Monday, 05 April 2021 17:29

Law in West: Eating the Fallen Among Wolves

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)

In this new chapter that capitalism has reached, large capital groups and monopolies, which are called finance capital, formed from the combination of financial capital and industrial capital, emerged. Unlike the old-style colonialism, imperialism, which emerged especially from the 1870s, is the result of this capitalist economic development.


After the geographical discoveries, one of the most influential changes in world history is the Industrial Revolution. First invented by James Watt in 1765, the steam engine, as it is known, became a symbol of the industrial revolution. The developments that have taken place since the mid-19th century are the result of the great transformation that took place in the world economy, especially imperialism, after the Industrial Revolution.

Colonialism provided the economic foundations of the Industrial Revolution. With the colonial expeditions of Europe that started with geographical discoveries, very valuable resources from all over the world were brought to Europe. Thus, the resulting wealth led to an increase in the welfare level and growth of the economy in Europe generally. In the past, it was the West that picked up many techniques from the East, and until the end of the 18th century, the export power in the world was China, not the West. India had enormous export capacity.[1]

The colonialist capitalist understanding acted cyclically according to the age it was in, either pursued a politics based on intrigue, made possible future global rivals dependent on "aid" by means of tricks, or did not hesitate to use more brutal methods. To give a striking example of the brutal practice of British imperialism, it cut the thumbs of Indian weavers and made them unable to produce Indian fabrics, thereby ensuring the dominance of British fabrics in the world markets and making India a customer of British fabrics. William Bolts, who was under the management of the British East India Company, described everything that the British did to kill the local weaving in India, in his book "Considerations on India Affairs", first published in London in 1772, after he left his company that made this savagery by revolting.

Strangely enough, Friedrich Engels, one of the communist theorists, who said that "British factory-made fabrics have replaced expensive hand-made Indian fabrics because they were cheap" ignored this fact of savage capitalism.[2]  

In this new chapter that capitalism has reached, large capital groups and monopolies, which are called finance capital, formed from the combination of financial capital and industrial capital, emerged. Unlike the old-style colonialism, imperialism, which emerged especially from the 1870s, is the result of this capitalist economic development. Imperialism, which is basically based on socio-economic reasons, has been legitimized in different ways in different periods. Imperialist politics has been presented as a national pride and prestige within the country. In this framework, it was claimed that by creating perception and imposition with the "white man responsibility" vision, Europe carried "civilization" to the places it went to, and this was a mission.[3] Today, neo-colonialism continues to bring nothing but blood and tears and misery, with the same claims and this time saying it will bring "democracy" and rediscovering the areas of exploitation.

At the beginning of the 19th century, it is not possible to evaluate the foreign economic relations of the Ottoman Empire separately from the rapid changes that started with the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the newly formed capitalist world economy. Starting from the second half of the 19th century, Western Europe was strengthened with the advantages of colonialism, they shared the geographies they would colonize, especially Britain and France, by agreeing with each other and turned towards new areas of exploitation.[4] While all these developments were taking place, the Ottoman Empire was intermingled with the nationalism movement spreading from Europe, besides, it was struggling with heavy financial crises due to the inability to benefit from the underground and aboveground natural resources in the places under its control, as it was slow to join the Industrial Revolution. The rebellion of the Egyptian Governor Mehmet Ali Pasha in 1831, the Balta Port Treaty signed with England in 1838 and the Edict of Gülhane constituted the beginning of a new era for the Ottoman finance. The events that took place after the Treaty of Balta Liman and the declaration of the Edict of Gülhane caused deep crises and damages in the Ottoman financial structure. In order to adapt to European commercial life, the customs tariffs were completely changed and a series of new regulations regarding the new commercial understanding were put into practice. However, all these regulations favored foreign businessmen rather than domestic businessmen, and the commercial monopoly applied in the Ottoman markets benefited the first rank foreign investors. To cap it off, a similar concession was given to France with the 1838 Treaty of Commerce, similar to the concessions given to England. And yet the concessions that had to be granted were not limited to England and France but were given to other European states between 1839 and 1846. Of course, this situation caused foreign merchants and non-Muslim Ottoman citizens, who cooperated with them, to gain an important place in domestic trade. The Ottoman geography has become an open market for foreigners and foreign products. After a short while, the export and import balance turned upside down and the foreign trade deficit of the state increased significantly. About ten years after the signing of the Treaty of Commerce, the Ottoman Empire had to try its chance on European bankers in order to obtain foreign loans. The first loan was from Britain and France in 1853, due to the troubles brought by the Crimean War. By this way, new loans followed each other. The failure of the reform movements tried to be implemented in the Ottoman Empire made the current administrative, financial, political and military situation even more tangled. The Ottoman administration declared in 1875 that it could not pay its debts due to the current financial conditions. In other words, the Ottoman-Russian War made the financial structure of the state worse. At the beginning of 1880, the total amount of foreign debt the Ottoman Empire had to pay reached 250 million Turkish Liras.[5]

