The Old Republic Inhabits the New Republic
The Transition From the One-Party to the Multiparty Regime
In this chapter, I shall explain how the move from a one-party to a multiparty regime vivified both district networks and coastal coalitions. Leading individuals from the Selimoğlu and the Muradoğlu once again came to dominate public life as each aligned himself with one of two national political parties. This development illustrates how the behavioral foundations of the old state society remained in place during the first two decades of the Turkish Republic despite the revolution in public culture.
In April 1945, the National Assembly in Ankara ratified the Charter of the United Nations, confirming membership of the Turkish Republic in that international organization. At the time, some members of the Republican People's Party were already recommending reforms that would bring Turkey into closer alignment with the democratic principles of the new international organization. Then, on November 1, 1945, President İİsmet İİnönü gave a speech to the National Assembly in which he announced a change in the political system. Opposition parties would soon be allowed to form, after which free and direct elections would occur.
Although the first "free and direct" elections would be held only a few months after İİnönü's speech, it would be some years before the RPP allowed itself to be challenged by the opposition. At the national level, some party leaders remained vigorously opposed to any weakening of the one-party system, seeing it as the instrument by which the state could both guide and mold the population. And at the local level, many party members of the RPP were loath to contemplate any changes that would upset the framework of patronage and clientage associated with the RPP. The district of Of provides a case in point.
In the summer of 1945, the president of the Republic was traveling by motorcade along the eastern Black Sea coast. Arriving in the town of Of, his entourage stopped in order to offer encouragement to local party activists. During the brief visit, I was told, Mehmet Sayıın was presented to İİsmet Pasha [sic], who greeted him warmly. As my interlocutor recollected this occasion, he remarked, "It was then that we knew for sure that he had been 'chosen' (seçilmiş) [to represent the province of Trabzon in the National Assembly]." As for Mehmet, one can guess that he had been calculating his chances for some years. And in doing so, he would have understood that his rise to national prominence was contingent on firm control of his local political base, whether there was a one-party or a multiparty system. And so he had already begun thinking of himself as a leading individual from a large family grouping. Before examining how he did so, I must first explain the obstacles to his transformation.
Rivalries among the Family Line
Mehmet could only become the key figure in a circle of interpersonal association with the support of the Selimoğlu. But his family line carried a heavy burden of history. The sets (takıımlar) of the Selimoğlu had vied with one another for prominence. On rare occasions, they had come into serious conflict with one another. So Mehmet could not just assume that all the members of his family line would support him. He would have to take steps to address an undertow of resentments and jealousies.
One of the most serious incidents had taken place during the interregnum between the Empire and Republic in the home village of the Selimoğlu. Sometime in 1922, a young man of the family line had abducted (kaçıırdıı) a young woman of the family line with the intention of marrying her. In response, another young man of the family line organized a party of men and succeeded in taking back the young woman. Afterward, it was discovered that the abductor had sexual relations with her (onu bozdu), thereby ruining her chances for a suitable match in the future. Thus began a series of events that concluded with the shooting and death of a friend of the abductor, yet another young man of the family line, but a resident of the town of Of, not the home village. One of my acquaintances told me the story in the 1960s in order to explain the cleavages in the family line. In the citations of my field notes that follow, I have substituted the terms "the abductor," "the rescuer," and "the friend" in brackets whenever my interlocutor mentioned the personal names of those involved:
At the time of the kidnapping, the government was weak and self-help was common. All the men in the district of Of used to go about armed with pistols and rifles. One could not depend on the police or the courts for justice, and the resort to weapons was not all that uncommon. So when the woman was at last taken back to her family [by the rescuer], and it became known that she had been raped, there was plenty of anger all around and a good chance of further trouble. For his part, [the abductor] of the woman set about to take revenge on [the rescuer] for having taken her back.
Some years before, [the rescuer] had been appointed as a minor official in charge of a government warehouse. Taking advantage of his position, he had sold all the goods that were stored there, pocketed the money, and then burned the warehouse to cover his tracks. Knowing this, [the abductor] began to urge Rasih Efendi [the father of his friend] to go to the government with this story of theft and arson. After he did so, [the rescuer] was soon arrested and brought to trial. However, on the very day he was taken by the gendarmes to appear in court, he evaded his guards, escaped through a back door, and went into hiding in the mountains.
As we have seen in earlier chapters, gender relations played an important role in social standing in the district of Of. Setting aside the issue of emotional attachments, of fathers and daughters as well as of young men and women, the arrangement of marriages was the very stuff of interpersonal association, and hence of district social networks. Ultimately, there could be no leading individuals, and thus no large family groupings, without the regulation of the giving and receiving of women in marriage. An abduction of a young woman would have normally ended in a settlement between the two families involved. The rescue of the young woman made such an outcome less likely on this occasion, but it still would have been possible for a settlement to be reached. When the rape became public knowledge, it became a genuine challenge, if not impossible, to bring the aggrieved parties into agreement. The informing of the police, however, represented a serious deterioration of the situation. Once the quarrel fell into the hands of state officials, it was almost impossible for the members of the family line to resolve it. Then, a chance incident caused a bitter division between the sets of the family line, both those in the village and those in the town. My interlocutor gave me the following account:
During the following summer, [the rescuer] began to roam about the highland pastures (yayla) with a gang of armed men looking for trou-ble. One day, by chance, as they were loitering about a mosque in one of the summer settlements, by a bad turn of luck, their worst enemies happened to come along, [the abductor] and his friend [the son of Rasih Efendi, the informer]. The two men came by singly, one about a hundred meters behind the other, [first the friend and then the abductor]. After [the friend] had passed the mosque, the party of [the rescuer] began firing on him, striking him once in the shoulder. Both [the abductor] and [the friend] fell to the ground and returned the fire so that [the rescuer] and his group took cover near the mosque. But now another member of their party, who had been napping in a nearby house, was awakened by the shots. Taking his rifle, he came out to discover [the friend of the abductor] lying on the ground before his house, firing at his comrades near the mosque. There and then he shot [the friend of the abductor] dead from behind. Hearing the gunfire, a number of women had by now come out of the houses in an effort to stop the fighting. Seeing that [the friend of the abductor] was already dead, they brought rugs (kilim), wrapped both [the abductor] and [the friend] in them, and carried their bodies away as though both were dead. [The rescuer] and his group wanted to assure themselves that the two of them had been killed, but the women would not allow them to do so. [The abductor] had not even been hit once, and so the women were able to save him. As for the party of [the rescuer], they went out in the highland pastures to dance and sing in celebration of having killed their enemies.
