Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Turkism in Turkey and Azerbaijan in the 1990s

Büsra Ersanli BEHAR

Associate Prof. Büsra Ersanli Behar is teaching at the Department of Political Science and International Relations Of Marmara University, Istanbul (Turkey). This article is an extended form of the presentation titled “The variants of Turkish and Azerbaijani Turkism” made on May 21, 1996 at the “Turkey, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Russia” conference organized by the French Anatolian Research Institute. and was published in Eurasian Studies (1996), Vol. 3, nr. 3. pp. 2-21.

As the Soviet Union disintegrated, interest in reality of Turkism which acquired a significant cultural space increased. Turkism developed both in terms of research and as a form of identification. As six independent Turkish states emerged out of the ruins of the Soviet Union, Turkism is no longer examined merely along the framework of communities, “oppressed Turks”, suffering or stateless peoples, or only as an “anthropology” and “ethnology”. Instead, Turkism is also examined along the lines of similar or dissimilar independent states. Be it official state policy or not, be it along the lines of an opposition program or not, it is a set of ideas which is debated, lead by the elites and of the six independent states which have been recognized by the free world. It is also a current which has a certain history. Hence, Turkism has become a separate research subject within the context of independence of these countries.

This fact has not yet been recognized widely. Post-Soviet independent states are not examined within the realm of Turkish cultural atmosphere and even when it is done so the notion of nation is treated as an ethnic marginality. The historical richness of the Turkish reality is seen as described by the Soviets - frequently changing names and status at different times - by the limits of administrative boundaries. Turkism is not seen as pertaining to cultural policies of different political entities or as a common cultural space which is trying to strengthen itself since 1991. There is an overall reserve towards Turkism; be it at the official level of these states or at the level of foreign policy approaches of non-Turkic states which resonates as a fear of “pan-Turkism”. It is generally overlooked that Turkism can play a constructive role vis-a-vis ethnic conflicts as a cultural umbrella. Academics and experts also take part in the aforementioned reserve. Research about the Turkish republics still values Sovietology but research that focuses on local sources of various Turkish languages or dialects are still scarce. Research that makes use of both is even more scarce. Hence, it is not wrong to conclude that the Turkish republics have not yet been digested by the academia. This paper is going to examine what has been associated with Turkism in Turkey and Azerbaijan in the 1990s. Also, political, social and cultural activities performed in the name of Turkism will be dealt with. I believe it will be useful to start by categorizing the forms of Turkist activities in the near political past of the region.

Forms Of Turkist Activities

The first phases of Turkism can be classified as romantic, hereditary, religious and racial nationalism. It can be described as a nationalism that fits the end of 19th and beginning of 20th century description of European “scientific” nationalism. This is not a nationalism based on an empire or a federal system but is based on the ethnic qualities described in Yusuf Akchura’s “Üc Tarz-i Siyaset” (Three Forms of Politics). Huseyinzade Ali’s contribution to the discourse centered on the description of Turkism around the slogan of “Turkification, Islamization and Contemporization” also inspired the ideas of Ziya G¸kalp of Turkey and was shaped by this romantic ethnicist wave.

This discourse produced the first wave of Turkism as a political ideology in Turkish lands. It is within this context that Huseyinzade Ali proclaimed that “there is no need to produce ideologies such as pan-Turkism and pan-Islamism as Turkism constitutes a natural unity” (1). This first Turkist current developed as a political and social philosophy with a program simultaneously both in Azerbaijan and Turkey. The fact that this first current has been developed by the same individuals has brought a new dimension to Turkism. Subsequently an academic/cultural research field developed during the 2nd Constitutional Period.

Particularly, the research of Fuad Koprulu in the Milli Tetebbular Mecmuasi and generally the Turk Yurdu and the early publications of the Turk Ocaklari (Turkish Nationalist Clubs) can be listed as examples to the above. The contribution of Azerbaijani Turkists materialized via associations and their publications of the time. As political identity was still Ottomanist at the time, Turkist activities focused more on literature, social, cultural and some economic research. At that time Turkishness was treated as an ethnic/literary reality. Also, some research on Armenianness and Kurdishness were translated(2). Following the establishment of the Turkish Republic this sort of Turkism was restricted to the confines of Ziya Gökalp’s sociological and economic research. (3)

The third current of Turkism is unique to Turkey: namely to treat Turkism as an interest of the nation-state and the usage of the terminology for the state. It is possible to identify two subsections within this current; first the independentist branch and second the legitimist branch. During the foundation of the Turkish Republic Turkism had been emphasized because of legitimacy concerns and little attention had been paid to its content. As extensive territories of the Ottoman Empire were lost the local population (in Anatolia) identified with Turkishness and the republic adopted its name. However, differences within the Turkish world and the history of these differences have been neglected. Due to political pragmatism Turkism was employed to gain legitimacy. I believe that the notion of “continuity” in the Turkish History Thesis (4) derived from this political power concern, namely to move the term Turkishness away from its wide and heterogeneous meaning and move it to the confines of political citizenship of the Turkish Republic and thus assume a monopoly of the term. Therefore, the Turkish world has been equated with Turkism in Turkey and other different and rich components of this world have been neglected and not researched adequately.

The fourth current is a Turkism that was organized parallel to world wide ideological conflicts as a political reaction and was appositional. The Turkism of the 1940s in Turkey developed and functioned outside official ideology and found support from the racist policies of Europe. Also, it was a reaction to identification that was based on geography. In magazines such as Bozkurt, Kopuz, Cinaralti, Orhun, people such as Nihal Adsiz and others were influenced by currents in Europe and others, men such as Zeki Velidi Togan who earlier worked on the subject scientifically were marginalized (6). Thus oppositional, ultranationalist fascist Turkism developed. Currently, the activities of some parties and publications in Azerbaijan could be qualified as a reaction to the removal of Elçibey by a coup and Aliyev’s important changes in policy. This sort of Turkism which on one hand became the name of the Turkish Republic and on the other paralleled its fascist counterparts in Europe and was anti-cormmunist in character lost its academic/cultural appeal and began to lose its legitimacy in this area.

The fifth type of Turkism was formed by the activities of those who were not of Turkish stock or by those who preferred to distance themselves to the subject matter. 19th century Turcologists who constituted a significant portion of orientalists were indeed individuals who shaped the first current which emphasized the romantic/ethnic composition. These elites which were pro-Turkish, anti-Turkish, travelers, orientalists and produced various works to this day can be defined as the”other” Turkist activities or works.

Turcologist such as the Russian Vasiliy Bartold are classified as friendly to Turks and are even considered as prominent figures who had significant contributions to Turkism. Among some Russian nationalists it is possible to detect some researchers who view Slavism along with Mongolism and with Turkism within the framework of an Asian identity. (7) One of the most central reasons for such unificatory identification efforts can be seen as the attempt to create non-European identity. Among the orientalists there were those who worked with mere academic motivations as well as those who particularly during the second half of the 20th century worked within the strategic and intelligence concerns of own national interests.

Currently, Turkism can be examined within conjunctural/cultural, regional/ cultural or academic/global dimensions. In fact, none of the forms of Turkism has been able to have an impact without serious academic/global research. Nevertheless, today there is more need for such an association than in the old romantic era. It is quite obvious that unused Turkish sources (in the Arabic, Latin, Cyrillic and again Latin alphabets) are extremely extensive. These sources are for each republic and for the whole of the Turkish world a rich resource for research.

