IEP Toulouse/ESFAM, Toulouse, France
Address correspondence to: Deniz Yoldas, Federal University of Toulouse Midi-Pyrenees, 2 Ter Rue des Puits Creuses, 31000 Toulouse, France, phone +33 (0)5 61 11 02 60, fax: +33 (0)5 61 22 94 80; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Idris Küçükömer (born 1925 in Giresun, dead 1987 in Istanbul) is a well-known Turkish academic, who tried to figure out the controversial character of the Left-wing movement in Turkey. His main book “The Alienation of the State/Social Order” (in Turkish: Batılılaşma ve Düzenin Yabancılaşması, Küçükömer, 2002) is the dissertation of his principal thesis about contemporary Turkey. Küçükömer is one of the academics/intellectuals who tried to figure out the principal „anomalies” of Turkey with his own perspectives. The controversial character of Kemalism and Left-wing movement of Turkey is the subject of Küçükömer’s works. He tried not only to break out the Kemalist discourse’s falsification but also to create a pseudo-scientific theoretical base for Islamist “Green Kemalist” narration. Küçükömer’s work about the nature of bureaucracy and its transformations between different social systems could be interesting for Post-Soviet countries academic circles. The contribution of the present review is that it brings a present-day perspective on Küçükömer views.
Keywords: Küçükömer, Islamofascism, Kemalist fascism.
Idris Küçükömer is a well-known Turkish academic and writer; he was born in Giresun, in a Turkish Sunni Muslim family in 1925. Giresun was an industrial capital and a multicultural city in Ottoman period till 1915 genocide. After 1915, the city lost the industrial infrastructure and also some of the Christian communities like Armenians and Greeks. Topal Osman, who is “the knight” of Atatürk, was also from Giresun. Topal Osman is accused to organize the massacres/genocides against Black Sea Greeks, Armenians and Alawites in Koçgiri in 1918-1923. Even today Giresun is a racist-Islamist majority populated city. In Giresun, even nowadays, some sub-provinces populations “accuse” each other as “crypto-Armenians”. Giresun is a world ranking hazelnut production center. By Ümit Uğur Gungor, before 1915, the sector was dominated by Armenians. By Güngör, the hazelnut sector’s annual rate is 3 billion dollars in Giresun (Güngör, 2012). According to Kurtuluş Kayalı, Küçükömer’s family was a middle-class/ labor family. Küçükömer completed his license at the Economy Faculty of Istanbul University and started to work as an academic in the same university (Kayalı, 2002). He was a “Marxist socialist revolutionary” young man. After the military coup on May 27, 1960, he became an author of the politic-theoretical journal Yön. Yön was managed by Doğan Avcıoğlu. The ideological line was “Left-wing interpretation” of Kemalism. Küçükömer was also a Kemalist. He participated in the scientific/academic committee of the Worker Party of Turkey (TIP). He actively supported the 1963 failed military coup. Avcıoğlu also supported another failed military coup at 9 Mai 1971. After 1963 failed military coup, Küçükömer changed his ideological line. He refuses Kemalism and accepts the “new left” political-ideological line, under the influence of Gramsci's „civil society” conception. He defines Kemalism as a bureaucratic, elitist, putschist, reactionary ideology of army and bureaucratic elites of Turkey, and promoted the idea that the 1919-21 War is neither anti-imperialist nor progressive, it’s just a Turkish – Greek War. He defends that Kemalism is neither left-wing nor revolutionary/progressive, and argued that the civil society couldn’t develop in Turkey because of Kemalist’s oppressed centralized State concept/practices.
