Should Turkey Look East?
Since 1095, with the first Crusade, the fate of Turkey has been bound
to its relationship to Europe . This thousand-year-old relationship is
certain to keep its importance in the near future. It was the Crusaders
who first called this land "Turchia," because the people they
fought here called their language "Turkish." This land was known
as "Asia Minor" before and was called "Anatolia" by
the Byzantines. Nine hundred years before the Turkish Republic was founded,
the concept of "Turkey" was developed by the Europeans, without
distinguishing between the ethnicities of the peoples that populated this
particular geographical space.
THE BARBARIAN TURK AGAINST THE INFIDEL FRANK | The Seljuks, who
turkified Anatolia, were known as the "Seljuks of Rum" by the
other Turks. Because they were considered to be the heirs of Rome, the
state founded by the Seljuks in Anatolia was recognized as a "Sultanate
of Rum." This conviction was also evident when Mevlana Celaleddin,
who lived and worked in Konya, was known as "Rumi" (Roman).
To stop the heritage of the Romans passing on into the hands of the barbarian
Asians, Europeans called the new overlords of Anatolia simply "Turks."
Similarly the Turks, who, since the time of the Crusades, regarded the
Europeans as "infidels," named them "Franks." Thus
came into existence the clash between the "Barbarian Turk" and
the "Infidel Frank."
Just as Europeans have greatly contributed to the formation of the Turkish
identity, so the Turks have also been the cause for the search for a common
"European" concept. The British political historian Lord Acton
stated that modern history and European self-awareness emerged as a consequence
of the pressure caused by Ottoman victories. Again, according to historian
Hendrik Willem Van Loon, the discovery of the American continent was a
direct result of European land access to Asia being sealed off by the
Turks. As a result, the Europeans started to search for new routes across
the seas. What the Europeans did was to alienate themselves from the Turkish
lifestyle and culture, which they characterized as "alla turca."
On the other hand, although it did not ?t with their everyday lives and
culture, the Turks have done the opposite, making European culture - which
they called "alla franca"-a part of their lives. They even elevated
it to an elite status. Turkey, as the inheritor of the Romans, has faced
Europe for a thousand years, seeking equality within its ranks, but always
refusing to accept its political supremacy. All the while, doing everything
in their power to curb the control of Europe over Asia, Turks have refused
to let go of their Asian roots.
ISLAMIC IDENTITY AND NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY | These basic characteristics
of the past should be remembered when looking at the contemporary relationship
of Turkey to the European Union. Europeans are aware of this. In fact,
the words of Jacques Delors, a former head of the European Commission,
"You will not be able to become a part of the European Union with
that flag of yours," voiced to Mr. Erdal Inönü while he
was the foreign secretary, were clear indicators of the historical "crescent-cross"
clash. As pointed out by Delors, that ?ag is not only the expression of
the Islamic identity of Turkey, but also, more solidly, the expression
of its "national sovereignty." It is now time, then, to seriously
think about how the "national sovereignty" principle can be
reconciled with the desire to become a part of the European Union.
Among the conditions for accepting Turkey within their ranks, maybe even
before its Islamic identity, Europeans primarily request Turkey to abandon
Atatürk. A typical manifestation of this condition is the extensive
feature on "Atatürk's Long Shadow" in a recent Turkey supplement
in the British Economist magazine. The piece states that the ultimate
step of Atatürkism must be to forget about the concepts of nation
and state developed within Atatürk's revolutionary vision. Similarly,
parallel to the Kurdish secessionist movement, a thesis is being marketed
in Europe, especially in Germany, that, because of its Ottoman past, Turkish
nationalism is unfounded and was forced into existence by Atatürk.
It becomes imperative, therefore, that we evaluate our relations with
Europe from the angle of Atatürk and the concepts of "nation"
and "state." Thus we go back to the questions "Where are
we in the journey to Westernization?" and "Which Atatürk?"
over and over again.
