We don't want an Iranian version of the Wall Street: Ayatollah Khamenei
In a meeting with university professors, Ayatollah Khamenei noted that: "In the U.S. there are mountains of wealth next to valleys of misery and poverty, is this what we want for Iran?"
The following is the full text of the speech delivered on June 18, 2016 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with university professors, managers and officials on the 12th day of the month of Ramadhan.
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master and Prophet, Ab-al-Qassem al-Mustafa Muhammad and upon his immaculate, pure and chosen household, especially the one remaining with Allah on earth
Welcome dear brothers and sisters. As we have pointed out frequently before, this meeting is a symbolic meeting. In fact, it is a sign of the respect, admiration and reverence that we have for knowledge, for masters of knowledge and for universities. Well, this is a very good opportunity for me to obtain a general picture of the scientific and intellectual environment of the country’s universities by listening to the statements of the esteemed speakers in this meeting. Besides the fact that the points that the friends in the meeting raised are valuable points – by Allah’s favor, we will pursue them and we will convey them to officials – they show, to a great extent, the general environment of the universities of the country as well. This is why this meeting is very valuable to me.
Moreover, they ask me – this question is put to me indirectly – about my ways of gathering information [about universities]. It is asked, “What ways and what channels do I use to gather information and to speak about universities, about knowledge and about the current conditions?” In response, I would say that these ways and methods are primarily related to universities themselves – that is to say, the relationship that we have with university professors, with students, and with managers and officials in scientific and academic organizations of the country. A wide spectrum of communications networks is helping us to gather information about the realities of science, scientists, universities and the like.
This is done either through the formal governmental reports that the honorable ministers deliver to us at different times – we either ask for these reports or they themselves deliver them to us on different occasions – or through the popular relationships that we have with university professors, with scientists, with students and with different individuals that are involved in academic work. They give us such information and we benefit from it.
And their information is based on the databases that the gentleman mentioned in the meeting. They translate and bring them to me. These databases include what UNESCO has said about us and what ISI and Scopus have said. I gather and use this information. Our information is obtained through these channels. So, the sum of these information networks gives us a sense of confidence that what we know is accurate.
The issue that I want to discuss now is that one of the responsibilities of the wise, knowledgeable and outstanding personalities of a country is looking at the future. What kind of Iran do we want to have in twenty years? This is important. If we are speaking about the economy, about science, about technology, and about morality and understanding, the goal is to make it clear what kind of Iran we want to build in twenty years. We brought up the Twenty Year Strategic Plan ten, eleven years ago and this plan continues until the year 1404. Very well so far. Of course, there are different interpretations about our progress in the past ten years: have we moved forward as much as ten, five, twelve or fifteen years? There are various viewpoints in this regard. What kind of Iran do we want to have in twenty years?
Twenty years from now, today’s students will have managerial positions and they will be managing the country. The significance of the work that you university professors and officials do lies here. Those who are your students in the present time will be presidents, ministers, members of the Majlis, and managers in various organizations twenty years from now. The country will be in their hands then. What do you want to have in twenty years? This is a very important point. It is a very important question. It is a very important concern and mental preoccupation. The wise and knowledgeable personalities of the country – some of whom are formed by you – cannot ignore this matter.
If we have an ideal picture in mind for twenty years from now, this responsibility falls on the current chain of knowledge and understanding in the country, ranging from the educational system to universities. This responsibility falls on their shoulders. It is they who are supposed to educate the generation that will take affairs in their hands in twenty years.
Twenty years from now, will we want a kind of Iran with the characteristics that I am mentioning? Will we want a strong Iran twenty years from now? “Strong” means not being afraid of the threats that small and big enemies make, and being reliant on one’s own power. This is a strong Iran, an independent Iran. Sometimes, a country does not feel afraid of outside enemies, but their feeling is based on the support of an outside power, like a child who feels secure and strong by relying on his father. Do we want to be like this? Or no, do we want Iran to be a country whose power is reliant on itself and which is independent?