Küçükömer tried to give some references from the Marxist Asiatic mode of production (AMP) theory. The most controversial part of the concept refers to the true Left-wing of Turkey, represented, according to the universal standard, by the “Right-wing” political parties and their supporting Sunni Muslim mass. According to this concept, West is imperialist and alien to Turkey. Turkey represents the East and the Eastern character is the genuine character of the country. He tried to argue and develop his concept by different and inconsistent arguments. He discussed the new ideological line in Socialist Review “Ant” and in 1969 he published the principal book, “The Alienation of the State/Social Order”. He defends that, Left-wing of Turkey is real extreme-right/right-wing by universal standards and definitions, and Right-wing of Turkey is the true Left-wing/relatively most leftist than Left-wing of Turkey by universal standard and definitions as well. In 1972, Bülent Ecevit got the leadership of CHP (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, Republican People's Party in English, the political party who is founded by Atatürk), the main political party of Kemalism; Ecevit was one of the students of Henri Kissinger at Harvard University. He benefited a Rockefeller Scholarship. Ecevit gave a new “more Left” political line to CHP. In 1973, after the setting up of CHP (Kemalist) – MSP (Milli Selamet Partisi - National Salvation Party) coalition government and the Küçükömer announcement that the 3rd republic was in place, Kemalism died and Left-Right anomaly was fixed. MSP – the foremost Islamist political party in Turkey was led by Necmettin Erbakan - the historical leader of political Islam in Turkey. From 1973 to 1983 he stoped his writing activities. In 1983 he restarted to write at left-wing-libertarian/New Left oriented review – Yeni Gündem Review, the predecessor of Birikim review. He became a member of the Social Democratic Party before his death in 1987.
Küçükömer’s thesis is used as a tool by Islamists and Green Kemalists to canonize the State and to justify the xenophobic oppression and acts of violence of masses. Kösebalan (2011) and Davutoğlu (2001), Akat and Ali Bulaç affirm Küçükömer’s theories. Kurtuluş Kayalı writes the biography of Küçükömer (Kayalı, 2002). Murat Belge, as a student of Küçükömer, defends both the Küçükömer’s principal point according to which the Left-wing in Turkey is not Left-wing by universal standards, such Küçükömer’s statement leading to conclusion that Left-wing doesn’t exist in Turkey, and the double character of the mass in Turkey: It means the mass who currently supports the Right political parties in Turkey, is potentially left-wing but practically rightist. If in Turkey, there was a Left-wing by universal standards, the mass was the supporter of it. By Belge, for Küçükömer, the mass in Turkey is just potentially rather than practically left-wing. It’s just a potential, that’s why he didn’t work in a Right political party in Turkey to touch the left-wing mass. But unfortunately, in his book, Küçükömer clearly evaluates that DP (Demokrat Parti, Democratic Party in English) and AP (Adalet Partisi, Justice Party in English) (Right political parties of Turkey) as left-wing parties in the historical Left-wing -Right-wing political parties table (Küçükömer, 2002, p. 44). Another student of Küçükömer, Prof. Dr. Asaf Savaş Akat notices that his principal point of view is clear: cutting all the relations with Kemalism, Army, and bureaucracy, might create a real and massive Left-wing in Turkey (***Biyografi: İdris Küçükömer). The famous Turkish Armenian Trotskyist Masis Kürkçügil, also a student of Küçükömer, sheltered in Küçükömer house while he was pursued by the police after 12 March 1971 military coup, express that Küçükömer’s main problem is why the mass support Righ-wing political parties rather than Left-wing. Kürkçügil notices that Küçükömer was a socialist and he creates his theories to support the revolution of Turkey. To get a dogma out of the theories or out of the socialist context is a distortion (Ince, 2007).
Nuray Mert and Ozdemir Ince criticize Küçükömer thesis. Ince defends that Küçükömer never affirmed that “In Turkey Left-wing is Right-wing and Right-wing is Left-wing” (Mert, 2000). His thesis is vulgarised by followers (Ince, 2007). Nevertheless, in his book, Küçükömer shows the political parties in Turkey as Left-wing in his chronological table that they are obviously Right and they describe themselves as Right-wing. By Ince, the first scientific criticism of Küçükömer’s thesis was realized by Yalçın Küçük in 1969. But by the book’s last chapter, we notice that Küçükömer fully refuted the Küçük meaningless and full of factual errors claims. Mert criticizes that Küçükömer’s arguments are inconsistent, the terminology is subjective, the argument: “In Turkey Left-wing is less close to mass than the Right-wing” are not authentic for Turkey and Left-wing and Right-wing are not pure universal concepts. Ince’s position could not be evaluated as a real criticism, while Mert’s position could be evaluated as a shallow criticism with true points like the critics about inconsistent argumentation, confused about Küçükömer and his subjective terminology using. Mert noticed that Küçükömer criticized Turkish Left-wing as Pro-Western and Turkish Right as pseudo-capitalist/rentier but she does not discuss the main two source of Küçükömer’s theories: his personal experiences about Turkish left-wing movement’s, racist/xenophobe/putschist theories/practices and his personal silence about Kurds and especially about the negation of genocides in the history of Turkey.