THE STRATEGY STARTED WITH OSMAN GHAZI | To find the correct response
to these questions, let us look at the past once more. The first Turks
in Anatolia, Seljuks and others, had their initial meeting with Europeans
by way of the Crusaders, before they even saw Europe. These Sultanates
chose to keep their close ties with the easygoing Islamic world, rather
than open up to the frightening Crusader world of the West.
Opening to the West was an Ottoman strategy that started with Osman Ghazi.
Ottomans were the first to cross to the European side of the Straits.
With the confidence they had in their own identity, they did not feel
uneasy living side by side with the Europeans, even beyond the Balkans.
This confidence stemmed from the free peasant system of the Ottomans,
as opposed to the feudal serfdom in Europe. Orthodox Slavs, especially,
preferred the lax Ottoman rule to the ruthless knights of the Papacy.
The event that changed the fate of the Ottomans was the discovery of America,
as Europeans searched for a passage to Asia, and the great accumulation
of capital that came from the plunder of newly found continents, paving
the way for technological inventions that eventually resulted in the Industrial
The modern age started with the transformation of agrarian societies in
the West-or more specifically on both sides of the North Atlantic-into
industrial societies. Starting from the 19th century, industrialized societies,
led by Britain, and followed by the United States, France and Germany,
adapted the concept of "civilization," instead of "religion,"
which had been the defining identity of agrarian communities. Without
denying their Christian roots, but feeling themselves superior to those
societies that were similarly Christian but agrarian, they defined their
own identity as "Western civilization." For them the concepts
of "civilization" and "industrialization" were one
and the same. Following the master-slave dialectic, industrialization
caused two opposing ideologies to emerge in the West, or, more specifically,
on the two sides of the North Atlantic: liberalism, which holds the individual
sacred; and socialism, which seeks social justice. While liberalism took
hold in countries like the US and Britain, which had the means to colonize
or make slaves of other people, like the Africans and Asians, in countries
like Germany and Italy, which lacked the same means, socialist thought
and socialist movements gained momentum. In Britain, which lost most of
its colonies after the Second World War, the Labour Party's ascendancy
into power was doubly interesting. In France, too, the relations with
the colonies determined the balance between liberals and socialists. The
balance of power established between capital and labor in the new class
structure after the Industrial Revolution in the West was named "democracy."
THE UNFORGETTABLE DEED OF DEMOCRACY | "Democracy" was
not thought to be a preferred type of government by the great philosophers
Plato and Aristotle in ancient Greece. During the short time it was exercised,
the independent judicial system, one of the basic characteristics of democracy,
had Socrates, the grandfather of free thinking, drink hemlock as its most
unforgettable deed. The only similarity between the ancient Greek democracy,
based on slavery, and modern Western democracy, based on industry, is
to achieve a comfortable life, as the "right of the master,"
based on the blood and sweat of the defenseless.
The concern of the master in ancient Greece to look after and care for
his slaves ended with the abolition of slavery in the industrialized countries
in the 19th century. Workers who made the transition to industrial laborers
gained their individual freedom, but, as a rule of democracy, had to accept
poverty in the face of unemployment.
The Ottomans, who, unlike the Seljuks, were both Asian and European, were
also affected by the transformation taking place on the North Atlantic
rim. Especially when the problem is not taken as a "religious"
matter, but considered as a "civilizational" issue, serving
as a model for everybody, this could even be considered an opportunity
to strive for more harmonious relations with Europe. This was particularly
the case when the emerging Russian challenge after the 18th century became
a more imminent danger than European hostility. Indeed, the effect of
the Russian threat from the north can be clearly found in the "Westernization"
efforts of the Turks, led by the palace and the elite.
"ALLA TURCA-ALLA FRANCA" INSTEAD OF "CAPITAL-LABOR"
| The efforts of the Ottoman Reformers could not be developed into
"industrialization," because neither the palace nor the elite
had accumulated capital and the Ottomans could not make their subjects
work for nothing in return. Westernization efforts could never get beyond
an imitation of European-style dress by the 19th century Istanbul socialites.
As the "capital-labor" opposition had not become an economic
reality, the cultural "alla turca-alla franca" contradiction
appeared as the main social difference.
