Ekim 28, 2022
şuradan Gayrneşriyatı
2,444 görüntüleme

The 1920s and 1930s were tumultuous times in the vast lands of Asia Minor that were once part of the Ottoman Empire. As the Great War receded, an exhausted region now faced with rampant destruction, mass displacement, and widespread famine. Amidst these turbulent circumstances, the victorious allies—led by Britain and France—rewrote the rules of the game. These new rules for post-war Europe relegated non-Christian peoples as second-class citizens subjected to mandatory assimilation policies; Turkey’s Armenians and Greeks suffered the consequences most acutely. Consequently, between 1922 and 1923 there was an organized resistance movement by Turks known as Kuvay-i Milliye (National Forces) that eventually led to independence from British occupation in 1922. Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the resistance movement against the British occupation led to the founding of the Republic of Turkey. Atatürk is regarded as the founder of the modern Turkish state, and his political philosophy is known as Kemalism.

The First World War separated Europe from Turkey. This observation is obvious, as the commemoration of its centenary brings together the nations of Western Europe in the memory of a historical disaster that has engendered other, ultimately unifying, trials. Turkey, for its part, sacrifices itself to a parallel narrative: that of the gestation of the modern Turkish nation from a defeated Ottoman Empire. Throughout the 20th century, the history-making process produced a positive and inclusive narrative, overcoming the nightmare of the end of the Empire, sorting out and putting in order the events since the foundation of the Republic. But cracks are now appearing here and there, and debates are opening up about a past that many have yet to discover. A questioning is thus outlined on a persistent and founding historical motif of the contemporary Turkish collective conscience: the Treaty of Sèvres, whose leonine clauses were imposed on the Empire by the victorious countries in 1920. A phantom treaty, replaced in 1923 by the Treaty of Lausanne, but which remains the starting point of a reflexive fear among the Turks: the haunting of betrayal and loss, commonly referred to as the “Sèvres syndrome”. The endless variations of Turkish political discourse around the Sèvres motif now seem notably anachronistic, increasingly out of step with the real balance of power, both regionally and in Turkey itself. The initial trauma, which has never been overcome, and the memory of which has been cultivated by successive political generations, perpetuates a security obsession in Turkey. The survival of the syndrome and its tactical instrumentalization by certain actors in the system of power are ultimately indicative of the impediments of Turkish democracy, long confined to a paranoid inter-self. As in any paranoid process, the recurrent designation of new enemies can produce real enemies. A critical current carried by academics generally working outside Turkey is now analyzing these collective obsessions and challenging the systematic interpretation of any political reality through the prism of the Sevres catastrophe.

Kemalism is a unique blend of social, cultural, and political modernization, informed by the experience of the Ottomans and the challenges of creating a Turkish nation-state out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. Atatürk and his associates understood that the liberation of Turkey was not only the removal of a military occupation but also the liberation of the Turkish mind from the backwardness, ignorance, and superstition that had kept the Ottoman Empire in a state of stagnation for centuries. Atatürk’s primary challenge was to fashion a Turkish identity that was both inclusive of the various ethnic groups within Turkey (including Kurds) and different from the old Ottoman Empire. In a sense, the Kemalist revolution had two complementary goals: the eradication of the old Ottoman world and the creation of a new Turkish society. The Kemalists wanted to build a new Turkish identity based on “Western” values. They challenged traditional Islamic beliefs and practices, imposed restrictions on religious expression, promoted Turkish as the primary language of instruction in schools, and prohibited the wearing of headscarves by women in public places. As a result, the Kemalist Turkish identity was built upon an incomplete foundation. The new Republic of Turkey had no identity because its leaders refused to accept the multi-religious nature of the country. The new Turkish identity created by the Kemalists was monocultural, mono-religious, and mono-linguistic. The Kemalist approach towards cultural identity emphasized Turkish ethnicity while disregarding the other ethnic and religious groups living in Turkey. By pursuing this monocultural policy, the Kemalists not only imposed their cultural values and traditions on other groups within Turkey but also alienated them. As a result, the Turks were alienated from their own culture, and they could not accept others’ cultures. This cultural estrangement created an identity crisis that led to the rise of ultra-nationalism. As the country was trying to cope with the economic and political challenges of post-war reconstruction, the Turks found themselves trapped in their own cultural cocoon. They did not want to be part of the rest of the world nor did the world want them. As Turkey closed its doors to the outside world, the rest of the world closed its doors to Turkey. As Turkey did not have strong economic or political foundations, it found itself in the company of third-rate countries. As Turkey did not have an open-door policy, the rest of the world did not find Turkey an attractive place to be. The Turkish leadership chose to ignore the outside world, and the outside world chose to ignore Turkey. The only way to end this cultural and political isolation was to make a clean break with the Kemalist past. The only way to end the cultural and political estrangement was to accept the multi-cultural and multi-religious nature of Turkey. They chose to accept their mono-cultural, mono-religious, and mono-linguistic identity. To make this cultural transformation, the Turkish leadership relied on the Kemalist education system that taught Turks to be intolerant of others, to be ignorant of other cultures and languages, and to think that they were superior to others. Thus, the Turkish leaders did not know who they were. Neither did they know who the Turks were nor did they know who they wanted to be. It is this cultural and political void, this identity crisis, that has defined Turkish politics for the past nine decades.

On the ruins of the defeated Ottoman Empire, Atatürk founded a republican and secular state. His portrait still hangs everywhere, even though the country is governed by an Islamist party: the figure of Atatürk goes far beyond that of a simple head of state. Atatürk’s ideology created a nation without an identity. People in Turkey don’t know who they are. They don’t know what they stand for. They don’t know what their future is. They don’t know what the goals of the country are. In short, the Turkish people don’t know what their own country is about. – Division in society: Atatürk’s policies have created divisions in society. Turks don’t trust each other. While the government is busy promoting anti-Islamic policies, Turks don’t know how to defend themselves. – Lack of trust in institutions: Atatürk’s policies have eroded trust in government institutions. Turks don’t trust their government or their president. They don’t trust their parliament. They don’t trust their judicial system. They don’t trust their media outlets. They don’t even trust their universities.

Kaynak: Gayrnesriyat.substack.com