After the murder, supporters of the two sides traded charges and countercharges, each blaming the other for the outbreak of violence. Although the principals were reputed troublemakers, the dispute focused on the question of who had or had not conformed with social norms:
Some said that [the friend] had said "selamün aleyküm" to the party of [the rescuer] as he passed them, but had received no "aleyküm selam" in return; even so, he continued on his way minding his own business. Others said [the friend of the abductor] did not say "selamün aleyküm," but passed by without speaking and then started to fire at them from a distance. Still others said that [the friend of the abductor] had said, "I will fuck the mothers and daughters of the lot of you!" (Topunuzun anasıınıı avradıınıı sikeceğim!) The party of [the rescuer] themselves offered excuses. "Why should we have attacked him? They were only two and we were many. We had nothing to fear."
By the preceding account, the abduction and recovery of the young woman had moved into the background as a justification. In their place, the principals traded accusations of impropriety. This shift of attention probably began to occur even as the news of the shooting reached the village and the town. The abduction and rescue had spiraled out of control, threatening the solidarity of the family line, and even the hierarchy of social relations in the district of Of. My inter locutor concluded his account by describing the falling out of the members of the family line, as well as the criticism of Ferhat Agha:
When the news reached the Selimoğlu in the district center, they were furious with the Selimoğlu of the village [because a senseless quarrel in the village had resulted in the death of the son of a prominent individual of the family line in the town]. Young men of the Selimoğlu in the district center broke the windows in a house that was owned by the father of [the rescuer], and they tried to catch his brother, who was able to escape to Sürmene by boat. To demonstrate their friendship [with the Selimoğlu of the district center], their friends and allies came from their villages and offered to help track down [the rescuer]. Rasih Efendi was of course especially upset about the murder of his son, and his three surviving sons were no less upset. They openly blamed Ferhat Agha for allowing such a thing to happen, not only in his area, but also in his family line, for which he was held responsible.
My interlocutor then concluded his story by describing how its legacy of bitter memories scarred the relationships of members of the family line for years to come:
[The rescuer], who was held responsible for the death of [the friend of the abductor], was eventually caught and sentenced to a long jail term, but freed a few years later by amnesty. His close relatives [among the Selimoğlu of the village] did not come to the town for several years, and [the rescuer] himself did not dare show his face there until after the death of Ferhat Agha in 1931.
At the time, Mehmet was situated exactly in the middle of all those members of his family line in the village who had been involved. He was a close paternal cousin of the rescuer, and so also of the father of the young woman who had been abducted. At the same time, he was also the maternal half-brother of the friend who had been murdered, and so also close to those who had abducted the young woman and then informed on the rescuer. During the 1930s, after Mehmet had become mayor, the memory of the abduction, rescue, and murder complicated his relationships with the sets of the family line in the town. As I have explained, the sons of Rasih Efendi and descendants of Ferhat Agha had been angered by the members of the family line in the village, just as their relationships with one another had been embittered when the former blamed the latter for not insuring the peace.
So Mehmet did not have the best relations with the sons of Rasih Efendi (his half-brothers) because of his connections with the rescuer and his associates, and he did not have the best relations with the descendants of Ferhat Agha since he was connected with the sons of Rasih. All these hard feelings were compounded by the fact that he, an obscure member of the family line from the village, had become mayor, rather than a prominent member of the family line from the town. So Mehmet was more or less distrusted by all the sets of the family line in both the town and the village. But he was also in a position to ally himself with any set of the family line, since he was equally close to all, even as he was equally distant. During the 1930s, his relations with his agnates appear to have been more in the register of distrust than alliance. He had chosen a surname different from all his agnatic relatives. He had managed to garner for himself almost every public office open to a local resident, in effect preventing his agnates from doing so. In acquiring these public offices, moreover, he had brought about the dismissal of a Selimoğlu on more than one occasion, giving rise to resentment among both the descendants of Ferhat Agha and the sons of Rasih Efendi. By the early 1940s, he had begun to work with individuals of these two sets of the family line, but he could not yet be described as a leading individual from a large family grouping.
Mehmet Bey and the Descendants of Ferhat Agha in the Elections of 1946
By the winter of 1945, Mehmet was still contemplating his elevation to the National Assembly sometime during the general national elections, then formally scheduled for 1947. At the same time, he had just become aware that he might have to face an opponent in what might well be a free and direct election. It was in this context that he made a decisive move to become the leading individual of his large family grouping. During a meeting of the executive council of the local branch of the RPP, Mehmet surrendered his membership and chairmanship in that governing body. On this same occasion, a son of Rasih Efendi and a son of Ferhat Agha were elected to the executive council, the former as its chairman and the second as a member. So Mehmet had ceded his positions to senior members of two sets of the family line in the town, preparing for a new era when popular support would perhaps play a larger role in the political process.
On January 7, 1946, former members of the RPP registered the Democrat Party (Demokrat Partisi) as an opposition party in anticipation of a general national election the following year. Alarmed by the party's enthusiastic reception among the public, the leadership of the RPP decided to hold the elections immediately. On the occasion of the national RPP congress in May, before any branches of the new party had yet been opened in the province of Trabzon, it was declared that municipal elections would take place immediately, and national elections would quickly follow in the summer. The leadership of the DP decided to boycott the snap municipal elections but entered the national elections nonetheless. Although direct and free in principle, both the municipal and national elections fell far short of such an achievement, especially in the eastern coastal districts (by then divided among the provinces of Rize, Trabzon, Giresun, and Ordu). The first branch of the DP had not been opened in the town of Trabzon until June 1946, the same month as the municipal elections and only shortly before the national elections. In addition to having a late start, the opposition party was also faced with a corrupt electoral process, the casting and counting of votes being obviously rigged in many places.
