Rethinking the National Projects of Egypt and Turkey


M.Phil Thesis in Modern Middle Eastern Studies
By Reem Abou El Fadl
St. Antony's College, University of Oxford
May 2005

Thesis in PDF format—1 MB




Table of Contents


Introduction... 1

Literature Review... 1

Questions. 3

Chapter One: Theories and Methods.. 5

Early Nation Building Theory.. 5

Modernisation Theory.. 6

Nation Building Theory Revised.. 7

Modernised Modernisation Theory – Bringing Society Back In.. 9

Approach and Methods. 10

Definitions. 10

Comparability.. 10

Sources. 12

Method.. 13

Chapter Two: Institutionalisation and State Building... 15

Conventional Wisdoms. 16

Legacies. 17

Atatürk and Nasser’s Perceptions of the Bureaucracy.. 19

Aims and Issues of Implementation.. 20

Conclusions: Efficiency and Achievements. 31

Chapter Three: Economic Reform and State Building... 32

Conventional Wisdoms. 32

Legacies. 33

First Phase: Turkey 1923-29, Egypt 1952-56.. 36

Turning Points. 43

Second Phase: Turkey 1930-1938, Egypt 1956-70.. 45

Conclusions. 50

Chapter Four: State-Religion Dynamics and Nation Building... 53

Conventional Wisdoms. 53

Definitions and Structuring the Analysis. 56

Historical Legacies of State and Religion.. 57

Atatürk and Nasser’s Perceptions of the Place of Religion in Nation Building.. 59

Religion and the State: Administration, Education and Legislation.. 60

Religious Symbols, Popular Islam and the State.. 64

Conclusions. 73

Chapter Five: Nation Building and Minorities.. 75

Conventional Wisdoms. 76

Historical Background.. 78

Atatürk and Nasser’s Nation Building Approaches to Minorities. 80

Conclusions. 91

Conclusion... 95

Similarities. 95

Differences. 105

Rethinking Conventional Wisdoms and Modernisation Theory.. 110

Implications for Theories of State and Nation Building.. 114



Kemal Atatürk and Gamal Abdel Nasser are two statesmen often considered together as architects of modern nation-states, and the decades that have passed since their rule have seen their regimes evaluated and re-evaluated, such that whole discourses of terminology, concepts and premises have become common currency in describing their eras. Thus the political, social and economic overhauls each country witnessed after Atatürk declared the republic in 1923, and after the Free Officers’ coup in 1952, have become commonly termed as fitting a ‘modernising’ and ‘nationalist’ mould. Yet the similarities and differences between their experiences have yet to be fully investigated.

Furthermore, both leaders have reached iconic status after their passing. Many world leaders have left their mark on history, but few remain as alive in the present as Kemal Atatürk and Gamal Abdel Nasser. Images, songs, poetry and political statements are rich with symbols of their eras, and inspire a range of emotions in the Turkish and Egyptian public consciousness today.[1] The unusual import of their eras to their countries today makes a direct comparison all the more appealing, and shows us the multiple levels on which their legacies can be understood.


Literature Review

Looking at the literature on Turkey and Egypt under these leaders, we find that while they depict both countries as having embarked on modernising national projects, most herald Turkey as a successful case and model for its neighbours, while Egypt’s project is judged a failure, a non-starter or a “flawed revolution”[2]. This is particularly the case in earlier scholarship, between the 1950s and 1970s for example, from Bernard Lewis to Andrew Mango on Turkey, from Keith Wheelock to Fouad Ajami on Egypt. Furthermore, both are classed as ‘nationalists’, while inadequate attention has been paid to the differing nature of their discourses on nation.

Yet in recent decades, scholarship on Turkey has voiced different perspectives, and taken a more critical approach to the Kemalist project. Such scholars as Şerif Mardin, Çağlar Keyder, Sibel Bozdoğan and Reşat Kasaba announce the “eclipse of the progressive and emancipatory discourse of modernity”[3] in the edited volume Rethinking Modernity and National Identity in Turkey (1997). Meanwhile Erik Jan Zürcher’s Turkey: A Modern History innovatively argues that Turkey’s history between 1908 and 1950 should be seen as a unity, and offers a strongly revisionist interpretation of Turkey’s ‘founding father’ Kemal Atatürk.

A similar revival in research on Nasser’s period is less discernible, in terms of both the weight of literature and its approach. Indeed a recent book on Nasser’s Egypt is Kirk Beattie’s Egypt During the Nasser Years (1994), whose review by Raymond William Baker only makes this study more urgent: “Western scholarship on the political history of Egypt from 1952 to 1970 has with almost one voice pronounced the Nasser experiment a failure… Kirk Beattie’s book stands squarely in this dominant interpretive tradition.”[4] A reassessment of the Nasserist project thus appears merited.

Indeed a thorough and exclusive comparison of these two statesmen’s experiences has not been conducted in English scholarship, and only a handful of studies compare Egypt and Turkey, mostly contemporaneously or through the lens of political economy. A direct and broad comparison of the eras of Atatürk and Nasser thus seems in order.


This thesis will firstly compare and contrast the approaches of Kemal Atatürk and Gamal Abdel Nasser in the arenas of state and nation building. Did they converge, and if so, were the outcomes similar? Where they did not, what were the reasons for this and how did this shape their different trajectories? Throughout this process we will question the early literature’s principal contentions on the difference in value of the Turkish and Egyptian state and nation building experiences. Is the conventional wisdom justified?

We will argue that there were certain undertakings of note in the Egyptian state and nation building experience, alongside the goals which the regime failed to meet, and which are emphasised in conventional accounts. Nasserism has been pronounced dead, yet we see pictures of Nasser and symbols of his era appearing in demonstrations until today in the ‘Arab street’, while much of Nasser’s legal and institutional apparatus is still in place. Similarly, the lauded Kemalist project propagated a nationalism whose grave and far-reaching implications for society in Turkey have become clearer over the years, and were rarely foreseen or acknowledged in early scholarship. Moreover, while most of the principles embodied in the Six Arrows infuse the modern Turkish nation-state until today, they have not been immune to social subversion. It should be stressed that this study does not wish to answer imbalance with imbalance in the opposite direction, but rather to depart from conventional analysis, thus providing a more nuanced, accurate picture.

Secondly, and concurrently, we will ask if modernity has been constructed and evolved in a comparable way, exploring the state-society dimension in each case. To what extent were the working assumptions of modernisation theory espoused by both modernising leaders? In exploring these questions, we will move away from the dichotomies and certainties of modernisation theory, which proposes formulae and “criteria for success”[5] for state and nation building in the ‘Developing World’ along strict lines lifted from ‘First World’ experience.

A final element of this study will be to ask how the comparison of the particular experiences of Turkey and Egypt may shed light on theories of state and nation building theory, and how useful they have been in facilitating our analysis.


Chapter One: Theories and Methods


Numerous theoretical models have been employed to analyse the experiences of Egypt and Turkey. When discussing state and nation building theories, we must also consider modernisation theory: “The question of modernity in the context of the Third World had become inextricably bound up with the question of constructing the nation-state.”[6] State and nation building theories propose strategies for the processes dealt with by modernisation theory. They have thus often developed, and been criticised, together.


Early Nation Building Theory

The term “nation-building” came into vogue among historically oriented political scientists in the 1950s and 1960s. Nation building theory was used to describe the processes of national integration and consolidation that led up to the estab­lishment of the modern nation-state, as distinct from various traditional forms of the state, such as feudal and dynastic states.

                  Early theories described the pre-modern state, made up of isolated com­munities with parochial cultures at the ‘bottom’ of society, and a distant state structure at ‘the top’. Through nation building these two spheres were brought into closer contact with each other. Local communities were drawn into the larger society through education and political participation. State authorities, in turn, increased their obligations towards society by offering social services. Sub-state cultures either vanished or lost their political importance, superseded by loyalties as a nation toward the larger entity, the state.

Early nation building theorists maintained that the theory was also applicable to the study of non-Western societies. This was based on a linear perception of history: all societies were, by the inner logic of human develop­ment, bound to pass through the same stages. This brings us to the very similar assertions of early modernisation theory, which we may discuss before moving onto more recent scholarship.


Modernisation Theory

In the 1950s and 1960s, American social science began to investigate developments in the ‘Third World’, particularly after decolonisation. It drew on the dominant paradigm of the period, Parsonian structural functionalism, itself a synthesis of Durkheim’s functionalism and Weber’s analysis of culture and values. The product was ‘modernisation theory’:

“‘Pre-modern’ (ascriptive, particularistic, etc.) values were held to be the principal barriers to development. The modernization approach projected a trajectory for developing countries that replicated the experience of the advanced capitalist countries. Variations from this track were theorized as aberrations, deviations to be corrected.”[7]

Deployed in the offices of the US State Department, it became a somewhat heavy-handed Cold War legitimisation tool. Modernisationists lauded western industrialised democracies as the markers of modernity, and divided the world into ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ accordingly.[8] Ayubi comments on how development was assigned “allegedly ‘value-neutral’ meanings”[9], equating it for example with a system’s ability to sustain growth. Such attempts “claim to avoid too pronounced an identification of development with a Western ‘democratic’ system,” yet Ayubi finds such writers still implying this model as “a desirable goal for developing countries”.[10]

Two classic works display the modernisation theory ethos in a Middle Eastern context: Daniel Lerner’s The Passing of Traditional Society (1958) and Bernard Lewis’ The Emergence of Modern Turkey (1968). Kasaba critiques this modernisationist bias in the literature: “When the time came to write down and interpret the Ottoman and Turkish experience, however… authors like Lewis and Lerner drew their conclusions not from the ethnographic or historical record, of which they had a masterful grasp, but by applying to that material a preconceived picture of what modernity was supposed to be like.”[11] Where anomalies were found in the modernising states’ experience, categories were created to homogenise and regulate them, facilitating the application of modernisation theory. Historical experiences were subjected to a success-failure dichotomy according to ‘modern’ criteria. Such scholarship has also constructed for us the expectation that seeing history in this way and making such judgements should be the focus of our attention.


Nation Building Theory Revised

Turning now to certain recent critiques of each theory, we find Ayoob’s The Third World Security Predicament (1995) particularly relevant to this study, since he is one of the few scholars to make a clear distinction between state building and nation building, unlike much of the earlier literature.

On state building, Ayoob’s premise is that there is a “lack of adequate stateness”[12] in the Third World, where stateness is defined as a balance of coercive power, infrastructural capacity, and unconditional legitimacy. Tilly has asserted that “war makes states”[13]. Ayoob draws on this to formulate his own definition of state making, highlighting three factors:  war, the maintenance of order, and extraction of resources via taxation.[14]

On nation building, Ayoob stresses the “conceptual as well as real-world distinction”[15] between national states and nation-states. Tilly describes national states as “relatively centralised, differentiated, and autonomous organizations successfully claiming priority in the use of force within large, contiguous, and clearly bounded territories.”[16] Nation-states on the other hand, are those “whose peoples share a strong linguistic, religious, and symbolic identity.”[17]

Significantly, Ayoob writes that “historically, national states predate the emergence of nation-states; they are the products of the state making enterprise rather than of nationalism or nation-building.”[18] According to Ayoob, the ‘Third World’ lags behind in this chronology, and elites couch often coercive strategies of state building in the rhetoric of nation building: “[elites] justify state making in the guise of the imposition of national consciousness from above, by persuasion if possible and by force if necessary.”[19] This justification “creates not only semantic but also conceptual confusion by conflating two distinct processes - they may sometimes run parallel to each other and may even interact with each other - but they have their own separate dynamics and discrete end-products, even though in the ideal type the end products merge into a composite creature called the nation-state.”[20]


Modernised Modernisation Theory – Bringing Society Back In

To have considered the relationship between nation building and modernity implies that there is such a uniform thing as modernity. The ‘project’ of modernity, originating in the eighteenth century Enlightenment era, promised the cultivation of human progress, and liberation from irrationalities such as tradition. Twentieth century modernisation theory followed the same logic.

However, over the decades, social theory and historical research have weakened the dichotomy of ‘traditional’ versus ‘modern’, and normative claims have been replaced by functional or structural accounts. Some have denounced modernisation as concealing “a logic of domination and oppression”[21] over fellow man, his culture and personality.  Moreover, contemporary experience is inconsistent with the positivist conception of modernity as a never-ending project and as a continuous progress towards ‘more modernity’. Such linear conceptions of progress are being replaced by an ever more flexible conception of development, acknowledging multiple modern outcomes.

The linearity and uniformity envisioned by modernism have a counterpart in the methods prescribed to achieve this, namely state-run or ‘top-down’ modernisation. Scholars writing in the post-modern vein have also taken issue with this second aspect, critiquing the efficacy and indeed legitimacy of state-led modernisation. The top-down approach has been endorsed both explicitly in policy-making circles and implicitly in scholarly appreciations of the kind Kasaba criticises. Keyder thus proposes the remedy for this modernisationist bias as the overcoming of state-centred analyses. Looking at how social forces impacted on state policy explains the ‘non-modernised’ modern outcomes Kasaba has described. With this approach, we may re-evaluate the claims of modernisation theory as made by both scholars and politicians. The process constitutes ‘bringing society back in’ to the analysis, as well as to the political fore.


Approach and Methods


Three dimensions of the approach need to be clarified at the outset: a definitional aspect, the issue of the comparabilty of the two cases, and the question of sources, and how to manage the secondary literature.



Navigating the vast literature on state and nation building, it is difficult to find a satisfactory working definition for each, particularly as they are often used simultaneously as we have noted. As we will be dealing with aspects of each process, the main point for our purposes is to see that they fall comfortably within the domains of a variety of theorisations on state and nation. Thus, in the loosest terms, state building here involves creating institutions which sustain ‘the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory’ in Weber’s classic formulation. Nation building, broadly speaking, aims to establish a common identity among the population, through processes in which they become loyal citizens.



As ours is a comparative study, it is useful to discuss comparative methods in political science. Comparisons are defined as the presentation of “empirical evidence of some kind in an attempt to compare systematically and explicitly political phenomena.”[22] Comparative studies are particularly useful in avoiding ethnocentrism and the twin perils of asserting “uniqueness through false particularisation”, or “false universalism”[23], applying theory from one country’s experience to those of others, without regard for context. One comparative approach focuses on countries that are ‘more similar’, neutralising certain differences in order to permit better analysis of others. However, this can lead to “overdetermination”, where “the design fails to eliminate many rival explanations, leaving the researcher with no criteria for choosing among them.”[24] The ‘more different’ approach chooses cases with a high degree of difference in relation to the factors concerning the researcher. This is to “force analysts to distil out of this diversity a set of common elements that prove to have great explanatory power.”[25] The drawback here is that research is only fruitful if uniformity can be found across cases.

This study will combine the merits of these two approaches, thus trying to avoid the pitfalls in each. Egypt and Turkey host similar features in general, while Atatürk and Nasser in particular faced similar challenges of state and nation building. Meanwhile, fields of comparison will be chosen precisely because they highlight the ‘most difference’ in paths taken by these two similar countries to fulfil their similar goals.

First we should establish in more depth the comparability, through similarity, of Egypt and Turkey as countries. They are alike in terms of size and historical and religious heritage: “the two countries share the cultural legacy of a multiethnic empire and the state-centred high culture of Islam”.[26] They have similar status in the world economy: “they are the two most populous, oil-poor, labour-surplus economies of the region, with roughly comparable levels of development.”[27] Further they have similar positions in geopolitics: “they share a series of constraints which arise from their similar location within the world economic and political order”.[28]

The comparability of Atatürk and Nasser’s eras should also be explained: although they were non-cotemporaneous, their comparison is again feasible due to the similarities between them. Both were military men, who conducted a form of coup to gain political power. Both spent their formative years exposed to circles of debate which would shape the attitudes with which they would later govern – Atatürk was a Young Turk himself, while Nasser had experimented with various parties, including the Young Egypt Party. Neither leader came from the elites of the ancien regime, and both made clean breaks with it, abolishing monarchies, establishing republics and promulgating new constitutions. Both challenged imperialism: Atatürk and his cadres defeated the Greek forces and overturned the Treaty of Sèvres, while Nasser ousted the British forces and won a political victory in the Suez War. Both were shrewd politicians, concerned with their own political survival, but both were also state and nation builders, promoting state strength and sovereignty, within a national development project. This aspect of their comparability will be the object of this study, and it is as we analyse aspects of state and nation building in Turkey and Egypt that we will see the comparability ‘through difference’ which completes our method.



This study will draw on primary source material such as official documents and speeches by Atatürk and Nasser. However, since this study questions the established scholarly verdicts on each country, the secondary literature becomes in a way the primary source. Yet while critiquing some of this scholarship, we wish also to draw on some of it to analyse each national project, and this of course could generate charges of inconsistency or bias. Yet Kasaba and others have been able to identify and read beyond such biases in works such as The Emergence of Modern Turkey, and still glean important historical detail. Such an approach should inform this work, which aims to extract information whilst keeping a critical eye trained on potential biases.

Meanwhile, just as scholarly perceptions of the situation may have displayed a modernisationist bias, this was also the case in the state projects themselves. Thus we will have to provide an interrelated commentary not only on modernisationist trends in the literature, but also on state policy and rhetoric.

Developing this point, we may consider some perspectives from post-modernist theory. As Harvey stresses, “intense distrust of all universal or ‘totalising’ discourses…[is] the hallmark of postmodernist thought.”[29] While not necessarily subscribing to all of its aspects, this distrust will inform our study: we may regard not only Kemalism and Nasserism as potentially “totalising discourses” but also the secondary literature as concealing verdicts and conventional wisdom we may be wise to question. In Terry Eagleton’s words, “Post-modernism signals the death of such ‘metanarratives’ whose secretly terroristic function was to ground and legitimate the illusion of a ‘universal’ human history.”[30]



This study will draw on theoretical insights such as those of Ayoob on state and nation building, as well as those of Bozdoğan and Kasaba’s volume on modernisation, to construct a framework within which to address Atatürk and Nasser’s trajectories. We will choose elements of our definitions of state and nation building as fields of comparison between Egypt and Turkey. Employing such conceptual distinctions, we ask whether they are played out empirically. Under state building, we will consider institutionalisation in Chapter Two and socioeconomic policy in Chapter Three. The latter also contributes to nation building, under which we will further consider state-religion relations in Chapter Four and minority treatment in Chapter Five. These are the areas in which the two regimes’ different approaches are most visibly illustrated.

Where scholars have made differing evaluations of each regime’s handling of similar processes, but do not directly compare them, a ‘latent comparison’ emerges. We will take these evaluations together, thus in a way ‘forcing’ a direct comparison. First we identify the conventional wisdom in each case, which is observable in the frequent recurrence of such statements or in their presentation as a premise or ‘given’ from which analysis departs. Next we will consider insights from other approaches, such as from state or civil society perspectives, from political scientists as well as historians, which together offer a more nuanced account. We will ask whether a different picture then emerges, or whether indeed each body of literature’s conventional accounts are convincing.

Chapter Two: Institutionalisation and State Building


Institutionalisation is integral to state building, since any new decisions can only be implemented through specialised organisations, and such structures ensure the stability of policy beyond the period of incumbency of its authors. Institutions operate in every aspect of public life, in political, legal, cultural, and public service domains. In the context of state building, we will focus on political institutions, which can be defined as “formal arrangements for aggregating individuals and regulating their behaviour through the use of explicit rules and decision processes enforced by an actor or set of actors formally recognized as possessing such power.”[31] We further note that “institutions are not only ‘the rules of the game’. They also affect what values are established in a society…”[32] Thus in analysing institutionalisation, we gauge not only the efficacy with which the state establishes its policy orientations, but also how this becomes a framework shaping public perceptions of what a state institution can and cannot, as well as ought or ought not, do.

We will choose to focus on those political institutions which the literature on both Turkey and Egypt emphasise, and thus where the latent comparison is clearest. These include political parties, the military apparatus, the judiciary and the bureaucracy. The scope of this thesis allows us to focus only on one, the bureaucracy, but this will provide a lens through which we may draw wider conclusions comparing institutionalisation under each regime.

Weber depicted bureaucracy as a modern organisational form, superior to traditional versions, because it upholds rational principles of fixed jurisdictional areas, and the ordering of activities and duties by official rules. The bureaucracy is thus a means to efficient administration: any institution with a bureaucracy outperforms others. By the same token, however, bureaucracies may be a stalling factor in the efficient implementation of reform. The term ‘bureaucracy’ suggests that the servant may try to become master – Weber attacked such pretensions by any bureaucracy to be neutral and above politics. He stressed that every bureaucracy inevitably has interests of its own and connections with other social classes.

Ayubi further explains the two mainstream views on bureaucracy, one thus seeing it as an instrument for the efficient implementation of policy, and the other depicting it as an instrument for gaining and maintaining power. Ayubi warns against such a service-power dichotomy however, preferring to see the bureaucracy in terms of internal change and the political environment: it may at times tend to pursue its own, and at other times rationally serve wider interests. We shall see this dynamic played out in the Turkish and Egyptian contexts.


Conventional Wisdoms

Reflecting much of the literature’s conclusions, Baker asserts that, in comparison to advances on the foreign policy and domestic stability fronts, “far less successful was [the] creation of institutional means to effect Egypt’s internal transformation.”[33] On the Turkish case, many accounts state the opposite: “Atatürk created a set of institutions that built organically upon the legacies of the past, responded effectively to the contingencies of the present, and equipped his people for the challenges of an uncertain future.”[34] Weiker echoes Rustow, lauding the “longstanding competence of the civil bureaucracy”[35] in Turkey. Where some acknowledge that the reforms did not reach rural areas, they argue that this failing was an inevitable but transient aspect specific to the early stages of state building by an “enlightened, platonic guardianship”.[36] We shall keep these conventional departure points in mind as we explore other, more differentiated analyses of institutionalisation in each case.



In Turkey and Egypt, we have chosen to designate certain points in the twentieth century as periods of state and nation building because they represented a significant rupture with past orders. Yet such ancien regimes were of course also functioning through institutional frameworks, and we must keep in mind that Atatürk and Nasser each inherited an institutional legacy from regimes whose principles were often at odds with their own. Thus their task was more complicated than simply ‘building’ from scratch: rather they had first to identify the aspects of the previous system which suited their projects, by turns removing, preserving or modifying old institutions, and of course establishing new ones to launch the changed order. We shall discuss the inherited legacies specifically of relevance to institution building.

The Ottoman system was premised on the divinely sanctioned authority of the Sultan. Nevertheless the Tanzimat era and its 1876 Constitution responded to decline in the Empire by introducing a parliament. Its suspension in 1878 notwithstanding, “[the constitution] was available as a model for future generations of reformers.”[37] The Young Turks revived constitutional rule, further eroding the sultan’s primacy, which prepared the ground for Atatürk to deal the final blows to the old institutional order.

Atatürk could also draw on an established state tradition and administrative body: “As a result of the long history of Ottoman governing, military enterprise, and… political activity… there were also leaders with a wide variety of skills and experience, including officers, bureaucrats, writers and publicists, and politicians.”[38] Indeed Rustow calculated that “of the trained public servants of the late empire, 85% of the administrators and 93% of the staff officers continued service”[39] in the Republic.