We want a pious and wealthy Iran, one that enjoys justice – economic, social and judicial justice. We want a kind of Iran that enjoys a popular government, one that is pure, jihadi, sympathetic and pious. We want this kind of Iran. Of course, this is a good and desirable thing.
Or perhaps this is not the case. Perhaps, we do not attach much significance to the elements and criteria that were mentioned and perhaps, we are opposed to some of them. In other words, we might want a kind of Iran that enjoys economic welfare and prosperity although it might be dependent on others. Of course, such a thing is not possible. There is room for doubt about whether a country that is dependent on others in economic terms can achieve economic welfare or not. Of course, peaks of wealth might be created in such a country, but it is not at all possible for it to benefit from economic welfare and from psychological and economic tranquility.
Now, imagine that we want to be politically dependent and that we do not find this to be a problem. In the present time too, some people are speaking about this in an outspoken way. They want a single-product country – almost like the present time – which is dependent on selling crude oil. They want a country that is culturally abandoned, one that suffers from social, tribal, religious, denominational and political rifts. This is a country with an aristocratic rule, and with peaks of wealth – an example of which exists in America, “Wall Street” – against the poverty and deprivation of a large number of people: an “Iranian Wall Street”. Imagine that we want a country like this and with these characteristics.
Based on reliable news, when the weather becomes hot in America, some people die. Well, no one dies of heat if they are in their home. This means that they are homeless. Or when it becomes cold, many people die. Sometimes, they give themselves away and they release the number of the casualties, but many times, they do not release it. This means homelessness. In a country with those great sources of wealth – America is a rich country – this means that there are peaks of wealth as well as valleys of misery, chaos, poverty and deprivation. Now, what is it that we want? Of course, there are middle forms of various kinds between these two forms.
If we want to achieve the first scenario, if twenty years from now, we want our Iran to be rich in worldly and otherworldly areas, if we want it to be advanced, powerful and dignified and if we want it to have good privileges and advantages in terms of its domestic conditions – both worldly and otherworldly privileges: when we spoke about piety, piety means spiritual privileges and advantages – this requires that certain tasks be carried out and the main part of these tasks is carried out in universities. This is the reason why I place great emphasis on universities, university professors, and honorable ministers in charge of universities and this is the reason why I am so sensitive about them.
One of the gentlemen in the meeting spoke about efficiency. On whose shoulders does the responsibility of efficiency fall? The reason why we are going through all this difficulty is to bring about efficiency. Who should bring about efficiency? Efficiency is the responsibility of those knowledgeable and patient individuals who engage in jihad in the way of God, who work for the sake of Him, who are not thinking about filling their own pockets, who know their job and who enter the arena to do their job in a courageous manner. We are after such individuals. In which places are they trained? Primarily in universities. So, the issue is related to universities. Universities should be ornamented with those characteristics that our country, Iran, needs in the future – in twenty years. The issue of universities is of such significance.
Well, there are certain requirements for the things that I spoke about. I have summarized these requirements in the form of some key terms: scientific progress, moral discipline, religious self-edification in academic environments, political insight, a sense of identity and being proud of this identity. All these things are necessary. Our students should have a feeling that they have an Iranian-Islamic identity and they should be proud of it. These are necessary and urgent things that should be taken into consideration so that we can achieve what we want. If each of them is missing, our work will be incomplete. If there is time, I will say a few things about each of these key terms.
When I sometimes issue warnings about mixed camps and about such wrongdoings, this should not be considered as puritanism. These things are problematic and they change the norms that should exist in academic environments. If we are indifferent to such phenomena, this is the exact opposite of what we expect of universities today and of what we need in our universities.
