Psychology of Turks

Mar 19, 2020 | Interview |

by Professor Erol Göka

© Copyright photo by Levent Ağaoğlu, Malta Bazaar, Fatih, 1975

Psychology of Turks A historical psychological study. But when we look at the resulting picture, it is understood that the Turks are a warlike, nomadic nation that carries civilization rather than creating civilization, is obedient, fond of ostentatious and pompous. Aren’t these some negative traits? (Isn’t a Turk worth the world?)

So that’s what it looks like from where you look? Also, there have been so many publications against the Turks in the last period that in my work, when faced with determinations that do not glorify the Turks, “Is this it?” the reader may say. My books on the Turks came out at a time when the Turks were trying to be stabbed and the article 301 was being discussed.

Some men, who thought they were funny, tried to make fun of the so-called Turks, Turkishness, in the articles they wrote. The behavior of our people, which they make fun of, which we can completely explain in terms of socio-economic or historical conditions. Our people have been destroyed. You migrated to big cities in a very short time like twenty years, people living in the patterns of tradition in Anatolia.

Urbanites lost their old traditional behavior patterns before they could gain new behavior patterns. It was unfortunate that my works, which were the product of years of effort, came out when the books that made fun of people trying to hold on to life came out. But now the reader knows us, knows the scientific orientation of our work and the sincerity of our intentions. Also, aren’t you bored of the hostility Ms.Handan ? I’m so bored, I want the skullcap now.

My job as a scientist is to put on a skullcap. Besides, I am a Turkish intellectual. I am in favor of the modernization of the Turks, and I do not think that modernity will “make us not who we are”. Just as we have been Islamized according to ourselves, we will modernize according to ourselves. This is how it will be, whether we want it or not. I am in favor of the modernization of the Turks because modernity now determines the basic orientation of humanity. Societies will modernize. I am TurksI want them to make their own modernization quickly.

This is an attitude in favor of the Turks. Showing the fetters that hinder our modernization efforts as Turks, saying let’s get rid of them as soon as possible, calling for an intense reflection on what our negative sides are and how they can change and transform… These are what I am trying to do.

You say  that the carelessness of the Turks towards their language is an expression of their tolerance that hurts them. If you have to interpret it as a psychiatrist, do we have a lack of “self-esteem”? Some kind of inferiority complex? If so, what is its historical background? Why do we oscillate between extremes of self-esteem and underestimation?

No, don’t do it, it’s not exactly like that, no such conclusion can be drawn from what I said about our carelessness to our language. You journalists are more stuck in the present. I am trying to make observations that span the entire Turkish history and draw conclusions from it. Interestingly, the Turks have strived for “world domination” in every historical period, and they thought that they would find relief when they conquered the whole world.

Don’t look at the wretchedness of our situation, our unconscious wants it now. A community with such great desire can get into strange moods when it begins to perceive the reality of the current situation a little. I guess it’s this kind of mood that you call oscillating between extremes.

– How would you describe the Turkish identity? Is geography the common denominator here? religion? language? Who is Turkish?

Hmm, for one thing, we cannot talk about a generally accepted identity as “Turkish identity”. First of all, we must reveal which Turkish identity it is. There are currently two Turkish identities. One includes everyone living within the borders of the Republic of Turkey, our legal system calls all citizens, whom it says to be free and equal, “Turks”. There is also an “ethnic Turkish identity”. The identity of people who feel ethnically and historically Turkish. These are the people I have studied in my books, namely ethnic Turks.

If you are asking what determines the ethnic Turkish identity, my answer is very clearly the mother tongue, Turkish. Old Turkish beliefs and ethnic identity are also very important, but it is the mother tongue that determines it and transfers it to generations. In this case, the people we call ethnically Turkish are those whose mother tongue is Turkish, in the shortest definition.

By the way, thanks to you, we have also said that being Turkish does not mean being from one race. It’s very important here. Even academics in Turkey are talking about a race when they talk about ethnicity. However, ethnicity does not mean race, it is an identity situation formed by the mother tongue and the basic beliefs stemming from the common life culture throughout a long history.

Who is the “other” for a Turk? Kurdish? Armenian? Arab? American? Or is it European?

“Turk” has two kinds of “other”. One is the neighboring Turkish tribes, that is, Turks who are not of his tribe; the other is because of the Turks’ desire to dominate the world and rule the world, he was the greatest power person in the world at that time. We can call this latter the “absolute other” of the Turk. The “absolute other” of the “Turk” is the one who prevents his world domination, that is, the one who is dominant in the world at that moment.

This choice of “absolute other” probably stems from the old beliefs of the Turks, which placed themselves at the center of the world and their rulers, the representatives of the Gök-God, in the management of the world, the difficult natural conditions they lived in, and the mood created by being surrounded by crowded Chinese. Our ancestors probably thought that the Chinese made up the rest of the World.

