150 and cultural circumstances throughout the relevant period it is possible to provide ageneral framework for the features of Ottoman Liberalism.When investigating the origins of an inclination towards liberalism, which appearedin the time of Selim III, the signs of a Western influence or guiding hand cannot beseen. During that time, liberal tendencies can be seen as preventive measuresstemming from a necessity that aimed to cope with the political and economic crisis,and the ensuing instabilities. Moreover, it must be emphasized that there was a strongdesire for private ownership -and its associated rights and privileges- amongOttoman subjects. Besides, no one was defining liberal reforms as non-Islamic oranti-traditional.
On the contrary, commerce was encouraged by the State inreference to Islamic morality. Consequently, it can be noted that although Selim’sreforms were inclined towards liberalism, they did not present a coherent, systematicapproach. Reformist public officials were not fully aware of the historical roots andsources of these developments and their genealogy. Because of this deficiency,Selim’s reforms did not bring about the economical and social change desired.
Throughout Ottoman history, resource production and distribution was shaped bydomestic as well as international factors. During the Tanzimat era, in domesticaffairs, the state started massive centralization programs, which were actuallydesigned to strengthen and consolidate the control of the government over everyelement of the Empire. This meant more invasive state intervention in everydayaffairs as, paradoxically, laissez-faire emerged to challenge interfering politics.Therefore, financial resources could be appropriated from the mixture of increasedrevenues from both the economy and debts. The centralization policies challengedthe autonomy of influential economic groups, including guilds, notables and tribes,who had gained considerable freedom of action during the preceding century. Theproduction-distribution question had been given a particular twist by the intrusion of the European economy into the Ottoman world. The capitalist and industrial
S. F. Ülgener,
slam Hukuk ve Ahlak Kaynaklar
ktisat Siyaseti, Ebul’ula Mardin’e Arma
an,Istanbul, 1944, pp. 1151-89
S. J. Shaw, History of Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Cambridge, 1976, pp. 265-66