The gentlemen in the meeting delivered very good speeches about the issue of scientific progress. The points that the gentlemen and ladies in the meeting raised in different areas were good points. This is a sign of a scientific movement. Since early 1380s onwards, when the issue of science and scientific progress was brought up – I think that for the first time, I brought up this issue in Amir Kabir University and then I pursued the matter – a movement has been created in the true sense of the word. Because the ground was prepared and because there were good talents and capacities for that in the country, scientific growth began to blossom.
The issue that I would like to stress is the rate of our growth. In another meeting in which the heads of universities and university professors were present, I issued a warning about a decrease in the rate of our scientific growth. The honorable Minister wrote a letter to me explaining that this is not the case and that our growth is continuing. In that letter, he presented certain statistics and figures as well. I know that our growth is continuing. The issue is not that we do not have any scientific growth. I can see that we have scientific growth. However, the issue is about the rate of this progress. The rate of our scientific growth has decreased. Today, we need to accelerate this growth.
For example, in an automobile race in which everyone is driving at a speed of 250, 300, if you are in the front and if your speed is 250, 300, this is alright. However, if you are in the back, then a speed of 250 will do you no good. Under such circumstances, if you drive at the speed of 250, 300, which is the same speed that the one in front of you is driving, you will always be behind. Therefore, you should increase your speed so that you can catch up. When you catch up with them, then you can drive forward alongside with other drivers.
A number of the gentlemen in the meeting pointed out that the rate of scientific growth has even decreased in some European countries. Of course, this has been pointed out in different databases as well. We are aware of this. The reason is that they have used all their capacities. When capacities are used up, then there will be no room for further progress. This is clear although knowledge never stops moving forward. We are not like them. We have been kept backward. We have been kept backward at least for sixty, seventy years because of corrupt, treacherous and ignorant regimes – “ignorant” is the least that we can say about such regimes. We are behind.
If we want to keep moving forward in this global race, we cannot move with the same speed that they are moving forward with. We should increase our rate of growth. This is what I demand, otherwise I know that growth already exists in our country. This growth should be accelerated. Of course, we are fourth [globally] in terms of the rate of scientific growth. Mr. Minister reported this as well. I myself had seen this in a report that was based on a specific database. We are fourth, but this is not enough. We should accelerate our movement.
I said that students should have a sense of identity. We should know what the realities of the country are. What was said today was only part of the realities: that we have done such and such things in the area of aerospace, nanotechnology, nuclear energy, and biotechnology and that we have made such and such achievements in the area of medicine are things that should be announced to students. University professors can influence students’ hearts when it comes to having a sense of identity so much so that students feel that they have a valuable identity and that they can be proud of it.
If our university professors constantly disappoint students in the classroom by saying to them, “You are small, you are nothing, you are backward” this is treason. Frankly speaking, this is treason. Imagine that university professors encourage outstanding students to leave the country by saying to them, “Why have you stayed here? Go abroad and have fun.” Well, the best universities of the country have prepared and educated these students at great expense. But when it is time to pick the fruits from this valuable sapling, should it go and yield fruits somewhere else? This is treason. Having a sense of identity means that students should feel that being an Iranian, Muslim and revolutionary is an honor and that they should be proud of it.
Of course, we are behind others, but we have power, diligence, energy and youthfulness and therefore, we can move forward and catch up with others. When I spoke about the Farsi language – as was pointed out by the esteemed host – I did not only speak about this language. Of course, the Farsi language is a very valuable thing and we have placed great emphasis on it on other occasions. What I meant was that we should reach a point in scientific areas that others will have to learn the Farsi language if they want to acquire a specific field of science and if they want to improve in it. In the present time, if you want to have access to new findings in scientific fields, you have to learn English or maybe French. This is what I am saying. We should help the country reach this point. We have enough energy, capabilities and capacities. Although we are behind others, we can catch up. In the past too, we were behind to a great extent, but we managed to reach where we are today. This is what I am saying.
