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Kemalist Ideology


Kemalist Ideology

Kemalism, also known as Atatürkism (Turkish: Kemalizm, Atatürkçülük, Atatürkçü düşünce), or the Six Arrows (Turkish: Altı ok), is the founding ideology of Turkey.[1] Kemalism defines sweeping political, social, cultural and religious reforms in which all Turkish citizens are declared equal without reference to religion in creating a secular, national, unitary state from the Ottoman Empire (empire of Faith).[2] Kemalism is emerged in part from within the tradition of Comtean scientific positivism in the Turkish context, it creates the political futures according to human, rather than divine design, so it embodies "secular" and "modern" properties in the fulfillment of many political goals (individual freedom, citizen equality, rational and accountable education and governing structures) of the European modernity in Muslim context.[3] It is the political ideology established by the first president and the founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Template:Infobox Mustafa Kemal Ataturk series


Kemalism is a modernization philosophy which guided the transition between multi-religious, multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire to the secular, unitary Republic of Turkey. Kemalism sets the boundaries of the social process in the Turkish Reformation. Turkish Reformation is the change in ideology from multi-religious, multi-ethnic to secular and nationalistic way (European Way) of life in previously a segment of wide ranging Ottoman subjects.[1]

Atatürk is the founder of Kemalism, but it was implemented as state ideology after his death. The principles were formulated and applied but not defined as an ideology during the life of Atatürk. [4]


There are six fundamental pillars of the ideology: Republicanism (Turkish: cumhuriyetçilik), Populism (Turkish: halkçılık), Nationalism (Turkish: milliyetçilik), Secularism (Turkish: laiklik), Statism (Turkish: devletçilik), Revolutionism (Turkish: devrimcilik). Secularism and reformism principles were accepted and entered into the constitution following the first four. The principles came to be recognized as unchangeable and sacrosanct.


Republicanism (Turkish: cumhuriyetçilik) in the Kemalist framework replaced the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Dynasty with the rule of law, popular sovereignty and civic virtue, including an emphasis on liberty practiced by citizens. Kemalist republicanism defines a type of constitutional republic, in which representatives of the people are elected, and must govern in accordance with existing constitutional law limiting governmental power over citizens. The head of state and other officials are chosen by election rather than inheriting their positions, and their decisions are subject to judicial review. In defending the change from the Ottoman State, Kemalism asserts that all laws of the Republic of Turkey should be inspired by actual needs here on Earth as a basic tenet of national life.[5] Kemalism advocates a republican system as the best representative of the wishes of the people.

Among the many types of republic, the Kemalist republic is a representative democracy with a Parliament chosen in general elections, a President as head of state elected by Parliament and serving for a limited term, a Prime Minister appointed by the President, and other Ministers appointed by Parliament. The Kemalist President does not have direct executive powers, but has limited veto powers, and the right to contest with referendum. The day-to-day operation of government is the responsibility of the Council of Ministers formed by the Prime Minister and the other Ministers. There is a separation of powers between the executive (President and Council of Ministers), the legislative (Parliament) and the judiciary, in which no one branch of government has authority over another–although parliament is charged with the supervision of the Council of Ministers, which can be compelled to resign by a vote of no-confidence.

The Kemalist republic is a unitary state in which three organs of state govern the nation as a single unit, with one constitutionally created legislature. On some issues, the political power of government is transferred to lower levels, to local elected assemblies represented by mayors, but the central government retains the principal governing role.


Dimensions of Populism

"Sovereignty belongs, without any restrictions or conditions, to the nation" is embossed behind the speaker's seat at the GNA
Motto embossed on a mountain side.

Populism (Turkish: halkçılık) is defined as a social revolution aimed to transfer the political power to citizenship. Kemalist populism differs from the Western understanding of the term populism. In Western European culture the construct Populism is a political doctrine where one sides with "the people" against "the elites". In the Ottoman Society "the people" (the correct term for the period was "subjects") side (submits) to autocracy (Ottoman Dynasty), theocracy (Caliphate) and feudalism (tribal leaders). Kemalism moved the orientation of political power towards the best interest of the "general public" (general public = citizens of the country, common citizens, citizenship).

