Ana SayfaWRITINGSSagesSociety, State and Bureaucracy in Prince Sabahaddin

Society, State and Bureaucracy in Prince Sabahaddin



                                    PRINCE SABAHADDIN

            Levent AĞAOĞLU                                                   1982 / 1983

CONTENTS                                           Page

  1. Sources of His Thoughts                                 3
  1. Society                                                                   3

Social Structure                                                                3

  1. The Two Versions of Social Structure                          3


AAA. Individualist Structure                                               3

BBB. Collectivist Structure                                                4

  1. Social Structure within Itself                                       4

(Private Life, Administrative Life)

Social Structure of The Ottoman State                             5


  1. Individualist Enterprise                                               6
  1. Decentralization                                                        8

III. State                                                                     13

  1. Bureaucracy                                                          15
  1. Conclusion                                                               18

References                                                                   19

Prince Sabahaddin(1879-1948) who is one of the initiators of sociological thinking in Turkey is a liberal thinker. He is firstly a Young Turk regarding his political ideas. Later he is a doctrine man fighting against political power with science and idea in the period of constitutional government. At the same time he is a revolutionist: he has determined the form which will replace the political regime he wishes to abandone. Lastly he is a revolutionary: he wishes to abandone the despotism (Tunaya, 1979: 173-176).

1-Sources of His Thoughts

The two French sociologists greatly affected Prince Sabahaddin; Le Play and especially Edmond Demolins. His direction of ideas began to be formed after the first congress of Young Turks in-1902. The famous book of Edmond Demolins-“What is the reason for the superiority of Anglo-Saxons ?” had been the Bible of Sabahaddin (Ramsaur, 1972: 102). Sabahaddin borrowed his basic concepts from that book. Demolins’s main thesis was that Anglo-Saxons had rapidly developed because of the two interrelated elements they set out: Decentralization and private enterprise (individualism). Sabahaddin examined the basic parts of the book and established “The Association of Private Enterprise and Decentra-lisation”. The aim of the association was to improve the aspects which had been described as the main errors in the Ottoman Empire. His general views and detailed movement plan was the evidence of his complete acceptance of Demolins’s ideas (Ramsaur, 1972: 99-105). The two concepts borrowed from   Demolins- Decentralization and Private Enterprise- formed the basic ideas of Sabahaddin. Le Play, Demolins and Social Science (îlm-i İçtima) were the sources of his thinking.

  1. Society

A.Social Structure

 AA.The Two Versions of Social Structure

If we want to understand a society we have to look at its social structure. This structure is seen in two different versions; Individualist Structure and Collectivist Structure. All social problems gather around the “structure problem” which is a main problem and have suitable or unsuitable forms for the society. Differences between the societies do not originate from the differences of the forms of government, education, religion and morals. When we attempt to analyze to any social event, main linkage to structure appears. Humanity (social structure) is divided into the two big and completely opposite structures. The most important discovery of the Le Play school is that the division of world communities being individualist and collectivist.

The eastern part of the world completely represents collectivist structure and the western parts of the world especially represent individualist structure. Because in the east community, in the west individual is superior. But it is possible to pass from one structure to the within the required conditions.

AAA. Individualist Structure

Individualistic Structure gives rise to individualistic development and independence. Effective physical work and production which is continually developing for adapting to the changing requirements of life creates this structure. Western European and Northern American societies represent individualistic structure. This structure originates from an agricultural development which begins individually and creates private enterprise and private ownership. Western societies are especially under the effect of this structure. Because individual is superior in these societies. According to the discoveries of Social Science that kind of structure had been borned in the fiords of Norway, had passed Sacsonia and Heri basin within the primitive form and consequently had much more developed in Anglo-Saxon countries.

The superiority of these societies comes from the development of individual ability and power. lndividuals have been got free from the trust-eeship and oppression of family, tribe, parties and government.

Individualist structure which comes from the strictness of physical work prepares the complete development of social ability through creating personal enterprise, effective production and depending individual not upon an individual but upon firstly land with an effective and hard agriculture which creates private ownership and after upon the other production activities and creates an effective society which made up of independent ad superior individuals who find their point of support within themselves. This structure makes superior private life to administrative life and causes social superiority. This superiority is called as “fortunate superiority” by Sabahaddin,

BBB. (State) Collectivist Structure

Collectivist Structure comes from the looseness of physical work-and causes individuals not to be productive entrepreneurs but to become consumers. For that reason it is an obstacle to the development of social ability and personality. Individuals are dependent on family, community, political party and government and they seek for their point of support out of their personality. These kind of individuals form a static society and they hope for wealth and freedom from administrative offices although they could not find any time what they hoped for.

Collectivist Structure has occurred before individualistic structure and according to the Law of Evolution the opposite direction was impossible. Asian, Eastern and Southern European, African, Southern and Middle American societies represent this structure. All of the eastern societies are under the effect of this structure. Because community is superior in these societies.

