T3W2 Decolonisation Reading Ricklefs - Rictlefi Mcjetol A...

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Unformatted text preview: Rictlefi, Mcjetol -, A New H'ISTOr}! of Southeast fisiq ICUKIRJIgrme Macmillan , 2010), pg . 313-52; Regaining Independence in the Decades After 1945 // Introduction ' . - ' th receding chapter, World War II had a maior imfpatt As we have seen In C P ture of that impact varied om t Asia, but the precise na . . ' the through011ltc3601thth: has been some debate among historians abet: hat: the mac": digit; shaped the decolonization that followed it. Some g war 5 tally tIaIlSiOIIIlCCl Southeast lLSla by Int]: Oduclllg U“ or tallt Sycllologlcal pollt‘ p p ’ lCal and SOClal Cllallgcs. It not only llCl lltelled Ll idlgcmms peoples SCHSC 0f . . 3 g the era of mass an . _ 1 “1,1 ft ath but also facilitated the rise of new elites who displaced pro co 0 erm , . .— fraditional leaders and led the ensumg anti co lonial struggle. Japanese discnmé ' 1‘ towards different ethnic groups also iiitenSified soc1al COiifljg:I:sir:o mar—Cry P0 lcy‘f leaving a legacy of simmering soc1altensrons for many . to the communal Stl‘l ej’sionist’ historians seek to temper this thCSlS by pOirétitpg that szftuli’léiljcmIitci‘riluities that persisted, but they have not demohshe ie s In altogether. In El: 3:3?riguzfrgks seriously believed that the pre-wiir 51:11:35 COlomal nor fdlb Ifull rgestored. That realization propelled the nationa 15:1 2; d1 W” mm: CO“ ‘cd anence. Such enlightened thought, however, V\ as tiony- as t9 Press 'for m :lie colonial side. Nevertheless, after 1945, decolo-niza 010. a mailorflly Efimfiable — became very thinkable. Eventually even reluctant c preViou ' ' ' ' ol. nial powers were compelled to relinquish pOhucale'OflfIn some places, indigc. S utheast Asian decolonization is a complex su 16C . o ' ' ‘ 't be an in nous nationalism began decades before the World War 11, in others 1 g earnest only in the war’s aft ' ' ardi was no unanimity reg _ _ n5. powers had not lost the Will to rule non Europea le atatOI tr uStCCShl or even [la SC OVC CIlE Olle thele Was no discermblc Umetable for the tranSfCl of POWCI. Instead, [ll p ) Sp]: Cad 0f fICCdOIIl as the Brltlsh COlOlual SCCICtaIy IVialCOhn IViaCDOIlald Sal ) in 1938, was to be a slow, evolutionary. pr even centuries. For French colonial policy, 'al em ires, for European ng the future of coloni vvpu 16 the prindplc o e war enlightened opinion neither Within .. 7 ermath Among Western colonial powers, too, there , guided British colonial : ocess that could take generanonstor premised as it was on the tradition REGAINlNG INDEPENDENCE IN THE DECADES AFTER 1945 319 of the indivisibility of France and its empire, the concept of decolonization was anathema to its doctrines of ‘assimilation’ or ‘association’. The more obscure colonial aims of the Dutch envisaged neither assimilation nor independence for overseas territories. Only American colonial policy had a timetable setting down independence for the Philippines in 1946. What is incontrovertible is that in all ofSoutheast Asia, the formal ending of empires was a post—1945 phenomenon, emerging from a world turned upside down by the war. Theoretical explanations for the fall of European empires tend to emphasize one of three main causes. The first is the international. Decolonization took place in the context of the upheaval wrought upon both the European powers and the colonized peoples by World War II and the emergence in its aftermath of a bipolar world dominated by two avowedly anti—imperialist powers, the United States and the USSR. This created novel conditions hostile to the reten— tion of colonial empires. After 1945, it is argued, imperialism was on the defen— sive and rear—guard attempts by the colonial powers to cling to their empires were not sustainable in a post-war order that cherished the principle of self— determination, proclaimed by Allied wartime propaganda as the WWW djétrr for the war. The second explanation sees imperial retreat as a deliberate, if not entirely voluntary, choice by waning or indifferent metropolitan powers, for whom the burdens of empire had become too great. Thus, an orderly transfer of power was perceived as an expedient exit strategy. When the crunch finally came, deals were struck with local nationalists and Withdrawal timed to ensure that power was transferred only to those whom the colonial rulers considered ‘moderate’ and ‘safe’, thereby safeguarding the colonialists’ interests within a post-colonial order. A third explanation locates the crucial force in ending the . Western empires in the emergence of an irresistible indigenous mass national— ism that demanded independence and threatened the colonial authorities with either rebellion or civil resistance if it was not hastened. This View argues that once local nationalist leaders were able to galvanize mass support for independ— ence, the days of colonialism were numbered. While theories of decolonization provide useful insights, they are insufficient . " on their own to explain the complex changes that brought about the ending of empires. Mobilizing m mama a strong and cohesive indigenous nationalism 5 from among peoples divided by ethnic, cultural, class, and religious cleavages, ' .,' for instance, was always more difficult that it appears in hindsight. Nor could it be assumed that the act of mounting a risky war of independence or a sustained campaign of civil disobedience against a determined and well—equipped colonial foe would necessarily succeed. Even if the metropolitan powers realized that they had to adjust to changed post—war circumstances, it is far from clear that ethey intended a reduction of their imperial roles after 1945. Indeed, some regarded their status as great powers to be inextricably tied to the retention of colonial empires. Few also believed that a colonial war was militarily pnwinnable. It is also not evident that metropolitan rulers were either in the mood or in a position to strike bargains and buy off local nationalism in order to dictate the timing of withdrawal. 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