by J.R. Dunn
The Ottomans had an interesting method of assuring political stability. The sprawling empire operated on a system in which "millets", distinct ethnic and religious groups, were allowed to oversee their own internal affairs while giving absolute loyalty to the sultan and his government. Every now and then a millet would be ordered to pack up and head out for a new home, at times at the opposite end of the imperium, amid new neighbors -- sometimes the original residents, sometimes other refugees -- of alien origins, ethnicity, and religious belief. Christians among Muslims, Catholics among Orthodox, Bulgarians among Turks, Circassians among Arabs... the variations were nearly endless. In short order, the various groups would become so enmeshed in harassing and attacking each other that they could spare no time or energy to defying the status quo. The Ottoman state acted as a referee, occasionally bouncing an ethnic group that got out of hand, but in general letting the circus roar along while they, the rulers, involved themselves in life's finer things -- conspiracies against fellow officials or plans to conquer Western Europe. From their point of view, it worked. For nearly five hundred years, the Ottoman Empire remained a stable and going concern. Some aspects of the policy remain with us today, long after the empire vanished -- it explains much of the recent chaos in the ruins of Yugoslavia, for one thing.
So -- any questions about immigration?
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