27 May 2006

703) Toynbee's "Nationality and the War" (1915)

Was Toynbee's book, "Nationality and the War" from 1915 written before Toynbee joined his nation's propaganda division, Wellington House? That's what I always thought, but the book's chapter regarding the Ottoman Empire, entitled THE DISMANTLING OF TURKEY, speaks for itself. Toynbee exposes his Christian partisanship, and is entirely unconcerned with what would be called in later years as the "human rights" of the less-than-human Turks.

This is an evil work. Of course, at least Toynbee would go on to redeem himself in future years, realizing the anti-Turkish prejudice he was raised with bore no merit.

The main reason why I wanted to showcase the following excerpts was to make a record of Toynbee's estimate of the pre-war Ottoman-Armenian population, hovering around one million. I also threw in a couple of pages on demonstrating Toynbee's thoughts on the entire Ottoman population, a figure of 20 million.

From "Armenia," pp. 386-91

Finally there is the common tradition of a political independence which endured almost unbroken for twelve centuries, and occasionally played a decisive part in the history of the World.

Unhappily this tradition was extinguished more than eight centuries ago. Since then the only adminis­trative bond uniting the Armenian people has been the organisation of their national Church, and the nation?s history has resembled that of the Jews. The Arme­nians in Dispersion have prospered exceedingly. They have shown an adaptability capable of assimilating European ways of life, not merely the social super­ficialities achieved by the Young Turks, but the solid foundations of spiritual ideas and technical skill; and they have found the energy to turn their acquisitions to account by rivalling and even outstripping their European teachers in the economic exploitation of the Nearer East. Their recent evolution has bridged the gulf between Asiatic and European, and, like the rise of Japan, tends to prove that the contrast between "Oriental" and ?Occidental" does not express under­lying difference of temperament so much as difference of phase in an identical process of growth.

Japan, however, in her awakening has mainly utilised the political line of advance, while the political con­dition of the Armenian peasant who has stayed at home in his native mountain-valleys, has steadily been going from bad to worse. Moslem government has given the advantage to his Moslem neighbours from the Zagros mountains on the South-East, the quite bar­barous nomadic Kurdish clans; and during the last generation of the nineteenth century the regime of Abdul Hamid converted this inevitable tendency towards official partiality into a deliberate policy of inflaming a racial feud, and destroying the Armenian nationality in the conflagration. The Kurdish chiefs were decorated with Ottoman military rank, and their retainers enrolled as Ottoman irregular troops. Rifles were distributed to these "regiments? in abundance, while the Armenian population was prohibited under the severest penalties from carrying arms. Then the Kurds were let loose on the Armenians, as the Albanians were let loose on the Serbs in the valley of the White Drin. Village after village of native peasants has been laid desolate, that the intrusive Kurd may pitch his tents and pasture his flocks over the abandoned fields: the concerted massacres which have shocked us from time to time, are merely accentuations of a steadily pushed process, which is successfully annihilating the most civilised and industrious race in Western Asia, and replacing it by the most idle, squalid and unruly.

The Armenian Dispersion lavishes its wealth in building schools, supporting refugees, and stemming wherever it can the tide of destruction, but it is powerless against the brute force of Turkish government in possession. The situation is even worse under the new regime than under the old, for the administration cannot easily recall rifles recklessly delivered into Kurdish hands, even if it has the will to do so, while Young Turkish chauvinism looks askance at the Armenians? success, and contemplates their disappearance with satisfaction.

The civilised World cannot afford to let these out­rages continue, and if the two Central European powers that have so far secured Turkey impunity are defeated in the present war, the whole territory where this state of things prevails must be severed from the Turkish Empire at once.

The true solution of the Armenian question is fortunately not difficult to discern. There is no possibility yet of national self-government: the Armenian peasantry constitutes only one half of the population in this region, it is defenceless, and it is crushed by persecution. The first requisite is efficient government, inexorably just and irresistibly strong, which will carry out the serious military task of disarming and pacifying the Kurds, and proceed to establish law-and-order throughout the land. Under the shadow of such a government both races would for the first time be free to increase, multiply, and inherit this portion of the earth, according to their respective talents and capacities.

?Strong government? of just the kind required exists already immediately across the frontier, and a large section of the Armenian population has long prospered under it. It has been the fashion in England to depreciate the Russian administration in the Caucasus. ?It was imposed,? we say, ?by relentless warfare against small native mountain tribes struggling for their freedom, and this sacrifice of blood has not been justified by its results. On the one hand order is far from being perfectly established (we remember the racial riots between Armenians and Tatars at Baku in 1904-5),[1] and on the other hand the national development, not only of savage mountaineers, but of civilised Georgians and Armenians, has been stifled with a heavy hand.? But we have only to look at our own ?North-West Frontier? in India to see that Russia?s work in the Caucasus has been the most brilliant triumph of pacification in the nineteenth century.

