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Elites and Religion

Elites and Religion

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Elites and Religion

3/5 (1 valutazione)
340 pagine
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Apr 5, 2011


“Elites and Religion” is assembled from a series of articles written across Kemal Karpat's whole life, offering not isolated snapshots of the Turkey, but its total arc across nearly nine decades of development and sophstication. With careful deliberation over records not available to Western historians, Karpat looks in detail at the way that religion has been used, misused and downright abused by the elite circles of power in the Turkish Republic. No understanding of the Middle East is complete without subtle insight into Turkish politics, and no perspective of Turkey is complete without the input of a titanic intellectual and historian like Kemal Karpat. If you are looking for clarity and solid academic writing that you can count on, you will find it here.
The author of this book, Kemal Karpat, is a celebrity in Turkey who taught for almost 20 years at the University of Wisconsin as the Director of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies. He has given his life to service to his country and planet as his own brand of intellectual monk, dedicated to only the most intricate and detailed research and writing, engineered to the core with quality and integrity. Here he writes about how the religious faith that is so rooted in the individual and collective Turkish soul was used by the ruling class of the new Republic to meet political ends.

Apr 5, 2011

Informazioni sull'autore

Kemal Karpat was born in Megdigia, Romania. After his graduation from İstanbul University Law School, he received his MA from the University of Washington and his Ph.D from New York University. After specializing in history in Romania he did research on American, Russian, Middle Eastern and Ottoman history. He worked for the United Nations Economic and Social Council and was a professor and administrator at Montana State University, New York University, Princeton, Robert College, Bilkent University, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Columbia. He was the director of the Middle-Eastern studies department at the University of Wisconsin from 1970 to 1988.

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Elites and Religion - Kemal Karpat


by Kemal Karpat

Published by TIMAS PUBLISHING at Smashwords

Copyright © 2011 by TIMAS PUBLISHING

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.


















Political development in Turkey since the revolution of 1960 represents a new phase in the country’s social and political development in particular and modernization in general. We shall view these developments as part of a broad process of structural change occurring in various historical stages, each one differentiated from the previous one by the action of a particular social group.

This is, thus, in essence a historical-structural study of political development centered on a specific society: Ottoman-Turkish. We have adopted a historical view of political development not in order to prove or disprove the existence of an evolutionary law or of a unilinear sequence of generic periods of development but rather to theorize about the forces causing the political growth and decay of a particular society. Consequently, we have regarded the stages of development in the history of the Ottoman-Turkish society not as a straight path leading to ‘progress’ or ‘modernity’ but rather as a dialectical process subject to a variety of internal and international forces. The study does not have any pretensions. It is an effort to evaluate the historical forces conditioning the current political performance of a national state-Turkey.

It is obvious that the rate of economic and political development in any society is subject not only to the policies of the government but also to its historical preparedness. We feel that the failure of most students of development to devise a proper approach to the use of ‘history’ is one of the causes of accounting for the lack of a basic theory of development. Some of the existing theories appear rather useless when applied to societies other than those studied by the respective authors, or when historically tested. Certainly the role of theory consists not only in the systematization of information, or in the arrangement of facts in a logical order for the scholar’s benefit, but also in providing meaningful explanations and a sense of direction for events occurring now or in the past.

A proper use of history may help to solve some of the key theoretical problems of development and modernization. The changing capacity of a given development factor grows or diminishes in time. The independent variables become dependent. The policies which produce growth in some societies may cause decay in others, thus indicating that these latter societies are in different stages of development, or that their structures are not mutually responsive to the stimulus, or that they are not favored equally by international factors. All these plead in favor of a historical view of development based on quantitative data, new concepts rather than new chronology.¹ The comparison of Japan with the Ottoman Empire is a good example. The so-called ‘modernization’ in the Ottoman Empire began at least one century earlier than in Japan, but the latter quickly surpassed Turkey. Finally, the proper use of history-the remarriage of history and political science-may lead to the development of basic concepts of development applicable to all societies and all periods.

