The concept of conservatism may be defined as 'keeping the status
quo'. This concept is not a well-grounded concept in Turkey, and therefore its content
and variations need to be examined from different perspectives.
Whether conservatism is a political understanding and practice, which tries to
conserve the status quo; or is it a social phenomenon that covers up some concerns
and reactions against change? How does it possible to define conservatism merely
as an ideology; or can we see conservatism in our daily life as a manner and attitude?
To talk about and discuss on conservatism in Turkey where many radical cultural
and civilizational change took place in recent history bring up many questions.
If we consider conservatism as an ideology except a product of an historical
revolution (French Revolution), when did this concept emerge in us? Where should
we begin this process? The reform and improvement movements in the Ottoman times
belong to a significant curve; but the transformation of these reform movements
to revolutions during the Republican period and to a state-supported policy to change
the society indicate a distinct threshold, which led to the emergence of reactions
by some social groups. Other reasons for the reactions may be defined as the targeting
of social institutions as religion as they caused backwardness, and the attempts
to eliminate the influence of these institutions in private, social and political
realms. At this point, the crucial question seems to be whether the Turkish conservatism
is a product of those reactions, or not?
The two keywords in the discussions about conservatism are modernization and
tradition. We should undo the following knot while analyzing the connections between
modernization-tradition-conservatism: On the one hand, a conservatist thesis in
the form of "without having a tradition, it is not possible to experience the modernization";
and on the other hand, a social engineering project that comments on the tradition
as an hobble in the way to live the recent times and to construct the future, and
thinks tradition as the opposite of modernism, and interprets conservatism identical
with religiosity, and religiosity with backwardness.
Another knot seems to emerge in the issue of the reference points of conservatism.
The attributes as national, Islamic, democratic etc. wonder us which tradition or
the thought system will be taken as reference point. This question still expects
Another issue to find an answer may be mentioned as to locate the place of Bediüzzaman
within the discussions on conservatism. Was Bediüzzaman a conservative, if not,
how do we need to understand and interpret his conservative attitudes? Bediüzzaman
mentions his distinctiveness with the following sentences: "They assume me a teacher
in the madrasa who fasted in the scholastic marshes. Nevertheless, I dealt with
every type of natural sciences, and all sciences and philosophies of this age. I
already worked out the deepest problems in these sciences". He also fixed the principles
of faith and unification as the main pillars of the Islamic societies. He had also
a very clear position against the modernization and Wester-nization. He criticized
the activities and ideas which made to raze the religious values in the name of
Westernization and attended those values: "Our desire is the beautification the
civilization, the good deeds benefiting the humanity". Can we argue that Bediüzzaman
was a conservative due to this attitude?
Considering all of those, we designate the dossier subject in this 97th issue
as "conservatism". We plan to analyze this subject around the concepts of "conservative,
conservatism, tradition, traditionalism, culture, reform, change, modernization,
Westernization, religion, family, backwardness, revolution, laicism, politics, order,
status quo etc." and want to ask the following questions.
How can we define conservatism from the point of view of sociology of knowledge?
What are the historical and sociological roots of this phenomenon? What are the
sociological conditions to talk about conservatism? What are the conditions leading
to the emergence of conservatism from the point of view of social dynamics? Can
we consider conservatism a perception of temperament and personality from the perspective
social psychology? What are the cultural, political, literal and ideological dimensions
of conservatism? What are the correlation between conservatism, tradition, traditionalism?
What kind of significance does the Republican Revolution carry for the conservatism?
How do the Republican elite approach to the conservatives and conservatism? What
are the critics of conservatism against the Republican Revolutions and revolutionism?
What are the sociological, political and philosophical tools of conservatives against
the concepts like revolution, change, modernisation etc.? How do we need to comment
on conservatism politically? How can we interpret the relation between laicism and
conservatism? How should be the concept of Turkish conservatism interpreted? How
can we compare this phenomenon with the European counterparts and their representatives?
What is the connection between Islam and conservatism? Does the religious conservatism
stand against the reformation, progress and Westernizaton? How does Bediüzzaman
approach to such kind of issues?
We aim to contribute to the discussions on "conservatism" in our country and
try to bring in some new ideas to our ideological horizont. We believe that many
question will find an answer in our dossier.
We would like to leave the word to our dossier and wish to meet with you again
in our 98th issue with the dossier of "Southeastern Anatolia Question".