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Reproduced by Australian Atatürk Cultural Centre Inc. 20 CONCLUSION Atatürkism is not Utopia The half measures taken by the Ottomans to deal with their growing helplessness in the face of the West were totally inadequate. Atatürk examined the inmost character of his countrymen using the most up-to-date techniques, scientifically established the factors activating social change, and then set about making reforms aimed at a radical solution. It is quite clear from all that he wrote and said that he was fully aware of the existence in Western civilisation of two fundamental qualities different from those of all other civilisations, both past and present; these were the rights and liberties of the individual and secularism. Individuals given rights and liberties develop their talents freely and their achievements in science, technology, the arts, literature and economic enterprise greatly surpass those of other civilisations. Democratic parliamentary regimes flourish only in those countries where individuals are in possession of their rights and liberties. Secularism frees the human mind from constraints imposed by deep-seated dogma and prepares the way for the facts of nature and the universe to be brought to light one by one, through a process of rational thinking. Secular thinking and the individual’s freedom to act without any kind of restriction endow Western democracies with the quality of perpetual self-renovation and constant creativity. Having carefully noted this Atatürk made secularism the corner stone of his reforms and emphasised over and over again the significance of the rights and liberties of the individual. Counter-revolutionary movements in Turkey opposed to the reforms of Atatürk can be grouped under three headings; firstly the movement which supported the Sharia i.e. the religious law; secondly Fascism and thirdly Communism or Marxism. All three conflict with secularism and the rights and liberties of the individual, the two fundamentals that Atatürk had already laid down as the basis of the democratic parliamentary regime, which the principles of populism and national sovereignty require. In a country where any one of these three movements wields power, a strong man or an exclusive oligarchy who cannot be criticised or replaced, becomes the absolute ruler sharing power with nobody. Under a regime such as this, which, with its own particular view of society, decides unilaterally what is good for society, individuals may not, in practice, exercise their rights and liberties. Atatürk, on the other hand, took the rights and liberties of the individual as his starting point, limiting them only when the rights and liberties of other individuals and the over-riding interests of society are threatened.

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