Administrative life is dominant to private life in collectivist structure. This dominance is called as “unlucky stress” by Sabahaddin. A real democracy has not been originated from collectivist structure.

BB.Social Structure within Itself (Administrative and Private Lives)

There are two lives within a social structure:” Private Life” and “Administrative Life”. The transformation of social structure is related to the transformation of these lives. The organization of administrative life is always dependent on the conditions and requirements of private life. The natural balance of the society requires the superiority of private life upon admin¬istrative life. Individual enterprises of citizens create private life. This is the social organizations of individuals. Productive activities in agriculture, commerce and industry make stable and healthy the private life. Administrative organization of society represents its administrative life. In collectivist structure this is a centralized organization and in individualist structure this is a decentralized organization.

The reform programme of Sabahaddin is basically related to these lives. For transforming from collectivist structure into individualist structure we have to make superior private life to administrative life. This also means to develop private life through individual enterprise and to weaken administrative through decentralization.

B.Social Structure of the Ottoman State

There are two elements in the Ottoman State. First villagers-who are major in the society- who have got free from migrant and tent life that continued centuries along but who have not lose their moral cleanliness. “Villagers are the most basic and unchanged part of the Ottoman people. Although they feed and develop Turkey they are being oppressed in every place and much more from any other class. Second, intellectuals-who are minor in the society- who are in contact with the West and who are increasingly opposing the despotism in every contact. But these intellectuals have been limited to “officialism”.

Describing the problem is not sufficient. To start action is necessary. At first stage despotism has to be abandoned. Secondly, a new form which will replace the abandoned form have to be found? This form (revolution) must not only be political but also social and economic. Because the period in which Ottoman State was based only upon military and politics has passed. Social revolution will occur when Turkish intellectuals will attempt to provide their living not through bureaucratic activities but through agriculture, industry and commerce. They can secure their freedom and independence only and if only they change their way of life. These activities will result in a way that villagers and intellectuals who have been far from each other will unite (-Tunaya, 1979:175-176). It is not difficult to approach ignorant majority to learned minority by the help of strong determination. The world of civilization has to know that social Turkey which admires justice and work is rising behind official Turkey (Ege, 1977:114).

From other perspective Ottoman system has two characteristics: Ottoman society has two divided and opposite parts as the people who govern and who are being governed; oppression of the economy of the society by bureaucracy which dominates the first and its causing not to develop the productive power of villagers and tradesmen (Berkes, 1975: 342).

In the first paragraph of “How can Turkey be saved?” Sabahaddin analyzes social structure of the Ottoman State as follows:

“Social Science” has discovered earlier that our social life does not base upon a strong base and they starting point of “Social Doctrine” which was born from “Social Science” has been the defense of that reality. Everybody began to comprehend that our private and administrative lives have any point of support. People, government, parties… are always living unfounded, rootless, completely untied life. We are always living an inadequacy of production, a scarcity of social ability and a poorness of personality (Ege, 1977: 325-326,240).

Point of support was “Social Science” and “Social Doctrine”. He analyzed the Ottoman social structure within the conceptual framework of “Social Science”»

The problem of the Ottoman system was a structure problem”. It was not important to abandone Abdulhamid unless we realize revolutionary changes in society. Otherwise much more Abdülhamids would come after him. The person who firstly analyzed the concept of “social structure” with respect to the transformation of civilization was Prince Sabahaddin. Main problem was to pass from Asian social structure to western social structure. This view has opened a new way for the first time and affected the later thoughts. The defectiveness was that the structure of the Ottoman society was not individualist but collectivist. The solution was to create independent and to remove the collectivizing rules and values of the society. Individualist Anglo-Saxon education and individualist enterprise would realize these objectives (Berkes, 1975; 223-225).

All of the social problems gather around the “structure problem” which is a main problem. From this perspective main direction is to pass from collectivist structure to individualist structure. For securing the natural balance of the society, private life must reach to a strong position it has to be.

He analyses the Ottoman structure in his book under the heading of “Our Social Structure”. In this chapter he examines cultural development, education, the form of ownership, governmental organization, military and politics.

The problem was that a custom which is not functional, a way of living which prevents the development of personality and a negative training which causes the continuation of that kind of living in private life and centralization which passes the laziness from private life into administrative life which does not suit local requirements and causes great and unnecessary expenses in administrative life.

  1. Individualist Enterprise

Individualist enterprise is that individuals who form a society have not to depend upon their family or government but have to trust directly themselves, seek for their success in their enterprise.

A nation makes progress not through the freedom that government offers but through the earnings be provided with his works. Honest governments are already seen within the nations in which private enterprises develop.

