, people and language, also history of the Persian language, read:
Iran or Persia? Iranian or Persian? Farsi or Persian?
Country, People and Language, Which is Correct and Why?
A Flashback to Ancient Persia
Major pre-Islamic capitals of the Persian Empire were:
Persepolis (Achaemenids) = Persepolis (in Persian) located in Fars Province of Iran
Hecatompylos (Arsacids) = Sad Darvazeh (in Persian) located in Semnan Province of Iran
Ctesiphone (Sassanids) = Tispon (in Persian) located near Baghdad, Iraq
Persian Empire was divided to “Nations and Protectorates” or “States and Provinces”, any which way you may like to refer to them.
During the reign of each dynasty, states were autonomous (even militaristically), yet they still took orders from the Capitals.
Achaemenids (559 BC - 330 BC)
During Achaemenids, Iran was basically a Federal Empire.
Darius the Great had designed it that way.
Arsacids (238 BC - 224 AD)
During Arsacids, Iran was morely distracted towards centralism.
Greco-Macedonians were a major cause for this change. Arsacids overthrow them and ended the Greco-Macedonian occupation of Iran; however, some Macedonian traditions such as Centralism, the same as words such as “Satrapy” had stuck with the Persians, even after the end to occupation.
Sassanids (224 AD - 651 AD)
During Sassanids, Iran turned once more towards Federalism, yet by the end of this period, due to many factors such as weakness of the central government, corruption, oppression, decades of war with Rome and bad economy, the normal pattern of Federalism in Iran had diverted to Anarchy and somewhat Separatism. This facilitated and prepared Iran for the Arabo-Islamic Invasion Occupation.
For more information, read this book:
Ctesiphone in Smoke, Fire and Blood
Important Historical Lessons
We can conclude these important factors from the Ancient Persian History:
I. Too less Federalism (Arsacids) and too much Federalism (Sassanids) can be unhealthy. Just the right amount of Federalism (Achaemenids) can result in Greatness and that was why Iran was a sole superpower in the world at the time!
II. Persian Empire had invented a primitive and basic form of Federalism; furthermore, Persians had created a Federation and a Federal Empire which had become the sole superpower on Earth for centuries.
III. Federalism bloomed with Achaemenids and declined through Arsacids and Sassanids; however, Federalism always existed in the Pre-Islamic Iran. Entrance of Islam and the Arab Sub-Culture to Iran had caused the death of Federalism and birth of Centralism in Iran.
For more information, read:
History of Slavery in Iran
Persian Historical Federalism
Persian Empire consisted of many Satrapies and protectorates.
Persian Empire was not only democratic in nature, yet it was the first ever Federal system in the world! Each Khashtarah (State) had absolute internal autonomy to do as they pleased in their own internal affairs. Please do not mistake the Persian Federalism with Chinese Feudalism at the time. Many make the same mistake and assume that Persians the same as Chinese had practiced Feudalism and ran a Feudal System of Government. This is false and historically inaccurate. Feudalism as an economical system existed in the Persian Empire; however, Federalism was the Governing System of the Persian Empire.
Achaemenid Empire was the first ever system of Federalism in the globe! It was a primitive form of Federalism in comparison to today’s Federal systems, but imagine back then when everyone including China, Egypt, Greece and Rome practiced slavery and colonialism, we granted internal autonomy to all of our states and nations in our empire. Our states had control over their affairs, their educational system, local languages and even their own military forces! The only conditions which Persepolis required were absolute obedience to the central government on international political and military affairs, and of course everyone had to learn Persian as the first or second language. How could they afford not to? Persian Empire owned the world and was the sole superpower in the globe. Back then, Persian was the International Language!
So as you see, Federalism is what made Persia strong! Even in times of war, each Khashtarah, specifically the border Khashtarahs had to provide their own military force and combine what they had to defend the Mother Persia! They had to defend the Empire because the Empire guaranteed their internal autonomy, rights, freedom, independence, equality and humanity! This was the system, which Cyrus Built, Darius completed the design and perfected, and indeed Xerxes administrated. Achaemenid Empire was a very primitive form but the very first Democratic Federal Empire of its kind in the world. Of course after Achaemenids, Federalism was not as strong as during their era, until it totally faded away by the entrance of Islam to Iran.