Of course, I had written down some statistics and figures to discuss, but it is no longer necessary to do so as the gentlemen in the meeting referred to some of them. What the centers that are in charge of global evaluation [of scientific affairs] – including the databases and scientific journals that were referred to, such as “Science” and “Nature” – have said about Iran is a sign of their astonishment. For example, a scientific institution in Canada says, “The scientific achievements of Iran are astonishing.” Now what is interesting, is the next sentence: “And this is a source of concern for the west.” If you are humans, why do you become concerned? If a people make progress in scientific areas, should you become concerned?
Another well-known journal – “Science” – writes, “Iran is a new scientific power.” They have written, recorded and published this: they have said that Iran is a new scientific power. According to the reports that they have given me, in 2015 - last year - UNESCO published a report about the horizons of science until the year 2030. In this report, it says that Iran is after turning its resource-based economy into a knowledge-based economy. This is a point that we have frequently raised. It was also raised by some of the gentlemen in this meeting. This is the reason why I have placed such great emphasis on a knowledge-based economy.
It goes on to say, “Sanctions were effective. They indirectly helped Iran to think of turning its economy into a knowledge-based economy.” This report by UNESCO says that Iran’s priorities in scientific matters are stem cells, nuclear energy, aerospace, energy transfer, and information technology. They are studying and examining all these matters with a microscopic approach. The tasks that we are carrying out are important tasks. So, our students should know of them. When they know of them, they acquire a sense of identity and personality and they feel proud of themselves, of their Iranian nationality and of their attachment to the Revolution.
Of course, our sense of identity is not confined to the area of science. We have constantly formulated new ideas. This is what the gentleman in the meeting said: “Say new words all the time” [from a poem by Molavi]. The philosophy of democracy accompanied by spirituality and religion is a new philosophy in today’s world. It should not be thought that the philosophy of human attachment to spirituality is an old, reactionary and – as is commonly said today – “démodé” philosophy. This is not the case. Today, the world is in a tumultuous situation because of a void of spirituality. And they have acknowledged this. They are constantly speaking about this.
However, where can they bring spirituality from? Spirituality cannot be injected into people like a syringe. They do not have such spirituality and as a result, they are suffering and of course, they will suffer more. We introduced a kind of democracy that is accompanied by religion and spirituality. And it is democracy in the true sense of the word. In other countries, democracy is, in fact, “partyocracy”. In the west, “party” does not mean a group and network that originates from the people. This is not the case either in America, in England or in other countries. You should pay attention to this. In western countries, a party is a club: a political club. It is a club where a number of elite personalities gather with certain slogans and with certain wealthy investors and other such people. With their promotions, they can attract the people to themselves during the time of elections. Democracy, in the real sense of the word, does not exist there.
Here - in our country - democracy exists in the real sense of the word and it is accompanied by religion and by Islam. Well, such things give individuals a sense of identity. If this sense of identity is generated in the youth, then there will be no divergence. We have several thousand students outside the country. If this sense of pride exists, they will come back to Iran. Of course, they can study their lessons there. I do not feel intimidated if students go abroad and I have said this many times. They can go there to study their lessons and to learn and then, they can come back and prove valuable to their country. When will this happen? It happens when they feel proud of being Iranians and revolutionaries. “Sense of identity” means this.
Another issue is about politics in universities. A few years ago – actually, a long time ago, many years ago – I said something about politics in universities which upset the government officials of those days. They complained about why I said it. I had said, “May God curse all those who put an end to political thoughts, work and endeavor in universities” [Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on November 3, 1993 in a meeting with students]. They complained that we were provoking the youth to do political work. Of course, the same individuals themselves used to say certain things about universities and students in a hypocritical manner, but in reality they believe in it. But this is what I believe: the academic environment is naturally an environment for exchanging viewpoints and opinions. This is in the nature of academic work.
The reason is that on the one hand, youth do not have intellectual and ideological experience that can calm them. As you know, when we gain intellectual experience, we acquire a sense of tranquility which causes us to lose that spirit of challenging others. But this is not the case with youth. And on the other hand, youth are brimming with the energy to discuss different matters and the like. When I myself take a look at my own memories and my own youth – fifty, sixty years ago – I see that we argued with some individuals over political matters. And those were intense and heated arguments!
