H. B. Paksoy

I. Now it is understood that Pan, the half-goat, half- human, flute playing creature of early human consciousness, was a mythical construct. However, some humans are perhaps in the need of creating myths, so two more were concocted during the 19th century.

1) "Pan-Turkism." Also marketed as "Pan- Turanianism," this notion was invented not by the Turks, but by a resourceful Professor of Oriental Languages teaching in a European university. It was the 1860s, and the Professor was in the pay of a Great Power where the people and their queen paused daily for tea. The purpose of the Professor's "unity" doctrine was to urge the Turks of Central Asia to combine against another Great Power to the north, where people drink borscht frequently, if not every day. The tea-drinking empire desired a buffer of Turks to "contain" the borscht-drinking empire, which was expanding and approaching the tea-drinkers' own colony, the Jewel in the Crown in the south. They played this "Great Game," as Kipling called it, in Asia, for the European game-board was in stalemate. The borscht-drinkers played the Game, too, but in reverse, and called the Turks a menace, pretending --as one does in Games-- that the Professor's scheme was Truth.

2) A second Pan was "Pan-Islam." Despite its origins in the colonial world, it was yet a third European Power, where the people drink beer while listening to Valkyries sing, joined the Game. Even their emperor played salesman to foster this second Pan within the domains of the Ottoman Empire, especially among some of its leaders, as the Great War --to "end all wars"-- was about to commence. The aim was the same, to gain advantage over the rivals in European Balance of Power struggles someplace off the stalemated European game-board. Military action by the Ottoman Turks would have forced the seafaring tea-drinkers to move forces away from the front where they faced the land-based beer-drinkers. The beer-drinkers used pan-Islam also on the Caucasus front in order to outflank the borscht-drinkers who were threatening to outflank the beer-drinkers. And it looked as if the plan would work.

II. Then the borscht-drinkers became convulsed by the pangs of a "bug" they caught from their ruler's way of life. Their "new and improved" leadership denounced the old rulers, and left the war. Later, this new leadership took up the banner of Pan. The new borscht-drinkers wished to use these bogus twins to put down the Central Asian Turks. When this Great War ended and the Central Asians were demanding access to what became known the President Wilson's 14 Principles, a new Game, but not so clever, was invented. The new borscht drinkers screamed loud and long, declaiming the Central Asian Turk demands for independence, self determination and human rights were desires for "World Dominance."

III. That Defamation Campaign of the new borscht-drinkers was quickly heard in the European domains. A tacit agreement called the acceptance of the Bogus Pans to be declared True, alive and menace to humanity. The Central Asians were relegated to the vast dungeon that was erected around their own homelands, all the European Powers were happy in the knowledge that the weapon was safely and mutually disarmed. President F. D. Roosevelt's call for the Four Freedoms were ignored.

IV. The early foreign policy initiatives of some Western religious leaders --the Crusades-- perhaps had shown the way. Unable to find a viable solution to their own domestic problems, where the masses displayed political and economic dissatisfaction, rulers of the early and 19th-20th century "crusades" again used this "foreign policy initiative" to distract their own subject populations. The faithful, whose trust and sincere feelings were thus betrayed and channeled away from their own ruler, responded as people blindly acting. What those masses did not know, they soon learned: In the battlefield, the troops die; especially the ignorant.1

V. Times change, but apparently, not always for the good. As most of the modern nations of Europe, the Turks also enjoyed an Imperial period. But, unlike their neighbors, who have been all but absolved of past sins committed during their own Imperialism, Turks have not been. The Turks are still being asked to pay the balance on their "account" even after having paid the principal, an exorbitant interest charge, and penalties of all types. The majority of the Turks living on earth today are still living on their ancestral homelands which they never left, though others played Games around them and at their expense. Hence the twin mythical Pans have been living outside the story books whence they came.

VI. The Turks have been laboring under the misapprehension that silence is golden, and that engaging in truthful debate is "ungentlemanly." After all, did their ancestors not state "Truth shall prevail?"2 The Proverb is undoubtedly correct, but it does not state just when the promise will be fulfilled. While the truth is preparing to prevail, another word of their forefathers obtains: "He who acquired the horse, has already left Uskudar.3 The damage is done, the application to join the European Community as a full member is declined, economic injury continues to deepen. The prevarication about Barbaros Hayreddin (1466-1546), the Ottoman Grand Admiral, is well known: it is said that the name of Barbaros, the "bogeyman," is evoked along the Mediterranean shores by the parents of unruly children. The purpose is to scare the little tykes into unquestioning submission. The legend continues to take its toll, as the children grow into statesmen and businessmen. "Tree is bent while it is green."4