The base of the publications of Ittihad-Terakki before the period of Constitutional Government was that all of the disasters are originating from despotism and government so that if we abandone government and replace it with the constitutional government we can save the country. When we began to oppose this opinion we went far away from our friends.

Experiences clearly show that Turkey cannot be saved with only opposing government. The winning of rights is possible only and if only we increase our productive power. We wanted freedom but did not think that how the free people won it. We did not critize our social weakness (Ege, 1977:194-195)

Consumption without production causes bankruptcy. This is a point which we have to pay attention between Christians and Muslims. Although we think to provide our living through government offices, Christians are becoming rich through their private enterprises in his lands. Although the elements that are not Turkish could have the possibility to busy with agricultural, industrial and commercial activities, the dominant Turkish element has been lost with military obligations.

We have to direct our efforts to the three origins of wealth- agriculture, industry and commerce. A nation’s wealth and richness develop with private enterprises and developments in production. Personal interest is the part of general interest in societies in which individual enterprises develop. Personal interest is mostly the opposite of the general interest in societies in which individualist enterprise does not exist. Thus the mere way of salvation is to try to increase individualist enterprise that is to say a nation’s production power.

When we occupy the countries we occupied politically we can solve “The Eastern Problem” as being suitable to our interest and general interest, National independence can only be provided with personal freedom. We can assure this result through education and decentralization. Individualist enterprise and Decentralization cannot be isolated from each other. The former is a form of working which keeps alive a nation. The later is a form of the administration which assures the independence of that form of working (Ege, 1977:86-89).

These concepts which form Sabahaddin’s basic thoughts were the tools that will be used for passing from collectivist structure to individualist structure.

Commerce is the spirit of any country. National wealth is impossible without commerce. One of our greatest desires is to be in good relations with European merchants in our country and to see our citizens being busy with commercial and industrial activities in various cities of Europe and America (Ege, 1977=92).

Although other nations were successful in heightening their education and training level out of or despite their government we are ignorant of administering of government in that way. Government that is dependent on the wills of the nation is absolutely superior in our society.

Freedom or independence comes from the abilities or inabilities of individuals. Greatest power which creates social ability is individualist enterprise. But our education -in school- and family- does not develop the ability of individualist enterprise. We are not growing up with a kind of Education which will cause to earn our living independently, and develop business through our own enterprise. Consequently after we have lost our most valuable times through methods which oppress personality we are graduating from school only as being an official, a customer.

Individuals who have to fight alone against difficulties in life struggle will certainly see that their social abilities are developing. But we are recognizing that our social abilities are decreasing. Although going beyond the difficulties is a fun to them, it is a torture for us. Instead of securing personal interest through agriculture, industry and commerce we are seeking personal interest in bureaucratic professions.

We have not entrepreneurial class out of the administrative forces. Indivi¬duals who have the capacity to form this class are always becoming public officials and forming a consuming class under the protection of government. Producers are villagers, artisans and small merchants. Because of not owning material and moral capital they cannot develop their business and also cannot preserve their business under the oppression of government Ege, 1977 166)

Competitions within the commercial area are rapidly becoming dense under the economic circumstances of the world. The period finished in which it is easy to make money and live. We are now in the new world with new requirements and new men. The tool of these men is individualist enterprise. We have to change the kind of education which families and schools give us. We have not to develop private life through laziness which destroys personality but through enterprises which develop personality by the help of positive and practical education. We have to decrease the number of politicians- dangerous consumers who are increasing in number- but increase the number of entrepreneurial producers within intellectual class.

By examining Turkey’s geography we can see that it is possible to get free from social disasters that suffer to us through settling solidly to the land and through reforming private life. The only solution for the time being is agriculture. For assuring development we have to create healthy and developmental relationships between villagers and intellectuals.

As a result of an oldest and unlucky thinking social development, wealth, power, honor and every happiness are being expected from the government. We want to prove that the most valuable of these merits is the one earned in private life. For assuring this the reform of administrative life must be directed toward the reform of private life. If we do not begin reformation firstly from ourselves political and social dangers will increase.

The development of the human communities is dependent on the law of social selection. Any nation which shows greater ability and effort in earning his life will secure his future and will develop.

The key of success in social selection is individualist enterprise. In any community in which an individual is more entrepreneurial, productive and independent, this community will relevantly become free, civilized, powerful and developmental.

We are telling when we address the members of the private life that you will secure your independence and power with your personal enterprise and seek your point of support within your own personality. The effectiveness of this personality will increase in relation to its productivity, intellectuality and virtuousness. Thus, first of all we have to develop and strengthen personality.

We cannot abandone despotism through changing only the form of government. If we do not change the centre of gravity of reform from administrative life to private life Constitutional Government will go bankrupt. Any society which does not try to develop the freedom of individual cannot protect its political independence.