Once again let me emphasize that the Persian democratic and federal system guaranteed equal rights for Persian Empire’s citizens, amongst their own social classes; however, there existed different social classes in Persia (same as everywhere else in the world at the time).
Islam destroyed Persian style of Federalism, Equal Rights and Democracy; Islam replaced these factors with brutal central government, prejudice and slavery. This is Islam in a nutshell!
Why Federalism for Iran?
People often ask me: Why Federalism for Iran?
Let’s face it; the only people who are against Federalism in Iran are Muslims and Monarchists. Both of these groups are believers in outdated and dead ideologies. The first ones are ruling Iran now and the second ones used to rule Iran before 1979. They both insist on Centralism because this is the only way that they can control, oppress and rule over the people. They get their power by absolute divine control from Allah.
Centralism in Iran was created by Islam. Iranian Traditional Colonial Monarchy which emphasized on centralism was created by Safavids. Monarchy and Shiite go hand in hand. For more information, read:
Historical Relation between Monarchy and Shiite
On the other hand, in Federalism; the central government gets its power from the people. The people have the power which runs the states and the states in combination are the backbones of the nation.
In a Federal System, people rule the government not vice versa! Government is the servant of the people. In an Islamic regime or a Monarchy, it is vice versa!
In Islam, Imam rules over the people.
In Monarchy, Shah rules over the people.
In a Federal System, people rule over the Government.
Iran is not a nation of a unified race, culture, ethnicity, religion and language. Iran is not Germany or Japan. Iran in reality is not a nation, but she is an Empire of multi cultures, races, religions and ethnicities. Such country can only survive as a unified empire, by granting rights to her minorities and many cultures.
In a Federal System, the only factor which unifies the nation is Federalism and internal autonomy of the states. The nation does not get unified by a Shah or an Imam! This is a joke and a cartoonish statement! This is unscientific and humorous! This is illogical!
In a federal system, each state has absolute autonomy except for the matters of National Security (Military), Foreign Policy (Diplomacy) and International Trades (Federal Economy). Every other aspect of state governments are ran by the people of that state.
A Historical Fact
The most glorious era in the history of Iran was the Achaemenid Empire which was the sole superpower on Earth at the time. After Achaemenids, no other dynasty or regime or system could ever match their glory. In Achaemenid’s era, Iran ruled the world! How was that? Federalism is the key word.
Achaemenid Empire was a Federal Empire. The states (Khashtarahs) even had internal military, economy and semi foreign policy control. However, all the states were under the absolute supervision and orders of Persepolis. This is how the Founding Fathers Cyrus and Darius designed the Iranian system.
The reason for collapse of Achaemenids where many such as corruption, economical, brutal force of Alexander, savagery of Greeks, internal chaos, treason and betrayal, political divisions, etc., but never the Federalism!
Federalism was what kept Iran great. Islam is Centralism and Islam invented the Centralism in Iran.
Yaqub Leis Saffarid and Federalism
Even the liberator of Iran, Yaqub Leis Saffarid (873 AD) had Federal tendencies in mind, but due to establishment of the centralism via Arabo-Muslim sub-culture via 222 years of occupation, it was not practical for Yaqub to even go there; however, there are historical evidence and documents in hand that he was pondering about it, yet he found it impractical to establish.
In heart, Yaqub was a federalist and wanted to reestablish a federal empire, the same way that in heart, Reza Khan was a republican and wanted to establish a republic in Iran. For more information about Reza Khan, review:
Reza Shah the Great, the Real Story
Yaqub had done many revolutionary changes to the Iranian political, social, cultural, lingual, educational and traditional systems. He was not afraid to take a risk, but at the time, this risk was simply not practical to take.
Let us never forget that it is because of Yaqub that today, we speak Persian rather than Arabic! After 222 years of Arab occupation, Yaqub made teaching of the Persian language mandatory in the Iranian Universities. If it wasn’t because of Yaqub’s great efforts, today’s Iran would have been just another Arab country!
Yaqub’s Famous Bread and Onion Story
Right before the liberation campaign, Yaqub gathered his generals and made a speech to them:
“This war means everything to Iran and Iranians. If we win, Iran will be free, Iranian language will be resurrected and Iranian culture will survive.
This war means nothing to me. If I win, I destroy the mighty Caliph of Baghdad’s prestige and liberate Iran. If I lose, it will not be a catastrophe. I am not an aristocrat but a simple coppersmith. Losing everything means nothing to me. Before all this, I used to eat bread and onion to fill my stomach. If worst comes to worst, I will go back to eating bread and onion!”