[1] Though they are not a fair example to cite, since they were due to the transitory phase of anarchy which swept during these years over the whole Russian Empire, while against them must be set many decades of continuously efficient administration.

The British advance has stopped short at the outer spurs of the Hindu Kush. We have debarred the hill-tribes from making a livelihood by raiding the Plains, and subsidised them in compensation for their loss; we enforce peace upon the road over the Khyber Pass, by which trade passes from India to Kabul?and that is all, though those who have experience rightly account it much. But Russia has boldly penetrated to the Caucasus? heart, cut her military trails through its forest slopes, and built her post road over its central pass of Dariel from rail-head at Vladivkavkas to another rail at Tiflis, where the Transcaucasian line passes on its way from the Black Sea to the Caspian. Then she has connected these two railway systems by a new line skirting the Caspian coast, and turning the range?s Eastern flank. Above all, and through all, she has opened up the material resources of the whole territory to economic exploitation.

It is true that Russia?s Armenian subjects have suffered, like the other national minorities in the Empire, from her mistaken policy of repression. Just as the Poles found the efficiency of advanced Prussia more terrible than the slackness of backward Russia, the Russian police in turn pressed more hardly than the paralytic Turkish administration upon Armenian nationalism. Twenty years ago, and again for a moment when the Turkish Revolution kindled so many hopes, there were Armenians who planned a national unification within a Turkey decentralised after enlargement at the expense of the Russian frontier; but, as in Thrace, the Turks themselves have effectually shattered such delusions, and there is not an Armenian now in the Turkish provinces who does not pray for the coming of Russia.

Etchmiadzin, the ecclesiastical capital of the nation, is already in Russian territory, and even while Armenian political idealism still had a Turkish orientation, the actual political centre of gravity was automatically shifting across the frontier. The Armenian husbandman, when the barrenness of the mountains and the ferociousness of the Kurds drive him to seek his fortune abroad, naturally gravitates to the most favourable market for his energies. He has found it in Russian Caucasia, and this is the best testimony of all to the virtue of Russian rule. Tiflis, the ancient capital of the Georgian nation, has become practically an Armenian city, boasting almost as large an Armenian colony as Constantinople, while the population of the native Armenian districts on the Russian side of the frontier is now about a quarter as large again as the Armenian population in the Turkish provinces East of the Euphrates and North of the Tigris, though it occupies a territory of less than half this area. [1]

We must, therefore, attempt to bring within the Russian frontier all Turkish territory where the fundamental population is Armenian, and where this population?s prosperity is being ruined by the legalised aggression of the Kurds.

[1] Armenian population in Tiflis :. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155,000

Armenian population in Constantinople :. . . . . . . . . . . . . 161,000

Armenian population in Russian provinces Akhaltsik, Kars, Alexandropol, Erivan, Nathitchevan, Shusa: 750,000

Armenian population in Turkish territory within limits specified : 600,000

"Armenian population in Turkish territory within limits specified" is "East of the Euphrates and North of the Tigris," which would be east of the red line on Toynbee's map, below; there were still a couple of hundred thousand or so other Armenians in the rest of Anatolia, which would bring Toynbee's own figure of Ottoman-Armenians to a total of around a million. (761,000 + 200,000-300,000.) This would be around the number (1.1 million) of an Ottoman census Toynbee would point to in his Wellington House "Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire" report in the following year, and ridicule. Suddenly, Toynbee would stress the credibility of the Armenian Patriarch's figure of 2.1 million, twice what Toynbee had estimated one year prior.

Toynbee may not have desired the shaded portion of Anatolia to have been left entirely to the Turks; there are different cross-hatchings, suggesting different spheres of influence. Toynbee was only slightly more generous than the Sèvres Treaty would prove to be in a few years.

Map from Arnold Toynbee's "Nationality and the War"

This territorial settlement [1] of the national question must take due account of the geographical factor, and it would begin by assigning Trebizond to the Russian Empire, because a great caravan route starts from that port across the mountains through Baiburt to Erzeroum in the Armenian interior. The Lazic population of the coast strip, though it is not itself Armenian, is not Turkish either, but akin to the Georgians of the Caucasus.[2] The frontier should accordingly start from Tireboli on the South coast of the Black Sea West of Trebizond, and run due South, excluding Karahissar to the West, till it strikes the upper reach of the Kara Su (?Western Euphrates ?) at a point below Erzingan. Thence it should follow the course of the Euphrates Southwards, as far as Telek, where the river hits the Taurus range running East and West, and slashes its way through the mountain barrier in a long, tortuous gorge, impassable for human traffic.