The Ottomans could not be saved by such a "Europeanization"-or,
more accurately, "alla franca-ization." In the end, the Ottomans
were defeated not by the Russians, whom they were afraid of, but by the
Western Europeans whom they wanted to get closer to in many respects.
Four days after the representatives of the Damat Ferit government signed
the Sèvres treaty in France, on Aug. 10, 1920, Lenin was receiving
the representatives of Mustafa Kemal in Moscow and promising to fight
together with them against Western imperialism. When the Western powers
undertook the mission of removing the Turk from the European continent,
and then of dividing up Anatolia to stop it from becoming an "Eastern
problem," Mustafa Kemal organized resistance through the Defense
of National Rights Movement. He won the "War of Independence"
with the support of the new friends, the Bolsheviks.
The "National Anthem," written by Mehmed Akif at the start of
the War of Independence, was the first document of this new development.
In his monumental poem, Mehmed Akif defied the monstrous materialism of
Western civilization, which had turned into steel machines of destruction,
with the sense of justice, celebrating the spirituality of the Turk who
had refused to give up his independence.
EUROPEAN ART FOR THE ASIAN HERITAGE | Atatürk, in his grand
historical "Speech," says that "with this declaration,
I have tried to express how this great nation, which was condemned to
extinction, gained its independence and how it built a national and modern
state based on the latest principles of science." The concept of
a "national and modern state" was a full synthesis of the "alla
turca-alla franca" conflict of the Ottoman Westernizers.
The most interesting cultural manifestation of this synthesis was Atatürk's
request that the young composer Adnan Saygun should compose an opera called
"Özsoy-Ancestry." Atatürk personally delivered the
subject of this opera to the composer. The musical treatment of the Asiatic
genealogy of Turks in a European art form was an extraordinary model for
the East-West synthesis of Atatürk. The relationship between national
and modern was put succinctly by Atatürk in his "10th Year of
the Republic" speech: "We will raise the level of our national
culture over and above that of modern civilization." It is clear
from this statement that his target in culture was not the "alla
franca" of the Westernizers, but the overall strengthening of the
national culture. After the death of Atatürk, his essentially national
aims were deliberately distorted and reinterpreted to mean that Atatürk's
goal was to reshape Turkey on the Western model.
The cultural trends in Turkey in the near future require a correct evaluation
of this historical fact. What will Atatürk's place be in our future
culture? Because different groups have different interpretations of Atatürk,
this is not a question that can be answered easily. In my opinion, Atatürk
can be defined in three different ways.
THREE DIFFERENT WAYS | The first is the Ottoman officer Mustafa
Kemal. His historical personality was formed while he defended the Ottoman
Empire and fought for Turkish independence. He is the hero of Gallipoli
and Sakarya. Mustafa Kemal's answer to the question, asked in a session
of the First National Assembly, whether the Ankara government resembled
democracy or socialism, clearly signifies his political thinking: "Gentlemen,
our government is not a democratic government, it is not a socialist government.
In reality, on a scientific basis, it does not resemble any of the governments
found in books. However, it is a government that reflects the national
sovereignty, the national will. From a sociological point of view, if
we wanted to define our government, we would have to say that it is a
"People's Government"...It cannot be helped that it does not
resemble democracy, and that it does not resemble socialism. Gentlemen,
we should be proud not to be like others or have others to be like us.
Because, gentlemen, we resemble ourselves..." This explanation is
among the most brilliant manifestations of Mustafa Kemal's political genius.
Mustafa Kemal sensed the futility of talking about democracy or socialism
in a country that had not yet been industrialized. However, industrialization
was not a condition of gaining independence.
The second way of defining Atatürk is as Gazi, the victorious commander
of the war against imperialism, who became the founder of the republic.