The news of imminent elections would have caught Mehmet off guard as much as his potential opponents in the town of Of. He was obliged to accelerate his plans to devolve his local offices to members of his family line. He decided to allow (or perhaps he could not prevent) the descendants of Ferhat Agha to seize the public offices open to local residents in the town of Of. Yakup, a son of Ferhat Agha, ran successfully for the office of mayor, a position he was to retain for twenty-seven years. Yusuf, a grandson of Ferhat Agha, ran successfully for the newly revived office of town headman (muhtar), serving until 1952, when he was succeeded by another member of the family line (see fig. 2).
As it happened, Mehmet had recently done a favor for the man who would succeed him as mayor. When Yakup's house had burned down not long before, he had directed a public campaign to raise contributions for rebuilding his residence. So he may have been cultivating Yakup as his own personal representative in the town of Of. On the other hand, it is more likely that he was forced to favor the descendants of Ferhat Agha over the sons of Rasih Efendi. When the "heathen imam" was removed from the Agricultural Credit Cooperative a few years earlier, Salih, the younger brother of Yusuf, had become its director, even though he was virtually an adolescent at the time. And when the Hazelnut Marketing Cooperative was organized in the same year as the national and municipal elections, Eşref (a son of Ferhat Agha) was appointed as accountant, then as director three years later (see fig. 2). These developments are further evidence that cooperatives, having leaders elected by a large membership, inevitably became the special preserve of leading individuals from large family groupings.
So by the time of the municipal elections of 1946, the configuration of local offices, more or less as I discovered it twenty years later, was coming into place in the town of Of. The very set of the Selimoğlu that would have been the primary target of campaigns against aghas and agha-families in the 1930s was dominating the public offices in the town of Of. Two months after the municipal elections, Mehmet was himself elected as a member of the National Assembly for the province of Trabzon. And from this time forward he is locally remembered as "Mehmet Bey," an appellation that designated someone who held a position in the state system. He had therefore doubly transformed himself by the results of the municipal and national elections. He was no longer the mayor of a town with a narrow constituency of officials, civil servants, professionals, and merchants. He had newly become a member of parliament in Ankara, even as he had also newly become the patron of the descendants of Ferhat Agha. But he was not yet, as we shall see, a leading individual from a large family grouping.
The RPP had emerged relatively unscathed from the municipal and national elections in most parts of the country; nonetheless, the one-party system had been seriously destabilized. The DP had received substantial numbers of votes in some places, even if it had not done especially well in the eastern coastal districts, suggesting that the arrival of a multiparty system would also mean the defeat of the RPP. In the aftermath of the elections in Trabzon, the provincial newspapers that sided with the opposition began to report mass resignations from the RPP and a surge of support for the DP. The victories of Mehmet, Yakup, and Yusuf were also accompanied by a certain amount of local unrest. The DP had received no more than ten votes in the town of Of; nonetheless, Mehmet Bey did not enjoy broad popular support. Even some members of the Selimoğlu family line were ready to join any kind of credible opposition.
Mehmet Bey, member of the National Assembly and resident of Ankara, received news of the unrest among his constituency during the winter of 1946 and hastily organized a trip back to the district of Of to put things back in order. After he arrived, he immediately began to make the rounds of his supporters, especially those who were said to be displeased and contemplating resignation. He promised them this perk or that office, if only they would give up the idea of joining the opposition party. By these moves, so I was told, he managed to halt, and even reverse, the resignations. Thosewho had recently joined the DP began to rejoin the RPP.Mehmet Bey was almost completely successful in suppressing support for the new opposition party. The members of the DP had been reduced, some of my interlocutors claimed, to a mere handful. Even so, the handful in question included prominent members of the family line.
On the occasion of his visit, Mehmet Bey had been unable to appease his three half-brothers, the sons of Rasih Efendi. They resented the favors that he had granted the descendants of Ferhat Agha, whom they saw as their rivals. Why had he preferred these other Selimoğlu when they were more closely related and just as active in public affairs? Mehmet Bey had all along attempted to curry their support and grant them favors. During the winter of 1945, as already mentioned, the eldest had been elected chairman of the executive committee of the RPP. But this had not been nearly enough for his three half-brothers. They felt they had assisted in insuring the election victory in 1946. They believed they deserved to enjoy its full fruits but had instead been pushed aside by the descendants of Ferhat Agha. Now, in the winter of 1946, they were on the verge of resigning from the RPP and going over to the DP, thereby openly splitting the family line. During his visit Mehmet Bey therefore resumed his efforts to pressure his half-brothers to remain within the RPP fold. One day, two of them were summoned to the government building. There they were received by both the district officer of Of and a member of the National Assembly, who lectured them about the virtues of loyalty and the vices of conflict. They were informed that there was no need for an opposition party in the district. Reportedly, the sons of Rasih Efendi could not be mollified and remained determined to become activists in the new opposition party, the DP.
Unable to dissuade them in the usual ways, Mehmet Bey had at least isolated his half-brothers so that they had little support from the family line. He returned to Ankara reasonably confident that the DP was weakening in the district of Of. In the town itself, he had nothing to worry about other than a few jealous relatives who had never been entirely happy with him. Some months later, an incident took place in the town that was designed to confirm the collapse of the DP as an alternative to the RPP. One night, a raid was carried out on the DP's newly opened town headquarters. Someone had broken into the office, destroyed all the records of membership, and carried away the chairs, tables, and typewriter, leaving nothing but a bare room. A few days later, most of these items were discovered to have been dumped into the nearby river. According to rumor, word had come down to the police some days before that they should look the other way on that night. Regardless of whoever was responsible for it, the sacking of the DP headquarters had a clear meaning. In the town of Of, anyone who chose to join the DP would have to face the descendants of Ferhat Agha at the local level, and the one-party regime at the national level.
The Resurgence of the Old Republic in the Elections of 1950
If indeed they had given the go-ahead for the raid, the local leadership of the RPP had not sufficiently analyzed the situation. The possibility of a shift from a one-party to a multiparty system had brought into view a new kind of political equation. Since the members of the National Assembly were henceforth to be chosen in direct and free elections, anyone at the local level who could turn out thousands of votes would have a claim on the leadership of a political party. And if a particular political party succeeded in winning a national election, then the person who could produce thousands of votes would also be able to make things happen at the level of the state system.
