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Necip Fazıl’s Utopia of the “Supreme Rulership State”

Turkish poet and Islamist ideologue Necip Fazıl Kisakurek, (May 26, 1904 – May 25, 1983) explained his utopia of the state under the name “Supreme Rulership State” and detailed how this regime would be.

The state he envisioned was structured similarly to a single-man regime. In the context of Turkey’s new structure that emerged after July 15th, it is worth considering whether Necip Fazıl’s dream is determining.

A UTOPIA

While the TDK Dictionary defines the word “utopia” as “an impossible plan and idea,” ‘Kubbealtı Lexicon’ defines it as “a non-existent, but desired order, an impossible plan, idea, or concept.” In the Nişanyan Dictionary, it is explained as a “fictional country designed to express a political ideal.” The concept of “utopia” was first used by the English writer and politician Thomas More (1478-1535) in the title of his book published in 1516.

Necip Fazıl shaped his “Supreme Rulership State” utopia within the framework of his “Great East” thought, which he presented in his works and articles. In the preface to his book “İdeolocya Örgüsü” (The Fabric of Ideology), where this ideal is presented, he will say, “This work is my entire existence, the wisdom of my body, everything about me,” and emphasize that it is his “major work.” However, he used similar expressions not only for this work but also for his books “Çile” (Suffering), “Çöle İnen Nur” (The Light Descending to the Desert), and “Bir Adam Yaratmak” (Creating a Man).

In the book, Kısakürek uses expressions like “the plan book of revolution,” “Islamic revolution,” and “the essence of revolution” instead of “utopia” or “ideology.” Therefore, he wants an “Islamic revolution” with this work and aims to open a new page. In contrast, he stated that due to the conditions of the era, this revolution was a “spiritual and intellectual revolution.”

Although the first edition of the book was published in 1959, it is possible to trace its content back to 1943 when ‘Büyük Doğu’ was first published. The number of pages, which was one hundred and sixty in the first edition of the book, has also increased in parallel with the expansion of its content.

The Great East, which forms the basis of his ideology, represents “the Muslim Turk, Turkey, and the Ottoman Empire in reverse.” However, in a broader sense, the Great East is the entire Islamic world with Turkey at the center. Because “the Great East is the command post of Islam.” His words, “The emergence can only be expected from a Turk. Only a Turk can be corrected by a Turk. When a Turk is corrected, everything is corrected everywhere,” are a summary of his view of Turkey.

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In this book, Necip Fazıl outlined all the basic features of the Supreme Rulership State, which can be referred to as the “constitution” of this utopia. He first described the design of the “Supreme Rulership State” in a series of articles published in Büyük Doğu, which continued for ten issues in 1946; he explained the structure, functioning, and basic institutions of this state.

In subsequent years, there are also writings on this subject, and it can be seen that its final form is given in the book “İdeolocya Örgüsü.” The fundamental quality of this state is that it has a regime where divine commands are applied. The commands of the Quran constitute the constitution of the state, and the understanding of “sovereignty belongs to the nation” has been replaced by the understanding of “sovereignty belongs to the right.”

Although the utopia of the Supreme Rulership State is comprehensive, covering everything from villages to universities, in this article, we will focus only on the Supreme Ruler and the Assembly of the Supreme.

WHAT IS A SUPREME RULER LIKE?

In the Supreme Rulership State, the head of state is the Supreme Ruler. Although there are organs in the state such as the Prime Minister, the Supreme Rulership Government, and the Council of Ministers, the sole decision-maker is the Supreme Ruler himself. It is likely that Necip Fazıl thought of himself for this role and made himself the “sole decision authority.”

He presents this system as a “completely new and unique example” and as “the most advanced and ideal form of republicanism.” The most important organs of this state are the Supreme Ruler and the Assembly of the Supreme.

Kısakürek states that the Supreme Ruler represents “the will,” and the assembly represents “the conscience,” and claims that with the harmony of these two organs, freedom and discipline, which “democracy can never achieve,” will be ensured. The Supreme Ruler is defined as “a chosen individual.” He is the one chosen and embraced by society and the nation, setting an example by keeping his ego at the lowest level.

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The Supreme Ruler, who is a “perfect individual” and “transcendent above the nation,” is the greatest authority and executive office described as “the authority of command” in Islam. However, for the implementation of this system, a Constituent Assembly is necessary. The Constituent Assembly is the Assembly of the Supreme, and it has the right to nominate candidates for the “Supreme Ruler election.”

The Supreme Ruler is elected by the people through a single-stage election for five years, and he has the right to be re-elected. However, in the 1976 edition of Kısakürek’s book, he abandoned the idea of elections and stated that the Assembly of the Supreme would conduct the election. Since there is no age limit for the Supreme Ruler, he can remain in office until his death.

Necip Fazıl placed the Supreme Ruler in such a position that he gave him the right to determine the person who would succeed him before his death, illness, or resignation.

Another important organ of the Supreme Rulership State is the Assembly of the Supreme. The assembly will consist of individuals who are “capable of thought, action, work, discovery, vision, composition, and advocacy in thought, art, science, politics, positive knowledge, military affairs, administration…” In this sense, it can be said that the assembly paves the way for an “intellectual aristocracy.”

The assembly is composed of individuals who are “the best thinkers and the best doers” in society. As can be seen, Necip Fazıl always adds practice and action in every definition. This is related to the fact that his “action” aspect is always prominent.