Because the founder of the Ottoman Empire was called Osman Gazi, it is
very significant indeed that the founder of the new Turkish state was
also called Gazi. Gazi is a denotation used for those who fight the enemies
of Islam. It implies an anti-imperialist, anti-Western identity. From
this point of view, interpreting the transformations launched by Gazi
as "Westernism" is extremely inaccurate. Indeed, he himself
did not include a "Westernism" principle among the six arrows
of the Republican People's Party that he founded. On the contrary, he
gave special importance to the "nationalism" principle, the
opposite of "Westernism." What Gazi wanted was to catch up with
the modernity of the West without becoming a "Westernist." He
tried to express the modernity of the West, attained by industrialization,
with concepts such as "modern civilization" and "getting
modernized." Was it possible to catch up with the times-that is,
to become an industrialized country without having to become Westernized?
The Soviets who supported the Turkish War of Independence were also looking
for a way to attain industrialization, which would follow a different
path than that of the West. However, unlike Gazi, the majority of the
bureaucrats making up the ranks of the new Turkish Republic were, knowingly
or unknowingly, in favor of continuing the "alla franca" Ottoman
Westernist tradition. With the aid of the unpleasant image projected by
the Soviets, the desire to forget the past and make peace with the West
was gaining popularity. The result of this was the fiasco of the first
attempt at democracy started by the Liberal Party, founded by Fethi Okyar
in 1930. The episode showed Gazi was justified in his concerns. The unsuccessful
attempt at liberalism without the accumulation of capital achieved nothing
but an upsurge of religious fanaticism and made it necessary to re-examine
the socialist model.
The prime minister, Ismet Pasa, visited the Soviet Union in 1932. The
purpose was to get information about planned economy and industrialization
under state control. Ismet Pasa returned from Moscow with positive impressions.
The idea of state-organized industrialization, but without communism,
was considered. Kadro magazine, headed by one of Gazi's protegés,
Yakup Kadri, and given intellectual direction largely by Sevket Süreyya,
was published. The magazine claimed that Kemalism was the "third
way" between capitalism and socialism. Rather than the Westernist
remnants of "alla franca" bureaucracy, the main purpose of the
magazine was to develop the intellectual basis for the new executive cadres
of the republic. This intellectual basis was defined as "social nationalism."
The 10th year of the republic was celebrated with pride in having traversed
the country with iron rails and in having inspired the confidence of the
Turkish people in their future.
In those years, when the young Turkish Republic found its identity and
secured its position, a new development was taking place in the middle
of Europe, which worried Britain and France. In Germany, Hitler came into
power and, along with Mussolini's Italy, created the Axis alliance. Rising
on the Roman heritage, Mussolini, who had Hitler's support, began calling
the Mediterranean "Mare Nostrum," and started to authorize the
passage of English and French vessels. What would happen to the balance
of power in Europe if Pan Turkists came into power in Turkey and joined
the German-Italian axis? With this concern, it is interesting to observe
that Britain and France chose to adopt a policy of closeness with Turkey.
As the Turkish Grand National Assembly awarded Gazi Mustafa Kemal, the
founder of the republic, the last name Atatürk, forever making him
the father of the nation, Britain and France were arranging the delivery
of two huge gifts for Turkey. While Britain packaged the gift of Montreux
to trust the Straits to the control of the Turkish military, France decided
to present Hatay, in order to increase Turkish power in the Eastern Mediterranean.
At around that time, when Mustafa Kemal was given the name Atatürk,
the Gazi title ceased to exist. This marked a turning point in the history
of Turkish political culture. The termination of the use of the Gazi title
was a message of peace to the West.
In this way, the name Atatürk comes to symbolize the third face of
the same person. Rather than being an image cultivated by Gazi Mustafa
Kemal himself, this was an image projected for the most part by the new
government bureaucracy and the party. This image is not one of a warrior
with anti-imperialist ideals, but of a civilized leader at peace with
the West. This image soon became the official policy of the government
and its path was quickly cleared.
TRANSITION TO AN INDUSTRIALIZED SOCIETY AND KADRO MAGAZINE | The
most important barrier for Turkey was the industrialization target of
the state. The West considered being industrialized a privilege and did
not want non-Western peoples to become industrialized. They were to remain
agricultural societies, the producers of raw materials. Led by the 19th
century Ottoman Westernizers, the remnant of "alla franca" bureaucracy,
especially through the insistence of the most "mon cher" foreign
diplomats, radical changes were taken in the basic policies of the state.