The Resume of the Book
The book consists of eight chapters: 1) Preface/Resume from Yücel Yaman; 2) Preface; 3) Turkey cannot be westernized!; 4) Why could Ottoman not set up Capitalism?; 5) The Pashas of contemporary Turkey’s Left-wing and Sultan Albulhamit II; 6) The questions for the Last Bureaucratic Pasha; 7) Statism: Primitive Accumulation of capital and 8) Responses for the Critics
The Preface of Yücel Yaman: The follower of Küçükömer, Yücel Yaman resumes the Küçükömer’s thesis in eight points:
1. left-wings of Turkey are reactionaries. They don’t support economic progress/productive forces. They defend the centralized, top-down authoritarian regime. They evaluate the mass as a herd.
2. The progressive force of Turkey is the Sunni Muslim mass of Turkey. They have the potential to develop the productive force, they have a tendency for progress and they are pluralist in contrast to the monolithic totalitarian Kemalism.
3-4. Army and its military coups, its constitutions (like the one in 1960) and institutions (like National Security Council and OYAK) are reactionaries.
5. “Turkish National Independent War” (1919-21) doesn’t really exist. It’s just a war between Greece and Turkey without any anti-imperialist sense.
6. Modern Turkey’s history should be rewritten.
7. In Turkey, civil society couldn’t progress because of the two pseudo-progressive forces: Kemalism and Left-wing.
8. Turkey’s people aspirations could not be fulfilled by living under a democratic regime because of their genetic heritage. After very long time despotic regimes, the people could be evaluated as genetically favorable for authoritative regimes.
According to the book, Yaman’s resume could be evaluated as a trustworthy resume in a general context.
Preface: In the preface, Küçükömer claims that the westernization is equally an alienation form of the social order and form of the state from traditional Ottoman/Islamic society, and the supporters of the westernization and „progress” are in fact reactionaries. The true progress defenders are the defensive front of people under the flag of Islamism. The book is an expansion of four articles that were already published in the daily newspaper Akşam from 14 to 17 October 1968, where he criticized the new “center-left” line of CHP, the political party who founded the Republic of Turkey and the main pillar of Kemalism. The second article/chapter - “Why Ottoman could not set up Capitalism?” - is the main part of the book and Küçükömer gave the undertaking to rewrite this part as an expanded independent work.
The first chapter “Turkey cannot be westernized!”: Küçükömer defends that Ottoman society was an Islamic society. The State had not a social class characteristic; it was neutral for all different social classes and sub-classes. Capitalism is a western institution and it was set up on a feudal social base but Ottoman Empire is not feudal, it’s an Asiatic Mode of Production (AMP) society. That’s why the westernization as a project to set up a Capitalist system in Turkey is impossible. The central bureaucracy who grabbed this neutral State defended that the Westernization was the unique solution to make the Empire great again, but the Westernization oriented reforms destroyed the local economy and got resistance from local figures and mass people. The flag of these local figures and mass against Pro-Western central bureaucracy is Islamism. Islamists and Pro-Eastern masses are objectively progressive and the central bureaucracy, with all the progressive discourse, is reactionary in Turkey. The central bureaucracy blocks the class differentiation in the Islamist Pro-Eastern social movement. Turkey cannot become capitalist by the central bureaucracy, that’s why it cannot be Westernized and even secular: because they are the parts of the superstructure for a capitalist infrastructure. Turkey has not a capitalist society. That’s why Left-wing and Right-wing parties’ economy politics is not a real capitalist-economy politics, but a statist rentier-economy politics and it’s also the main barrier to set up a capitalist system in Turkey. Central bureaucracy is not a real social class, because, bureaucracy as a group confiscates a part of the added-value but a bureaucrat, as individual can benefice it only as a bureaucrat, meaning that he cannot own the means of productions as his personal property. After these theoretical claims, Küçükömer gives a historical presentation of the European evolution from feudalism to capitalism in a sub-chapter: „The appearance of capitalist institutions in the West”.