There is no synthesis or deep analysis of these approaches in today’s Turkey or Azerbaijan. However, in terms of approaches to Turkism the possibilities the 1990s have provided are giving meaningful leads for the future. The aforementioned approaches are not totally incompatible with each other and some of them can be contemplated together or they could be evaluated separately. For instance, within the recently fashionable “globalization” current, conjunctoral/cultural Turkism or academic/global Turkism are running into serious problems when they are distanced from each other. Because, “globalization” while aiming to rescue the world from the discrimination of alliances and enemies is pushing for a certain type of “post-cultural” global democracy by upholding some cultures over others. If we assume that “globalization” is a political movement, then it is necessary to deal with the discriminatory and unitary qualities of Turkism as well as its national political and regional political impact.

As a matter of fact, it is insufficient to examine Turkism without taking into consideration nation-state interests. In addition, it is impossible to deal with Turkism without its historical development or other nation’s perceptions of it. Hence, by examining the subject matter by the self-determined national interests of two states (either in power or while in opposition), it will become easier to identify the type of Turkism and its field of activities.

“Turkishness” As A State Name In Turkey

At the beginning of the century Turkism began as an academic - cultural field which developed into a defensive and monist political program as the Ottoman Empire began to disintegrate. By withdrawing to its own shell and geographical reduction became the name of a state; its academic and cultural aspects were partially abandoned; the works of prominent Turkists successors to Ziya Gokalp were not developed and enriched. Thus Turkism was not a cultural richness to within official discourse. During its second phase Turkism resurfaced as an appositional movement in the 1940s. As its academic/cultural sides were not developed, legendary aspects have been emphasized by its adoption as a parallel form of identity and its appositional character. During its third phase (late 1960s and 1970s) it created an oppressive, ideological, extremely anti-communist, anti-socialist and even anti-social democratic image. Even today it is commonly held that such a prejudiced Turkism, namely the Turkist idea and its activities cannot be accepted by other ideologies. (8)

“Turkishness” Vis-A-vis Regional Politics

As the Soviet Union disintegrated in the 1990s the process of re-examining Turkism by elites and academics in Turkey gained momentum as it did so abroad with the restructuring of international balances. This political change produced the fourth phase of Turkism in Turkey and gained in significance for numerous reasons.

The first reason is a search and concern for a regional, wide and diversified foreign policy. Turkey, which prepared itself for projects such as the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and the Economic Cooperation Organization genuinely felt the need for developing regional cultural rapprochement strategies. The West’s and primarily Washington’s presentation of Turkey as a model country to Central Asia, which was motivated by the fear of fundamentalism (9) produced the strengthening stimulus for Turkism’s activities in the field of diplomacy and culture. Within this context, Turkism surfaced as a regional/ cultural working field suggested by similarities in language, religion and culture. However, during the Ozal era this need created some problems as Ankara adopted a new ‘big brother’ attitude towards the newly independent republics who were just about to get rid of the former ‘older brother’. (10) These diplomatic problems stemmed from the lack of academic/cultural work on Turkism in Turkey and the fact that Turkist work had been approached with anticommunist motivations and the lack of comprehension of Turkism within Russian culture. Some problems arose marginally, from Western-style, imperial attitudes. However, the national struggles against Russian political hegemony and the autonomy of Turkestan are awaiting comprehensive analysis.

In Turkey, particularly in school books Turkism’s history and development are not utilized as a method for understanding the past and the present but rather as a jargon for listing superficial enemies and adopting the idea of “being Turkish” as an element for absolute solidarity. This unfortunate official policy is feeding ignorance and is obstructing efforts to formulate diplomatic relations and diversified international policy, because the public memory is constantly self defensive. This type of Turkism which frequently creates enemies, threats and dangers is leaving much more negative image than before. Especially, in terms of regional politics considering that these are not times for isolation or defense but are times for participation and influencing it becomes more obvious how “antagonist” tendencies can limit one’s ability to maneuver.

For instance, “the First Friendship, Brotherhood and Cooperation Congress of Turkish States and Turkish Communities” was started by giving the initiative to the National Action Party (MHP) who has a sharp image and does not recognize any form of Turkism other than their own narrow, right-wing nationalism. The Congress which took place on March 21, 1993 in Antalya revealed that despite being a happy platform for Turkish peoples and elites, on the foreign policy front it became apparent that conjunctural/cultural Turkism was caught unprepared and without support.

Immediately it became clear that it was not a field on which there was extensive preparation. As indicated earlier, the academic/cultural Turkism of the 1910s became simplified and monopolized in politics after it gave its name to the Turkish state and became a non-academic phenomenon. The second (September 1994 Izmir), the third (September 1995 Izmir) and the fourth (March 1996 Ankara) Congresses despite constructive messages by political leaders and particularly President Demirel’s messages for regional peace again remained artificial and emotional. The varying interpretations of Turkism, political and academic research from different Turkish countries has not been discussed in the various committees. For instance, in Uzbekistan important debates took place about the term “Turkestan” in 1995. It has not become possible to discuss why it surfaced on academic and official platforms and were immediately downplayed there.(12)

During the last meeting in Ankara, the Uzbek delegate almost avoided the information that the Turkestan Research Center was renamed Central Asia Research Center so that the Turkish Turkists would not be offended. During these congresses, instead of the ideological and conceptual problems of independent Turkish states the problems and themes of “oppressed Turks”, “wronged Turks’, or “enslaved Turks” were examined. Even from this point of view, it cannot be said that the congresses had any concrete human rights concerns or made any effort to link with the international struggle for the development of human rights. Because these meetings were guided by an emotional and not academic form of Turkism and they are marked by the racist error of viewing all Turks as similar. Hence, despite fulfilling a positive role by gathering similar and different Turks, it is quite difficult to follow the nationalist lines which were developed under Soviet political culture in Russia.

For instance, the Kyrgyz writer Cengiz Aytmatov who has been following the line of Cokan Velihanov who compiled the Manas Legend in the 19th century and the Kazakh writer Oljas Suleymanov’s identity struggle within the Turkish world, their reform and development models has always been pro-Russian and in favor of federation.(13) These important figures are leading elites of the near past and contemporary Turkish history. Therefore their roles within Turkism can only be evaluated by their differences. Their differences do not exclude them from Turkism. However, their differences in terms of ideas and their method of struggle ought to be recognized. In Turkey, Turkism as a regional foreign policy tool has primarily been disposed towards the West and carried economic, emotional/romantic and hereditary qualities. While having economic aims and trying to integrate the world economic system, namely by following a realistic and pragmatic policy on one hand, and be merely emotional in efforts towards “unity in language, ideas and work” is related to the lack of adequate research in Turkism in Turkey. In order to follow the same regional-cultural Turkism with an eastern approach - and there are few elites who do so - requires more research and this research ought to break the limits of the West and reguires a deeper knowledge of Turkestan’s history and culture which has been influenced by Arab, Chinese, Mongolian and Iranian cultures and politics and finally with Turkishness. At least it requires to understand the Turkist and Islamist works and their past in Uzbekistan.

“TURKISHNESS” In Domestic Politics

The second reason of an acceleration in Turkist activity in Turkey is due to the need of determining Turkey’s national identity. The fact that Turkey has such a need after 70 years of experience in a republican system and democracy is related to the Kurdish problem, and to a history education that is not equipped with information. The Turkish World History Congress, held In September 1994 in Ankara was unable to bring continuity to academic works aiming at determining the “of identity and belonging”. It was thought that independent countries such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan would be satisfied with “common” history books and no effective organization could be set up, due to the failure of examining varieties of Turkism.