VII. Further, tales similar to those attributed to Barbaros Hayreddin have been created in writing. One of the earliest, used with immediate political intent dates from 1473, twenty years after Mehmet II (1432-1481) ended the Byzantine Empire. In that small work, allegedly Mehmet II "...boasts of his conquests achieved or intended; the replies [by his pretend European adversaries] naturally contradict his assertions..." It transpired that the whole work was invented by an industrious individual, claiming to have translated it from Turkish, eager to show, or create, the European defiance.5

VIII. Today it is documented that at least three hundred such apocryphal letters were circulated in some half a dozen languages. The purpose evidently was to frighten the European readership into some sort of unity. The tracts were often written by the propagandists of one Christian sect, Catholic or Protestant, calling his side to unite to fight the other. The allusion was if such unity is not effected, the "bogeyman" Turks would come and take all.6 It was a tactic resuscitated to create an outside adversary, however imaginary, for domestic religious or political purposes. The method survives and thrives today.

IX. Such propaganda appears not to have been new even for the 15th century. It is suggested that the Prophecy of the fall of the Turks was first put forth by the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI (865-911), later to resurface and be incorporated into the politico-religious tracts of the 16th century.7 Similar works were also being issued in other European presses, utilizing the new invention, the movable type.8 This is similar to the later campaigns involving electronic dissemination media, not only limited to radio, television and video cassettes; but also encompassing the computer communication networks and data- bases. As the earlier printed works were at first invisible to the general public in the 15th century, so are the contents of the computerized data-bases (such as "bulletin boards") in the latter half of the 20th. In such secluded environs, the seeds of discord are nurtured and germinates before it is released into other forums to infect the rest of the public opinion. Once again, "A fool casts a stone into the well, and forty geniuses can not retrieve it."9

X. Following other European influence patterns on the Russians, such propaganda methods were also absorbed by the latter. Beginning with the early 17th century, translations into Russian of such apocryphal letters further motivated the Russians. It is known that the early diplomatic language of the Eurasian steppe was Turkish, while the derivation of a ruler's election and legitimacy stemmed from non-Russian sources. 10 The Turkish syntax even affected the way the Rus chanceries wrote Russian, and the Turkish style of writing influenced the literary efforts of the Russian authors, who strove to create works in that greatly admired Turkish vein.11 When inspiration dried, the Russians next appear to have appropriated Turkic origin literary works.12

XI. As the Great Game in Asia and the Eastern Question reached its peak, the commentators on behalf of the European players, further choosing sides, redoubled their efforts. Felix Valyi defended the Ottoman Turks.13 The diplomats at the 1919 Versailles peace conference, responding negatively to President Wilson's vision of post World War I world order, issued a dissent.14 Regardless of the relative merits of the published words, the tone was set. In the North and East, the Soviet state mechanisms were set into motion, to propagate, with fresh vigor, not only the twin Mythical Pans, but also the distortion of the historical Turkish documents that belied the apocryphal assertions.15 The young Turkish Republic, having freshly completed its own War of Independence, was ostracized diplomatically and economically. This would continue until the prospects of another Great War --again among the same European players, with additions-- became inevitable. Once again, the twin mythical Pans were dragged out of the storybooks. Once again, the European factions began exerting pressure, seeking to embroil the Turks on their side.

XII. Earlier, the typical Turkish response to the mythical Pans and the related apocrypha generally fell into one of two categories: total silence; and stubborn adherence to traditional historical literature.16 The history of one group or nation can not be written in isolation, and the most forceful questioners of these apocrypha placed Turkish history in a global context. Perhaps the first far reaching challenge against the mythical Pans was mounted by Yusuf Akura in 1904.17 Kazim Karabekir followed shortly afterwards, with his insightful analysis not only of the Pans, but also their political origins of the 19th and the 20th centuries.18 Recently, discussions of the related issues began to be openly deliberated in current publications.19

XIII. The issues connected to the Pans and other apocryphal literature are primarily concerned with the definition of culture. Unless Turks envision and discuss their culture and history in their own terms, without reference to the perceptions and definitions of others, they will remain vulnerable to manipulation in the intellectual and political realms. When Braudel writes French history, he does not use the paradigms of A.J.P. Taylor or Toynbee. Vice versa.


This paper was presented to the conference "LA TURQUIE ET L'AIRE TURQUE DANS LA NOUVELLE CONFIGURATION REGIONALE ET INTERNATIONALE: MONTEE EN PUISSANCE OU MARGINALISATION" during November 1991, jointly organized in Paris by Centre d'tudes et de Recherches Internationales / Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques. A French language summary was included in the January 1992 issue of the periodical Cahiers d'Etudes sur la Mediterrane orientale et le monde turco-iranien, published by the organizers.

