Kemalism


Kemalism
   Kemalism is the official Turkish state doctrine named for the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The main principles, or "six arrows," of Kemalism are said to be republicanism, secularism, nationalism, populism, statism, and revolutionism. More than 70 years after his death, Ataturk remains a revered father figure, his portrait or bust virtually omnipresent, and his mausoleum in Ankara the sacred symbol of the Turkish Republic. No other political figure of the 20th century remains so honored. This has much to do with Ataturk's greatness and the flexibility of Kemalism.
   In practice, Kemalism is a modernizing doctrine that holds that Turkey is a unitary state with a uniform national identity and thus has no place for a Kurdish national or even cultural identity. The much-abused and criticized appellation Mountain Turks when referring to the Turkish Kurds served as a code term for these beliefs. To the increasing detriment of modern human rights and Turkey's possible admission into the European Union (EU), most of the ethnic Turkish population and the ever vigilant Turkish military see it as their duty to support and protect Kemalism.
   Although the great majority of Turks still see themselves as followers of Ataturk, in the most recent national elections for parliament only one-fifth of the voters supported the Republican Peoples Party, which was established by Ataturk himself and claims to be his immediate descendant. Cumhuriyet, the newspaper that espouses the most orthodox Kemalist views, has only a small circulation. The military officer corps is the leading exponent of Kemalism. Nongovernmental organizations such as the Ataturk Thought Association defend Kemalist ideas and are usually led by retired military officers. The most important positions in the judiciary are usually reserved for Kemalists who usually associate with strong nationalist ideas. In recent years many of these Kemalists have ironically taken a rather reactionary stance against reform and the EU, which they see as challenging their privileged positions. The currently governing AK Partisi (AKP), on the other hand, in advocating reform and EU accession, has appeared more reformist.
   Nevertheless, as a modernizing and supposedly democratizing doctrine, Kemalism has as one of its ultimate aims the achievement of the level of contemporary civilization, which today means membership in the EU and thus adherence to its principles of human rights and democracy. Given the relative flexibility and even moderation of Kemalism over the years, there is no inherent reason why the so-called Kemalist consensus cannot eventually evolve to a position where it will be able to accept Turkey's EU accession.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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