They thought that they had no choice but to dominate the whole world in order to survive in this difficult world and to have the products of their civilization. Material conditions determined both their desire to rule and their warrior spirit. This mood has been passed on to generations, and has survived to the present day by transforming into Turkish group behavior. We always wanted to dominate the world, but for some reason we always started from our brother right next to us.

The fact that our “other” is another Turk makes our history the history of sibling rivalries. The fact that our “absolute other” was dominant in the world at that time causes problems in our foreign policy. Now do you understand why “Europe, Europe hear our voice in the matches. “These are the footsteps of the incoming Turks”? Why do most Turks dislike the USA at all? Why do science fictions about the war between the Turks and the Americas attract the attention of our people and sell well?

– You say that one of the most important features of the psychology of Turks is that Turks never become fond of their identities and languages? Doesn’t the emphasis on “Turkish identity” lie behind many of the contradictions we experience in our own geography today?

As a requirement of their role in the history of civilization, Turks are tolerant towards other civilizations, religions and languages. Tolerance can sometimes reach the level of indifference or indifference. The basis on which I base our not being as fond of our identity and language as other ethnic communities stems from our role in the history of this civilization. Yes, contrary to popular belief, Turks are not ethnic and religious fanatics. But they are also human after all, they have an ethnic identity to protect in the final analysis.

The reason why Turks appear as ethnic and religious fanatics in today’s panorama is another feature of them, although in reality it is the opposite. Because of their segmented social structure, they cannot get rid of sociopathy. Our society is constantly producing mafioso formations, sociopathic gangs. The actions of these gangs are being attributed to the Turks. When we compare what is going on in our country with other parts of the world that are experiencing ethnic turmoil and bloodshed, it can be better understood what I mean.

– What is the importance of nomadism in Turkish psychology? You say we were nomads until 200 centuries ago. That’s why you say our cities are like construction sites. Can’t we get rid of the feeling of nomadism?

No, we were not saved. Worse still, there is no glimmer of hope that we will be saved any time soon. The mood and mentality of the nomad is completely different from that of the settled person. It seems as if it will take centuries for us to learn about settled, urban life. In fact, settled cultures were able to learn the necessities of settled life after centuries.

– Is nomadism the reason why the first question we asked each other was “Where are you from”?

Yes, without any doubt, it is from nomadism that we keep asking those who come before us, saying that “it is not a shame to ask”.

– You point to nomadism as the reason why Turks cannot produce philosophy? Is established order necessary to produce philosophy? Or isn’t the time period when we settled down enough to start producing philosophy?

The nomad thinks but does not produce philosophical thought, because he does not need it. It is necessary to stop for contemplation, for philosophical thought, to concentrate and record thoughts on a certain point. In the verbal mind of the nomad, whose body is constantly changing, there is no need for a mental migration in the volatile verbal mind of the nomad, it is sufficient to try to understand the place and time he is in.

Also, the nomad is not good with writing; he is a person of oral culture and love. The brain of the oral culture person is very different from the one living in the written culture. It is because of all these that we do not have a thinker who can reflect what is unique to us in the history of thought and philosophy or who can make a name for himself as a Turk. Of course, there were thinkers of Turkish origin such as Farabi and Ibn Sina in the history of Islam, but they werethey are not rightly referred to by their ethnic origin, they are considered within the Islamic thought.

– Doesn’t the feeling of nomadism also bring a constant feeling of anxiety? To have nowhere. No sense of belonging anywhere?

Of course, nomadism means living in a constant state of anxiety. Some romantic writers bless nomadism for living in the bosom of nature, but out of ignorance. If they had tried to live with the nomads, they would not have lasted a day.

According to your interpretation, the feeling of “Let them say this for me” is important for Turks. Is it caused by some kind of feeling of worthlessness, or is our sense of worth something visual rather than internal?

No, Ms. Handan, it’s not because of a sense of worthlessness, it’s because of a cultural code. We Turks are people of the pre-capitalist potlatch culture. Even the most bourgeois of us lacks the rationality of the market. Whether we are rich or poor, we do what we do to show others, to show off, to brag.

Why do Turks prefer chatting to reading?

Don’t forget to read, you need to be literate to read, and that’s why you need to be good with writing. However, we belong to the oral culture, we love to talk. Research now clearly shows that people of oral culture have a different brain structure than people of written culture. For this reason, we are not good with writing, we want our children to be educated, but we do not see reading itself as a good thing.

Are you saying that Turks received only 2000 patents in 130 years, and none of them contributed to world science and technology? What is the reason of this?

