August 19, 2012
I am originally from Iran (b.1951) and finished Alborz High School of Tehran in May 1969. I went to university in the U.S. in Fall of 1969 and returned to Iran after graduation. During my student years, I was a member of Confederation of Iranian Students in the U.S.
After going back to Iran in 1974, I was interrogated and harassed by Shah’s secret police, Savak. I was sympathetic to the left and I was also critical of the leftist programs, even in the years before 1979. As a free thinker and theoretician, I always had a focus on science and future, and I was opposed to the Soviet Union and Hezbe Toodeh, from the start of my political activity in 1970.
After the 1979 revolution, as a co-founder and member of the editorial board of Nedaye Azadi, co-published this daily afternoon paper in Tehran, till the paper and all other free papers of the time, were shut down by the Islamic Republic in 1981. Nedaye Azadi was a democratic paper similar to Peyghame Emrooz, Ayandegan and other similar papers of those three years of semi-democracy in Iran of 1979-1982. The back issues of Nedaye Azadi may still be available in the archives of Library of Congress.
The 1979 Revolution of Iran and programs of different forces during that revolution, showed me that the old ways of development do not work anymore. Thus even in an undeveloped country like Iran, one needs to look for new solutions to the old and new problems. And, I started to look beyond the old economic and social plans of both the left and the right. This is when I started calling myself a futurist in my articles, in 1981 and beyond, without even knowing there was such an outlook called “futurism”.
Later in 1983, I returned to the U.S., and through the same search, I found Daniel Bell, Alvin Toffler, John Naisbitt, Peter Drucker,Raymond Kurzweil, Buckminster Fuller, and the World Future Society (WFS). Daniel Bell has had a lasting impact on my thought. I can say I agree with 99% of his writings.
In Fall of 1985, I published an article called “Intelligent Tools: The Cornerstone of a New Civilization” in AI Magazine, the scientific journal of American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), where I expressed my own understanding of the future and futurism. I received a letter from Daniel Bell, which helped me better understand the issues related to new technologies, inference and intelligence. I always have learned a lot from Daniel Bell.
In 1986, I wrote a paper entitled “Progressiveness in the Present Epoch,” first as a small booklet, and later as a series of articles, I published from 1986-87 in Iran Times weekly journal of Washington D.C., where I expressed my understanding of what being progressive means in our times, and this paper included my article “Modern Futurism,” which was very well received in later years. Also in my paper on progressiveness, I first proposed my main thesis about the Iranian Revolution and wrote about the relationship of state economy and dictatorship in socialism which I have been discussing since 1981, and years later on January 2002, I touched on these topics in my interview with the site of Ayandehnegar, and finally in my book “Futurist Iran,” I discussed in details on my thesis about the Iranian Revolution.
I also wrote about a viable economic theory for knowledge economy and discussed Social Justice and Computer Revolution in 1987 and later on expanded on it and especially in my paper entitled “Alternative Income” expounded on my view in the discourse of social justice. I also wrote a book about the history of Kurdistan and Federalism and from 1982 to 1984 published papers on Pluralism and a detailed critique of Marxism and Monism.
From 1985 to 1989, I opened the first futuristic book store, called Nova Bookstore, in Sunnyvale of California in the United States. Of course the World Future Society book store existed before Nova but that was a mail order catalog.
When I opened Nova Bookstore, Jeff Cornish, son of Edward Cornish the founder of World Future Society who handled distribution of The Futurist and other WFS publications at the time, told me that this project can be financially very difficult and I said that I understand but am very much interested in doing it and I continued it for four years.
My goal was to clear my own ideas and to find people of the same interest. Once that was achieved, I closed the store, because as a business, it barely made a living for me.
Professionally I work in the field of computer internetworking, bridges, routers, etc and in my resume I have written that before Nova Bookstore, from 1982 to 1985, I was busy co-founding Dehkhoda Library and Iranian Cultural Foundation in Berkeley of California and as noted, before that co-published Nedaye Azadi in Tehran.
The founding and managing Nova Bookstore in those four years of mid 80′s helped me to deepen my understanding of futurism, and impacted my environment, and I was able to get to know different futurists of the world. Futurists from different parts of the world when coming to the San Francisco area would stop by my bookstore.
Even the late Willis Harman was one of the panelists at the Nova Lecture Series that I had in those years at Nova bookstore and also from the first day that WFS had placed an announcement about the opening of Nova Bookstore, one of the founders of IFTF came to Nova Bookstore and would visit often in subsequent years.
In 1990, after closing Nova, I wrote my paper A Futurist Vision which was also signed by Jack Li who was a co-founder of Beyond War organization based in Palo Alto and cooperated with me at Nova Bookstore, Newsletter and Lectures. And in those years, I also worked on a few new works in the area of rationalism which included papers on Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz,and Russell that I expanded on in later years in my discussion of secularism.
