I was once told by a drunken professor,’If you can’t slice it and serve it with chips, it probably doesn’t exist.’ A very acceptable approach to metaphysics. Let us take ‘the Nation.’ You don’t have a lot of choice in Turkey, or as one of my friends says,’Turkiya’. The Turks are very nationalist. They know very little about the outside world. These two facts are often linked. My friend does not want his nation named after an edible bird. Fair enough.
The idea of a nation is comparatively recent and embedded in protectionist economic policies. ‘Buy British’. The Germans and the Americans both built their nations on sound economic, protectionist principles. It’s necessary. try opening a cotton factory off the coast of China, if you don’t believe me. Yet, no one actually says this. There is always mystique.
So, we have the English nation beginning with Stubb’s Charters and Anglo Saxons enjoying pastoral democracy, we have the French with the Revolution and Napoleon. We have the Germans. Umm, less said the better there, and we have Mother Russia, Old Ireland, Scotland the Brave and we have Turkey.
Turkey is new, though not as new, as, say, Slovakia. Firstly, to be a successful nation you need a dodgy history, so the Turks rode out of the Altaic mountains, beat the Greeks, conquered Constantinople, slung out the Sultan, beat the Greeks, and started the Turkish Republic. It was a GOOD THING. Ataturk gets my vote as probably the greatest reformer in history. And people still worship him. Maybe Stalin did more, but everybody hates him and always did. As a friend of mine recently said, consider if Mussolini had abolished the Papacy, made all the Italians wear Arabic clothing and write in Arabic script and adopt Arabic names. This is the scale of Ataturk’s achievement. Only , the other way around. If you see what I mean. ‘Happy is he, who can say, I am a Turk.’ Good news if you have just lost hundreds of thousand s in a war and an Empire as well. DNA show that only about 5% of them are anything like pure Turks, but who cares? The Turks were freed, literacy rates sky-rocketed, education improved, and though the Turks work too hard their country is a modern secular state. At the moment. So Turks are Turks because they follow a metaphysical idea, and it works. For the most part. There are some things we don’t mention. But we don’t mention those. Watch this space.
We do mention the Pashtuns. There are 43,000,000 of these at the last count, in 1979. They are descended from Scythians with a Greek element, and some Israelis are investigating the possibility they are the lost tribe. Still, that’s Israelis for you. Alexander the Great called them ‘Lions’ for the bravery in battle. They have no nation and indeed no outlet to the sea. Are they a nation? Most certainly. They all claim descent from the same mythical father figure. They all claim to be related to each other, which must make weddings difficult to manage. They are united and strong and very fierce. They have a tradition of fighting foreign invaders going back to ancient times,. We have a new name for them. We call them ‘students’. Or ‘taliban’. The Americans are fighting them as we speak, and the British, whom they have defeated at least twice in history, have gone back for more.
Watch this space.
Now, how about the Kurds. The what?