However, it has to be noted that this congress has been extremely beneficial as 130 historians have been able to inquire about their history education and their approaches to the science of history. In addition, it may bring about the participation of different historians with different experiences to the task of writing the “History of Turks”. The preparations for these books are proceeding as of 1996. For the time being, the Turkism of Turkey has become an artificial regional policy that has not been supported by academic/ cultural work because it has not been accepted by the body politiques of the other Turkish republics.

As Turkism has been seen as a domestic political strategy for emphasizing of identity, problems in the area of education ought to be closely monitored. Particularly, Turkism in Turkish history books which have been re-written, are written without taking into consideration the cooperation of Turkish Turkists with Azerbaijani, Crimean Tatar and Kazan Tatar Turkists. The newly Independent Turkish republics are treated as if they are geographies newly located on the globe and this is leading to the consequence of ignoring the diversity and common contributions of different Turkish groups. At times, every single individual who has existed either as a nomad or a settled person has been treated as a citizen of the Turkish Republic. This attitude can crudely be described as “pan-Turkism”.

However, the real tendency is not an irredentist political Turkism; on the contrary a contraction that stems from the lack of information about the social, political, economic and cultural differences in the Turkish world. Again, when we examine Turkish history books, we quickly notice that they have been written in an eclectic and confusing manner. When compared with history books of the 1970s and 1980s one can detect the relative decrease in emphasis on Turkism as a quality of superiority. (14) There is a more sober and realistic interpretation. We hope that new books will become even more sober and realistic.

Turkey’s most successful act of regional Turkism has been the offering of scholarships to 8500 students of Turkish origin in various technical schools and universities in Turkey. Although, in some disciplines the quality of education was much higher in the post-Soviet republics than in Turkey, today the quality of education has dropped drastically but this is deemed temporary as the “transitional period” is creating financial problems which have an impact on the content of education. Therefore, be it medicine, mathematics, history or business these students are happy with the education they are receiving in Turkey. In addition to this significant step in education, we have to add the efforts of the Turkish International Cooperation Agency (TIKA) and the TRT Avrasya broadcasts in communication.

In general terms, Turkey’s regional/cultural Turkism policies are in tandem with the West’s “globalization” plan which aims to acquiesce local conflicts and establish a real world economy, but due to its failure to integrate with academic-cultural Turkism it contains significant weaknesses. Turkey’s Turkism does not recognize an eastern Turkism which could be conceptualized with the history and customs of Turkishness and Islam and has only a marginal interest in learning about and working on it.

Th history of Turkestan has not been comprehensively examined since Zeki Velidi Togan. Whereas, the region ought to be examined in its present situation and with an understanding of Turkestan. In the definition of Turkestan is an understanding that recognizes ethnic differences as a natural and inevitable historical reality. In addition, we can argue that this understanding has been consolidated by a socialist federal experience.

We can contemplate that the differences among Turks which stem from recent and much older times add an important dimension to their present “friendship”. This dimension, namely widening horizons by adding identities and recognizing differences and accepting them could become an exemplary and dynamic way to switch from the national interest which is assumed as homogeneous” to the interest of the neighboring-region. The compulsory nature of unity in political culture - as in the European Union - is a paradoxical aspect of “globalization”.

The Resulzade-Elçibey Turkism In Azerbaijan

Following the short Elçibey era in 1992-1993, the Turkism of Azerbaijan is primarily trying to reclaim the state, has an appositional character and is pro-independence. Azerbaijani elites are trying to continue and strengthen the tradition of academic/cultural and political Turkism of Hüseyinzade Ali, Mehmet Emin Resulzade, Ahmet Agaoglu, Uzeyir Hacibeyli and others. The Resulzade experience which is viewed as the starting point has been re-interpreted with a more political flavor following 70 years of Soviet administration.

Today’s Azerbaijan is seeking a continuity with the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic of 1918-1920 and so does its publications policy. (15) However, the Turkisms of Elçibey and Aliyev’s are quite different. Elçibey on one hand via the Popular Front movement and on the other by following legislation in language and education succeeded in giving the Azerbaijani people a strong feeling of belonging and utilized Turkism effectively in this regard. On the contrary, his emotional approach to foreign policy created significant problems. The literary linguistic nationalism of the early century echoed in Elçibey’s personality impeded him in taking pragmatic political decisions. For instance, when the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis reached its zenith in 1993, Elçibey’s foreign policy showed weakness in creating, a balance in relations with Turkey and Iran.

In domestic policy, there was a tendency to correlate Turkism with socialist principles and with federalism. In his September 1992 decree he aimed at guaranteeing all minorities the right to education and other cultural rights. (16) It can be argued that to granting minority rights in line with federalist tradition and a strong Turkist program was a contradiction. Ho~wever, it could not epexpected that this leadership which just became independent and worked toward making its political structure independent, to use Turkism as a tool for exercising superiority and repression instead of a political and cultural guide. In other words it could not be expected that this leadership would evaluate the situation as if Turkism had not experienced the Soviet Union and view world balances from an unrealistic angle. In terms of his ideals, Ebulfeyz Elçibey was a completely contemporary leader. He did not perceive Turkism and panTurkism from a Cold War strategy angle. However, the positive impact of his ideals and personality did not seem to be valid for his political wisdom and administrative skills. (17)

Some of the basic principles of Elçibey’s Turkism were published in 1995 in the daily Cumhuriyet in Azerbaijan:

1. Turkism is the basis of Azerbaijan’s Turkish morality.
2. Turkism and democracy constitute an organic unity.
3. Turkism and Islam are the expressions of the integration of the same spirituality/morality.
4. Turkism and Azerbaijanism are not contradictory but instead constitute a unity both com pletely and dialectically.
5. Turkism is not extreme nationalism but is an expression and confirmation of the national self-assertion in an International context.
6. Turkism is a humanist system against chauvinism, repression and oppression”.(18)

With these expressions a sincere ideal of humanist democracy has been expressed.




