The ultimate goal of the Economy of Resistance is a new policy in practice, in which our planet is assumed, not to exist in a state of just living, but in recovery, growing more alive and more diverse year after year.
By Nazarul Islam
Iran’s troubles are hardly over. The conservatives in the revolutionary government, have looked not to living standards, to confirm their vision but to the economy’s performance overall. The country’s central bank announced last week that Iran had positive economic growth for the nine months ending on December 20, 2020.
Estimates by the Statistical Center of Iran are slightly less favorable: the GDP for the nine-month period dropped by 1.2 percent compared to the same period last year, although in the last quarter it was up by 0.8 percent over the previous fall.
Not surprisingly, Iran’s oil sector has been the hardest hit, but the idea of the resistance economy turns precisely on shedding the country’s dependence on oil. Three decades ago, oil accounted for more than 50 percent of Iran’s GDP; last year, that share was down to 15 percent. All other sectors have managed to keep their output and employment levels steady under sanctions.
Manufacturing has even improved: Trump’s sanctions led to enormous currency devaluation, making imports less affordable. Domestic manufacturing filled the gaps, increasing production, employment, and domestic sales. Had sanctions not prevented Iran’s firms from exporting their products, manufacturing would have done even better.
These modest gains may not be evidence of the birth of the resistance economy. But proponents of that vision believe that with time, especially under sanctions, the case for Iran’s economic independence may become more convincing to audiences both inside and outside Iran.
For these powerful forces in Tehran, sanctions are not just instruments of short-term suffering but the possible catalyst for a more sustainable future.
What the more ideological among them may not acknowledge is that, with sanctions remaining, Iran can look forward to only slow growth for the foreseeable future. And although slow growth may be sustainable while Iran waits to see what the United States does under Biden, in the longer run, the Islamic Republic must make good on the social compact that has sustained it for four decades: that is, it must return to the kind of sustained economic growth and poverty reduction that the country experienced before sanctions.
To do so will require Iran to reconcile its political ambitions—as a regional power that can challenge the United States—with its economic objective of delivering growth.
The concept of the resistance economy as it is being discussed in Iran does not imply autarky or self-sufficiency but rather recognizes the need for Iran to trade its abundant supply of oil and gas for imports and new technologies. The call to “look East,” as the supreme leader has urged, may not offer a solution to Iran’s conundrum.
The ultimate goal of the Economy of Resistance is a new policy in practice, in which our planet is assumed, not to exist in a state of just living, but in recovery, growing more alive and more diverse year after year – A planet on which humans live in equitable and sustainable communities without exploiting the planet or each other.
Goal 1: To disrupt and dismantle or influence industrial civilization; to thereby remove the ability of the ‘powerful’ (foreign) forces to exploit the marginalized and destroy the planet.
Goal 2: To defend and rebuild just, sustainable, and autonomous human communities, and, as part of that, to assist in the recovery of the land.
After all, the East was not much help in fighting Trump’s sanctions: Russia is a hydrocarbon exporter in its own right and has little to offer Iran besides weapons, and Asian economic powerhouses such as China, India, Japan, and Korea have eschewed formal trade with Iran, fearing, like everyone else, losing access to U.S. markets.
No successes we might have in the world we live in are guaranteed to last as long as the concept of industrial civilization stands good. Conversely, most of our losses are effectively permanent. Extinct species cannot be resurrected. Overdrawn aquifers or clear-cut forests will not return to their original states on timescales meaningful to humans. The destruction of land-based cultures, and the deliberate impoverishment of much of humanity, results in major loss and long-term social trauma. With sufficient action, it’s possible to solve many of the problems we face, but if that action doesn’t materialize in time, the effects are irreversible.
Now, coming back to Iran’s passive Resistance In the short run, so long as the Islamic Republic can manage and contain its citizens’ dissatisfaction, Blinken’s prediction that sanctions relief is a “long way” off may not sound like bad news to those in Tehran who oppose the nuclear agreement. But to achieve a functioning resistance economy, Iran needs the nuclear deal.
For this reason, the negotiations may well go forward even after the June election that will herald the departure of the Rouhani government and its able foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
About the Author
The Bengal-born writer is a senior educationist based in USA. He writes for Sindh Courier and the newspapers of Bangladesh, India and America.