An Analysis of “Resistance Political Economy” within the Framework of Friedrich List’s Theory

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Associate Professor, Faculty of Law & Political Science, University of Tehran, Iran

2 PhD in Political Science, Faculty of Law & Political Science, University of Tehran, Iran


“Resistance Political Economy” (RPE) which is rooted in economic thoughts of the Islamic Revolution leaders as well as the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran has attracted the attention of political economy analysts as an approach officially announced to be the national economic strategy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Taking a different look at this issue, the present study intends to explore the features and components of RPE within the framework of Friedrich List’s theory. Based on the theory of national economy, a host of factors such as social customs, specific historical conditions as well as the functions and evolution of its economic, political and social institutions of a country or a nation influence its economic policymaking. Thus, the political and socio-economic characteristics as well as the religious tendency and historical experiences of Iran, have directed its economic system toward a particular justice-centered national economy known as RPE. It is argued that an emphasis on RPE using Iran’s national production capacities leads to the strengthening of national power and improvement of welfare. For the theoretical framework to explain the arguments set forth by the advocates of RPE, the authors use Frederick List’s  theory of national economics which is based on national production and has an indigenous dimension. The domestic economy is viewed as an instrument of national empowerment and independence. List’s conceptual analysis can be very useful in explaining and analyzing the concept of RPE. This is a broad concept concerned with development at all levels, and focuses on increasing  economic resilience, robustness and sustainability, while reducing economic vulnerability, dependence and fragility. The research questions include: 1. How can Iranian policymakers build resilience as Iran confronts the internal and domestic pressures for change? 2. What is the most important component and characteristics of resistance political economy (RPE) within the framework of List’s theory of national economy? 3. How will development based on RPE affect Iran’s national power and public welfare?
      First, the characteristics of the national economy from Frederick List's point of view are discussed, and then the principles and pillars of RPE as understood by Iranian top decision-makers and contained in national legal documents such the constitution are examined. Finally, the policy proposals that can help the achievement of the objectives of RPE within the country’s economic structure are presented. The authors suggest the following policies for economic stability and resilience in the period before and after the occurrence of economic shocks. The policies recommended for the pre-economic shocks period include: 1. Pursuing the strategy of comparative advantage by increasing investment in industries in which Iran has superior capacities and the required resources to strive for access to regional and international markets and prevail over its competitors. 2. Diversifying export commodities and reduce its dependency on the export of raw material and natural resources such as oil and gas by investing in the development of refineries, petrochemical industries, and lucrative extractive industries. 3. Supporting knowledge-based and innovative enterprises, and investing more in new R&D projects in order to strengthen production capacity based on local knowledge. 4. Investing in education in order to improve human capital for sustainable economic growth. 5. Strengthening infrastructures against natural disasters, and addressing the issue of overpopulation of large cities as a result of internal migration through investment in projects in towns and rural areas for more balanced economic development. 6. Diversification of economic activities in all sectors particularly in agriculture in different parts of the country. Measures recommended for post-economic shocks period include: 1. Designing policies that lead to more resilience, e.g., encouraging people to participate more in the community and support measures to reduce poverty, improve the distribution of income and wealth, fight corruption, encourage privatization by increasing the share of the private sector in economic activities. 5. Planning for economic recovery projects in advance to be implemented immediately after the crisis. The findings indicate that the institutionalization of RPE with its emphasis on maximizing the use of indigenous and national capacities to strive for sustainable economic development will lead to the strengthening of national power and improvement of welfare.



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