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Liberalist and Socialist Responses to Khomeini Term Paper

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Updated: Nov 27th, 2019


Khomeini was an outstanding political leader who strived to reorganize the government and imposes his religious vision of ruling the economy.

In particular, his work entitled as The Necessity for the Islamic Government, he outlines his position towards the government and his vigorous apposition against Western tendencies in administering the state. The main point of his work is based on the idea that government should be guided by divine laws and there should be executive and administering organs that would implement laws and ordinances of Islam.

In addition, Khomeini is reluctant to accept corrupt and ruthless regimes that contradict Islam teachings. He was more concerned with the necessity to preserve national and religious identity being the basic need of Islamic people. In contrast to his judgments, liberalist and socialist views on the government and its functions are quite different. To be more exact, their outlooks contradict Khomeini’s views on the government and power in terms of religion, political system, and social rights of people.

Liberalism Response to Khomeini

By juxtaposing liberalist and Khomeini’s outlook on the government, there are numerous aspects and ideas that considerably differ from each other. This particularly concerns such issues as individual freedom and equality of human rights. Another serious discrepancy is revealed through different views on the relation of religion and government.

Hence, Khomeini envisions religion as the basis for constructing laws and regulations within governmental bodies believing that this will contribute to the “production of morally upright and virtual human beings” (Khomeini 42). In contrast, liberalism insists on the necessity to separate the church and the state believing that religion should not be involved in governing and administering people.

Considering religious views, particularly the views on separation of the church and the state, it is necessary to resort to Thomas Jefferson provides his position which challenges Khomeini’s view. Hence, Jefferson believes that a religion is “a concern purely between our God and our consciences, for which we were accountable to him, and not to priests” (Jefferson as cited in Jefferson and Beileson 34).

Interpreting this statement, liberalism envision religion is not a social phenomenon, there is no connection between religion and government because they are based on different outlooks. Besides, liberalism could also oppose to Khomeini’s idea about close connection of government to morality stating that these notions cannot be considered within one context.

As it has been mentioned previously, the liberal ideas centers on the need of individual freedom. It was supported by many philosophers who did not believe in power of monarchy. Liberalism is known to entail different beliefs and ideas in what they call a better life.

The liberalists seem to back Khomeini’s idea of having a good life in future without what they call a tyrannical authority. The renowned liberalism philosophers include John Locke, Thomas Paine and John Stuart Mill all of whom their work seems to advocate for a liberal and free kind of society.

John Lock in his works Two Treatises on Government states that there are two liberal components which are the intellectual liberty, which include the freedom of conscience and the economic liberty (Locke 4). This issue is expounded by the philosopher as freedom to possess property and deal with it in any manner.

He goes further to explain what intellectual liberty entailed in his Letter Concerning Toleration. John Locke shares the same religious ideas such as Khomeini where he argues in his works that man was created by God who gave his commands that man enjoys whatever is on the earth.

In response to Khomeini’s views on religion, the philosopher has a different perception of this concept with regard to the government. In particular, he believes that although a person should be concerned with the divinity laws, there still should be the idea of individualism.

In addition, he was less extreme in his views on religion as an integral part of the administrative and executive organs. It should be the basis of the political system (Locke 13). These ideas are similar to those of Khomeini who argues the necessity to form a government that will serve as a protector to the society when it comes to enforcing the rights of individuals.

Further in his work, Khomeini bases his arguments on the Quran, the same concept used by Locke when he backs his argument on the concept of creation. However, Locke seems to disagree with Khomeini on the concept of entrusting the government wholly to govern man. He argues that man should be left to acquire his natural state of living and should not live under certain rules. He argues that the government should act as a trustee only.

Thomas Paine on the other hand wrote several articles backing the need of freedom of man. In his articles, he criticized the monarchies and the social institutions. He went further to expose the government’s wrongs such as fraud in a bid to promote individual freedom and degradation.

He reasons with Khomeini on the need of a government that promotes individual rights rather than living under a certain tyrannical body with no proper rules of law put in place. He however was not affiliated with any religion and argued that he believed that his mind was his religion. His pamphlet, common sense is said to contribute to the idea of a republic government. It advocated for a better form of government other than the tyrannical one that Americans had been accustomed to at the time (Paine and Philp 7).

John Stuart Mill on the other hand advocated for Utilitarianism and one of the chief campaigners for liberty. He also had the same idea like the other two philosophers about attaining some form of happiness to the people.