by Selim Deringil
European History Quarterly, 1993, pp 165-191
The French Revolution has been called "the first great movement of ideas in Western Christendom to have any real effect on the world of Islam." The Kemalist Republic of Turkey is in many ways the epitome of this ideological transplantation. Here we have a Muslim leader proclaiming in 1923, in the heartland of what was still the remnants of the Ottoman Caliphate, that "Sovereignty belongs unconditionally to the nation." Although the emergence of the Turkish Republic evoked some interest in the heyday of the Cold War, it is now a subject of some obscurity. Turkey only makes the world headlines if it has a military coup (until recently every ten years) or a major earthquake. Yet in several respects the transition from a polyglot empire to a (theoretically) homogeneous nation state represents a useful case study of political transformation - particularly in the present-day context, a fact that did not escape the attention of the writer of a recent editorial in the New Yorker. The received wisdom is that the Turkish Republic was almost some form of immaculate conception, a phoenix rising from the ashes of a decrepit empire which it immediately took extreme pains to disown.
Hitherto the emphasis of Turkish histiography has been on the immediate harbingers of the Kemalist movement, i.e. figures such as Yusuf Akcura and Ziya Gokalp. The aim of this article will be to attempt to take one step further back and demonstrate the intellectual linkages between the Kemalist cadres of the early republic and their Ottoman past. These linkages will be approached on two levels; that of the political actors themselves and that of an examination of their ideology and policies. Although the position taken by this writer is one which has a methodological affinity to the "revisionist school," I nevertheless feel that recently there has been a shade too much of "revision for revision's sake." This in turn breeds a new sort of provincialism, the antidote for which is to shy away from Turkish history as "area study" and focus on a comparative perspective, thus aiming at contributing to the universality of historical debate.
Ottomanism to Turkism. Late-Ottoman and Early Turkish Historiography
In his study of the ethnic roots of nation states Anthony Smith contends that the road to the nation state could take two variants: the "state-to-nation" model or that of "nation-to-state." The Ottoman Empire started its unwitting voyage towards the nation state on the basis of the "state-to-nation" model, but after its demise the successor states continued their journey through history on the basis of the "state-to-nation" concept. This view, however, could be seen as a prime case of tunnel vision. Did the Ottoman Empire set out to create a nation state? Would this not have been suicidal for a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual empire? Yet, this proposition acquires perspective when one considers the actual policies that the ruling elite tried to implement. Ever since the virtual attempted reconstruction of the state early in the ninteenth century during the reign (1808-38) of Mahmud II, through the times of great reforming bureaucrats like Resid Pasa, Ali Pasa and Midhad Pasa (also called the Tanzimat, or 'reordering'), and even into the reign (1876-1909) of the so-called despot Abdulhamid II, the leading concern of the Ottoman had been 'the saving of the State'. The concept of 'society', much less 'civil society', did not really come into their frame of reference. The thread linking Mahmud II with Kemal Ataturk is precisely this obsession with the state. Just as pluralism would have been anathema to Mahmud, so it was for Kemal.
Yet this is not to imply that the empire was static, or that it was the stagnant 'oriental despotism' which was once so fashionable a view. The pre-history of Turkish nationalism can be seen in the process of the spread of education down to more modest strata as the state's need for qualified personnel increased. In both the civilian and the military spheres an increasingly more vocal stratum of 'state intellecual' developed. Even though the state power attempted to curtail this group's access to such potentially subversive literature as that of the writers of the Enlightenment, this proved to be impossible and with every day that passed more young minds became fired by Voltair and Rousseau. This process continued even during the reign of the 'Islamic' Abdulhamid II who was famed for his strict censorship. The whole generation of leaders who would control Turkey's fate in the early years of the republic were the products of the educational establishment which had been greatly expanded during Abdulhamid's reign. As Ilber Ortayli has put it, "The Empire bestowed on the young Republic such traditions and institutions as a parliament, parliamentarians, political parties and the press. The Republic's doctors, scientists, lawyers, historians and philogists all emerged from among the intellectual cadres of the Ottoman Empire."
Well before the term "Turkish nationalism" became a household word in the days of the republic, Ototman statesmen-historians had prepared the ideological ground. As stated in a work specifically concerned with the historian as the ideologue of nation building: "Historians as craftsmen in the task of nation building have had much success. One suspects, however, that their success has more often been that of men who followed the prevailing political climate rather than as pioneers."
In the era of the Tanzimat and in the subsequent Hamidian period, leading statesmne had begun to think in terms of Turkism even if they couched their discourse in Ottomanist language. A good example of the species of "intellectual bureaucrat" is Ahmed Vefik Pasa (1823-91), a high-ranking official who has gone down in the annals of Turkish history as the Governor of Bursa who translated Moliere into Turkish - and made it obligatory that the population go to the theatre to 'enjoy' his work. He was also known for his historiographical work and particularly for stressing the need to view Turkish history separately from Ottoman history, a theme which would be taken up in the early years of the republic. As Halil Berktay puts it: "The process whereby the Empire was transformed into a Republic and the Imperial subject population into a Nation is exactly reflected in [Ottoman/Republican] historiography." Another example of the same process is seen in Mustafa Celaleddin Pasa (1828-75), whose famous work 'Les Turces Anciens et Modernes', published in 1869, argued that Turkish was a main root language which had influenced ancient Greek and Latin. In article 18 of the first Ottoman constitution of 1876, Turkish was declared to be the official language of state.
The transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic is symbolized by the work of two leading thinkers, Yusuf Akcura and Ziya Gokalp. Already in 1904 Yusuf Akcura (1876-1935) declared in his article 'Uc Tarzi Siyaset' (Three Styles of Politics) that the Turkish nation should be defined according to 'ethnic elements'. After the Young Turk revolution of 1908, he was active in the founding of publications such as the 'Turk Yurdu' (Turkish Fatherland) and the 'Halka Dogru' (Towards the People). Akcura was also a major contributor to the maximalist 'National History Thesis' as it evolved after 1931, which argued that practically the whole of European civilization had Turkic roots.
The giant of Turkish histiography is Fuat Koprulu. Although he reached the apogee of his career at the height of the nationalist wave in Turkish historiography, Koprulu was able to keep his distance from the vulgar variats of the line that argued for the direct continuity of Turkish domination in Anatolia since the Hittites.
Kemalist Nationalism in Comparative Perspective
Although it is far beyond the scope of this paper to attempt a detailed comparative study of nationalism (its aim being rather to point to certain specific themes in Turkish nationalism), it is useful to recognize where Kemalism fits in relation to some of its contemporaries.
First, clearly, Kemalism is a middle-class phenomenon, and its leaders were almost all drawn from the stratum of a Muslim bourgeoisie that was emerging from the late nineteenth century onwards. In this sense Kemalist nationalists fit rather neatly into Hobsbawm's telling category of 'classes that stood or fell' according to the fate of the regime they wanted to create. Yet there was nothing democratic about the Ankara regime, and it was in many respects as 'statist' and undemocratic as its Ottoman predecessor. In this regard it has much in common with contemporary movements and regimes such as those of the Kuomintang in China; Sun Yat-sen led a movement very similar to the Kemalist one in the sense that 'It was confined to the socially mobilized but unassimilated intelligentsia and the small middle classes...'. Also, as in China, Kemalism was only able to mobilize mass support in the immediate shadow of a foreign invasion; the Japanese were the Greeks of China.
In its middle class origins Kemalism also resembles the Indian Congress. Like the early Kemalist cadres, the Muslim contingent within the Congress was always strong, and its membership came mostly from the educated Indian Muslim and Hindi middle classes who had grown disillusioned with the British Raj. Indeed, the Kemalists were a very real source of inspiration for Indian nationalists - and not just Muslims - until the Kemalist abolition of the Caliphate.