The concept of individualist enterprise is related to the reform of private life in Sabahaddin1s thought. This reform is much more vital from the reform of administrative life.  “Main Direction” is the reform of private life. Decentralization is secondary in importance related to individualist enterprise. The base of the reform programme is individualist enterprise.


This concept was firstly offered by Sabahaddin after the first congress of Young Turks (1902). His first writing about decentralization was published in Terakki in 1906(“Though the Christians are making use of decentralization in our country, Muslims are being oppressed by centralization. He borrowed this concept from Edmond Demolins. But he was not the first man who put forward to decentralization in the Ottoman Empire. Midhat Pasha defended and also applied-when he was governor in various provinces of Ottoman Empire-decentralization (Berkes, 1975: 223-225).

He had been called as “The Father of Liberals” because of his views. Midhat Pasha had put the word of “deconcentration” into the text of law when he was preparing Constitution. Deconcentration that Midhat Pasha Thought had been stated as Decentralization by Sabahaddin. According to them these two words have the same meaning (Toros, 1978: 5).

While Sabahaddin uses the concept of individualist enterprise for strengthening the private life (society) he uses the concept of decentralization for weakening the centralist power of the State. Thus while society really emerges State would be weakened. He states that he desisers a happy superiority that private life (society) will have on the administrative life (State). The organization of the administrative life is always and every time depended on the conditions and requirements of the private life.

The kind of decentralization he offers was not a political but an administrative one. Decentralization, deconcentration, self-government were all have the same meanings in his thought. Thanks to administrative decentralisation the Ottoman Unity (political centralization) could be strengthened. The aim of his thesis is to seek the solution which will cause to last the collapsing Ottoman State (Abadan, 1964:4o), His disagreement with Ittihad-Terakki mainly based on decentralization.

Persons who have any idea about decentralization are evaluating the method we defend as an effort for cueing favor with Christians and Europe. They do not know that the various rights that decentralization provides has greatly-sometimes abundantly- been assured to Ottoman Christians. The most important ones of these rights are in the area of taxes, courts and education.

Decentralization is a kind of administration which will not prevent the development of individualist enterprise. We can catch up with our Christian citizens firstly through developing Muslims’ private enterprises and secondly diffusing the method of decentralization to Turks and whole Muslim citizens. The future of our country is closely related to the assurance of the destroyed social balance between Christians and Muslims. History has showed us that centralization has caused the catastrophe of Turks, (Ege, 1977-86-89).

It cannot be denied that Turks are important balancing element for Muslim and Christian citizens. But for assuring this social advantage Turkey has to have a decentralized constitutional government. Because that kind of administration is suitable for the development of private enterprise which is the source of wealth and happiness. Ottoman Empire can assure the Ottoman unity- within the social variousness of different elements within itself- only in this way. (Ege, 1977:111)

Considering that the base of our publications is not only to defend the policy of “Ottoman Unity” but also is the necessity to strengthen this policy it is clarified that we are not in favor of administrative autonomy under the programme of decentralization.

If Constitutional Government means the establishment of the right of supervision in the centre through Deputies Assembly, administrative decentralization also and undoubtedly means the diffusion of same rights to provinces through Provincial General Assemblies… The idea of enterprise cannot develop in our country while we have centralized administration. Lacking of the idea of enterprise, provinces cannot be developed and country lives poverty.

With what Deputies Assembly will be interested in when it is opened tomorrow? Whole of the provinces are in a miserable position. Deputies Assembly certainly will have to change the form of administration of these provinces. Will this change base upon centralization that creates miseries? Will provincial officials, provincial assemblies are strictly depended on the centre like babies in arms? If their ties will be untied and they will have rights and duties, the form of administration of provinces will be decentralization that is deconcentration.

Because it is impossible to develop our country without decentralization and the same application of the form of administration of any province into the other province is also impossible. For example there are great differences between the way of living of the people of Yemen and Salonika provinces. The officials who will closely see these differences and perfectly perceive the real needs of these provinces certainly are not the ones who are in Istanbul but the ones who are in Yemen and Salonika. So that the reform which we want under the name of “Administrative Decentralization” for some time is that to in rease the authorities of governors and other officials, to ensure the opening of general assemblies thus to accustom people to supervise and determine the state of expenditure of the tax they give. The point of support of our publication about decentralization is the 108th article of the Constitution. We are trying to explain the vital importance of this article to public opinion. Thus decentralization is the same as deconcentration and separation of duties. However deconcentration is the name- but not the definition- of administrative decentralization.

Although there is any contrast between these terms, the term is being confused with the definition in the publications and public opinion is being mistakenly informed. I hope that this matter has been clarified after my ex-planation. (Ege, 1977: 159-165).

The form of the administration I defend is not anything from the application- of the 108th article of the Constitution and the application of the system existing in the regulation of provinces. While we are accepting the administrative decentralization we are opposing to the political decentralization (Ege, W: 173-174).

