Kemalist Revolution

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kemalist Revolution


the common name for the anti-imperialist, bourgeois nationalist revolution in Turkey.

The Kemalist Revolution broke out after Turkey’s defeat in World War I, when the country was threatened with complete loss of independence. The Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia exerted great influence on the outbreak and course of the Kemalist Revolution. The revolution was centered in Anatolia, where at the end of 1918 and the beginning of 1919 a spontaneous popular movement arose against the occupation of a number of regions by the Entente powers (Great Britain, France, and Italy). After the occupation of Izmir by Greece on May 15,1919, the movement grew into a war of liberation.

The Anatolian peasants created the first armed force of the revolution, partisan detachments called national forces. The small proletariat, concentrated chiefly in the occupied regions, was still weak and as yet lacked its own political party: the Communist Party of Turkey arose in 1920, once the national liberation struggle was under way. The Anatolian national bourgeoisie (mostly merchants), which led the Kemalist Revolution, aimed at preserving the country’s territorial integrity and at creating an independent Turkish national state. The patriotic circles of the petite bourgeoisie, the intelligentsia, and especially army officers played a significant role in the Kemalist Revolution; the leader of the revolution, Mustafa Kemal Pasha (Atatürk), was an officer.

In September 1919, the Sivas Congress of National Bourgeois Organizations (the so-called Associations for the Defense of Rights) elected the leading group of the revolution, the Representative Committee, headed by Kemal. After establishing its headquarters in Ankara at the end of 1919, the committee began to function as a provisional government. In March 1920 the imperialist occupation forces disbanded the parliament in Istanbul that had been convened in January at the request of the Kemalists and that had adopted the declaration of independence, known as the National Pact, of January 28. The Representative Committee countered by calling the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in Ankara on Apr. 23, 1920, which proclaimed itself the sole lawful authority in the country. The sultan’s government in Istanbul had by this time lost much of its influence, and its efforts to suppress the national liberation movement—by organizing reactionary rebellions in Anatolia and by transferring the caliphate army there—were unsuccessful. In June 1920 the imperialist powers, using the Greek Army, initiated open intervention against the Ankara government. Moreover, they began to exert pressure on the sultan’s government and obtained its agreement to the Treaty of Sèvres of 1920.

In early 1921 the regular army created by the Grand National Assembly to replace the partisan detachments halted the advance of the foreign troops, subsequently inflicting a number of defeats on them. By the autumn of 1922 the National Assembly’s army had completely liberated Turkey from foreign occupation forces. The Soviet state’s moral, political, and material support substantially assisted the Turkish people. It was the first state to recognize the government of combatant Turkey and to conclude a treaty of friendship and brotherhood with Turkey (March 1921), giving the Turks arms, matériel, and more than 10 million rubles in gold.

At the Lausanne Conference of 1922–23, the imperialist powers were forced to cancel the Treaty of Sèvres and to recognize Turkey’s independence. The Kemalist Revolution and subsequent reforms, including the abolition of the sultanate in 1922, the proclamation of a republic in 1923, and the abolition of the caliphate in 1924, transformed Turkey into a secular bourgeois republic.


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Kemal Mustafa. Put’ novoi Turtsii. vols. 1–4. Moscow, 1929–34. (Translated from Turkish.)
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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The military and civilian bureaucracy, a clique of intellectuals with a mission to carry the torch of the Kemalist revolution, and the camp of capitalists who emerged as a result of the attempts to build national capital since the early years of the Republic, controlled the power domain in Turkey and formed a "historic hegemonic bloc," (13) to use the terms of Antonio Gramsci's theoretical understanding.
The 1923-50 era is the era of Kemalist revolution. The years between 1950-1990 represent the Cold War era, with ideological polarization and military coups.
The Kemalist revolution granted Turkish women full equality before the law and suffrage in 1935 (well before many European nations had it), and modernized education.
The death sentences passed for violating the law were considered necessary in order to save the Kemalist revolution from reactionary resistance movements.
Seeing people stand or sit for hours in imperturbable contemplation, it appears that time here is measured not in minutes but in years." (69) But Turkey's transformation by Kemal was noted by scholars and the authorities and caused some debate about the "Kemalist revolution" as a conceptual category.
The official historical discourses of the Kemalist revolution emphasised that the principles of modernity--Ataturk would probably have said 'civilisation' instead of 'modernity' (7)--such as secularity and equality between genders, did not come from imitation of the West, but rather from the non-written laws, tore, of the Turks of Central Asia and the Anatolian civilisation of the Hittites (Copeaux 1994, p.
The secularist nature of the Kemalist Revolution while vying to present a modern face of Turkey, had clinged to the strict edicts of the founding father: The military in Turkey remained the safeguard against any deviation in the status quo.
The partial Islamic revivalism may be the beginnings of a fundamental Turkish review of the Kemalist revolution, which inaugurated the era of Turkish secularism.
The most serious weakness is his assumption that the Kemalist Revolution was a break in attitudes and policies toward the Armenians.
The Progressive Republican Party of 1924-25 was led by some of the same leaders, who strongly,supported the Kemalist revolution in principle but differed on what Ataturk considered important matters of tactics and implementation.
Also, using 'Kemalist' as adjective in many cases (the Kemalist state, the Kemalist elite, the Kemalist revolution, Kemalist Turkey, Kemalist stylistic preferences, etc.) seems to be imposing a particular ideological stance onto the description of events.
The so-called Kemalist revolution and principles were aimed against those who aspire for Sharia and those who aspire for an independent Kurdistan.