He argued that the monarchs had excess powers to the peril of the common citizen and he became an advocate of fighting for those powers to be shed so that people should attain their freedom (Mill 15). He further contended that though power had been given to people through what he calls democratic governments, the threat is that liberty has been denied to people because of the laws imposed or social pressure.

Socialism Response to Khomeini

Confronting socialist views to Khomeini’s position about governmental system, it should be noted that socialistic school of thought greatly opposes to Islamic teaching that rejects the individuality and human consciousness. This is especially connected with the concept of equality, individual freedom, and necessity for changes. Like liberalist, they are also in a strong apposition to religion rejecting to accept divinity laws as the basis for governmental system.

According to Marks, “[r]eligion is the general theory of that world, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in a popular form, its spiritualistic point d’honeur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn completion, its universal ground for consolation and justification” ( Marx 20). On the one hand, the socialism idealist accepts religion as the essence of a human being (Marx 20). On the other hand, Marx perceives religion as a parallel world that does not have anything in common with politics and government.

The social theorists base their arguments on the modern capitalism. They refer socialism as a society that is made up of political movement or philosophy (Lenin 240). In contrast to Islamic teachings that impose some sort of duties and obligations in front of God, socialism is more concerned with equality of human rights and the formation of consciousness independent of religion.

However, the similarity of views is based on the assumption that all people should be equal in wealth and opportunities. But this slight congruence is deceptive because there is much more serious divergence in views with regard to political system. Judging from Khomeini’s views, the philosopher considers government as an absolute monarchy where the governor is considered to be the envoy of God.

In response to this judgment, socialist insist that political power belong to people who have the right to participate in administering the state. Such a position is extremely opposed to Islamic governmental system that finds it extremely important to have one ruler for avoiding chaos and disorder.

The proletariats on the other hand were the working class who sold their labor power. They argue that proletariat would take over the economy which would lead to diminishing social classes (Marx et al. 12). The Marxism theory is based on social change and the main aspects included the materialist and dialectical historical concept which explains the struggle in social classes.

The other aspect is capitalism criticism where Marx argues that the bourgeoisie oppressed the proletariat in a capitalist society and lastly is the aspect of proletarian revolution where the working class will take over the power in a social revolution (Bernstein 3).

The socialism philosophers believed that man should fight to be free of any tyranny or any kind of anarchism (Zedong 12). Other socialism philosophers like Trotsky tend to differ with Marx opinion of the Proletariat taking over the economy (Trotsky 13).


It can be seen that while both the philosophers of liberalism and socialism present quite different arguments on freedoms of individuals, governmental system and religion, but still they are rigidly apposed to Khomeini’s image of the Islamic government.

Hence, the supporters of liberalism are more concerned with individual freedom where human rights and interests should be protected by the government. They defend democratic values and believe that the state should be separated from the church. The socialism theorists base their arguments of certain classes of the individuals oppressing their counterparts and not a governing body.

The Marxist theory reveals that the weaker class will take over the stronger class through a social revolution, which contradicts Khomeini idea about the necessity to introduce executive and administrative bodies. On the other hand, the liberalism theorists support Khomeini arguments that indeed a government is very necessary but that very same government should not withhold the freedom of the people.

Works Cited

Bernstein, Eduard, Evolutionary socialism: a criticism and affirmation, Stuttgart: Huebsch, 1911.

Jefferson, Thomas and Belienson Nick. Thomas Jefferson: His Words and Visions. NJ: Peter Pauper press, 1998.

Khomeini, Imam. Islam and Revolution: writings and declarations of Imam Khomeini. Trans. Hamid Algar. US: Mizan Press, 1998

Lenin, Vladimir. Revisionism, Imperialism, and Revolution. Ideals and Ideologies, Terence Ball and Richard Dagger. New York: Pearson Longman, 1967

Locke, John. Two Treatises on Government. US: Urie R, 1957.

Marx Karl, Engels Friedrich, and Gaspe, Philip. The Communist Manifesto: A road Map to History’s Most Important Political Document, Canada: Haymarket Books, 2005.

Marx, Karl. Marxism, Socialism, and Religion. US: Resistance Books, 2001.

Mill, John. On Liberty and Utilitarianism. France: Bantam; 1993.

Paine, Thomas & Philp, Mark. Rights of Man; Common sense and other political writings. Oxford University Press, London, 1998

Trotsky, Leon. Revolution; the permanent revolution; 1931. Web. www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1931/tpr/index.htm

Zedong, Mao. Democratic Dictatorship. Basic postulates.1949. Web. www.latest-science-articles.com/…/The-Study-of-the-Relationship-between-Lenin-Oriental-Theory-and-Mao-zedong-Thoug-6

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