The study of Ottoman society as a model for historical development is warranted not only by the fact that it would place contemporary Turkish political development in proper historical perspective, but also because it would help to explain the patterns of change and development in most of the states in the Balkans, the Middle East, and even North Africa. It is a well-known fact that the peoples of at least twenty of the contemporary national states in the area, including those of Turkey, were subject to the direct rule of Ottoman bureaucracy for several centuries. Their social structure, and especially their patterns of development, despite variations and local differences, appear strikingly similar when viewed in longer time perspectives.

The study of Ottoman-Turkish development in this work is based on four hypotheses which draw heavily on the theories and ideas developed previously by economists, sociologists, and political scientists. We shall attempt to use these theories, as well as various empirical studies, within an integrated historical model framed according to the Ottoman-Turkish experiment in development and modernization. (Modernization is here considered a stage of development.)

The basic hypotheses underlying this study are the following: 1.development, political or otherwise, should rest first upon a basic cause-factor applicable to all societies; 2.this factor should be historically present in various degrees in all the phases of change; 3.the various forces contributing to change, as well as the changes itself, should be quantitatively measurable; and, 4.political developments and changes in the structure should correlate and be quantitatively measurable. (This does not prejudice the political system’s ability to become the independent, causative variable.)

In the light of these ideas we have studied the processes of development in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey in general as being caused first by structural changes or differentiation, manifest in the form of shifts in occupations, power, roles, and status among various social groups. Second, we have regarded the structural change as having followed a historical sequence which could be divided into several major stages; every stage in turn may be further subdivided into sub stages. We have defined a stage of development as being ‘major’ if a new factor were added to the process of change. We regarded the substages, though often more intensive and widespread in appearance rather than the stage itself, as having resulted from the interaction of existing factors rather than the introduction of an original developmental factor. Third, we considered the changes in the social structure, hence the historical sequences of development in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, to have been caused by concrete factors, manifest in a series of real situations. Consequently, we expected these structural changes to be quantitatively measurable at all times, provided the data were available. Finally, we have viewed political activity in each stage of development as being the consequence of the activities of specific social groups. We have regarded the contemporary political development of Turkey as corresponding to a specific historical stage of development that is, to the stage in which the political system begins to act as an independent (causal) variable and conditions the rate structural differentiation. Briefly, the process can be placed in the causal paradigm: technological-economic stimuli; structural differentiation (occupational diversification and emergence of new groups); a new stage of development quantitatively more complex that the previous one; political development. We shall attempt to analyze each of the four phases and the factors conditioning them along with the hypotheses mentioned above and apply these to the history of Ottoman-Turkish development.²


Development in Turkey as elsewhere consists of a process of structural change, a corresponding differentiation of functions and reassignment of statuses, roles, and responsibilities among individuals and social groups. Structural change is caused by technological or economic factors, as well as by the response of social, political, and cultural systems to the political challenge rooted in these factors. Structural change is taken to mean changes in occupations, in production methods, in the patterns of stratification, and a corresponding justification of authority and group solidarity. The main consequences of these changes appear in the form of new social groups, in the establishment of new power relationships, and in the re-evaluation of sociopolitical roles and statuses often in competition with older social groups. The ancient groups, if viewed in the light of Ottoman-Turkish developmental history, tend to adapt to new conditions through a series of functional adjustments. In fact, these are often, the human bases from which the new groups emerge.

Technological innovation is taken to mean the introduction of a new technical material element in the major field of activity. Historically speaking, such innovations seem to have been stimulated by the need to increase the government’s military potential or were the consequences of internal structural pressures. A technologically superior society seldom attributes its superiority to factual causes, but rather to the uniqueness of its social and cultural system. Thus, the Ottoman Empire achieved superiority over the Byzantines in the fifteenth century and later over Persians and Mamluks by using gunpowder and artillery in a manner and volume unknown to its enemies. But it attributed its victory to the superiority of its own society and culture, supposedly resulting from compliance with divine commandments. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Europe claimed that its superiority over the Ottomans resulted from the high virtue of its culture and not technology, armament, or economic power. The latter were considered to be the consequences of culture.

