The Process of State Formation in Turkey

(Last modified March 2002)

In this study, I will attempt to analyze the various problems associated with the process of state formation in Turkey. My central hypothesis is that, due to a number of internal and external factors, Turkey is now at a crossroads. Developments with the international community of states, which are usually termed "international relations" within the social sciences, will be investigated here not as a process taking place outside Turkish society, but rather as an element of the internal development of Turkish society or as a process complementary to internal developments. One significant "external factor" is the demise of the Soviet Union and the resulting new perspectives for Turkey. I refer to this complex as "the renaissance of the orient question."

The orient question was a problem for the European states' diplomacy throughout the nineteenth century and was not solved as such until World War I and the October Revolution. The disintegration of the Soviet Union at the end of the twentieth century, which has fundamentally influenced the processes whereby new nation states are emerging and drawing new borders, has unsteadied the balance of power in this entire region. Those peoples and states which felt they had been cut short during the distribution process at the beginning of the century are now voicing old and new claims.

I will elucidate, as "internal factors", those aspects which indicate a crisis of trust between the state and society. I describe this internal line of development as a "second process of ethnization." One of its consequences is the fact that the fundaments upon which the republic was established are now hardly able of holding the edifice of the state together (and require, for example, permanent internention in political affairs by the military). Thus, a huge gap between state and society has emerged, representing in a way a continuation of the relations characteristic of the Ottoman Empire.

One might describe Turkey as "a state without a people." How this phenomenon developed is the focus of this project. Various methods will be employed to analyze and elucidate the structural peculiarities of Turkish society.