The first step was to close Kadro magazine, which had a mission to educate
the pioneering ranks to make the transition toward an industrialized society.
As Kadro was being dismantled, Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu, a prominent
novelist and one of the closest representatives of Atatürk's ideas,
was "exiled" to Tirana, as the ambassador.
After Kadro closed, a new magazine was needed to develop the cultural
policy of the state. Muhtar Enata became the editor of this new magazine,
Yücel-though in name only (the real ideologue was, in fact, the young
Orhan Burian, who was at that time studying English literature in Cambridge
University). The main idea of Yücel was "humanism." Orhan
Burian believed that in order to understand humanity, one had to go to
basic texts, and particularly to absorb ancient Greek and Roman cultures
which were the roots of Western civilization. Consequently, Atatürkism
should be accepted as Westernization.
The shift from the social nationalist Kemalist Kadro to humanist Atatürkist
Yücel was the most radical undercover transformation in the cultural
history of the republic. What was Atatürk's attitude to this transformation,
which was led by the bureaucracy, the foreign service and the party? At
the 1932 opening of the Grand National Assembly, Gazi had stated, "We
will establish, as the main focus of the Turkish Republic, the ascent
of national culture to flourish on every plane." In 1936, however,
at the opening ceremony of the National Assembly, Atatürk was saying,
"The basis of the Turkish Republic is culture." It should be
noted that the "national" idea was not mentioned here.
This approach can be interpreted as a "gesture" toward the Montreux
agreement of 1936, granting Turkey military control rights over the Straits.
Moreover, Britain, the old enemy and then a new friend of Turkey, had
a new king. Edward VIII's visit to Istanbul, where he met with Atatürk
on the Bosphorus, can also be interpreted as another demonstration of
LET'S GO TO THE FOREST | However, nobody can claim that Atatürk
was happy with this peaceful atmosphere. He might have refrained from
offending his new friends by self-imposing a ban on the idea of "nation"
that he had voiced forcefully until 1936, before his health started deteriorating.
It is certain that, at that time, he felt lonely inside the closed circle
that deified him. His words to his adopted daughter, Professor Afet Inan,
are the best indication of this disappointment: "Let's go, Afet,
let's go to a forest. Let's leave everything. A simple house...A room
with a fireplace..."
After Atatürk's death, the modernization that was the equivalent
of industrialization, in Gazi's opinion, was shelved. A peasant-focused
approach took its place. Village Institutes were established to hold the
peasants in check, under the watchful eyes of the representatives of the
regime. After the transition from an Arabic to a Latin alphabet, but before
classical national works of literature were republished using the new
alphabet, translation of the basic works from the West was undertaken
in the name of humanism. Turkey was supplying the world with an interesting
model that was much appreciated by Westerners. Internalizing the cultural
values of the West, but still basically staying an agricultural society!
Consuming industrial goods without producing them!
The executive class, which saw harmonious relations with the West as the
essential condition of politics, made the nation forget Gazi's legacy
and hid behind the Atatürk name, trying to establish an image created
by themselves as the symbol of the official ideology. What was it? According
to them, Atatürk's aim was to lift Turkey up to the level of modern
civilization-to make it Westernized, that is to say. These Atatürk
followers started to label people who dared to talk about the idea of
"national culture" as "fascists." What about industrialization?
Menderes had to remember this banned concept after the riots of 6-7 September
1959 . Poor and jobless immigrants from the rural regions of Anatolia
destroyed many Christian properties in Istanbul, after they heard provocative
reports that Atatürk's house in Thessaloniki had been bombed by Greeks
fighting for the Cyprus cause.
GETTING CLOSER WITH THE WEST AFTER 1945 | Stalin's claims on the
Kars and Ardahan regions in Eastern Turkey, and on military bases in the
Straits, after the end of World War II, brought Turkey closer to the West,
which was also confronted with the threat of communism. The warship Missouri's
visit to Istanbul in 1946 was a clear indication of US military support
for Turkey against the Soviets. In return, Turkey sent troops to Korea
and lent its own support to the US.
