Kemal Tahir and Kemalism: State ideology and literature

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Bursa Uludağ University, Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü, Turkey

Approval Date: 2019

Thesis Language: Turkish

Student: Alican Çinar



Kemal Tahir, one of the most important novelists of our literature history, has a unique and prestigious place in the history of left wing thought. 1960s in which Kemal Tahir published his canonical novels that are about recent and far history of our society are the years which left wing thought and politics were in progress and became common. In those years, the form of our society and its modernization history are the matter of debate in left wing intellectual orthodoxy. Kemal Tahir was one these intellectuals who joined the debate. The most important characteristic of left wing thought that progressed in 1960s is that it formed completeness with Kemalism. This completeness was later conceptualized left Kemalism. Kemal Tahir was one of the rare left intellectuals who approached critically and differently to modernization history of republican period. With a reference to East-West Distinction/Conflict, he criticizes the applications in modernization history in terms of content, method and purpose. According to him, the modernization history of our society which was eastern as a structure is actually not a modernization history but a “westernization” one. Thus, according to Kemal Tahir, the unique characteristics of our society should be restored in accordance with its traditions as an eastern society. According to him, the most important obstacle against it is the realization of nation and homogenous society. This both makes it harder to reestablish traditional state/society relationship by breaking off the relation with history and tradition and conflicts with the state understanding in society’s collective awareness by emphasizing “ethnicity” which doesn’t have a place in Turkish state tradition. The thesis this study put forward can be summarized; in Kemal Tahirian thought, Kemalism as official ideology/state ideology means deviation from our society’s autochthonic state understanding and thus a disengagement from traditional state/society relationship.