chapter  3
19 Pages

The revolution for law: A chronographic analysis of the constitutional revolution of Iran

The discovery of law In 1906 a constitution laid down the rules and procedures for government based in law. It was the first time in Iranian history that government was ‘conditioned’ (mashrut) to a set of fundamental laws which defined the limits of executive power, and detailed the rights and obligations of the state and society. No such revolution had ever happened in Europe, because – as a rule – there had always been legal limits to the exercise of power in European societies, however powerful the government might be, and however narrow, limited and unequal the scope of the law in defining the relationship between the state and society, and among the social classes. In Europe, the law had often been unequal, and unfair to the majority of the people. But even in the four centuries of absolutism or despotism which reigned over the continent from England to Russia – although absolutism survived for so long only in Russia – there had been limits to the exercise of state power, although they were considerably less in Russia than in the West. Revolts and revolutions in Europe had never been fought for law as such, but for changing the existing law to increase its scope of application, or to make it fairer.1