The reward for involvement in the Korean War was Turkey's entrance into
NATO, whose closed doors opened under pressure from the US. Meanwhile,
without recognizing that modern democracy is the political solution for
industrialized countries, agricultural Turkey hastily moved on to democracy.
The West wanted to keep Turkey as an agricultural country within its own
alliance. It assisted the transition from the primitive plow to agricultural
machinery. In the Aegean region, especially, a revolution in tractor usage
The mechanization of agriculture resulted in high unemployment. Large-scale
migration to big cities started. The first shanty towns appeared around
Istanbul. Social imbalance and tension sparked riots. These riots, the
first large-scale reaction to democracy, were an open warning to Menderes
and his government. If Turkey stayed an agrarian country, even worse could
Especially after the mechanization of agriculture, industry became even
more important. However, the accumulation of capital to build the necessary
infrastructure was still lacking. In 1959, the Turkish Republic decided
to ask the US for a loan of $300 million to build its infrastructure.
To secure the loan, three government executives-Prime Minister Adnan Menderes,
Minister of Foreign Affairs Fatin Rüstü Zorlu and Minister of
Economics Hasan Polatkan-went to the US. Eisenhower was president at that
time. Turkey's appeal for a loan to spend on industrialization was declined.
Turkey was sentenced to remain an agricultural country, although was expected
to remain within the alliance. America was already taking care of its
needs for defense.
MENDERES' UNREALIZED MOSCOW VISIT | Executives returned from the US
with nothing but advice. However, they had not let go of their dream of
industrialization. When, at the beginning of 1960, Menderes got information
that the Soviets could supply the industrial credit, he announced his
intention to visit Moscow.
Before he could make the trip, however, he was deposed by the May 27 military
coup. The three statesmen (Menderes, Zorlu, Polatkan) who tried to cross
the boundary drawn for Turkey by NATO were executed. For the West, industrialization
was not a natural process of Westernization, and any such effort was an
Süleyman Demirel proved to be the most skilful statesman when it
came to industrialization. When Demirel formed his cabinet, he was able
to get much more in loans than Menderes ever hoped to get from the Soviets.
Although he was made to leave several times, he bounced back several times.
When he came into power, Bülent Ecevit continued the "national
industry" programs that Demirel had started. For the first time in
1975, according to State Statistical Institute data, the industrial sector
overtook the agricultural sector, and the urban population surpassed that
of the rural areas. It can safely be said that Turkey has been an industrialized
nation since 1975.
This movement toward industrialization, started by the government itself,
has grown ever since, now reaching a point where a powerful non-government
private sector has emerged. A former exporter of agricultural goods, Turkey
has now became an importer.
Can we, at this point, consider Turkey Westernized? No, because, from
the 1990s, after the disintegration of the Soviet system, the West left
the industrial age behind and redefined itself as a post-modern society
in the information age. Because heavy industry, which caused heavy pollution,
was seen as damaging, the West started to dismantle its old plants and
transferred them to former agricultural countries. The real reason for
the great industrialization drive of the 1990s was because industrialization
was no longer a source of superiority for the West. If the West determined
what the "Zeitgeist" was going to be, Turkey was again left
behind, even at the moment when it thought it had ?nally caught up, during
Özal's administration. Similarly, those who confused Westernization
with becoming a member of the EU were also mistaken. If Westernization
is a criterion, its condition is not EU membership. The US, which is the
strongest representative of Western civilization, is not a member of the
A THOUSAND-YEAR-OLD FATE | For approximately a thousand years, as
I said earlier, the most important factor determining the fate of Turkey
has been its relation to Europe. Since the Kasr-i Sirin agreement with
Iran, signed in 1639, Turks had minimized their interests in the East.
However, the ascent of Japanese industry, China's presence as a strong
independent nation, the dismantling of the Soviet system and increasing
relations with the Turkic peoples of Central Asia have all now provided
an Eastern alternative for Turkey. The schools that the Fethullah Gülen
group established in the former Soviet empire, and the businessmen working
in relation to these schools, are the most notable pioneering steps in
Turkey's re-embracing of the East.