By the later 1940s, this new political equation was on the horizon. The leadership of both the RPP and the DP had made contact with local elites of the regional social oligarchy in the provinces of Rize, Trabzon, Giresun, and Ordu. According to an announcement in a provincial newspaper that appeared on July 1, 1949, Reşat Agha Muradoğlu, together with his two sons, had resigned from the RPP in order to join the DP. Reşat Agha was a direct descendant of the first several generations of aghas of the Muradoğlu family line, one of the last of the local elites in the old imperial style. The news of his support for the DP caused a sensation in the district of Of and near panic among the local RPP activists in the town, given the prospect of national elections in the spring of the following year. There were many more members of the Muradoğlu than members of the Selimoğlu. Furthermore, the former had a reputation for sticking together, while the latter had a reputation for quarreling among themselves. More significantly, the countrified Muradoğlu were themselves farmers who resided in their villages, and so they were potentially able to communicate with the average Oflu much more effectively than the citified Selimoğlu, who sat in offices behind desks in the district center. In other words, the Muradoğlu had a more extensive and a more operational district network of agnates, relatives, friends, and partners. Some of the descendants of Ferhat Agha, who had a clear understanding of what their rivals might be able to accomplish, feared that Reşat Agha might personally be able to sway the votes of a major segment of the rural population. Mehmet Bey himself, too long accustomed to the elitist and statist practices of the RPP, still had an imperfect understanding of the electoral importance of numbers, solidarity, and populism. Asked about Muradoğlu support for the DP during a Giresun congress of the RPP, he appeared unconcerned. "These shepherds (çoban) might attract five thousands votes," he is said to have replied, "but what is that going to get them?" As it happened, Mehmet Bey had counted correctly but reached the wrong conclusion.
Receiving word of Mehmet Bey's insult, "The Muradoğlu are nothing but shepherds," Reşat Agha became all the more determined to bring out a massive vote for the DP by mobilizing his relatives, friends, partners, and allies. He is reported to have toured the villages, specifically telling his audiences that they should not be afraid to vote for the DP. He would see to it personally that they would not be subject to reprisals. The first sacking of the DP offices had been the last. With the assistance of his two sons, both men of strong character and determination, Reşat Agha could energize a circle of interpersonal association for the purpose of bringing out a large vote for the DP in the national election. At the local level, electoral politics and party organizations were reawakening the legacy of the leading individuals, family lines, and district social networks. The mechanisms of social relations that had been able to pour seven or eight hundred men in arms into the district center as late as 1908 were now being used as a means to bring out the vote.
So Mehmet Bey, whose only solid constituency had once been a narrow circle of officials, civil servants, professionals, and merchants in the town, was in deep trouble. He was openly opposed by the sons of Rasih Efendi, his half-brothers, who had joined the DP in the belief that he had slighted them in the distribution of favors. Leading individuals among the Muradoğlu were touring the villages to bring out their friends, relatives, and partners to the polls. His control of the town of Of was slipping away to his clients, the descendants of Ferhat Agha, the latter having always believed that he had usurped their rightful position. And resentful of the descendants of Ferhat Agha, the sons of Rasih Efendi were also touring the villages to urge their agnates, relatives, friends, and partners to support the DP. But worst of all, the political party through whose ranks he had risen was facing the possibility of a resounding electoral defeat.
It is at this point that Mehmet Bey made a belated move to become a leading individual from a large family grouping. He assumed a new name. Formerly known as Mehmet Bey Sayıın, he now became known as Mehmet Bey Selimoğlu. He was far from being the first or the only person of his family line to make an adjustment in his surname. On the contrary, he was among the last. For some years, the members of large family groupings in the coastal region had been reverting back to the original form of their old patronymics, even with the addition of the suffix "oğlu" (occasionally even using "zade"). In a few instances, large family groupings that had actually split their surnames, despite the counsel of state officials, reunited as they reverted to the old patronymic. The prospect of free and direct elections of the representatives of the National Assembly had given a new meaning to the old vertical and horizontal solidarities. The old republic was acquiring a new purpose and becoming a political force in the new republic.
The DP roundly defeated the RPP in the national elections held in May 1950. The fortunes of the two parties were, however, mixed in the provinces of Rize, Trabzon, Giresun, and Ordu, the part of the coastal region that formerly comprised the old province of Trabzon. The DP did very well in Rize and Giresun, but the RPP was able to hold its own in Trabzon and Ordu. Still, Mehmet Bey was not reelected to the National Assembly. The Muradoğlu were only able to turn out five thousand votes for the DP in the district of Of, as opposed to seven thousand votes for the RPP. But the "shepherds" could nonetheless take satisfaction in having determined that Mehmet Bey would lose his seat in the National Assembly.
Mehmet Bey is said to have come to the town of Of from Trabzon on the night when the election returns were announced. He was seen walking through the streets with the district officer (kaymakam) on one arm and the district judge (hakim) on the other. He had been drinking and his face was drawn. The interlocutor who told me of this memory seemed to recall the scene as the end of an era. Mehmet Bey had been selected by national party leaders because of his presumed position as a dominant figure in the district of Of. We can guess that he must have occasionally hinted to them that he was the heir of the old aghas of the Selimoğlu. In fact, his place in the family line, and hence in the social networks of the district of Of, was tenuous. He would run again in the national elections of 1954, but the DP would take all twelve seats for the province of Trabzon. On this occasion, the votes he personally garnered fell below the totals he had received in 1950.
Elites of the Old Republic and Elites of the New Republic
Before describing how family lines and national parties came into perfect alignment during the 1950s, I must first explain why new social groups that became dominant in other towns and cities were pushed aside in the district of Of. For example, why was it that circles of civil servants, professionals, property-owners, and merchants were unable to dominate the RPP and the DP, and then to mobilize the turn-out of voters in the villages through their own networks of patronage and clientage? Someof them had been the backers of Mehmet Bey and the RPP for years. Others had founded the DP when it first arose as a threat to Mehmet Bey and the RPP. Elsewhere in the Turkish Republic, including some other districts in the province of Trabzon, these kinds of individuals had constituted the political leadership of the RPP and DP at this time. As for the district of Of, the old order of leading individuals and social formations had remained more or less dormant during the one-party period. It was not already in existence at the moment when the prospect of open elections first appeared on the horizon. Why, then, did the political parties, along with local networks of patronage and clientage, slip once again into the hands of leading individuals from large family groupings?
