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Socialism in the Ottoman Empire: سوسياليزم [Sosyalizm / Le socialisme, notions élémentaires]



The first book on socialism, published in the Ottoman Empire, in the year of the foundation of the Ottoman Socialist Party.


8°, 124 pp., [4 pp.] index and blank, later marbled wrappers (missing front original wrapper, very light staining, otherwise in a good condition).


1 in stock


This is the first edition of the first book on the socialism, published in the Ottoman Empire. It is a translation of a little known French book Le socialisme, notions élémentaires by Georges Tournaire, published only a year before, in 1909. It introduces the basics of the socialism, its faults, the participation of working women and its relation to the religion.

Ḥaydar Rifat was one of the major translators and authors of outstanding political works. In the next decades he published books on the Bolshevism, Soviet Union and Democracy and on Mussolini. In 1933, Haydar would become the first translator of Das Kapital into modern Turkish.

The introduction was written by the publisher Tüccarzade İbrahim Hilmi Bey himself. Hilmi Bey, a mayor publisher in Istanbul, was born as İbrahim Hilmi Çığıraçan (1876 – 1963) in today’s Romania. He opened his publishing house in 1896 in Istanbul, under the name Kitaphane-i Islami (Islamic Library), which changed to Kitaphane-i İslam ve Askeri (Islamic and Military Library) under the Young Turks regime.

1910 was a groundbreaking year for the socialist movement in Istanbul. In that year the Ottoman Socialist Party was founded and started publishing their newspaper İnsaniyet, which portrayed Karl Marx on the cover of the first issue. This was the first visual appearance of Marx in the Ottoman press.

As the Ottoman Socialist Party was not an official political association, it can be today seen more like a gathering of various intellectuals, based on the older movements of mostly non-Muslim (Bulgarian, Greek, Jewish, Armenian) socialist groups of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Socialist Party was suppressed by the Young Turks in 1913 and only returned in the form of the Turkish Socialist Party, which also only existed for three years between 1919 and 1922.

We could only find two institutional examples (Leiden University Library and Boğaziçi University Library). Also the original work in French language is very rare and only two examples are recorded on Worldcat (both in French libraries).

References: OCLC 65804261. Cf:  Sungur Savran & E. Ahmet Tonak, Marx’s Capital in Turkey, 2018; Bilal YURTOĞLU, Bahûr İsrâîl’in Cerîde-i Felsefiye’si ve Osmanlı’da İlk Das Kapital Tefrikası, 2016; Latest article: Özgün Uçar, Bir ‚hayalet‘ (Darwin) ve bir ‚kabus‘ ( Marx) Türkçeye ilk, 2021, with older literature there.

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