Arab nationalism as it developed in the early twentieth century was largely reactive to centuries of 'degeneration' under Turkish rule, and focused on the times of glory in the pre-Ottoman Arab past. Only very recently has a more objective evaluation of the Ottoman centuries arrived on the agenda. The actual leaders of the post-Ottoman Arab nationalist independence movements against the mandate powers were, like the Kemalists, members of the Ottoman administrative middle and upper classes. Many of the Arab leaders were in fact graduates of the same schools, for example the Ottoman War College (Mekteb-i Harbiye), or the School of Civil Administration (Mekteb-i Mulkiye).
Yet, if one had to identify a case of extreme similarity to the Turkish nationalist experience in the manner of a society's handling of its past, it would be that of Greece. It is ironic that two peoples casting themselves in the role of historic rivals should have such parallel approaches to their national histiography. According to Richard Clogg, "In no country in the Balkans does the incubus of the past weigh so heavily as in Greece." Turkey would bid fair to equal this. The nationalist elites in both Greece and Turkey were small. They both started out by rejecting their Byzantine and Ottoman pasts and harkened back to a 'purer' national identity linked respectively with Attic Greece and the Central Asian steppe. In both centuries the emphasis on 'politically correct' history, or what Romilly Jenkins has eloquently called 'ethnic truth', has laid a heavy and not altogether salubrious hand on modern historical studies and teaching. The Adamantios Koraes Chair at the University of London was created soon after the First World War in order 'to engage in sophisticated academic propaganda on behalf of Greece and her national aspirations.' The current efforts at establishing 'Kemal Ataturk' Chairs, endowed by the Turkish government in prestigious universities such as Cambridge, Princeton, Columbia, etc, is in much the same spirit.
Namik Kemal and Ziya Gokalp
These two thinkers are the direct parents of Turkish nationalism. Namik Kemal (1840-88) represents a more 'Ottomanist' perspective and straddles the space between Pan-Islamism and Turkish nationalism. Ziya Gokalp (1876-1935) is much more directly linked with the credos of Turkish nationalism, and his corporatist approach has recently been the subject of an excellent study. Although considerable attention has been drawn to the connection of Gokalp's thought with the Kemalist movement, much less critical scholarship has been focused on the influence of Namik Kemal on the leaders of the Turkish republicans. This short study will attempt to remedy that somewhat by tracing the 'shadow of Namik Kemal' in the utterances and policies of the early republican cadres. The main Turkish sources used in this enterprise will be the Secret Minutes of the First National Assembly (GNA) in the sessions 1920-4, and Ataturk's famous Nutuk, his marathon thirty-six hour speech vindicating his policies. In many ways this 'shadow of Namik Kemal' is also the shadow of the Ottoman past, and by reading between the lines in the above sources one can derive a fair idea of how the republican cadres saw their relationship to the ancient regime, and of what this relationship was in reality. This in turn demands that we look carefully at the relationship between the Kemalist nationalist movement and its immediate Ottoman predecessor, the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), the political organ of the Young Turk movement.
The 'Unionist Factor'
Until the appearance of Eric Zurcher's recent work the critical role of the CUP as the bridge between the Ottoman and the Kemalist eras was sadly neglected. This stemmed largely from the fact that Turkish (and, surprisingly, non-Turkish) historians were too prepared to accept at face value the official version of early republican histiography. Also, the view that 'great men make history' is still alive and well in present-day Turkey. The official wisdom is that Mustafa Kemal was one of the founders and leaders of the CUP, but that he had been the victim of intrigues on the part of the leading lights of the day such as Enver, Talat and Cemal Pasas. The story goes on to emphasize that the CUP was largely instrumental in getting the Ottoman Empire into a disastrous war, at the end of which Turkey faced dismemberment and ruin. So far the story is partly true. But the schoolboy history of the Republic (from which more 'academic' histories do not differ to any noticeable degree) goes on to state that the Nationalist movement was 'born' in Anatolia purely as the brainchild of Mustafa Kemal and as the result of the labors of the great man and a few close followers. These were the men who galvanized the Turkish masses for a struggle of national survival. We are handed the image of a national resistance which somehow just sprang up in the Anatolian steppe without any previous preparation; the Republic started out tabula rasa and represented a clean break with the Ottoman past. These are a collection of half-truths. Zurcher very convincingly illustrates the organic links between the CUP and the Kemalists. In fact virtually all Kemalists, including Mustafa Kemal himself, were members of the CUP. Nor is this suprising, given how widespread CUP membership was among the younger Ottoman intelligentsia: "The CUP had been the first modern political mass movement in the Ottoman Empire and its widespread organization had been the basis on which Mustafa Kemal built his organization in 1919."
Zurcher also points out that the CUP had long since been making plans to continue the war from Anatolia. In fact such contingency plans had been prepared since 1915 when it was feared that the Allies might well break through the Dardanelles: "This plan was worked out in detail and emergency instructions were sent to a number of officers to start regional defence organizations in different parts of Anatolia in case of occupation." The CUP also organized arms caches and Enver Pasa had deliberately reinforced the Ninth Army in Eastern Anatolia as the potential core of a resistance movement. Indeed, the leading Kemalists, including Mustafa Kemal himself, never denied that they had been members of the CUP inner circle. "There were certainly no clear break between the CUP regime (and the World War) on the one hand and the start of the national resistance movement on the other."
It is also interesting to note that even as late as 1938 the British ambassador to Ankara, Sir Percy Loraine, was to remark on the same continuity: "The Sick Man [of Europe] is dead but he has left behind many lusty children."
The 'Shadow of Namik Kemal' and the Ottoman Image in the First Grand National Assembly
In the following section I shall begin by outlining some of the dominant motifs in Namik Kemal's thought and then go on to trace the various references to the Ottoman past which occur in the speech of the early republican worthies. What is remarkable in these statements is their consistency. In the declarations of the nationalist credo the continuous reference point is the Ottoman past. The dominant theme follows a 'they-were-like-that-but-we-are-like-this' format. But first to Namik Kemal.
In what is still the best work on the subject, Serif Mardin illustrates the attempt made by Namik Kemal to reconcile West and East in his thought: "More philosophically inclined than his colleagues, Namik Kemal concentrated on the discussion of fundamental theoretical issues and thus produced a body of political philosophy which is the only one worthy of that name among the writings of his time" Kemal is best known in Turkey for his reputation as the 'poet of the Fatherland" (Vatan Sairi). Indeed, the concept of the 'fatherland' was to be something of a leitmotif in the discussions of the GNA.
In his opposition to the statesmen of the Tanzimat Namik Kemal advocated a return to the essence of Islamic law, the Seriat. This was nevertheless to be reconciled with French Revolutionary ideology as expressed in Rousseau and Voltaire. Central to Kemal's thinking was the concept of mesveret, or consultation, which he along with other Young Ottoman thinkers was to be a notion corresponding to 'representative government'. But in one way above all others the GNA appears to be Namik Kemal's ideology come to life: "The right of sovereignty belongs to all'. This finds a distinct echo in Mustafa Kemal's oft-repeated declaration that "Sovereignty belongs unconditionally to the nation" (Hakimiyet Bila kaydusart milletindir). Also, the mechanics of power as appreciated by Namik Kemal are in many respects the ideological forefathers of the nationalist parliament. The GNA ascribed legitimacy to itself because it represented that amorphous entity, the nation. Thus it was in one way the incarnation of Namik Kemal's idea of legitimate government consisting of a group of 'specialists' who would be assigned the task of ruling in the name of the 'people' according to the precepts of 'an absolute normative force'. The critical difference, of course, was that for Namik Kemal the absolute normative force was the Seriat, while for the nationalists it would become the secular principles proclaimed in the Law of Fundamental Association (Teskilati Esasiye Kanunu) of 20 January 1921.