Küçükömer distorts the AMP. First, an AMP theory like Küçükömer uses does not exist in the Marxist corpus. Especially his two propositions: “Neutral State” as a non-social class State and “the progressive mission of local figures in Turkish history” are obviously not the recognized components of any AMP theory in Marxism. Second, Ottoman society was not a pure Muslim society. They had two parallel laws: secular law for the state and religious law for the citizens. The Ottoman Empire has had also huge non-Muslim populations. Third, the Empire’s non-Muslim communities set up a strong industrial base in the late period. Late Ottoman society was a capitalist society. As Lenin says in “The Development of Capitalism in Russia”, if meta-economy is dominant/primary in a country, it’s a capitalist country, in the final analysis (Lenin, 1899). Forth, the central bureaucracy was a social class and also the dominant/ruling social class of the Empire in the classical age. Dissolution of an AMP into a feudal society is the classic way. Fifth, there are class differentiations in Islamist Pro-Eastern mass; the local figures became the main columns in the periphery for central bureaucracy political power and they connected capitalism as a network like gas stations franchises, franchise car dealerships and, the white goods distributors. Most of the local figures increased their fortunes by using statist politics for their own interests, especially by wealth transfer from non-Muslim populations. Then they had moved to Istanbul to become a part of central major capitalists. Sixth, Küçükömer does not notice the Non-Muslim communities and class differentiation in the Ottoman Empire and creates a fictional Islamist paradise. Seventh, he destroys the terminology and concepts. There is no explanation on what Easternism really means or is. Finally, the claims of Küçükömer are mutually contradictory. He recognizes the social class differentiation between local figures and Sunni Muslim mass, but he refuses it in the final analysis. He notices the destruction of productive force in the late period of the Empire and by the statist rentier economy politics, but he hides that the massacres/genocides were the main cause of the destruction and the politics, and not an Ottoman British Free Trade Act (1839), as Küçükömer defends. Also, Küçükömer never approaches consistently the social system of Turkey as an internal and external plundering system against principally non-Muslim communities/population (Estukyan, 2017).
In fact, the analysis exists in Marx’s Eastern Question (Marx, 1897) and Şişmanov’s famous book on Turkish society and the history of socialist movements (Şişmanov, 1965) and, in general, in the Marxist literature. Engels notices in Anti-Dühring that “The Turks were the first to introduce a sort of feudal ownership of land in the countries” (Engels, 1877). Marx describes Ottoman/Turkish society as an internal and external plundering motivated war-machine. Şişmanov references to Marx ideas highlighting that Turkey was the unique militaristic-feudal empire of middle age. As a new contribution, Estukyan shows that after the minimizing of external plundering/occupation possibilities - because of several reasons including the profitability as well -, the internal plundering gets a principal position in plundering activities (Estukyan, 2017). Küçükömer notices only the rentier economy of Turkey/Ottoman Empire, but he stops the analysis at that point. He doesn’t evaluate the land rent-based economy as a factor to shape the social and cultural characteristic of Turkish society and the dialectic of a state who earns the different proportions of its incomes from occupations, internal/external plundering of lands and an unproductive society who derives its revenue from a rentier economy.
The second chapter “Why Ottoman could not set up Capitalism?”: The weakest theoretical part of the book is, at the same time, the “main theoretical part” of the book in Küçükömer’s opinion. In this part, the author tries to defend why Ottoman could not set up a capitalist system. The data he uses, unfortunately, incoherent, unrelated, disunited, inconsistent and out of context. Some of the Küçükömer claims are related to the ones of Dr. Hikmet Kıvılcımlı’s “History Thesis” (Kıvılcımlı, 1998); such are the ideas that there was no private land ownership in the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman land system was much advantageous for the peasantry, and that is the reason the Empire occupied more easily the Balkan territories. The expenses of the State and consequently the taxes increased year by year. “History Thesis” is a misconduct of dialectic/historical materialisms and economy-politic knowledge. It is a very complex and high intellectual level construction and, in the same time, a ridiculous and disgusting trying to justify of barbarian occupations with results like forced religion changing, mass massacre, colonization of civilized societies, like Küçükömer’s thesis. Like Kıvılcımlı, Küçükömer erases the Arab colonialist and assimilationist root of Islam (Tekin, 2008) as well. Unlike Kıvılcımlı, Küçükömer defends that late Ottoman Empire could not be a capitalist society because the lands are not high-quality grounds for agriculture. By this logic, one of the first capitalist societies is established in the UK, because the lands are extremely high-quality there? Also, Küçükömer defends that Ottoman Empire arrived its natural border, for such reason losing its military power, aspect he called the paradox of hegemony. As a counterexample: Roman Empire, as slavery but also an AMD society, which controlled a bigger area than the Ottoman Empire, in this case, how to prove the claim? Küçükömer notices that the Empire set up itself on an external and internal plunder economy, but he hides the real victims of the economy politic. By the essential point of view of Küçükömer, the historical conditions of the Empire were constants. This essentialist point of view is the base of his genetically-based claims that Turkish society is genetically incapable of democratization. As a critic, the history science shows that if capitalism was born 100 years late, it would encounter some feudal states in Ottoman geography rather than a centralized bureaucratic empire and perhaps the capitalism would have emerged in these geographies.