The Armenian race is not confined to the Eastern bank of the Euphrates. When the Turkish avalanche from Central Asia shattered the old kingdom of Armenia in the eleventh century A.D., a considerable fragment of the nation migrated across the river and beyond the open plateau of Malatia to the broken ribs of Taurus further West, where the Sihun (Sarus) and Jihun (Pyramus) come down Southwards between parallel mountain-lines to the plain of Adana and the sea. Here they founded a kingdom of Little Armenia, which threw in its lot with the Latin principalities carved out by the first Crusade, and took its full share in the losing battle against the returning tide of Islam.

[1] See Map VI.

[2] Difference of religion, however, prevents Laze and Georgian from sharing a common national consciousness. The Lazes are Moslem.

From "Panislamism," pp. 402-03

[The] oppression of Greek and Armenian is almost out-balanced by the suffering of the Moslem peasant on whom falls the burden of holding them down by force.

Turkey has only half the population [1] of the smallest of the six European powers; she is infinitely poorer than any of them, in economic and social development incomparably more backward; yet no European state exacts such a heavy blood tax from its citizens as Turkey, whose people can least afford it. The length of service, both with the colours in youth and with the various classes of reserve in later life, is in excess of most other conscript armies,[2] and mobilisation is far more frequent. On a partial scale, to combat the never outwearied unrest of the subject populations, it is practically chronic, and it occurs on the grand scale whenever the breath of war begins to blow in Europe, even when, as in the present crisis, the interests involved do not naturally affect Turkish people at all. This happens because the subject populations are ever ready for the final war of liberation, and because the neighbouring states are always waiting for the opportunity to assist them. They know too well the Turkish government?s incurable policy of adventure, which will not face accomplished facts, but still dreams of recovering Mitylene and Khios, and perhaps of re-entering Salonika.

[1] No exact statistics have ever been taken, but since the territorial losses of 1912-13 the numbers cannot much exceed 20,000,000.

[2] The terms of compulsory service for the infantry are as follows:

Active service with the colours . . . 3 years.
Active service in the reserve . . . . 6 ""
Landwehr service . . . . . . . . . . . 9 ""
Landsturm service . . . . . . . . . . 2 ""

Supposing that, through the triumph of the Central European powers, the Porte were to recover all the territories it held in Europe before the Autumn of 1912, this success would bring the Turkish peasant nothing but added misery. For him it would be a shouldering of cast-off burdens: he would once more spend years of his life garrisoning Macedonia far away from his family and his Anatolian farm, to perish at last most probably in some futile summer campaign to ?Ottomanise? the untamable Albanians. The Turkish peasant is dumb: he has no education or cohesion, and therefore no public opinion: but if he could give expression to his will in a plebiscite, he would vote for being left in peace, and ask for some government which would not herd his folk out of their villages in thousands, and send them without commissariat, munitions of war, or medical succour, to perish in the deserts of Tripoli or on the stricken field of Lule Burgas. Since he is too inarticulate to express this, it is surely the mission of Panislamism, which has the ear of the civilised world and knows how to address itself to it, to speak for him and save him from his own government, instead of encouraging that government to exploit him to the detriment of his neighbours, and the danger of the general peace.

The Porte claims the Indian Moslem?s allegiance as the protector of the Holy Cities. But here again let him try his religious sentiment in the fire of reality, and imagine himself in the place of the unhappy Turkish conscript, transported from his temperate upland home in Anatolia to the military posts along that tropical volcanic plateau of ? Stony Arabia? over which the Hejaz railway runs from Damascus to Medina, or worse still, dispatched by troop-ship down the Red Sea to the terrible, interminable Yemen campaign from which no soldier ever returns; or let him think of the Yemeni Arab himself.

Holdwater Thoughts

1) Toynbee neglects that Kurdish tribes were a thorn to everyone's sides, Muslim as well as Christian; even other Kurdish tribes were the victims of Kurdish tribes. If Armenians were disproportionately targeted, it was mainly because they were wealthier. (Kurds did not have a monopoly on lawless bands; there were lawless Armenians bands preying on villages, as well.) Abdul Hamid's reasons for setting up the Kurdish Hamidiye had much more to do with his hopes of controlling the Kurds (by doing with them what the Russians had successfully done with the Cossacks), rather than to exercise a "deliberate policy of inflaming a racial feud." See Justin McCarthy's "Death and Exile."

