Nationalism Gone Amok
May 23, 1951 — The Goulburn Evening Post

The Mossadegh Project | December 11, 2017                      

“On the one hand there are Westerners, and on the other there are Arab-Orientals; the former are (in no particular order) rational, peaceful, liberal, logical, capable of holding real values, without natural suspicion; the latter are none of these things.” Orientalism (1978) by Edward Said

Less than a month into Mossadegh’s premiership, this newspaper from New South Wales, Australia published this acerbic, orientalist lead and sole editorial. It is a classic to be sure.

Australian media archive

The Goulburn Evening Post


“One night I dreamed I saw a person with rays of light radiating from his face. He said, ‘Dr. Mossadeq, go and tear the chains off the feet of the Iranian people . . . when the nationalisation of the oil was passed in Parliament, I accepted that the man in the dream came from God.” Thus the Premier of Iran, speaking to the Parliament there. In order to add to the melodrama he promptly fainted and was duly carried out to revive. Those nearby knew what to do; they were accustomed to rendering him first aid of this character. This is the type of man who is leading the robbery of the British people who have spent a hundred million pounds and more in developing oil in Persia. This kind of extravagant melodramatics goes down in the East. The people in many of the countries are not normal. Obligations and honour are qualities not understood by them. For too long by the fools who succeeded to power in Britain and who held office in Australia, too, for that matter, these people have been regarded as being equal in all things to themselves. Russia was accepted as an honourable comrade with Britain and America in the hour of victory. The whole world knows now where that attitude has led us. Six months and more ago, the British Government was warned by people who knew the Middle East what was going to happen in Persia. But it put off the day, trusting in its infantile contentment of outlook, that because they liked nationalisation, other people would not like it. They certainly never imagined that it would be used as a cloak for open, ruthless robbery. In England they gave the people a semblance of honesty when they took their property from them by handing over Government bonds which soon lost much of their value, so that it was robbery just the same. The only difference was a question of degree. Persia was the natural point where Russia would strike next but nothing was done in readiness for the blow and even now the Foreign Secretary for Britain, Mr. Herbert Morrison, is over in Germany when important, nay, critical decisions, involving the safety of what is left of the British Empire but Mr. Morrison had other duties or diversions. In this case, 70 per cent of the oil that keeps Europe going, comes from the Middle East and about a third of that comes from the Anglo-Iranian plant. The trouble in Persia is a three-fold one. It comes from the rise of a nationalism gone amok, from an example set by socialists in office in England and from a general corruption, feeding on the lowering of standards everywhere. When a man went amok, he used to be shot down because it was necessary. When a nation goes amok, probably it is best to wait until the fever subsides, hoping all the time it is not of the undulent or recurring type. It is too late for the “shot” in the arm. The Persians have refused to talk because there is a natural cunning that tells them they have no case. In any event what is the use of talking with a man like Mossadeq who manufactures hallucinations and who, in a country where normal people are in the majority, would be put in a lunatic asylum?

Richard Stokes’ Second Thoughts on Iranian Oil (1951 Letter)
Richard Stokes' Letter to Clement Attlee, Aga Khan Concurs (1951)


Related links:

Persian Oil Blaze | The Goulburn Evening Post, June 22, 1951

Rubaiyat Revised | Candid Comment | The Sunday Herald (May 20, 1951)

The Counsel Is Sound | The Buffalo Courier-Express, May 28, 1951

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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