Nasser meanwhile was haunted by the ineffective parliamentary system of previous decades, and was disillusioned with what he saw as a collaborationist monarchy and corrupt civil service. Migdal writes that “[the Free Officers] slated the institutions of state for overhaul…It could not be otherwise if… the Free Officers hoped to achieve even their first major proposed change of Egyptian society.”[40] Yet it is important to note that in the absence of popular massification in the wake of the coup, the regime turned to the bureaucracy for support.

Another legacy of the Ottoman system to Atatürk, and of the Egyptian monarchy to Nasser, was “one of centralization, elitism and authoritarianism.”[41] Weiker writes that “most analysts of the Turkish bureaucracy and other Turkish institutions relate current characteristics in large part to this historical Ottoman legacy.”[42] Similarly, on Egypt, Ayubi provides a historical survey to explain “the origins of centralism and concentration of power in the Egyptian political culture,”[43] and Abdel-Malek asserts that “the tendency to… centralism… spares no domain.”[44] This has been reinforced by “a long history of oppression and domination”[45] and the outcome is “a highly bureaucratised society where…to control the public bureaucracy is to control everything…”[46] Berger writes that Egypt does not lack a long bureaucratic history, but that it has been based on what Weber termed ‘traditional authority’ and not ‘legal authority’.[47] While the latter’s bureaucratic traits include hierarchical organisation and selection through technical qualification, the ‘traditional authority’ has powers and duties shifting with the decision of the chef.

In sum, both Atatürk and Nasser inherited and abolished institutions of the ancien regime, the sultanate in 1922 and the caliphate in 1924 in Turkey, the monarchy in 1952 in Egypt. Atatürk could draw on a stronger institutional legacy than Nasser, while both inherited hierarchical, personalistic ruling traditions which were to taint their own systems.


Atatürk and Nasser’s Perceptions of the Bureaucracy

During the last years of the Empire, Atatürk observed “contemporary bureaucrats as they strove to promote their personal interests through total subservience to the sultan.”[48] During the war, the military exercised control over the civil bureaucracy, but Atatürk remained disturbed by the dual loyalties in the early republic’s bureaucracy, between the nationalist bureaucrats and those from the Porte, ‘westernisers’ and ‘traditionalists’.[49] In October 1922, a law was passed to make all civil servants temporarily unemployed, after which each ministry was to select a new cadre. Such purges facilitated the removal of any lingering Ottoman, or worse still, ‘Second Group’ aligned elements, allowing Atatürk free rein over the bureaucrats.

Nasser was similarly aware of corrupt practices in the Egyptian bureaucracy, which seemed to be “the property of competing political parties”, leading to “the instability of the machinery and to injustices suffered by many civil servants.”[50] Thus the Free Officers’ initial declaration of intent was concisely directed at tackling corruption. In 1952, five new laws provided for the creation of a Civil Service Commission, ordering dismissals in the army, police and Foreign Ministry. Yet the regime needed the bureaucracy, and as with Atatürk’s “deep distrust”[51] of the civil service, there was also tension between Egypt’s leaders and inherited bureaucrats.

Though such purges seem similar to Atatürk’s, a different outcome to that in Turkey resulted, since the Free Officers were now facing more pressing tasks, such as ending the British occupation: “it was not possible… to introduce… the comprehensive cleansing (tathir) of the official class, at a time when the revolution was trying to achieve national unity…”[52] Atatürk had passed through this stage during the Independence War; indeed, it had hindered him in the same way. He consolidated his bureaucratic reforms once such tasks had been fulfilled and independence secured. 


Aims and Issues of Implementation

Both Atatürk and Nasser had intentions to move the bureaucracies they had inherited towards “the impersonal, rational, uniform administration that is the goal…of modern bureaucracy.”[53] Their modernisation projects would necessarily entail an expansion of the bureaucracy, with the concomitant risk that it become as much a political as an administrative institution.


(i)                   Undifferentiated Institutions

Under Atatürk, the civil bureaucracy was a relatively closed system, through “institutions of seniority and the educational caste system.”[54] Regulations protected it from interference by the political executive. Yet party functions were assigned to the civil service, and appointments crossed both institutions. For Atatürk, the bureaucracy was not to become the full “locus of ‘stateness’”[55] however: before 1923 this was to be the Grand National Assembly, and soon after, state functions were assigned to the office of the President. Heper sympathetically explains that “Atatürk, as Speaker of the GNA, had already thought that it was his duty to shoulder the state function.”[56]

Turan points out that from “the early days of the Republic, care was taken to insure that no counter-elite challenging the westernist outlook… would develop into a political force.”[57] It is this point that perhaps better explains Heper’s deemed ‘locus of stateness’ and the noticeably extensive cooperation between Turkey’s executive and legislature. Many “leaders of the provincial party were also governors of provinces”[58] while “consolidation of the bureaucratic elite was also aided by staffing the legislature with former bureaucrats…”[59] securing congruence and communication between the Assembly and civil servants. Such “erosion of the distinction between politics and administration”[60] was one Ottoman legacy not transcended under Atatürk. Indeed, Dodd refers to “the confusion of state, government, party and bureaucracy” as “the baneful legacy of the Atatürkist state tradition”.[61]

Nasser also identified problems relating to the imprecise distinction between institutional jurisdictions, though his prescribed remedies did not fully alleviate this. He conducted an inflation and reorganisation of the civil service, and by the late sixties, the number of ministries had doubled to thirty. In 1965 a law was passed setting up ‘Organisation and Methods’ Units to advise reform. New organisational forms were introduced such as councils, agencies and committees. However this reinforced compartmentalism, leading at times to delay and imprecision in action: “Nasir rightly expressed on occasions his doubts about the effectiveness of governmental committees in solving problems.”[62] Ayubi and others have detailed the complexity of the situation, but it can be summarised as a top-heavy, centralised structure that was “far from being completely rationalized” and where “there existed an obsession with structural change”[63] as a remedy for administrative problems.

Ayubi charts Egypt’s move from ‘militocracy’ after the July Coup to ‘technocracy’ by the 1960s, with the regime’s increasing reliance on modernising managers as opposed to intellectuals or politicians, especially after 1967. The regime “adopted a ‘structural strategy’ of development that refuses to accept the ‘uncertainty’ of politics”,[64] and yet was ‘mobilisational’, disrupting the traditional conservatism of bureaucracy. Thus can Ayubi characterise Egypt as a “bureaucratic polity”[65] as Roos and Roos have described Kemalist Turkey. Drawbacks included the technicians’ narrow outlook, which isolated them “from the problems and peculiarities of their social environment, in situations that call for the broadest possible understanding of the multi-dimensional process of development.”[66] Moreover, Baker reports infighting between the old and new ministries and between bureaucrats and technocrats.[67]

The incomplete differentiation of institutional jurisdictions is also seen in the way the militaries in both countries headed bureaucratic offices or exercised influence indirectly. In Egypt the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) was dissolved in 1956 to de-emphasise the military aspect of Free Officer rule. Yet Baker writes, “Despite a certain symbolic importance, these costume changes did not alter the fact that the same military personalities…continued to play the leading roles.”[68] Scholars of Turkey speak of how Atatürk ‘sensibly’ divorced the military from civilian rule in the Assembly in 1923. Weiker refers to the “tradition of political neutrality engendered by Atatürk”,[69] though this was arguably just as symbolic a move. Hansen writes that the “single political role assigned to the military was that of guardian for [Atatürk’s] modernization reforms and ultimately democracy.”[70] Hansen arguably misses the point here: his statement presents the very contradiction in the position of the military, for its assigned role was extensive and highly political. Hale and Bayraktar, among others, argue that “channels for the military to reach the highest authority of the state were kept intact in the single-party era…”[71] In a rare direct comparison of Nasser and Atatürk, Vatikiotis writes that the political role of the army in Turkey’s Assembly was high, while Nasser was concerned to circumscribe the military role, and create a civilian political organisation.[72] Nutting has concurred, and Husry affirms, “the army… did in fact keep out of politics to a greater extent than in any Arab country which underwent a military coup…”[73] In both Turkey and Egypt, however, the rational principle of differentiated institutions of government was not upheld.


(ii)                Centralism and Civil Society

Furthermore, the arena for all the above machinations was always the centre[74]: the periphery was to play no creative role: “If the ruling elite has a modernizing orientation, policies formulated at the centre are expected to be carried out uniformly throughout the periphery.” This is also due to the centre’s tendency “to perceive the periphery as primordial, parochial and therefore anti-national and anti-modern.”[75] Scholars agree that Turkey’s official elite “grew accustomed to almost unchallenged power and the social prestige which accompanied such power.”[76] Centralism was thus another Ottoman legacy which seems to have lasted into Republican times. Centralism has also been noted as a problematic feature of Egyptian bureaucratic institutions. Baker describes the division of the state apparatus into “functional fiefdoms”, “allotted to trusted lieutenants”,[77] which formed rival centres of power coordinated by President Nasser. Berger discussed state centralism in 1957, presenting it as an age-old tension between the government and local communities.

This brings us to the other side of the equation: that of civil society, interacting with the bureaucracy to subvert state directives. On Turkey, Heper writes, “once the ‘revolutionary’ impact was weakened the bureaucracy reverted to its same old routine.”[78] He describes the rise of İnönü and his promotion of the civil service over the party apparatus as routinising Atatürk’s charisma, but also loading the Atatürkist ‘technique of discovering truth’ with “substantive meanings”.[79] Such substantive meanings involved elitism becoming an end where it should only have been a means, and the government becoming bureaucratised “by the virtual merger between the party and the bureaucracy”.[80] Heper further implies that bureaucrats were behind the illiberalism that has been wrongly attached to Kemalism, seeing them as responsible for the “positivistic” and “chauvinistic”[81] colouring it would later acquire. Heper cites Atatürk’s dealing with the kadro movement as an example of him checking such processes. However, there is evidence of a range of coercive measures which Atatürk himself authorised to safeguard institution building, from the crushing of riots such as the Sheikh Said rebellion, to the closure of the two short-lived opposition parties.

The Egyptian bureaucracy also subverted the Free Officers’ attempts to rationalise it, and here again the bureaucracy itself was a hindrance to efficient institution building. The main deficiencies were excessive routine and red tape, ‘administrative bottlenecks’ and negligence, as well as corruption. Ayubi’s case study of the Ministry for Cultural Relations illustrates “how the dynamics of organizational survival and institutional self-perpetuation can upset rationalization prescriptions.”[82] Discussing the Agrarian Reforms, Migdal judges that “in the creation of state institutions to replace expropriated landowners Nasser and his colleagues stumbled.”[83] The rural middle classes established “links with the administrative, technical and cultural organizations in the village with the aim of exploiting them…”[84] The agrarian reform case shows bureaucrats’ resistance to change that clashes with their values or those of classes with which they ally. This illustrates Ayubi’s proposal that the service-power dichotomy should rather be seen as a dynamic: parts of the bureaucracy provided a service, while others found this threatening to their position.


(iii)              Personalism of Rule

Conventional wisdoms emerge in different scholars’ depictions of the relationship between the intentions and outcomes of leaders’ decisions and attitudes to power. Heper stresses a distinction between “the state that existed during Atatürk’s life time” and “the state as it was espoused by him.”[85] Heper holds that “some of [Atatürk’s] basic ideas were distorted by the civil bureaucratic elite,” which “is often overlooked,” while “the bureaucratic version of Atatürkist thought is presented as ‘Atatürkism’.”[86] Heper says that Atatürk opposed the personalism of the Ottoman sultans’ rule and thus promoted the ‘sovereignty of the people’, where the role of the state was not to express the thoughts of people, but to add to them more mature ones. Atatürk spoke of people’s ‘genuine’ feelings, as they did not know their real interests, while undertaking to elevate them to civilisation. Kemalism was thus a scientific “technique for discovering truth”, the ‘general will’ of the nation.[87] Here is the justification for modernisation-from-above, and for the one-party system and lack of pluralism in the early Republic’s political institutions that could also be judged a remnant of Ottoman authoritarian rule.

Heper claims that in this way Atatürk intended his project to evolve from elitism to democracy. He asks rhetorically, “Does all this mean that Atatürk had in mind a particular socio-economic and political model that he wanted to impose on society? …or did he rather long for the emergence on the part of civil society of a capacity ‘to create consensus progressively as a resolution of conflicts about fundamental claims’…?”[88]

Heper’s analysis can be better evaluated if we consider a further shortcoming of institutionalisation in both Turkey and Egypt, again a legacy of the ancien regime not adequately addressed. This was the degree of personalism in rule, which was Atatürk’s prime criticism of the Sultanate, and which rationality was emphasised to guard against. Some scholars give the following interpretation: “[Atatürk] continued to supervise the details even in his final years, failing health notwithstanding... And it was he who constantly urged one and all to carry on. To accomplish these goals, he surrounded himself with capable and willing collaborators, many of them hand-picked from among these he called the ‘men of the future.’”[89]

On the Free Officers, Baker writes that “personal, noninstitutional ties were the cement of the conspiratorial movement.”[90] Yet in describing the Egyptian case, the ramifications of this are followed through: once in power, “such linkages translated into a generalized and ultimately debilitating personalization of power.”[91] Furthermore, “there was to be no correction to the movement’s early habits of intrigue and to the potential for the abuse of power that intrigue fosters.”[92] Haykal has written that such secrecy, starting in the revolutionary cells, created “veils” that “screened individual abuses of authority and petty tyrannies” by some officers.[93] Baker notes that the mandated bureaucrats, deriving authority as they did from the highest political figures, were not subject to “any rigorous method of functional accountability.”[94]

It seems that what some hail in Atatürk as self-sacrificial attention to detail, for Nasser has been deemed authoritarianism, even totalitarianism: “a peculiar mixture of predatory rule and social compact”.[95] Where Nasser has been criticised for personalism and favouritism, for Atatürk this was interest and care. While a prominent scholar of Turkish state and bureaucracy is able to build an elaborate theory on the distinction between the intention and outcome of a leader’s policy, it is rarely that we read a similar approach on Nasser: one such rarity is Nathan Brown’s analysis of Nasser’s legal legacy, which holds that subsequent critiques have been devastating in evaluating what was actually accomplished, but are often misleading in presenting what the regime in fact promised. Brown’s theory is further discussed in Chapter Three, which holds that “far from undermining mechanisms of accountability, Nasserism was to devise more effective ones.”[96]

Moving back to the Turkey narrative, Heper stresses that Atatürk strove to depersonalise, placing the office above the person of the president, and fostering people’s commitment to Kemalism and not to himself.[97] Yet Zürcher tells us that Kemalism left an “ideological void [which] was filled to some extent by the personality cult which grew up around Mustafa Kemal… He was presented as the father of the nation, its saviour, its teacher.”[98] Cooper concurs: “In many ways, the most significant institution in Turkey is Atatürk himself.”[99] A wider discussion including the institution of the People’s Party and Atatürk’s handling of it would illustrate this point more fully: thus although the 1924 Constitution stated that all power resided in the Grand National Assembly, in fact major decisions were taken by the cabinet within closed parliamentary party meetings. Atatürk’s outmanoeuvring of his political opposition and the fates of the two short-lived second parties testify to his adept maintenance of the personal political upper hand.

Dekmejian employs the Weberian concept of charismatic authority to show how Nasser benefited from a psychological bond with the people, based on his personal qualities and attunement to popular aspirations, which ensured their support and buoyed his rule. Moreover he showed, like Atatürk, an anxiety about the potential disorder that would ensue were he to relinquish his personal hold over directing change. His was also a one-party state. However Nasser considered resigning the presidency in order to devote his energies to the Arab Socialist Union (ASU) during the 1960s, and his attempts to depersonalise have been described. Declaring that “each of you is Gamal!” after the 1954 attempt on his life, he also acknowledged personal responsibility for the defeat in 1967 and submitted his resignation.

It seems that while Atatürk is credited with his master planning at the head of the institutional system, on the other hand he is not liable for judgement in cases of shortcomings. Meanwhile analyses of Nasser’s rule, as he did himself, highlight both the areas he personally oversaw and his culpability for any inefficient outcomes, even where these originated at the lowest grades of the bureaucratic hierarchy.


(iv)              Elitism

A second, related issue, also in terms of scholarly interpretation, is the continued elitism of institutions, failing to encourage “popular participation in the process” or to treat non-elites “as equal partners in it.”[100] Baker writes that, “[from] its inception the Free Officers movement was elitist, even within the military context.”[101] Despite dialogue with other groups, “the Free Officers would act in concert with none.”[102] A lack of political massification was later to result: “in later years the regime realized that, strangely enough, the ease with which it had accomplished the revolution from a long-term perspective constituted a drawback. The rapid downfall of the old order obviated any necessity to organize and mobilize popular support against it. Such an effort might have forced the conspirators to broaden their organization by reaching into the civilian population for allies…”[103] Instead, the regime turned to the bureaucrats as “a surrogate for the social base the regime lacked.”[104] Moreover, “[reliance] on military personnel in turn has reinforced the insulation of the ruling group from the larger society. A crippling retardation of political institutionalisation has been the overall result.”[105] Baker employs a narrow concept of legitimacy however. Both Dekmejian and Ben-Dor counterbalance this, detailing incorporation under Nasser, with references to charisma and political psychology. Ben-Dor further notes Nasser’s “mobilization of the masses in the political process as participants… in demonstrations, elections, and other forms of involvement…”[106]

Meanwhile, Weiker describes elitism as a shortcoming in Turkey, yet continues that it is “probably universal in elite-mass relationships” since it is “understandable”[107] that elites are reluctant to relinquish power. He continues that “it is by no means clear that ‘followers’ always know their own interests better than ‘leaders’ do”[108] such that elitism may not be so unambiguously a shortcoming after all. Interesting to note is that Baker makes a similar two-point argument, but chooses to begin by acknowledging that “To some extent the ways of the bureaucracy are everywhere the same” before ending emphatically by saying, “Nasser’s mandate system of rule imposed a certain structure beneath the surface phenomenon of bureaucratic behaviour.”[109] It is precisely the sequence in this juxtaposition of points, and how it is reversed by some scholars of Turkey, which sums up the conventional wisdom on each case. Where one is given the benefit of the doubt, the other is judged “totally inadequate to the task of revolutionary transformation.”[110] This direction of explanation can be dissolved by considering diverse perspectives and exposing such differing treatments of similar processes.


Conclusions: Efficiency and Achievements

There were also notable achievements in both Turkish and Egyptian state building, which complete our analysis. Atatürk successfully overturned monarchical institutions and introduced a network of state bodies presiding over every aspect of public and often private life, from the Directorate of Religious Affairs to the People’s Party to the ‘State Economic Enterprises’. In Egypt’s administrative domain, “advances in industrialization, land reform, the High Dam, and administration of the Suez Canal” have been noted.[111] El-Ghonemy asserts that Nasser effected “a fundamental change in the institutional framework of the economy…”[112] Institutions effecting economic diversification, such as the Council for Production and the Ministry of Industry, “provided the primary institutional setting for the recruitment of technocratic talent…”[113] Two institutions, the Suez Canal and High Dam Authorities, receive particular praise: Waterbury describes Egyptian management of the Canal from 1956 to 1967 as “exemplary”.[114]

Thus conventional arguments on the upholding of efficient, modern administration in Turkey in contrast to a dated and oversized bureaucratic apparatus in Egypt are simplistic. Moreover, achievements in both countries did not always proceed according to modernist prescriptions, and this begs the question whether refinements of theory according to specific countries’ political cultures and pools of resources can and should be made. Ayubi discusses different organisational principles and the experimentation which occurred in Egypt.[115] The implication is that departures from set moulds, such as strictly following the French pattern of administration in Egypt and Turkey, may be constructive.

Chapter Three: Economic Reform and State Building


Economic development is essential to state building, generating revenue to support the state apparatus and its discharged functions – the extraction element of state building which Tilly and Ayoob have stressed. Economic policy can also contribute to nation building, securing the incorporation of the population in the regime’s national project, if citizens feel that they are benefiting from growth or equity measures. We shall see that indeed, the consolidation of state power, as well as national integration, were sensitive to economic developments in Turkey and Egypt, and that their fortunes changed in parallel, each influencing the other. We shall also supplement the narrow focus of modernisation theory, which emphasises economic growth and consumption levels, at the expense of other aspects of socio-economic development.[116]


Conventional Wisdoms

On Turkey, Boratav comments on the “surprisingly positive performance” of the Turkish economy, which “appeared to be following a dynamic path of self-reliant growth and industrialisation…”[117] Roos and Roos note “a recognized limit to the resources at the government’s command” as the reason it did not “get involved in large rural development schemes.” They continue that this decision “to limit… financial and human investment may have been wise. Certain symbolic changes were forced upon the villagers. Given the sociocultural environment of the 1920’s and 1930’s, perhaps that is all that could have realistically been accomplished.”[118] Meanwhile, the “systematic, direct exploitation of agriculture in favor of the urban population through low producer prices that in Egypt began under Nasser…could not happen under Turkish democracy.”[119]

The received wisdom on Nasserist economics is that import substitution industrialisation (ISI) was “blunted by administrative inefficiency and the spoils of the system.”[120] Redistribution was an objective trumpeted but not effected: land reforms “were shallow and contributed little to equity or eradication of poverty but did extend the influence of bureaucracy on agriculture…”[121]

Hansen sums up the received wisdom as follows: “While the political economy under dictatorship and military rule in Turkey may best be characterized as enlightened, platonic guardianship, in Egypt it has been a peculiar mixture of predatory rule and social compact, a solution typical of weak dictatorship with a self-serving elite, forced for its survival to placate the populace.”[122] Etatism in Turkey was “a rational response to the Great Depression”[123] while Nasser’s Arab socialism was “little more than a post hoc rationalization of his ad hoc measures…”[124]



Mardin describes an Ottoman society where the central social lever was political power, and where status was the primary determinant of income and not the reverse: “rewards are one of the main sources of wealth but this very type of wealth is legitimate only if the state recognizes it to be so.”[125] There were two main classes: “a group of platonic ‘guardians’ and another group of ‘ordinary’ citizens…”[126] This society “favours the principle of the ‘constant pie’ for all but the guardians because the growth of the economic product is liable to support a new emerging class which will challenge the hegemony of the guardian and shatter the existing equilibrium…”[127]

Anatolia’s small land-owning peasantry were “maintained by the laws and practices of a central authority whose principal source of revenue was the tax collected from these producers.”[128] Agricultural productivity was low, however, and there was little modern industry since “educated Muslim Turks had tended to regard commerce and industry as beneath them, preferring a more prestigious career in the civil service or armed forces.”[129] Banking and basic industries were either in the hands of foreign investors, or the minorities who would later leave. Tachau describes: “As the Ottomans fought to maintain… the state, the Europeans sought a price for cooperation and assistance.”[130] The Ottomans were forced to remove import controls, causing their traditional handicraft industries to wither in the face of cheaper European competition. The cost of warfare and high state expenditure created huge foreign and internal debts, forcing the government to borrow until bankruptcy. The Empire “was in fact mortgaged to its European creditors,”[131] who set up the Public Debt Commission in 1881, taking charge of state finance such that “some Turkish commentators saw their country as having been reduced to a semi-colonial status…”[132]

Factors salient economically after World War One include the physical damage to cities and industries and the heavy cost in human capital: the “flight and massacre of the Greeks and Armenians removed Turkey’s most experienced source of business and technical talent.”[133] War had generated further debts to the Powers, and finally, the provisions of Lausanne had mixed consequences for the economy. On one hand, they were an improvement on Sèvres, since Capitulations were abolished, the war debt written off, and reparations not imposed. However, Turkey was required to honour all concessions granted to foreign companies before 1914, and to keep a customs tariff fixing import duties until 1929. This meant insufficient protection for infant industries, and constrained the government’s ability to raise revenue.

