Both terms, Old Guard andYoung Turks, have been adopted for various purposes. According to the Wikipedia disambiguation pages, the terms have been applied to everything from a magazine and Internet news service to a street gang. In a general figurative sense, the terms are ideological opposites.
Originally, the term Old Guardhad military connotations, but now it is used in reference to any type of group. It refers to the older and most conservative faction in an organization. Aversion to change is the old guard’s most salient characteristic.
The term Young Turks originated with the civil conflicts that racked Turkey at the beginning of the 20th century. It referred to opponents of the sultan’s absolute monarchy. They formed the Committee of Union and Progress and seized power in 1913.
Nowadays the terms represent opposing models of leadership. The Old Guard want to keep things as they were. The Young Turks want to change the way things are done and don’t want to do it gradually.
Here are some uses drawn from different countries and different types of organizations.
Tea party vs. old guard in GOP Senate rift (Headline, The Denver Post)Old guard and young turks combine for stunning victory (Headline for a story about an Australian cricket match)A storm is brewing within the MDC-T dominated Bulawayo City Council (BCC) as the party’s “young turks” who were elected as councillors in last month’s elections feel the “old guard” had failed the local authority. (Sunday News, Zimbabwe)[In a book about the C.I.A.] he traces the bitter fights between Langley’s old guard and Young Turks over whether the agency should use the new armed Predator drones to hunt and kill even Osama bin Laden. (New York Times)Army rifts: Is the old guard taking on the young Turks? (Headline, (Daily Monitor, Uganda)The majority which would control the vote would be a coalition between the “old guard” Democratic Party establishment, and the “young turks,” recent graduates of the University of Hawaii Law School. (Fighting Tradition: A Marine’s Journey to Justiceby Bruce I. Yamashita)Santa Cruz Sierra Club: Old Guard vs. Young Turks (Headline, Santa Cruz Patch)
Another “guard” expression is used when new leaders take over from the previous crew: changing of the guard.