This important transformation aside, Europe is still one of the most important
factors determining the fate of Turkey. The reason is the political weight
that the young Turkish population of 15 million, looking for free circulation
in Europe, now exerts on politics-hoping to share the same benefits as
the 4 million Turkish migrants now living inside Europe. The reason why
Turkish politicians are forced to be conciliatory in their relation to
Europe is the pressure exerted by these young voters, who are demanding
full membership of the EU so that they can at least keep a leg freely
The expansion strategy adopted by Europe in the 16th century, after the
discovery of America, ended with World War II. The population growth also
halted and the aspiration of Europeans to dominate the world, as in the
19th century, has come to an end. Indeed, Europe today has a tendency
to look and turn inside itself, trying to continue its high level of welfare
without sharing it with anyone else.
Europe has not forgotten the population factor in its dealings with Turkey.
A strong Turkish threat for Europe started around the middle of the 14th
century. This was the period during which the 500-year Balkan dominance
was established. The Hundred Years war between England and France may
be considered one of the foremost political and military reasons why Europeans
could not withstand Turks during that period. Another reason worth mentioning
could be the population factor, emphasized by the historian Charles Issawi.
While the Turks realized great population growth in the 14th century,
more than 25 million people perished in Europe, during the Black Death
between 1346-1353. This meant the loss of almost one-third of the European
In his population research, Ömer Lüt? Barkan notes that in the
16th century, at the peak of their power in Europe, the Ottomans, with
a total population of 20 million, comprised almost a quarter of the total
population of Europe, which stayed just below 100 million. On the other
hand, while the population in Europe reached 400 million in 1900, the
population in the Ottoman Empire had gone down to below 20 million. The
ratio dropped 1 to 10.
If we accept the historical fact that, in the relationship between Turkey
and Europe, the winning side has been the one with increasing population,
it should be clear that Europe, with its non-growing population, will
adopt defensive measures against Turkey, looking for strategies to divide
and sow seeds of animosity among the Turkish population, so that they
can't pose a united threat.
The external provocation behind both ethnic demands and clashes between
religious sects can be evaluated within the framework of this reality.
Keeping this in mind, it is expected that, in the short run, its relations
with Europe will be the source of Turkey's most difficult problems. The
most important repercussions for its cultural life will be the confusion
of values and enlargement of contradictions, as a result of anti-state
and anti-nation movements supported by Europe. Newspapers and televisions
are filled by employees fanning the fires of this chaos.
ASIA FREE FROM THE POLITICAL CONTROL OF AMERICA | In the near future,
relations with America will also play a role in the direction that Turkish
culture takes. Other than the sensitive balance of sharing world resources,
there is no serious conflict between the US and the European Union. England
has already taken on the role of a Trojan Horse inside Europe, siding
with Germany or France when necessary to provide harmony between the parties,
but in reality always managing to achieve compromises that please America.
The real problem for America is in Asia. With the exception of the Middle
East and Japan, Asia is completely free of American control.
In the case of conflict between Turkey and Europe, despite efforts to
soften the strife, America will, in the final analysis, side with Europe.
Because it is no longer possible to prevent the industrialization of Asian
countries, foremost among them China and Russia, America is trying hard
to play the role of information society way ahead of Europe, and is trying
to establish itself as the world's overlord, using the tools of the information
age-such as television, computers, satellites and the Internet. As the
leader of information societies around the world, America is the champion
of a different outlook on life, where economy becomes much more important
than spiritual values. America considers the ascent of "money"
to be the primary value for all the world, and it is in this light that
we should consider what it now refers to as "globalization."