The third chapter “The Pashas of contemporary Turkey’s Left-wing and Sultan Albulhamit II”: By Küçükömer, the paradox of hegemony is that the population growth and inefficiency of agriculture created a vicious circle for the productive force of the Empire. In this case, the industrial revolution penetrated the empire, which became a semi-colonial power. Western capitalism found local collaborators in the Empire and was also like supported by the central bureaucracy. Local figures (Ayan) and central bureaucrats support the Westernization to save their property rights against the power of the Sultan. The Westernization separates and transformed different ethnic groups into the nations. The xenophobia of the Islamist Pro-Eastern mass and the defender of the Ancient Regime was just an unconscious representation of anti-imperialism. After the liquidation of the Ancient Regime supporters, the local figures changed the side and become the supporters of the Islamist Pro-Eastern populist front. After 1839 Free Trade Agreement, centralist bureaucracy became a pure Pro-Western collaborative force. Sultan Abdülhamit II, in this case, was not an autocrat dictator. He was the protector of the people against renegades Pro-Western bureaucrats. Küçükömer criticizes the Pro-Western bureaucrats because they allowed publications in the different languages for the non-Turkish nations and because they accepted Jewish and Albanian officials. The non-Muslim members of the bureaucrats were more renegades than Sunni-Muslims in his opinion. By him, the decentralist movement (Prens Sabahattin) had also a significant role in Turkish history. Küçükömer defends that DP and AP (Officially Central Right, Conservative Parties) were Left-wing. He finished this chapter with a chronological presentation of Abdulhamit II and of the 1908-1914 period presented in his own perspective (based on the contradiction between Islamist Pro-Eastern Populist Front and renegade pro-Western bureaucrats).
First of all, Lenin said that a person should be a consistent democrat from A to Z for being a communist. It is imperative. Küçükömer demonstrated his xenophobia and anti-Semitic ideas. In Marxism ideology, self-determination is an absolute right for each oppressed nation. Küçükömer’s “happy Ancient Regime” is no more than a fiction. The local figures were equally the criminals same like central figures in massacres like the 1909 Adana Massacre and the 1915 Genocide and the others. Kemalizm gave the non-Muslim victims’ properties to these local figures. Izmir Economy Congress draw the capitalist line of the young Republic and the local figures are the stakeholders of the new States. Prince Sabahattin’s movements have not significant importance in Turkish history until today. Küçükömer’s arguments could be evaluated as just a pseudo-scientific fair-tale.
The Fourth Chapter “The Questions for the Last Bureaucratic Pasha”: Küçükömer gives a presentation of the period of 1923-1938 and criticizes the Kemalist regime as a non-productive and isolated/alienated regime for the mass/people. By Küçükömer, the bureaucracy was not a social class and it had only a reactionary role in the development of the productive forces. He notices that in this period, local figures and bureaucrats were in an alliance. They shared the heritage of the Empire inside as the separatists have already done it the outside, he claims. Nevertheless, Küçükömer notices the local figures and central bureaucracy alliance, but he does not see the social class character of the centralized bureaucracy. It was a social class emerged from AMP, as Kıvılcımlı notices, having its own authentic historical name Sınıf’ül Devlet and four sub-divisions: Kalemiyye (State Property Department) Ilmiyye (Academics), Seyfiyye (Army) and Mülkiyye (even today in Turkey it exists in the same name, it means state officers and governors).