2) "The Armenian population was prohibited under the severest penalties from carrying arms." There are many, many Western and Armenian sources that state exactly the reverse. See, for example, an Armenian rebel leader's own diary from 1895; every villager had a weapon, he wrote. Here are other examples.

3) "[T]he whole territory where this state of things prevails must be severed from the Turkish Empire at once." Yes, the whole territory with an overwhelming Muslim population must be given to the Christians, because everyone knows the Muslims didn't count.

General Alexei Yermolov wrote to the
Tsar in 1818: he "would find no peace
as long as a single Chechen remained
alive" because "by their example they
could inspire a rebellious spirit and
love of freedom among even the most
faithful subjects of the Empire."

4) Toynbee tells us England did not appreciate Russian aggression, correctly calling Russian actions "relentless warfare against small native mountain tribes struggling for their freedom." These included both the "savage mountaineers" (bad Muslims) and the "civilised Georgians and Armenians" (good Christians). But Toynbee reminds us that just like England's own noble actions in India (see photo below), "Russia?s work in the Caucasus has been the most brilliant triumph of pacification in the nineteenth century." Never mind Russian oppression, exile and/or extermination efforts committed upon a range of peoples, including Chechens, Laz, Abkhazians, Circassians, Crimean Turks and others. Even today, the lot of these persecuted peoples feel the effects of Russian oppression. (That is, the ones who were allowed to remain; so many were chased forever out of their homelands.) To the racist "early" Toynbee, these people simply did not matter; in this book, Toynbee will instead tell us... even while pointing out Russian persecution of the Armenians... that we must be grateful for "the virtue of Russian rule." (In later years, Toynbee would give a higher honor to Turks: "The Ottoman institution came perhaps as near as anything in real life could to realizing the ideal of Plato?s Republic.?)

A heathen-civilizing Englishman getting a pedicure from his Indian servants. English historian William Digby estimated in 1901 that the amount Britain had looted from India was 1 billion dollars. Toynbee gushed over his nation's "North-West-Frontier" in India as an example to praise Russia's glorious "pacification" efforts, but he would think differently years later, in 1948's "Civilization on Trial": "India is one great non-western society that has been, not merely attacked and hit, but overrun and conquered by Western arms, but ruled, after that, by Western administration. India's experience of the West has thus been more painful and more humiliating than China's..."
(Thanks to this site.)

5) "[T]here is not an Armenian now in the Turkish provinces who does not pray for the coming of Russia." Sounds like grounds for serious disloyalty to me. (Yet, Toynbee insisted in his "Treatment" work that there was no Armenian revolt.)

6) Toynbee is very correct about the sacrifices in the military expected of the Turkish man; with the world constantly attacking the Ottomans from all sides, there was simply no other choice. Such is his justification for "We must, therefore, attempt to bring within the Russian frontier all Turkish territory." Give Turkey to Russia, and finally the Turks would not have to deal with miseries and burdens. Yet note the hypocrisy. Sure, the average Turk would have preferred to be "left in peace." But so would the average person from any other country. He is telling us that what is good for the, say, British Empire was not good for the Ottoman Empire. Did the average Briton enjoy being sent to far-off lands, such as America and Africa and Asia, to perish? And these examples of colonialism don't serve as a direct parallel. What Toynbee regarded as lands that did not belong to the Turks had been owned by the Turks for centuries. The Turks had as much a right to defend these lands within their nation as the British would within their nation, as during times trouble brewed with the Irish or the Scots. The issue isn't whether the Irish or the Scots or the Armenians do not also deserve national independence. The issue is that the ones in ownership of the land, especially "their own land" close to home and not colonial land far away, have the right to defend that land; every nation on earth would feel the same way, so why the double-standard?

7) "...[T]he Turkish government?s incurable policy of adventure, which will not face accomplished facts..." The one accomplished fact is that centuries after the second attempt at conquering Vienna, the Ottomans pursued a policy of defense, and not offense. This "policy of adventure" had become a "policy of trying to stay alive."

8) "The Turkish peasant is dumb." As most weren't educated, that would be true in regards to ignorance. But ignorance is not a measure of intelligence. Toynbee goes on to say, "[The Turk] has no education or cohesion, and therefore no public opinion." We all know what he was driving at, by having added the word, "cohesion": racial inferiority.

© Holdwater

The source site of this article gets revised often, as better
information comes along. For the most up-to-date version, and
the related photos, the reader may consider reviewing
the direct link as follows:



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