Young Turks

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This article is about the Turkish nationalist constitutionalist movement. For other uses, see Young Turks (disambiguation).
Armenian Genocide
Early elements
Hamidian Massacres · 1896 Ottoman Bank Takeover · Adana Massacre · Young Turk Revolution
The Genocide
April 24, 1915 · Tehcir Law · Armenian casualties of deportations · Ottoman Armenian casualties
Major extermination centers 
Dayr az-Zawr · Sivas · Muş · Diyarbakır · Erzurum · Trabzon
Resistance (Armenian resistance)
Zeitun  · Van · Musa Dagh · Sasun · Urfa
Other targeted groups
Assyrians  · Pontic Greeks
Foreign reactions and aid 
Reactions · American Committee for Relief in the Near East
Responsible parties
Young Turks 
Enver · Talat · Djemal · Committee of Union and Progress · The Special Organization · Ottoman Army · Kurdish Irregulars
Operation Nemesis · Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire  · Denial
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The Young Turks (Turkish Jöntürkler (plural), from French Jeunes Turcs, Arabic: تركيا الفتاة ) was a coalition of various reform groups in favor of reforming the administration of Ottoman Empire. Their movement brought about the second constitutional era through a Young Turk Revolution against the monarchy of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. The movement was initiated among military students in 1889, and extended to other sections. With the official establishment of Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) in 1906, most of the Young Turks became members of this party. The Young Turk movement built a rich tradition of dissent that shaped the intellectual, political and artistic life of the late Ottoman period (decline, dissolution).

The Three Pashas of the Young Turks ruled the Ottoman Empire from the Coup of 1913 until the end of World War I. According to most historians, the Young Turks were responsible for orchestrating the Armenian Genocide.<ref>Christopher J. Walker, "Armenia: The Survival of a Nation," 1980, p 237</ref> This is disputed by most Turkish historians, along with a minority of Western historians.


[edit] Nature of Young Turks

See also: List of parties in the Ottoman Empire and Committee of Union and Progress

There was shared trend, a movement, of distributed activities among the Turkish members of the Ottoman Empire whose political side can be traced back to as early as 1889. However, the Young Turks were not a single society, party, militia, or any social organization. The Young Turks movement was a shared thinking style among the Turkish members of the Ottoman Empire. The Young Turks movement was not only political, there were artists, administrators, scientists, etc. Young Turks were progressive, which means they had conflicts with the status quo. Young Turks were partisan and so believed in a parliamentary system, rather than the monarchy or theocracy. Since this time "Young Turk" has also been used to signify any groups or individuals inside an organization who are more progressive, and seek prominence and power.<ref> defintion of "Young Turks"</ref> <ref>Forum discussion of definition of "Young Turk"</ref>

Some sources associate the Committee of Union and Progress with the Young Turks. The Committee of Union and Progress had members from many other ethnic groups, and different world views. In 1909, the Committee of Union and Progress had 60 Arabic, 25 Albanian, 14 Armenian, 10 Slavic and 4 Jewish representatives, in addition to the Turks. The opposite is not true, there are Young Turks do belong to Liberal Union (Ottoman Empire) and to other parties that can be found under list of parties in the Ottoman Empire.

Some sources associate the Young Turk Revolution with the Young Turks. It is correct to say that all Young Turks were part of the Young Turk Revolution, but the opposite is not true. The Young Turk Revolution also included many other components of the Ottoman Empire, such as Armenians who supported the revolution through the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. Both military and social uprising brought the political changes which characterize the Young Turk Revolution.

Some sources associate Young Turks to Turanism, which is not correct as there were young Turks who believed in Ottomanism and defended the Sultan until the Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire.

[edit] Prominent Young Turks

The prominent leaders and ideologists included:

[edit] History

[edit] Underground, 1889-1906

The Young Turks originated from the secret societies of progressive university students and military cadets. They were driven underground along with all other forms of political dissent after the constitution was annulled by the Sultan. Like their European forerunners such as the Carbonari, they typically formed cells, in which only one member might be connected to another cell.

[edit] Revolutionary, 1906-1908

The Young Turks became a truly revolutionary movement with the CUP as an organizational umbrella. They recruited individuals prepared to sacrifice themselves for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. In 1906, the Ottoman Freedom Society (OFS) was established in Thessalonica by Mehmed Talat. The OFS actively recruited members from the Third Army base, among them Major Ismal Enver. In September 1907, OFS announced they would be working with other organizations under the umbrella of CUP. In reality, the leadership of the OFS would exert significant control over the CUP.

[edit] Congress of Ottoman Opposition

The Second congress of the Ottoman opposition took place in Paris, France in 1907. Opposition leaders including Ahmed Riza, Sabahheddin Bey, and Khachatur Maloumian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation were in attendance. The goal was to unite all the parties, including the CUP, in order to bring about the revolution. However, varying positions on issues such as nationalism made unity among the factions impossible.

[edit] Revolt

Main article: Young Turk Revolution

In 1908 the Ottoman Empire was facing the 'Macedonian Question'. Beginning in 1897 Czar Nicholas II and Franz Joseph, who were both interested in the Balkans, implemented policies which brought on the last stage of the balkanization process. Beginning in 1903 there were discussions on establishing administrative control by Russian and Austrian advisory boards in the Macedonian provinces. The House of Osman was forced to accept this idea, although for quite a while was able to subvert its implementation. However there were signs that showed this policy game was coming to an end. On May 13 1908 the leadership of the CUP, and scale of its organization had increased to the point where its members could say to the Sultan that the 'Dynasty will be in danger' if he did not bring the constitution back. June 12 1908, the Third Army in Macedonia begins to march to the Palace. On July 24, 1908 the constitution was restored.