Kemalist populism is an extension of the Kemalist modernization movement. The Kemalist reforms brought about a revolutionary change in the status of women. The woman in Ottoman culture (Sunni Islam) submitted to her spouse or household leader (e.g. father). In Kemalist populism, in the ideal society, individuals (citizens of the Republic) would be able to read religious texts by themselves or have them freely translated. The literacy drive and translation of the Quran (originally in Arabic text) to Turkish, for instance, both occurred very early in Atatürk's reformation. Atatürk stated on a number of occasions that the legitimate rulers of Turkey were common citizens, such as villagers and workers.


Kemalist social content (populism) does not accept any adjectives placed before the definition of a nation [a nation of ...]; denies the types of national unity based on racial, religious, totalitarian and fascist ideologies, by claiming:
Unconditional, unrestricted sovereignty belongs to the people.[6]
—Mustafa Kemal Atatürk


Kemalist social content (populism) was brought against the political domination of sheikhs, tribal leaders and Islamism (Islam as a political system) of the Ottoman Empire. Initially the declaration of the republic was perceived as "Returning to the days of the first caliphs".[7] However, Kemalist nationalism aimed to shift the political legitimacy from autocracy (Ottoman Dynasty), theocracy (Caliphate) and feudalism (tribal leaders) to the active participation of its citizenry, the Turks. Kemalist social content wanted establish the value of Turkish citizenship. A sense of pride associated with this citizenship would give the needed psychological spur for people to work harder and achieve a sense of unity and national identity. Active participation, or the "will of the people", was established with the republican regime and Turkishness replacing the other forms of affiliations that were promoted in the Ottoman Empire. The shift in affiliation was symbolized with:
Turkish: Ne mutlu Türküm diyene.
(English: How happy is he/she who calls himself/herself Turkish)
—Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

The term "Ne mutlu Türküm diyene" was promoted against the "long live the Sultan," "long live the Sheikh" or "long live the Caliph."


The laicism (Turkish: laiklik) of Kemalist ideology aims to banish religious interference in government affairs, and vice versa. It differs from most predominantly Christian societies, but similar to the concept of laïcité in France.

The roots of Kemalist secularism is in the Ottoman Empire, especially the Tanzimat period and the later Second Constitutional Era. The Ottoman Empire was an Islamic state in which the head of the Ottoman state held the position of Ottoman Caliphate. The social system was organized according to Millet structure, allowing religious ideology to be incorporated into the Ottoman administrative, economic and political system. This way of life is nowadays defined as Islamism (Political Islam): "the belief that Islam should guide social and political as well as personal life".[8] In the Second Constitutional Era's parliament pursued secular policies. These policies were stated as the reason for the Countercoup (1909). The secular policies of the Ottoman parliament also factored in the Arab Revolt during WWI.

State and Religion (Laïcité)

Kemalism profoundly influenced by the triumph of laïcité in France.[9] It perceived French model as the authentic form of secularism. Kemalism strove to control religion and reduce it to a private affair.[9] It is more than merely creating a separation between mosque and state. Idealogically; Leo the Isaurian, Martin Luther, the Baron d’Holbach, Ludwig Büchner, Émile Combes, and Jules Ferry rolled into one.[9] Kemalist laicism does not imply or advocate agnosticism or nihilism; it means freedom of thought and independence of the institutions of the state from the dominance of religious thought and religious institutions. The Kemalist principle of laicism is not against moderate and apolitical religion, but against religious forces opposed to and fighting modernization and democracy.

According to the Kemalist perception, the Turkish state is to stand at an equal distance from every religion, neither promoting nor condemning any set of religious beliefs. Kemalism has an "Active Neutrality" and actions related to religion should be carefully analyzed and evaluated by the government through the Presidency of Religious Affairs, which is responsible for managing the religious affairs and institutions in the country. The Presidency of Religious Affairs pursues the responsibility for planning, coordinating, and implementing the balance.

Kemalism has to balance the space between different religious sects. Religious education, which was originally left to private initiative with after-school courses until 1980, when it was brought to secondary education with a formal curriculum covering religious doctrines. This change of politics to balance religious doctrine is debated. There are three main ideological perspectives in this debate. The first one views this change as a breach of Kemalist secularist ideology, and demands a return to the previous policy. The second perspective accepts the religious education but objects to its compulsory position. The third position accepts the compulsory position except those responsible for minority communities, who wish to have their own religious courses, within the boundaries of the regulations administered by the Ministry of Education.

