chapter  4
33 Pages

The First Congress of Peoples of the East and the Iranian Soviet Republic of Gilan, 1920–21


The overwhelming majority of the historians of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution (1905-11) have presumed that the ‘social democrats’ of the time actually wanted socialism. Faced with a ‘constitutional’ government of landlords and the elite that was far from bourgeois in character, in reality they were populist subordinates of a bourgeois-democratic revolution.1 Even their northern Azeri instigators, the social democrats of the Himmat Party, did not want socialism in Russian Azerbaijan. Not only that, the instigators of all, the Russian social democrats, did not want socialism in Russia proper at the time. The Iranian social democrats, with the help of their Transcaucasian counterparts, established a tradition of populism in Iran that continued through the days of the Jangali movement (1915-20), all the way until the Baku Congress and the last days of the Iranian Soviet Republic of Gilan, and beyond, far beyond.