A Brief History of the Ottoman and Turkish Modernization (Part 2)

In the first part, we saw the history of the Ottoman and Turkish modernization from the progressivist perspective. Now we will see it from the NRX perspective.

In the first part, I gave the basic scheme of the modernist perspective. Now, I will refute the list’s every clause one by one.

  • Ottoman Empire had entered to Stagnation period.

That’s correct to a certain extent. Ottoman Empire had entered to a Stagnation period, and it was not possible to win the battles so easily anymore. Also, Ottoman Anatolia ravaged by the rebellions. On the other hand, there was no stagnation period in the arts, literature, theology.

  • Ottoman state officials desperately tried to go back to the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire, i.e. to the time of Suleiman the Magnificent and Mehmed the Conqueror.

True, after seeing the military and state stagnation, almost all the state officials tried to go back to the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire, it seems that these state officials did the right thing, I think that they could be considered as Neoreactionaries, isn’t it? They had one mistake, and this mistake is the source of our troubles with the progressives in Turkey, and the Middle East.

They had ignored the technological advancements of the Europe.

They had thought that they can defeat their enemies with the outdated Ottoman technology and with their superior religion. Unfortunately, they could not defeat their enemies, their enemies defeated them. And they left a great excuse for Progressivism.These men are tragic figures for me. They tried to keep alive a massive state, they made a right decision, but they did not think that the outside can change.

  • These attempts failed, Ottoman Empire had begun to lose battles against the European states, eventually it lost some of its lands to these states.

True, from 1699 to 1774, Ottoman Empire had lost Hungary, parts of Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Croatia. Despite the many attempts to take the military technology of the Europe, Ottoman Empire had been humiliated, insulted, and lost hundreds of thousands of its soldiers.

  • Some enlightened Ottoman statesmen just after the French Revolution had thought that Westernization (this is the first phase of Westernization, taking only the material stuff, i.e. technology, especially military technology) of the Western.

This is not true, Ottoman diplomats constantly sent reports to the state that the anarchy destroyed France and murdered the poor king, and their loyal followers. Ottoman diplomats in Paris translated the revolutionary pamphlets to Turkish (With the help of Armenian and Greek interpreters) and warned the State that this wave of anarchy is good for us (since they don’t have the time to fight with the Ottoman Empire), but at the same time, there is a weak chance that this shit can come to the Ottoman Empire.

These lunatics say to me that their king is a human being too, and they would give all government jobs to the common people. When I complained about that  they say that my country should make the Revolution too.

“From a report of an Ottoman diplomat.”

The so-called “enlightened Ottoman statesmen” showed themselves after the 1820s. But still, a Clique emerged in the Ottoman empire that involved some people who have gone to the Europe, (and don’t have enough intelligence like our diplomat at Paris) thought that Ottomans should imitate the military organization of the Western Europe. But, they begun to imitate the fiscal system of the Europe too. New taxes, conscription, new clothing for the army. Congratulations gentlemen, you are not Enlightened but you are Progressives.


  • A Westernization and Reform project had begun in the Ottoman Empire.


The Clique found the right Sultan for their project, Selim the Third. Selim the Third was the first progressive Sultan, there are rumors that he exchanged letters with some French and Prussian statesmen. Selim was a very ambitious, intelligent, and cruel person, he thought that he would create the greatest empire of the World.

Selim and his Clique had begun a Westernization and Reform project. They named their project as the Nizam-ı Cedid (means The New Order in Turkish). They created a new Treasury, instituted new taxes for salt, sugar, coffee etc. They placed informers to bath houses and coffee shops (these are the most important places for socialization and gossips in the Ottoman Empire). They created a new army with new European weapons and clothing. Selim and his Clique had faced with the worst inflation at the history of the Ottoman Empire and the Serbian Revolts, thus the people reacted.

In May 1807, some Janissaries reacted against the newly formed army and killed some of them. Then, shopkeepers joined to them and the ordinary people gave their support to them. Progs would name them as the Rebels, I would name them as the Reactionaries. They stormed the palace and killed the Clique with the help of Ulema (Sunni Muslim clergy) and the other statesmen who were not the part of the Clique. The most of the Clique were executed (others switched sides), and the Sultan were deposed.

To be continued.



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