Young Turk Revolution of 1908

Young Turk Revolution of 1908

 

the first bourgeois revolution in Turkey. The Young Turk revolution took place under the impact of the Russian Revolution of 1905–07 during the period that Lenin called “the awakening of Asia.” Its goals were the overthrow of the despotic regime of Sultan AbdulHamid II, the introduction of a constitutional system, and, in the long run, the liberation of the country from semicolonial dependence.

The preconditions for the Young Turk revolution developed in the late 19th century and early 20th, when the transformation of the Ottoman Empire into a semicolony of the imperialist powers was completed. Abdul-Hamid IPs despotic regime intensified the discontent of the popular masses, giving rise to an active protest movement in young bourgeois intellectual circles, and especially among the young officers. The interests of the young and still rather weak Turkish bourgeoisie were reflected in this movement, which was led by the Committee of Union and Progress, a secret organization. Among the events foreshadowing the Young Turk revolution were the guerrilla movement in Macedonia, the revolt of Turkish sailors in 1906, mass protests in Anatolia in 1906–07, and disturbances in the Arab countries. The immediate cause of the revolution was the meeting between the Russian and British monarchs at Revel in June 1908, during which reference was made to the passage of new reforms in Macedonia that were, in fact, directed at detaching that region from Turkey. On July 3, 1908, a Turkish partisan band recruited in the city of Resen and led by Major Niyazi rebelled with the goal of restoring the Constitution of 1876. On July 6, another partisan band, led by Major Enver, joined the revolt, which, within several days had spread to most of the Turkish military units in Macedonia and had been joined by the Macedonian and Albanian partisan bands. On July 23, revolutionary detachments entered Salonika (Thessaloniki), Bitola, and other major cities in Macedonia. At mass meetings, the restoration of the Constitution of 1876 was announced. Deciding that resistance was futile, Abdul-Hamid II signed a decree convoking a parliament.

Limiting the aims of the revolution to the establishment of a constitutional system, the Young Turk leaders endeavored to cut short any activity on the part of the masses, hoping that their moderation would earn the “good will*’ of the imperialist powers. Strikes were suppressed, and national minorities were persecuted. At the same time, the feudal-clerical and comprador opposition, supported by the imperialist powers, prepared and in April 1909 carried out a counterrevolutionary coup that briefly restored the autocratic rule of Abdul-Hamid. The insurrection was suppressed by military units and partisans from Macedonia. The Turkish Parliament deposed Abdul-Hamid on Apr. 27, 1909, and elected the weak-willed Mehmed V sultan. After consolidating their power, however, the Young Turks soon completely lost their former bourgeois revolutionary spirit, as limited as it was. The doctrine of Ottomanism (”equality for all Ottomans”) proclaimed by them was diverted to the task of forcibly Turkifying the non-Turkish peoples of the empire. In place of the objectively progressive tendencies in Turkish bourgeois nationalism (Turkism), the chauvinistic ideology of Pan-Turkism was encouraged, and the Pan-Islamism of Abdul-Hamid was revived.

By early 1910–11, the Young Turk revolution had essentially been defeated. After the coup d’etat led by Enver Pasha in 1913, the constitution and Parliament lost all practical importance. The unfinished tasks of the Young Turk revolution were left as a historical legacy for the next stage of the Turkish bourgeois revolutionary movement—the Kemalist revolution.

REFERENCES

Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 33, pp. 38–40).
Bibliografiia Turtsii (1713-1917). Moscow, 1961. Nos. 1832–1922.
Bibliografiia Turtsii (1917-1958). Moscow, 1959. Nos. 7, 9, 23, 44, 62, and 1164–1191.
Miller, A. F. Piatidesiatiletie mladoturetskoi revoliutsii. Moscow, 1958.
Aliev, G. Z. Turtsiia v period pravleniia mladoturok. Moscow, 1972.

A. F. MILLER

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