Totalitarianism, as an ideological system, has various external manifestations in the world like totalitarian governments or cultic relations under the influence of totalistic ambitions of cult leaders. It is a commonly seen phenomenon in the contemporary world and is to be investigated in depth. Here the aim is to trace signs of totalitarianism in the cult of Mojahedin and personality traits of its leadership as the symbol of MKO, Masoud Rajavi. First of all this question arises: whether MKO totalitarianism has its roots in the personality of Rajavi or it constitutes one of the organizational principles of MKO. The history of the organization has to be reviewed to find an appropriate answer for the question mentioned. The history of the organization reveals that MKO founders maintained that their ideology aimed to complete the chain of social evolution of man and many believe that the main problem of Mojahedin has been the same consideration and the fact that from the early years of their development, Mojahedin considered their ideology and leadership as:
A mutation in the chain of the mutations of social evolution. 1
In other words, organization founders distinguished between MKO and other political trends even leftist and religious ones and draw a qualitative and quantitative boundary between the two. In theoretical fundamentals and indoctrinations as well as methodological resources of Mojahedin, absoluteness and definiteness of ideological, social, and historical ideas have been focused on. The early Mojahedin introduced themselves as extreme leftists in dealing with Marxists and as an iconoclastic trend when faced with religious activists. In fact, Mojahedin recognized no external criterion and principle based on which to be judged upon. They pretended to be in line with the absolute truth; however, made an attempt to manipulate truth and make it parallel to their own totalistic objectives. This idea has its roots in the fact that Mojahedin considered their ideology as a factor determining the correct path of social evolution as it was declared in their theoretical principles, political position takings and even military communiqués.
In contrast to other totalitarian trends that pretend to favor democratic systems, peaceful activities and social and ideological concord at least in their external relations to pave the ground for achieving political power, Mojahedin followed a different path. MKO ideology is neither an interpretation of religious principles nor Marxist ideas, rather it is an eclectic one based on paradoxical viewpoints intermingling metaphysics with absolute science and experience. Taking a closer look at the history of the organization by means of the statements made by MKO former members may reveal the duality found in the policies of Mojahedin and its determining role in the formation of MKO and its leadership. One of the remnants of MKO quitting the organization after the ideological schism of 1975 states:
The creed of worshipping leader is intrinsic in this organization and nothing, religion, ideology, Islam nor Marxism, can limit the latitude of leadership. The leadership of MKO denied whatever he considered undesirable of the instructions of Islam and Marxism and refrains to adhere to any principle, neither religion nor ideology. There is no wall or boundary to limit the realm of MKO leadership lest make him subject to judgment and criticism…Yet religion and ideology have been deconstructed in the organization to be grabbed at by leader whenever necessary and justify all unjustifiable issues in the era of tradition and modernity. This is the root of inconvincible and illegitimate activities of MKO leadership that is not to be pertained to a particular leader. 2
These statements are made by a person who has taken part almost in all phases of composing theoretical resources of the organization. Here, he elaborates on the absoluteness of leadership in MKO lacking any rational or moral foundation. He is of the idea that MKO principles are beyond ideological and religious considerations and have an eclectic origin. Consequently, the totalitarian inclinations of Mojahedin are not to be pertained to Rajavi and his egocentric views and have their roots in the very formation of the organization and ideology of its founders. Even it is said that Mojahedin have modeled a historical cut called Batinis. He further states that:
The significant point is that the role of Mohammad Hanifnejad in the formation of interior inclination of the organization was more than others. Almost all analyses are based on the perversion that the source of organizational principles is Rajavi. These analyses aim to raised the status of Rajavi and introduce him as elite as if he managed to keep the integrity of the organization. To the best of my knowledge, he was not so important and lacked the necessary talent to do so. 3
There are many other statements made by early members of MKO concentrating on the point that from the very beginning Mojahedin refrained to believe in a particular religious or ideological creed and recognized no forum; a naïve viewpoint in contrast to ration and reason. In one of these statements, it has been stated that:
Our approach never was to alter our ideological and organizational principles according to will of individuals. 4
The most prominent manifestations of totalitarianism in MKO at the time being is that of persuasive theories of Masoud Rajavi. There remains the question whether the totalistic approach of MKO in all its political and ideological aspects is out-and-out the result of the early policies of Mojahedin or other factors have contributed to its survival and development. What is clear is that the present position takings and policies of Mojahedin and Rajavi are surprisingly the same as that of the early founders of Mojahedin; an eclectic ideology of leftist and religious ideas. In addition, the internal relations of the organization are similar to historical cults and Batinis in particular. The slogan “Iran-Rajavi”, “Rajavi-Iran” may be considered one of the most strategic slogans of Mojahedin in line with their totalistic viewpoints. Although in the first look it looks insignificant, but many are unanimous that it can be considered the main sign of the totalitarian ideas of Rajavi. As an Iranian activist and theorist puts into words:
The pass of time has revealed that ideology, activities and organizational relations of MKO are imperative and non-democratic; a fact that prevents even the critics of my interview to defend the organization. Therefore, it is easy to understand that I am talking about a totalitarian and violent cult that even far from political power treats its allies, members and advocators in the most extremist Stalinist approaches. 5
1. Bahman Bazargani’s interview with the journal of Cheshmandaz on the events of 20 June 1981, 2008, No. 52.
4. Torab Haqshenas’s interview with the journal of Peykar, 1980, No. 67, pp.11-12.
5. Mostafa Tajzadeh’s interview with the journal of Cheshmandaz, No.35.