Kemalism 1939

The Foundations of Turkish Unity
by Falih Rifki Atav

Source: la Turquie Kemaliste, No. 30, April 1939;
Translated: for by Mitchell Abidor.

When in November 1938 the Turkish nation lost its great chief many foreigners thought that profound upheavals would occur in this country.

The personality of ?smet Inönü was not unknown. His first efforts aimed at organizing a regular army during the national revolution in Anatolia, his activity at the front during the taking of Smyrna, the conclusion of the armistice of Mudanya and the treaty of Lausanne, and finally more than ten years as president of the Council, had made of him a chief, a respected leader in whom the entire Turkish nation placed its confidence.

Nevertheless, the points the international world hesitated to pronounce on were the following:

Many changes embracing the entire mass of society were carried out in Turkey. These revolutions demolished many traditions of a religious, social, and political order. It can’t be said that a nation gladly assimilates such radical transformations. Such a statute can only be sustained by means of force and violence, and at the first sign of weakness from the government the spirit of discontent finds propitious terrain for expansion. It is then that recourse is had to more severe measures in order to forestall anarchy.

We are in 1939. On the contrary, the reign of Inönü has become for Turkey a time of national unity, where the freedom of the press and control are practiced like never before. The personalities who at the time of Atatürk stood apart from the Revolutionary Party for whatever reason are today united around ?smet Inönü, thus accomplishing the unity of the party.

Neutral observers were then able to see that there was no need to resort to force in order to prevent discord and anarchy in Turkey, since the changes carried out without constraint in no way wounded the conscience or morality of the Turkish people.

When, as a result of the victory, the Turkish nation ceased to be a slave the Sultan and the institutions of the Ottoman Empire appeared to have accepted aggression and slavery. Amidst the joy that followed victory a fear tormented the entire nation: what would happen if the laurels were placed in the hands of the ancient institutions?

In reality, it was these institutions that were responsible for our entry into the war and Turkey’s low ranking among modern civilizations.

One thought alone animated the people: liberating itself after the victory. It is thus that the nation deliberately and spontaneously conceived the liquidation of the past and the new foundations of the state created in Anatolia as a surety for the fight for independence. The vast majority of the Turkish people feared that the change in government caused by the death of its great chief placed this surety in danger, a government which in more than fifteen years of reconstructions and social well-being had amply demonstrated its value. This is why the entire people united alongside ?smet Inönü, creating in this way an unshakeable edifice.

Instead of harming this national unity the freedom of the press, according the people the right to freely express itself, reinforced it, since it allowed us to see how attached the Turkish nation was to the new regime.

No news coming out of Turkey will reach other countries concerning discord and anarchy, for the new Turkey is a building constructed by solidarity and unity on the remains of a state that was lacking in them