[Marxism] Turkish paradoxes
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Nov 21 09:06:37 MST 2006
Although I am deeply troubled by Turkey's unwillingness to grant the Kurds
a level of autonomy they certainly deserve and its refusal to accept its
role in the mass slaughter of Armenians in WWI, I am constantly reminded of
how it also demonstrated exemplary respect for human rights in the very
same period. The most compelling document in many ways is the film "Exile
in Buyukada", about Trotsky's 1929-1934 stay in Turkey. Like Cardenas,
Ataturk was determined to grant political asylum to Trotsky when he was
being hounded all over the world by the Stalinists and the bourgeoisie. You
can rent this from netflix or buy used copies on amazon.com for only
$10.97. I strongly recommend it.
Here's another example of Turkey's humanitarian impulse:
Turkeys new leadership was keenly aware that the existing system of
civilian higher education was woefully lacking compared to the education
provided by western research universities. The Republic inherited the
Dar-ül Fünun (house of knowledge), a fledgling state university teaching
some western sciences and three military academies as a system of fairly
secular post-secondary education. This system needed to be replaced. The
plan was to transform the Dar-ül Fünun into the University of Istanbul,
create Istanbul Technical University from one of the military academies,
and build Ankara University from the ground up.
Qualified personnel were unavailable in Turkey to complete this so they had
to be imported. In 1932, Albert Malche, a Swiss professor of pedagogy,
had been asked to visit Turkey to prepare a report on the Turkish
educational reform. Among many other recommendations Malche called for a
major infusion of academic talent from abroad. The passage of Germanys
Civil Service Law just after the January 30, 1933, Nazi takeover created
the perfect window of opportunity for Turkey. The law forced the departure
of intellectuals having Jewish heritage. Emigration to the US or UK was not
an option given their restrictive immigration laws. Few university job
opportunities due to Americas emergence from depression, widespread
anti-Semitism, gender bias, and age discrimination in university hiring
practices was well known among the intellectuals.
One of those first fired was Frankfurt pathologist Philipp Schwarz.
Schwarzs father-in-law, Professor Sinai Tschulok, emigrated to Switzerland
after the 1905 Russian Revolution and happened to be Malches friend.
Recognizing a double opportunity Malche contacted Schwarz. In March 1933,
Schwarz established the Notgemeinschaft Deutscher Wissenschaftler im
Ausland (The Emergency Assistance Organization for German Scientists) in
Switzerland to help fired German scholars secure employment in countries
willing to receive them.
Predisposed to German science and culture and recognizing the opportunity
that presented itself, Turkey invited Philipp Schwarz 6 to Ankara. He
brought along a set of CVs. In turn, Galips party arrived with a list of
vacant professorships. Agreement was reached in nine hours of negotiations.
However, it was clear at the outset that the German professors would remain
only until their Turkish pupils could take over. On August 1, 1933, the day
after the Dar-ül Fünun was officially closed the Istanbul University was
opened using Dar-ül Fünuns physical plant, a small fraction of the
original faculty, and more than thirty world-renowned émigré German
professors who were on their way to Turkey. Unfortunately, Atatürks death
came much too early for all concerned, especially Turkey itself. A number
of his visionary programs were not fully developed by his successors. Some
were curtailed for economic reasons; some were allowed to be sabotaged by
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