The Fifth Chapter “Statism: Primitive Accumulation of Capital”: In this chapter, Küçükömer argues that the statist regime encourages the local figures to become capitalists. This social group also benefits from states property lands from the Empire time and ‘Greeks and Armenians’ abandoned lands. Under this unproductive system, bureaucrats get the political power, but they were not still a social-class, although they started to become the capitalist instruments. For the bureaucrats, the main milestone was 1960. After 27 May 1960 military coup, Army set up a monopoly company (OYAK) and it became a model of collective capitalism. Under this statist economy politic regime, the local figures represented the capitalism itself and in 1945 they set up their own party (Demokrat Parti, Democratic Party in English, DP for short); in 1950, with a free election, they got the political power from bureaucrats. Removing the bureaucrats from the political institutions of power was a progressive step to develop the productive forces in Turkey. But DP also had a connection with USA imperialism and that’s why DP was pro-imperialist and liberal and at the same time still more left-wing than the bureaucrats. As a conclusion, Küçükömer claims that the Pro-Western bureaucrat looks progressive, but objectively he is reactionary; the bureaucrats might understand this ominous role, and the Islamist mass looks reactionary, but they are actually revolutionary. The bureaucrats and left-wing might have understood and recognized them as a main source of the anti-imperialist struggle to create an independent and socialist Turkey. The Imperialist forces tried to use the Islamist-Modernity contradiction in Turkey to colonialized the country.
First, from a critical point of view, in Marxist literature, the “primitive accumulation of capital” is used to describe a statist and plundering system, like British colonialism in India and China and French colonialism in Africa. Küçükömer talks about ‘Greeks’ and ‘Armenians’ who have abandoned their properties, but he is in a deep silence about how they “abandoned” them. Even in this chapter, he salutes the founder of DP, Celal Bayar as a “socialist” (sic!!?!). Bayar is the third President of the Republic, the founder of the biggest bank of Turkey (Türkiye İş Bankası) and an ancient member of the Ittihat Terakki. He joins the 1919-21 War as a spy began for the Kemalist side. Bayar notices that after WW1, setting up a pure (NB Sunni) Muslim and Turkish State in Anatolia should be the main objective (Bayar, 1967). Bayar actively organized and execute the sharing the Greek and Armenian’s properties to the Sunni Muslim local figures in order to create a “national bourgeoisie”: The Turkification of the economy (***Celal Bayar, İttihatçı Bir Cumhurbaşkanı). After 27 Mai 1960, Bayar was judged and sentenced to death, but the sentence was shifted due to his age.
Another interesting point in Küçükömer’s thesis is that he came up for the first time with Celal Bayar after 1960. Bayar accused the military coup as a “return of Ottoman bureaucratic system to Turkey”. But Bayar “forgot” that he and all the ruling group was even the old Ottoman bureaucrats, either in CHP or in DP. There were some secondary and insignificant contradictions between local figures and bureaucrats by culture/daily lifestyle, but both of these two sides are or are trying to become capitalist and Pro-NATO/Pro-Western. While Kıvılcımlı was wrong when he found a revolutionary potential in bureaucracy, Küçükömer was also wrong when he sees the same potential in local figures/Islamists/conservators. Military bureaucracy (Army), after the 1960 military coup, sets up OYAK (Ordu Yardımlaşma Kurumu) Holding, and converts into a capitalist one. The author’s anti-imperialism even here could be evaluated just as a scarf on the xenophobia.
The Sixth Chapter “Responses for the Critics”: In this chapter, Küçükömer responses the academic critics, especially to the critics of Yalçın Küçük. Küçük’s critics are about the details, lack of any scientific support and of a systematic approach and have apparent factual errors.
