Turkish nationalism

Turkish nationalism is a political ideology that promotes and glorifies the Turkish people, as either a national, ethnic, or linguistic group.


After the Fall of the Ottoman Empire, Mustafa Kemal came to power. Atatürk introduced Hilaire de Barenton's Sun Language Theory into Turkish political and educational circles in 1935, at the high point of attempts to "cleanse" the Turkish language of foreign influence.[citation needed] Turkish researchers at the time also came up with the idea that Early Sumerians were proto-Turks.[1]


Ideologies associated with Turkish nationalism include Pan-Turkism or "Turanism" (a form or ethnic or racial essentialism or national mysticism), "Neo-Ottomanism" with imperial ambitions derived from the Ottoman era, "Anatolianism" which considers the Turkish nation as a separate entity which developed after the Seljuk conquest of Anatolia in the 11th century, and secular, civic nationalist Kemalism.


Implemented by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founding ideology of the Republic of Turkey features nationalism (Turkish: milliyetçilik) as one of its six fundamental pillars.

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".

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. The Turkish Nation is defined as such:

"The folk which constitutes the Republic of Turkey is called the Turkish Nation."[2]

— Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Kemalist criteria for national identity or simply being 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.[3]


"Turanist" nationalism began with the Turanian Society founded in 1839, followed in 1908 with the Turkish Society, which later expanded into the Turkish Hearth[4] and eventually expanded to include ideologies such as Pan-Turanism and Pan-Turkism.

The Young Turk Revolution which overthrew Sultan Abdul Hamid II, allowed Turkish nationalism into power, eventually leading to the Three Pashas control of the late Ottoman government, but Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) explicitly rejected the ideology of Turanism just as he rejected Pan-Islamism. During the Turkish War of Independence, on December 1, 1921 Kemal stated:

... We never established Pan-Islamism. Perhaps we said "We are establishing it and we shall complete it." Our enemies said "Let us kill them before they complete it." We never established Pan-Turanism. Perhaps we said "We are establishing it and we shall complete it." Our enemies said, "Let us kill them before they complete it." That is the whole problem, instead of bringing pressure and resentment upon ourselves from our enemies... Let us know our places!



"Anatolianism" (Turkish: Anadoluculuk) takes as its starting point that the main source of Turkish culture should be Anatolia (Anadolu), and the main base of this thought is that the Turkish people had built a quite new civilization in Anatolia after 1071 when they won at the Battle of Manzikert. In the early Republican era, some intellectuals proposed that the origins of the Turkish nationalism should be sought in Anatolia, not in "Turan".[7]

Hilmi Ziya Ülken, one of the founders of Anatolianism, was objecting to Neo-Ottomanism and Pan-Islamism as well as to Turanism. Between 1918 and 1919 he published the periodical Anadolu with Reşat Kayı. In 1919 Ülken wrote a book titled Anadolunun Bugünki Vazifeleri (Present duties of Anatolia), but it was not published. In 1923, Ülken and his friends published the periodical Anadolu. They worked to form an alternative thought to Ottomanism, Islamism and Turanism, and they opposed the specificity of Turkish history traced origins outside of Anatolia. Their conclusion was Memleketçilik (memleket meaning "homeland").

Turkish Islamic synthesis

The tension between Pan-Turkic and Pan-Islamic Turkish nationalism persisted in modern Turkey. Following the 1980 Turkish coup d'état, the compromise solution of a "Turkish-Islamic synthesis" (Türk-İslam sentezi) was declared the official state ideology.[8]