By 1871, long before the Congress of Berlin in 1878, reform movements had gone so far as to make a simple return to the past policy impossible. The fall of the old order is deeply rooted, leaving no way for its redemption; For better or worse, the only way for Turkey was seen and perceived as a way of modernization and Westernization. It could be going fast or slow, straight or roundabout, but it was impossible to go back.[6]

The Congress of Berlin is a turning point where the influence and power potential of the Ottoman Empire in the European Continent decreased to a micro level and suffered a significant loss of land. Bulgaria gained a semi-independent status, while Bosnia and Herzegovina was left to Austro-Hungarian rule. It would not be wrong to say that the Ottoman Empire lost its Slavic citizens, except Macedonia, when we consider that Serbia and Montenegro had already broken away from the Empire. The most obvious and clear view that traditional powers such as Russia, England, France, Austria-Hungary pursued a policy of plundering the Empire is the Congress of Berlin.[7] When the Ottoman Empire entered this period, it turned into a country that was suppressed by European capital. After a while with the bankruptcy of the finance, this situation was institutionalized with the 1881 Decree of Muharram. Following this decree, a contract that will result in the establishment of the Ottoman Public Debt Administration Commission, which means the Debt Administration, was signed in order to solve financial problems with the representatives of the internal and external organizations from which the Sublime Porte received loans. The Ottoman Public Debt Administration Commission consists of the representatives of the Ottoman Bank appointed by Austria-Hungary, England, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy and the Ottoman Empire. With the establishment and inauguration of this commission, the Ottoman financial management was openly taken over by foreigners and the income of the country was confiscated.

Certain infrastructural investments in the country were carried out under the control of foreign countries. The total foreign debt of the Ottoman Empire in these years was around 2 billion francs. In return for this debt, some taxes, the tithe of several states, the customs, the tobacco and salt monopoly, the stamp and spirit tax, the Istanbul Balıkhane duties, the authority to collect the silk taxes of some states were left to the Ottoman Public Debt Administration. Those who wanted to take advantage of the current situation were looking for a share of the Ottoman financial crisis, taking advantage of the opportunity. Doctor Theodor Herzl, stating that they would help the Ottoman Empire in solving the financing problems and even cover the entire debt, provided that the Jews were given land in Palestine, made a proposal to the Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Artin Pasha to be conveyed to the sultan. In this proposal letter,[8] "You must expel the administration of Ottoman Public Debt Administration' and re-bail out the power and wealth of your country..."(You must remove Ottoman Public Debt Administration from your country and re-acquire the ottoman sources of power and wealth) “… We offer you to get rid of the intelligence on foreigners. We are not going to move away from you or leave you. We will connect our future to your future…” (we never move away from you and we never leave you. We want to make a unity of destiny by linking our future to your future).[9]

