But during the last 10 years, which have gone down in Turkish political history as a kind of “golden decade,” the same circles have preferred to leave Turkish nationalism to its own devices. The changing tolerance that the CHP displays, the hopes of the masses interested in the CHP’s ability to change, the created expectations were all spared from Turkish nationalism.
Those who shape Turkey’s intellectual world of ideas see Turkish nationalism, which is represented by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Idealist (Ülkücü) movement, as being stagnant and unchangeable. From the 1970s to the 2000s, there was a steady increase in scientific research on Turkish nationalism, but after the 2000s scientific work on the topic decreased sharply.
Militarist modernization, the Kurdish problem, conservatives, military tutelage, the state of radical fundamentalist-Islamic thought, the Turkish-American relationship and a new period that began with the Gulf wars in the Middle East, all found their place within the fold of fundamental academic work.
However, it is possible to say that the decline in intellectual interest and curiosity in Turkish nationalism has to do with the fact that Turkish nationalism, as compared to previous years, has lost influence in determining its role in politics.
After all, over the last 10 years it was neither the Ülkücüs nor the Turkish nationalists in the MHP who were causing problems for the country; those that troubled Turkey were Kemalists and those whose paths crossed with them, the neo-pro Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) supporters -- in other words, the pro-Ergenekon circles, who were ready for civil war in order to gain political power, as they played games with the Kurdish movement in the mountains, valleys and cross-border lands.
The solidarity between these two schools of thought -- Kemalist and neo-pro CUP -- and the intertwining political relationship have caused difficult times for Turkey. The Feb. 28, 1997 period, the April 27, 2007 e-memorandum, Ergenekon, the Sledgehammer (Balyoz) and Kafes (Cage) action plans were inspired by none other than Kemalism and neo-pro CUP ideology.
MHP and nationalist leaders were successful in keeping the nationalist masses outside the bloody demand for power.
Leaders of the nationalist movement such as Devlet Bahçeli and Muhsin Yazıcıoğlu kept the doors of their parties closed to pro-Ergenekon circles, and Yazıcıoğlu lost his life in a suspicious accident, which still waits for light to be shed on it.
The nationalist cadres held an important role in the periods that coincided with the March 12, 1971 and Sept. 12, 1980 coups. However, they became increasingly ineffective in the dark games being played by coup planners and pro-coup groups. By the time they had found themselves in the dark cells of coup planners, it had become too late to interrogate themselves concerning the bloody attacks which they -- Ülkücü militants -- had been held accountable for.
The target of the Sept. 12 fascist junta, which embodied the spirit of “cause chaos and then create peace,” was not just leftists, but ülkücü youth as well. Ülkücüs, who were the most dynamic elements of Turkish nationalism, never forgot what they experienced in the dungeons of Sept. 12. By the time things returned to normal (after the coup period was over), the nationalist movement had learned serious lessons and gained experience from political history.
Thus, a serious struggle was maintained to prevent the coup plans and dark games -- which commenced with the election of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in 2002 -- from enveloping the nationalist movement.
If Turkish nationalists had lost this struggle against the neo-CUP circles and Kemalists, then the political history in Turkey could have played out completely differently. This is very important in terms of understanding the last decade of Turkish nationalism; however, everything that is happening with the Kurdish issue, which has long been the Achilles heel of Turkish nationalism, has deeply affected this movement.
Currently, at a time in which the view of the Kurdish issue and the political stance towards solving this matter functions as a litmus test, how will the mental change undergone by Turkish nationalists affect the period before us, when the opportunities for a solution and parameters are increasingly expanding? Can the nationalist movement, which is represented by the MHP, maintain Mr. Bahçeli’s stance -- a stance that is closed off from dialogue and negotiation -- any further? And more importantly, is this uncompromising stance one that is espoused by nationalist segments of society?
I’ll continue with this issue next week.