On the Difficulty of Turkish Modernization 

—“I have few questions for you, Mr. Doolittle, “—

Good. Let us have fun.


Yes islam is a serious negative, but it is only a serious negative because of Turkey’s demographics. While Turkey’s demographics are not good (90+) they are nowhere as bad as the other islamic states (80), and in particular the Arab states.(Africa is different. So while turkey is more successful than other islamic states, it is not as successful as those states that do not have islam, but have the same demographics, and not anywhere near as successful as those that have neither difficult demographics or islam.

In other words. You can look for complex answers in a complex history but the answer is very simple.
(a) demographics, (b) religion that is not helpful for those demographics, (c) long term difficulty creating rule of law and trust because of the exploitative and multicultural nature of the empire, and (d) the broader problem with islam is that it spread this problem to the great civilizations of the ancient world and created a monopoly that destroyed all opportunity and incentive for competition innovation.
(europe did the opposite. many small states in constant competition). China by contrast is a single ethnicity with high neotonic development (genetic benefits).

This is why I say that all the things that islam claims are goods, are actually BADs.

—“I hope that you would answer. I am quite curious about your evaluation and consideration for the modernization since I am a historian who is specialized in the subdiscipline of history of the late ottoman empire and Turkish Republic.”—

I have spent quite a bit of time in Turkey … too much of it in Istanbul Airport. But the coast is very beautiful.

—“Btw, sorry for my probable language mistakes.”—

Don’t be silly. Crossing languages and civilizations and then adding historical interpretation, is hard. It just requires negotiation of terms and ideas.

—“1. What do you think about the modernization attempts in Muslim countries from the late 18th century to the early 20th century?”—

That is a very complex subject. But I am pretty sure I am right that the answer is very simple. And I think you might agree that the answer is simple.

I would say that I understand the expansion and decline of the islamic empires in economic and military terms. This does not provide ANY isight into the cultural and political terms. In other words, my understanding is *deterministic* not procedural. I understand that given the demographics and the geography that creating homogeneity destroyed incentives and competitiveness as it does everywhere. Small states compete and innovate. Large empires centralize rents, disincentivize production and innovation.

I have read too small a number of academic papers on attempts at modernization to comment outside of this ‘deterministic’ analysis, and while I have discussed the subject with Turkish and Persian historians in my intellectual orbit (libertarianism), by and large they have all been … exercises in excuse-making.

The remaining islamic empires (the three) had been made possible by horse and gunpowder, but that whether reconquered by westerners, attempting modernization, or resorting to fundamentalism, it seems that all failed, and for rather obvious reasons I think Fukuyama answers, but most of us understand as deterministic: demographic, religious, educational, cultural, and economic.

–“2. Turkey was much more successful than the other Muslim countries, such as Egypt and Iran (in terms of secularization and military power etc). Geographical closeness to Europe, or genetic (Turkish average has 12% East Asian genes [the highest percentage percentage is 19% in the Turkish DNA project, Cinnioglu’s (2004) article has a minority bias], and a bit higher amount of North European genes), or both?”—

While Turkey has an IQ of what 90? which is ‘below the minimum’ (93), but has at least 1/2-3/4 standard deviation in IQ over the Arab states(about the same as east asians over americans) – and thats given that I don’t know how to separate out the east (Turkish) vs west (Kurdish) of Turkey either. all I know is that 70% of the population is reported to be ethnically turkic.

Turks have been Islamized for a shorter period than arabs, originate in a different race, and did not share the arab reproductive strategies, and in addition, imported and bred with european slaves. So Turkish demographics are not good, but they aren’t as bad as the arabs. And I am pretty sure that if I saw the noise in the distribution that there is an upper middle (professional) class of turks that is large enough for the population.

Commerce breeds empiricism, and empiricism attracts intelligence, and we see this in Turkish entrepreneurship.

So I would say (a) anyone who occupies the Bosporus will profit (that’s why the eastern roman empire held of islam so long – wealth). (b) Turks were able to profit from the fertility of the european colonies (most of which were far more profitable than the rest of the empire), (c) Turks had access to technology because of trade. (d) and turks were not in good condition but were not below the educable threshold (85). More than half of arabs are below the educable threshold. Which is why illiteracy in the sense of reading something other than scripture is so high.

So it sure looks demographic.

—“3. Throughout the modernization period, various Turkish institutions have imitated different European countries (We can notice the same pattern in the other Muslim countries, they mostly took from the so-called best and the most successful European countries). Let’s give some examples; Turkish Army had followed the Prussian way, Turkish Navy had imitated the British way, and Turkish Police and Turkish Gendarmerie had been reorganized by French. Do you think that, the Muslim failure partly caused (Islam and genetics are the other causes) by that? Trying to adapt three different organizational culture at the same time?”—

The problems are
– a low trust society and the size of organizations that results in low multiples.
– a religion that is hostile to ratio-scientific thought
– a burden of a large underclass

This is what I tell everyone: everyone over 125 is the same. Everyone under 125 is increasingly different. The world upper middle and upper can migrate but it costs their lower classes the leadership (destruction of black america by liberals in the 1960s. Separatism created a middle class that defected upon ending separatism.). Or the irish and the Lebanese.

So the problem is the same for ALL of us. We need to get our median IQ’s as far above 100 as possible. My understanding at present is that 105 is the near future minimum, and 112-115 the next century minimum.

I think focusing on genes is not so important. There is nothing wrong with Turkish genes. We see that in the entrepreneurship numbers. We see this in military performance. We see this in the ability to run a functional economy – particularly banking and trade.

It may be true that clannishness and low trust are genetic. While I know they are, I don’t know how far that can be carried.

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