Meanwhile, the process of giving the country's natural resources to foreigners in monopoly privileges has accelerated. In 1883, tobacco became a monopoly to a French organization, in 1896 Ereğli coals to another French company; in 1887 Borax mines to the British; In 1892 Balya-Karaaydın lignites were transferred to a foreign capital Ottoman company; In 1893, the same qualified Kassandra company was granted a manganese concession. In the Ottoman country, mining of coal was the largest amount compared to other industrial mines. According to Gündüz Ökçün, more than half of the mineral production between 1902 and 1911 was in the control of foreign companies. In particular, the share of foreigners in mining coal was 65-68%, and the share of Ottoman national capital in total mine production was gradually decreasing. There was no national bank other than Ziraat Bank, which Midhat Pasha was the real founder of, but later acquired the status of a bank, and the Ottoman Empire was invaded by powerful foreign banks. Even the Banque Imperiale Ottamane (Ottoman Bank), the state's emission bank, was already known to be founded with French-British capital. The Austrian-French capitalized Bank of Thessaloniki in 1888 and Deutsche-Orient Bank began operations in 1906. In addition, branches of Italian, Dutch and Austrian banks spread all over the country. The foreign trade deficit had been chronic since the Tanzimat period. Because of this, even the most vital investments were doomed to foreign capital. The most dominant investment was railways, which were of vital importance in the military, administrative and economic mechanism of the empire. The Ottoman Empire was indebted enormously for a low-operative railway network, and even some provinces were recompensed for it.[10]    

 Inspired Ones by the Whispers of the East

It is very clear that the Congress of Berlin caused very important breaks in the domestic and foreign policy of the Ottoman state. After the Congress of Berlin, the main reason why the rulers of the Ottoman Empire felt close to Germany among the great states was due to the strategic positions of the other states in a way that would not leave the Ottoman Empire a chance to live. In fact, at that time, Abdul Hamid II was trying to strengthen the Empire with different maneuvers. They were attempting to establish bilateral relations with different countries against the imperial efforts of Western countries. Unfortunately, the Ottoman-Japanese relations that started with the visit of the Japanese Prince Komatsu Akihito to Istanbul could not turn into deep-rooted political and economic relations. In 1889, the Ertuğrul Frigate set out to deliver the Order of Osmanieh to the Japanese Emperor. On this occasion, an important step would have been taken in foreign policy, which seemed to be the main goal. As a matter of fact, as it is understood from some documents in the French Foreign Archives, the effect of Sultan Abdul Hamid's activities has been so great that it is possible to see this for example in China. An Islamic University (Beijing Hamidiye University) was opened in Beijing on his behalf and the Ottoman flag was waved at its gate. We know that the activities and contacts of the delegation, which was sent to China under the leadership of Enver Pasha in 1901, developed in this direction.[11]

Following a policy of balance against European states, Abdul Hamid II, on the other hand, aimed to expand his area of ​​influence and keep it dynamic in the Muslim world by highlighting the position of the caliphate. In this way, it was aimed to get rid of or minimize foreign and domestic political pressures by making the caliphate's effective power felt in the Muslim geography stretching from Arab lands to the Far East. Sultan Abdul Hamid, considering that he himself came from the tradition of the Shadhili sect, sometimes sent a cult sheikh, sometimes a mullah, into Africa, to the Far East, tried to gather the Muslims living there around his title of caliphate and carried out these activities in North Africa.[12]

Nelidov, the Russian ambassador to Istanbul, actually correctly summarized the purpose of the Ertuğrul Frigate in his report dated July 25, 1889, which he sent to his Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “…The main purpose of the Ertuğrul Frigate, which will be sent this time, is to wave the Ottoman flag in the waters of the Red Sea and Arabia, and to hold demonstrations, which are the ambitions of the Sultan, in India, where there are many Muslims. The Ertuğrul Frigate will stop by some Indian ports in order to increase the spiritual strength of the local Muslims and their loyalty to the Sultan. The British, on the other hand, are constantly working to break their moral obedience to the Sultan.”[13]

