THE IDEOLOGICAL MELTING POT: SALONICAN SOCIALISTS AND “EMPIRE” DURING THE SECOND CONSTITUTIONAL PERIOD (1908-1912)
Etudes balkaniques (Sofia) 2022 N 4
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Abstract: This paper examines the attitude of socialist groups in Ottoman Salonica from different ethnic backgrounds to the conflict between empire and nation-state during the first term of the Second Constitutional Era (1908-1912) in the aftermath of the Young Turk Revolution. Following the stories of Abraham Benaroya(1887-1979), the renowned Jewish printing worker, and Dimitar Vlahov(1878-1953), the esteemed Macedo-Bulgarian political activist, and their interactions with like-minded socialists from Bulgarian, Greek, Jewish, and Turkish origins, I analyze how these particular socialist organizations in Salonica integrated Ottomanism, or the imperial nationalism which pursued the equality of Ottoman citizens and the territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire, into their class politics. Using a wide array of sources which include parliamentary minutes, newspapers and memoirs, I argue that socialist activists in Salonica, in the heyday of nationalism, believed in the possibility of a socialist future within the Ottoman Empire. Notwithstanding their disagreements with the elected Ottoman government, Salonican socialists openly opted for the constitutional and ethnically heterogenous empire rather than its disintegration and territorial accession to the homogenized Balkan states.
Keywords: Ottomanism, Ottoman Salonica, Socialism, Nationalism, Empire