Iran’s new revolution, which broke out in 2022, has been compared by some to 1979. Some of its leading proponents, however, see it as a return to the ideals of the constitutional revolution of 1906-11 constitutional revolution. A useful way for comparing the three revolutions is adopting a global perspective to see what each of these revolutions meant to the global context in which they broke out.
Adopting such a perspective, this paper argues that the 2022-23 revolution is fundamentally different from 1979; the latter came at the tail-end of the Long Global Sixties and it represented the era’s spirit of revolt against the global order and conventional forms of government. It went on to found a new regime which was indeed unlike anything the world had seen before. The 2022 revolution is in a dialectical relationship with its global context: it aims to defend the basic values of liberalism and democracy that 1979 denied — and it is thus breaking with the trend of authoritarian entrenchment of the past decade. In this sense, it is indeed a return to the ideals of the 1906 and its age of liberal revolutions that included similar events in Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Egypt, Korea and China. The revolution is thus best understood by placing it in both its Iranian historical lineage and its global context.