Revolutionary Papers

Revolutionary Papers is a transnational research collaboration exploring 20th century periodicals of Leftanti-imperial and anti-colonial critical production. Read More


“No to Coca-Cola!”: Socialist Periodical Yön in Turkey (1961-1967)

This paper analyses the socialist magazine Yön published in Turkey between 1961 and 1967. The foundational influence of Yön, which was published weekly for six years, was to shatter the taboos that smothered the words Marxism and socialism and gain visibility for them. Yön and its chief editor Doğan Avcıoğlu frequently defined socialism by referring to developmentalism and positioned it as a populist doctrine of development. Based on this account, Turkey would owe its rapid growth to socialism. Avcıoğlu’s feature articles and Yön’s encouragement were the “national awakening” of the Atatürk youth. With this national awakening, the youth would say no to “foreign petroleum, Coca-Cola, Sana and Vita [two brands of margarine],” and foreign beers, because all these were correlated with a massive network of capitalist interests that implicated states, merchants, and professors. Yön frequently conveyed to its readers news from non-Western regions with a Third-Worldist perspective. Readers would find in the magazine responses that Jean-Paul Sartre gave to the question of “How Do We Combat Imperialism?”
The magazine also notably brought the “Kurdish Question” to its cover page, in line with its taboo-breaker position. In a piece he wrote in 1966 (Yön issue 194), Avcıoğlu argued that nobody, including the socialists, had summoned enough courage to discuss the taboo of the Kurdish question and that dissolving the cultural values that an ethnic group possesses violates the foundational philosophy of socialism. According to Avcıoğlu, the time had come for socialists to consider this key issue.
The proposed paper has three parts. The first part deals with the rise of the left in Turkey in the 1960s. The second part focuses on how Yön perceived and portrayed imperialism and anti-imperialism. The third part discusses the road map offered by Yön towards a socialist revolution in a skeptical attitude towards democracy. In doing so, the paper also problematizes the nativism embedded in Yön’s synthesis of nationalism and socialism.

Ömer Turan

Ömer Turan is an Associate Professor at Istanbul Bilgi University. He received his PhD from the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Central European University in 2012, with his dissertation, “Facing Eurocentrism, Facing Modernity: Questions of Modernization and Global Hierarchies in Turkish Intellectual History.” He co-edited the volume The Dubious Case of a Failed […]