1. For a discussion of the Great Game in context, and its uses, see H. B. Paksoy, "Basmachi" (Turkistan National Liberation Movement) Modern Encyclopedia of Religions in Russia and the Soviet Union (Academic International Press, 1991) Vol. 4. Pp. 5-20; idem, "US and Bolshevik Relations with the TBMM (the Turkish Grand National Assembly) Government: The First Contacts, 1919-1921." (forthcoming).

2. "Dogruluk, yerini bulur."

3. "At'i alan, Uskudar'i geti."

4. "Agac yasken egilir."

5. Daniel Clarke Waugh, The Great Turkes Defiance: On the History of the Apocryphal Correspondence of the Ottoman Sultan in its Muscovite and Russian Variants (Columbus, OH: Slavica Publishers, 1978).

6. Waugh, The Great Turkes Defiance.

7. Repeated in Vaticinium Sever, et Leonis Imperatorum, in quo videtur finis Turcarum in Profetia di Severo (1596). Apparently republished in the Arabic script by A. Fischer in ZDMG 47 during 1920.

8. See Philipp Lonicer, Chronicorvm Turcicorvm (Frankfurt, 1584); Johannes Leunclavius, Historiae Mvsvlmanae Tvcorvm, De Monvmentis ipsorvm exscriptae... (1591).

9. "Bir deli kuyu'ya tas atmis, kirk akilli cikaramamis."

10. Edward Louis Keenan, Jr., "Muscovy and Kazan: Some Introductory Remarks on the Patterns of Steppe Diplomacy" Slavic Review Vol. VI, No. 4 (December, 1967); Omeljan Pritsak, "Moscow, Golden Horde, and the Kazan Khanate from a Polycultural Point of View" Slavic Review Vol. VI, No. 4 (December, 1967).

11. Edward Louis Keenan, Jr., "The Jarlyk of Axmed-Xan to Ivan III: A New Reading" International Journal of Slavic Linguistics and Poetics XII, 1967. (Mouton, The Hague).

12. For the discussion pertaining to the suggested origins of the Tale of Igor, see H. B. Paksoy, "Chora Batir: A Tatar Admonition to Future Generations." Studies in Comparative Communism Vol. XIX, Nos. 3 & 4, Autumn/Winter 1986. See also Keenan.

13. Felix Valyi, Turk's Last Stand: The Historical Tragedy on the Bosphorus (London, 1913) was originally delivered as a lecture at the University of London, and translated from French into English.

14. Joint Note of the Allied Governments in answer to President Wilson, The Murderous Tyranny of the Turks written by Arnold J. Toynbee (Hodder & Stoughton, 1917). Toynbee was a member of the British Delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. See Arnold J. Toynbee and Kenneth P. Kirkwood, Turkey (Charles Scribners, 1927).

15. H. B. Paksoy, ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity under Russian Rule (Hartford, CT: Association for the Advancement of Central Asian Research, Monograph Series, 1989).

16. For some prominent echoes of the historical literature in more recent times, see H. B. Paksoy "Central Asia's New Dastans." Central Asian Survey Vol. 6, N. 1, (1987); Bahtiyar Nazarov "Kutadgu Bilig: One of the First Written Monuments of the Turkic People" H. B. Paksoy, Editor, Central Asia Reader (NY: M. E. Sharpe, 1994).

17. Yusuf Akura, Tarz-i Siyaset (Ankara: Turk Tarih Kurumu, 1976). This essay was first printed in the newspaper Turk published in Cairo during 1904. For an English translation, see David S. Thomas, "Three Types of Policies" Central Asian Monuments, H. B. Paksoy, Ed. (Istanbul: Isis Press, 1992).

18. Kazim Karabekir, Cihan Harbine Neden Girdik, Nasil Girdik, Nasil Idare Ettik (Istanbul, 1937); idem, Istiklal Harbimizin Esaslari (Istanbul, 1933-1951); idem, Istiklal Harbinde Enver Pasa (Istanbul, 1967). Though Karabekir wrote these volumes much earlier, they could not be made available in print earlier. For some comments on the reasons, see Erik Jan Zurcher, "Young Turk Memoirs as a Historical Source: Kazim Karabekir's Istiklal Harbimiz" Middle Eastern Studies Vol. 22, No. 4, October 1986.

19. For examples, see H. B. Paksoy, "M. Ali-Let us Learn our Inheritance: Get to Know Yourself." Cahiers d'Etudes sur la Mediterrane orientale et le monde turco-iranien Vol. 11, No. 1 (1991); Ayaz Malikov, "The Question of the Turk: The Way Out of the Crisis" AACAR BULLETIN (of the Association for the Advancement of Central Asian Research. Department of History, University of Massachusetts-Amherst) Vol. III, No. 2 (1990).

This text was produced and installed by Lynn H. Nelson