‘The decadence of the Turk’

[A]fter the Second Balkan War a British diplomat, Sir George Young, was commissioned by the Carnegie Endowment for World Peace to investigate the causes that led to conflict in the Balkans, he blamed the failure of the Ottoman empire to modernize on Byzantinism. “The failure of the Turks”, he wrote, “is due to Byzantinism.” The British diplomat saw in Byzantinism a “decadent social system” with “no democracy, no simple virtues, and no sound vitality.” “The decadence of the Turk,” he wrote, “dates from the day when Constantinople was taken and not destroyed.” Byzantinism as an imperial principle of statehood was the antipode of European nationalism, which he, writing shortly before the onset of World War I, viewed in very positive terms.

Source [pdf].


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