The new Turkish Nationalism is the immediate factor to be reckoned with. It is very new - newer than the Young Turks, and sharply opposed to the original Young Turkish programme - but it has established its ascendancy. It decided Turkey's entry into the War, and is the key to the current policy of the Ottoman Government.
The Young Turks were not Nationalists from the beginning; the "Committee of Union and Progress" was founded in good faith to liberate and reconcile all the inhabitants of the Empire on the principles of the French Revolution. At the Committee's congress in 1909 the Nationalists were shouted down with the cry: "Our goal is organisation and nothing else." But Young Turkish ideals rapidly narrowed. Liberalism gave way to Panislamism, Panislamism to Panturanianism, and the "Ottoman State Idea" changed from "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity" to the Turkification of non-Turkish nationalities by force.
"The French Ideal," writes the Nationalist Tekin Alp in Thoughts on the Nature and Plan of a Greater Turkey, "is in contradiction to the needs and conditions of the age." By contrast, "the Turkish national movement does not exhibit the failings of the earlier movements. It is in every way adapted to the intellectual standard and feelings of the nation. It also keeps pace with the ideas of the age, which have for some decades centred round the principle of Nationality. In adopting Turkish Nationalism as the basis of their national policy, the Turks have only abandoned an abnormal state of affairs and thereby placed themselves on a level with modern nations."
The development of Nationalism among the Turks was a natural phenomenon. Starting in the West, the movement has been spreading for a century through Central Europe, Hungary, and the Balkans, till from the Turks' former subjects it has passed to the Turks themselves. Chance played its part. Dr. Nazim Bey, for instance, the General Secretary of the "Union and Progress" Committee, is said to have been fired by a work of M. Leon Cahun's on the early history of the Turks and Mongols, lent him by the French Consul-General at Salonika, and the movement was, and still is, confined to a small intelligentsia. But that is the case with other national movements too, and does not hinder them from being powerful forces. Turkish Nationalism was kept alive after 1909 by a small group of enthusiasts at Salonika - their leader was Ziya Bey, who had come up to the Young Turk Congress from Diarbekir, and was one of the first converts to the new idea. It gained ground suddenly during, the Balkan War. The shock of defeat produced a craving for regeneration; the final loss of Europe turned the minds of the Osmanlis to the possibilities of Asia, and they were struck by the action of several prominent Russian subjects of Turco-Tatar nationality, who, out of racial sympathy, had given their services to the Ottoman Government in this time of adversity. As Tekin Alp expresses it:
"The Turks realised that, in order to live, they must become essentially Turkish, become a nation, be themselves.... The Turkish nation turned aside its gaze from the lost territory and looked instead upon Turania, the ideal country of the future."
Two years later this "New Orientation" had so mastered the Ottoman Government that it drew them into the European War.
There are many aims within the new Turkish horizon. Some of them are negative and non-political, some practical and extremely aggressive. Ziya Bey's adherents first took in hand the purification of the Turkish language. A Turkish poet had endeavoured before to dispense with the 95 per cent. (?) of the vocabulary that was borrowed from Persian and Arabic, and "his poetry had to be published in small provincial papers because the important newspapers of the towns would not accept it." The established writers in the traditional style made a hard fight, but Tekin Alp claims that the Yeni Lisan (New Language) "is to-day in possession of an absolute and unlimited authority." Borrowed rhythms have been banned as well as borrowed words, and there is even an agitation to replace the Arabic script by a new Turkish alphabet - an imitation of the Albanian movement which was opposed so fiercely by the Turks themselves before the Balkan War. In 1913 the Government stepped in with the foundation of a "Turkish Academy" (Turk Bilgi Derneyi ), and the Ministry of Education started an "Institute of Terminology," "Conservatoire," and "Writing and Translation Committee." The translation of foreign masterpieces as an incentive to a new national literature was in the programme of Ziya Bey's society, the Yeni Hayat (New Life). Their most cherished plan was to translate the Koran and the Friday Sermon, to have the Khutba (Prayer for the Caliph) recited in Turkish, and to remove the Arabic texts from the walls of the mosques; the eyes and ears of Turkish Moslems were to be saved from the contamination of an anti-national language; but the campaign against Arabic passed over into an attack upon Islam.