We regard structural transformation as the fundamental cause of political development. This derives in part from our own ecological view of development, and in part from the need to find a constant variable against which other variables can be measured and the changes in the quality of political development linked more precisely to given factors. The cultural determinists were probably right as far as their methodology was concerned because they tried to explain all change by relying on one basic factor.³ We adopted the same approach by substituting structure for culture and regarding the latter as being subject to the former. Obviously both culture and structure are composed of many parts which can be analyzed separately, but this leads one to the dilemma of the tree and the forest or the egg and the chicken. Moreover, the role of personality and leadership in the political process cannot be ignored. But the question of the individual’s adjustment to altered circumstances (all of which form the basis of the behavioristic theory of cultural continuity and diffusion, and clarify specific problems and conflicts caused by growth), and his leadership performance is superseded by, and in fact subject to, structural change.

The idea of structural change as the prime cause of social and political transformation seems to be present in one way or another in the reasoning of most historians and social scientists who adopt a quantitative view of development. It is the fundamental idea in Barrington Moore’s work, Social Origins of Democracy and Dictatorship. One may certainly disagree with Moore’s overemphasis on peasants and landlords as the key factors in the transformation of certain agrarian societies, but not with his basic concept that structure is the fountainhead of all social and political development. His idea that the key feature of both the American and French revolutions was the development of a group in society with an independent economic base is essential, despite his bias in favor of an ultimate democratic order which was to emerge from this development.

The idea of structural change as the key factor in development is accepted in a variety of forms by other social scientists. Karl Deutsch stated that social mobilization accompanies the growth of markets, industries, and towns, and eventually of literacy and mass communication.⁵ Elsewhere he referred to social mobilization as being the process in which major clusters of old social, economic and psychological commit-ments are eroded or broken and people become available for new patterns of socialization and behavior.⁶ Deutsch’s indicator of social mobilization, namely the shift from agricultural to industrial occupations, is a typical case of structural change, and consequently part of the restructuring process of a society, and eventually of its value system. But this shift from agriculture to industry, to be dealt with later, is a key indicator of development only in modern or contemporary societies. It cannot explain the changes in history. Consequently, one must adopt a broader view of structural change which can be applied to development throughout history.

Seymour M. Lipset saw social stratification and the assumption of political roles by the middle classes in Latin America-manifest in a change in the social structure from an elongated pyramid into a diamond shaped one-as the effect of industrialization.⁷ This, in fact, was another way of viewing structural transformation as a cause-effect relationship and of regarding it as the prime cause of political development. Thus, Lipset’s well-known indices separating a democratic society from a nondemocratic one, such as the rate of industrialization, wealth, education, and urbanization do not fall in the same category. The first indicator is, in fact, the cause and the following three are the effects of structural transformation.

Phillip Cutright, though critical of Lipset’s simple indices, developed his own indicators of political development still rooted in structural change.⁸ Cutright’s basic premise was that a politically developed nation had more complex and specialized institutions, and that a proper index of political development should correlate with the variables of other social institutions. The national indices used by Cutright, such as development of education, urbanization, communication, economic growth, and labor force characteristics, do not follow a logical sequence. Like Lipset, he confuses the basic cause of structural change with its effects. Thus, economic growth and change in labor force characteristics are inseparably the original causes of structural change, while education, urbanization, and communication depend on and become, in fact, qualitative expressions of economic growth and changes in the labor force. After a certain degree of development, education may provide powerful stimuli for additional change. Nevertheless, Cutright’s view that political development is measurable and that each nation can be visualized within a process of a continuum of development is an implicit recognition of the historical dimension of development.