In Egypt, Hinnebusch describes the legacy Nasser inherited as the “delayed dependent development” which results from imperialism. Richards and Waterbury similarly cite the British occupation of 1881, ensuing economic dependency on Britain, and the role of the Suez Canal in world trade as rendering Egypt “a classic colonial economy.”[134] Hinnebusch writes, “Western imperialism shaped Egypt to suit its own needs, turning the country into a plantation for Western industry and its landed upper class into compradors with a stake in the extroverted economy.”[135] With the increasing foreign penetration of the economy, these landowners’ “interests rapidly [coalesced] with the newly forming commercial bourgeoisie and foreign capital.”[136] Agriculture developed at the expense of the fellahin, as Beinin and Lockman explain: “because the industrialists were closely linked to large landowning interests… they shared the same social conservatism and fear of unleashing the anger of the impoverished rural and urban masses. Many proposals for economic and social reform were blocked by this fear.”[137] The “absolute priority given to cultivation [of cotton] for export meant that the principal sectors of the Egyptian economy were geared not to domestic needs, but to Western markets, and were therefore subject to the fluctuations and crises of these markets.”[138] Richards and Waterbury write that Egypt “was far more integrated into the world economy than Turkey.”[139] However, as in Turkey, business was controlled by foreign capital, whose investment was “limited to… areas in which means of production could not be developed locally…”[140]

Even after formal independence in 1922, when the native bourgeoisie entered the political centre, it did so “without severing its organic links to landownership or foreign capital.”[141] As in Turkey, “the world depression and World War II set Egypt on the path toward [import substitution industrialisation].” Egypt’s private sector led this effort, while “falling cotton prices also unleashed from the land a vast dispossessed peasantry, flooding the large cities…”[142] Meanwhile, the westernised education system and bureaucracy had created an Egyptian ‘new middle class’ aware of this worsening inequality. As unemployment and inflation reached a crisis point in the 1940s, the frustrations and politicisation of this class would soon provide “the necessary ingredient for the success of Egypt’s nationalist revolution.”[143]


First Phase: Turkey 1923-29, Egypt 1952-56[144]

Atatürk did not begin with a fixed economic plan – in 1923, the Izmir Economic Congress was held, to debate the role of the state and of foreign capital in economic development. Mahmut Esat Bozkurt, the Minister of Economy, stressed that the Turks “were not attached to laissez-faire, socialist, communist, etatist or protectionist schools of thought.”[145] He propounded instead the ‘New Turkish Economic School’, a mixed system of state and private enterprise. Ahmad emphasises the national “unity of purpose between the new state… and the principal economic classes, the infant bourgeoisie and the landlords.”[146] The Izmir debates had raised many issues, but left solutions rather vague, to be chiselled out through practice in line with Kemalist tenets of self-reliance and westernisation. The Izmir Congress had, however, drawn up the ‘Principles of Economic Contract’, delineating the place of labour and capital in the economy, and embodying the first expression of the solidarism.

In Egypt too, early economic policy did not have the clarity of later formulations. However, scholars point out that “whatever Nasser’s understanding of socialism, he was always clear about the need for unity and solidarity,”[147] mirroring Atatürk’s ideas on solidarism. Sayegh points out that the assumption that before 1961, Nasser must have been either a socialist or a non-socialist “oversimplifies a complex situation” since there may be “various shades of acceptance of a theory” and there are also “the dynamics of the process of actualization”[148] to consider. However, two of Nasser’s priorities at the outset were clear, growth and social justice, accumulation and equity, the political and social revolutions. [149]

In terms of the public-private sector division in Turkey, Atatürk initially relied on private sector initiative and avoided taxation for the finance of industry. The Organic Statute of 1924 declared that private property and free enterprise were the basic principles of the state. Boratav emphasises the state’s “positive and optimistic attitude”[150] towards both foreign and local private capital. The Türkiye İş Bankası or Business Bank was established in 1924, Turkey’s first significant private and domestically owned bank, followed in 1925 by the Bank for Industry and Mining. There was an emphasis on indigenous participation in accumulation, and several politicians joined the board of directors. Influenced by the ideas of Ziya Gökalp, and now especially with the loss of the minorities, Atatürk believed that what was needed if “society was to become whole, organic, and dynamic was a Turko-Muslim commercial and industrial bourgeoisie.”[151] The state itself undertook infrastructure investments such as the railways, and held monopolies in tobacco and alcohol.

Richards and Waterbury write that the years 1952-1956 saw Egypt adopting a policy similar to Turkey’s, promoting public sector growth, but only to supplement the private sector. Initially, private entrepreneurs “were considered partners in the development effort.”[152] However, Waterbury notes “an uneasy standoff between the regime and the private sector” during this time, a tension which would escalate in later years.[153] Hinnebusch adds that “Egypt sought foreign aid in the West for its major projects and even welcomed foreign investment”,[154] another feature of this first decade which would later change.  

In Turkey, Atatürk introduced the Law for the Encouragement of Industry in 1927, which was “without parallel in the history of republican Turkey in the variety of subventions and incentives it provided for new industrial establishments.”[155] Yet Hale points out that during this ‘first phase’, such encouragement “had not produced a major switch to industrial investment.”[156] Industry’s share of GNP in 1925 had not risen significantly by 1930: since private capital and entrepreneurial skills were in low supply, the state would have to intervene more directly if industry were to flourish.       In Egypt, “the RCC immediately showed its commitment to industrialization after July 1952.”[157] Heavy industrialisation was seen as the only long-term solution to Egypt’s economic problems. A major obstacle, however, was Egypt’s inadequate power supply, and plans for the Aswan High Dam were reinvigorated to overcome this. It was designed to generate abundant hydroelectric power, and the state was to subsidise electricity prices to stimulate industrial use. However, until its completion, the state undertook several industrial projects: in 1954, work began on an iron and steel complex in Helwan, and on the Kima fertiliser plant in Aswan.[158] Mabro notes the establishment as early as 1952 of the National Production Council, which studied development projects and whose brief was “not only broad but urgent.”[159] Nasser adopted ISI, which, as Waterbury points out, had been in place for decades, but had in 1952 reached the end of its ‘easy’ phase, which had focused on textiles and processed food. Thus Egypt drew on the Turkish ISI experiment in its ‘first phase’, a policy which had begun in Turkey’s ‘second phase’ under Atatürk. As Waterbury says, “One should not forget that… Turkey had pioneered in this direction in the 1930s…”[160]

Turning to the role of labour, we see that in Turkey, the principle of solidarism or corporatism was interpreted strictly. In 1925, all leftist organisations were outlawed, trade unions strictly controlled, and their right to strike removed. Keyder describes rising unemployment and low wages during the 1920s, during which time a labour law limiting working hours was dropped and various anti-labour decrees passed instead.[161] In Egypt, Nasser implemented a series of labour laws reducing the working day, founding a social insurance scheme for workers, and having them represented on company boards of directors. Arbitrary firing was made illegal, and a special labour court was set up, “empowering Egypt’s working class as never before.”[162] Industrialisation had nearly tripled their job opportunities, alongside other socio-economic measures for the family, such as free healthcare. However, Beinin notes that “although the RCC was committed to improving the lot of workers”, it would not allow them “an independent political role...” Beinin describes an “appropriation of the labor movement through a combination of repression, reform and appeals to national unity in the struggle against imperialism.”[163]

Seers writes that modernisation involves overcoming not only poverty and unemployment, but also inequality.[164] Nasser believed “that wealth could be redistributed to the poorest and that rapid economic growth would be not only compatible with redistribution but its sine qua non.”[165] Scholars agree that the 1952 Land Reform was primarily a political move to diminish the power of the large landowners, but Mabro points out: “political motivations, however dominant, do not rob land reforms of their social and economic significance.”[166] The reform aimed to correct the unequal distribution of landownership, addressing growing rural poverty and overpopulation. It also formed part of the industrialisation drive: it would redirect private capital from the land market to industry, creating jobs and greater income equality. The land reform fixed a 200 feddan ceiling on personal ownership, though several concessions and compensations were included in the law.[167] The requisitioned land would be distributed in small lots to tenants and poor farmers with large families. Beneficiaries had to join a cooperative society which assumed the functions the landlord had discharged. Mabro evaluates: “the cooperatives hindered and helped; it seems however that the dynamic benefits arising from credit, improved inputs, new techniques, and the organization of production are more significant than the losses resulting from price distortions.”[168] Scholars tend to agree that the “Agrarian Reform Authority was from the beginning placed under dynamic and competent leadership.”[169] It is also notable that the Gini coefficient dropped from 0.611 in 1952 to 0.383 in 1965,[170] after further land reforms: here was the significance of redistributive policy.

However Mabro notes that wage stipulations were not enforced: evasion was practised by medium-sized landowners who had good relations with local officials. The conventional wisdom holds that Nasser’s land reforms were counter-productive, as they fostered the rise of a rural middle class who exploited the peasants as the landowners had done before. Some even argue that agrarian policy was intentionally designed to promote this ‘second stratum’, reasoning that the Free Officers acted to represent the interests of the petty bourgeois class from which they originated. Binder is the main proponent of this line, describing the rural notability’s consistent domination of office in the National Union.[171] Vatikiotis asserts that those with around ten feddans became “a newly privileged group, not to speak of a class”[172] and that many had connections with the military and bureaucracy in Cairo. However, such corruption was not in the leadership’s plan: in a speech of “open self-criticism”[173] in 1966, Nasser acknowledged the persistence of feudalism in the countryside, creating the Committee for the Liquidation of Feudalism to investigate contraventions of the land reforms. Waterbury disputes Binder’s and Ansari’s claims: “while an observable rural bourgeoisie does exist, it sired neither the regime of Nasser nor Sadat.”[174]

Atatürk famously praised the peasant as the nation’s ‘real master’ (asli sahib), but is generally judged to have neglected agriculture. Hale explains that demand for agricultural exports was low: “it was not surprising that the government was inclined to reduce the economy’s dependence on agriculture by concentrating on industrialisation.”[175] The state’s main means of intervention was the Agricultural Bank, which was reorganised in 1924, raising its loans to cultivators significantly. Atatürk’s record on redistribution is generally seen as poorer. In 1925, the annual öşür tithe which peasants used to pay was abolished, but this was the only measure favourable to the rural poor, and “was the reverse of the urban bias that was to develop in the 1930s and 1940s…”[176] Weiker reiterates the conventional wisdom that “the absolute increase in goods and services for almost the entire population has been dramatic.”[177] Yet Weiker himself explains that “in many rural areas the RPP was dominated by traditional local notables who were willing to give support to many reforms only in exchange for tacit neglect of implementation of measures which might result in drastic changes in rural social or power structures.”[178] He also notes that at the time he was writing, a new volume by Özbudun and Ulusan (1980) had been published which made sombre conclusions on inequality in Turkey. Such studies were the beginning of a more recent wave of scholarship which elucidates Atatürk’s neglect of this aspect of socio-economic reform.

Here it is interesting to note two responses to attacks on the Kemalist and Nasserist experiences respectively. Mardin questions the “very applicability of the concept of income distribution across different cultures”[179] arguing that the Kemalists operated with “an Ottoman component in the background”[180], that of guardians as monopolists of power where income distribution was a function of such power. The “channel through which the redistributive thrust has operated has not been that of the economic policies of the republic.”[181] Thus, criticising Atatürk for not upholding rhetoric of egalitarianism is unfair, since his policies were “caused by the transition from one type of society to another.”[182] If such a culturally and historically sensitive analysis is valid in the Turkish context, we should also note Nathan Brown’s revisionist account. He argues, “prevailing liberal ideas have led to the inaccurate image of Nasserism as a social contract between the ruler and the ruled”,[183] “a bargain of welfare gains in exchange for political silence…”[184] Brown insists, Arab socialism “did not simply repudiate liberalism; rather it promised to meet liberal goals more effectively.”[185] Both Mardin’s and Brown’s analyses should be kept in mind when evaluating conventional wisdoms – a balance between what is deemed desirable, and what was feasible or offered in historical context, is important.


Turning Points

The onset of the Great Depression was the catalyst for change in economic policy under Atatürk: it “forced the western world to re-examine its previous assumption that the capitalist economy was basically self-regulatory…”[186] However Boratav points out that the monetary crisis of 1929 preceded the first impacts of the Depression in Turkey, and had domestic roots. 1929 was the year the first instalment of the Ottoman debt was to be paid, proving “such a heavy charge on external finances that the government had to suspend repayments at the end of 1930.”[187] Next, a sudden deterioration in the balance of trade diminished the Kemalists’ confidence in the new bourgeoisie. The peasantry had just recovered from a drought during the late 1920s only to suffer the collapse of agricultural prices. The Depression choked commercial credit and foreign capital, leading many businesses to bankruptcy. Boratav stresses that there was a transition period between 1929 and 1932 “wholly devoid of etatist or interventionist elements within the national economy.”[188] Temporary measures were not sufficient, however, and in 1931, etatism was formalised as one of the Six Arrows.

In Egypt the turning point came with the Suez War in 1956: Britain’s and France’s attack led the Egyptian government to nationalise all their assets in Egypt. The attack itself was a response to Nasser’s nationalisation of the Suez Canal in July, after the US refused him funding for the High Dam. With the wartime sequestrations of banks, trading, insurance and manufacturing companies, “the Egyptian state found itself in possession of a very substantial patrimony”[189] and the left-of-centre elements of the government began to gain ground. As Keyder and Öncu point out, the international context shaped Egypt’s path to socialism: “regional conflicts in the transition from British to American hegemony, and Egypt’s role in this conflict, progressively restricted the maneuvering capacity of Egypt’s revolutionary officers, undermining alternative political and social solutions as populism congealed into socialism.”[190] Indeed international developments were arguably the main propellant of economic change for Atatürk too. As with Egypt, “left-of-centre figures who had been offstage during the 1920s were given much more prominence during the etatist era”[191] and both states stepped up economic interventionism in their ‘second phases’.


Second Phase: Turkey 1930-1938, Egypt 1956-70

Both Turkey and Egypt hosted intense ideological debates concerning the adoption of the Six Arrows and the Charter for National Action respectively. In Turkey, younger intellectuals associated with Kadro magazine saw etatism as an alternative to capitalism, while conservatives saw it “as the nursemaid rather than replacement for capitalist development…”[192] Such groups managed to unite behind industrialisation policies. Their etatism had a political colouring and state building role: “Etatism was and is a curious mixture of private and state enterprise invented by people who understood the importance of economic growth but only as a factor in national power.”[193] Keyder continues: “antiliberalism became the political economy counterpart of ‘nation-building’.”[194]

In Egypt also, there was great debate on the meaning of socialism: a “shadow play in which ‘right’ and ‘left’ sought to capture the revolution.”[195] In the Preparatory Committee for the Charter, two camps emerged, as in Turkey years before. Those who desired ‘Arab Socialism’ saw it as derived from Islamic heritage; those desiring an ‘Arab Application of Socialism’ were the scientific socialists to whom Nasser leaned, though “he made no effort to tilt the balance in their favor.”[196] Again as in Turkey, a compromise was reached, and the Charter was “a careful amalgam of both major positions, although its secularism is unmistakable.”[197] All agreed that profit and loss should not be primary criteria: “the creation of jobs, the provision of cheap goods of first necessity, the introduction of new economic activity to remote or poor regions, and the achievement of self-sufficiency… would be more appropriate tests of success.”[198] Further, the operation of supply and demand was inferior to planning, and the state should set prices such that goods were affordable to the poorer classes.

Turkey negotiated an interest-free twenty-year Soviet loan for TL 16 million in 1932 and drew up its first Five Year Plan in 1933, administered by the Soviet trade agency, Turkstroj. As we shall see, a “pattern of economic assistance was thus established that was repeated in Egypt…”[199] The Plan provided for the construction of industrial plants designed to reduce the need for imports and managed by state agencies. Two new development banks were set up to finance the expanding public sector, the Sümerbank in 1933 and the Etibank in 1935. Hale explains that the “sweeping view”[200] that private enterprise ceased is unsupported by the fact that there was no state takeover of private industries. Nevertheless, state enterprises could borrow at favourable interest rates and had a competitive advantage. Statism had been adopted during the First World War: “this time, however, the policy was soon institutionalised; this alarmed Turkish business circles.”[201]

Egypt too received a Soviet loan and began its first Five Year Plan in 1957. The Plan employed ISI and combined both ‘easy’ and ‘hard’ phases. It generated one million new jobs and annual growth rates of six percent.[202] In 1958 the Soviets also provided a much-needed loan to assist the building of the Aswan Dam. The new Ministry of Industry undertook to regulate private industry, since, as in Turkey, there was “evidence of private-sector disinvestment” while on “social grounds too”[203], Nasser was dissatisfied with the inequality between the monopolists enjoying large profits, and the workers receiving low wages because of a labour surplus economy.

Egypt’s second phase can itself be divided into two, since the Syrian secession of 1961 prompted a further rethink in Egypt: “the success of the Syrian bourgeoisie in engineering the breakup of the United Arab Republic… suggested that this powerful, independent social force could even challenge the political power of the rulers.”[204] Further, since the bourgeoisie would not invest, state seizure of its assets “would allow it to determine a more equitable distribution… and make itself eligible for increased assistance from the Soviet bloc.”[205] Thus in 1961 came Arab Socialism and the nationalisations of banking, foreign trade, parts of internal trade and industry: “the counterpart in the nonagricultural sphere to the land reform of 1952.”[206] Waterbury continues his argument on the rural middle class debate: this class “survived Nasser but was not helped by him”,[207] since “the assertion that the regime was drawn from or acted in the interests of the petite bourgeoisie… casts little light on the success of the regime in applying the Decrees of 1961.”[208]

The Decrees were followed up with measures aimed at equity, such as open university education, guaranteed employment for graduates, price controls, subsidisation of goods, more progressive taxation, and revised land reforms for the rural poor.[209] El-Ghonemy emphasises that these egalitarian measures also constituted long-term investment in human capital, their effects manifest in the 1990s.[210] He notes “a striking feature” of Nasser’s strategy to have been “the use of economic growth benefits to raise the living standard of the low-income population in terms of infant mortality, illiteracy, life expectancy at birth, nutritional standards”,[211] combined with efforts to slow population growth such as the family planning campaign.

Alongside such efforts, Nasser was “determined to mobilize constituencies that had always been on the margins of political life and that could be expected to support the regime as it… undertook the country’s social transformation.”[212] The 1962 Arab Socialist Union played an explicit nation building role, with its two thirds membership of labourers and peasants in the ‘National Alliance of the Working Forces’. Such incorporation or radicalism was less evident in Turkey. Agriculture remained a secondary goal, and apart from price support in the 1930s, most peasants’ gains remained as “indirect beneficiaries of industrial growth.”[213] Nevertheless, the second Five Year Plan was drafted, and was adopted by the Assembly in 1938.

However, some of the side effects of the big-push strategy had started to emerge in the 1930s. The deficit grew, as 35 percent of the budget paid the salaries of the over-sized bureaucracy, while state enterprises were “prey to inefficiency, excessive red tape, and the demands of political patronage.”[214] Cooper writes that they were “sometimes of questionable economic viability.”[215] Nevertheless, it seems true to say that Kemalist Turkey demonstrated that for a dependent country, “self-reliant industrialisation without external deficits and without chronic indebtedness… was not altogether utopian fantasy.”[216] This would certainly inspire Nasser twenty years on, and both experiences represent case studies of similar tasks dealt with through subtly different emphases, producing differing strengths and weaknesses.

Egypt also experienced difficulties near the end of its second phase: Egypt learned, as Turkey had before, that the “Achilles’ heel of ISI…is the economy’s ability to earn foreign exchange.”[217] Rivlin writes, “[ISI] reduced imports of one kind, only to increase those of another.”[218] Egypt’s domestically oriented industries could not generate foreign exchange for the imports they needed to function. Again as in Turkey, Egypt had little choice but to borrow more from abroad: the second Five Year Plan, like Turkey’s, would have furthered industrial deepening, but had to be abandoned for want of adequate financing. State expenditure on construction and welfare drove up demand without a concurrent increase in supply, while deficit financing covered the losses of inefficient state enterprises.

The 1967 war tipped the economy into recession: Egypt lost its oil fields in occupied Sinai, the Suez Canal was closed, and tourism disrupted. There followed a period where “retrenchment and austerity were the only options left.”[219] Thus the Egyptian regime’s attempts to wed growth with equity had come at a cost. Waterbury concludes that 1961-1965 saw growth and redistribution successfully combined, while 1967-1973 saw neither.[220] El-Ghonemy writes, “Nevertheless, an annual growth rate of 5.7 percent over the entire period of 1952-70 was still higher than the population growth rate… The result was a per capita annual income growth of income at 3 percent, on average, over this long period…”[221]




We may first turn to the similarities between the two experiments, while evaluating the conventional wisdoms we have identified. Atatürk and Nasser were both initiators of state-led industrialisation, believing that class interests should not interfere with statism. Waterbury notes their common motivations as ideological conviction, strategic behaviour to destroy rival power bases, and hubris. On balance, they do not seem to have been representatives of one economic class: “between Binder’s… assertion that the RMC [rural middle class], in a moment of enthusiasm, embodied the Egyptian revolution, and Harik’s that once it came under political fire it divested itself nearly out of existence, there lies a third way.”[222] Both leaders, he says, “really did seek a new order”[223], and were not clothing class designs in radical rhetoric.

According to some accounts, Nasser’s was the banner of “so-called Arab socialism”[224] while Atatürk propounded “explicit, original political philosophies…”[225] One reason often cited for Nasser’s ‘failure’ is a lack of economic blueprints from the start, though we have also observed this in Turkey, where successful growth is often judged to have been the outcome. Our analysis has shown pragmatism in each case, with both leaders embarking on statism to manage crises: “many Kemalist principles grew out of action and in response to concrete needs and situations.”[226] This is echoed in the following words of Nasser’s: “Our circumstances were that the revolutionary application… may be prior to the theory… The theory is the evidence of the action.”[227] Both experiments were also shaped by the international context; leaders increasingly perceived a lack of alternatives to their chosen economic paths.



