Furthermore, much like the political organizations spawned by the FPRM in Japan, the broad support for the Constitutional Revolution gave birth to hundreds of grass roots civic and political associations commonly referred to as anjoman. (75) A broad slice of Iranian society from the elite intellectuals to ordinary villagers formed anjoman to serve as alternative centers of political power.
For example, freedom of the press excluded "heretical books and matters hurtful to the lucid religion" (106) and freedom of Association permitted only the formation of anjoman that were "not productive of mischief to Religion or the State." (107) Individual property rights, (108) the sanctity of life, (109) and the right to privacy regarding letters (110) and telegrams (111) were made contingent on limits established by the law, giving lawmakers complete control in defining the scope of the protection.
Although the powers of the Majlis were seriously curbed in the 1920s with the rise of Reza Khan, the founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, the Constitutional Revolution, notwithstanding its limitations, took a giant step forward in producing an "indigenous democratic movement" that "turned Iranians from subjects into citizens." (115) One of the most impressive achievements of the Constitutional Revolution remained the creation of grass roots civic associations (anjoman) that, in the absence of formal institutions wherein the discourse on democracy could take place, became the de facto public spheres that pressed on with the democratic agenda.
(203) In addition to spearheading demonstrations, the pishevaran were also active on a grass roots level setting up and supporting the radical anjoman that championed the cause of urban wage earners and peasants.
(209) Workers organized (either through modern unions or anjoman) across a remarkable range of professions: these ranged from technologically more advanced sectors, such as printers and telegraphers, to the more traditional occupations, such as chariot drivers (doroshkeh-chi) and tanners.
The city's main civic association, the Anjoman-e Tabriz reported in its own journal, Anjoman, that "a number of brave women in disguise ...
One longtime Western scholar of Iran who has done extensive work on informal networks referred (at a time when Iran was still a monarchy) to a system "multi-layered and honey-combed with complex networks of informal groups." (7) This system included "secret societies, religious brotherhoods, political cliques, coffee and tea house meetings, royal khalvats, ritualistic religious dastes, meetings of extended families, government anjoman
, and bureaucratic factions and fraktions." The king was the center of numerous informal networks and surrounded himself with confidants who served as channels of access.
Intraelite rivalries in the Majles (assembly) and among the anjomans
(councils) distracted and divided the intelligentsia's attention, eventually draining the constitutional revolution of its initiative, energy, and vision.