Two anecdotes will serve to illustrate why representatives of the Muradoğlu family line were essential for the success of the opposition in the district of Of. Given the circumstances of 1950, the descendants of Ferhat Agha could not have been displaced by a "civil" opposition. What the situation required, as the sacking of the DP demonstrated, was at least the specter of an "uncivil" opposition.
The first anecdote illustrates how leading individuals from large family groupings saw to it that their relatives were accorded respect and deference. In effect, it illustrates the dark side of the imperial tactic of gaze, discipline, and rule. During the spring and summer harvest, the villagers carried large baskets of tea leaves to government stations, where they were weighed and graded by officials. There were sometimes disputes when the villagers felt that their leaves have been improperly graded. One of my interlocutors recounted the following events:
The important point is the belief of the narrator that a leading individual of a large family grouping, but not the close kinsmen of the man who was killed, would carry out retribution. Neither the anticipated murder of the accused nor the actual murder of his son can be described as a vengeance murder. By the logic of vendetta, which was not unknown in the district of Of, a family member of the agent, probably an adolescent son or a younger brother, would have been obliged to take vengeance. The murder of the son who was eating his dinner was something else. Leading individuals, who had an interest in the social standing of their family line, would not tolerate attacks or insults directed against their relatives or, for that matter, even friends of their relatives.
Two years ago, [a member of a large family grouping, but himself of no special prominence] was working as an agent in a tea-collecting station. An angry villager, unhappy with the grade assigned his leaves, gave the agent two slaps (tokat) in the face. The agent drew his gun in response, but his assailant was also armed. Firing his pistol first, the villager killed the man then and there with several shots. He was soon arrested by gendarmes and held in prison in Trabzon. One month later an unknown assailant shot and killed this man's son, firing at him through the window of his house as he was eating his dinner. The man himself [who shot and killed the agent] is still in jail, but he will not live out his life. Even if he does not return to the district of Of, he will be tracked down and killed in retaliation. I know who is responsible for this. It is [a leading individual from a large family grouping but not someone who was closely related to the agent].
The man who told me this story also assumed that the individual who had shot the son in retribution was not himself a member of the family line. Some of the leading individuals from various agha-families were known to have clients among the "mountaineers" (dağlıılar), the poor folk from the valley highlands. These clients were said to do whatever dirty work their patrons might require of them. A woman might be assaulted. A man might be beaten up. A fire might destroy a granary or a house. Livestock might be pilfered or butchered. A few shots might be fired through the window or floor of a house. Some say this was more the style of those leading individuals from large families who were until recently farmers and herders, like the Muradoğlu. The prominent members of the Selimoğlu, the sacking of the DP headquarters in 1946 notwithstanding, positioned themselves as officials, bureaucrats, and professionals, and as such were able to assert themselves in a more subtle fashion. Ordinary villagers and townsmen might have hesitated to oppose Mehmet Bey and the descendants of Ferhat Agha. But once prominent members of the Muradoğlu chose to support the DP, they too could afford to do so.
The second anecdote concerned an attempted abduction of a woman, similar to the incident that had occurred in the home village in 1922. As we have seen, the control of women by their fathers before their marriage and by their husbands after their marriage was one of the principles of the old vertical and horizontal solidarities. The story that follows illustrates how leading individuals of different family lines were eager to avoid civil disorders that might arise from quarrels over women:
My interlocutor then explained how the elders of the family lines involved went about insuring that the incident would not lead to further trouble:
A maternal granddaughter of the "X-oğlu" [a large family grouping], a married woman, had come to the bus station in Of in order to take a bus to Giresun. In Of, women from Giresun are considered to be loose. Overhearing her destination, several men loitering about the station [they are named and some are associated with large family groupings] hatched a plot to abduct her. They misled her, saying her bus had already departed, and told her a car would be coming for her, which she could take instead. They arranged to have a car come to the bus station, and they persuaded her to get in. Meanwhile, one of the Selimoğlu overheard their conversation with the woman and became suspicious. He asked about the bus for Giresun at the ticket counter, learned that it had not yet departed, and realized that the woman had been deceived. He immediately informed the gendarmes (jandarma), who apprehended the car and its occupants just outside town. The affair was hushed up because of the family lines that were involved, and no formal complaints were ever lodged against the abductors.
In other words, when a dispute threatens to divide a family line or its injure its relationship with other family lines, one should send those responsible into hiding and tie them into knots of social relations with those who are eager to punish them. In effect, the anecdote illustrates the kind of steps that Ferhat Agha might have taken, but apparently did not take, in order to settle the hard feelings provoked by abduction in 1922.
Within a week, one of the key perpetrators of the abduction, a "Y-oğlu," was married to a woman of the Muradoğlu, who were friends of the "X-oğlu." This was interpreted as a move to neutralize those individuals most likely to take vengeance, that is, the Muradoğlu. Although the woman was only a maternal descendant of their family line, they were judged to be the party most likely to reassert the untouchability of anyone who might be conceived to be under their protection. Another of the key perpetrators, who was a "Z-oğlu," arranged to move to Eskipazar, where one of the Muradoğlu had been persuaded to give him protection. Again, this was a way of neutralizing the group most likely to resort to vengeance in the affair. All the men who had attempted to abduct the woman stayed in hiding for several months. A year after the incident, they were just beginning to show themselves regularly in public.
The Old Republic Inhabits the New Republic
During the national elections in 1954 and 1957, the two dominant large family groupings in the district of Of gradually came into alignment with the two dominant national parties in the Turkish Republic. By the end of the decade, the Selimoğlu were the local representatives of the RPP and the Muradoğlu were the representatives of the DP. The relative efficiency with which local social formations aligned themselves with the major national parties was impressive. I shall briefly review the steps by which this came about.
From 1949 to 1957, there was no perfect alignment of the two families and the two parties. The descendants of Ferhat Agha (Selimoğlu) held a firm grip on the public offices in the town and were RPP leaders and activists in the district (see fig. 2). Nonetheless, they were weakened by the fact that the RPP did not receive enough electoral support to form a national government from 1950. Meanwhile, the sons of Rasih Efendi (Selimoğlu) had been joined by the sons of Reşat Agha (Muradoğlu) as party leaders and activists in the DP, ever since the run-up to the elections of 1950. These two sets of the two large family groupings continued to work together during the period in question, when the DP, led by Adnan Menderes, was able to form the national government.