Centralization means to monopolize the freedom, to permit the oppression of minority by majority, to destroy the idea of private enter-prise… But through rooting the national supervision not only in Istanbul by means of Deputies Assembly but in every parts of provinces by means of provincial general assemblies decentralization will expand national commerce which will deeply tie the Ottomans to the Ottoman State, display the necessity to act unitedly against the outside world and form a powerful tool to eliminate national competitions. Thus administrative decentralization will strengthen the Ottoman Unity being a tool for assuring political centralization (Ege: 1977, 187).

Bloody fights which we always face are the result of the administration’s inability to evaluate and to cure local needs. This inability comes from the non-existence of private enterprise and existence of centralization that digs the grave of the centre and the whole country. The application of administrative decentralization will ensure the stability of public security, diffuse the spirit of civilization and also will prevent the rebellions which we cannot solve through military forces, decrease military expenses and increase military power (Ege, 1977:24-4—24-5).

It is meaningless to evaluate the form of administrations and the organization of the whole administrative life without searching their relationships with private life. There is not any form of administration which exists only by itself under the name of centralization or decentralization. But the deprivation of private life from freedom and independence create centralization and its solidity and freedom create


The independence that an individual gains by means of private enterprise and strong regulation of local life by concerned personas a result of individual’s dependence lessen the authority of central power within nations which have individualistic structure and which are the most developed and wealthy societies of existing humanity. The regular and steady direction of the social development and economic development which is the result of social development in these societies can only originate from the happy superiority that private life has upon the administrative life.

Administrative life is established upon similar bases behind the different names and the forms of government like kingdom, republic or parliament and federalism in England Kingdom, colonies that have been created by Anglo-Saxon colonist, United States of Northern America and in small Norway which is the cradle of individualism.

The power of private life necessitates the limitation of the services and duties that are assured by the government. Services are administered by the concerned and most authoritative of concerned people. Duties have been diffused to separate committees. Thus a definite authority corresponds to every definite affair and responsibility.

Affairs which are left over the State- which are reducing to smallest degree- are the ones which correspond to public interest and which cannot be provided through private and local activity.

Continuous and regular activities of the citizens who have a real power and practical knowledge that have been gained through the regulation and administration of business life all over the country ensure the suitable satisfaction of the needs by the administration and also this activity which is the continuation of personal freedom in the political area is becoming a real sign of political freedom and ensuring the defense of this freedom.

This is a decentralization which creates a real development in the administration of government. English’s call this as “self Government”.

In the cases of the non-existence of citizens which will provide an effective role in the organization of government, the whole of the administration of the state is completely kept by the centre and the power of administration and sovereignty is centered by an individual or a committee.

In that case the positions that local forces left empty will be captured by a committee which is made up of officials who have gained a great power. The operations of this committee -are always very hard and arbitrary and cannot be saved from the abuse of government influence.

Centralization is born from weaknesses and disorders of individuals in their private life and it is the organization of underdeveloped administrative life. To tie the centralized sovereignty to the right of sovereignty of the nation instead of basing it to the rights of emperor that passes through descendants cannot change the position of private life against administrative life. The positions of individuals against State cannot change in this case. The problem is not the functioning of sovereignty by a person or an assembly on behalf of the all of the individuals of the society but it is the centralization of sovereignty and power by a political group and the continuous oppression of the organization of administrative life (government) upon the private lives of the individuals.

It is clear that decentralization-self-government of the citizen- is a phenomenon which creates the administrative life of individualist societies. National sovereignty on the other hand is a theory which lives in collectivist societies.

Decentralization is the separation of administrative power according to the characteristics of affairs and the existence of an authority corresponding a clear responsibility.

Centralization is the confusion of affairs, responsibilities, authorities and the collection of all of the responsibilities in the centre. So that the rule of the Sultan and the sovereignty of the nation are causing the same result through the same direction: Despotism… collapse.

This is also the cause of having the same characteristic and facing the same dropping danger of absolute, constitutional and parliamentary governments before and after the Tanzimat period. The reason for the solidness of the English Kingdom than the French Republic is the limited responsibilities of the central power. But through centralizing the whole responsibilities of the government affairs and failing in the administration of different interests corresponding various needs- despite the steadily increases of officials- kingdoms, assemblies, empires have been collapsed and the republic that has been based upon centralized organization has depended on the same social law.

It is clearly seen that the names that government has -and also the organization of government have any importance by themselves. The real development in the administrative life originates from neither constitutional government, parliamentary nor republic. But from the private enterprise which brings power and order to the lives of the citizens.

It is a general belief that we are developing in the direction of developed nations after the beginning of the period of Tanzimat. But the principle of Tanzimat is to collect income into the general treasure of the persons who have sovereignty and to depend upon the officials of the administrative life who have to live through the payment that will be provided from treasure to the centre.