The most reiterated point concerning Atatürk’s and Nasser’s economies is that they were a model and replica respectively. However, closer analysis reveals that Nasser pursued a more radical path: where there was a relative emphasis on growth over equity in Turkey, both were equally important, perhaps equity more so, in Egypt. Zürcher writes that the Kemalists “stopped short of unleashing a real socio-economic revolution,” making “no attempt to change ownership relations.”[228] On Egypt, Mabro and Waterbury among others affirm, there is “no question that Nasserist policies led to far-reaching socio-economic levelling.”[229] Meanwhile, Mardin tells us that the “expansion of opportunity rather than redistribution of wealth is still the most widely used of political ploys in Turkey.”[230] This underlines the principal difference between the objectives of Atatürk’s etatism, and Nasser’s Arab Socialism.

The second difference concerns the role of incorporation in state and nation building. In Turkey “the fascist model, with its declared aim to forge national unity, became an attractive way to build strong states.”[231] In Egypt, populist socialism was rather the state building paradigm and its economic formulae moved beyond corporatism, towards planning and attempted mobilisation. Sunar compares both Atatürk and Nasser as populists, but writes, “Nasser incorporated [the popular sectors] economically through redistributive policies” while Atatürk “did not incorporate the masses either economically or politically” [232] – the Kurdish issue and its economic overtones are illustrative.[233] The outcome was ‘populism without participation’ in Egypt and ‘populism without incorporation’ in Turkey.

Özbudun  provides a legitimation for Atatürk’s neglect of popular incorporation: “the RPP could have… followed a more or less socialistic path… realistically, however, this was a very dubious option.” He continues, “[conceivably], a bolder… policy would have removed the worst features of feudal clientelism in the eastern region. But this is far from saying that the peasant masses were… ready and mobilised to provide a social revolutionary impetus to the Kemalist regime…”[234] Interestingly, the one uniting claim which Mardin describes as having emerged from the anti-Kemalist Islamist revival in Turkey is one which was at the heart of Nasser’s project: “religion in Turkey is being shaped simultaneously by a number of social, political, and economic factors. Their complicated interaction has given rise to one idea that will continue to have an appeal – namely, social justice.”[235] We surmise that nation building may have an important precedent in economic redistribution and ‘incorporation’, overlapping with economic aspects of state building. On the other hand, Waterbury has evaluated Nasser as follows: “his failing was that he insisted on trying to combine reform and accumulation, growth and equity, social discipline and political mobilization.”[236] What “eventually held him in check was his reluctance to demand immediate unrequited social sacrifice, and a hostile international environment in which, at a crucial moment, even the USSR failed to offer him the political and economic backing he needed.”[237]

Chapter Four: State-Religion Dynamics and Nation Building


The “hyphen between state and nation”[238] denotes a deceptively simple step that encapsulates a flux of complex processes and relations. Attempting to control and regulate this flux, leaders aim to ensure not only that the territorial or administrative entity is secure, but also that the population identifies itself as a group of loyal citizens on the basis of a common identity. Of course each of these terms can be deconstructed, and it is to one component of the aspired ‘common identity’ which this chapter turns, namely the place of religion in a national identity, and the state’s impact on its manifestations. More specifically, Gülalp has pointed to the centrality, “not of religion in Muslim societies, but the role that Islam has historically played in signifying a social and communal identity.”[239] While nation-building ideology appears at first a tool of the elite, in fact, it acquires its own dynamism. It is with this in mind that we investigate religion within state-society interactions in Turkey and Egypt.


Conventional Wisdoms


(i)                   Islam

Writers such as Lewis, Halpern, Berger, Rustow, Vatikiotis and Gellner have each added layer upon layer of argument to fix the notion that Islam is a religion unique for prescribing a comprehensive political, legal, economic and social order, hindering modernisation: “as long as [the leadership] insists on identifying itself with the theoretical unity of the umma…it will always suffer the consequences of the fusion, real or assumed, between sanctity and power.”[240] Vatikiotis continues: “When authority and law… derive from a divine source, human… rights find difficulty taking root...”[241]

                  Gülalp identifies two eurocentric variants of secularisation discourse, portraying it as universal and inevitable, or a Western European achievement which ‘Islam’ cannot attain. In each, the logical conclusion is that secularisation is a normative good. Gülalp sees such theories as built in opposition to an ‘Other’: “a universal model expresses the desire to judge others by their measure of conformity to one's normative assumptions about oneself.”[242] The relevance of this aspect of conventional wisdom is heightened when we see it mirrored in state discourses, which have adopted similar stances towards religion and secularism.


(ii)                Turkey

Received wisdom on Turkish state-religion relations firstly holds that the republic was unambiguously secular: “Secularism, which gradually emerged… as… a condition for modernization, thus became one of the pillars of the new regime.”[243] Secondly, this secularism was “rationalist and scientific-minded”,[244] and progressive. The only caveat ceded is that policy “acquired in time excessive anti-clerical positivistic characteristics which were labeled later as ‘an official dogma of irreligion.’”[245]

Thirdly, Kemalist secularism was a commendable achievement. Lerner presented Turkey as the paradigm case of the ‘passing of traditional society’. He and Robinson celebrated how every “program was evaluated by what the ruling elite conceived to be the public welfare, not according to some a priori religious doctrine or political ideology.”[246] Since elites practised the science of Comte and the ideals of French laicisme, theirs was the genuine conception of the general will.

The fourth point made is that secularism was widely accepted in Turkey. Weiker claims there was “broad agreement on steps intended to ‘modernize’ Islam…”[247] On popular Islam, Shankland puts the profound upheavals rather mildly: “other [non-Sunni] groups find little place in official religious education, (though they are permitted access to it)”[248] while overall, the secular approach is said to be “tinged by the nationalist ethic.”[249] Shankland describes secularism as resilient: “conclusions of the demise of Kemalism should not be stated too hastily.”[250] Karpat sums up the conventional wisdom as follows: “People in general realized and accepted… that Islam in general could not cope with the complex necessities of modern life.”[251]


(iii)              Egypt

Presenting the conventional wisdom on Egyptian state-religion relations is not a straightforward task, due to a relative dearth in literature on this area as compared to other aspects of Nasser’s era or indeed to Atatürk’s experience. Baker devotes all of two pages directly to Nasser and Islam, but nevertheless makes the discernibly conventional case that Islam was either “ignored or exploited”[252], or else “superficially wedded to socialist doctrine” by Nasser. In a similar vein, and still concerning the state, Ajami portrays Islamists such as Sayyid Qutb sympathetically, emphasising the authoritarianism of the Egyptian state.[253] Looking at civil society, Krämer describes the tension between Arab and Islamic identities meshed in pan-Arabism, a tension which multiplied for non-Muslims negotiating their position vis-à-vis state discourses on nation.[254] Crecelius and Berger agree that Nasser failed to complete secularisation: “the military regime’s denial of political influence to the ulama is not secularism… Secularism means separation of church and state and the latter’s supremacy…”[255]


Definitions and Structuring the Analysis

Investigating within such vast and differing contexts, it is important to be flexible in structuring the discussion. Constructing one framework for state-religion relations would arguably miss the nuances present in each case, or force them into categorisations which they in fact resist. Measuring Turkey and Egypt against the French model, say, would only tell us – indeed if it could – how much they approximate to the French experience. It could not really indicate whether they implemented what we can recognise and accept as secularisation relative to their particular political and religious contexts.

On the other hand, some structure is needed to facilitate comparison. We will therefore draw on Zürcher’s three-pronged definition of secularism under Atatürk, to designate three domains for our enquiry.[256] The first is state policy on religion’s role in state administration, law and education. The second is the regime’s attitude to the pool of religious symbols operating in public and private life. The third is its position on religion in social life, particularly the Sufi orders. Symbolism and popular Islam may be analysed together as closely related social phenomena, upon which Atatürk and Nasser placed intense and less pronounced emphases respectively.

An important point relates to the content of our analysis: religion in Turkey and Egypt involves not only Islam as a group identity but also Christianity, Judaism and other beliefs. Yet non-Muslims also represented a minority group, and thus their inclusion or exclusion within the nation is also a matter for discussion in Chapter Five. To minimise repetition, we shall focus on the place of Islam within the nation in this chapter, while Chapter Five will address state policy on religion where relevant to minorities. Overall, the multiple dimensions of the issue will have been considered.


Historical Legacies of State and Religion


(i)                   Turkey

Understanding the nature of state-religion dynamics before Atatürk and Nasser is important as the received wisdoms make much of Islam in history and of its unchanging essence through time. Yavuz describes how “religion served as a mediating cultural and political bridge between the state and society”,[257] but that Ottoman bureaucrats feared “the dangers that religious movements spelled out”.[258] Orthodox Sunni Islam was thus institutionalised at the centre, in contrast to the multiple forms of popular Islam. The millet system developed, but the raison d’état or hikmet-i hükümet rationale put requirements of state firmly above those of religion.

Explanations for subsequent Ottoman decline differed between the ulema and the bureaucrats, but the latter group prevailed, and their Tanzimat reforms began the remedial process of westernisation and secularisation. Gradually, the internal administration of the millets changed: the laity increased its power. Separatist demands by non-Muslim millets reinforced Muslim identity in opposition, and Abdülhamid tried to unite the disparate Muslim elements: “Islam had thus been found to have a diffuse effect in building a social identity of sorts, and a solidarity of sorts, among the more isolated areas of the Ottoman empire.”[259]

Mardin writes, “From then on – and this is crucial for an understanding of Atatürk’s attitude to Islam – Islam was to be judged… as viable to the extent that it provided an effective political formula, a means of rallying the population of the empire.”[260] The Young Turks commissioned Ziya Gökalp to theorise for their regime, who proposed that religion should remain a private belief. With World War One and the loss of the Arab lands, the old function of Islam as unifier was no longer needed; the path towards Turkish nationalism wedded to secularism was beginning.


(ii)                Egypt

Using Smith’s typology, Egypt has seen not polity-separation but rather polity-expansion secularisation, where the government “extends its jurisdiction into areas of social and economic life formerly regulated by religious structures.”[261] Judicial reform established mixed courts in 1875, and enacted civil and penal codes based on the French system. Winter writes that such “moves toward modernization paralleled those of the Ottoman Empire, yet Egypt was ahead in the nineteenth century.” A movement of Islamic modernism flourished in Egypt, but later, political battles saw al-Azhar, the foremost religious institution, become “a political instrument of the palace.”[262] The 1923 constitution reflected “the dichotomy between the secular and the religious”[263] for it recognised Islam as the state religion but also said that all powers emanate from the nation and that parliament could legislate without reference to the shari’a.

Atatürk and Nasser’s Perceptions of the Place of Religion in Nation Building

A grasp of each leader’s stance on religion enables us to ascertain the degree to which any similarities or differences we observe in their policies were rooted in differing departure points. Moreover, as Mardin affirms: “the meaning of laicism as a project is best highlighted not by a description of its practice [but] by its relation to the primordial goals of the… regime.”[264]

Atatürk had an explicitly domestic focus in his project: foreign relations were of concern insofar as they facilitated his state and nation building at home. Nasser, meanwhile, rose to power in an occupied Egypt: his first concern was thus externally oriented. Egyptians had an ambiguous perception of the ‘West’, at once an awe-inspiring power and an alien coloniser. Unlike Atatürk, Nasser was thus unable, and indeed unwilling, to endorse wholesale cultural westernisation, and this of course extended to matters of religion. It was such structural and existential threats that caused what Heper arguably understates as the Arab countries’ “difficulty in responding positively” to the West, unlike Atatürk, who Heper says “did not place the moral responsibility for being backward solely upon the dominating tendencies of the advanced nations.”[265] Even less convincing, and arguably ahistorical, is Heper’s lifting of Lewy’s argument that Nasser “discovered that the Egyptian masses could be… mobilized only by associating nationalism with Islam”[266] and that this “was only to be expected as the only glory the Arabs value was achieved under the banner of Islam.”[267] Historiography and Egyptian perceptions of glory aside, that Arab nationalism was “built upon a religious foundation”[268] is simplistic and debatable, as we shall see.

Nasser held popular religion to be an unobtrusive, organic part of the national identity he was anxious to posit against the occupation. Nevertheless, to undermine religion would have been to dislodge a prime marker along the frontier dividing Egypt from its British ‘Other’. Atatürk’s ‘Other’ was at home: his education in the rational principles of the Enlightenment had instilled in him an association of religion with tradition, and tradition with the forces hindering modernisation. Thus Yavuz explains: “since its inception the Kemalist military-bureaucratic establishment has viewed large sections of its own society, rather than foreign countries, as its main threat.”[269]


Religion and the State: Administration, Education and Legislation

On Turkey, Akural writes, “Islam, according to Atatürk, was essentially a rational religion, demanding no intermediary clergy.”[270] Berkes continues: “The crux of all Mustafa Kemal’s experiments was not to Turkify Islam for the sake of Turkish nationalism, but… for the sake of religious enlightenment...”[271] From this perspective, Atatürk had made a progressive and radical break with past structures.

On Egypt, the story goes that Nasser’s authoritarian state co-opted the religious establishment, al-Azhar, and crushed the Muslim Brothers. Winter writes that, although it was the third of the three circles in the Philosophy of the Revolution, Nasser was “too astute a politician to forgo Egypt’s advantages in the Islamic circle.”[272] Winter continues that Nasser did not aim at secularisation but at “the integration of Islam into the state, using it as a tool for the regime’s policies.”[273]

In contrast to the received wisdom, a closer look at Atatürk’s reforms reveals continuities with Ottoman secularising trends, and that “the method that he used to implement his ideas – legislation – was foreshadowed by the policies of the nineteenth-century Ottoman modernising statesmen.”[274] Of course, Atatürk was the most determined of these reformers. His abolition of the Caliphate represents a recognisable rupture: “[in] France, religion and the state already operated on two distinct institutional registers and were eventually separated in the law of the land. In Turkey a limb of the state was torn out of its body when laicism became the state policy.”[275] Yet Ottoman influences appear again, as Gülalp notes how religion was not completely excised from national identity: “both in government practices and popular cultural assumptions, a ‘Turk’ preferably spoke Turkish and was a Muslim.”[276]

Against accusations that Kemalism “contained a clear distaste for religion”,[277] the received wisdom cites the replacement of the Ministries of Şeriat and Evkaf with a Directorate of Religious Affairs, the Diyanet İşleri Reisliği in 1924. However, it seems that the ‘monopoly’ of the ulema over religious affairs was simply replaced by that of the Diyanet officials, who were in turn subservient to their Kemalist benefactors. As Tapper relates, “Turkish Islam in effect became more standardized, circumscribed and compartmentalized.”[278] Toprak continues: “religious functionaries were put under state control, as they became civil servants.”[279] Yavuz describes the Diyanet’s objective as not to educate ‘good Muslims’, but “to create ‘good citizens’ with civic responsibility toward the state.”[280] The Law on High Treason was amended in 1925 to include the political use of religion, while the Law on the Maintenance of Order was invoked by Independence Tribunals to order 660 executions after the rebellion against the Hat Law. Toprak writes, “the main reason behind the suspension of [opposition party] activities was probably their success in challenging… monoparty rule…”[281] and not their alleged religious obscurantism. Here was the retrogressive face of Kemalist secularism, closing off public debate and dissent. Karpat describes the state’s “increasing antagonism to clericalism… as a violation of secularism…”[282]

Literature on the Nasserist state’s relations with religious institutions is scarce in comparison to that on its Kemalist counterpart. One scholar describes the 1961 law for the development of al-Azhar as ambiguous: on the one hand it subordinated the ulema, transforming Al-Azhar into a state-controlled religious university, its administration in the hands of laymen. The corrupt among the ulema were accused of obstructionism and the formation of a religious aristocracy. On the other hand, Al-Azhar gained “administrative resources” and “a political forum”.[283] Its curriculum was reformed, adding four secular faculties, and significantly, a girls’ college.

The case of the Supreme Council for Religious Affairs illustrates how Nasser pursued his vision of secularism through state religious institutions. After the failure of the 1954 Islamic Congress, Egypt, “sensing the importance and potential of such an organization,” [284] created its own Supreme Council in 1960. It published the “highly respected monthly journal, Minbar al-Islam,” which became “a leading voice of religious reform in the Muslim world.” Furthermore, “the most important articles dealing with the reinterpretation of Islamic principles are consistently written by lay intellectuals…”[285] Crecelius writes, “It is not the institutional relationship between religion and state… that is important… but the character of the issues themselves that constitutes the essence of secularism.”[286] It is arguably in this respect that Nasser’s regime earns the attribute of ‘secular’.

Nasser’s treatment of the Muslim Brothers has been portrayed as anti-religious and thus undermining his claims of secular tolerance. However, it is facile to draw from the moderate place of religion in Nasser’s pronouncements, and his showdown with the Muslim Brothers in 1954, the conclusion that understanding the latter will fully shed light on the former. In fact, Nasser’s relations with the Brothers can be seen as a political matter in the first instance, and only secondarily related to issues of state and religion. In an early meeting between Nasser and Hassan al-Hudaibi of the Muslim Brothers, Nasser “startled his listeners by boldly stating that there would be no wasaya (“guardianship”) over the revolution by any organization.”[287] The Brothers had hoped to exploit their ties with the Free Officers, but they were rivals to the regime just as the Wafd or the Communists were. They were treated accordingly, and not in terms of religious or secular policy. After their attempt on Nasser’s life at al-Manshiya, “Nasir took over as head of state and moved quickly”[288] to suppress them.

An important factor to note in the discussion of religion and politics in Egypt is the establishment of the state of Israel and the ensuing Arab-Israeli conflict. Beinin points out that the majority of Egyptian political opinion did not resort to anti-Semitism in discussing the Palestinian-Zionist conflict.[289] However, the Brothers had been the “leaders of the campaign”[290] of anti-Jewish riots in 1948 and were involved in the Black Saturday riots. Thus to see Nasser as irreligious in combating the Muslim Brothers is one perspective; accounts by Stephens, Beattie and Beinin provide another angle, showing the Brothers themselves propagating an intolerant line on other faiths. Nasser, says Stephens, had little sympathy for the Brothers’ mixture of religion and politics: while “Islamic traditions coloured his view of the world, he was no fanatic and his nationalist politics were firmly secular.”[291]


Religious Symbols, Popular Islam and the State


(i)                   Intended social changes

Having surveyed these received wisdoms, we may question several of their premises. Firstly, they assume that both the regimes dealt with religious symbols and popular Islam with the same degree of attention and intention for change. In fact, it seems that Atatürk was the more preoccupied with what we may loosely term ‘cultural engineering’. Atatürk’s education had instilled in him a revulsion against mahalle culture. Thus the Hat Law of 1925 abolished the fez, “the last bastion of Muslim identification and separateness.”[292] Abolition of the Şeriat courts in 1924, and adoption of the Swiss civil code in 1926, would touch people’s private lives more than any other reform, and despite not spreading to the countryside immediately, implications for the place of Islam in society were extensive. Atatürk also closed down religious medreses, “to engrain and encode secularist nationalism in the educational system.”[293] The language reforms of 1928 targeted a potent symbol of Islamic identity, the use of Arabic script. For Atatürk, Turkey’s image among the civilised nations was paramount: “these reforms aimed at destroying the symbols of Ottoman-Islamic civilization, and substituting them with their Western counterparts.”[294] Moreover, “state-sponsored historical theses… were meant to forge a politically correct continuity between the Republican present and an imagined pre-Islamic past.”[295]

Considering the relationship between symbolism and changing religious values in Egypt, we find that Nasser had priorities of national independence and social justice, and he proposed no explicit cultural revolution at the outset. The Liberation Rally of 1952 made no mention of religion, but rather a “national appeal to all Egyptians to… ‘liberate’ the nation from British and foreign domination...”[296] The Six Principles had also been noticeably silent on issues of religion or popular culture, unlike Atatürk’s explicit pronouncements. Nasser’s first concerns were with feudalism: nationalisations of the family and religious waqfs by 1953 came as part of the land reform. Such religiously endowed property had been poorly administered, and amounted to 600,000 feddans in 1952, eleven per cent of Egypt’s arable land. [297] Later, in 1962, the Charter for National Action held: “The freedom of religious belief must be regarded as sacred in our new free life.”[298] Yet Nasser was seemingly in tune with elements of popular culture, or less inclined to uproot them: his approach was not to purge religious symbols from state discourse, but rather to direct them towards the objectives of modernity within the revolution. Thus Arab socialism’s affinity with Islamic law and practice was painstakingly theorised and asserted, to ease the knee-jerk reactions of some against socialism for its association with atheism. Nevertheless, Arab socialism here was the prime aim, and not Islamic advocacy.

The conventional wisdom seems to make the dubious assumptions that not only were the intentions of Atatürk and Nasser present and fixed on effecting cultural revolution, but that these were secularising and Islamising intentions respectively. However, the Independence War provides a vivid illustration to the contrary: before launching his attack on ‘traditional’ symbols, Atatürk first used religion as a rallying force during the war, cooperating with both the ulema and the Kurds: “the nationalist struggles of 1919-1922 were fought… at the popular level as a war in defense of the faith.”[299] Atatürk defined the nation as “composed of several Muslim communities.”[300] He famously prayed at the opening ceremony of the Grand National Assembly, which visibly incorporated Islamic symbolism. Once the war was won, Lausanne ratified, and Atatürk secure, Islamic and Kurdish references would be purged from state discourse, and the dervish orders and sacred tombs closed in 1925.

An investigation into popular Islam in Egypt highlights the complexities of secularism under Nasser – it was neither an Islamising regime, nor one suppressing popular Islamic elements, but the area in between was often configured in such a way that the regime derived political stability. Gilsenan explains that the Free Officers regarded the Sufi orders as “too close to powerful, ‘feudal’ rural class interests, too open to manipulation of the ignorant masses by the British, or the palace… or the upper bourgeoisie.”[301] Sufism “was accused of substituting non-Islamic ecstatic rituals for the political mobilization and consciousness that the revolution sought to achieve in the name of the independent nation.” Gilsenan comments, “And there was a great deal of justice in this view.”[302] However, Ansari writes that “Relations between the Sufi orders and Nasirism were symbiotic… the Sufi orders gained official recognition while they inculcated political quietism among the masses.”[303] De Jong points out that the regime’s interest in the Sufis coincided with its confrontation with the Muslim Brothers in 1954, providing a counterbalance through popular Islam. Moreover, he notes the cooperation in foreign policy between the state and Sufi orders, who helped cultivate pan-Arab ties “by virtue of their binational organizational setup”.[304] On the other hand, when Sufi sheikhs became politically active within the Arab Socialist Union, “cases in which a sufi order was used for political purposes seem to be outnumbered by cases in which political connections… were used for the benefit of an order…”[305] Hoffman writes, “Sufism in Egypt is a complex phenomenon that cannot be reduced to the position of a government-sponsored body.”[306]

Crecelius describes how the Egyptian regime did not “directly challenge the private religious views of its citizens.”[307] It did not eliminate the kuttab, rural schools of religious teaching, nor did it prevent the dervish orders from playing a prominent role in public religious celebrations. Indeed, Hoffman documents that “the number of moulids for which permits were granted substantially increased”[308] under Nasser. It seems that where secularism was state discourse, popular religious networks were not suffocated, ensuring that popular religion did not become an avenue for dissent, thus avoiding the Kemalist nation building dilemma. Received wisdom on the instrumental control of popular Islam is overturned by such analyses as de Jong’s, who writes of “a revival of organized mysticism”[309] under Nasser, and its highly political role.