Our oral culture and our nomadism… Although we have trained important scientists for the world of science, we still cannot be creative. Civilization “watch the best, the strongest, the newest!” We’re trying to catch up with the formula. There is no real scientific initiative, the transmission mentality continues. Regardless of whether we can digest all the products of civilization, we are scrambling, but we do not develop it ourselves. This is why we flock to the technology fairs opened by Western countries in our country, and when there is a cheapness campaign for the devices that come out with the latest technology, we crush each other. We love the technology itself, but we don’t contribute to it. Despite our long and undoubtedly glorious history, we are perhaps the only great nation that, as Talat Halman said, has not made a single scientific invention, not a single geographical discovery.

– You say that oral culture is the biggest obstacle to modernization and it develops not the personal conscience but the social and external conscience. Is our conscience also for others?

There is a connection between writing and the internalization of conscience. Writing causes a brain development that enables us to look at ourselves and others as separate entities and to make relatively objective evaluations. In oral culture, on the other hand, what the inner conscience does, can provide custom or command. This is what we call external conscience. Therefore, the Turks, who can establish the most regular armies in the world, are unable to advance in traffic by respecting each other.

–  What is potlatch culture? What is its importance in Turkish psychology?

Potlatch culture is a concept used to describe the relationship systems in the pre-capitalist world. In full Turkish, it can be called “han-ı loot”. In this culture, obedience, glory, honour, ostentation and pomp are more important than anything else, rather than market rationality. On the face of it, there are positive aspects such as brotherhood and solidarity. Westerners have been struggling for hundreds of years to transition from potlatch culture to capitalism. We, on the other hand, have not yet realized that we are immersed in the potlatch culture up to our necks.

– Do Turks really skip grades more easily than other nationalities? Why do you think ostentation and pomp are a characteristic of Turkish psychology?

Easy skipping is also a feature of potlatch culture. The absence of a deep-rooted bourgeois class in Turkey, the constant change of our top taxpayers, the formation of our wealthy people are obvious examples of easy class advancement. The passion for ostentation and pomp is constantly flowing through us everywhere, from birth to weddings, from our curiosity about buying a house and furnishing it badly, to our competition to send our children to luxury schools, and even to the mawlid ceremonies that are taught after death.

– How do you explain the fact that sibling rivalries are more common in our geography than in other geographies?

There are two reasons for this. The first is our warrior mentality, which tries to solve every problem by destroying the one in front of us, and the other is our lineage-style organization and the inability to establish a civilization of our own. Until the Republic, we were accustomed to rule with the strongest neck to the head. We both obeyed but did not fully embrace the rulers. The fact that the rulers were both tolerant and receptive and close to other civilizations and other communities in order to realize the great Turkish ideal and to dominate the world, always drew the anger of the tribes that were not in the administration.

– You say that meeting with Islam added vitality to the structure of the Turks, who were doomed to disintegrate. How did Islam achieve this?

We have always been lost among other civilizations due to our feature of not claiming our language and identity. Until he entered the circle of Islam. For example, we see in our earliest inscriptions that some of our Ancestors dissolved into Chinese culture. We all know that those of us who went to the west from the north of the Caspian became Christians and evaporated. We would have ended up like them, but the fact that almost the entire Turkish world became Muslim, thanks to his easy reconciliation with both our previous beliefs and our warrior mentality, prevented our extinction process. The fact that we became the head of Islam very soon after converting to Islam and that we started to strive for Islamic civilization provided opportunities for the solution of many of our fundamental problems.

– Well, but you also say: The sibling rivalry, which is thought to be reduced by entering under the roof of religion, has survived to the present day by taking on an Islamic guise and taking the name of the Alawite-Sunni fight. Is not there a contradiction here?

No, there is no contradiction. When the Turks converted to Islam, a brand new situation arose in their history. For the first time, the white-bud and the black-bud were united in the same belief system. However, because the Turks became Muslims, segmentary social structures did not suddenly change. While the dominant tribes preferred Sunni Islam in Muslim Turkish states such as Karahanlı, Gazneli, Harezmli, Seljuk and Ottoman, other tribes both embraced their old beliefs and embraced Hz. They moved to the pro-Ali opposition wing. The efforts of the dominant tribes to settle and settle the nomadic Turks also increased this conflict. We are still experiencing the troubles and pains of the same process.

– Why do Turks really like picnics so much?

Many evaluations can be made on this subject, and each of them may have some justification. But according to my analysis, our old beliefs play a major role in our love of picnics, as do many of our behaviors. Following the call of our old beliefs from centuries ago, we put the sanctity that we attribute to trees, forests and water on our agenda again during the picnic experience.

– Is there anything you want to add?

The themes and evaluations I have made in “Psychology of the Turks” are explained in a very convincing way, I think. But I admit that this topic is quite complicated and controversial. For this reason, in my previous books “Turkish Group Behavior” and “Human Part Part” I have discussed at length the methodological problems of studying large communities. I would recommend to the still unconvinced and curious readers to go to these books.



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