On the wall of the Assembly of the Supreme, “Sovereignty Belongs to God” will be written. As can be guessed, Kısakürek replaces the parliament with the assembly and makes it the second power after the Supreme Ruler. However, unlike the parliament, the Assembly of the Supreme does not have the authority to make laws.

Necip Fazıl describes the members of the Assembly of the Supreme as individuals with strong spiritual qualities. They should be “sincere in faith and morality” and should not lead a selfish and egotistical life.

Direct appointment to the Assembly of the Supreme is not possible. Some of the members of the assembly are selected from among those trained in the “Academy of the Supreme Ruler,” while others are appointed as candidates and then as members from among the country’s leading figures. The one making these choices is, of course, the Supreme Ruler. The ages of the members of the assembly should be between forty and sixty-five.

Necip Fazıl also gives the Assembly of the Supreme the right to remove the Supreme Ruler from office with the approval of seventy-five percent of its members and to appoint one of its members as a temporary replacement. He determines the number of the supremes in the assembly according to the population. The Supreme Rulership Government is composed of “one Prime Minister (Prime Minister) and eleven ministers,” although it is interesting that the ministers are directly responsible to the Supreme Ruler despite the presence of the Prime Minister.

IS TURKEY A SUPREME RULERSHIP REGIME?

Necip Fazıl established the Great East Society with the aim of turning it into a political party and even held outdoor meetings. Although he could never achieve this goal, as we have discussed in a previous article, he would establish connections, not always positive, with the leaders of DP, AP, MSP, and MHP. His persistent dialogues can be explained by his search for an opportunity to realize the utopia he presented. His support for the September 12th, 1980 coup is related to this.

It can be understood that the utopia of the Supreme Rulership State is also due to the conditions of the era in which it lived. For example, the expression “Supreme Ruler” seems to correspond to the epithets used for Atatürk, such as “Yüce Atatürk” (The Supreme Atatürk) and “Ulu Önder” (Great Leader). It is interesting that Necip Fazıl established the institution of Supreme Ruler, which can be described as a “dictator” to an extent that can be called “extraordinary authority,” in opposition to the “powerful Atatürk” figure that he constantly criticized.

Therefore, “Supreme Rulership” was thought of as a charismatic and authoritarian leader, being in a position similar to “Eternal Leader Atatürk” and “National Leader İnönü,” and he is seen as a “savior, hero, and genuine leader.”

In addition to Necip Fazıl’s complaints about the “state bureaucracy” created by the CHP and continued in the subsequent period, it is noteworthy that he also designed the Assembly of the Supreme as another bureaucracy.

One of the reasons that the Supreme Rulership State is considered a “utopia” can be shown as Necip Fazıl’s intention to inform the Supreme Ruler about the problems of the people through the People’s Court, which he designed to achieve this. Inspired by practices in the Seljuk and Ottoman states that allowed the public to directly convey their grievances to the ruler, he introduced it as a “superior invention,” despite its clear origins.

Like the examples in Seljuk and Ottoman history, the People’s Court will be held openly to everyone on certain days of the year in the Supreme Ruler’s Palace in the Supreme Rulership State. The purpose is for those who have conveyed their problems to various authorities but have not obtained a solution to directly inform the Supreme Ruler of their complaints.

Detailed research is needed to understand how Necip Fazıl’s utopia of the Supreme Rulership State influenced Islamist politics. Especially the shift from the initial democratic rhetoric of the AKP to a “presidential government system” with extensive powers that cannot be questioned, the use of the term “complex” for universities, which Necip Fazıl used, being given to Beştepe Palace, and the establishment of a “council of advisors” similar to the Assembly of the Supreme raise questions about the “Supreme Rulership State.”

In conclusion, although Necip Fazıl described it as the “most advanced form of republicanism,” the Supreme Rulership regime is not democratic, allowing one person to govern the country until death. This can be explained by Necip Fazıl’s expectation of a “genuine hero” who the nation has been waiting for centuries, instead of “fake heroes.”

Furthermore, considering the emphasis on subjective factors such as the Supreme Ruler being described as a “perfect individual, the wisest, the most knowledgeable,” and the members of the Assembly of the Supreme being required to be “faithful, moral, and sincere” and not leading a selfish life, it can be seen that subjective aspects are prominent almost everywhere.

Selected References: N. F. Kısakürek, İdeolocya Örgüsü, İstanbul, Büyük Doğu, 2018; M. Salimoğlu, Ötekilerin Cumhuriyeti: Necip Fazıl Kısakürek’in Başyücelik Devlet Tasarımı, AÜ SBE Doktora Tezi, Ankara, 2020; Necip Fazıl Kitabı, İstanbul, Zeytinburnu Belediyesi, 2015; A. İşler, “Türkiye’de Muhafazakâr Düşünürlerin Ütopik Devlet Anlayışları: Necip Fazıl Kısakürek ve Sezai Karakoç Örneği”, 3. UTAS Sempozyumu, Van, 2021.

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DR.YUKSEL NIZAMOGLU
DR.YUKSEL NIZAMOGLU
Dr. Yüksel Nizamoğlu is an Historian focuses on Ottoman Balkans, Middle East Studies, and Military History. PhD. 2010. Istanbul University.
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