When the Ertuğrul Frigate reached the Yokohama Port on June 7, 1890, it had completed its mission. On its way to Japan, it waved the Ottoman flag in the Indian and Pacific oceans, attracted great attention in the ports it visited, and reaffirmed the loyalty of Muslims to the caliph from the Arab regions to the Far East. Due to the crash of the Ertuğrul Frigate as a result of an accident on its way back, 69 people were rescued from the 540-person crew. These 69 people were brought to Istanbul on January 2, 1891 by two Japanese ships named Congo and Nippon Hiyei after their treatment. This event led to the emergence of a deep emotional bond in Ottoman-Japanese relations. For the relatives of the martyrs in the accident, the mobilization of Muslims in other countries, especially within the Ottoman Empire, confirms the Russian ambassador. In his book, Pankaj Mishra expresses the Ottoman-Japanese relations in that period with a different interpretation: “During the 1890s and the next decade, Japan's reputation continued to grow in Istanbul, especially what the Ottomans tried for decades but failed to achieve, and reached an equal position in the international relations system dictated by Europe. Abdul Hamid, trying to fuel the Islamic Union, was uncomfortable with the rising status of the Japanese Emperor in Asia.  On the advice of Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī, he politely refused the Japanese Emperor's request to send scholars to teach and tell about Islam to the Japanese. But on the other hand, he was also impressed that the Japanese remained loyal to their emperors as they modernized.”[14] Mishra also claims that Abdul Hamid, who had a skeptical personality, worried that the Japanese Emperor Meiji Mikado would become a Muslim and rival him, even though it is a suspicious claim.[15] However, the truth of the matter is this: Sultan Abdul Hamid consults with Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī on this issue. al-Afghānī says: "Sultan your grace, if you send these scholars to Japan, they will only drive the Japanese away from Islam. You would better send him a nice present for now, then train expert scholars and send them to Japan.

Even if not as Mishra said, Japan's victory in the 1904-1905 Russian-Japanese War (Battle of Tsushima) was perceived for the first time in the modern era as an Asian state's struggle for independence against Europe, inspiring social movements of independence origin in Asian and African countries. Here, it is necessary to mention an important detail that draws attention to the interest of Japanese rulers in Islam: Said Nursi, regarding the person he referred to as the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese in 1907 before the proclamation of the Constitutional Monarchy (probably the Japanese Emperor referred to as "Commander-in-Chief") says: "I came to Istanbul forty years ago and one year before Hürriyet (Constitutional Monarchy). At that time, the Commander-in-Chief of Japan asked some religious questions from the Islamic scholars. The Teachers of Istanbul asked me about them. They asked me about a lot of things on that occasion.”[17]

    Likewise, Abdurreshid Ibrahim, one of the Siberian Turks, the famous intellectual, inviter and traveler, gave a conference in Cairo in 1930; He mentions that the Japanese are interested in Islam and a letter from the Japanese Emperor Meiji asked Abdul Hamid II for preachers to tell about Islam. The letter addressed Abdul Hamid: "As you know, me and you are not in a position to do anything without the permission of the Westerners. If our peoples unite, we will be strong." he also points out that he calls for acting together. As can be understood from all these, the Japanese administration has shown great interest in both Islam and the Ottomans for reasons we can list many reasons.[18] 

The Japanese victory over the Russians "was perceived as the victory of the East and formed a hinterland from Turkey to Egypt, from Iran to India to Indonesia.  Lord Curzon, governor-general of India colonized by the British Empire, expressed his fear by saying that the echoes of this victory were like thunder through the whispering corridors of the East. President Theodore Roosevelt called this victory "the greatest phenomenon the world has ever seen".

Although the Ottoman Empire tried to limit its relations with Japan, as a result of this war, the whole world faced a result similar to the "butterfly effect".

Encouraged by the Japanese victory, the Young-Turk movement compelled Sultan Abdul Hamid in 1908 to re-enact the constitution that had been suspended since 1876. The Iranians formed a national assembly in 1906. That same year, Egypt witnessed the first major mass demonstrations against the British occupation. The domino effect of Japan's victory was felt even in the Indonesian archipelago, which was united by Dutch colonists. In 1908 the Javanese founded the first nationalist party. Rashid Rida (1865-1935), inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood Movement in Egypt, wrote enthusiastically about the possibility of Islamizing Japan and transforming the "yellow danger" of the European imagination into a liberation movement from the Westerners, covering all of Asia.[19]  

Halide Edip (Adıvar) experienced such an advanced feeling that his second son, born in 1905, with the joy of Japanese victory, was named Hasan Hikmetullah Togo, inspired by the Japanese Naval Forces Commander Admiral Togo.[20]    

Gandhi said for this victory, which he was very impressed with "When everyone, rich or poor in Japan, began to believe in dignity, the country was liberated. They were able to slap Russia ... Likewise, we need to feel the spirit of dignity"  

Japan's defeat of Russia in 1905 strengthened the independence movements among the Asian peoples in a noticeable way. As Gandhi predicted in 1905, "the people of the East" were finally "freed from drowsiness". The whispers of the East, which Lord Curzon feared, would soon rise and turn into clearly articulated claims and demands.   

