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Ideas as Building Blocks of a Path: Islamic Challenge to the pro-Western Turkish Foreign Policy, 1996-1997
Unformatted Document Text:  civilization. Modernization simply meant ‘borrowing from the West’ (Aydın 1999, 176; Heper 2005, 34). The Republican reforms in the 1920s and 1930s under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk intensified and radicalized this modernization-as-Westernization process (Özbudun and Kazancıgil 1981, 3). As a rationalist and positivist mentality, Kemalist thought has formed the basis of Turkish Republic (Özbudun and Kazancıgil 1981, 3). This mentality understood modernization as ‘complete adoption of Western civilianization, understandings and practices’ (Karal 1981, 12-13, 31-32; Rustow 1981, 59-60; Hayashi 1981, 225; Gülalp 1999, 23; Aydın 1999, 161; Bozdağlıoğlu 2003, 111; Oran 2005, 112). The ultimate goal was to set up a modern (i.e. Westernized), secular, homogenous and centralized nation state from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. As Lewis, a prominent student of Ottoman-Turkish history, rightly observes, “In his political ideas Kemal Atatürk was an heir to the Young Turks- more especially of the nationalist, positivist and Westernizing wing among them. The two dominant beliefs of his life were in the Turkish nation and in progress; the future of both lay in civilization, which for him meant the modern civilization of the West, and no other” (1979, 292). 5 In brief, since its establishment in the early 1920s, this ideal of ‘modernization as Westernization’ has been strong constitutive element of state identity in the Turkish Republic. As Arnold Toynbee once observed “no country has tried to Westernize as much as Turkey” (quoted in Bozdağlıoğlu 2003, 64). 5 Just to give couple of specific examples to Republic’s Westernization efforts, the Kemalist leadership achieved the following reforms in line with Western practices: Gregorian calendar (1925); dress code - e.g. wearing hat - (1925); Swiss Civil Code, Italian Penal Code and Commercial Codes based largely on the German and Italian codes (1926); Latin alphabet (1928); criminal code, surname code (1935); changing weekly holiday from Friday to Sunday (1935). 15

Authors: Sarigil, Zeki.
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civilization. Modernization simply meant ‘borrowing from the West’ (Aydın 1999, 176;
Heper 2005, 34).
The Republican reforms in the 1920s and 1930s under the leadership of Mustafa
Kemal Atatürk intensified and radicalized this modernization-as-Westernization process
(Özbudun and Kazancıgil 1981, 3). As a rationalist and positivist mentality, Kemalist
thought has formed the basis of Turkish Republic (Özbudun and Kazancıgil 1981, 3).
This mentality understood modernization as ‘complete adoption of Western
civilianization, understandings and practices’ (Karal 1981, 12-13, 31-32; Rustow 1981,
59-60; Hayashi 1981, 225; Gülalp 1999, 23; Aydın 1999, 161; Bozdağlıoğlu 2003, 111;
Oran 2005, 112). The ultimate goal was to set up a modern (i.e. Westernized), secular,
homogenous and centralized nation state from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. As
Lewis, a prominent student of Ottoman-Turkish history, rightly observes, “In his political
ideas Kemal Atatürk was an heir to the Young Turks- more especially of the nationalist,
positivist and Westernizing wing among them. The two dominant beliefs of his life were
in the Turkish nation and in progress; the future of both lay in civilization, which for him
meant the modern civilization of the West, and no other” (1979, 292).
In brief, since its
establishment in the early 1920s, this ideal of ‘modernization as Westernization’ has been
strong constitutive element of state identity in the Turkish Republic. As Arnold Toynbee
once observed “no country has tried to Westernize as much as Turkey” (quoted in
Bozdağlıoğlu 2003, 64).
5
Just to give couple of specific examples to Republic’s Westernization efforts, the Kemalist leadership
achieved the following reforms in line with Western practices: Gregorian calendar (1925); dress code -
e.g. wearing hat - (1925); Swiss Civil Code, Italian Penal Code and Commercial Codes based largely on
the German and Italian codes (1926); Latin alphabet (1928); criminal code, surname code (1935);
changing weekly holiday from Friday to Sunday (1935).
15


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