[edit] Constitutional Era

Further information: Second Constitutional Era (Ottoman Empire),Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire

With the Committee of Union and Progress coming out of the election box the unity among the Young Turks that was originated from the Young Turk Revolution replaced itself with the realities of the Ottoman Empire. The details of the political events can be found under Second Constitutional Era (Ottoman Empire), and also the details of the military events can be found Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.

[edit] Ideology

[edit] Liberalism

See also: Socioeconomics of Reformation Era (Ottoman Empire)

The European public and many scholars commonly labeled the Young Turks as liberals. The Young Turks did adopt liberal ideas, and under the influence of the theories of Gustave Le Bon, they devalued parliaments as hazardous bodies.

[edit] Constitutionalism

See also: Second Constitutional Era (Ottoman Empire)

Although the European public and many scholars commonly labeled the Young Turks as constitutionalists and the Young Turks employed rhetoric promoting constitutionalism, this was merely a device to stave off any intervention by the Great Powers in the domestic politics of the Empire. The Young Turks followed the principle of developing an intellectual elite to govern the Empire, never envisioning participation of the masses in policy-making or administration.

[edit] Materialism and Positivism

See also: Ahmed Riza, Namık Kemal, Ziya Gökalp, and Yusuf Akçura

Another guiding principle for the Young Turks was the transformation of their society into one in which religion played no consequential role. In this ultra-secular and somewhat materialistic structure, science was to replace religion. However Young Turks soon recognized the difficulty of spreading this idea and began to work at developing claims that Islam itself was materialism. As compared with later intellectual activities by Muslim intellectuals, such as the attempt to reconcile Islam and socialism, this was an extremely difficult thought. Although some former members of the CUP continued to make efforts in this field after the revolution of 1908, they were severely denounced by the ulema, who accused them of "trying to change Islam into another form and create a new religion while calling it Islam".

Positivism, with its claim of being a religion of science, deeply impressed Young Turks, who believed it could be more easily reconciled with Islam than could popular materialistic theories. Name of the society, Union and Progress, is believed to be inspired by leading positivist Auguste Comte's motto Order and Progress. Positivism also served as a base for the desired strong government.

[edit] Centralized government

During the late Ottoman Empire, all the intellectuals were state officials, and all Young Turks were on Empire payroll. Their participation in the government apparently had led them to value state. They were reluctant to approach theories against the state, such as Marxism or anarchism.

Another result of the 1908 Young Turk Revolution was the gradual creation of a new governing elite, which had consolidated and cemented its control over the Ottoman civil and military administration by 1913.

As empire-savers the Young Turks always viewed the problems confronting the Ottoman Empire from the standpoint of the state, placing little if any emphasis on the people's will. Thus the Young Turks' inclination toward authoritarian theories was by no means a coincidence. All the theories that the Young Turks developed and took particular interest in, such as biological materialism, positivism, Social Darwinism, and Gustave Le Bon's elitism, defended an enlightment from above and opposed the idea of a supposed equality among fellow-citizens.

[edit] Nationalism

Further information: Millet, Ottomanism, Turanism, Kemalist ideology

In regards to nationalism, the Young Turks underwent a gradual transformation. Beginning with the Tanzimat with non-Turkish members participating at the outset, the Young Turks were embraced the official state ideology - Ottomanism. However Ottoman patriotism failed during First Constitutional Era (Ottoman Empire), and coming years. Many non-Turkish Ottoman intellectuals rejected the idea because of its exclusive use of Turkish symbols. Turkish nationalists gradually gained the upper hand in politics, and following the Congress of 1902, a stronger focus on nationalism developed. It was at this time that Ahmed Riza chose to replace the term "Ottoman" with "Turk". However, it was not until 1904 that nationalism came to be based on a scientific theory, and following the Japanese victory over Russia, the Young Turks began to base their nationalism on the pseudo-scientific race theories of Europe.

[edit] Impact on Republic of Turkey

The Young Turk movement built a rich tradition of dissent that shaped the intellectual and political life of the late Ottoman period and laid the foundation for Atatürk's revolution. Most of their leaders believed that the state, not popular will, was the instrument by which social and political change would be achieved. They bequeathed to Atatürk the conviction that reformers should seize state power and then use it ruthlessly for their own ends, not to democratize society in ways that would weaken the centralized state.

Except for the shift in focus on nationalism, the official ideology of the early modern Turkish state was shaped during this period. The Young Turks who lived long enough to witness the coming into being of the Republic of Turkey saw many of their ideals realized - it was a regime based on a popular materialistic-positivist ideology and nationalism. The new regime worked to be included in western culture while exerting an anti-imperialist rhetoric and convened a parliament composed not of elected politicians but of virtually selected intellectuals working on behalf of the people without cooperating in any capacity with the 'ignorant' masses. The impact of the Young Turks on shaping the official ideology of early modern Turkey went far beyond the political changes they effected.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] Notes


[edit] External links

[edit] Further reading

de:Jungtürken es:Jóvenes Turcos fr:Jeunes Turcs ko:청년 투르크 당 it:Giovani turchi he:הטורקים הצעירים nl:Comité voor Eenheid en Vooruitgang ja:青年トルコ人革命 pl:Młodoturcy tr:Jön Türk

Young Turks

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