Politics and Religion (Islamism)

The Kemalist form of separation of state and religion sought the reform of a complete set of institutions, interest groups (such as political parties, unions, and lobbies), the relationships between those institutions, and the political norms and rules that governed their functions (constitution, election law). The biggest change in this perspective was the abolishment of the Caliphate on March 3, 1924, followed by the removal of its political mechanisms. The article stating that "the established religion of Turkey is Islam" was removed from the constitution on February 5, 1937.

From a political perspective, Kemalism is an anti-clerical secularism which abolished the religious political establishment of the Ottoman Empire. In the Kemalist political perspective, politicians cannot claim to be the protector of any religion or religious sect, and such claims constitute sufficient legal grounds for the permanent banning of political parties.


The Ottoman social system was based on religious affiliation. Religious insignia extended to every social function. Clothing identified citizens with their own particular religious grouping; headgear distinguished rank and profession. Turbans, fezes, bonnets and head-dresses denoted the sex, rank, and profession - both civil and military - of the wearer. Religious insignia outside of worship areas was banned.

Controversially, the constitutional concept of laïcité is also used to justify a ban on Muslim women wearing Islamic coverings such as headscarves in public universities and other public buildings. Joost Lagendijk, a member of the European Parliament and chair of the Joint Parliamentary Committee with Turkey, has publicly criticized these clothing restrictions for Muslim women,[10] whereas the European Court of Human Rights ruled in numerous cases that such restrictions in public buildings and educational institutions do not constitute a violation of human rights.[11][12]


Revolutionism (Turkish: devrimcilik / inkılâpçılık): a principle formulated by Atatürk, which means that the country should replace the traditional institutions and concepts with modern institutions and concepts. This principle advocated the need for fundamental social change through revolution as a strategy to achieve a modern society. The core of the revolution, in the Kemalist sense, was an accomplished fact.[13] In Kemalist sense there is no possibility of return to the old systems which were deemed backward.

The principle of revolutionism went beyond the recognition of the reforms made during Atatürk's lifetime. Atatürk's revolutions in the social and political life are accepted as irreversible. Atatürk never entertained the possibility of a pause or transition phase during the course of the progressive unfolding or implementation of the revolution. The current understanding of this concept can be described that active modification.[13] Turkey and its society, taking over institutions from Western Europe, must add Turkish traits and patterns to them and adapt them to the Turkish culture, according to Kemalism.[13] The making of the Turkish traits and patterns of these reforms takes generations of cultural and social experience (which results in the collective memory of the Turkish nation).


Nationalism (Turkish: milliyetçilik): The Kemalist revolution aimed to create a nation state from the remnants of the multi-religious and multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire. Kemalist nationalism originates from the social contract theories, especially from the principles advocated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his Social Contract. The Kemalist perception of social contract was effected by the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire which was perceived as a product of failure of the Ottoman "Millet" system and the ineffective Ottomanism. Kemalist nationalism, after experiencing the Ottoman Empire's breakdown into pieces, defined the social contract as its "highest ideal".
In the administration and defense of the Turkish Nation; national unity, national awareness and national culture are the highest ideals that we fix our eyes upon.[14]
—Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Kemalist ideology defines the "Turkish Nation" (Turkish: Türk Ulusu) as a nation of Turkish People who always love and seek to exalt their family, country and nation, who know their duties and responsibilities towards the democratic, secular and social state governed by the rule of law, founded on human rights, and on the tenets laid down in the preamble to the constitution of the Republic of Turkey.[15] Mustafa Kemal Atatürk defines the Turkish Nation by saying
"The folk which constitutes the Republic of Turkey is called the Turkish Nation."
—Mustafa Kemal Atatürk


Kemalist criteria for national identity or simply being a Turkish (Turkish: Türk) refers to a shared language, and/or shared values defined as a common history, and the will to share a future. Kemalist ideology defines the "Turkish people" as:
Those who protect and promote the moral, spiritual, cultural and humanistic values of the Turkish Nation."[15]

Membership is usually gained through birth within the borders of the state and also the principle of jus sanguinis. Kemalist form of nationality is integrated to the Article 66 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey. Every citizen is recognized as a Turk, regardless of ethnicity, belief, and gender, etc. Turkish nationality law states that he or she can be deprived of his/her nationality only through an act of treason.[16]

In 2005, the Article 301 of the Turkish Penal code made it a crime to insult Turkishness (Turkish: türklük), but under pressure of the EU, this was changed in 2008 to protect the "Turkish nation" instead of Turkish ethnicity in 2008, an 'imagined' nationhood of people living within the National Pact (Turkish: Misak-ı Milli) borders.[17]


Kemalist nationalism believes in the principle that the Turkish state is an indivisible whole comprising its territory and people, which is defined as the "unity of the state". It was a nationalism which did respect the right to independence of all other nations.