Thus Nasser was secular in the sense of rejecting the theocratic notion of the state, without rejecting Islam altogether. As in Turkey, in 1955 the regime closed all religious courts, applying a unified code of law, but religious statutes still covered the area of personal status – it was Atatürk who had no qualms about removing shari’a jurisdiction on family matters. Nevertheless, the 1956 constitution declared that, while Islam remained the state religion, this “in no way subordinates lawmakers”, for Islam’s role was to be “a private and personal one.”[310] Vatikiotis elegantly summarises the paradox facing Nasser: “the need to appeal to the ‘Islamic Myth’ of communal and cultural identity in order to work for the achievement of a new formula to supersede it.”[311] Nevertheless, secularism and not Islamism was the tenet of Nasserist politics. One of the reasons Nasser refused to partake in King Faisal’s Islamic summit of 1965 would be its subversion of the secular principle of Arab nationalism, and its potentially divisive consequences.[312] The text of the 1962 Charter referred to religion in a general sense, and to Islam only once. It emphasised human action over religious deference: “In their essence all divine messages constituted human revolutions which aimed at the reinstatement of man’s dignity and his happiness. It is the prime duty of religious thinkers, then, to preserve for each religion the essence of its divine message.”[313] Nasser’s particular brand of secularism seems to have been culturally sensitive, for while they were kept characteristically within sight of the regime, religious networks were allowed to breathe, while Atatürk built his new state and nation discourse on the remains of a religious edifice he was dismantling. Chapter Five will discuss the fortunes of the Copts of Egypt under Nasser, as compared to later eras, without which the nature of his secularism arguably cannot be appreciated.


(ii)                Were intentions played out?

Nation builders use symbols either to reinforce a social value or to change it – the conventional wisdom argues that while both leaders employed symbolism, Atatürk effected fundamental value changes in society, whereas Nasser’s social revolution failed to materialise. Heper writes that “the ‘Cultural Revolution’ of Atatürk has been more successful than is generally presumed, while political democracy has given alternatives to religious protest.”[314] Baker asserts that in “the realm of… the transformation of values and beliefs, little of significance had been achieved.”[315]

We now ask whether secularisation policies, where they existed, did in fact have an effect in Turkey and Egypt. Karpat writes, “It was no secret that many of the religious reforms were observed through the force of law rather than out of conviction.”[316] Peripheral society developed two responses to this authoritarianism, the first being of a more stoical nature. Numerous accounts, contrary to the conventional wisdom, stress that Turkey’s elites were rapidly, if not already converted, but that the bulk of reforms left the periphery unaffected: “The country’s social structure and the institution of the family, which were preserved relatively intact, continued, however, to generate a pattern of thought contrary to the rationalist and scientific features of secularism.”[317] Yavuz cites the familiarity and durability of Islamic symbols as the reason why “Islamic consciousness remained at the foundation of communal identity among large segments of society, occasionally transcending national consciousness but never viewed as alien to it.”[318] Moreover, by closing down traditional associations, such as the Turkish Hearths, the state undermined its access to available channels reaching civil society. Thus the periphery demonstrated a form of passive resistance, and chose not to internalise state discourse on religion.

In other cases, constituents expressed their discontent more actively, indeed violently, such as in the Hat Law uprisings and the Şeyh Said and Menemen revolts of 1925 and 1930 respectively. Such revolts reveal an unincorporated periphery, whose values had been attacked and then inadequately rehabilitated: “links between the discourse of the periphery and the centre were erased”,[319] leaving “a blank in [people’s] understanding of social reality, which became critical as social change mobilized large numbers of them.” [320]  Kemalism was “no alternative to Islam in providing identity and organizing principles of life.”[321] In contrast, ‘Bediüzzaman’ Said Nursi was writing Quran commentaries in exile as a “catechism” for people “thoroughly confused” by secular reforms.[322] The state was mistaken to underestimate the mobilising force of ideas such as Nursi’s, and conventional accounts are similarly mistaken to assert the wide acceptance of Atatürk’s secularising mission.

Weiker presents the classic modernisationist perspective on the tekkes: “one of the problems is that these associations… serve as vehicles for political influence for persons who have radically conservative orientations...”[323] The irony of secularising measures under Atatürk was that they “unintentionally provided opportunities for religion to assume political functions.”[324] Since the Kemalist regime identified Islam with the ancien regime and obstacles to Turkey’s progress, so Islamic identity, “rather than one focused on nationality, ethnicity, or class”[325], evolved as the outlet for anti-Kemalist frustration. Through the Ottoman ‘tacit contract’, a centre-periphery gap had long existed between the centralised Ottoman government and its vast subject Empire. Now however, Kemalist secular ‘nation building’ was exacerbating it.

                  On the levels of symbolism and popular Islam, the Nasserist state seems to have been less intrusive than its Kemalist counterpart, and its reforms less sweeping. Family laws were not changed, dress was not controlled, and religious outlets existed – thus large-scale or violent social unrest simply did not occur. On the other hand, Nasser had to acknowledge in 1964 that, “As far as the moral texture is concerned, we cannot change it overnight… The values that existed still exist…”[326] Whether this was down to his more conciliatory approach as compared to Atatürk, however, rather than the inherent magnitude of such tasks as effecting social change, seems doubtable.

Thus the received wisdom is mistaken to simplistically attribute success and failure to effect social change to Atatürk and Nasser respectively. A further nuance in this shortcoming is the assumption that such outcomes were played out in a uniform way. This stems from the presentation of Turkish and Egyptian Islam as merely two country-variants of one universal essence. In fact, we should note that there are multiple Islams in both contexts: Islam is persistently heterogeneous in Turkey, and in Egypt, other religions make up 10% of the population. The Nurcus and Nakşibendis are two tekkes with different historical trajectories, not only from each other, but also from Egypt’s Muslim Brothers, as well as differently expressed grievances with the state and differing receptions within each civil society. This diversity plays into the state-religion dynamic, and has been overlooked in traditional accounts.

There is another dimension to our assertion that the conventional literature overstates the rigidity of the outcomes of secularisation – it should first ask, just how secular was the secular regime? In seeking to eliminate the political and social roles religion had played, in replacing religious truths with nationalist-secular ones, and in being disseminated as the sole path to modernity, Turkish secularism acquired the attributes of a religion itself: “Consequently, while on one hand religion has been an indispensable dimension of Turkish national identity, on the other hand Kemalism has officially been interpreted as almost a quasi-religion of ‘modern’ Turkey, vying with Islam for political and ideological primacy.”[327] Adak describes Atatürk merging his personal biographical trajectory with Turkey’s destiny, the ‘I-nation’ in Nutuk.

Meanwhile Nasser did not posit an alternative religion, but sought to draw legitimacy from it where possible, to bolster state and nation building. The regime solicited ulema’s opinions on activities, “including birth control, land reform, nationalization, scientific research, foreign policy, and social affairs.”[328] Indeed after the crushing defeat of 1967, it was to religion that the state manifestly turned for explanation and consolation, mirroring such processes in society. However, the values of the Revolution – social justice and independence for example – were to be treated with gravity as articles of faith. However, they were not presented as a replacement of religious faith, but rather the political expression of its fundamental values. The Egyptian and Arab circles merged with the Islamic in Nasser’s outlook. Moreover, Nasser’s personal engagement with critics, his resignation speech, and his anxiety to learn from like-minded movements of the non-aligned world, do not speak of the self-image of a monolithic, indubitable religion. There are even stories of imprisoned Muslim Brothers writing letters of praise to Nasser after events like Suez, demonstrating that where cultural and political values of ruler and opposition coincided, this could override grievances and generate support. As Gilsenan says, the “ideological control exerted during the Nasser years depended for its efficacy not only on the state but on the conviction of the mass of people that history was being autonomously realized by Egyptians… that the za‘im did incarnate a capacity to resist external and internal forces identified with oppression and exploitation…”[329] Indeed, if it seems that Nasser was in a way ‘worshipped’ by the ‘popular masses’, as evidenced by the spontaneous emotion his speeches, visits, resignation and death aroused across the Arab world, then perhaps, by deed and not decree, Nasserism had become or been adopted as a form of popular religion. Whatever the truth of this, Nasser’s example stands in contrast with Kemalism’s rejection among similar groups in Turkey.




The first conclusion to emerge from the comparison is that it has been rather difficult to make – there is an imbalance in the volume and quality of literature on both countries with respect to the issue, and this reflects, at least in part, the position of the issue itself on government agendas. The focus in the literature on Egypt is on Nasser’s relations with the Muslim Brothers, whereas literature on Turkey devotes equal and greater attention to official and popular religion, to reform and to civil society unrest. In analysing texts, it is important to note the silences as well as what is said, and ask where these come from: “silence is never completely beyond language, for meanings emerge through it...”[330] In Egypt’s case, such audible silences and this imbalance could suggest that the Nasserist state’s approach was less intrusive: secularism was not articulated in an unqualified sense as under Kemalism, and it was primarily in the political domain that matters escalated, rather than the social and cultural spheres.

Secondly, our analysis has shown that secularisation is not a uniform process; its trajectories differ. Turkey and Egypt’s different trajectories stemmed in significant part from their two leaders’ different visions for their constituencies, as we have seen. However, a parallel can be drawn if we view state-religion dynamics as the resolution of a power struggle by each state. Nasser suppressed the Muslim Brothers as he did the Wafd, Communists and others, while Atatürk dealt a blow to the ancien regime and the symbols for which it stood through his first wave of secularising reforms.

Thirdly, top-down secularisation is often confronted with the resilience of popular religion. Secularisation by both Atatürk and Nasser, applied to differing degrees, did not arrest the development of a revived Islamic identity or even activism. In Atatürk’s case, such cultural engineering was intended; under Nasser, the emphasis was on socio-economic opportunity and not religious affiliation. There were serious limitations to Kemalist rationales for the new identity however and they could not fill the place of Islam. In the case of Egypt, contemporary politics prove the resurgence of groups such as the Muslim Brothers, as well as the unchallenged status of religion as a value and identity-marker within unorganised civil society.

Finally, our literature reviews have confirmed such insights as Davison’s, who notes how the ends of Kemalism “have been inadequately attended to by anglophone political scientists whose interest in Turkey has been defined by narrowing secular and modern prejudgments and whose methods have been noninterpretive…”[331] The modernisation formula essentialises Islam as anti-democratic and secularism as progressive, leading to the dismissal of regimes like Nasser’s, based on its Arab or Islamic symbolism, compared to an embracing of Atatürk’s secularising revolution. Such secularisation formulae betray a European or Enlightenment bias which may not necessarily travel, and can be insensitive to local realities in other parts of the world. Secularism may well be a method of incorporation for all religious elements of a nation, but such nation building requires practical as well as rhetorical components, and there can be a price to pay if the state’s own citizens are alienated in the process.

Chapter Five: Nation Building and Minorities


Nation building as a practical process is necessarily preceded by state elites delineating what is to constitute the nation. Thus, on the one hand, we may examine how effective nation building programmes have been in fostering a shared identity among the designated nation. However, we should also unpack this concept of ‘nation’ as presented in state discourse, and ask how well it reflects the makeup of the population, the entire state constituency. Taking minorities as a case study thus sheds light on how inclusive official nationalism is, and the fate of potential losers or ‘others’ of the nation building programme. Minorities can “either be part of an integratory development or they can experience increased discrimination, which leads to their eventual exclusion from state and society.”[332]

                  A discussion of minority treatment presupposes that such groups should be attributed minority status, and this indeed is to take up a position within the debate, since some would dispute such categorisations from the outset. Yet to gauge the inclusivity and effectuality of nation building we must address all the groups on the receiving end of policy and particularly those who by numerical paucity could be considered vulnerable or liable to escape incorporation. Moreover, since certain other actors have indeed called the groups in question ‘minorities’, we may at least investigate them in these terms to evaluate this classification.

In comparing Turkey and Egypt, the question arises of which minorities to consider. While a larger discussion would consider more groups and perhaps even focus on exclusively religious comparisons, here it is expedient to ask who were the largest groups with characteristics distinguishing them from the majority. Hence we shall consider the Kurds of Turkey, and the Copts of Egypt. Indeed, as we shall see, identities were in flux throughout: for example, the Kurdish question always had religious overtones, and is pertinent to debates on secularism, not unlike the ethnic and religious aspects of the Coptic issue in Egypt. Thus, rather than trying to find and affix labels, we simply choose to assess whether equal treatment was provided across the population. Ergil writes that “Inclusion and motivation can be spurred by education based on a common language and culture, by political participation, or by enjoying the benefits of economic growth.”[333] Such areas will guide our analysis of the place of minorities and the nature of nation building under Atatürk and Nasser.


Conventional Wisdoms

On Turkey, scholarship has traditionally emphasised Atatürk as the saviour of Anatolia, the one man capable of salvaging what remained after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The Kurdish issue is mostly glossed over by the wave of literature which appeared between the 1930s and 1950s: the perception that “a non-Western and Muslim country chose to discard its past and seek to join the West made a huge impression in the West…”[334] The emphasis was on how “Mustafa Kemal took up a non-existent, hypothetical entity, the Turkish nation, and breathed life into it.”[335] Weiker lists among “Turkey’s Achievements” the existence of “A firm sense of national identity” and “the integration of virtually all of the population into the mainstream of… national identification…”[336] Dumont says the Sheikh Said revolt was “by no means a hypothetical danger” and lauds the Kemalists’ “rather liberal definition of the concept of the nation… [which] cleverly bypassed religious, racial and ethnic issues.”[337] What is telling in all these accounts, even those that quibble over the problematic “not-yet-assimilated minorities”[338], is that the story is told from the perspective of the Kemalist state – little is made of the impact of policy on society.

Kazancıgil  and Özbudun’s edited volume on Atatürk makes no reference to Kurds. Weiker mentions them three times in passing, in the following context: “The arguments for greater attention to the problem of regional balances are both economic and political.”[339] Weiker cites the “need to keep order in the largely Kurdish provinces of the East.”[340] The Kurds figure in such accounts, if at all, as a socio-economically underdeveloped group: Akural explains Kurdish dissent as “determined by long-range socio-economic trends.”[341] Moreover, their rebellions are portrayed as the cause of authoritarianism under Atatürk, and not vice versa: “Neither Atatürk nor any of his supporters openly wanted to establish an authoritarian state in Turkey. But, as events and trends such as the Kurdish rebellion… continued to develop, the new regime assumed an authoritarian – though not totalitarian – character.”[342] Özbudun writes, “While Turkey did not display a high degree of social pluralism in the 1920s and the 1930s, some measure of political pluralism was tolerated within the party.”[343] Lewis goes further, writing that Atatürk offered “paternalistic guidance… without resort to the… apparatus of demagogy and repression familiar in [European] dictatorships…”[344]

On Egypt, the received wisdom is that the Copts have experienced differing levels of discrimination and feelings of alienation at the hands of the state. Abdel-Malek claims that the “stream of Egyptian Arab nationalism very quickly joined the Islamic current.”[345] He charts a revival in literature on Islam during the 1950s, but also some “valuable works…in promoting a renascence of Arab culture”[346] which nevertheless, he says, could not stem “a disquieting resurgence of discrimination against the Copts, especially with regard to appointments to public offices and even entry into private companies.”[347] Overall, however, works on the Copts are not as numerous as their counterparts on the Kurds in Turkey. Some scholars note the essentially secular colouring of Nasser’s nation building project, while Copts are described as ethnically Egyptian, religion being their only separate identity marker.


Historical Background


(i)                   The Kurds

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Kurds of the Ottoman Empire lived compactly in the area known as Kurdistan, within dynastic principalities which Kurdish notables had established. Centralisation begun under Mahmüt II “brought the Kurdish emirs to heel” and power passed to a new type of leader, the sheikh. Olson writes that thus, “nation and religion became intertwined, in effect, from the beginning…”[348] State-Kurdish relations have been described by Mardin in terms of a “tacit contract”,[349] whereby “the Ottoman state tradition conceived of rebellion… as a means of bargaining and negotiation by the subordinate peripheral groups for improving their status…”[350]

Ottoman state decline prompted the elaboration of new discourses, Ottomanism and pan-Islamism, designed to arrest this process and provide a focus of loyalty for subjects. By the twentieth century, the first “glimmerings of Turkish nationalism”,[351] had surfaced in the Empire. Yegen describes “the struggle between the discourses of Islamism/traditionalism and westernism/modernism… in the formation of the discursive context in which [Kemalist state discourse] appeared.”[352] It is against this background of evolving Turkish nationalism that the Kurdish issue would come to the fore.


(ii)                The Copts

The Christian community was established in Egypt long before the arrival of Islam, and Abdel-Malek tells us that the Coptic Church was “intensely national throughout history.”[353] The position of the Copts improved early in the nineteenth century under the stability and tolerance of Muhammad Ali's dynasty. The Coptic community ceased to be regarded by the state as an administrative unit and, by 1855, the main mark of Copts' separate status, the jizya tax, was lifted. This “is commonly considered to have formalized their full integration into Egyptian society.”[354] The Copts were also more incorporated into Egyptian politics than other minorities. They were well represented in the Parliament of Khedive Ismail, and supported the Urabi rebellion. The Copts’ position towards the British was ambivalent: they felt they could provide protection, but that the Levantine Christians received preferential treatment under British tutelage. Copts enthusiastically joined the nationalist movement in 1919, where one of the prime slogans was ‘Long live the Crescent with the Cross.’ Unaffected by citizenship laws, the Copts saw “little reason… to exert efforts within a smaller and particularistic institutional framework.”[355] They did however defend their autonomy after attempts to unify personal status law in the 1920s and 1930s.

In sum, both the Kurds of Turkey and Copts of Egypt had a long history of settlement in the region, and were not migrants. Theirs was an institutionalised presence that had periodically come against pressures from the centre, but which had maintained itself flexibly in response. Identities were not fixed, as can be seen in times of crisis such as war or revolt – for the Kurds, religion was often the prime focus of loyalty, and not ethnicity; for the Copts, the reverse had often been the case.


Atatürk and Nasser’s Nation Building Approaches to Minorities


(i)                   State Discourse

In Turkey, there was a noticeable evolution in Atatürk’s pronouncements on nation, beginning with the Independence War. In 1920, Atatürk pushed for the recognition of the Misak-i Milli, or National Pact, which summarised the aims of the resistance. Article One begins, “The territories inhabited by an Ottoman Muslim majority (united in religion, race and aim) form an indivisible whole…”

Of note with respect to Atatürk’s nation building at this time, was his ability to play on the ambiguity of Kurdish identity and the divisions among Kurdish leaders. Atatürk’s letters to Kurdish sheikhs and notables, his speeches,[356] and the signing of the 1919 Amasya Protocols all kept Kurdish autonomy an open option. Meanwhile, Atatürk knew that the struggle was, for many a Turk and Kurd, a bid to save the Caliphate, pitting Muslim against non-Muslim: “Islamic discourse served the nationalists well…”[357] Özoğlu explains that it was the urban Kurdish nationalists, who were less in touch with the Kurdish region, whom Atatürk was best able to co-opt.[358] Meanwhile he could co-opt the tribal leaders because he “‘had power that he might delegate to them, whereas the [Kurdish] nationalist organizations did not’.”[359] Moreover, although the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres raised prospects of autonomy, at the time, Kurds were more hostile to Serif Pasa’s accord with the British, proposing to divide Kurdistan with the Armenians.

Atatürk’s first speech at the Grand National Assembly “defined the nation he had in mind as being composed of all Islamic elements living within the National Pact boundaries.”[360] After fierce debate, Mustafa Kemal had the ‘Law on Fundamental Organisation’ passed in 1921, declaring that sovereignty belonged unconditionally in the nation. Later, he argued that the Ottoman Empire’s collapse illustrated that “all such attempts to create ‘ideal states’, incorporating the whole of humanity or a particular race, had failed. The only solution remaining was the creation of a state based on the nation.”[361] Article Three saw, however, the first use of the words ‘state of Turkey’.[362] The War had acted as “a bridge from Turanism to Motherlandism”.[363]

After Lausanne and independence, “the exact nature of the emerging new Turkish state was still somewhat indeterminate...”[364] This ambiguity Kemal was happy to leave unclarified, so as not to isolate the non-Turkish minorities whose support he needed. Bora argues that this is still the case: official ideologues keep “the nationalistic model’s duality latent, but [keep] it all the same, for this duality and tension help extend their margin of political and ideological maneuvring.”[365] Time would tell quite how Turkish Atatürk wished his newly independent state to be.

The abolition of Sultanate and Caliphate “introduced new terms such as the ‘Turkish nation’ (Türk Milleti) and the ‘Turkish government’ (Türk Hükümeti).”[366] In the 1924 constitution, “the terms ‘citizenship’ and ‘citizen’ had been equated with Turkishness.”[367] However, Kirişci and Winrow note that at this stage, Atatürk “seemed to have been thinking of ‘Turkishness’ increasingly in a functional manner… [It] would become the basis of a new national identity that would be needed to transform a traditional society inherited from the Ottoman Empire into a modern one.”[368]

Over the next years, state discourse narrowed from civic to ethnic conceptions of nation, and social protest intensified, each one radicalising the other. Kemalists promoted assimilation within the new Turkish borders: “the fundamental Law has recognised as Turks all the citizens of the country… and has prepared the way for a complete integration of minority elements into Turkism.”[369] The 1931 ‘Turkish History Thesis’ presented Kurds as of Turanian origin, ‘mountain Turks’, who had ‘forgotten their mother-tongue’ over years of foreign influences. History was “a critical tool for nationalists in propagating their ideology”[370] and this continued with the 1935 ‘Sun Language Theory’ which claimed that all world languages stemmed from pure Öztürkçe: “Turkish writers are unanimous that the theory was Atatürk’s work.”[371] The concerns of earlier discourses of Pan-Turkism with language, racial history and culture had passed to Kemalism. Ahmad describes how strong elements of racism had been incorporated into nationalist discourse, influenced by fascist trends in Europe, and was reproduced in the new history textbooks of the Republic. [372]

                  When Nasser came to power, his first pronouncements set the tone for a largely secular approach to nation. The Free Officers’ first announcements and the Six Principles were free of religious reference. Nevertheless, Philipp provides the standard view that “national integration” and “patterns of legitimation of government were, at different periods, associated with a distinct Islamic orientation.”[373] However, other accounts show that Nasser was careful to include both Muslim and Christian in his discourse on identity and the nation, to allow a cushioning and spiritual legitimisation of whatever social upheavals his policies were evincing. Watson describes a speech of Nasser’s showing his support for the Copts, and directing his message at the Muslim Brothers: “We are all Egyptians”, he announced. “Islam recognised Christians as brothers in religion and brothers in God. God calls for love and we will not tolerate any more fanatics who create obstacles and problems for the people in their revolution.”[374]

Ragaa Al-Naqqash, the former editor-in-chief of Al-Kawakeb magazine, has stressed that under Nasser, “The growth in freedom of religious thought was considerable. Society was preoccupied by the issue of building its future and of resisting Zionism, not by metaphysical issues. It was a society moving toward rebuilding, liberation and the giving-up of outdated traditions.”[375] One example dates from 1965, when the weekly magazine Akher Sa’a ran a three-page story headlined, “Tell me Dad, What is the Shape of Allah?” reflecting on the existence of God. This aspect of religious freedom or pluralism was noticeably missing in Atatürk’s pronouncements on secularism and indeed increasingly on the subject of Turkishness.