The social meaning of that is to create great government power (administrative life) instead of various communities of administrative life which is dominant to the private life. We know that the administrative lives of the developed and strong societies are not regulated in this way. Contrarily the administrative power is not centralized within the hands of public officials.

Tanzimat could not create a movement toward the direction of individualist structure for administrative life and also it is not a sign showing that society is in the way toward social happiness. Because the order that is desired to be given to administrative life with Tanzimat was not the result of the development occurred in private life. Private life has not changed. For that reason the characteristic of Tanzimat is that to depend upon government officials to the centre who are feeded by private life.

Social pattern of this direction is “public official” and social structure is “statist collectivist structure”. In that kind of social structure, individual will lose independence through seeking his provisions by capturing the administrative power. Struggles for capturing the official positions and moral weakness highly increase.

The organization that Tanzimat created shows the social weakness and the dominant position of the administrative life created by collectivist structure. The organization of the administrative life is depended upon the needs and requirements of the private life. The administrative and political reform cannot be solved by itself (Ege, 1977:356-361).

If we could have a decentralized administration the organization of the government of the Ottoman Empire would not be monopolized by only a city and by the members of the government but on the contrary our country would begin to develop through the administrative power of the persons who have the ability about local affairs. The administration of government affairs through decentralization would strengthen political unity and state which is the representative of political unity. Thus the internal and external positions of Turkey would be promoted (Ege, 1977:401).

Decentralization is not a regulation for politically satisfying various components and thus we do not offer a political and particularistic but offer administrative and local decentralization (Ege, 1977:410).

Sabahaddin has clearly differed the political and administrative aspects of decentralization. He has defended administrative aspect of decentralization; the abolition of red tape, the partial provision of the centralized administrative power to local administrations, the participation of people into the administration. The obtainment of liberal regime through decentralization in England and America was his ideal (Tunaya, 1979:177).

Sabahaddin’s ideas were strongly opposed in a historically centralized environment. Turkish Republic also continued this tradition. As Mumtaz Soysal says “The fear of the centre is about local (self)-administration which is called as decentralization since Prince Sabahaddin (Soysal, 1983:2).

Sabahaddin had offered some institutions for developing decentralized administration like Regulation Committees, Provincial Committees, and Local Governments. Provincial General Assemblies and governors would have more authority about provincial matters. The authority of financial and administrative control would be given to the people through establish-ing Provincial Committees, members of which are the inhabitants of the locality. The authority of local administration would be expanded up to the villages. All of the regions of the Empire would have the right of self-government about administrative, municipal and judicial affairs. This must also be so for the affairs of finance and public works.

Sabahaddin examined the reform of administrative life based on decentralization in his book under the heading of “New Direction” (Ege,1977:365-371) The subdivisions of this chapter was local governments, military police, administration of justice, ownership, the organization of public works, administration and sources of country, education and schools, finance, regulation committees. He elaborated the authorities of local governments in this chapter. These authorities had also been shown in the programme of “The Association of Private Enterprise and Decentralization”(Ege-l977:71-72).Provinces would be administered with the method and rule of decentralization. These authorities were highly wide.

  1. State

Sabahaddin’s way of thinking about State can be drawm from the concept of administrative life. The dominant influence of administrative life- as opposed to the private life (society) – will be weakened with decentralization. State must be under the influence of society. But the inverse relationship in the ottoman system would be changed through strengthening society (private life) with private enterprise and weakening the influence of state (administrative life) with decentralization. Moreover he sometimes refers to the” collectivist structure” as “state collectivist structure”. State is dominant in collectivist structure. This dominance is an unlucky one.

The organization of the administrative life must be depended on the conditions and requirements of private life. Decentralization will secure the weakening of the influence of the State. We have to pass from “State Collectivist Structure” to “Individualist Structure”. In other words from “Extreme Transcendentalism” to “Moderate Instrumental ism”. Society has to orient the State.

Demolins’s views on State are also another source on subject. Demolins refers to “Statist Patriotism” which occurs in France, Russia, Italy and Spain. These are the examples of “Statist Patriotism” which are depended on political desires. The most developed forms of Statist Patriotism are seen in societies which provide great authorities to central administration and to the public. This organization is in favor of the war. Because the tendency of officials in wide bureaucracy directed by administrators does not recognize any authority (will) out of the will of the State which pays their salaries. If the administrators of that kind of governments are generally in favor of the war: they prefer to fight for gaining or keeping power and for directing the attention of the people from the defectivenesses toward other directions.