During the run-up to the national elections in the summer of 1957, however, a crisis in the DP at the national level reverberated at the local level in Of. Adnan Menderes, who had been moving to restrict the political process, was being challenged from within his own party as well as from the opposition parties. Instead of changing course, however, the leadership of the DP moved to suppress dissent, first by purging their party membership. Similarly, in the countryside, the local leaders of the DP also began to purge local party membership. One of my interlocutors recounted the incidents that followed in the district of Of:
In preparation for the coming elections, [the sons of Rasih Efendi] had been touring the villages signing up people as members of the DP party. They had been organizing the membership to elect delegates to attend a DP party convention to be held in the town of Of. They engaged in a number of maneuvers. They would sign up people, mix up the papers, and so attempt to let their own people in and keep other people out of the meeting. When someone came to the meeting they would tell him that his papers were not in order so he would not be admitted to the meeting.
[The sons of Rasih Efendi] were intent on packing the meeting with their own supporters. What they were trying to do was to gain control over the DP so they could run it as they liked. The Muradoğlu heard about their intentions and came in a crowd to the meeting. They were ready to make their way into the room whatever anyone said to them or did to them. They eventually forced their way inside and chased two of the three brothers out of the meeting. This was the end of the Selimoğlu influence in the DP.
The sons of Rasih Efendi had run the local branch of the DP in an authoritarian manner, emulating party leaders at the national level. When they were driven out of the DP, they founded a local branch of a new national political party, the Freedom Party (Hürriyet Partisi). The FP had been organized in late 1955 by DP dissidents at the national level who had been dismissed for refusing to accept party discipline. So now the sons of Rasih Efendi were emulating DP dissidents at the national level who had been objecting to the authoritarian manner of party leaders. The FP failed miserably in the national elections of 1957 and soon vanished from the scene both locally and nationally. Until the 1970s, all the political activists and most of the voters from the Selimoğlu family line were affiliated with the RPP.
A similar sorting out of family lines and political parties took place among the Muradoğlu. Harun Agha was the elderly bearded man for whom youths had stood at attention in the restaurant in Eskipazar during my brief stopover in 1965 (see chap. 1). Impressed that his kinsman, Reşat Agha, had been able to defeat Mehmet Bey in the national elections, he also became a party activist. Sometime during the early 1950s, Harun Agha had announced that he had joined the Nation Party (Millet Partisi). Founded by dissident members of the RPP and DP, this party called for a program of moral uplift based on family and religion. Eventually, Harun Agha became the chairman of the NP in the district of Of. During the run-up to the national elections of 1953, he toured the villages of the district soliciting or, more exactly, demanding support for the NP. Like Reşat Agha, he was one of only a very few individuals who were still accorded the title "agha." Unlike Reşat Agha, however, he had a much harder time adapting himself to the demands of electoral politics. According to the memory of an acquaintance who had also joined the party and toured the villages with him, Harun Agha was better at intimidating the villagers he encountered than at winning their sympathies for his party. For example, he used to travel by minibus from village to village, carrying a staff (bastinado) in the manner of some of the old aghas of the imperial period. This gesture succeeded very well in reinforcing his stern appearance, not to mention bringing to mind his fearsome reputation. If a driver of the minibus asked him for a fare, he would simply refuse to pay. If the driver persisted, he would threaten to punish him with his staff. This kind of behavior apparently decreased whatever support there might have been for the Nation Party to the vanishing point.
The failure of Harun Agha and the Nation Party deserves special comment. The platform of the Nation Party appealed to popular resentment of the secular reforms; nonetheless, the NP succeeded in garnering only 5 percent of the vote in the province of Trabzon in 1950. So a national party that attempted to make the most of the religious issue actually did very poorly in a region where one would have expected success. The failure of the NP underlines the fact that leading individuals, large family groupings, and district social networks did not constitute an Islamist reaction to the Turkish Republic. They were social formations from the old state society that were assuming a place in the new state system. These social formations were founded on an imperial version of Islamic belief and practice, but they were otherwise oriented toward the official state system of the Turkish Republic. The most successful members of the Selimoğlu and Muradoğlu family lines were no more interested in an extreme Islamist agenda than in a "leftist" or "rightist" agenda. They were not intending to challenge secularism. They wanted to be recognized by and participate in the state system, as did their ascendants during the late period of decentralization.
The rapidity and efficiency with which the two major groups of local elites aligned themselves with two major national parties was then a direct legacy of the old state society. With the shift from one-party to multiparty politics, the local elites were poised to serve as the intermediaries between the government and the population. They were still positioned within a framework of competing social formations. They still believed they had a right to participate in sovereign power. So from the time of the national elections of 1950, leading individuals from the two dominant family lines polished their skills as electoral politicians. They learned how to turn out the vote. They learned how to lobby party leaders.
Their education in electoral politics was accelerated by international circumstances. During the 1950s, the United States was providing the Turkish Republic with agricultural loans and military assistance. This money appeared in the eastern coastal region in the form of subsidies for the development of agriculture, especially the expansion of tea cultivation, as well as funds for road and bridge projects. But there were always questions about how agricultural subsidies were distributed in the coastal region, and where roads and bridges would be built first and last. It was now possible for the Oflus to see a connection between vertical and horizontal solidarities in the district and the configuration of sovereign power in the state system. Consequently there was an extraordinary interest in elections and parties during the 1950s and into the 1960s. Some of the Oflus were described as afflicted by "political fanaticism" (siyaset hastasıı). They felt obliged not only to read every newspaper and listen to every broadcast, but also to travel from place to place to attend political rallies and speeches. Some were said to have ruined their families and business through their preoccupation with politics.
Once the sons of Reşat Agha dominated the DP, they quickly became formidable political competitors. Adnan Menderes was prime minister, and the DP dominated the National Assembly. The man and his party were to become notorious for their skillful use of patronage and clientage as political weapons. As a consequence, the sons of Reşat Agha were able to break down the single channel between the central government and the district population that had been established by Mehmet Bey Selimoğlu and inherited by the descendants of Ferhat Agha. By 1960, the town of Of was no longer the single conduit between state officials and the district population that it had once been.