This is a great story about the greatness of this humble, working class Iranian legend. In today’s Iran, people are ignorant of Yaqub’s great sacrifices for Iran and they barely know who Yaqub was! Thanks to IRI educational system and revised history, Iranians are ignorant to their own history and culture!
Yaqub was the greatest Iranian freedom fighter of all times and the liberator of Iran. Some say that in reality Yaqub was the inspiration for Ferdowsi’s legendary character Rostam in Shahnameh (Book of Kings).
Let’s not forget that the same as Rostam, Yaqub was from Sistan, he liberated Iran and same as Ferdowsi, he revived the Persian language
In fact, Ferdowsi revived the Persian Language but Yaqub gave rebirth to the Persian language. If it wasn’t for Yaqub, there would have been no existing Persian language left for Ferdowsi to revive! Ferdowsi came way after Yaqub!
Ferdowsi (935 – 1020) the legendary Persian poet lived during the reign of Sultan Mahmoud (Sebuktegin) Qaznavid (977 - 1030) but Yaqub (867 – 879) ruled way before this period.
For more information about various accomplishments of the liberator of Iran, Yaqub Leis Saffarid, read:
222 Years of Struggle for Independence of Iran
Future’s Federalist Evolution and Yesterday’s Dogma
Centralism is what we had in Pahlavi Era and what we have today in IRI. In both regimes, minorities would separate if they were allowed. Hypothetically, if tomorrow you hold a referendum, then Kurdistan, Azerbaijan, Baluchistan, Turkmenistan, Khuzestan, etc. will all separate from Iran! Everyone hates the Central system. People want their own independence and autonomy.
No one likes to be oppressed by Tehran.
No one likes to be oppressed by Persians.
No one likes to be mocked as Shahrestani by Tehranis.
As a White Aryan Persian, I often ask myself:
Why would we want to make the minorities to hate us by centralism?
Why would we want to force the minorities to stick with us?
Why don’t we win the hearts of the minorities?
Why don’t we respect the minorities’ humanities?
Why don’t we grant them federalism?
Why don’t we establish federalism in Iran before Iran deteriorates?
Why don’t we create a strong and unified Iran by federalism?
This is why I am writing this research to educate the Iranians to their own federalist roots and meanings.
Iran is an Empire of many cultures, languages, religions and ethnicities. The only solution to keep this empire united is Federalism which means Equal Rights for All.
To force this empire united by the power of a Shah or Imam leads in catastrophe. This is what happened in 1979 and this is what will happen to IRI in the future.
Pahlaviists (Today’s Monarchists) and Islamists (Today’s Hezbollah) are a bunch of backward, fanatical dead worshipers and Reactionaries with limited intellectual capabilities and narrow global visions. They can’t see beyond the tips of their noses and their little Herds and Tribes. They still live in the 7th century or 1970s. Their ideologies are flawed, illogical and corrupt.
Please review this philosophical and fundamental analysis:
How Republicans and Monarchists View the World?
Iranians said no to Monarchy on 1978 and they have politically destroyed Monarchy.
I, on the other hand, have philosophically and logically destroyed Monarchy over here and everyone with brains are well aware of it:
Monarchy or Republic? (The Discussion Thread)
Over here we have proven that Islam is scientifically flawed, therefore an Islamic political, economical and judicial system will not work in Iran:
Iran Politics Club Website
So those with logic can judge for themselves that Monarchy and Islam are elements of the past and they will play no parts in the future political evolution of Iran.
On the other hand, the fanatics, the dogmatists and the Reactionaries are destined to stick with the elements of the past rather than grasping the obvious future. You can’t logic with dogma! You can’t logic with Monarchists and Muslims.
2500 years ago Cyrus and Darius understood Federalism. Xerxes grasped the wisdom of the fathers and he established the largest Empire in the history of Iran.
Mohamad Reza Pahlavi was ignorant of Federalism. This is why he ruined Iran on 1979, escaped the country to save his own neck and handed Iran to the Muslims. In returns, Imams are also ignorant of Federalism and they will bring Iran to the edge of destruction and separatism. Mark my words.
Monarchy and Islam are both garbage and done with. They are elements of the past and yesterday’s news.