As opposed to “Statist Patriotism” we see the patriotism of Anglo-Saxons. This patriotism is based on the independence of private life: individual defends his country for protecting his freedom. The reason for the existence of State is to facilitate his independence. They believe that the mother country is for men. But men are for the mother country in “statist patriotism”; Anglo-Saxons can easily leave their country. They carry off their countries with themselves and accept as their country any place which provides them freedom. The independent attitude which the colonies of England Empire have against mother country and disappearance of the tradition of war prove our claims. (Ramsaur, 1972:101-102)

Sabahaddin was an Ottomanist and reformist. He desired to change the tissue of the Ottoman Empire according to the requirements of the century. His thesis was the policy of enlivening and the formula of reformism. Ottoman society has to be kept alive. The policy of Islamic unity is necessary. Emperor is again caliph. The form of State is Constitutional Sultanate which is based on Constitution (Tunaya, 1950:174,176).

The aim of the revolution is to save the empire. A contemporary form has to be accepted for the Empire through adapting the new political circumstances of the time and thus the lifetime of the empire has to be prolonged. Only a constitutional government cannot provide these objectives. Reform that has to be done in this area must be more radical and broader. The form of administration also has to be changed from centralization toward decentralization. Empire has to be transformed into the form of “national community” which will be formed through the mutual wishes and decisions of the elements that form it. Thus Empire would be saved from dispersion (Kongar, 1932:95-96).

He will tell us the international position of the Ottoman Empire (Eastern Problem). According to the foreigners who have superficial views, the thing which keeps alive the Ottoman State was not its substance or vividness. There were two foundations of the Ottoman State: military and the competitions of the States. Sabahattin will say that Turks are not the tenants of their countries. Social developments of Turks will prove to the humanity that they are the real and legal owners of their countries. Thus Turks will individually solve the” Eastern Problem”. (Tunaya, 1979: 175)

It cannot be denied that Turks are an important balancing element for Muslim and Christian citizens. But for assuring this social advantage Turkey has to have a decentralized constitutional government. Ottoman Empire can assure the Ottoman Unity- within the social variousness of different elements within itself- only in this way (Ege, 1977:111)

Balkan nations who have been separated from Turks for a long time also need the society of Ottoman Empire which has been reformed. Because there is only Ottoman Empire against northern nations (that is Russia) who have greatest power against Balkan nations (Ege, 1977:110).

We must have a decentralized constitutional government which will suit local needs that are increasing, which will strengthen political centralization and create Ottoman Unity, which will develop social activities and which will provide sovereignty and national independence under the necessary presidency of the Ottoman Sultanate (Ege,1977:261).

In his opinion State is one of the points of support for individuals who have not their own point of support.

State is one of the points of support for individuals who have not individual freedom. Official services are thought of as more respectable than productive professions and moreover state officials are earning their living -more easily like in all other collectivist societies (Ege, 1977:348)

He has written also some notes about the establishment of the Ottoman State.

“Villagers who are the most basic and unchanged part of the Ottoman State are living collectively in the villages. Cavalrymen who established the State faced with village communities which are busy with agricultural activities in definite fields.”

“The provision of village fields to the villagers was assured by

cavalrymen at the beginning of the establishment of the State. Thus the presidency of the village communities was captured by the State, all agricultural land passed to the ownership of the State as state-owned land and farmer transformed to share-cropper who is dependent on village cavalryman. The instability of the organization of cavalrymen caused the unfastening of village communities through the deprivation of the power they highly needed.”(Ege, 1977:353-354).

  1. Bureaucracy

Sabahaddin was an intellectual who opposed bureaucratic intellectuals. His main criticism about bureaucracy is related to the officialism existing in the Ottoman State. The social structure of the Ottoman State -that is the dominance of administrative life upon the private life-should be changed for possessing a legal-rational bureaucracy. Intellectuals preferred administrative professions instead of productive ones because of the unnecessary and harmful wideness of the administrative life. It is impossible to change bureaucracy through the governmental and political activities. We could lessen the harmful effects of bureaucracy only through strengthening private life.

The base of the dominance of the Ottoman bureaucracy is the social structure of the society. This structure is feeding the Ottoman bureaucracy. Any regulation or change without changing the social structure of the society would transform the patrimonial bureaucracy into the legal-rational bureaucracy. In a country in which the administrative life is dominant, administrative officials certainly would have great power. The most -important characteristic of the Ottoman bureaucracy is its centralism. For transforming Ottoman bureaucracy first of all private enterprise should be supported and strengthened and after centralized administration should have to be transformed into the decentralized administration.

“Government is continuing to set new schools for expanding education. But attempt is being directed only by government and that government is trying to train public officials who will continue its career. The aim of the education it establishes is to train officials who will live through the salary payed from the government treasure without having any responsibility and performing any enterprise. Young men who obtain excellent diplomas from official schools cannot earn their living in careers which are out of the officialdom. Careers which are the fundamental base of the society like industry, agriculture and commerce are despised among Muslims. Greatest desire is to become government official” (Ege, 1977:87).