It was Bert F. Hoselitz who, building on J. Schumpeter’s theory of social groups, referred specifically to the basic relationship which exists between the complexity of productive activities and the alterations in other fields of social organization and structure, above all in social stratification. This last is determined by occupational roles or membership in a specialized collectivity.⁹ The most characteristic aspect of a preindustrial stratification system, according to Hoselitz, was evident in the sharp polarity of the social strata, resulting in an extreme gap between mass and elite, and in the disregard for economic performance as an important status-conferring variable. Incidentally, both these social characteristics apply to the Ottoman Empire.

Thus, if one accepts structural transformation as the central factor present at all stages of development in all societies at all times, a certain conceptual unity in time and space may be established.

It is necessary to interject into the discussion at this point the special role performed by the political system in accelerating structural transformation through massive introduction of technology into society. One of the chief characteristics of the modern political system is the role it assumes in deliberately initiating structural change as a means for establishing a new social order, and for assigning roles and responsibilities according to the new exigencies of production, solidarity, action control, value preservation, and transmission. But viewed historically, the very modern state appears as the by-product of a long process of structural transformation and functional differentiation.

Most of the current work on the new nations deals either with the immediate political processes which preceded the establishment of modern statehood or with the post independence problems of national integration and consolidation, political identity, and loyalty. These studies ignore, for the most part, the structural changes which culminated in the establishment of a modern state as a form of political response to prior structural differentiation. The reshaping of ethnic, religious, or tribal loyalties and identities into national-political ones, and the idea of territorial statehood occurring in a variety of ways were preceded by basic changes in the structure of the native society.

Yet modern statehood is a definite watershed in the modernization process. It marks the end of a series of previous stages of structural change and the beginning of new ones by maximizing the interdependence between social, economic, and political structures and the deliberate use of power for societal goals. Modern statehood stands between the various preparatory stages of modernity and modernity itself. A modern political system has indeed the potential to adopt technology in all its aspects, and thus to speed up structural differentiation on behalf of new national goals. It is the stage, as Deutsch described it, when administratively skilled talent and available economic resources begin to rise above popularly expressed demands. It is also the stage in which man’s view of himself and the universe is desacralized to the extent of recognizing the human being as having an unlimited capacity to transform nature, society, and himself.

Many of the differences separating the developed West from the third world are bound to disappear when the latter reaches full modern statehood, and achieves an optimum rate of economic development through the adoption of technology and industrialization. We believe that the basic difference between the developed countries and the third world stemmed from the early organization of the West in a system of modern statehood and its subsequent adoption of technology and of industrialization, the latter being the economic consequence of technology. In fact, much of the economic, cultural, and social superiority of the West may be related to its technology and political system geared to fulfill also the needs of the first rather than exclusively to the inherent superiority of its cultural values. It is difficult to explain the cultural and political differences between France and England when compared to one another, and the similarities in their way of life when compared to that of an underdeveloped country in Asia or Africa. On the other hand, it is difficult to understand why Asiatic Japan is far more developed than, say Lebanon, despite the pervasive Western influences of Catholicism and French culture in the latter. Lebanon is in good measure Europeanized and Westernized, but only partly developed, while Japan is not Westernized" but quite developed. Japan’s initial advantages over other countries, including the Ottoman Empire, lay in the presence of structural conditions (facilitated in turn by special geographic and demographic circumstances) conducive to full modern nationhood and subsequent technological advance.¹⁰

The modern state is the framework in which the political system can maximize its ability to achieve structural change through the rational integration of social groups into the system, the assignment of roles and statuses, and the definition and legitimization of authority according to the functional needs and goals of these groups. In fact, today, the degree of modernity is commensurate with the ability of a society to achieve modern nationhood and economic development, and meet welfare goals. The idea of Gabriel Almond that the difference between developed and underdeveloped political systems results from the degree of the complexity of differentiation and functions, is too simple as well as historically incorrect. The ancient systems of Asia, including the Ottoman state, were extremely complex structures, performing a variety of representative and symbolic functions not encountered in the modern systems. One may, however, point to the fact, noted also by Almond and Coleman, that the input of the old political systems was much greater than the output, while in the modern systems the opposite is true. In summary, we view the formation of modern statehood both as the result of prior structural change and as a new major stimulus to intensified social differentiation and development in general.

