I was reading an article but I don't quite understand the part made bold:

In accordance with the ideals of Kemalism expressed above, education or school emerged as the most efficient apparatus of the state, as Louis Althusser would have said, from which to gain the forthcoming desirable nation

Could you please explain what that might mean. Actually I am stuck at "from which to gain" part.

  • Voting to reopen. Discussions of the relative merits of Kemalism may be off-topic, but the Relative Infinitive clause as analysed by John Lawler is a fairly tricky aspect of English usage, well worth attention here. Particularly as this is a convoluted example. Jan 16 '12 at 16:10

Never mind what Louis Althusser would have said, and forget about Kemalism. Let's peel off the bells and whistles and look at the bones of the sentence:

  • Education is the most efficient apparatus [from which to gain the nation.]

The bracketed part is a Relative Infinitive clause modifying apparatus (the Antecedent of the relative clause), with a relative pronoun which that refers to apparatus and is the object of the preposition from.

Normally relative infinitive clauses don't use relative pronouns:

  • He is the man to see.
  • He is the man to do it.
  • *He is the man whom to see.
  • *He is the man who to do it.

but when a preposition is Pied-piped along with its object, there must be a relative pronoun to serve as the object, even with a relative infinitive.

  • He is the man with whom to talk.

However, Pied-piping is never obligatory, and the preposition can be left at the end of the clause.

  • He is the man to talk with.

If you try to use a relative pronoun without pied-piping the preposition, or vice versa, there are problems.

  • *He is the man whom to talk with.
  • *He is the man with to talk.

So, from which to gain the nation is just a fancier way to say to gain the nation from.

However, to gain the forthcoming desirable nation is a terrible clause. It seems to have been translated literally using a non-English (Turkish?) idiom or metaphor. It's not clear what it means, unless it's code for some political maneuverings.

  • 1
    Agree all your deconstruction of the rest of this dreary verbiage. Per my comment to kdmurray's answer, I think the "desirable nation" alludes to converting a ragbag part of the world with little social or political cohesion into a functioning nation-state along the lines of more advanced western democracies, which would be considered desirable by the writer. Jan 16 '12 at 5:01

Admittedly I have no knowledge of Kemalism, so my answer is based solely on analysis of the sentence:

Without having the rest of the text to go on, it appears that the text is referring to the use of schools and education as mechanisms for helping the nation to become more desirable. Presumably something either in the curriculum, or the social environment of the schools developed attributes in the students which would advance the goals of the group wishing to create the "desirable" nation.

In this case from which to gain refers to the use of education to create (or gain) the state of the nation which they find desirable.

  • I didn't know anything about Kemalism either, but I've just googled and discovered it's a (possibly becoming defunct) ideology based on the principle that Turkey should be "secular and Western". In which case the forthcoming desirable nation probably doesn't mean making the nation more desirable. It's more likely to mean turning the (currently not cohesive/integrated) country into a true "nation", which would be desirable. Jan 16 '12 at 4:57

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