The first blow to the town of Of and the Selimoğlu came in the later 1950s. At the time, there was a cooperative for tea producers in the town that was managed by Hüseyin Selimoğlu, a brother of Yusuf and Salih. But now a group of the Muradoğlu proposed to organize a second cooperative to be based at Eskipazar that would become a competitor of the already existing cooperative. The supporters of Hüseyin Selimoğlu argued against this measure, saying that one cooperative was sufficient for the district. They had a great deal at stake since cooperatives were also concentrations of capital and, as such, slush funds for clients. In the end, however, the government permitted the new cooperative to come into existence. The decision made perfect sense, since some of the most productive tea gardens were owned by the Muradoğlu and in the vicinity of Eskipazar. Still, this challenge to Mehmet Bey would not have occurred a few years previously.
A second blow soon followed. During the later 1950s, the officials of the government tea monopoly determined that a tea factory was to be built in the district of Of. But where would the factory be located? The answer to this question was an important one for the two dominant family lines. The tea factory would have administrators and workers, that is to say, a payroll. The construction and maintenance of the tea factory would also provide a stimulus for local tradesmen. The key difference between the various proposals for the tea factory was that the Selimoğlu wanted to situate the factory in the town of Of, the Muradoğlu near the market of Eskipazar. I was told a barely credible story by one of my interlocutors, which seems nonetheless to have been true. State officials had finally made a decision. The new factory would be built near the town of Of. All the building materials, the cement and iron, were brought to that site in preparation for the beginning of the construction. At this point, the Muradoğlu came to the proposed site and carried all the building materials "on their backs" to a site near Eskipazar, where the Muradoğlu had taken the initiative to set aside land for the factory. In response, the officials of the state tea monopoly changed their minds and decided to locate the factory just outside Eskipazar. The market of Eskipazar, which had consisted of only a few shops, thereafter became a small town.
The military coup of 1960 was eventually followed by the execution of Menderes and the banning of the DP. But the descendants of Ferhat Agha, now leading individuals in a district network and a coastal coalition, enjoyed only a brief advantage. After the return to electoral politics in 1961, the sons of Reşat Agha were once again associated with a national party, now the Justice Party (Adalet Partisi), which had replaced the banned Democrat Party. The two family lines were therefore once again aligned with the two major political parties at the national level.
Sometime around 1964, the government proposed to build a lumber mill somewhere along the coast. Although the stakes were smaller than in the instance of the construction of the tea factory, this installation would also have important commercial benefits for the immediate area in which it was located. It was said that the Selimoğlu began to quarrel among themselves about who might benefit from selling their land to the government as a site for the lumber mill. Then, in the midst of the confusion, the Muradoğlu offered a site nearer Eskipazar at a reduced price. The thriving marketplace was pushed further along the path toward becoming a town.
By the time of my arrival in the district of Of, leading individuals among the Muradoğlu could claim political clout of mythic proportions. A son of Reşat Agha was reputed to have the power to shift seven thousand voters in an election. Whether he was in fact able to do so was perhaps beside the point. The belief that he controlled so many votes was just as firmly held in Trabzon and Ankara as it was in Of. So when this son of Reşat Agha made a trip to the provincial or national capital, as was his regular practice, he was certain to have an attentive audience among both party leaders and state officials.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the RPP never enjoyed a period of majority government as did their rivals, first the DP and then the JP. So the local clients of the RPP, such as the Selimoğlu, were in a less enviable position than the local clients of the DP or JP, such as the Muradoğlu. Still, the descendants of Ferhat Agha remained formidable political competitors. They continued to hold all the public offices open to local residents in the town, and hence most of those in the district. The town was also still the district center, and therefore the location of most government offices and the residences of most state administrative, judicial, military, and police officials. Furthermore, many of the staff, secretaries, and janitors were agnates, relatives, friends, and partners of the Selimoğlu. So the descendants of Ferhat Agha were in a good position to learn about and respond to government programs and policies.
They were also able to develop their skills in electoral politics in ways reminiscent of machine politics in the ethnic wards of Chicago. During the 1960s, a majority of the voters in the district favored the JP, successor to the DP. So as the population of the municipality increased, the electoral strength of the RPP, and thus the power of the descendants of Ferhat Agha, steadily weakened. Already in 1965, it was said that the town was JP during the day, when the villagers came to the market, and then RPP at night, when they returned to their mountain hamlets. To counter the trend, local elections had to be engineered by bringing truckloads of supporters into the municipality from those villages whose inhabitants could be expected to support the descendants of Ferhat Agha. For good reason, the town of Of came to be known as the citadel (hisar) of the RPP and the descendants of Ferhat Agha.
In 1967, I met the son of Reşat Agha who was said to be able to deliver seven thousand votes in a local election. At the time, he counseled me to move to Eskipazar, where an American like myself would find a warmer welcome: "We are capitalists (kapitalist)," he told me, "but they [the descendants of Ferhat Agha] are socialists (sosyalist)." The comment was inspired by the new "left of center" (ortanıın solu) orientation of the RPP that had been formulated by Bülent Ecevit. Sometime later, Hüseyin Selimoğlu, the rival of the son of Reşat Agha in the town of Of, wholeheartedly agreed with his assessment. Referring to his personal commitment to Bülent Ecevit, he said to me, "Yes, we are left of the center. We are even left of the left of center!" He did not mean he was more leftist in his ideology than the party leader. His formulation was intended to express his personal loyalty to the party leader. That is, he was thinking in terms of a discipline of interpersonal association, not in terms of leftist, liberal, or rightist ideology. As for the son of Reşat Agha, he was of course no more a capitalist than Hüseyin was a socialist. They were both representatives of the old republic, which now inhabited the new republic.
