172. Today in 1920s Turkey: 6 January 1926 (To Love Civilization Is to Be Civilized)
(Serialized Column, Karagöz, 6 January 1926, no. 1858, page 4.)
Medeniyet Dersleri 26: Medeniyeti Sevmek Medeni Olmak Demektir
Bazı adamlar var, kafalarının içi çöp tenekesi gibi. Hep artık, yırtık, güdük, pis şeylerle dolu. Bunlar hallerine bakmazlar da ukala geçinirler. Mesela şimdi yılları değiştirdik. Eski 1341 senesi yerine bütün dünyanın kabul ettiği 1926 senesini kullanmaya başladık değil mi? Bu kuş beyinli hırdavat kafalılar ukalalık ederler.
— Sanki yılları, saatleri değiştirmekle medeni mi olacağız.
— Fesi çıkarıp şapka giymekle hemen medeni mi olduk. Asıl kafanın içini değiştirmeli efendim içini!
Böyle mantar kafalı zavallıcıkların kusuruna bakmayınız! Onlar evhamlı kabuslu, örümcekli kafalardır. Zannederler ki gök yüzünden medeniyet yağacak, yerden altın fışkıracak. Böyle budalalara karşı insanın:
— Hey sersem herifler. Diye haykıracağı gelir. Avrupa’nın bu günkü medeniyeti ne gökten indi ne yerden bitdi. Ancak ve ancak çalışmakla, kazanmakla oldu. Madem ki böyledir. Biz de onların yolunu tutacağız. Hazır önümüzde yol var. Niye duralım, herşeyi yaparız. Her yeni şeyi kaparız. Ama şapka, ama sinema, ama şimendifer, ama telsiz telegraf, ama telefon, medeniyete ait ne varsa hepsini sıralı sırasız, hangisine evvela elimiz değerse alırız. Biz şimdi serbestiz. Elimiz ayağımızı tutan taasup bağları ve saltanat belaları yok. Adeta büyük ve güzel eşya dolu bir sergi önünde gibiyiz. Her güzel gördüğümüzü kapıyoruz. Asıl medeniyet her güzel ve faydalı şeyi benimsemektir. Ona diş göstermek ve surat etmek degil, medeniyeti sevelim ağalar.
Matter of Note:
Lessons in Civilization 26: To Love Civilization Is to Be Civilized
There are some men whose heads are like trash bins, always full of useless, broken, dirty things. These (people) do not mind their own business and get by as know-it-alls. For instance, now we changed the years. Instead of the old 1341 year, we started using the year 1926 like the rest of the world, right? These bird-brained garbage heads (then) make wisecracks, like:
— As if we are going to become civilized by changing the year and changing the time.
— Did we immediately become civilized by removing the fez and wearing a hat? Gentlemen, we must change what’s inside the head (not what’s on it)!
Please excuse poor mushroom-headed people like these! These minds are full of fear, nightmares, and spiders. They think that civilization will rain down from the sky; that gold will flow from the ground. To these kinds of fools, one wants to shout:
— Hey, you stupid oaf! Europe’s modern civilization of today neither fell from the sky nor grew from the ground. It happened only with a lot of hard work and labor. Since this is the case, we are going to take their path. The path is already laid. Why should we keep still when we can do anything we’d like? We will grab every new thing. The hat, the cinema, the train, the wireless telegraph, the telephone, whatever belongs to modern civilization we’re taking it, no exceptions, whatever touches our hands first we’re taking it. We are now unrestricted. No longer are our hands and feet bound by fanatics and the menacing sultan. It is like we are at an exhibition full of beautiful and great things. We are taking everything we find beautiful. To be civilized is to accept all that is beneficial and good; not to bear our teeth or scowl at it. Folks, let’s love modern civilization.
Today’s column tackles the complicated subject of justifying the reform agenda of the new Kemalist regime which recently passed new legislation on a series of matters. Specifically, the new year of 1926 brought with it new methods of daily time-keeping practices and a new calendar (the Gregorian calendar or miladi takvim). These changes are part of a larger attempt at modernizing, secularizing, and nationalizing a nascent state motivated by ideological as well as practical concerns.
The column ridicules those who are questioning the logic of these reforms. The fact that such a matter required addressing suggests that a notable proportion of citizens, at least verbally, protested the change. The journal, which is in clear support of the regime and its legislative projects, defends these changes as necessary to advancing “our” civilization through a process of adopting the styles, practices, and technologies of the more advanced European societies. The bi-weekly publication, Karagöz is a self-proclaimed “political and satirical people’s gazette” (siyasi mizahi halk gazetesi), which explains their satirical style of persuasion as well as their preoccupation with dissenters whose opinions threaten to influence the masses. Thus, informing the halk/people is one of the paper’s main objectives. For another example of how Karagöz engages in bridging the gap between these reforms and the people is the PSA announcement featured alongside this column (see image below), a longer explanation of which can be found in the previous 1920 Turkey post: #171. PSA: Pay Attention to the New Time!
Ultimately, the column reproaches those who question material or otherwise superficial change in general and invites people to accept or be open to novelty as a way of life. The author believes that this openness and affection for modern civilization will aid in advancing national life and interests in the long term. The greater scope of these efforts is reflected in the serialized nature of the current column on the subject of "(modern) civilization," which is in its 26th installment.
(Entire page, Karagöz, 6 January 1926, no. 1858, page 4. Hakkı Tarık Us Collection, Beyazıt Library, Istanbul.)