On the issue of the republic the nationalists would enthusiastically support Namik Kemal's statement: "What does it mean to state that once the right of the people's sovereignty has been affirmed, it should also be admitted that the people can create a republic? Who can deny this right?" But they would probably delete the remainder of the same quotation: "That a republic would cause our [Turkey's] downfall is a different matter that nobody will deny, and the idea would not occur to anybody in our country...". In fact, Hoca Vehbi Efendi, the Minister for Religion (Seriye Vekili) was to sail fairly close to the wind when he declared in the GNA on 1 December: "Gentlemen, Islam does not allow for despotic government. Islamic government is entirely constitutional. But this constitutionality is contingent on its application of the Seriat...".
On 23 April 1920 the nationalist resistance constituted itself as the Grand National Assembly in Ankara. It should be emphasized that this first parliament was by no means a homogeneous body. Zurcher has quite correctly drawn attention to the existance of the so-called 'Second Group', consisting of delegates who were opposed to the personal dictatorship of Mustafa Kemal. The acrimoniousness of the debates even in closed session indicated the existance of very real opposition. Particularly over the issues of the Sultanate and the Caliphate no quarter was asked and none given.
During the session of 8 October 1920, a leading member of the Kemalist inner circle, Tunali Hilmi, member for Bolu, declared that a Caliph who would send troops against other Muslims was not worthy of the title. The title itself, he said, was open to dispute: "Since the time of Caliph Osman this matter has caused no end of bloodshed and suffering...". Hilmi went on the quote Taftazani, an eminent fourteenth-century jurist, as proof that the office of the Caliph after the first four 'Rightly Guided Caliphs' was refuted (merdud). This type of theological-historical debate went on right up to the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924. Tunali Hilmi was, in fact, also echoing Namik Kemal's words when he quoted Taftazani as declaring that when a Caliph's rule is invalidated, "The Imamate is the right of the community."
It is interesting to note that at this stage of the preceedings, Mustafa Kemal does not appear as a radical. In the same session he mentioned that Turkey needed the support of the 'world Muslim community' and went on to affirm that 'our loyalty to the Caliph is beyond question...and our first task is to rescue him...our most trusted supporters in this quarter are our Muslim brethren." Although Mustafa Kemal went on to insist that it was necessary to differentiate between the man and the office, the present holder of which was a 'traitor', he added 'because this nation is so used to obey the Caliph let us keep him in the palm of our hand and have him do our bidding.'
This same pragmatism, bordering on cynicism, is to be noted in a statement made by Mustafa Kemal in the same session in response to a criticism of the Soviet alliance: "The weak are always victims of the strong. Even in matters of friendship and morality this has to be taken into consideration. Humanity, justice, all principles and rules are of secondary importance...power comes first." here the intellectual bows before the Fedai mentality.
On 6 January 1922 the GNA had a momentous event on its agenda. A letter of congratulation had been received from the crown prince Abdulmecid. Mustafa Kemal told the Assembly that Abdulmecid had previously sent him a personal letter. He had been duly corrected and told that he should not write private persons but address himself to the 'representatives of the people'. He was now recognizing the GNA, referring to it as "The Great National Assembly" (Meclis-i Kebir-i Milli) and as 'our Assembly'. When the text of the letter was read out in parliament the delegates burst into spontaneous applause. Ilyas Sami Efendi, deputy for Mus, immediately declared that the crown princes ought to be invited to Ankara, 'to prove that they are true descendants of the House of Osman.' He was immediately contradicted by Besim Atalay, member for Kutahya:
The people of this country have always pinned their hopes of salvation on a change of ruler. In Abdulhamid's time the hope of the people were the crown princes...The common folk are always like this. The nation must look to its salvation not in a change of rule but in its own will and determination.
So far Namik Kemal would approve. But the sequel probably made him turn in his grave. Besim Atalay went on to settle his accounts with the Ottoman dynasty: "None of them [the sultans] gave a thought to the country, even the Conquerer [Mehmet II, the conqueror of Constantinople]. With the exception of Selim III they all saw it as their property (ciftlik)." When reminded from the floor, somewhat incongrously, that he 'should have faith in Allah,' Atalay reiterated: 'Now that they have seen that we are successful they remember us; this is all a ruse.' Osman Bey, member for Lazistan, declared: "I cannot agree with the applause I heard a moment ago. So when we continue to be successful, we will then get a telegram from Mehmed VI [Vahdettin, the reigning Sultan] himself. Will we applaud too?" Seref Bey, (Cavusoglu) member for Edirne, then took up the argument to remid those present that the same person now congratulating them had made a point of visiting British military hospitals. He then went into a very interesting aside on the Ottoman dynasty:
Yes, Gentlemen, this was the very dynasty that produced the Fatihs, the Yavuzes and the Yildirims, and the very same thought that brought the Caliphate to this nation...But let us pause there...if we say that our Assembly is in possession of the national will, if the nation has taken charge of its fate... why, we have been spilling our blood for two years now and only now they remember us! Once again this poor nation is going to be expected to yield up its bread and milk to save them. I apologize, Gentlemen, when my father died I cried, I put him in the ground and I cried, I came home, I ate, I drank, and cried, but I forgot about him and carried on with life.
It is worth noticing at this point that the same loose usage of the term 'nation' that one encounters in Namik Kemal is present here. Kemal would interchangeably use 'unmet' (Islamic community) and 'millet' (nation). In the passage quoted above the sultans brought the Caliphate to the Ottoman 'nation' (when it was in fact and empire), yet the 'nation' was now disenchanted with them.
The session then degenerated somewhat with one Hoca indulging in a dose of 'folk wisdom' by putting forward his view that the crown prince must not be treated too brusquely: "We must neither give the girl away nor drive her suiters into despair" (Ne kizi vermelidir ne geleni kusturmelidir). Another religiously-minded deputy then recalled everybody to their proper stations by reading a lengthy sura from the Quran, and concluded: "Someone has sent us greetings...this is a very straightforward matter. In keeping with the spirit of populism, when one sends greetings to a people's government in a populist mentality (halkcilik zihniyetiyle)...we return their greeting... that is all" Mustafa Kemal intervened at this point to state that an unnecessary amount of fuss was being made over the letter: "Gentlemen, your first reaction applaud the letter. No doubt your constituents would have done the same." Kemal therefore proposed that the letter simply be delivered to the Speaker of the House who would reply to it through the proper channels. It was clear that by this uncharacteristically bureaucratic approach Kemal simply wanted to kill the issue.
This very matter achieved crisis proportions when the Assembly was informed in an emergency session on 1 December 1923 that the sultan, Mehmed Vahidettin, had fled on a British warship. The atmosphere pervading the minutes is one of near-panic. Interestingly, the first thought of the deputies was to save the Sacred Relics of the Prophet Muhammed, lest they fall into British hands or leave with the sultan. In his first telegram to Refet Pasa, the Kemalist representative in Istanbul, Mustafa Kemal instructed that the British must at all costs be kept away from the relics. The British, he insisted, "must be forced to use arms and spill blood before they remove the relics."
Mustafa Kemal went on to say that the appointment of another caliph must be undertaken forthwith, but it was important that the successor be installed with minimum pomp. Thus began the question which became known as the 'Caliphate Question' after the Kemalists abolished the office in 1924.
The Abolition of the Sultanate and Caliphate
The official line of the Kemalist nationalists since the beginning of their struggle had been that they were fighting to free the Sultanate and Caliphate from captivity at the hands of the Christian invaders. It is interesting that in this issue too they approached the position taken by Namik Kemal who proclaimed that the Sultan, as the legitimate wielder of power, was the prisoner of his ministers. Mustafa Kemal referred in his famous speech to the decision taken in the first Assembly which stated specifically that 'to assume that our present exceptional status would be permanent [would seem] to give permanency to an exceptional situation. This would be unacceptable, we will occupy this position until the sacred aims of freedom for the Caliphate, the Sultanate, and the nation are realized."