In Nasserist discourse, the Revolution was to benefit Egyptians qua Egyptians, whether it was thanks to independence, the Suez victory, the High Dam or Arab socialism. The silences on religion in contemporary speeches and the secondary literature speak of the downplaying or even relative absence of the sectarian issue, as compared with earlier and later eras. During the 1950s and 1960s, unity was emphasised by the state, and felt by many, faced with the challenge of the colonialism or aggression of various ‘Others’. Restoring independence and standing up to this ‘Other’ was thus arguably a goal of state building that fed indirectly into the nation building domain, fostering solidarity between different religions.


(ii)                Cultural Policy

In Turkey, the first blows came with the secularising reforms, eroding the Muslim fraternity of Kurd and Turk. Removal of the Caliphate signalled the end of the Ottoman tacit contract, and the theme of religion and ethnicity now appeared in an oppositional mode: “Kurdishness and Islam become thus once again associated in the mind of the Kurdish religious dignitaries, but in quite new conditions.”[376]

The next aspect of Atatürk’s nation building to affect the Kurds was the cultural policy of Turkification. Education was one tool: Winter notes its “nation-building role was especially vital in a country where identity was often Islam rather than national…”[377] Kurdish language instruction stopped and Atatürk launched ‘People’s Houses’ in the periphery, whose cultural activities have been described as “indoctrination”.[378] The language reform was also to establish a new Turkish language intended to fix national identity among the people. Kirişci and Winrow write that Atatürk’s conception of nationalism had changed in emphasis: “at the declaratory level Mustafa Kemal… had aimed to achieve unity and modernisation by mobilising the population of Turkey behind a civic and territorially determined national identity…”[379] However, this was replaced by policies emphasising ethnicity. These either forced assimilation or subdued those Kurds who resisted it. 

Moving to Egypt now, we find that the Copts did not have similar experiences of cultural policy under Nasser. At no time was expression of Coptic faith outlawed, whether at official or popular levels, as was the case with Islam and Kurdish identity in Turkey. Indeed, Copts had long been and continued to be popular and respected figures in the public sphere and creative in popular culture, in fields of art, literature, music and cinema. They did not need to hide their religious affiliation to do this.

Dekmejian notes that “developing countries soon discovered the utility or necessity of rewriting history” to lay the foundations of nation building, and that here Atatürk was a “pioneer”.[380] He continues that the Egyptian case lacks the extreme rigidity prevalent in Russian, Chinese and Kemalist historiography. For Atatürk’s project, the Ottoman past was a burden, while a reinterpreted Egyptian-Arab past was a “blessing for Nasser.”[381] Yet there was no governmental attempt to uphold a single orthodox view on the subject of the origins of Arab nationalism for example. This Dekmejian attributes to the “relatively permissive attitude of the regime”,[382] concluding that there was “no evidence of placing historical research in a straitjacket.”[383]

Policy that could have affected the Copts related to education and the building of churches. Copts benefited from improved state education. However, the question of state provision of Christian religious instruction was delicate: “At all events, the government had to expect heavy Muslim opposition to any step in this direction.”[384] However, Nasser did cultivate an atmosphere in which the Church improved its level of religious education: since 1960, future priests had only been able to complete religious studies abroad, “but now a new Institute for Coptic Studies was founded and the monastic movement was revived.”[385]

It seems that Nasser’s approach to the more sensitive issues relating to Copts was characterised by a dual awareness of the potential for religious tension within his government and in society, and yet a concern to respond positively to the Copts’ demands, viewing them an integral component of Egyptian society and heritage, and not a group to be isolated. He would often solve this dilemma by taking matters into his own hands, and bypassing the wider political apparatus. Thus in the 1960s Nasser “granted the Copts official permission to build 25 churches every year.”[386] Another illustrative case is that of the Coptic Cathedral of Saint Mark.[387] Haykal describes the Church’s desire to build the cathedral, needing both permission, and funding, since Nasser’s nationalisations had fallen hard on Coptic business interests. Nasser felt that such a proposal would not muster sufficient political support, and could place him in a difficult situation if the issue were to escalate. Instead, he personally commissioned his contractors to undertake the project, and left directions that the bill be incorporated into the state budget for public works. In 1968, “Nasir took part in dedication ceremonies of the new Coptic cathedral.”[388]




(iii)              Economic Policy

In Turkey, the Kurds were initially concentrated in the poorer East, where the symptoms of ‘backwardness’ were rabid in Atatürk’s eyes. Yet he was also aware that these areas were thus a hotbed for dissent: thus he directed economic efforts to the west of Turkey, where the base was already semi-developed. Van Bruinessen writes that Kurdish nationalists see a causal connection between the underdevelopment of the East and the fact they are mostly inhabited by Kurds. He confirms evidence of purposeful state policy not to invest in these areas, “out of fear that economic and educational progress might rekindle Kurds’ nationalist demands.”[389]

In Egypt, agrarian reform and nationalisations fell on Copt as well as Muslim: those who benefited or lost from economic redistribution did so as Egyptians, there is no comparable case of specifically minority populated areas being targeted. Copts were often wealthier or positioned in the private sector, their fortunes thus being hit by socialist reform, but it was not an aim of state policy to target them. Reform was also appreciated by Copts and Muslims alike at the other end of the socio-economic spectrum. As McDermott explains, “As a result of the Land Reforms, some of the large estate-owning Copts suffered, but at the same time many peasants benefited from the same exercise.”[390]


(iv)              Political Inclusion

In terms of political participation, Turkey saw a decreasing role for Kurds representing themselves as such. Initially, Kurds had seats in the Assembly, but assimilation meant that Kurds who resisted relinquishing their language and heritage were politically disenfranchised, while many professions were closed to non-Turks.

In Egypt, it was initially noticeable that “there was not one Copt amongst the leadership of the Free Officers or their Revolutionary Command Council.”[391] Moreover the Muslim Brothers were making much of their links with some of the Free Officers, which created anxiety among the Copts. One of Nasser’s first moves to remedy the Copts’ grievances at their waning political role was to appoint a Copt, Kamal Ramzi Esstino, member of an influential Coptic family, to the posts of advisor and minister. Meanwhile, continuing “In search of closer ties with the Coptic community, Nasser established a strong link with the Coptic Pope Kirolos”,[392] who was given direct access to the presidential office. McDermott writes that in the first elections after 1952, Copts won no seats: “Nasser circumvented this problem by using his presidential prerogative” to appoint ten members to the parliament. Wyszomirski notes: “Nasir made a number of moves to include the Copts in his regime… [choosing] at least one Copt to serve in each cabinet of his government…”[393] Again the trend, during the early whirlwind of foreign relations concerns, was for Nasser to bypass rather than amend existing legislation, but to do this with a spirit of enfranchising the Copts.


(v)                 Authoritarianism

Landau provides the classic conventional argument: “some of the reforms were actively opposed by various sectors of the population. Atatürk therefore set out to alter the mentality of his people – perhaps his most difficult task. He encouraged national pride… and never tired of telling his countrymen that they should be happy to call themselves Turks.”[394] Landau does not question the ethical implications of such social engineering, nor does he mention state violence against the Kurds.

From the Kurdish perspective, Bozarslan writes that “what had happened to the Armenians remained fixed in the Kurdish collective memory”.[395] Kurdish leaders “realized, even before any concrete Kemalist measures were initiated against them, that the project of a nation-state meant the homogenization of a country by coercion, and indeed, when necessary, by massacre.”[396] Saatci writes, “[now], the Kurds were facing not only restrictions on religious practices, but also cultural extinction.”[397] When the 1925 Sheikh Said revolt erupted, Atatürk enacted “a draconian Law for the Maintenance of Public Order”, “giving the government extraordinary powers, recreating the dreaded independence courts…”[398] Martial law was declared, the rebels arrested and many hundreds hanged. Levels of coercion reached new heights in 1926 with the interception of an assassination plot against Atatürk in Izmir. Henceforth, “relations of domination between the state and the Kurds would involve systematic persecution, marginalization and humiliation of Kurdishness.”[399]

Hayashi writes,“The greatness of Kemal Atatürk lies in the fact that he created a new nation.”[400] One ‘nation building’ measure of Atatürk’s was the Settlement Law 2510 of 1934. It divided Turkey into zones: the first zone contained Turkish-speakers and could receive immigrants. The second zone included people whose Turkishness “needed to be enhanced by resettlement policies”.[401] The third zone was to be evacuated of non-Turks and closed for security reasons to any form of settlement. Jongerden describes a document dated 1930 which prepared for the Settlement Law: it “orders the assessment of villages with ‘foreign’ names and ‘foreign’ inhabitants and the dispersion of these ‘foreigners’ over Turkish villages to make them Turks...”[402] Kurdish language, dress and names were prohibited and areas such as Dersim were placed under martial law until 1946. Jongerden argues that “the aim of forced evacuation and resettlement was the destruction of social and cultural cohesion among Kurds and their subsequent assimilation into Turks.”[403]

In Egypt, again there was no such action by the state towards the Copts – there was neither the inclination to suppress them nor a need, as relations were relatively harmonious. Moreover, accounts never fail to juxtapose the experience of the Copts under Nasser with that under Sadat. The received wisdom that “under Nasser, heavy surveillance brought all political expression of intercommunal strife to an end”[404] is not an adequate explanation for the eruption of sectarian conflict only two years after Nasser’s death, and increasing with the pace of ‘denasserisation’ under Sadat. If surveillance was a potent tool, then Nasser used it, while Sadat culpably did not. And yet explosive tensions do not tend to be so easily contained by ‘surveillance’ alone. More convincing explanations are accounts of how Sadat fostered the Muslim Brothers and Sufi orders[405] to undermine the Nasserist secular Left, and how his discourse and legislation created an environment antagonistic to the Copts. This manifested itself at the societal level in sectarian violence, the first in 1972 and repeatedly thereafter. Viewing the Copts even briefly over these two periods gives credence to accounts of the secular nature of Nasser’s regime.





Niarchos suggests that “as a recent movement that had to defend itself against external enemies and internal opposition, [Turkish nationalism] was more aggressive and absolute both at its content and application.”[406] This is arguably not a rule however, since, despite similar challenges, Nasser displayed a more consensual approach, at least towards minorities. His nation building was less disruptive of such fundamentals in society as religion and culture, thus lessening the potential for intra-societal conflict.

In a revision of the revisionist arguments we have discussed, Yeğen disputes “the standard view that the Turkish state discourse… misrepresents the Kurdish question and conceals the exclusion of Kurdish identity.”[407] Shankland gives a conventional account of the Kurdish revolts – “It is possible to see these as early Kurdish nationalist rebellions, but they belong equally to a long tradition of tribal religious fervour inspired by the perceived laxity in central rule.”[408] The link here is precisely Yeğen’s point – the state reconstituted the Kurdish question as a question of the endurance of tribal relations, as the text of the Settlement Law shows.[409]

The state targeted Islam, tribal society and the peripheral economy: “components of the social space wherein Kurdish identity was constituted and realized.”[410] By targeting this space, and remaining silent on its Kurdishness, the state inevitably excluded Kurdish identity and, moreover, enunciated this practice. Yeğen concludes that Atatürk did not repress the peripheral social relations to exclude Kurdish identity, but rather the reverse was true: “Kurdish identity was one of the victims of the political project of building a modern… state.”[411]

We may surmise that for Atatürk, exclusively Turkish nation building seems at first to have been functional, a vehicle for homogenisation to allow modernisation. The fact that ‘Kurdishness’ coincided for Atatürk with all that was antithetical to modernity made his policies of modernisation, secularisation and Turkification coalesce along one frontier against the Kurds. Any challenge to the Kemalist state was reconstituted as a representation of the past – the Kurdish Question became “a question of the old order which had been succeeded by the present order.”[412] The reciprocal tendency among the Kurds was to assert their tribal, religious and Kurdish identities. Under Nasser, such homogenous conceptions of nation were not required, nor indeed desired. Internal strife was not perceived as an immediate threat as was the case in Turkey. The focus of conflict lay beyond the nation as a whole, in foreign occupation or aggression. Thus the entire nation was pointed in the direction of that ‘Other’, and this melted horizontal boundaries between groups relative to previous and subsequent eras. In fact nation building under Nasser looked to widen the bounds of the nation and not limit it, as solidarity was extended to the Arabs, in contrast to Atatürk’s downplaying of pan-Turkism and exclusion of non-Turks within.

In Egypt, religious pluralism could, and it was felt, should, be fostered, and societal responses seemed balanced to a similar degree. Moreover, modernisation was not set up in such stark opposition to tradition as occurred under Atatürk. Thus those groups who did identify themselves in terms of traditional symbols could feel incorporated in the process, which inflicted less damage on the social fabric when the inevitable outcome of winners and losers began to show. Özoğlu writes that the Sheikh Said revolt shows “how readily the religious sentiments of a society could be channelled into a political and military movement.”[413] Nasser’s ‘softer’ nation building approach arguably foreclosed such possibilities, and compares favourably with his Turkish counterpart, and indeed with his Egyptian successor.

An important aspect to note is that we can judge state-minority treatment in two ways. The first, negative discrimination, should be restrained in comprehensive nation building. We have seen ample evidence of negative discrimination in the Turkish case, and no signs of similar treatment towards the Copts on the part of Nasser’s state, who did more to combat this in society, relatively speaking, than other Egyptian rulers. Copts were not targeted as Copts by the state, whereas expressions of Kurdishness were soon outlawed in Turkey. A second measure is positive discrimination, which may be employed in nation building to redress pre-existing imbalances. Again under Atatürk, there was no positive treatment for the Kurds, and the trophy-assimilated Kurds of Kemalism are hardly a counter to this. McDermott writes on Nasser that, initially, “the regime took to appointing one Christian minister, who in addition to his departmental responsibilities kept an eye on Coptic affairs and represented their views.”[414] Here it was as Copts that such politicians participated, and not simply as Egyptians; they were not required to downplay religious identity to exert influence. Dekmejian writes that “in all fairness, the regime did strive to accord other types of formal and informal recognition to certain minorities.”[415] Overall, while Nasser could have done more to change legislation which allowed negative discrimination, he seemed willing and able to limit it and he certainly engaged in positive discrimination. In stark contrast nevertheless, Atatürk’s shortcomings are visible on both counts.

Hatina notes that the ideological affiliations of writers can dictate their attitudes to the July Revolution, but that: “A minority of writers less preoccupied with current political rivalries have also made their voices heard. Their discourse about the Nasserist past has been more constructive, aimed at encouraging the government to take more decisive steps to handle the grave challenges facing Egyptian society. They perceive in Nasserism a sense of civic and secular community that they seek to reestablish in the face of the Islamist threat and the sectarian strife between Muslims and Copts.”[416] Meanwhile, one writer whose modernisationist affiliation is apparent is Bernard Lewis, whose omission of the Kurds in his evaluation of Atatürk’s reforms is telling: “this much is indisputable – that, at the darkest moment in their history, the Kemalist Revolution brought new life and hope to the Turkish people…”[417] He is not wrong: the same revolution also brought death and despair to many Kurds. Having discussed the complicated reality of minority relations and the different styles of nation building in Turkey and Egypt, we note Canefe’s warning: “When put in concrete terms of uprooted peoples and destroyed communities, the moral appeal of nationalism and its popular roots can reveal very troubling aspects of human sociality.”[418]




Conducting a comparison of two leaders of such stature as Kemal Atatürk and Gamal Abdel Nasser, we have surveyed a rich literature of endless debates, some of which we have chosen to address based on their source in ‘conventional wisdoms’. It has been said that the western modernisation and nation building literature of the 1950s and 1960s “could, in spirit, have been written by Atatürk or Nasser.”[419] It is precisely this reflection of the political projects we are comparing, in the scholarship on them, which produces the conventional wisdoms we find to be restrictive, partisan, and inaccurate. Even those writers who profess to go beyond or modify the modernisation framework often become entangled in it,[420] while others explicitly intend to rescue their subjects from the pluralist critiques of recent scholarship.[421]

The first aim of this study was to conduct a comparison of Atatürk and Nasser’s approaches to state and nation building which moves beyond such conventional accounts. Accordingly, we considered each leader’s handling of institutionalisation and economic policy within state building, and of religion and minorities within nation building. The following thematic similarities and differences have emerged.



At the outset we asked whether Atatürk and Nasser’s approaches to state and nation building converged, and whether this produced similar outcomes. We now conclude that there were indeed commonalities to the two leaders’ approaches, firstly in their emphasis on state-led change, and secondly as they were characterised by pragmatism and ideological flexibility. However, in each case, outcomes were dissimilar, which may be explained through a combination of factors such as the differing constituencies Atatürk and Nasser presided over, their different visions for them, and the differing levels of social sacrifice each leader was prepared to demand, or indeed extract, from the population.


(i)                   Similar Statism and Top-Down Approaches

Our comparison has shown Atatürk and Nasser’s approaches to have converged in regarding the state as the prime instrument for change at their disposal, inheriting and expanding state bureaucracies, and allocating them responsibilities in several public spheres. Waterbury describes an alliance of Egyptian military and state technocrats who were to promote ‘discipline, order and production’,[422] while Heper has described Turkey’s political class finding “the one best way”, while “safeguarding the Republican reforms against the masses,” who “had not yet attained a higher level of rationality.”[423] In Turkey the political party essentially covered the institutions of both legislature and executive. It could never develop an “independent ideological or organisational personality”[424]: state and party were merged officially in 1936. In Egypt, Nasser set up three successive political institutions; however, each time he stressed that they were not political parties: “Nasser [did] not like… the politics of politics.”[425] Under him, as in Kemalist Turkey, the “rhetorical emphasis was on unity, cohesion [and] devotion to the national cause as defined by the state…”[426]

This focus on state implementation of top-down reform has led some “to reduce [the] policy process to a crude quest for power.”[427] In response, Waterbury writes that this “would do grave injustice to reality.”[428] His explanation applies equally to Atatürk, and is enlightening with regard to the reasons behind each leader’s focus on state power: “Egypt’s leaders, including Nasser… have had strong ideological and programmatic predilections independent of their survival. They would have little leverage in promoting these predilections so long as they were distant from positions of real power.”[429] Such leaders “strove at a minimum for survival and, maximally, they sought to remake… society in an image congenial to their own values.” Above all, Waterbury emphasises Atatürk and Nasser’s genuine “will to transform”.[430]

Concomitant to this will was thus the concern to consolidate state power for the realisation of their envisaged transformations, and a lack of faith in political pluralism as an appropriate system for their countries at the time. As we saw in Chapter Two, Atatürk and Nasser shared a distrust of political parties preceding them, whose often self-seeking machinations they construed to have worked against the national interest and in collaboration with imperialism. Furthermore, both Atatürk and Nasser were army officers who had developed faith in the discipline of the military system, as a clear hierarchy devoid of political intrigue or ambiguity. Each believed that the tasks of state and nation building were too urgent and complex to be left to the divisions and corruption of party politics.



(ii)                Differing Outcomes of Statist Approaches: Exclusion and Incorporation

At this point in our comparison of approaches, the similarities end, for the outcome of such similar emphases on the state as the central source of guidance had different implications for civil society in Turkey and Egypt. In Turkey, state-directed secularising reforms “contributed to a break in communication between the bureaucratic center and the rest of the population.”[431] State centralisation undermined the development of new societal forces and the regime, “anchored around the Republican People’s Party, chose not to organize itself politically in [the] provinces, but to rely on administrative rule.”[432] Keyder writes that if elites’ nationalist discourse is designed “solely to be consonant with the perceived requirements of modernity and fails to find a popular echo,”[433] problems of legitimacy emerge. He continues that “the masses remained silent partners and the modernizing elite did not attempt to accommodate popular resentment.”[434] Overall, as noted in Chapters Four and Five, the state repressed rather than penetrated the rural periphery: the “modern Turkish state emerged, therefore, in a kind of no man’s land of state-society interaction.”[435]

In Egypt, as we saw in Chapters Two and Three, the state enhanced its autonomy through different measures, “denying itself organised popular support”,[436] and preferring to bestow legitimacy on, and incorporate, previously neglected groups. Meanwhile in Turkey, “outside the privileged domain of the political elite stood large numbers of people whose visions and voices were rarely acknowledged…”[437] The Grand National Assembly was filled with “the knowledgeable”[438], who would ‘enlighten’ the people: there was no counterpart to even the formal membership of peasants and workers in the Arab Socialist Union of 1962. In Egypt, while such groups did not become real partners in the decision-making process, which maintained Nasser’s monopoly on steering top-down change, they were incorporated by the state and nation building project: “in its attempt to mobilize the workers, the regime substantially improved their standards of living, offering them attractive legal guarantees… Moreover, they were given the opportunity to organize… In return, union leaders had to acquiesce to the regime’s prohibitions against declaring strikes…”[439] The peasants perceived Nasser’s policies as “positive proof of his concern for the fellahin” and “identified with him and accepted his innovations.”[440] Podeh and Winckler discuss the comprehensive range of groups Nasser sought to appeal to and mobilise, including women, children, students, and intellectuals.

Thus while Nasser and Atatürk shared a belief in state-centred control, our comparison has shown that this need not spell parallel outcomes of stark centre-periphery divisions. Beinin notes “the dilemma confronted by many state-building regimes: how to mobilize the nation while maintaining social peace and discipline.”[441] Nasser’s mobilisationary techniques and incorporation have emerged as progressive and effective methods of nation building, which also contributed legitimacy to the state building which was in progress, often requiring sacrifices on the part of the constituents before its benefits would appear. Such mobilisation involved modifications of the straightforward state-led modernisation formula, and was an innovation in which Atatürk’s state invested to a lesser extent, preferring to focus on social discipline.


(iii)              Similar Pragmatism and Ideological Flexibility of Approaches

Common to both Atatürk and Nasser’s approaches was also their pragmatism, and a lack of fixed ideology when conducting state and nation building. Each came to power, rather, with a Weltanschauung, and a vision of what needed to be done, informed by certain fundamental principles. Both stressed national independence, both were fiercely anti-imperialist and both spoke of purification and progress.

