White Revolution

From Academic Kids

The White Revolution was a far-reaching series of reform programs launched in 1963 by the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

The Shah had intended it to be a non-violent regeneration of Iranian society through economic and social reforms, with the ultimate long-term aim of transforming Iran into a global economic and industrial power. The Shah introduced novel economic concepts such as profit-sharing for industrial workers and initiated massive government-financed heavy industry projects, as well as the nationalization of forests and pastureland. Most important, however, were the land reform programs which saw the traditional landed elites of Iran lose much of their influence and power. Nearly 90% of Iranian share-croppers became land owners as a result. Socially, the platform granted women more rights and poured money into education, especially in the rural areas. The Literacy Corps was also established, which allowed young men to fulfill their compulsory military service by working as village literacy teachers.

Despite the many economic reforms, the White Revolution failed to include any measures increasing democratic representation in Iran. Also, a number of the reforms were botched or fell victim to corruption. An example of this were the land reform programs which did not give most peasants enough land to live on, creating widespread discontent. The powerful Shi'ite clergy were also angered and displeased at the reforms that removed much of their traditional powers in the realms of education and family law, as well as lessening their previously strong influence in the rural areas.

Though the White Revolution contributed greatly towards the economic and technological advancement of Iran, the failures of some of the land reform programs and the distinct lack of democratic reforms, as well as severe antagonism towards the White Revolution from the clergy and landed elites, would ultimately contribute to the Shah's downfall during the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

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