On the Centennial Anniversary of the Turkish Republic: Notes on the History and Historiography of the RepublicCezmi Eraslan
This study aims to evaluate the academic level reached by pointing out the factors that are effective in understanding and writing the Turkish Republic and its history. In this article, we will try to outline the historicalpolitical-cultural developments and the evaluations of historians from the establishment of the republic to the 21st century. Reform issues discussed in the last century of the Empire were implemented with radical practices during the Republic period. The Republic is defined as the most perfected and mature state of the Ottoman Empire’s three-century-long reform, innovation, and modernization efforts. The Republic of Turkey has managed to peacefully transition from single-party rule to multi-party political life in its century-long life. Evaluations regarding the transition process from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic have changed accordingly.
Türkiye Cumhuriyeti’nin Yüzüncü Yılında: Cumhuriyet Tarihi ve Cumhuriyet Tarihçiliği Üzerine NotlarCezmi Eraslan
Bu çalışma Cumhuriyetin ve tarihinin anlaşılması ve yazılmasında etkili olan unsurlara işaretle gelinen akademik seviyeyi değerlendirmeyi hedeflemektedir. Makalede cumhuriyetin kurulmasından yirmi birinci yüzyıla kadar olan tarihi-siyasi-kültürel gelişmeleri ve tarihçiliğin bu konudaki değerlendirmelerini ana hatları ile vermeye çalışacağız. Son yüzyılda tartışılan yenilik konuları Cumhuriyet döneminde radikal uygulamalarla hayata geçirilmişti. Cumhuriyet, Osmanlı Devleti’nin üç asır süren reform, yenileşme, çağdaşlaşma çabalarının en tekemmül etmiş, olgun hali olarak tanımlanmaktadır. Türkiye Cumhuriyeti bir asırlık hayatında tek parti idaresinden çok partili siyasi hayata barış içinde geçmeyi başarmıştır. Osmanlı İmparatorluğundan Cumhuriyete geçiş sürecine yönelik değerlendirmeler de buna paralel olarak değişim göstermiştir.
It is a common acceptance of native and foreign historians that the reforms which were applicable in the first fifteen years of the Republic that was founded in the first quarter of the 20th century, nationalized the state and put on the way of modernizing the society.
We can say that the discomfort caused by the aforementioned revolutions in the conservative part of society manifested itself when it had the opportunity starting from 1925. The conservatives have demonstrated their will and power by changing the government party in the first free election of the multiparty era supporting the parties declaring their loyalty to the traditional values.
The republic declared by Mustafa Kemal Pasha with the help of a staged government crisis exposed a great reaction rooted in the platonic loyalty of a closed entourage and press toward the sultan-caliph. The establishment of the first opposition party and the subsequent emergence of an uprising that disguised its ethnic overtures behind religious demands supported the idea of the need for radical change in Turkey. In order not to return to the old system rapid and radical changing efforts were evaluated as necessary. Emerging the need for radical changings bothered traditional society. In order to explain the necessity of changings, the government benefited from the Turkish Hearths (Türk Ocakları) first and later on the people houses.
The Institutions of History and Language were mobilized to prove the contributions of the Turkish nation towards human beings and its civilization in the 1930s. These institutions were accepted as the main tools for erasing pacifist thoughts of people about being unable to succeed or about need the tutelage of a big state. They taught the people that in order to became stronger and independent working hard and be united will be enough. Coherently, the aims of history books prepared by the Turkish Historical Society demonstrate that one of the first civilizations was created by Turks in Asia and then was carried out to the West by immigration from various ways. Today it is commonly accepted that these institutions and their publications contributed to the emerging modern scientific tradition in Turkey. But all these do not extinguish the fact that the State used the science of language and history to support her policy.
The period after Ataturk’s death is full of samples of radicalized religious and cultural practices under the shadow of the Second World War and proved that the hope that the bureaucratic cadre derived from the Ottoman Empire, could serve the Republic and ideal of national sovereignty was a mistake. The Soviet menace that was imposed after the Second World War, directed Turkey toward the Western alliance, on the other hand, bringing the multi-party system accompanied that was the main aim of Atatürk’s era.
During the 1950-1960 period, while the expectations of the conservative part of society were largely met, issues such as the Law on Crimes Committed Against Ataturk, the use of religion in politics, and the deconstruction of parties were realized together. The visibility of the founding leader Atatürk in the elements symbolizing the state, such as the presence of his picture on coins and government offices, has been made permanent in this period.
At the end of the ten-year multi-party system, the politicians divided the society into two camps that accused each other continuously. Politicians’ failure to solve the separation and conflict of society in terms of religion and ethnicity which is an indirect effect of the problems in foreign policy has been accepted as the reason for the coups. When the discussion such as religious/laic, reactionist/progressivist, and rightist/leftist turned into armed attack the legal basis of the coup was becoming ready.
The years between 1939 and 1980 were called the humanism period. With the idea that humanist thought is the origin of Western civilization, its classics have been translated into Turkish. In this period, in order to be Westernized and modern, Greek and Roman history and Anatolian civilizations were taught rather than Turkish history.
The nationalist approach pioneered by İbrahim Kafesoğlu, the great scholar of Turkish cultural history, became influential in textbooks and universities after 1978. The 1990s provided the opportunity to bring a document-based explanation to history by strengthening the expert staff of the Ottoman Archives. In parallel with the opening of Turkish Republic History departments in universities, one of the most basic materials the documents for objective historiography came into service.
Studies on the history of the Republic were previously devoted to Ataturk and his principles and the national struggle. As time goes by, studies are getting closer to the present day in parallel with more and recent documents being made available to researchers.