Küçükömer’s anti-imperialism is a misnaming of xenophobia as anti-imperialism. By universal definitions, Küçükömer’s theory could be evaluated as essentialist, and xenophobe. Especially his theory proposes that Turkish society is genetically incapable of democratization is obviously racist. By Küçükömer concept, Islamic Society (Ottoman society, even this claim is a negation of the existence of non-Muslim communities in the Empire) was calm and wealthy heaven: The State was neutral against different social classes; it was not a violence tool of any social class against another(s). A non-social class character State is not possible by any Marxist formulation, neither for AMP nor feudalism or capitalism. Küçükömer uses the terminology/concepts without any discipline. By this pseudo-scientific fairy-tale, the Kemalists and their precursors İtithatve Terakki Partisi (Party of Union and Progress) stole the political power of State in the chaotic atmosphere of stagnation and collapse periods of Ottoman Empire, oppressed the society, tried to westernized the society politically and culturally but not economically. Küçükömer’s theories about anti-imperialism and the pseudo-golden age of the Islamic society could be evaluated as unjust praise on the local usurers/landlords, SMEs, and Sunni Muslim mass without any limitation, especially about lynching, massacres, sexual violence and property transfers/confiscation/plundering. Küçükömer’s essentialist arguments about this fake “golden age” look like A. Dugin’s Eurasianist arguments about Pan-Slavism. Even Dugin and Küçükömer's “genetic” claims about democracy are totally the same. Dugin also defend that the Oriental societies could not accept universal (Western?) democracy standards. As other historical exceptions, Rousseau could be noticed. He defends that France is highly large for a democracy. France is not Switzerland. For France, a dictatorship will be better.
By Küçükömer, Ottoman Empire promoted an Asiatic Mode of Production Society, in this mode of production, the despotic bureaucracy exploited the peasantry, and the local figures have a progressive role in this scene, in Turkey, the central bureaucracy oppressed the local figures and that’s why civil society and capitalism could not develop in Turkey. This bureaucracy now got a Pro-Western role in society, while the opposition wing, meaning the Sunni Muslim mass with local figures, had a majority, that’s why they support democracy and economic progress. That is why, in Turkey, the Left-wing is more reactionary than Right-wing, but also, the Right-wing party (DP) is reproducing the position of the Left-wing (CHP): They were rentiers and the rentier economy was supported rather than a productive economy. When scrutinizing the Küçükömer’s AMP definition, some mistakes are revealed. Neither Marx nor Engels describes an AMP the way Küçükömer does. By Marx and Engels, the AMP was a strongly centralized bureaucratic state who emerged from the late dissolution of communes and from the need to control the vast lands, irrigation channels, and trade routes; the principal quality of the society was that there was no private property right on the lands. This is an oriental despotic state. Marxist history concept is universal and progressive, assuming evolutions and revolutions. AMP is not only Asiatic. Roman Empire also knew a particular kind of AMP. Ottoman Empire had also slavery plantations. Feudalism chronologically was not the descendant of the social system of slavery/AMP and historically feudalism is more advanced and productive social system them slavery/AMP as well. AMP was not an alternative to Feudalism or slavery. If the history is universal, the exceptions claims are reactionaries - like nowadays Eurasianism. The collapse of slavery and/or AMP great empires creates Feudal societies, colon (free farmers) as a new progress production-force crashed the ancient relation of production, latifundium system was dissolved and in the heart of feudalism, the capitalist mode of production sets up. Ottoman Society’s Muslim parts were adopted very late the capitalist system because of unproductive rentier/plundering social-economical system. But non-Muslim peoples of the Empire created the very strong industrial base. Ottoman Empire was the 7th great Industrial country of the World. Armenians, Greeks, and Jewish created a world standard industrial infrastructure. In this case, Küçükömer’s “Ottoman was never a capitalist society” claim is historically wrong.