It was only after the victory over the Greek forces in August-September 1922 had enormously strengthened Kemal's hand that he was ready to make his move. Even then he faced serious opposition over the abolition of the Sultanate. Zurcher has pointed out that not only the opposition but also Kemal's own followers had strong feelings about this issue, which they suspected was a first move twoards the abolition of the Caliphate. When the British invited both the Ankara and the Istanbul governments to the peace conference at Lausanne, Kemal chose his moment and the Sultanate was abolished by the Assembly on 1 November 1922. Indeed, the whole period from the abolition of the Sultanate to the proclamation of the Republic (23 April 1923), extending to the actual abolition of the Caliphate on 3 March 1924, can be seen as a period of preparation during which Kemal was involved in preparing public opinion both within and outside the Assembly. Halil Inalcik has pointed out how the 'Caliphate question' became a symbolic issue in the power struggle between Kemal and his opponents, both of them using religious arguments. As a means of discrediting the House of Osman, Mustafa Kemal embarked on a systematic campaign of vilification. He reminded the people how the Sultan-Caliph had organized the 'armies of the Caliphate' against the national movement and used Greek aircraft to drop fetwas on the nationalist forces, condemning their leaders as rebels.
It is at this point that what I have referred to as 'Ottoman imagery' gained considerably in momentum. At one point Kemal told the GNA:
In the last days of Byzantium when Fatih invited the last Roman Empire to surrender he received the reply, 'God has placed this state in my charge; I will surrender only to him.' The representative of the dynasty which is the inheritor of such a state [as Byzantium] is now asking a nation which is fighting against enslavement to lay down its arms.
Kemal's irony, which he turned on 'Ottoman-style laxity', is at times quite biting. When he referred to the request by Ahmet Pasa, the last Grand Vezier of the Ottoman state, that the nationalists not attack French positions because this was 'having a negative effect on French public opinion', he gave full vent to his sarcasm: "Would Your Excellency not be better advised to ask those invaders of our country whose public opinion is being disturbed, why they are disturbing the public opinion of this country by invading it?"
The situation was made all the more delicate by the fact that even some of the staunchest Kemalists felt a strong loyalty to the Ottoman Sultanate. This is borne out by Kemal's account of a conversation he had had with Rauf Orbay on the issue: "I asked him what he thought about the matters of the Caliphate and the Sultanate. He replied, 'My father grew up on the Sultan's bread and as long as that blood flows in my veins I cannot be ungrateful.' "
When Kemal referred to the congratulatory telegram by Tevfik Pasa after the victories of 1922, he assumed a deprecating attitude: "Of that the struggle had been won they saw no contradiction in maintaining unity. Tevfik Pasa and the likes of him who saw their salvation in grasping at the legs of a decrepit and rotten throne...those Tevfik Pasas typical of Ottoman times."
Historical precedent played a great part in Kemalist arguments in favour of abolition. Kemal told the Assembly that when the Mongol rule Hulagu executed Caliph Muttasim the Caliphate had ended. "I told them that if Yavuz when he conquered Egypt in 1517 had not given so much importance to a simple refugee (multeci), the matter would have ended there and then."
In fact it is interesting to note that a veritable 'negotiation' seems to have taken place between Kemal and Abdulmecid over the conditions over the latter's appointment as Caliph. Abdulmecid was told by the GNA (in fact by Kemal) to disown publicly the actions of Vahdettin. He was not to use the title 'Halife-i Resullulah' (Successor to the Prophet) but would be permitted to retain the title 'Halife-i Muslimin hadim-ul Haremeyn-i Serifeyn' (Caliph of all Muslims and Servant of the Holy Places). He was specifically banned from wearing any 'Fatih-like' turban or to adopt a style of dress too obviously reminiscent of the Ottoman Sultanate at his accession ceremony, which was to be kept a modest affair: "A redingot or stambouline would be appropriate, a military uniform was quite out of the question." The selective use of symbols here is worthy of note. 'Halife-i Resullulah' would have implied direct continuity with the Prophet, something Kemalists had taken specific pains to deny. The wearing of Ottoman garb which would too evocatively recall the glory of a system they were out to discredit would not do either. In fact, Abdulmecid did not comply with all these requirements. He did use the title 'Halife-i Resullulah' and chose not to condemn Vahdettin by name, facts which were held against him when the office was abolished and all members of the dynasty were exiled.
The discussion of the matter in the Secret Minutes shows that although the office of the Caliphate could still evoke loyalty, the Sultanate was quite discredited by its recent past. A member of the GNA, a gentlemen of quite orthodox demeanour, and a Haci by the name of Haci Mustafa Efendi, was to tell Mustafa Kemal: "I told his Excellency the Pasa [Mustafa Kemal] that [the British] were up to something...I actually said they will take the fellow and go. The Pasa told me not to worry...Now it has happened...shall I still not worry?" The familiar use of the term 'fellow' is striking here, all the more so as the word used in Turkish, herif, is in fact quite rude.
Another issue which caused considerable debate was the question of whether or not the Caliph should be made to reside in Ankara. Some members, even the hard-line Kemalist Tunali Hilmi, were in favour of bringing the Caliphate to Ankara. Hilmi maintained that the Caliphate not only had to be rescued 'but had to be seen to be rescued.' Another member, Yusuf Ziya Bey, member for Bitlis, declared that Ankara was the natural seat for the Caliphate, and declared, 'we are not copying the Vatican'. This is all the more interesting because Inalcik has pointed out that 'The Caliph's position in the Islamic community was interpreted in quite an unusual way. I was presented as a purely spiritual dignity as in Christendom. And those who tried to support Kemal in the press actually compared the Caliph to the Pope.'
Between the abolition of the Sultanate and that of the Caliphate about one year was to elapse, a year which held many uncertainties. This was a delicate time, as Vahdettin had never renounced his position as Caliph. It was thought that in British hands he might get up to mischief. That was why the "puppet Caliph" was useful to Kemal until he felt ready to do away with what he increasingly saw as a redundant office. Meanwhile attention was also given to how the affair should be presented to the world Islamic community. In the course of 1923, when Kemal was preparing the ground in Turkey for his coming move, the GNA issued an official statement aimed at the Muslim world community, justifying its actions and attempting to alleviate worry about the future of the Caliphate. The declaration stated that the Caliphate was not being abolished, but was reverting back to its original form.
The whole affair was very deliberately played down and de-emphasized. The declaration stated that this was a simple administrative matter and was not even a theological issue, "N'ayant rein de commun avec la theologie, ce n'est par consequant pas une question theologique promement parler." The document went on to state that the matter was a purely 'political' and 'temporal' affair and that the Prophet had not really stipulated any conditions for the choosing of his successors. "Il ressort de ceci que la question du califat n'est pas, comme on le croit a la base de la religion." The other interesting feature of this document (which runs to some eighty pages) is that it uses Islamic jurisprudence to make its case; very often the arguments put forward are the very same as we read in the Secret Minutes. It specifically repeats the arguments that Tunali Hilmi had put forward using Taftazani, in his assertion that the Caliphate should really be determined by the people. Hanefi fikh is called to witness and there are repeated references to the famous Hanefite alims including Abu Hanifa himself who is cited as never having legitimated the rule of the Ommayad and Abbasid Caliphs. The Ottoman Sultans were only given this title 'par suite d'une simple habitude.' Another notable feature is the relative brevity of the section dealing with the Ottoman Caliphate. It is simply accepted that the Ottomans inherited a system that was already illegitimate. This again bears a remarkable similarity to the statements made by Mustafa Kemal on the status of the Abbasid Caliph as a 'refugee', etc. The very examples used are the same, Hulagu and Muttasim being mentioned in one breath. The famous legal expert and historian, Dawwani, is also cited as an authority for the case that the Caliphate was illegitimate. The sublime irony of all of this was the fact that the Hanefite fikh had been used for centuries as the official credo of the Ottoman Caliphate, proving the legitimacy of the Turkish rule over Islam even before the coming of the Ottomans. The GNA denied that it was abolishing the Caliphate and creating a 'sort of Pope'. Islam did not allow for any religious interpretation as Christianity did. The Caliphate was a purely temporal authority, 'comme un President de Republique'. These declarations lead one to suspect that the mystique of the office was being deliberately played down in preparation for its abolition.
