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Honoring İlhan Selçuk: A legacy beyond death

22 Haziran 2024 Cumartesi

So, what about Yunus Emre’s words stemming from Hünkâr’s philosophy?

”If bodies die, souls do not perish.”

Every soul dies, however. But some souls’ bodies die only. Because some souls, through their creations, contributions, and the marks they leave on society, remain alive even if their bodies perish.

A young person from the new generation, upon Googling "Who is İlhan Selçuk," would learn that he was a columnist.

What else?

He was the former foundation president of Cumhuriyet newspaper.

Yes, İlhan Selçuk was a columnist. He continued his column writing from 1952 until 2010.

It is worth delving into what kind of columnist he was.



In Turkey, the role of columnists has changed significantly since the 1980s and 90s when newspaper ownership shifted from professionals to businesspeople. The era of columnists who guided society with their ideas, predicted the implications of national and global events, and suggested actions is over. Nowadays, columnists write to serve the interests and relations of their newspaper owners and their associated clans, often echoing popular trends and majority opinions.

If they write well and make sharp points, it doesn’t much matter what they say. Shifting views when moving between newspapers, or changing stances with each new government, is seen as normal.

Not changing was labeled as being a dinosaur or a conservative.

A columnist who once admired Karl Marx might easily become a disciple of Karl Popper with the winds of globalization. After all, both are named Karl. Back then, Karl Marx was in vogue; now, it’s Karl Popper. If referencing Karl Popper is the new trend, a columnist couldn’t ignore this change and fashion.

It was not a columnist’s job to foresee future crises and raise awareness. The open society and neoliberalism had supposedly solved everything. The era of nation-states and ideologies had ended. There was no point in writing tedious ideological pieces. Write about wine, flowers, and political gossip instead.

İlhan Selçuk influenced multiple generations with his writings. The 1968, 1978, and 1980 generations shaped their political consciousness through his work. By the 1990s, the communication revolution and the neoliberal storm had taken root in Turkey, captivating the younger generation.


He almost single-handedly resisted the "New World Order" and globalization. When he wrote that the new system would bring poverty and that wars launched under the guise of "bringing democracy" would inevitably lead to global terrorism and nationalism, affecting the West the most, people smirked. Now they wonder, "What’s happening in Europe and America? How are populist and nationalist leaders gaining power in the cradle of democracy?"

Anyone can be a columnist. They can comment on events with a casual, conversational tone. But becoming İlhan Selçuk is not easy.

İlhan Selçuk frequently warned those who once allied with political Islamists. He said they were not interested in democracy, practiced deception, and would target their allies once they seized power. People laughed back then.

What happened?

İlhan Selçuk passed away, but Cumhuriyet newspaper, which he saved from disappearing, celebrated its 100th anniversary. His ideas, boundless tolerance, and ego-free wisdom made him immortal to us.

I bow in respect to his memory.

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