Three years after closing Nova Bookstore, in 1992, I started cooperating with Mr. Hossein Mola who lived in Sweden to start the Ayandehnegar (meaning futurist in Persian) magazine. Before this time, Mr. Mola and his associates had created a radio program in Sweden by the name of Radio Azadi.
The magazine was first going to be in print and I sent the texts of my articles “Intelligent Tools” and “Philosophy of Science in 20th Century,” the latter being only a handwritten lecture I had given at Berkeley in those years. I suggested to use a computer and later to publish the magazine on the Internet, and was hoping some of my friends in Sweden and Switzerland who were technical experts, to help Mr. Mola which did not happen, and Mr. Mola himself found his way thru the technical maze and that year got his computer.
In August 1993, I told Mr. Mola about the lecture Break Down of Time, Space, and Society which Daniel Bell had presented for Sweden’s post office, and had been published by Sweden’s Institute of Future Studies, and Mr. Mola found it and sent it to me and later he himself arranged for its translation and publication in Persian. I should note that the aforementioned paper of Daniel Bell has not been published anywhere else and Daniel Bell himself had suggested it to me in 1993, when he noted in a letter that he had not written about futurism for a long time and at that time, this was his last work on the topic, and said to find it in the Swedish journal Framtiderwhich I asked Mr. Mola to find in Sweden that he did.
From 1993 to 1996, Mr. Mola set up the computer for the magazine that we wanted to publish and finally in March of 1996 he sent me his first email and two years later the first issue of “Ayandehnegar Magazine” was published on the Internet by Mr. Mola in January of 1998 we announced the founding of Iranian Futurist Foundation and the efforts for it continued till the end of 1999, but after that date Mr. Mola continued the Ayandehnegar magazine, although from time to time published some of my articles were also published in it.
In fact, after the year 2000, on one hand many futurist sites were created inside and outside Iran where the differences of their political views were not hidden from the astute readers, and on the other hand the interest in futurist literature grew in various political and cultural publications and as far as my literary work was concerned as I have explained below I cooperated with various publications, published the archive of my works in my personal website, and created the futurist Iranscope portal.
I was active on the Internet in the early 1990′s and posted my first article about Iran on soc.culture.iranian Usenet newsgroup in October 1993. The next year on the same public Usenet newsgroup, I published a series of theoretical discussions with Dr. Hossein Baghezadeh, and in March 1994 we founded the Iranian Human Rights Working Group (IHRWG) which was an Internet_based human rights group, an activity that started with my article about stoning of women and during the years, Dr. Bagherzadeh, the Chair of the group, and other associates, contributed a lot to the cause of human rights in Iran.
I also helped to set up the group’s first Internet site and archive with a colleague and also supported IHRWG by continuing the discussions of human rights on the Usenet especially when Dr. Bagherzadeh was threatened by Khamene’i at the time of closure of Neshat newspaper in Iran. And finally most of the members of IHRWG continued their activities in Manshoor81, which exists to this day.
After being active on the Internet, I saw the need for a futurist portal and Internet_based news distribution system related to the future and first posted the related information on Usenet and email lists and finally in August 1999, founded the Iranscope portal. In my article “Why I Created Iranscope?,”
I have explained in details about my reasons for starting the Iranscope portal. During those years, besides writing articles on the Usenet, I also published a mailing list called “doostAn” (meaning friends), which later developed into two yahoo lists called “Iranscope” and “future” and those two lists finally evolved to “iran_scope_news” list which is still active and it is now also accessible by RSS.
Recently an article was published about the formation of the activity of Iranians on the Internet and in that article, there was a mention of my work in the early 1990′s, the title of the article is “A Brief Excursion of the History of Iranians on the Internet“. The author was present on the Usenet with me and also before the Internet, during the years of 1985-1989, he had dropped by my Nova Bookstore in Sunnyvale. During the last 20 and some years, I have published in various publications.All my works can be found at my home page.
In 2001, I finished my proposal for the Platform of a Futurist Party. I started this work in 1986 and wrote the first manuscript in2000 and for years discussed about the need for such a political party in various articles.
Today when I look at my latest writing on futurism entitled Singularity and Us, I see what a long way it has been and all this with thanks to all those who accompanied me all these years and were friends and colleagues. Today it is a pleasure to see that so many people with various ways of thought see the importance of futuristic thinking and this thought is more and more welcome particularly among the Iranians.
Please read my online book entitled “FUTURIST IRAN: Futurism vs Terrorism“ where I have explained in details my views of the world today and my thanks to World Future Society for publishing a “book review” of my work which is now included in the introduction of the book.
Hoping for a Federal, Democratic, and Secular Futurist Republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
December 8, 2005
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