In effect, the position of the last Caliph, Abdulmecid, became more and more difficult. Inonu writes in his memoirs that in February 1924 the office of the Caliphate complained that it was not being given enough money. Inonu duly forwarded the information to Kemal who was in Izmir. The answer was a veritable tirade:
The point is not to return to the empty shows of grandeur of the past...what is it that the Caliph wants? I do not understand the reference to 'the treasury of the Caliphate.' The Caliphate has no treasury and cannot have a treasury...If he has some means at his disposal that he has inherited, these must be officially and clearly declared to the government. It is rumored that the royal household is selling valuables...this should be looked into... While the French, a hundred-something years after their revolution, still do not allow their kings to return to France, we cannot sacrifice the Republic's interest simply to be polite to someone who prays every day that the Sultanate shall rise once more.
Abdulmecid must have seen the writing on the wall.
Some Concluding Comments
It is important to stress that the somewhat 'rough and ready' abolition of the Sultanate and Caliphate was not the work of just one man, Mustafa Kemal; at the risk of stating the obvious, it must be pointed out that it was the result of a long historical process. In tracing the Ottoman origins of Kemalist nationalism, it is nevertheless very difficult not to fall into the teleological trap of 'the inevitability of the nation state'. Yet Mustafa Kemal was no accident of history, and it is accordingly necessary to account historically both for him and for the movement he led. It is with this aim that I have chosen to stress their ideological linkages with Namik Kemal and the Young Ottomans - rather than, say, with Ziya Gokalp, who was, after all, a contemporary.
Consciously and even, perhaps, unconsciously, the generation which took Turkey into the twentieth century cut its ideological teeth on a certain corpus of intellectual raw material. Serif Mardin, in his recent work on the Islamist activist and thinker, Said Nursi, points out that even in thh remote eastern Anatolian town of Van in the 1890s, an inquisitive mind could have access to publications on a wide range of subjects: "In the 1890s Said could have studied through books and brochures (or textbooks meant for the higher schools): logarithms...the telephone...cosmography...industrial chemistry...geometry...the formation of the universe...zootechnology."
Edward Shills has very elegantly drawn attention to the importance of 'tacit knowledge', to the importance of the 'unconscious', the intimate relationship between the 'articulated' and the 'unarticulated'. As Shils notes in this connection:
The mind of the recipient is formed by his reception of both the articulated and the unarticulated. The presentation of the formed and reasoned gives shape to the intellectual possession of the unformed recipient; it arouses and shapes his own unshaped power of reason; he is then placed in a position to acquire the unformed and unarticulated.
If a Hoca in the GNA can talk about accepting the greetings of the Caliph-to-be because these were offered 'to a populist government in a populist [Halkci] mentality', this filtering through of 'narodnik-style' populism has to be explained. If a member of the same assembly, a founding father of the Republic, Tunali Hilmi, whose name currently graces one of the major boulevards of Ankara, that also has to be explained. The interpretation of two worlds, Western and Eastern, since the late eighteenth century, and, since the Tanzimat reforms, secular and religious, had produced a society where the religious could express itself in secular terms, just as the secular could use religious motifs. Namik Kemal was in many ways the personification of this cross-civilizational synthesis.
Serif Mardin, in a recent article, points out that one of the essential contributions of Namik Kemal to the 'style' of Ototman statecraft was his legitimization of 'passion' in politics as a result of his coming under the influence of European Romanticism: "The Ottoman statesman-intellectual tries to solve problems not through passion but through intelligence. Yet, in Namik Kemal we see a passion 'to be useful to the state.' " This political style is clearly discernable in the political style of the nationalists, and particularly in that of Mustafa Kemal himself. The element of passion which was largely the legacy of Mustafa Kemal himself. The element of passion which was largely the legacy of European Romanticism came down through the influence of figures such as Namik Kemal. In many ways Mustafa Kemal set himself up as the romantic hero who galvanizes the population into an act of national resistance. The passion 'to be useful to the state' is still one of the characteristics of the Turkish intelligentsia.
What is now needed is a study of the way in which Young Ottoman and Young Turk concepts such as 'freedom', 'fatherland', etc. were transposed into the republican era. To name just two examples, we could focus on the following. The whole concept of 'buying Turkish' was transposed in toto from the turn-of-the-century Young Turk boycott strategy to a symbol of national solidarity still in use through the 10950's and 10960's, the 'Turkish Goods Week' (Yerli Mallari Haftasi). Similarly, Mardin comments that in the second half of the nineteenth century we witness the birth of the whole 'idea of youth as the guardian of Turkey's fate', and the transferring onto the shoulders of the young the responsibility traditionally borne by the 'greybeards'. Kemal Ataturk's famous 'Declaration to the Youth' (Gencligi Hitabe), in which he entrusted the state to future generations, has been taken literally by Turkish youth, for some at the cost of their lives.
The Young Ottomans set a trend, a trend of couching secular aims (even unconsciously) in religious terminology in order to ensure their legitimacy. In this sense, they were no different from their opponents, the reforming bureaucracy. This tendency was even continued under Abdulhamid II, despite the much more self-consciously Islamic nature of his official policy. In the proceedings of the first republican parliament, we see the final form assumed by the official line carrying on the struggle in the name of the Caliph who was being held prisoner. The debate over the separation of Sultanate and Caliphate, and the abolition of the latter, is also enlightening in this regard. The story appears to come full circle with the judicial hair-splitting over whether the Caliph should be appointed, whether he should be brought to Ankara or stay in Istanbul, and above all what his relationship was to be with the GNA, which saw itself as the personification of the will of the people.
In some ways Namik Kemal and Mustafa Kemal appear as the result of the same synthesis. Both ultimately sought 'to be useful to the state.' Namik Kemal saw the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen as the 'dawning of truth.' The whole obsession with 'Progress' came down to the Republic via the bridge of hte Committee of Union and Progress. Namik Kemal's belief in the 'innate ability of man to progress' was very much a theme of republican ideology. Similarly, the need to look for talent in Anatolia, the Turkish heartland, is part of this legacy.
Where Namik Kemal entangled himself in contradictions was in his idea that the force which had regulated the first stages of association (of man in communities) was the same as that which had been obtained in the second stage, i.e. after government came into being. In the second stage this force was the Seriat.
It could be posited that the Republicans became involved in teh same contradiction. The force which regulated 'the first stage of association', i.e. the establishment of the secular republic, had been the GNA. Now, however, this 'absolute normative force' became transmogrified into not Seriat but the 'six arrows of Kemalism.' The Kemalist 'specialists' felt that they had the legitimate monopoly on all power in their newly defined state. Ankara therefore took only half of Namik Kemal's offering. The Islamic part was clearly left out. In his Nutuk, Mustafa Kemal made the point very clear: "The term 'the rulings of the Seriat' means nothing more beyond 'the rule of law', and cannot mean anything else....No other interpretation is possible in the context of modern law."
The conflation of the terms Seriat and secular law (kanun) in this instance is highly significant. The same Enlightenment ideology guided both men, but one was actually harkening back to a purer form of rule while the other saw it as a secular blueprint of the future, a legitimizing mechanism for a previously determined course of action.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home