boras 15 Jul 2007 The Turkish state is one of the many problems caused by Wilson's 14 points in World War I. Essentially, in post World War I Europe, the victors were looking for an excuse to break up the multi-ethnic AustrioHungarian empire. To this end, they made a big deal of the idea of "ethnic self determination" whcih translates to each ethnic group having its own state. The Ottoman Empire was not split up so, but rather divied up by the victors. The modern Turkish republic was founded by a young fascist general named Mustafa Kemal (known generally as Attaturk). He selected the borders of modern Turkey based on defensibility. However, to justify these borders, he hit upon the idea of declaring that the new republic would really be the homeland of ethnic turks. This is kind of laughable in that so many different ethnic groups with a wide variety of ancestry call themselves Turks. The original Turks, a nomadic tribe in the Asian steppe are long lost to history; they were given financial support by the Chinese to attack the Mongols, which they used to conquer lots of land. Every group they conquered became known as Turks. But Attaturk wanted to make the Turkish state look legitimate, so everyone who lived within the borders was declared to be a Turk. A history was manufactured to "prove" this "fact", and all sorts of propaganda and threats were advanced to make this a cultural reality.* Anyone who questioned this mythology was challenging the legitimacy of the government and was, in effect, committing treason. That is why the state really goes after these revisionists.** * I attended first and second grade (1976-1978) in a state school in Ankara, and I recall a significant portion of the curriculum was concerned with inculcating the propaganda into us. ** As a big fan of Murray Rothbard, I think revisionists are just great. Often (though not always) they expose inaccuracies in commonly accepted narratives of history. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- June 30, 2007 Atilla Yayla and The Emperorâs Latest Clothes [Originally published in Turkish Daily News] Next Monday, on July 2, a Turkish professor will be on trial in Ä°zmir. The prosecutor will ask the judges that he should be put in prison for three years for the crime he committed in the same city about six months ago. The alleged felony is not something like theft, robbery or fraud, though. It is about âinsulting AtatÃ¼rk,â Turkey's revered founder, and the accused is Dr. Atilla Yayla, who teaches political science at Ankara's Gazi University and who is also the founder of the Association for Liberal Thinking. But how did Dr. Yayla exactly âinsultâ the father of all Turks? Did he swear at him, or named the Supreme Leader with some inappropriate title that would hurt the sensitivities of the widely AtatÃ¼rkophillic nation? No, not really. What he did was to argue, in an academic speech, that the period of High Kemalism â during which Turkey was under the unchallenged rule of AtatÃ¼rk and his political party, the CHP â was actually not much of a progressive era in Turkish history. In an additional heretical comment, he criticized the abundance of AtatÃ¼rk photos and statues in Turkey and warned that the more we become global the more other nations would ask us, âWhy does the same man appear everywhere?â Interestingly the same question has been on my mind since my secondary school days. I remember that I became even more curious in the mid-80s when I watched a documentary about authoritarian regimes such as the Soviet Union or communist China and the way they created cults of personality in order to manipulate their societies. Those tyrannical regimes are gone, thank God, but you can still see what I mean very vividly if you comparatively observe the national days of liberation held in Ankara and in Pyongyang. Of course the two capitals host very different regimes â the former has a quasi-democracy, the latter has none â but the mass ceremonies organized in their giant stadiums in order to venerate their founding leaders have a striking, and tell-tale, similarity. Actually these might not be appropriate issues to indulge deeply â and safely â in the Turkish media, as the trial of Atilla Yayla teaches us well. Yet let me still proceed cautiously, and at least touch a bit upon his first argument, i.e., that the era of AtatÃ¼rk was a period of regression, not progress. By Their Fruits We Know The reasoning that led Dr. Yayla to that unconventional judgment is derived from his political philosophy. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he is the most prominent advocate of classical liberalism in Turkey: The 50-year-old professor believes that individuals should have the full power to shape their lives and states should have only a very limited control over society. He is a follower of great liberal thinkers such as John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Hayek or Milton Friedman. Therefore Dr. Yayla values political regimes according to the degree that they value freedom. And, for him, the period of High Kemalism (1925-46) accounts to a very illiberal era: Civil society was crushed and the state dominated virtually everything. Even in the pre-Kemalist, i.e., Ottoman times, according to Dr. Yayla, Turkish society had more freedom. Of course Kemalists â the dedicated followers of Mustafa Kemal â would offer a justification to this unpleasant reality. âYou first need to suppress freedom in order to create a modern society,â they would probably say, âand AtatÃ¼rk's long-term aim was to introduce liberty.â Fair enough. But then they would need to explain why they are still against freedom seven decades after AtatÃ¼rk. (In case you haven't noticed, self-declared Kemalists in contemporary Turkey are the most passionate opponents of free markets, free ideas, free individuals, free Muslims, free Christians, and free intellectuals such as Orhan Pamuk, Elif Åafak, or Atilla Yayla.) âBy their fruits ye shall know them,â once said a wise Nazarene. And for people who have a taste for freedom, not only the roots but also the fruits of Kemalism seem terribly sour. The Supra-Human Savior Dr. Yayla's case is indeed just one of the many examples that can help us understand what Turkey's official ideology is and how it works. Another notable and recent incident was the trial of Ä°pek ÃalÄ±Ålar, whose meticulous book about AtatÃ¼rk's one time wife, Latife HanÄ±m, created controversy and, once again, alarmed public prosecutors. Mrs. ÃalÄ±Ålar was accused of committing a âcrime,â too, and that was simply an anecdote in her book: During the early days of the Republic, she reported, AtatÃ¼rk's presidential palace was surrounded by a hostile gang, and he escaped from the back door while wearing the all-covering black chador of his wife. This was considered as an insult to the Supreme Leader, who, as a supra-human, is not supposed to have fears or experience disgraces like other mortals. The fact that Mrs. ÃalÄ±Ålar referred to the authentic memoirs of Latife HanÄ±m was irrelevant: Such a national hero simply couldn't have escaped in travesty. The way of reasoning that surfaces in this example is breathtaking, isn't it? We are not supposed to explore facts about AtatÃ¼rk to figure out who he really was. No, the logic is rather the reverse. Our elders have already figured out who he was â a supra-human savior â and if there are facts that contradict that official picture, they need to be silenced. Even if the supra-human AtatÃ¼rk didn't exist, Voltaire could have said, he needs to be invented. So, this is the gist of the âState ideologyâ that, according to President Sezer, all Turkish citizens have to side with. Luckily there are free minds among us such as Dr. Yayla who can think outside the box. No matter what our nomenklatura decides to do with him, we will be proud of his courage. He, despite all odds, dared to say that our Emperor has indeed no clothes. Comments (Note: Comments on articles do not necessarily reflect Mustafa Akyol's views. The fact that particular comments remain on the site does not imply any endorsement by Mustafa Akyol of the views expressed therein. Comments that are off-topic or offensive may be summarily deleted. ) Time and again we read these hateful secularophobic articles, but never ever does Mr.Akyol illuminates us with what should have really be done instead of what was done. Ataturk is bad, secularism is bad, female emansipation is bad, voting rights for women is bad. It is all regressive and reactionary. We should go instead the way of such great liberals as "free Muslims" like Khomeini and his likes. What a great country would it have been with all the women parading in hijabs, with no liquor stores and other by-products of this evil, inhuman secularism, imposed on freedom loving people by these despicable secular "bureaucrats". Long live freedom. Down with Kemalism and oppression of masses.