Secondly, by Marxist AMP definition, local figures had a progressive role. The character of primitive agriculture creates usury. Marx wrote that these usuries had an objectively-limited-progressive role to teach and bring the monetary system to a more primitive society. Küçükömer’s second mistake is that he defends that the local usuries have a pluralist and subjectively progressive role. That’s why Küçükömer accepts a progressive image for Sunni Muslim mass without any social class differences. This point is improper not only theoretically but also historically. By theory, the usuries could get the lands from indebted peasants and become feudal in an also feudal society. By Marx and Engels, the principal example for the process that a loan shark becomes a landlord is Benjamin D’Israeli (1804-1881) who was two time Prime Minister of United Kingdom. But by an AMP, they could not capture the properties till the AMP collapsed day by day. If the usuries could not capture the lands, they could not become landlords, in this case, these usuries in a late AMP society in a capitalist world could become Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and in the capital accumulation process, they became classic bourgeoisie. By history, just as one example from thousands, these local usuries provoked Adana Massacre against Armenians neighbors. Without figure out the external and systematically internal plundering system as a theoretical framework and as a starting point, all the economy-political analysis about Turkey is suffered to stay inconsistent and unreliable. These local usuries and landlords supported the mass massacres against non-Muslim minorities in order to capture their properties. Ottoman Empire periodically „Islamised” the society and captured the properties of the non-Christian communities in the borders of the Empire. For contemporary history, the evolution of Islamist bourgeoisie justifies that this group has not any progressive sense different from other bourgeois. Küçükömer noticed that the Ottoman economic system was set up on spoils of war, the engine of the economy and the main source of public revenue was the spoil of war, that’s why the collapse period of the Empire he notice that the State increased the tax rates enormous to replace the spoils of war. Küçükömer perceives the spoils of war just as an isolated phenomenon. He doesn’t touch the internal and external effects and the social and economic reflections. But at the same time, Küçükömer also noticed that either Ottoman or modern Turkey’s economical-political system was/is set up on the division of the spoils as a rentier economy. If Ottoman Empire and Turkey had/ have not spoiled of war, and if tax collect was/is a permanent difficulty for both states, if the capacity to get the public debt is limited, what was/is the source of the spoils-shared to the different social groups? If these spoils did not come from external wars, they may come from internal prey from different groups. Küçükömer creates a pseudo-scientific fairy-tale about the “peaceful and rich” East/Islamic society, but he ignored the reactionary role of the local usuries/landlords and the transfer of wealth from the oppressed communities to dominant group (Turkish Sunni Muslims include the mass as well and limited allies from oppressed communities). Küçükömer also ignored the relations between the central authority (bureaucracy: the Kemalists and big capitalists) and local collaborator of the authority (local usuaries/landlords: Islamists, small-middle capitalists).
Küçükömer as an academic made his research on the main problems of Turkey and Turkey’s Left-wing. As an ex-Kemalist and putschist, he had sufficient direct experiences about Kemalism pseudo-progressive discourse having any positive value. As a „socialist”, he saw that the Turkish Left-wing was not a true Left-wing by universal standards and descriptions, being simply red-colored Kemalism, and stayed isolated from masses. In this context, he tried to use two theoretical instruments to solve the problem: Marx and Engels’s Asiatic Mode of Production (AMP) and Gramsci’s Civil Society idea. By Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels describe the different socialisms like Aristocrat Socialism or Petit-bourgeois Socialism. Kıvılcımlı notices that even the finance-capital has its own form of socialism: National Socialism (Nazism)! Küçükömer's socialism could be evaluated as a „socialism” of Turkey's local usuries/landlords, xenophobes, anti-Semitics, and genocide criminals like Kemalists and Ittihadists on the way of capitalism. He could be evaluated as an ideological illegitimate child of Doğan Avcıoğlu and Necif Fazık Kısakürek, and an ideological grand-father of Yigit Bulut who defends that President Erdogan is the greatest socialist and revolutionary of Turkey and Rıdvan Dilmen who claims that President Erdogan is the new Deniz Gezmiş of Turkey without guerrilla clothes. (Gezmiş is one of the 68 revolutionary youth symbol leaders in Turkey. He was a guerrilla combatant in Turkey and in Palestine as well. He was executed by a Turkish military court in 1972.)
Küçükömer criticizes Kemalism’s pseudo-progress, but he designs an Islamist pseudo-progress as well. His theories are used as a tool to create a pseudo-progressive image for the Islamists and their allies. The same two categories, Islamists and Kemalist and their social bases are studied by Dr. Hikmet Kıvılcımlı (relations between the central bureaucracy and the local usuries) and by Serif Mardin (center-periphery relations) (Mardin, 1973), from different perspectives, but assuming the same mistakes. As a final point, the definition of Ottoman Empire/Turkish social system as an external and systematically internal plundering process might be crowned at the same time as the definition of the Turkish colonial system (Beşikçi, 2016). To ignore the Ottoman Empire /Turkey’s imperialist, colonialist, assimilationist, occupying and genocide perpetrator character and avoid the confrontation could be evaluated as the root source of all the confusions.
Copyright © “Francisc I. Rainer” Anthropology Institute of the Romanian Academy. All rights reserved.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License