Let us look at the past to understand this situation better. The basic
value in agricultural societies was God, the creator of the universe and
of nature, which is the environment of life. The expression of the bond
between the Creator and the created was the mission of the priests. As
machines took the place of manual labor during the industrialization process,
the organization of factories became the model for economic structure,
and the power of religious classes passed on to political parties. While
the religiousness of agricultural societies believed in laws that governed
the universe, in industrialized societies, instead of God, people were
forced to embrace the universality of the rules of the West to govern
the world. In information societies, the power of the information network,
based on economic and technological power-that is the might of the press
and television-has surpassed that of political parties. Spirituality has
become marginalized in information societies, and money has been accepted
as the fundamental value, mainly by America. Since the end of World War
II, when America emerged as the dominant economic power, two facts have
formed the basis of American declarations of economic supremacy and globalization:
the founding of the World Bank and the IMF; and the dollar replacing gold
as the international financial unit, according to decisions made at Bretton
Woods. After the collapse of the Soviet system, the global model announced
by America has involved the disassociated, socially irresponsible and
consumerist individual. Without any moral obligation, this model has been
forced upon the younger population of the world through the media. The
editor of NPQ magazine, Nathan Gardels, suggests that the global supremacy
of America after the Cold War came about because mass culture has replaced
firepower: "Where once there was containment, now there is entertainment.
MTV has gone where the CIA could never penetrate." What is the place
of the East with respect to the American-led West, which now defines itself
as post-industrialized, post-modern and informational, and whose basic
value is money? From this perspective, Japan is the most striking Westernization
model. Japan's obsession with money as the main value, with its ruthless
plunder of nature in pursuit of money, is a frightening example even for
the peoples of the West. Even scarier for the future is that China, with
the highest economic growth rate, has taken Japan as a model.
NATURE-MONEY CONFLICT INSTEAD OF EAST-WEST CONFLICT | In this instance,
the historical East-West conflict has been replaced by the Nature-Money
conflict. This has resulted in 2 billion non-Western peoples out of a
total of 6 billion, living in unheard-of poverty because of the destruction
of nature, while 1 billion Westerners live in unprecedented abundance.
What is going to save the underpopulated, aged and well-fed Europeans
from the invasion of young and hungry Africans in a population explosion?
One thing only: to make the world habitable for everybody.
The cultural objective that Turkey has to realize initially should be
based on preserving its national integrity and sovereignty against the
threat of division by Europe. Then, in the long run, it should aspire
to a more habitable world, curbing consumption madness and reinstituting
nature instead of money.
As I pointed out earlier, language unity brings today's Turkey together.
The goal of Europe, trying to tear Turkey apart, is to disrupt this unity,
including through pseudo human rights advocates, who have no objection
to the partition of Turkey.
Although there is bound to be some destruction in such a struggle, Turkey
will be able to preserve its language unity and its political integrity.
Because, for those who speak this language, a better lifestyle outside
of Turkey is nothing more than a dream. Moreover, there is a great possibility
that when the African invasion starts, Turkish will suddenly become a
more favored language in relative terms.
All this is directly tied to Turkey's power to preserve nature as a livable
habitat. Hayrettin Karaca, the founder of TEMA Foundation, is an example
to the rest of the world, with his personality and organizational skills.
Turkey, having undertaken the defense of the East against the West in
history, can be a pioneer in the protection of "nature" against
"money" in the times ahead.
In such a struggle, Turkey may find a close ally in the Russian spirit.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the Russian thinker, has clearly and correctly
described in the pages of NPQ the status of the world and the inevitable
road to destruction when spiritual values are lost. Turkish-Russian cooperation-Alexander
Solzhenitsyn and Hayrettin Karaca shaking hands-would be more beneficial
for world peace and tranquillity than a French-German alliance.
Can such a cooperation between Turkey and Russia be realized?
For this to happen, Russia first has to listen to its prophets like Solzhenitsyn
and cure itself of the sickness of worshipng money, contracted during
Yeltsin's reign, and give up the fixation that the Straits are a free-for-all
zone to help them make more money out of oil.
Not only Turkey's fate, but much of the world, rests on the Bosphorus
and Dardanelles Straits, where Asia and Europe come face to face. There
is no serious barrier to Turkish-Russian cooperation other than the Straits,
the scene of dreadful conflict between the East and West in history.
Just as this region provided the equilibrium between East and West, now
it must do so between nature and money. A Turkish-Russian alliance might
be the best way to make that happen.
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