Both have had ideologies retrospectively attributed to them, Kemalism and Nasserism, but Atatürk’s Six Arrows only became party policy in 1937, and the meanings of terms such as İnkılapçılık, for example, continue to be subject to debate. Nasser’s Six Principles were revealed early, but constituted intentions for direction rather than practical steps. Haykal explains: “authority had passed into the hands of revolutionaries who had not precisely determined the sense to give to the revolution.”[442] Kazancıgil cites Atatürk’s maxim, “We resemble none but ourselves”, explaining that  “doctrine grew out of action, rather than action being based on pre-conceived ideas.”[443]

This aversion to dogma was first displayed during Atatürk’s steering of the Independence War and Nasser’s coordination of the secret Free Officer cells. Both engaged in the skilful minimising of ideological differences among partners who were often widely polarised on the political spectrum. Nasser avoided “discussion of the kind of society the Free Officers would eventually build… attention was riveted instead on the immediate task of consummating the revolution.”[444] Similarly, while rallying during the Independence War, “the need to maintain unity in the face of external threat precluded Atatürk from taking doctrinaire positions.”[445]

It is this ideological flexibility which allowed Atatürk and Nasser to manoeuvre later as the heads of vast state institutions with notable skill, and also accounts for the shifts in ideology we have traced over their careers. Thus Nasser moved with relative ease from Egyptian to Arab nationalism, and incorporated socialism in 1961. Thus he could speak of secularism, and indeed establish an order presiding over relatively low sectarian conflict, while fostering Sufi orders, commissioning the construction of mosques and churches, and asserting the connection between socialism and Islam. Meanwhile, Atatürk could move from a capitalist framework during the 1920s to a state-led economy in 1929, and could proclaim a civic national identity, while “the word Kurd disappeared from the lexicon…”[446] Podeh and Winckler note how, due to the centrality of the personae of Atatürk and Nasser, as well as their eclectic programmes, “the most common term for these programs derives from adding ism… to their leaders’ names…”[447]


(iv)              Differing Outcomes of Pragmatic Approaches: Charisma without Routinisation vs. Coercion over Consensus

Non-doctrinaire leadership may also account for an over-reliance on the charisma of the leader. Chapter Two discussed the personality cult that grew around Atatürk; however, it seems that over-reliance on charisma was more the outcome of pragmatism in Nasser’s case, where his “spiritual and psychological connection” with the people buoyed him through ideological changes. Such “a congruous relationship between subjects and rulers”[448] greatly fosters nation building. However, where charisma is not ‘routinised’ through bureaucratic-administrative endeavour, changing ideological stances leave institutions without formal legitimation.[449] This shortcoming has been widely judged a cause of the incomplete socialisation process in Egypt, since social values could adapt as long as charisma thrived, but more fundamental changes could not be effected without a formalised “creed of internal change”.[450] Indeed it was partially this aspect that prompted Nasser later to realise the need for a theoretical support for the praxis of the revolution.

In Turkey, a combination of pragmatism, and a rather different attitude to the levels of social sacrifice that could be demanded from citizens, resulted not in charisma without institutionalisation, but arguably rather in institutionalisation without broad consent. Chapter Four evidenced rigid, disruptive and often counter-productive policies of nation building on religion and popular culture in Turkey; scholars note fascist overtones to Atatürk’s increasingly ethnic style of nation building. He also strictly asserted the discontinuity between the Republican order and its Ottoman past. This ‘absolute truth’ appeared in Nutuk, where he presented the ultimate goal of the independent nation as already realised, such that “the only mission left for future generations is to preserve this fixed and unchanging entity…”[451] In Adak’s analysis, “the temporal hegemony [Nutuk] sets up prioritising its own history (over the history of the Ottoman Empire) precludes it from imagining a better future…”

Coercion was also a feature of the implementation of Atatürk’s policies. While Atatürk’s reforms certainly stemmed from one vision, they were implemented when politically expedient, and recipients were often inadequately prepared for them. Where consensual persuasion failed, coercion was meted out unhesitatingly, so as not to delay the march ahead. There is thus no question that the regime was an authoritarian one, the question must therefore be, could the ends justify such means?

In Egypt, one of the flaws identified in Nasser’s implementation has been precisely his reluctance to place the ends over the means at certain critical junctures. Rigidity was less evident in Nasser’s nation building: we have seen evidence of a flexible incorporative secularism, which shared with Kemalism its interest in regime survival, but which allowed religious minorities some autonomy and even representation. On the rigidity of the rewriting of history, Dekmejian has written that “history as such [became] a background to and a progression towards the revolution”[452] but that a more permissive environment existed for interpretations of this revolution than that suggested by Adak in Turkey. Where modernisation and traditional culture clashed in Kemalist Turkey, several accounts speak of a “synthetic approach”[453] evolving in Nasserist Egypt.

Coercion and repression under the Nasserist state has been well documented, the main targets being partisans of the old order and civilian challengers. Beattie describes the 1952-1954 period, for example, as one of ‘transitional authoritarianism’, during which, “the monarchy, the palace-founded political parties, the Wafd, the Sa’adist Party, the Egyptian Socialist Party, the communist organizations, the Muslim Brotherhood, the large landowners, the Journalists’ Syndicate, the Lawyers’ Syndicate, labor unions and labor activists… all the organizations, institutions, and categories of individuals comprising the ancien regime – were undermined, eliminated, or co-opted…”[454]

However, in comparison to Atatürk’s state, we should take the following into account: “Nasser used arbitrary police action as one instrument of power but it would not be accurate to describe his rule as simply a ‘police state’.”[455] Stephens notes “a large element of consent, discussion and persuasion involved.” Moreover, “Most of the aims of the regime were in line with a broad national consensus.”[456] Beattie completes his earlier discussion as follows: “despite the impressive list of those ‘done in’ by the officers… the regime received broad backing for its early achievements…”[457] Crabbs sums up the character of Nasser’s regime as employing “a constantly changing mixture of elements of coercion, persuasion and patronage.”[458] The mixture under Atatürk was arguably rather more coercive, towards a broader range of unpoliticised civil society elements. Here we may qualify our use of the term ‘civil society’ – the Muslim Brothers, for example, existed within civil society and not the state, but as an organised, political and oppositional group: their repression was related to overt threats on regime survival. The Hat Law protests and even the Kurdish revolts at most represented the potential for a regime-threatening political movement in society, but were dealt with using a level of violence not employed in Egypt; the battle with the Kurds over years in Dersim also saw no equivalent in Egypt.

Thus we surmise that state and nation building, even where modernisation is the goal, need not always adhere strictly to formulae for top-down control, and can be conducted using different levels of coercion and differing kinds of consent. Meanwhile, explanations for why similarly pragmatic statist projects in Turkey and Egypt generated such differing outcomes are elusive. Cohen, Brown and Organski theorise that “the lower the initial level of state power, the stronger the relationship between the rate of state expansion and collective violence.”[459] Not only is this difficult to gauge, but Turkey and Egypt did not begin with such vast differences in state strength that this would provide adequate explanation. Firm belief in top-down change can be taken to contribute to authoritarian rule; however, we have seen such an approach in both the Kemalist and Nasserist cases, but observed different levels of authoritarianism in the outcome. Keyder’s explanation in the Turkish case is of a nationalism that emphasised the vulnerability of the new nation to hostile forces, which obliged the state to protect it, which in turn “required the interdiction of internal dissent…”[460] This enlightening insight into the Turkish case prompts the thought that under Nasser, the emphasised outside threat was more immediate, and thus diverted state attention away from an intensity of domestic change that might elicit similar levels of social dissent, leading some to judge Nasser’s a “soft revolution”.[461] This thought brings us to the main differences we may identify between Atatürk and Nasser’s approaches to constructing the nation-state.



We asked at the outset where Atatürk and Nasser’s approaches to state and nation building may have diverged. If they did, why, and how did this shape the courses they would follow? The principal difference in their approach can be loosely contrasted as their priorities at home and abroad respectively, as conditioned by their different international environments, but also by the contrasting outlook of the two leaders.

Throughout our comparison of state and nation building, we have observed that Atatürk fought most of his battles within Turkey, while Nasser was involved in several large-scale wars, and a concomitant defence drain, beyond Egypt’s borders. Atatürk had shrewdly discarded the unrealistic objectives of pan-Turkism, while Nasser moved Egypt from a narrow territorial nationalism to a pan-Arabism which reflected spiritual and cultural comfort and unity, but demanded increasing material commitment. Foreign relations’ disruption to Atatürk’s programme was minimal, while in Egypt, state and nation building often proceeded in the shadow of complex and threatening developments on the regional and international scene.

                  What were the reasons for these differing orientations? The contrast appears to stem substantially from foreign relations and their impact on the domestic scene, as seen in Chapters Two to Five. Atatürk declared the republic having defeated the occupation forces and delineated a Turkey based on defensible frontiers: he reportedly once said, “poor Wilson, he did not understand that lines that cannot be defended by the bayonet, by force… cannot be defended by any other principle.”[462] This security afforded him the luxury of a focus within Turkey on such tasks as institution building. There were also implications for nation building: “whereas defeat or perceived inferiority provokes a divisive search for culprits and traitors, military success can be claimed by all elements of a nation and serve as a symbol of national accomplishment.”[463] Nasser’s state and nation building began in a rather different international relations context. There was an ongoing occupation at home, and defeat in the Palestine War was an open wound. In Nasser’s mind, these were two connected crimes: “we were fighting in Palestine, but our dreams centred in Egypt”,[464] “another Faluja on a larger scale.”[465] As described in Chapter Four, this made for initially internal and external focuses respectively in Atatürk and Nasser’s projects.

We have thus explained Atatürk and Nasser’s differently oriented approaches, where rooted in the international context. We now trace how Turkey’s and Egypt’s courses would further diverge as a result of these differing international power equations, and the leaders’ ‘external’ and ‘internal’ orientations. Robins describes the principal occasion when Turkish foreign policy was constrained by systemic factors during Atatürk’s rule: “when it had to compromise with the great powers of the day in order to consolidate the gains of the war of independence.”[466] Atatürk pragmatically ceded Mosul in return for membership of the League of Nations: “Atatürk’s vigorous internal reform program required the respite of the certainty of status that only international recognition could bring.”[467] Thereafter, “Turkey maneuvred adroitly to exploit systemic dynamics, which led to it being ‘actively wooed’ by several great powers”[468], receiving the Soviet loan of 1932 for example.

Nasser attempted a similar balancing act in a bipolar context. Having ousted the British and secured the Suez triumph, he had acquired a deep fund of political legitimacy and popularity, which would prove a support and a burden in future years. Egypt “was pulled in contrary directions by the ideals of anti-imperialist nonalignment and the webs of economic dependency in which the country was increasingly enmeshed.”[469] Lacking resources at home, Nasser’s strategy was to invest in foreign policy as a source of aid for domestic development: in the Cold War context, he championed non-alignment, and after the Czech arms deal of 1955, “East-West competitive courtship of Egypt began in earnest,”[470] resulting in loans totalling $3.43 billion between 1957 and 1965. Regionally also, “it became a matter of conviction with Nasser that the main instrument by which the West and Israel sought to dominate the post-colonial Middle East was by dividing the Arab states”.[471] Thus, Arab unity became a central tenet of Nasserism. Successfully extending his charismatic hold across the Arab peoples, “Nasser represented an entire Arab generation mesmerized by similar problems.”[472]

However, while Atatürk’s isolationism would provide much-needed stability for his domestic projects, Nasser’s choice to step into volatile regional and international scenes would undermine his state and nation building. Of the three reasons El-Ghonemy cites for slow growth over 1960-1970, two of these he relates to the Suez, Yemen, and 1967 wars.[473] The mobilised Arab constituency’s expectations had propelled Nasser into an escalating confrontation with the West and Israel. Moreover, diplomatic exploitation of bipolarity had reached its limits by the late 1960s. Lesch has described fluid relations between the US and Egypt, characterised by pragmatism on both sides, but arguably understates how, “in the end, American Cold War objectives vis-à-vis the USSR and the protection of oil resources, as well as its special relationship with Israel, could never be entirely reconciled with Nasser’s agenda.”[474] Meanwhile, after initial scepticism of petty bourgeois post-colonial regimes such as Nasser’s, his shift in 1961 towards socialism “was still a great ideological victory for the Soviets.”[475] Intense economic interaction began, and Egypt came to rely increasingly on the Soviets, particularly after the US “punished [Nasser’s] anti-imperialist stance by withdrawing food aid in the mid-1960s.”[476] Pan-Arabist demands on Nasser had drawn him into the burdens of the United Arab Republic, the Yemen War and disastrously, the 1967 war, by which point “Moscow held Egypt’s military fate in its hands…”[477]

Hinnebusch describes how Nasser’ policies “unfolded largely as a reaction to external threat”[478]: while Atatürk demonstrated similar pragmatism at home, his foreign policy had steered away from such threats. This left him freer room for manoeuvre than Nasser, who became increasingly entrapped in the three circles he had hoped Egypt would champion in the The Philosophy of the Revolution. Waterbury makes a significant point which is indeed “too easily overlooked”: “A head of state… cannot give single-minded attention to a given policy issue with the same facility as a scholar shuffling through his index cards.”[479] Waterbury cites the issues engulfing Egypt’s leadership all at once in 1965 as an example. In the economy, there was a balance of payments crisis, in the domestic arena, Nasser faced an alleged plot from the Muslim Brothers, and mediated rivalries between the military and the Arab Socialist Union, and on the international scene, he had to watch the overthrow of major allies and the death of Nehru, he faced the suspension of US wheat shipments, King Faisal’s formation of the Islamic Alliance, and the Yemen War.[480] Atatürk’s security in the international arena allowed him to direct his energies to state and nation building within Turkey, while Nasser’s more ambitious vision of the Arab nation became a burden and ran the risk of disappointing as great a constituency as it could transform.[481]


Rethinking Conventional Wisdoms and Modernisation Theory

We may now indicate the import of our comparison of state and nation building under Atatürk and Nasser firstly to scholarly trends and secondly to debates on the modernisation project as applied by elites. Our state building comparison has subverted received wisdoms positing a simple contrast between a relatively efficient, durable institutional network and growing economy in Turkey, and an institutional ‘spoils system’ and overstretched economy in Egypt. Our comparison of the place of religion and minorities in Atatürk’s and Nasser’s ‘nation’ found received understandings on the construction of a secular and relatively homogenous nation under Atatürk, and on the deficient fulfilment of secularism and national unity under Nasser, to be inadequate.

Such scholarly accounts are misleading when they adopt modernisation theory as a yardstick; indeed they “[endorse] some of the less productive binarisms of nationalist modernizers…”[482] The modernisation approach focused on “investigating overall economic performance, consumption level, political mobilization, institutionalization, and legitimacy – all considered important elements in the creation of a modern political community.”[483] According to this approach, Turkish nationalism, pan-Arabism and socialism were interpreted not as a manifestation of ideological convictions but rather as convenient tools for achieving modernisation.

Instead, we have employed alternative scholarly perspectives, such as those viewing Kemalism and Nasserism as examples of populism, which have furthered our understanding of aspects the modernist paradigm neglects, such as the role of ideology, charisma and forms of mass mobilisation in state and nation building. We have also noted the international context, and the powerful role of national identity politics in the formation of nation-states, neglected in modernisation theory: “Scholars in developing countries were acutely aware of how central nationalist struggles had been to social change in Third World countries yet found no place in the modernization aproach for the idea that there might be real conflicts of interest between developing and developed countries.”[484] Conventional emphases on the ‘Ottoman state tradition’ and the ‘despotic mode’ in Turkey and Egypt respectively omit the social context. This does little to further our understanding of the role of society in tempering state autonomy, and to the appreciation that such autonomy indeed depends on its interaction with society. Navaro-Yashin takes such arguments a stage further, arguing that it is the public that recasts the political. She tracks “the production of the political not in the rationalized garb of institutional discourses and mechanisms”[485] but in people’s ‘fantasies’ for the state. After critiquing and deconstructing the state, these fantasies cause the “re-reification”[486] of the state, such that it endures, still at their behest.

All these perspectives render  “the consensual, actorless vision of the process of development as portrayed by modernization theory…irritating.”[487] Instead, Keyder and Öncu propose “an analytical terrain… somewhere between putatively general macro social processes… [found] in modernization, dependency, world-system, etc. theories, and the unfolding of unique historical events in the individual countries.”[488]

Moving now to modernisation theory as applied by elites themselves, our thematic conclusions have tried to steer away from making evaluations of success and failure in each case – this would be to partake in the modernisationist framework of the received wisdoms we have criticised. Rather, our conclusion elucidates the issues and tasks involved in state and nation building, and compares Atatürk and Nasser’s different methods of tackling them, with varying outcomes in each case. This is with a view to appreciating novel approaches outside the modernisationist paradigm, which may be more useful in particular regional, historical and social contexts, for state and nation builders and engaged scholars alike.

Modernist formulae “took it as axiomatic that there was only one possible answer to any question… the world could be controlled and rationally ordered if we could only picture and represent it rightly.”[489] It is true that where such a system is presupposed, its subversion produces outcomes that appear irrational and undesirable. However, we should be conscious that the way an analysis is set up predetermines the result: implicitly or explicitly espousing a paradigm where the provisions of modernisation theory are a good, makes for a skewed analysis from the outset. It is thus useful to consider alternative perspectives to the conceptual apparatus of modernisation. In so doing, we not only expose this distortion, but we may also unlock what is lost in conventional accounts.

Kasaba describes the proposed vision of modernity that was to emerge from the Kemalist project: “a militantly secular, ethnically homogeneous republic well on its way to catching up with the civilised nations of the West.”[490] Instead, the outcome is one of “Muslim and secularist, Turk and Kurd, reason and faith, rural and urban – in short the old and the new – existing side by side and contending with, but more typically strengthening, each other.”[491] What concerns Kasaba is “the suprahistorical pretensions” of such “absolute truths” [492] as Kemalism. He questions Atatürk’s idea of modernisation as an inevitable and uniform process. It is important, Kasaba says, to recapture the very uncertainty and “indeterminate richness”[493] of the Ottoman and Turkish modernisation process. This is because “what inspired and empowered many of the thinkers, writers and activists of the modern era was not the certainties that were later invented but the ambivalence and excitement as it unfolded as a world-historical process.”[494] Similarly, on Egypt, Baker writes, “Part of the fascination of a revolutionary period lies precisely in its open-endedness. In Egypt at mid-century new social… formations emerged to speak the language appropriate to a turbulent age.”[495]

It appears that in Turkey, however, subversion of the modernisationist project occurred against the Kemalists’ will, while in Egypt, certain aspects of it were subverted from the start by the modernising elites. Chapter Two showed us that in both Turkey and Egypt, modernist formulae, which assume that differentiated institutions and separation of jurisdictions are the key to efficiency, were not universally applicable. Chapter Three, however, described how Nasser supplemented the emphasis on economic growth in modernising formulae, with redistributive and incorporative policies that provided a cushion to social upheaval which was absent under Atatürk. Chapters Four and Five show that the concept of the modern nation, which entails secularism and homogeneity, was pursued in Turkey with more stringency than in Egypt, and that this arguably exacerbated divisions, making for less cohesive nation building. Our comparison has thus evidenced state and nation building processes in Egypt that tried to combine the rational prescriptions of modernisation with minimal disruption to the social order. On the one hand, this was indeed a tenuous balance to maintain, and some would argue that Atatürk was more efficient in following modernisation to extremes, and bearing the social or popularity costs involved. On the other hand, it was not Atatürk who bore the social cost, and Nasser’s nation building was arguably more inclusive in this respect, even accounting for levels of state repression applied in Egypt, which were arguably exceeded in the Kemalist state. Thus we conclude that straying from the formula of the modern nation-state, and adapting to the needs and realities of the particular constituency concerned, constitute notable approaches to state and nation building, which should be emphasised in rethinking the Kemalist and Nasserist projects.


Implications for Theories of State and Nation Building

The third and final aim of the comparison we have conducted was to ask how it may contribute to the theorising and assumptions made on state and nation building in much of the literature. Firstly, we have noted that state and nation building are cumulative processes, where even state ‘builders’ such as Atatürk and Nasser were in fact building on concrete inherited legacies, institutionally and economically. As state ‘builders’, they were fashioning new concepts of nation based on Turkish ethnicity or pan-Arab solidarity, but each was constructed in relation to constantly evolving national identities already in flux within society.

Secondly, we have found that it is difficult to delimit specific elements of each process – state building is enhanced by more diverse factors than institutional and economic policy for example, and considering these two only became our concern due to limitations of space. Ben Dor questions the usefulness of theories which over-determine the premises of state building: “Do all… dimensions of the definition of stateness necessarily go together? Is any one of them intrinsically more important than the others? What is the ‘stateness score’ of a country that is very high on two dimensions and very low on others? Is such a case logically and empirically possible?”[496] Tilly has argued, and Ayoob draws on this, that state building proceeded from the central authorities’ perceived need to build military forces, which obliged them to extend their administrative grip on societies, and extract taxes to finance war efforts. We have seen that Turkey “was born and consolidated as the result of a military victory,”[497] and we have noted the impact of this on Atatürk’s state and nation building. Nevertheless, the idea that ‘war makes states’ seems inadequate in the Middle East, where we cannot speak of one “singular process”[498] in play.

Our third conclusion is that rigid categories of state or nation building remain the preserve of scholars seeking to facilitate analysis: such distinctions were not borne out empirically in this study. We have had to frame categories of sorts to allow a structured comparison; however each of our variables, particularly economic policy, has proved to play significant roles in both state and nation building simultaneously, and cannot be confined to one or the other. Moreover, both state and nation building appear as concurrent and overlapping processes, and thus, here in contrast to Ayoob’s theory, it seems fallacious and indeed impossible to speak of a chronology of state and nation building, or of countries where only one has been ‘completed’, as in the ‘national state’ as opposed to the ‘nation-state’. Whilst Ayoob acknowledges that the “end products” of state and nation building “merge into a composite creature called the nation-state”,[499] his insistence on the “real world distinction”[500] between national and nation-states seems unrealistic. Atatürk and Nasser’s trajectories show us that the complete and internally consistent ‘nation-state’ indeed exists, as Ayoob says, only “in the ideal type”.[501] However, this does not mean that the reality is one of the ‘stateness’ element preceding that of ‘nationhood’, but rather that a range of policies can construct either element of the ‘nation-state’, and can also shape both at once.

Finally, the concept of ‘top-down’ state and nation building has proved to be something of a policy-maker’s fantasy, since each directive of state and nation building exists in a discursive and social context where it is refashioned continuously, and often subverted. This is not to say that the power of decision-making did not lie with the state under Atatürk and Nasser, but rather it is to ‘bring society back in’ to the analysis, and to emphasise that state and nation building should be considered both as policy and as outcome, two often very different things.

This study has drawn on a variety of scholarly perspectives to highlight the different trajectories of state and nation building in Turkey and Egypt. It has warned against sweeping judgements, while at the same time not disposing of evaluative standards altogether: “if the recognition and celebration of pluralism and difference” are not to lead to “complete ‘indifferentiation and indifference’… ‘one must be able to discriminate between differences that exist but should not exist, and differences that do not exist but should exist.’”[502] It is hoped that this study has thus contributed to a rethinking of the Kemalist and Nasserist eras, and of the place of the modernisationist paradigm in the two projects and in the evaluation of these projects. It is also hoped that it offers a modest contribution to theories of state and nation building, particularly where they relate to the Middle East.




[1] See Yael Navaro-Yashin, ‘The Cult of Atatürk: The Apparition of a Secularist Leader in Uncanny Forms’ in Navaro-Yashin, 2002, and Elie Podeh and Onn Winckler eds., 2004.

[2] Anthony McDermott, 1998.

[3] Sibel Bozdoğan and Reşat Kasaba, eds., 1997. p.3.

[4] Raymond W. Baker, Review, 1995. p.670.