“We are seeking individual interest in officialdom instead of providing it through industry, agriculture and commerce which are the three sources of wealth. For living and becoming rich through personal interest it is necessary to have merits like knowledge, experience, effort, stability and precaution. Being deprived of these merits we want to become rich without working and to live without earning as a result of the education we had since the childhood and naturally we desire to become a public official.” (Ege, 1977:166)

“Public officials in every country act as a stooge to despotism because of their dependence upon a custom related to their duties. But the effects of them are much more negative in our country… Because we have not an effective and entrepreneurial class out of the administrative forces. Individuals who are most capable of forming this class are becoming public officials… And composing a consuming class under the protection of government. Producers are villagers, artisans and small merchants. Because of not owning material and moral capital they cannot develop their business and also cannot preserve their business under the oppression of government” (Ege, 1977:166)

“The whole of young men are earning their living through salary they provide from somewhere. Authors, teachers, soldiers, officials are compelled to seek their economic base upon the other point. We need these people. But these officials can operate in an environment which earns more than its expenses. But we are spending that we did not earn.” Ege, 1977:218)

“We are sending hundreds of students to Europe. What is its aim? To increase consuming persons in a society in which its producers are deprived of intellectuals, that is to increase the public officials of the State which cannot pay their salaries without loans and to go bankrupt rapidly.” (Ege, 1977:218)

“We may have educated public officials as well as we want in administrative affairs; we may also suppose that each of them is a genius. Will they supervise the agricultural activities and private lives of the villagers?.. Will they administer scientific farms?… Will they establish factories and firms?… (Ege, 1977:218)

“Conscientious and capable public officials may increase when the condition of progress is not the partisanship of political party but to perform fast and clean service within the circle of rules and order.”(Ege, 1977: 219)

“The single remedy for possessing an administrative duty in the government which has unnecessarily excessive public officials is not qualification but protection.” (Ege, 1977, 166)

“The positions of officers, judges, teachers and other civil officials are the same in Turkey; to say that they should not interest in politics means the administration of the country should not be kept by these officials. But administration is necessarily kept by the class of public officials in a collectivist country where the administrative life is dominant upon the private life. Oppressions, abuses and crisises again necessarily cause reactions and continuous political struggles without creating any fundamental change in social life.

The Army naturally interferes with these struggles; because it is the part within the class of officials that has especially been prepared for the war. Thus the position of the army that will regulate the internal politics and basing of the government upon the army prove that our society belongs to a weak social structure. In this unbalanced society it is impossible to hinder the occupation of the officers and the other public officials with politics.

The government which is strong, favorable to evolution and which does not need revolution for the correction of his errors should be based upon a strong private life that is created through individualist structure and thus the role of the army consists of its main duty.”(Ege, 1Q77: 361-363)

  1. Conclusion

Social Structure

EXTREME                                                                                              MODERATE

TRANSCENDENTALISM                                                                INSTRUMENTALISM

STATE                                                               State                             SOCIETY ORIENTATION

ORIENTATION                                                  Collectivist                     Individualist Structure






SOCIETY                              STATE                          SOCIETY         STATE


Life                                        Administrative                 Private             Administrative

Life                                  Life                  Life


Centralization                  Individualist     Decentralization



Abadan, Yavuz  “Ademi Merkeziyet Problemi” SBF Dergisi 2o.4(1965)

Berkes, Niyazi  Türk Düşününde Batı Sorunu. Istanbul, 1975. Bilgi Yayınevi

Ege,Nezahat   Prens Sabahaddin. Hayatı ve İlmi Müdafaaları. Istanbul,1977

Kongar, Emre   Türk Toplumbilimcileri I. Istanbul,1982. Remzi Kitabevi

Ramsaur, Ernest Jön Türkler ve 1908 İhtilali. Istanbul,1972. Sander Yayınları

Soysal, Mümtaz  “Hassasiyetle Cesaretin Ortası” Milliyet. 14 Ocak 1985.

Toros, Taha   “Ölümünün 100. Yılında Prens Sabahaddin” Milliyet, 16-21 Şubatl97

Tunaya, T. Zafer İnsan Derisiyle Kaplı Anayasa. İstanbul, 1979. Çağdaş Yayınları

By Bilge Tonyukuk Enstitüsü zaman: Ağustos 21, 2014

Düşünür, Araştırmacı Yazar, Şair. 1983 yılından buyana ihracat profesyoneli olarak çalışan Levent Ağaoğlu, 1997-2001 yılları arasında Hong Kong’da yaşadı; yaklaşan Büyük Asya Yüzyılı’nın ayak seslerini duydu hep. İsmail Gaspıralı’nın “Dil’de, Fikir’de; İş’te Birlik” idealinin peşinde koşarak Türk Evi, Düşünce ve İş Ocağı kitap serileri üzerinde çalışıyor; mütefekkir ve müteşebbis gözlem ve birikimlerini yazıya geçiriyor.


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