I am not on Twitter too often. Maybe because I tend to write long-form, most of the time. But there are often gems you find there. Such as this excerpt from a Time Magazine article published in 1927.
To set the context, it had not been long since the Ottoman Caliphate had officially ended, and there was a struggle internally ensuing between the traditionalists, loyal to the Ottoman Empire and mourning the breakup of the Caliphate state and the Young Turks, the secular, ‘progressive’ group led by Mustafa Kemal, hell bent on modernising the Turkish state in to a country shorn of its Islamic identity and more resembling its European counterparts.
I thought I would pick it apart and demonstrate the various methods that can be used to re-engineer a society, which is of course what happened in Turkey after the establishment of the Republic.
1) Immediately, their old way of life is belittled and besmirched. Hence the need to let them know that they’re “backward people” and they need to become civilised. (This is classic Colonial practice — this was an interesting TED talk showing the same had been done to traditional, authentic food in India and that the new generation had ditched the food of their ancestors because of it being ‘backward and uncivilised’ — despite it being their food of choice for centuries and much healthier.)
2) Introduce a new “Civil Code” based on Western law and to criminalise all acts falling outside of this code.
At the same time, you must scare them into not having many children — if their numbers are allowed to breed and grow, it will undermine your efforts.
3) Introduce nationalism and encourage them to give up their lands and downsize their borders. Note the use of ‘Non-Turkish’ in the article.
4) Ensure a dictator is in place who enforces these changes during the transition period and glorify him to make him untouchable.
5) Re-educate the society about who their friends and enemies really are.
6) Take control of the Department of Justice and the Department of Education, making sure the new generations accept the changes. This one is absolutely critical — this locks in the changes for the long term, ensuring your world view is indoctrinated into the future generations and that the memory of their once glorious history is lost.
7) Make sure to replace not just the Civil Code but also the Commercial Code and the Penal Code from neighbouring ‘superior’, long-civilised states.
8) Scrap the “outworn Quranic Law” and replace with modern Western statutes. This one is also critical as this is the essence of the process of secularisation. Going from God’s laws to man-made laws.
9) Replace religious schools with secular schools — and take the spirit out of education. Again, absolutely paramount to give them the cookie-cutter, industrialised schooling system so they can never think for themselves.
10) Of course, you have to give these changes a sexy brand name. Let’s call this a “social revolution”.
11) Abandon your national traditions including your cultural attire and start looking like the people you fought against in the war. Losing your identity, roots and what makes you, you. Once that goes, you become confused and become more malleable — without a strong sense of identity yourself, you adopt the identity of others.
This article of course was published before the so called “language reform” so let’s include that here as well: abandon your 600 year old alphabet and adopt the Western Latin letters; purge Arabic and Persian words from your language and adopt Western words or reinvent ugly sounding national words in their place.
12) It is extremely important to target women, and to make sure they no longer dress modestly. See 14.
13) As a new society is being engineered, we must show no mercy to anyone who opposes these reforms, hang them at the drop of a hat. Be tough and set an example that any resistance is futile.
14) This is an extremely important point, no society can be re-engineered without targeting the family structure.
The family structure is targeted by ensuring women stop playing the traditional housewife role. They must work and become independent, they must care for themselves and avoid having (many) children. Once they become independent, the man becomes redundant and chaos ensues.
The society can’t survive for long if it doesn’t breed.
15) No-one must be punished for establishing and enforcing these changes otherwise the legitimacy of these changes will be questioned.
And there you have it. So, in summary, how do you subdue a nation?
You don’t just “divide and conquer” them:
1) You divide them,
2) You conquer them, but most importantly
3) You corrupt them!
It is a scarily accurate look at what happened post Caliphate when making Turkey into the secular Republic it was for the majority of the 20th Century. When you look at society around us today, how many of the above can you recognise? Pretty much all of them!
So, which of these are the most influential? I do think it’s a culmination of many factors but the ones that stand out are of course — moving from Quranic law to man-made laws, abolishing of the family unit and perhaps the most critical of all — re-education.
It reminds me of a quote I once read from Neil Postman:
When the (British and French) colonialists came, they first brought their navy, then their armies, then their administration, then their school system. And then they left.” — Neil Postman
I think this says it all. When the education system that serves their interests has been put in place — everything is secured for the way they need it for generations to come — all you need is a handful of people in positions of power to oversee it.
And we wonder why we can’t think critically.
You’re not supposed to, silly.
We’ve laid out what it looks like when a society has been re-engineered to serve the interests of the status quo.
But what is the impact of a society which has lost its soul and the spirituality in its education? A story from China demonstrates this well.
When the ancient Chinese decided to live in peace, they made the Great Wall of China, They thought no one can climb it due to its height and were confident of being safe, protected and that peace would continue for the long term.
However, despite this, during the first 100 years of its existence, they were invaded THREE times! The hordes of enemy infantry got through easily.
But the Great Wall was never breached.
How did they get in, then?
The reason they had no need of penetrating or climbing over the Great Wall…was because each time they had simply bribed the guards and swaggered through nonchalantly through the doors.
The Chinese built the wall but forgot the character-building of the guards.
This is the importance of proper education. The the building of human character comes BEFORE the building of anything else.
This is why in history it was often cited that if you want to destroy the civilisation of a nation, there are three main ways:
To destroy the family structure
To destroy their education
To debase their role models and references
How do you do that?
Well, in order to destroy the family; you must undermine the role of the mother, so that she feels ashamed of being a housewife.
To destroy education: you should give no importance to the teacher, and lower his place in society so as that the students despise him.
To lower the role models: you should undermine the scholars, doubt them until no one listens to them or follows them and replace them with those not qualified or immorally or ethically corrupt.
For when a conscious mother disappears, a dedicated teacher disappears and there’s a downfall of role models, WHO will teach young people morals, values and the right type of education? To empower and elevate them?
Now have a look around you at our society today. The housewife is considered lowly in our feminist world. The teacher is one of the lowest paid roles with a difficult, thankless task. And our young people look up to footballers, pop stars and YouTube influencers rather than with anyone with substance and calibre.
And in a world where we are encouraged to follow our every desire (a la the donkeys on Pinocchio’s Pleasure Island), where porn is mainstream and where our attention span is sub 30 seconds — perhaps we are victim to the same, corrupt system. Would a society where Quranic law was in place, where the family structure was in tact, where teachers were respected and where the school system focused on character and morality as well as skills be like this?
And that, my friends is how you re-engineer a society…
A lifelong learner, avid reader and passionate writer, I am the founder of KNOW and a serial entrepreneur.
I am a huge believer in personal development and am also the co-founder of Muslim CEO.