The characteristic of youth - in particular, young acadmics who are naturally very interested in such environments - is to involve themselves in challenging environments. Therefore, this is alright. What is problematic is that we use this challenging environment to work against the Revolution and revolutionary values. This is bad. Different thoughts and opinions and various political orientations can exist in universities. There is nothing wrong with this. Such orientations can exchange their viewpoints and challenge one another.
What is the responsibility of university managers? Is their responsibility to support and cooperate with those orientations that are opposed to the principles of the Revolution? This is not their responsibility at all, it is the exact opposite of this! In this challenging environment in universities, the responsibility of university officials – ranging from high-ranking and ministerial managers to the university professors who teach in the classroom and who face students – is to guide these challenges towards the things that lead to the principles and goals of the Revolution. In other words, they should teach them to be revolutionaries. To say it briefly, universities and students should be revolutionaries. Students should be Muslims and mujahids in the way of God. Managers should guide them towards this direction.
Of course, I have received reports that show the opposite of this. I would like to say to the gentlemen who are present here: – higher education officials and managers – you have a very heavy responsibility. You should be very careful. You should take care not to let the academic environment turn into a place for divergence from the Revolution, from revolutionary concepts and values, from piety, from revolutionary approach, and from Imam’s (r.a.) name and memory. This is among definite necessities.
In a university, someone or some individuals might have an orientation which leads to the disintegration of the country. This exists and it is a reality. You who work in universities should know that such a thing exists in some universities. I am aware of such orientations. These orientations are not acceptable and should not be supported. There are certain orientations that drag the country towards dependence. Such orientations should not be supported. I am not saying that we should stop them by using force, intelligence work and the like. These incidents should be confronted with intelligent and managerial work and with sympathetic words of advice. So, the issue of revolutionary approach and discipline is important.
I have a number of recommendations to offer, but because there is not any time, I will mention them briefly: first of all, higher education officials – whether officials in Ministry of Health and Medical Education or officials in the Ministry of Science – should not allow researchers and innovators to become hopeless and tired. This is a danger. As you witnessed, the gentlemen in the meeting came and delivered speeches in an enthusiastic and energetic manner. This enthusiasm should flow in all of our research centers and organizations and in all of our academic environments. Everyone should feel hopeful. You should not let them become hopeless. You should not let them become tired.
One of the issues that I have highlighted before – in the present time too, experts acknowledge what I have said in this regard – is attaching significance to fundamental sciences. Once, in a meeting with scientists, researchers and other such personalities, I drew an analogy. I said that fundamental sciences are like your savings in a bank which is your source of support in life [Supreme Leader’s speech delivered on October 5, 2011]. Applied sciences are like the money that you put in your pocket and that you spend. They are necessary as well. Applied sciences cannot be ignored and we should consider them as important, but the basis of the work is fundamental sciences. Great and competent scientists have been quoted as saying – we too should learn from them: I myself should definitely learn from them – that if fundamental sciences do not exist, applied sciences will not reach anywhere.
Another recommendation is that the issue of scientific diplomacy is important. Diplomacy in itself is very important. So, economic, cultural and scientific diplomacy are all important. Diplomacy is important in itself. However, you should pay attention that in scientific diplomacy – that is to say, scientific communications which I completely agree with – we should not be deceived. For example, someone in the form of a businessperson comes and speaks to one of our economists and businesspeople in such and such a restaurant or hotel and they reach an agreement. However, when we investigate, it becomes clear that he is an agent of the Zionist regime’s intelligence service who has disguised himself as a businessperson and thus, he pursues certain goals. The same can happen in the area of science.