1. Zürcher (1993, 219) concludes that the shift from a one-party to a multiparty system had domestic as well as international causes. 2. ıınönü had succeeded to the presidency upon the death of Atatürk in 1938. According to Zürcher (1993, 221), he had first indicated his support for a multiparty system during his parliamentary speech on November 1, 1944. [BACK]
2. Zürcher (1993, 219) concludes that the shift from a one-party to a multiparty system had domestic as well as international causes. 2. ıınönü had succeeded to the presidency upon the death of Atatürk in 1938. According to Zürcher (1993, 221), he had first indicated his support for a multiparty system during his parliamentary speech on November 1, 1944. [BACK]
3. See the Halk Gazetesi, winter of 1945. The two individuals were among seven men elected as members of the executive council by all in attendance. The son of Ferhat Agha, in a tie with one other man, received the most votes of all those elected to the executive council (twenty-five votes each). The son of Rasih Efendi was afterward elected by the seven members of the executive council as their chairman, replacing the former chairman, Mehmet Sayıın. 4. Lewis 1961, 298-300. [BACK]
4. Although the title bey had been abolished along with the Sultanate and the Caliphate, informally it had never fully lost currency in the district of Of. It was used to refer to anyone who had served as a state official. So far as I know, Hasan Bey Selimzade was the only other member of the family line accorded the title. He had been appointed as a sub-district officer (nahiye müdürü) sometime during the late nineteenth century. [BACK]
5. In a notice about the RPP congress in Of that appeared in Yeni Yol, dated December 1, 1939, he is referred to as "Mehmet Sayıın." In references to him that appear on July 11, 1944, in Yeni Yol, he is called "Mehmet Sayıın, the mayor of Of." In a biography that appeared in 1949 in the Halk Gazetesi, he is called "Mehmet Selimoğlu." [BACK]
6. IThe same kind of reversion was less common elsewhere in the country, where the old lineage, clan, and tribal names were not a claim to eminence in the state system, but rather a negative sign of rusticity and marginality. [BACK]
7. INationally, the RPP won 69 seats and the DP won 408 seats of a total of 486 in the National Assembly. In the province of Trabzon, the RPP won 9 and the DP won 3 seats. In the province of Rize, the RPP won 0 and the DP won 6 seats. See D.I.E. 1966. [BACK]
8. The votes for the RPP and DP, respectively, were as follows: Ordu, 50 percent vs. 50 percent; Giresun, 38 percent vs. 62 percent; Trabzon, 49 percent vs. 46 percent; Rize 30 percent vs. 70 percent; total for the four provinces, 44 percent vs. 55 percent (ibid.). [BACK]
9. The votes for the RPP and DP, respectively, were as follows: Ordu, 50 percent vs. 50 percent; Giresun, 38 percent vs. 62 percent; Trabzon, 49 percent vs. 46 percent; Rize 30 percent vs. 70 percent; total for the four provinces, 44 percent vs. 55 percent (ibid.). [BACK]
10. The votes for Mehmet Sayıın, followed by the average of votes received for the RPP and DP in each district of Trabzon, are as follows: Trabzon (town): Mehmet Sayıın 12,651, RPP 14,000, and DP 10,500; Of: 7,091, 7,000, and 5,400; Çaykara: 4,679, 4,750, and 5,500; Sürmene: 10,868, 11,500, and 10,500; Maçka 6,717, 7,000, and 4,100; Vakfııkebir 7,341, 7,850, and 14,500; Akçaabat 10,263, 10,700, and 9,500. See Yeni Yol, results of national elections of May 17, 1950. [BACK]
11. See the results for the national elections as announced in Yeni Yol. The RPP received 33 percent and the DP 57 percent of the total vote in 1954. Mehmet Bey received about half the number needed to win a seat. [BACK]
12. I heard a similar story about an incident in Çayeli, but no leading individuals from large family groupings were involved in it. An official in a tea factory was assaulted by an ordinary villager. The latter was shot dead by an unknown assailant sometime later. The brother of the official was suspected as the murderer. This man, a resident of one of the district villages, was obliged to avoid the precincts of the town of Çayeli permanently. When he wished to go to market or to sit in a coffeehouse, he was obliged to go to Pazar instead. If he had been a leading individual from a large family grouping, he might have been less vulnerable to retaliation. [BACK]
13. I have never determined if the prediction of my interlocutor actually came about. [BACK]
14. Many of the older houses have stables on the ground floor. I heard stories of individuals who gave their rivals a warning by stealing into the stable, shooting through the floor planks to terrorize the inhabitants, and then quickly va/nishing into the night. [BACK]
15. In June of 1949, Kazıım Üstündağ was first chairman, and a son of Reşat Agha (Muradoğlu) was second chairman, of the Of congress of the DP, while a second son of Reşat Agha and a son of Rasih Efendi (Selimoğlu) were members of the executive council. See Yeni Yol, June 15, 1949. In 1953, a son of Reşat Agha was first chairman, and a son of Rasih Efendi was second chairman, of the Of congress of the DP, while a second son of Reşat Agha was one of the members of the executive council. See Yeni Yol, undetermined edition. In May 1957, a son of Rasih Efendi was named chairman of the Of congress of the DP, and the members of the executive council ominously listed no Muradoğlu whatsoever. See Yeni Yol, May 14, 1957. [BACK]
16. See Zürcher 1993, 240-43. [BACK]
17. 17. My interlocutor thought that this had taken place in 1954, but I think that 1957 was the more likely date. As noted above, in May 1957, a son of Rasih Efendi was chairman of the Of congress of the DP, which for the first time included no Muradoğlu whatsoever on its executive council. Only four months later, a second son of Rasih Efendi, along with one of the former members of the DP executive council, announced his resignation from the DP to join the Freedom Party (Hürriyet Partisi); see Yeni Yol, September 12, 1957. Then, a few weeks later, the first son of Rasih Efendi himself was named as chairman of the Of congress of the FP, while yet another former member of the DP executive council was named as a member of the executive council of the FP; see Yeni Yol, October 1, 1957. [BACK]
18. 18. Zürcher 1993, 242. [BACK]
19. Ibid., 244. [BACK]
20. A photograph of Harun Agha, together with a photograph of Ferhat Agha, appears in Yiğit's account of the Battle for Of (1950). [BACK]
21. In 1961, the tea factory at Eskipazar had 68 permanent and 520 temporary workers (Tekeli 1961, 14-15). [BACK]
22. The RPP and the JP initially formed a coalition government until 1962. The RPP thereafter formed coalition governments without the JP until 1965, when the JP won the national elections with a landslide and formed a majority government. See Zürcher (1993, 258-65). [BACK]
23. RPP supporters said, "Left of center is the way of Atatürk" (Ortanıın solu, Atatürk yolu), to which the reply from the JP was "Left of center is the way to Moscow" (Ortanıın solu, Moskova yolu). Cf. Zürcher 1993, 265-66. [BACK]