The idea that structural differentiation is the basic cause of political development needs further elaboration. We regard the structural change as being manifest, among other things, in the form of social groups. Political action is the action of social groups. It is the social group which develops as the consequence of social restructuring and becomes eventually the incubator from which individual leadership emerges. Leadership has been omnipresent in all stages of history. Yet, a leader cannot be conceived without relating him to a specific social group. There is a continuous generic relationship between technology and economics and the resulting structural differentiation of which social groups and their leaders are a natural consequence.

The emphasis placed on social groups in this study as the embryos of social and political development in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey stems not only from theoretical considerations but also from an actual division of society into social estates. For centuries, Middle Eastern society was divided into four major estates, which were assigned specific roles, statuses, and functions. Thus the men of the pen, including the doctors of religion, writers, and accountants, and the men of the sword, that is the military, were charged with the maintenance and transmission of culture, religion, and tradition, and the defense of territory. The merchants and artisans had the duty of manufacturing and exchanging goods, whereas the fourth estate, comprising the peasants and the husbandmen (animal farmers), were considered food producers. The basic responsibility of the political system-composed primarily of the first two groups-was to see it, that each individual maintained his place in the respective group, that he performed his group functions, and that social mobility was kept at a minimum. If social mobility occurred because of personnel needs in the ruling estates and occupational change, it had to follow a precise, rigid procedure. The sociopolitical system also accepted the interdependence of social groups. In the ultimate analysis the chief function of the political system was to preserve the status quo through a rigid, prescriptive control of social mobility and stratification. This was relatively easy as long as the forces of change were constant and the process of transformation followed a known cycle. The challenge to the system began to arise about the sixteenth century when new forces such as the technology coming from the West and changes in routes of trade and inflow of gold and silver changed the traditional economic structure and brought about new patterns of social stratification. This was, in fact, the beginning of a gradual transition of the traditional society from social estates to a class organization. It proved to be a fundamental social and political movement toward modernity. (European society’s ancient division into various estates such as noble, clerical, burgher, or peasant, was not very different in substance from that of society in the Middle East.)


In the preceding discussion we have tried to bring into focus two major aspects of politics. First, structural differentiation appears as a basic cause of social and political development. Second, this structural differentiation is occurring in a historical continuum, which can be divided into several stages. Each new stage is characterized by the addition of a new element in the process of development, thus rendering it more complex and differentiated. It is important to note from the very start that the idea of stages of development enjoys great popularity among economists and some social scientists. Thus, Walt W. Rostow’s idea of five stages of socioeconomic growth-traditional society, preconditions to takeoff, takeoff, the drive towards maturity, and mass consumption- is in essence a historical concept of staged development.¹¹ Simon S. Kuznets, though critical of Rostow’s views, developed his own theory of stages by placing special emphasis on the impact of the historical heritage, especially in his concept of economic epoch and the epochal innovation, the first consisting of the interaction between technological, institutional, and social change. Another view of stages of development in which education was given a special role was advanced by John K. Galbraith.¹²

Political scientists and sociologists have dealt with the idea of historical stages of development. A. F. K. Organski believed that modern nations have undergone four distinctive stages of political development since the sixteenth century: the politics of primitive unification, the politics of industrialization, the politics of national welfare, and the politics of abundance.¹³ All countries had to go through these stages of development and must be in one of the stages. The views of Organski largely followed Rostow’s stage theory of economic development and tended to overemphasize the government’s economic role, while disregarding the rise and impact of social groups in history.

Dankwart A. Rustow also found it necessary to deal with the problem of sequel within the context of the formation of modern nation states. According to

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