Kemalism had not only displaced "Pan-Turkism" as the official state ideology; it also focused on the nation-state's narrower interests, renouncing the concern for the "Outside Turks".[18]

Pan-Turkism was an ethnocentric ideology [to unite all ethnically Turkic nations] while Kemalism is polycentric [united under a " common will"] in character.[18] Kemalism wants to have an equal footing among the mainstream world civilizations. Pan-Turkists have consistently emphasized the special attributes of the Turkic people, and wanted to unite all of the Turkic people. Kemalism wants an equal footing (based on respect) and does not aim to unite the people of Turkey with all the other Turkic nations. Most Kemalists were not interested in Pan-Turkism and from 1923 to 1950 (the single state period) reacted with particular firmness.[18]


Kemalism had not only displaced "Turanism" as the official state ideology; it also focused on the Turkish People, within the alive and historical cultures and peoples of Anatolia [an Anatolian-centered view].

Turanism centered the nation as the union of all Turanian peoples (Tungus, Hungarians, Finns, Mongols, Estonians, Japanese, Koreans and Ryukyuans) stretching from the Altai Mountains in Eastern Asia to the Bosphorus.[19] Kemalism had a narrower definition of language which wanted to remove [purify] the Persian, Arabic, Greek, Latin, etc. words from the language used in Anatolia. Turanian leaders, such as Enver Pasha, wanted an evolving language common to all Turanian peoples, minimizing differences and maximizing similarities between them.


Regarding expansionism, Kemalist nationalism opposes imperialism and aims to promote "peace" in both the domestic and the international arenas. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk wrote in 1930:

Within the political and social unity of today's Turkish nation, there are citizens and co-nationals who have been incited to think of themselves as Kurds, Circassians, Laz or Bosnians. But these erroneous appellations - the product of past periods of tyranny - have brought nothing but sorrow to individual members of the nation, with the exception of a few brainless reactionaries, who became the enemy's instruments. This is because these individual members of the nation (Kurds, Circassians, Laz or Bosnians]) share with the generality of Turkish society the same past, history, concept of morals and laws.[20]


Statism (Turkish: devletçilik): Kemal Atatürk made clear in his statements and policies that Turkey's complete modernization was very much dependent on economic and technological development. The principle of Kemalist Statism is generally interpreted to mean that the state was to regulate the country's general economic activities and the state was to engage in areas where private enterprise was not willing to do so, or where private enterprise had proven to be inadequate, or if national interest required it. In the application of the principle of statism, however, the state emerged not only as the principal source of economic activity, but also as the owner of the major industries of the country.[21]


Kemalism and Turkey's political parties

The Republican People's Party was established by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on September 9, 1923, not long before the declaration of the Republic of Turkey on October 29. The party uses the ideology to symbolize itself.

Kemalism and Turkey's constitutional law

The six principles were solidified on 5 February 1937. That was 14 years after establishment of the Republic of Turkey.

In the 1924 Constitutional Law Article 2, Clause 1:
"The Turkey is republican, nationalist, attached to the people, interventionist, secular and revolutionary."

Both by the military coup of 1960 and after the 1980 followed by a fundamental revision of the Turkish Constitution. The text of which was approved by referendum in each case.

In the 1961 Constitutional Law Article 1, Clause 1 states "The Turkish State is a Republic." Article 2, Clause 1:
"The Turkish Republic is a nationalistic, democratic, secular and social state, governed by the rule of law, based on human rights and fundamental tenets set forth in the preamble."
In the 1982 Constitutional Law Article 1, Clause 1 states "The Turkish State is a Republic." Article 2, Clause 1:
"The Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state governed by the rule of law; bearing in mind the concepts of public peace, national solidarity and justice; respecting human rights; loyal to the nationalism of Atatürk, and based on the fundamental tenets set forth in the Preamble.

Remained constant over the years, only the principles of secularism and nationalism and the Republic In the 1961 Constitution were initially human rights, rule of law and the welfare state more strongly emphasized. In 1982 the peace of the community and national solidarity, but also explicitly referenced to Atatürk's nationalism was included in the set


Template:Turkish nationalism
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