Of course, you can benefit from foreign scientists. I have said many times among students that we are not ashamed of being students. We can learn from others, but we should take care not to let a rift, a crack and a hole be opened for a security breach in the course of our scientific interactions and our scientific learning. They use everything – even science - in order to breach our security. This has happened before. Today too, it is unfortunately happening in certain areas.
Another point is about scientific articles. Well, the statistics about scientific articles were presented in this meeting and I am aware of them. Our articles have increased in number, but scientific articles should be guided towards the needs of the country. Today, we need research and articles in the area of oil, agriculture, different industries and communications. The articles that are written should not be in the direction of such and such a country’s needs. This is another point: channeling articles towards the needs of the country.
The next issue is about the comprehensive scientific plan. Of course, preparing this plan was a good thing, but it should be explained to all universities and it should be turned into a project and a program.
Another point is about the economy of resistance. Dr. Derakhshan really raised very good points in this regard. The economy of resistance is both national dignity and a key to unlock the current problems. I am saying this because I was asked, “What do you - who place such great emphasis on national dignity and who keep speaking about it in your speeches – plan to do about the current needs of society?” This is my answer: if the economy of resistance is implemented and put into practice in the real sense of the word and on the basis of what has been said and demanded, it will both provide for national dignity and the current needs of the country. This is because it is reliant on domestic capacities, on domestic resources and on domestic production.
Another issue is that cultural work in universities is a fundamental task, not an extracurricular and peripheral one. Great significance should be attached to cultural work. Of course, cultural work does not mean organizing music concerts in universities or doing rhythmic moves [Supreme Leader and audience laugh]. This is not cultural work, rather it is anti-cultural work. Cultural work means the kind of work that familiarizes minds with revolutionary and Islamic culture. This is what cultural work is.
Officials should open the arena for ideological students and professors. They should allow ideological professors and students to breathe, in the real sense of the word, in the academic environment. Of course, my advice to revolutionary students and professors is that they should play their role. We have said to the youth that they are the officers of the soft war. You university professors too, are the commanders of this soft war. Very well, you should command and play your part!
This soft war is ongoing. The intensity of this war has increased by several times since the day I used the term “soft war” until today – two, three years have passed since that day. The enemy is fighting against us. The point that Ms. Qahremani raised about language was a very important and interesting point if we pay close attention to it. They are fighting against us from all sides in the area of culture. And the reason is clear and we have said it many times. So, we should prepare ourselves.
I said before that untrustworthy individuals should not be allowed to show their presence in universities. They ask me, “Who are untrustworthy individuals?” Untrustworthy individuals are those who challenge the system with any excuse. Which country allows its ruling system to be challenged by others? Does America – which they themselves claim is the center of freedom – allow this to happen? John Steinbeck, who has written several novels like “The Grapes of Wrath” and other such novels which are very well-known, was subject to the most difficult pressures. Anyone in America who used any word that reeked of socialism – not that it was really about socialism, rather if it gave off a faint smell of socialism – would become subject to all sorts of pressures ranging from physical harm to character assassination.
They are like this. They do not allow their system to be challenged. Now, should we challenge our system with such and such stupid and ridiculous excuses? A person who challenges the system with various excuses is “untrustworthy”.
I have written down something about humanities, but there is no more time left. I think that we are even a little past the time that we had. “Humanities” in the west originate from a western view of human beings. This is the summary of what I wanted to say. This does not mean that we should reject all the achievements of humanities. This is not what I am saying. We should benefit from whatever that can be benefitted from. However, the general structure and framework of humanities that have come from the west is based on a western worldview about humans, humanness and definition of what humans are. We have a different definition of humans. Our definition is different from what western materialistic philosophy thinks. Therefore, we should attach great significance to Islamic humanities.
Dear God, make what we said, what we worked for, what we thought and what we heard serve You and Your cause. Accept them from us. Enlighten our hearts with the purity of the month of Ramadhan. By the blessedness of Muhammad (PBUH) and his household (PBUH), guide our society, our universities, our professors, our students and knowledge towards Your lofty goals.
Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy