Kemalist Revolution at 100: A Blueprint for the Developing World

What is the contextual relevance of the concepts and agenda set forth by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, often referred to as the "living revolutionary leader"? How does the praxis of the Kemalist Revolution continue to inform our understanding of progressive change in the developing world? In this issue, we delve into a thought-provoking inquiry to initiate a comprehensive dialogue surrounding the implications of the Kemalist legacy in addressing the pressing challenges confronted by developing nations.

What strategies can developing nations formulate to foster progressive change? Valuable lessons can be drawn from the experience of pioneering countries in Asia, Africa, and South America that play a pivotal role in shaping a new global order. In particular, the ensuing perspectives provide an indispensable comprehension of the matter: "Nurturing autonomy while confronting the hegemonic policies of imperialist states, refraining from intervening in the internal affairs of sovereign states, embarking on distinctive paths of development tailored to the unique demands of each nation, mutually assessing the strengths of national entities to bolster cooperation founded on equality and mutual benefit, ultimately fostering wellbeing and harmony on both domestic and global scales." These ideals also serve as a poignant reminder that we are currently living in an era of imperialism and revolutions for national liberation.

After enduring the loss of millions of lives in two partitioning wars driven by imperialist motives, humanity is now facing the challenge of averting further instances of imperial aggression on a global scale. Within this context, there is a strong and compelling need to establish a new world order characterized by peace and harmony. This imperative has taken on a heightened significance for the nation-states of the developing world.

It is widely recognized that the ascent of neoliberalism in the 1980s, followed by the establishment of a globalist imperialist order from the early 1990s onwards, has perpetuated a neocolonialist approach toward developing countries. However, in the present day, the emergence of multipolarity is precipitating the erosion of the foundations supporting both neoliberalism and the globalist imperialist order. This evolving landscape offers developing nations an environment conducive to safeguarding their national sovereignty and integrity, while also fostering sustainable development. Nevertheless, the response of imperialist globalization to the rise of multipolarity introduces the risk of escalating conflicts on a global scale. To avert this danger, nation-states must chart a course grounded in their endogenous capabilities and collaborative efforts with like-minded nations facing similar circumstances.

Amidst these complex circumstances, despite occasional setbacks at specific junctures, the historical course of the Kemalist Revolution under Atatürk's leadership, accompanied by its Six Arrows Programme and significant accomplishments, emerges as a potential blueprint for developing nations. The enigma behind the triumph of Türkiye's revolution a century ago, in conjunction with the achievements observed in present-day China, sheds light on the contemporary imperatives of developing societies. Both the Kemalist and Chinese revolutions, characterized by unique historical trajectories, socio-economic levels, and stages of nation-building, underscore the importance of fostering an economy driven by state-guided mixed policies and establishing a system deeply rooted in the shared welfare of the people.

As the 20th century was dawning, it was the Kemalist Revolution that paved the way for the formation of a nation-state from the remnants of the fragmented Ottoman Empire, which had been subjected to the ravages of imperialist powers. Atatürk's revolutionary agenda, encapsulated by the Six Arrows - Republicanism, Nationalism, Populism, Statism, Laicism, and Revolutionism - embodies the principles born from the very praxis of revolutionary transformation. The foundation of a unified framework encompassing economics, domestic and foreign policy, security, and culture, vital for developing nations, finds its roots in the Kemalist revolutionary model. This model, the first national liberation revolution in the oppressed world, evolved over time to meet the evolving needs of both the state and society.




The effects of the Turkish Revolution were not limited to the Turkish people; it had worldwide consequences. Türkiye became the pioneer and symbol of the rise of the oppressed peoples of Asia-Africa and Latin America. Another dimension of the worldwide importance of the Turkish Revolution is that it entered into a unity of fate with the Soviet Revolution. During the years of the Turkish War of Independence, most of the Asian, African and Latin American countries were living under the colonial yoke. Mustafa Kemal Pasha lit the torch of independence as he advocated the principle of full independence. The model created by the Turkish Revolution meant a lot for the peoples of the oppressed world. Mustafa Kemal Pasha created great excitement, especially in the Islamic world. His name was referred to as “fearless, the invincible man”. The nationalist program of the revolution deeply affected the social structure of Asia by shaking up the large masses of peasants, laborers, women and even tribal people.

Keywords: M. Kemal Pacha, Turkish National Liberation War, Turkish Republic, oppressed world, Gandi-Nehru- M. Kemal Pacha solidarity


The Turkish revolution is a model that emerged from a struggle against imperialism, proving that God is not British, and aiming to establish a system based on capitalist principles favoring the interest of the people. The Chinese model, under the leadership of Sun Yat Sen, similarly fought against imperialism and colonialism, following the Kemalist Revolution's path. Under the guidance of the Communist Party, they continued with a National Democratic revolution. Today, these two countries, both fighters in their own right, holding the two ends of a path and sharing a similar fate, yet differing in aspects ranging from economic development to their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is not a mere coincidence. The leader of the defense of their respective homelands at that time saw the global polarization clearly and proposed a solution: "Against the harmful group that has afflicted us... There is a common front that separates the East from the West, stretching all the way from the North to the South. To be able to defend on this front, it will require the genuine and sincere solidarity of nations that have become each other's allies... However, the states participating in this solidarity must be individually strong, fortified with the idea of independence." This understanding is a stance against the enmity and division imposed by imperialism. Success has always and will continue to come through this path. The political stance, culture, and understanding targeted today also stem from this standpoint. The coming century is a time to rewrite history from Asia to Africa and Latin America. The key to success lies in our hands.


“Let’s look at the explanations and statements made by Mustafa Kemal throughout his life. We can say that some of his theses positively and negatively affected the developing Russian-Turkish relations. But a very important detail should never be forgotten: In the Republic Monument in Taksim Square, right next to Atatürk, we see that Semyon Aralov, the first ambassador of Soviet Russia to Türkiye, is located. The order of Gazi Mustafa Kemal Pasha himself erected this monument. For this reason, we can state that Atatürk left a legacy to the Turkish people not to forget the close friendship and brotherhood established with Russia. Regarding developing countries, Atatürk is an exemplary leader who laid the foundations of the industrial transformation that economically developed Türkiye, an agricultural country as of the first half of the 20th century. The effects of his actions are also strongly felt in the global political processes of the 21st century.”


Türkiye and China are two oppressed nations that shared the same fate at the beginning of the 20th century. Both nations wanted to eliminate imperialism’s exploitation and stand up by achieving their democratic revolutions. The victory of Türkiye against imperialism in the War of Independence and the development of friendly relations with the Soviet Union were followed with interest by the leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The successful Turkish Revolution aroused the idea that it could set an example for China among the early CPC leaders. For this reason, communists in China followed the Turkish Revolution closely and tried to apply it to the Chinese Revolution practice. Cai Hesen, the leader and theoretician of the CPC in the founding period, was especially interested in the Turkish Revolution. Cai Hesen published his views on the Turkish Revolution in his articles in the CPC’s publication, The Guide Weekly (向导Xiangdao), and influenced the CPC’s leadership. In this study, the articles of Cai Hesen, a key theorist in the early stages of the CPC who evaluated the Turkish revolution and its impact on the CPC cadres, are discussed.

Keywords: Cai Hesen, China, Communist Party of China, Turkish Revolution, Türkiye


The Muslim rule in the Bengal Delta began with Turkish Ikhtiyār al-Dīn Muhammad Bakhtiyār Khaljī of the Ghūrid army of Afghanistan. The Ottoman Caliphate was established in today’s Türkiye during the same century. The foundation-stone of warm relations between the Bengali Muslims and the Turks was laid then, and it remains intact after many ups and downs. When the Bengali Muslims agitated against the Colonialist British during the early 1920s, the independent and sovereign Ottoman Empire was considered the Guardian of Islam and became their source of inspiration. Consequently, when the Ottoman Empire was disbanded after the First World War, massive mobilizations intended to protect the Institution Of Khilafat spread over the Islamic world. This unique episode is recorded as the Khilafat Movement in history. However, after the Turkish hero Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (19 May 1881-10 November 1938) had disbanded the caliphate, the Khilafat Movement in the Former Mughal Empire ended. Like other Muslims worldwide, many Bengali Muslims failed to endorse Mustafa Kemal’s reforms, which had been an issue of discussion and debate around the Muslim world due to disbanding of the 600 years-old Ottoman Empire. However, the situation changed when many Bengali Muslim intellectuals supported the Turkish hero. Kazi Nazrul Islam, the National Poet of Bangladesh, was the pioneer among those who supported Kemal Atatürk in Bengal. He, who declared a do-or-die revolt against the British colonial rule in the Former Mughal Empire, was mesmerized by Atatürk’s heroism. This paper intends to study the factors behind Kazi Nazrul Islam’s fascination with Ataturk.

Keywords: Mughal Empire, Bengal Muslims, Enver Pasha, Caliphate Movement, Mustafa Kemal.


“After completing my doctoral thesis, I began research on historical writing starting from the Ottoman Empire’s modern period up to the beginning period of the Republic of Türkiye. After researching Ahmet Mithat and Namik Kemal’s thoughts on history and the education of history in the Modern Ottoman Empire after the Tanzimat period, I became interested in the history textbooks written in the first period of the Republic of Türkiye. While a new state named the Republic of Türkiye was being established, an attempt was made to create a new historical narrative to give the nation a new identity. The biography of Atatürk I have written is planned to be published in October 2023, on the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Türkiye. Türkiye was in such geographical conditions that it had greater exposure to the intervention of the US and major European states. Ataturk and his comrades overcame all these difficulties and established the Republic of Türkiye. The national struggle process gives the Japanese great courage and hope, too.”