[5] Walter Weiker, 1981. p.xvi.

[6] Çağlar Keyder in Bozdoğan and Kasaba eds., 1997. p.42.

[7] Peter Evans and John Stephens, 1988. p.715.

[8] Terms such as ‘modernisation’, ‘development’ and ‘progress’ take on loaded meanings in these contexts. To clarify, my use of phrases such as ‘Third World’ or ‘developing country’ is simply an acknowledgement of the difficulties of making reference briefly.

[9] Nazih Ayubi, 1980. p.4.

[10] Ayubi, p.6.

[11] Ibid., p.20.

[12] Mohammed Ayoob, 1995. p.4.

[13] Charles Tilly, 1985. p.170.

[14] Ayoob, pp.22-23.

[15] Ibid., p.24.

[16] Tilly, 1990, p.43.

[17] Ibid., p.3.

[18] Ayoob, p.24. Author’s emphasis.

[19] Ibid., p.26.

[20] Ibid., p.27.

[21] David Harvey, 1989. p.13.

[22] Cited in Marsh and Stoker, 1991. p.237.

[23] Cited in Marsh and Stoker, p.174.

[24] Ibid., p.179.

[25] Ibid., p.179.

[26] Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Çağlar Keyder and Ayşe Öncü, eds., 1994. p.1.

[27] Ibrahim, Keyder and Öncü, eds., p.1.

[28] Ibid, p.1.

[29] Harvey, p.9.

[30] Terry Eagleton, ‘Awakening from Modernity’, Times Literary Supplement, 20 February 1987. Cited in Harvey, p.9.

[31] Cited in Robert E. Goodin and Hans-Dieter Klingemann, eds., 1996. p.145.

[32] Goodin and Klingemann, p.138.

[33] Baker, 1978. p.70.

[34] Dankwart Rustow in Özbudun and Kazancıgil eds., 1981. p.57.

[35] Weiker, p.249.

[36] Bent Hansen, 1992. p.xiii.

[37] Frank Tachau, 1984. p.37.

[38] Weiker, p.21.

[39] Rustow in Kemal Karpat, 1973. p.109.

[40] Joel Migdal, 1988. p.184.

[41] Weiker, p.21.

[42] Ibid., p.21.

[43] Ayubi, pp.108-9.

[44] Anouar Abdel-Malek, 1968. pp.353-4.

[45] Ayubi, p.136.

[46] Ibid., p.136.

[47] Morroe Berger, 1957. p.17.

[48] Metin Heper in Jacob M. Landau, ed., 1984. p.90.

[49] İlter Turan in Landau ed., p.103.

[50] Ayubi, p.157.

[51] Heper, 1985. p.54.

[52] Cited in Ayubi, p.176.

[53] Berger, p.17.

[54] Heper, 1985. p.70.

[55] Heper, p.58.

[56] Ibid., p.58. My emphasis.

[57] Turan, p.105.

[58] Feroz Ahmad, 1977. p.1.

[59] Turan, p.105.

[60] Ibid., p.104.

[61] Clement Dodd, 1992. p.19.

[62] Ayubi, p.205.

[63] Ibid., p.237.

[64] Ibid., p.459.

[65] Ibid., Preface.

[66] Ibid., p.482.

[67] Baker, p.82.

[68] Baker, p.48.

[69] Weiker, p.101.

[70] Hansen, p.455.

[71] Gonca Bayraktar, p.26.

[72] P.J. Vatikiotis, 1961. p.244.

[73] Khaldun Husry, 1973. p.137.

[74] Concepts of centre and periphery were first employed by Edward Shils (1961): the centre is “the order of symbols, of values and beliefs, which govern the society.” Şerif Mardin applied the concept to the Ottoman case (1973). Although such dichotomies can play into a modernisationist framework, we shall avoid this by considering differentiated groups and interests within these broad categories.

[75] Heper, 1984. p.100.

[76] Leslie Roos and Noralou Roos, 1971. pp.31-32.

[77] Baker, p.75.

[78] Heper, 1985. p.67.

[79] Ibid., p.71.

[80] Heper, 1985. p.71.

[81] Ibid., p.73.

[82] Ayubi, p.197.

[83] Migdal, p.190.

[84] Ali Sabri, Former Secretary General of Arab Socialist Union. Quoted in Migdal, p.198.

[85] Heper, 1985. p.48.

[86] Heper, p.68.

[87] Ibid., p.63.

[88] Ibid., 1985. p.63.

[89] Landau, p.xii.

[90] Baker, p.25.

[91] Ibid., p.25.

[92] Ibid., p.28.

[93] Muhammad Hassanein Haykal, quoted in Baker, p.28.

[94] Baker, p.80.

[95] Hansen, p.xiii.

[96] Nathan Brown in Podeh and Winckler eds., 2004. p.128.

[97] Heper, 1985. pp.60-61.

[98] Erik Jan Zürcher, 1997. p.190.

[99] Cooper, 2002. p.118.

[100] Weiker, p.244.

[101] Baker, p.25.

[102] Ibid., p.26.

[103] Ibid., p.27.

[104] Ibid., p.72.

[105] Baker, p.48.

[106] Gabriel Ben-Dor in Podeh and Winckler eds., p.x.

[107] Weiker, p.244.

[108] Ibid., p.255.

[109] Baker, p.70.

[110] Ibid., p.70.

[111] Baker, p.76.

[112] M. Riad El-Ghonemy in Podeh and Winckler eds., p.253.

[113] Baker, p.76.

[114] John Waterbury, 1983. p.101.

[115] Ayubi, p.198.

[116] See Podeh and Winckler, p.3, and Weiker, p.177.

[117] Korkut Boratav in Özbudun and Kazancıgil eds., 1981. p.166.

[118] Roos and Roos, p.25.

[119] Hansen, p.459.

[120] Ibid, p.453.

[121] Ibid., p.xiv.

[122] Ibid., p.xiii.

[123] Ibid., p.xiv.

[124] Ibid., p.456.

[125] Mardin in Özbudun and Ulusan, 1980. p.24.

[126] Ibid., p.24.

[127] Mardin in Özbudun and Ulusan, 1980. p. 25.

[128] Keyder and Öncü in Ibrahim, Keyder and Öncü eds., 1994. p.6.

[129] William Hale, 1981. p.36.

[130] Tachau, p.97.

[131] Ibid., p.97.

[132] Hale, p.37.

[133] Hale, p.38.

[134] Alan Richards and John Waterbury, 1996. p.182.

[135] Raymond Hinnebusch, 1985. p.11.

[136] Keyder and Öncü , p.5.

[137] Joel Beinin and Zachary Lockman, 1988. pp.395-396.

[138] Mahmoud Hussein, 1973. p.16.

[139] Richards and Waterbury, p.182.

[140] Hussein, p.17.

[141] Keyder and Öncü, p.7.

[142] Ibid., p.7.

[143] Ibid., p.8.

[144] On periodiastion, see Boratav, pp.167-8, and El-Ghonemy, p.253.

[145] Cited in Hale, p.39.

[146] Feroz Ahmad in Özbudun and Kazancıgil eds., 1981. p.151.

[147] Richards and Waterbury, p.279.

[148] Fayez Sayegh, 1969. p.100.

[149] Gamal Abdel Nasser, 1956. p.36.

[150] Boratav, p.168.

[151] Waterbury, 1993. p.36.

[152] Hinnebusch, 1985. p.22.

[153] Waterbury, 1983. p.62.

[154] Hinnebusch, 1985. p.23.

[155] Boratav, p.169.

[156] Hale, p.50.

[157] Waterbury, 1983. p.52.

[158] Ibid., pp.65-66.

[159] Robert Mabro, 1974. p.110.

[160] Waterbury, 1983. p.57.

[161] Keyder, 1987. p.104.

[162] Ibrahim in Ibrahim, Keyder and Öncü eds., 1994. p.31.

[163] Beinin, 1989. p.88.

[164] Cited in Ayubi, p.4.

[165] Waterbury, 1983. p.209.

[166] Mabro, p.56.

[167] See ibid, pp.64-5.

[168] Mabro, p.80.

[169] Ibid ., p.67.

[170] Ibid ., p.71.

[171] Leonard Binder, 1978. pp.20-29.

[172] Vatikiotis in Shimon Shamir ed., 1995. p.23.

[173] Hamied Ansari, 1986. p.97.

[174] Waterbury, 1983. p.263. See also Waterbury in Shamir ed., p.62.

[175] Hale, p.50.

[176] Richards and Waterbury, p.177.

[177] Weiker, p.249.

[178] Ibid., p.3.

[179] Mardin in Özbudun and Ulusan eds., 1980. p.24.

[180] Ibid., p.25.

[181] Ibid., p.37.

[182] Ibid., p.24.

[183] Nathan Brown, 2004. p.128.

[184] Ibid., p.129.

[185] Ibid., p.128.

[186] Hale, p.49.

[187] Boratav, p.170.

[188] Ibid., p.171.

[189] Richards and Waterbury, p.183.

[190] Keyder and Öncü, p.9.

[191] Richards and Waterbury, p.178.

[192] Hale, p.56.

[193] Cited in Waterbury, 1993. p.38.

[194] Keyder in Ibrahim, Keyder and Öncü eds., p.56.

[195] Waterbury, 1983. p.317.

[196] Ibid., p.318.

[197] Waterbury, 1983. p.318.

[198] Richards and Waterbury, p.181.

[199] Ibid., p.178.

[200] Hale, p.58.

[201] Ahmad, 1981. p.158.

[202] Richards and Waterbury, p.183.

[203] Hinnebusch, 1985. p.23.

[204] Ibid., p.23.

[205] Ibid., p.24.

[206] Waterbury, 1983. p.424.

[207] Ibid ., p.427. Author’s emphasis.

[208] Ibid., p.425.

[209] See also James Mayfield in Shamir ed., 1995. p.98.

[210] El-Ghonemy, p.262.

[211] Ibid., p.260.

[212] Waterbury, 1983. p.315.

[213] Hale, p.62.

[214] Ibid., p.58.

[215] Cooper, p.3.

[216] Boratav, p.188.

[217] Richards and Waterbury, p.183.

[218] Paul Rivlin in Podeh and Winckler eds., p.275.

[219] Waterbury, 1983. p.99.

[220] Ibid., p.207.

[221] El-Ghonemy, p.257.

[222] Waterbury, 1983. p.303.

[223] Waterbury, 1993. p.34.

[224] Hansen, p.445.

[225] Ibid., p.455.

[226] Özbudun, 1981. p.90.

[227] Quoted in Baker, p.102.

[228] Erik Jan Zürcher, 1997. p.181.

[229] Waterbury, 1983. p.207.

[230] Mardin, 1980. p.40.

[231] Keyder, 1994. p.56.

[232] İlkay Sunar in Ibrahim, Keyder and Öncü eds., 1994. p.100.

[233] Richards and Waterbury, p.319.

[234] Özbudun, 1981. p.87.

[235] Mardin in James P. Piscatori, 1983. p.157.

[236] Waterbury, 1983. p.20.

[237] Ibid., p.17. See also Rivlin, 2004. p.278.

[238] M. Hakan Yavuz, 2003. p.47

[239] Haldün Gülalp, 2003. p.2.

[240] Vatikiotis, 1983. p.69.

[241] Ibid., p.62.

[242] Gülalp, 2005. p.7.

[243] Kemal Karpat, 1959. p.271.

[244] Ibid., p.49.

[245]  Ibid., p.271. My emphasis.

[246]  Andrew Davison, 1998. p.88.

[247] Weiker, p.105.

[248] David Shankland, 1999. p.22.

[249] Ibid., p.23. My emphasis.

[250] Ibid., p.17.

[251] Karpat, 1959. p.272. My emphasis.

[252] Baker, p.104.

[253] Fouad Ajami in Piscatori ed., 1983.

[254] Güdrün Krämer in Uri M. Kupferschmidt and Gabriel Warburg eds., 1983. p.354.

[255] Berger, 1970. p.128.

[256] Zürcher, p.195.

[257] Yavuz, p.38.

[258] Ibid., p.193.

[259] Mardin, 1981. p.202.

[260] Ibid., p.200.

[261] Donald E. Smith ed., 1974. p.8.

[262] Michael Winter in Shamir ed., 1995. p.45.

[263] Ibid., p.46.

[264] Mardin, 1971. p.211.

[265] Heper, 1981. p.350.

[266] Ibid, p.353. See also Guenter Lewy in Smith ed., 1974. p.261.

[267] Heper, 1981. p.353.

[268] Ibid., p.353.

[269] Yavuz, p.46.

[270] Sabri M. Akural in Landau ed., 1984. p.127.

[271] Niyazi Berkes, 1997. p.484.

[272] Winter, 1995. p.49.

[273] Ibid., p.49.

[274] Mardin, 1981. p.192.

[275] Ibid., p.191.

[276] Gülalp, 2005. p.11.

[277] Ayşe Kadıoğlu in Sylvia Kedourie, 1996.  p.191.

[278] Richard Tapper, 1991. p.2.

[279] Binnaz Toprak, 1987. p.225.

[280] Yavuz, p.49.

[281] Toprak, p.224.

[282] Karpat, 1959. p.272.

[283] Malika Zeghal, 1999. p.375.

[284] Daniel Crecelius in Smith ed., 1974. p.91.

[285] Ibid., p.89.

[286] Crecelius, p.91.

[287] Beattie, p.73.

[288] Barry Rubin, 2002. p.12.

[289] Joel Beinin, 1998.

[290] Robert Stephens, 1971. p88.

[291] Stephens, p.135.

[292] Bernard Lewis, 1961. p.263.

[293] Bahattin Aksit in Tapper ed., 1991. p.161.

[294] Toprak, p.224.

[295] Yavuz, p.51.

[296] Beattie, p.80.

[297] Frank Mullaney, 1992. p.171.

[298] The Charter of National Action, cited in Crecelius, p. 88.

[299] Yavuz, p.45.

[300] Ibid., p.45.

[301] Michael Gilsenan, 2000. p.231.

[302] Ibid., p.231.

[303] Hamied Ansari,, Review, 1984b.

[304] Fred de Jong in Warburg and Kupferschmidt eds., 1983. p.202.

[305] Ibid., p.204.

[306] Valerie Hoffman-Ladd, 1992. p.616.

[307] Crecelius, p.92.

[308] Valerie Hoffman, 1995. p.9.

[309] de Jong, p.206.

[310] de Jong, p.166.

[311] Vatikiotis, 1961b. p.192.

[312] Stephens, p.539.

[313] The Charter for National Action, cited in Crecelius, p.88.

[314] Heper, 1981. p.363.

[315] Baker, p.104.

[316] Karpat, 1959. p.272.

[317] Ibid., p.241.

[318] Yavuz, p.56.

[319] Kadıoğlu, p.191.

[320] Mardin, 1983. p.156.

[321] Tapper, p.7.

[322] Mardin, 1983. p.156.

[323] Weiker, p.107.

[324] Tapper, p.43. See also Sami Zubaida, 1996. p.5.

[325] Yavuz, p.37.

[326] Baker, p.107.

[327] Gülalp, 2005. p.3. 

[328] Crecelius, p.90.

[329] Gilsenan, p.224.

[330] S. W. Haney, 1999. p.239.

[331] Davison, p.88.

[332] Thomas Philipp in Shamir ed., 1995. p.131.

[333] Doğu Ergil, 2000. p.47.

[334] Zürcher, p.201.

[335] Mardin, 1981. p.208.

[336] Weiker, 1981. p.241.

[337] Weiker, p.29.

[338] Ibid., p.31.

[339] Ibid., p.240.

[340] Ibid., p.233.

[341] Akural, 1984. p.141.

[342] Ibid., p.141.

[343] Özbudun in Özbudun and Kazancıgil, eds., 1981. p.96.

[344] B. Lewis, p.285.

[345] Abdel-Malek, pp.261-262.

[346] Ibid., p.263.

[347] Ibid., p.263.

[348] Robert Olson, ed., 1989. p.xvii.

[349] Cited in Hamit Bozarslan in Abbas Vali ed., 2003. p.186.

[350] Ibid., p.186.

[351] Berkes, p.313.

[352] Mesut Yeğen, 1999. p.559.

[353] Abdel-Malek, p.261n.

[354] Philipp, p.133.

[355] Philipp, p.142.

[356] See Andrew Mango in Sylvia Kedourie, ed., 2000.

[357] Ahmad, 1993. p.48.

[358] Hakan Özoğlu, 2004. p.123.

[359] Kemal Kirişci and Gareth M. Winrow, 1997. p.85.

[360] Ibid., p.92.

[361] Ibid., p.102.

[362] Ibid., p.93.

[363] Mehmet Ali Ağaoğulları, in Schick and Tonak eds., 1987. p.184.

[364] Zürcher, p.173.

[365] Tanıl Bora, 2003. p.437.

[366] Kirişci and Winrow, p.93.

[367] Henri Barkey and Graham Fuller, 1998. p.10.

[368] Kirişci and Winrow, p.94.

[369] Tekin Alp, Le Kemalisme, p.269, in Hugh Poulton, 1997. p.214.

[370] Poulton, p.101.

[371] Geoffrey Lewis in Landau ed., 1984. p.207.

[372] Ahmad, 1993. p.62.

[373] Philipp, p.144.

[374] John H. Watson, 2000. p.61.

[375] See Azza Khatab, 2005.

[376] Bozarslan, p.181.

[377] Winter in Landau ed., 1984. p.186.

[378] Weiker, p.5.

[379] Kirişci and Winrow, p.114.

[380] R. Hrair Dekmejian, 1971. p.68.

[381] Ibid., p.70.

[382] Ibid., p.69.

[383] Ibid., p.70.

[384] Philipp, p.139.

[385] Ibid., p.140.

[386] Ansari, 1984a. p.399.

[387] Books: Monthly Supplement in Al-Ahram Weekly, 9 – 15 March 2000.

[388] Margaret Wyszomirski, 1975. p.444.

[389] Martin Van Bruinessen, 1984. p.7.

[390] McDermott, p.186.

[391] Ahmed Abdalla, 2003. p.15.

[392] Ibid., p.15.

[393] Wyszomirski, p.444.

[394] Landau, 1984. p.xii.

[395] Bozarslan, p.182.

[396] Ibid., p.182.

[397] Mustafa Saatci, 2002. p.557.

[398] A. L. Macfie, 1994. p.163.

[399] Bozarslan, p.187.

[400] Takeshi Hayashi in Özbudun and Kazancıgil eds., 1981. p.228.

[401] Kirişci and Winrow, p.99. 

[402] Joost Jongerden, 2001. p.81.

[403] Ibid., p.80.

[404] Philipp, p.145.

[405] Hoffman, p.301.

[406] Georgios Niarchos, p.14.

[407] Mesut Yeğen in Sylvia Kedourie ed, 1996. p.216.

[408] Shankland, p.34.

[409] Yeğen, 1999. p.562.

[410] Ibid., 1996. p.217.

[411] Yeğen, 1999. p.567.

[412] Ibid., p.561.

[413] Özoğlu, p.127.

[414] McDermott, p.186.

[415] Dekmejian, p.84.

[416] Meir Hatina in Podeh and Winckler, eds., 2004. p.117.

[417] B. Lewis, p.287.

[418] Nergis Canefe, 2002. p.150.

[419] Richards and Waterbury, p.322. See also Davison, p.87.

[420] See Weiker, 1981.

[421] See Özbudun and Kazancıgil eds., pp.1-2.

[422] Waterbury, 1983. p.9.

[423] Heper, 2000. p.72

[424] Zürcher, p.185.

[425] Heaphy, 1996, p.191. Cited in Waterbury, 1983. p.307.

[426] Waterbury, 1983. p.279.

[427] Waterbury, 1983. Preface.

[428] Ibid.

[429] Ibid.

[430] Waterbury, 1993. p.34.

[431] Barkey, 2000. p.90.

[432] Ibid., 2000. p.92.

[433] Keyder, 1997. p.43.

[434] Ibid., p.43.

[435] Barkey, 2000. p.90.

[436] Waterbury, p.428.

[437] Kasaba in Bozdoğan and Kasaba eds., 1997. p.30.

[438] Heper, 2000. p.72.

[439] Podeh and Winckler eds., p.20.

[440] Ibid., p.21.

[441] Beinin, 1989. p.71.

[442] Baker, p.75.

[443] Özbudun, 1981. p.87.

[444] Baker, p.23.

[445] Özbudun, 1981. p.88.

[446] Barkey, 2000. p.93.

[447] Podeh and Winckler eds., p.12.

[448] Dekmejian, p.37.

[449] Ibid., p.8.

[450] Dekmejian, p.52.

[451] Hülya Adak, 2003. p.523.

[452] Dekmejian, p.75.

[453] Podeh and Winckler, p.23.

[454] Beattie, p.101.

[455] Stephens, p.566.

[456] Ibid., p.566.

[457] Beattie, p.101.

[458] Jack Crabbs, 1975. p.412.

[459] Youssef Cohen, Brian Brown and A. F. K. Organski, 1981. p.905.

[460] Keyder, 1997. p.46.

[461] Gad G. Gilbar in Shamir ed., 1995.

[462] Cited in Poulton, p.93.

[463] Richards and Waterbury, p.342.

[464] Nasser, 1956. p21.

[465] Ibid, p.23. See also Walid Khalidi, 1973.

[466] Philip Robins in Raymond Hinnebusch and Anoushiravan Ehteshami eds., 2002. p.312.

[467] Ibid., p.313.

[468] Ibid., p.313.

[469] Hinnebusch in Hinnebusch and Ehteshami eds., 2002. p.94.

[470] Baker, p.45.

[471] Hinnebusch, 2002b. p.101.

[472] Podeh and Winckler, p.26.

[473] El-Ghonemy, p.257.

[474] David W. Lesch in Podeh and Winckler eds., p.224.

[475] Rami Ginat in Podeh and Winckler eds.

[476] Hinnebusch, 2002b. p.95.

[477] Waterbury, 1983. p.392.

[478] Hinnebusch, 2002b. p.101.

[479] Waterbury, 1983. p.99.

[480] Ibid., p.100.

[481] We have had to limit our discussion of state and nation building under Nasser to Egypt: its relevance to Syria in the United Arab Republic and arguably wider Arab nations is a matter for further investigation.

[482] Martin Stokes in Walter Armbrust ed., 2000.

[483] Podeh and Winckler, p.3.

[484] Evans and Stephens, 1988. p.715.

[485] Navaro-Yashin, p.3.

[486] Ibid., p.4.

[487] Evans and Stephens, 1988. p.715.

[488] Ibrahim, Keyder and Öncü eds., p.2.

[489] Harvey, p.27.

[490] Kasaba, 1997. p.17.

[491] Ibid., 1997. p.17.

[492] Ibid, p.18.

[493] Ibid, p.19.

[494] Kasaba, p.19.

[495] Baker, p.17.

[496] Gabriel Ben-Dor, 1983. p.8.

[497] Richards and Waterbury, p.342.

[498] Ibid., p.342.

[499] Ayoob, p.27.

[500] Ibid., p.24.

[501] Ayoob, p.27.

[502] Richards and Waterbury, p.6.