The Primordial Father Reborn
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The Ottoman Empire, as the last and westernmost bulwark of the classical Orient, was structured upon and around the material existence of a Father. Europe, on the other hand, had done away with this material Father and internalised it as the shared power of peers—a mere handful maybe, both male and privileged (be it aristocratic or capitalist), but peers all the same. When a new nation state was to be built upon the remnants of the Ottoman Empire, which was not anymore an Oriental power, but not yet a Western one either, the founders were split between the structural need of re-establishing the body of the Father, and the desire to become Westernised; that is, to do away with the Father altogether and establish a regime of peers. Eventually, they ended up doing both and neither: one man, Mustafa Kemal, who had done away with almost all his peers/brothers with the exception of one totally subservient brother-in-arms (İsmet İnönü), almost conforming (metaphorically, of course) to the custom of the old Empire dictated by the Conqueror’s Code,1 also made it a point to establish this regime without any actual sustainability (that is, any genetic legacy, a formal dynasty), thus making room for further ‘development’ into a more or less ‘democratic’ system. The outcome was as ambiguous as the initial enterprise: a formal ‘democracy’ (in the sense of a multiparty regime) was eventually established some years after Mustafa Kemal’s death due to the lack of any real or imaginary/ideological dynasty, but the desperate need for a father remained alive for decades.2
KeywordsDemocratic Party Military Coup Absolute Authority Turkish Republic Civilise Nation
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- 9.For the concept of a sovereign who stands outside the law, see Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (1998).Google Scholar