The Future is the Government of People for the People and by the People.
The Future is A Free, Democratic, Secular Federal Republic of Iran.
The Future is a Scientific and a Logical Regime in Iran.
The Future is Equal Rights for All.
Government has a duty to achieve a functional national security, international diplomacy and international trades and nothing else. Every other aspect of citizens’ lives is run by themselves. Private sector and free competition must run everything else.
States must and will run their own affairs. This is how it is done in USA, the greatest nation on Earth with a unique system of government. Please review what the great Ronald Reagan stated about the evils of the Government:
Ronald Reagan: Government is the Problem
Federalism is the only key concept for the survival of a multi ethnic empire such as Russia or Iran. Federalism is the key to prosperity. This is why the most powerful nations on Earth including USA, Russia and Germany are Federal Republics.
Soon or late, Iran will become a Democratic, Secular, Federal Republic. This is not a hope but a historical destiny (Jabr-e Tarikh). Why is it so? It is simple, because the alternative is Chaos, Anarchy and Separatism. In 21st century, Persian Centralism is simply not possible because the minorities will not stand for it anymore.
Federalism is the only solution which will survive Iran throughout these stormy transitional times and directs us to once again greatness.
Pan Iranism and Islam (Pan Arabism)
Federalism is the primary key for establishment of our goal:
A Vision for Iran of Tomorrow: Nationalism
For a Multi Ethnic, Cultural, Lingual and Racial Empire such as Iran to survive as a unified nation and prospers towards greatness, Federalism as a system of government, is the only logical and scientific approach and path to take.
The Historical documents below, written by Persian, Arabic, English, Greek, Armenian, and American Historians, Geographers and Philosophers, also different documents and historical articles researched and written by myself has been used to create this historical research.
I. Complete History of Iran by Dr. Abdollah Razi
II. Brief History of Iran by Dr. Abdollah Razi
III. Iran in Ancient Times (Iran dar Ahde Bastan) by Dr. Mohamad Javad Mashkur
IV. History of Tabari by Abu Jaffar Tabari, compiled by Dr. Mohamad Javad Mashkur
V. Selected History by Hamdollah Mostoufi Qazvini
VI. Nezhat Al Qolub by Hamdollah Mostoufi Qazvini
VII. Travel Diaries of Faustus de Byzantine by Faustus de Byzantine
VIII. Ctesiphone in Smoke, Fire and Blood by Dr. Kourosh Aryamanesh
IX. History of Agathange by Agathange
X. Al Masalek va Al Mamalek (a Historic-Geographical Guide) by Ibn Khordadbeh (Obaydollah Ibn Ahmad Ibn Khordadbeh)
XI. Asar Al Baqiyeh an Al Qorun Al Khaliyeh by Abu Reyhan Biruni
XII. Kamel al Tavarikh by Ibn Asir
XIII. Majma'ol Tavarikh compiled by Malek ol Shoaraye Bahar
XIV. Historikon de Persicus y Rome by Procope de Byzantine, translated by Mohamad Saeedi
XV. History of Persian Empire by A. T. Olmstead
XVI. Al Akhbar al Taval by Dinvari
XVII. Al Tanbih va Al Ashraf by Abol Hassan Ali Ibn Al Hussein Al Massoudi
XVIII. Moravej Al Zahb va Ma’aden Al Javaher by Abol Hassan Ali Ibn Al Hussein Al Massoudi
XIX. Rowzat Al Safa Series: Volume One by Mohammed Ibn Al Khavand Shah
XX. Tajarob Al Amam va Ta'aqob Al Hamam by Ibn Maskuyeh
XXI. History of Ibn Khaldun by Ibn Khaldun
XXII. History of Early Iran by George G. Cameron
XXIII. Al Taj va Al Bayan va Al Tabayyin va Al Mahasen va Al Azdad by Jahez
XXIV. Darius the Great by J. Poolos
XXV. Ancient Persia by Josef Wiesehofer
XXVI. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
XXVII. The Persians by Maria Brosius
XXVIII. Shahnameh by Abolqasem Ferdowsi Tusi
XXIX. The World Almanac 2010, The Authority since 1868, published by St. Martin's Press
XXX. Iran Nameh compiled by Abbas Shushtari
XXXI. A great number of historical documents, essays, articles and illustrations - researched, written and graphic designed by Ahreeman X.
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