Kemalism and the Turkish Republic 5/15/2012 2:54:00 PM
the successor to the Ottoman empire in Anatolia, the Turkish nation state.
The Ideology that dominated the Turkish nation state, and really to
a great extent dominate Turkey to the stay namely Kemlalism
o The principle tenants of Kemlalism as they were described in
the peoples party program of 1931 were
And what was called Revolutionism.
We will talk about how each of these ideas influenced a nation
state, but it should be said from the outset that these ideas, these
notions, emerged from a military
o And quite specifically nationalism and secularism were
absolutely critical components of the ultimately political
formula that enabled a military man, by the name of Mustafa
Kamal (who became known as Ataturk), to secure and
Ataturk initial legitimacy as a political leader was derived very
heavily from his military triumph, one that happened on the 30 thof
August 1922 over Greek forces at Izmir (otherwise known as
Smyrna), and those Greek forces, to his mind, threatened what the
defense of rights movement called the Turkish and Muslims
character of the area.
o Hence this focus on nationalism (this new focus on ethnicity
within a specifically Turkish nation state)
The struggle for Turkish independence that Mustafa Kamal lead
was, to a large degree, one of ethnic purification. One that was intended to crush the aspiration of the Greeks, the
Armenians, and the Kurds who lived in Anatolia and who
themselves aspired to self determination after the first WW.
And during that struggle, just to give an idea of the extend to which
this ethnic purification took place, the percentage of Muslims in
Anatolia rose from 80% to 98%.
o Now, just to give some raw numbers
the Greek population, fell from 1.8 million in 1914 (this
is the great in Anatolia) to 400,000 after the war and
the population transfers that took place as a result
The Armenians population fell from 1.2 million in 1896
to less than 100,000 in 1927.
So, given the realization of this ethnic purification in the wake of
the independent struggle, Mustafa Kamal decided to employ, not
surprisingly, ethnic nationalism to consolidate Turkish statehood, to
consolidate this new state of nations Turkey and his grip on power
within that state.
And to this end, he use what is called, the Turkish historical thesis
which was that ethnic Turks had created the world great
civilizations ranging from China to Europe to the Middle East
o And this was a thesis that was ultimately indorsed by the
Turkish state and really came to permeate, or discourse,
about Turkish history within the Turkish nation state.
came to permeate newspapers.
came to permeate textbooks.
This exultation of Turkish culture required the denigration, the
putting a side, really the marginalization of rival Anatolian cultures. And so under Mustafa Kamal, the Turkish state prohibits any public
ardencies in the Kurdish language, and indeed, prohibits any other
instruction in the Kurdish language.
Despite what would be called the don of democracy in Turkey in
1950, this prohibition actually remained in place.
And in 1980, much much further along, not only public but indeed
private ardencies in Kurdish were forbidden as well.
And given this severe restrictions on their participation in public life,
a Kurdish faction, that is known as PKK, undertook armed action
against the Turkish state in March of 1984.
In response to this, in response to what the Turkish states label as
subversive activities, that are concentrated largely in the areas in
which Kurds reside in Turkey in large numbers, namely in the
southeast of Turkey (in the southeast of the Anatolian peninsula),
the Turkish military has raised thousands of Kurdish villages
destroyed them in the struggle against the PKK.
And further the participation of Kurds as Kurds, that is to say
without marginalization once identity, in the Turkish political
process has proved very problematic
o Actually exceedingly difficult if not, in many cases,
So that gives an idea of the influence of this first tenant of nationalism on
the Turkish nation state.
One that has starched (influence that has starched) right from the
origins of the nation state to this very day.
secularism the second tenant of Kamalism which is, perhaps, is the one that is
most strongly associated with Mustafa Kamal
and the one that is, perhaps, best known among the tenants of his
Through his insistent on secularism, Mustafa Kamal sought not
nearly to eradicate all vestiges of, and really all lingering,
attachments to the Ottoman regime.
His aims went, still beyond that,
o such measures as the abolition of the Khalifat (what we
discussed last time)
o the prohibition of the fads.
o The espousal, which we see here, of the European calendar.
o The espousal of the European numerals and weights and
o The adoption of the Suez civil
o The elimination of religious colleges.
All of these wouldve sufficed in that effort to distance the Turkish
nation state from its Ottoman predecessors (from the Ottoman
But, as we say, Mustafa Kamals aim extended beyond this, beyond
simply marginalizing or denigrating the Ottoman cartage , arguably,
Mustafa Kamal sought control not only of what weve called in this
class official Islam, the Islam of the state, he also wanted to
maintain a very strain grip on popular Islam, the Islam of common
And so what we find are the dervish order with white spread
networks of Shrines, obedience to Sheikhs, the closed secretive
brotherhood that operated in various parts of the country.