Europe's domination over Asia, which was at its peak at the beginning of the twentieth century, would weaken dramatically. However, in the process, the independence movements could not resist the economic and political effects of Europe and America, and by excluding the values of their own societies, these movements evolved into a western intellectual stance. From Hegel who said, "They cannot represent themselves, they must be represented,"[21] to Marx[21] and John Stuart Mill, these peoples, whom Europe’s most influential thinkers described as "Dependent Peoples" who they did not consider suitable for self-rule, unfortunately condemned themselves to the nooks and crannies of history by choosing to act in the shadow of these thinkers who insulted the East rather than produce original and indigenous ideas.

[1] Jack Goody, Avrasya Mucizesi, Küre Yay., 2013, p.128-141

[2] Cengiz Özakıncı, Hangi Osmanlı, Bütün Dünya Dergisi, Başkent Üniversitesi Kültür Yay., Nisan 2011, p.64-65

[3] Ersin Embel, Emperyalizmin Yükselişi ve Sonuçları, Siyasi Tarih, Anadolu Üniversitesi Yayınları No:2981, Ankara, 2013, p.39-40

[4] İlber Ortaylı, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda Alman Nüfuzu, Alkım Yayınları, İstanbul, 2005, p.13

[5] M. Metin Hülagü, Sultan II. Abdülhamid Dönemi ve Demiryolu Politikası, p.5,  

[6] Bernard Lewis, Modern Türkiye’nin Doğuşu, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara, 1998, p.127

[7] Ortaylı, a.g.e., p.39

[8] Osmanlı Belgelerinde Filistin, TC. Başbakanlık Devlet Arşivleri Osmanlı Arşivi Daire Bşk.’lığı, İstanbul, 2009, p.303-304

[9] File No:1a ve 1b (at the end of the article)

[10] İlber Ortaylı, a.g.e., p.40

[11] İ. Süreyya Sırma, Some Information About the Enver Pasha Delegation Sent by Sultan Abdül Hamid II to China, from his presentation at the 2nd National Turcology Congress dated 5-9 February 1979

[12] İ. Süreyya Sırma, On dokuzuncu Yüzyıl Osmanlı Siyasetinde Büyük Rol Oynayan Tarikatlara Dair Bir Vesika, İstanbul Edebiyat Fakültesi, Tarih Dergisi, Sayı:31, İstanbul, 1978, p.183

[13] Ömer Ayanlı, Türk Japon İlişkilerinde Ertuğrul Fırkateyni, /Tarih Dosyası,January 7, 2014; For detailed information, see: F. Şayan-Ulusan Şahin, Türk-Japon İlişkileri, Kültür Bakanlığı Yayınları, Ankara, 2001

[14] Pankaj Mishra, Asya’nın Batıya İsyanı, Alfa Yayınları, 2013, p.169

[15] Pankaj Mishra, a.g.e., p.149

[16] “Testimony for Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī”,   From the text of the conference Abdurreshid Ibrahim gave at the Muslim Youth Association in Cairo in the early 1930s  -22.07.2010

[17] Said Nursi, Şuâ’lar, Yeni Asya Neşriyat, Germany, 1994, s.313

[18] -22.07.2010

[19] Pankaj Mishra, a.g.e., p.15

[20]> Halide Edip Adıvar

[21] Edward W. Said, Şarkiyatçılık Batı’nın Şark Anlayışları, Metis Yayınları, İstanbul, 2013, p.9


Read 482 times Last modified on Wednesday, 28 April 2021 16:46
Hüseyin Caner AKKURT


Login to post comments