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Was World War Two the Catalyst or the Cause of British Decolonization?
1, The overall economic impact of the war severely weakened the British position as a world power and the position within their at Depression on the Empire appears to be important at this juncture). This ensured that the British dominated the colonial economies and reduced the amount of competition from other countries, namely the USA. This grip was broken by the Americans, in the Atlantic Charter of 1941, whose forth point stated “trade barriers were to be lowered.” The economic hold on colonies can not be underestimated as it was one of the driving factors behind the lack of British opposition to India’s Independence. This was one of the policies adopted during the Indian Independence movement which discouraged people from buying British products and this in turn encouraged Indians to produce their own goods, thereby making their economy more independent. This effectively removed the Indian market from Britain and “India ceased to be an imperial asset.” “It was this overall weakened economic power that led to political weaknesses as demonstrated by the failure at the Suez Crisis in 1956”. – this is a sweeping argument in the last sentence; I’d delete it for now and pick it up again later UNLESS the following paragraph picks up on this theme directly (ie looks at political, not military factors) asfda sdf sadfasfdasdf asdf asdf
2. Militarily, the occupation of colonies in South East Asia showed British imperial weakness and strengthened nationalist movements within the occupied areas (ok, but what’s the connection to economic factors just described? Remember the importance of connecting your ideas). The Japanese defeated the British in South East Asia and took control of Burma, British Borneo Singapore and Mayala who which were not liberated until the closing stages of the war. Throughout their occupation, which lasted for about three years (1942-45), numerous anti-Japanese resistance movements sprang up and these organizations united the people behind a common enemy and greatly increased the nationalistic feeling among the people. This is clear tasdfasfdhrough Malaya, which prior to the war was known as the Unfederated States of Mayala and as a colony it had three major ethnic groups, Malayan, Chinese and Indian. As a result of these different groups, prior to the war there were few incidents and it did not have much of a nationalist movement. But as mentioned above, the Japanese Occupation effectively drove these groups together to from the Mayalan People’s Anti Japanese Army. Once the Japanese were defeated, this nationalist presence still existed although the colony was federated after the war the Ethnic Chinese and Indian population were not given equal rights to the Malayans and this created tensions that sparked off a revolt by the Chinese against the British in 1948.
Admittedly, the decolonization of Malaya did not take place until several years after the war, but the military weakness of Britain ultimately overcame the economic and political advantages of keeping it within the Empire. One of the reasons why the British did not decolonize in Malaya as soon as they did in India (can you provide dates?) is because the British still had a hold on the Malayan economy which exported a lot of tin and rubber. So unlike India, Malaya was still profitable to hold as a colony. It was also the Cold War that played a crucial part in this process because although the Atlantic Charter promised “All People had the right to self determination,” that did not extend to communist states, as laid out in the Truman Doctrine whose main aim was to stop the spread of communism. As the revolutionaries were the Malayan Communist Party, the decolonization had to be pushed back because although Truman pressured European empires for colonial independence, he did not support decolonization when the new state would likely become communist. Burma was given its independence in 1948 mostly because it did not have a strong communist presence so its decolonization was not delayed. I’m not sure what your overall point is in this section; are you saying that the war WAS a crucial factor, or not? Or did it rather merely ACCELERATE the inevitable process of decolonization? I think you need to more clearly stress that in economic and diplomatic terms, the war doesn’t appear to have had an impact on decolonization – in fact, in Cold War diplomacy WW2 actually STRENGTHENED the case for holding on to Malaya – but militarily the fatal blow had been struck by British defeats in WW2.
Rewrite the paragraph to deal with this sort of argument. I’d also be interested to hear if the same story was true in other parts of the Far East – e.g. Singapore. And why did Hong Kong not gain independence?
In contrast to X and Y, (ie let’s have some linkage going on here!)…There was a nationalist presence in India was strong long before World War Two and the war just merely acted as a catalyst for Indian independence. This move towards independence had begun since in 1919 (really? What about the 1857 Revolt?) with the Government of India Act. The Act only granted the new provincial governments powers over small policies, but it was the reaction of the Indian people that was important - , strikes and protests. This was because many believed that India deserved to become a Dominion due to India’s contribution to the war effort and experience far greater independence. These events highlight the nationalist ambitions present in India at the time. Some protests turned were brutally disbanded such as in Amritsar (when was this?) where 379 were killed with soldiers opened fire on a crowd of protesters. Full provincial self governing was only devolved in the Government of India Act of 1935. It was through Gandhi’s policies of nonviolence and noncooperation (which lasted from the 1920 boycott of British until the end of the war) that removed British economic interests? How do Gandhi’s policies “remove British economic interests”? and made India move towards independence. An example of this desire for independence can be seen in 1942, when Stanfford Cripps was sent to India to try and persuade prominent Indian politicians to support the war, thereby encouraging Indians to enlist in the army. In return for their support he promised Dominion status to India after the war, Gandhi rejected it and branded it as an “outdated cheque.” This event highlights how India had reject the prospect of remaining a British colony and was set on independence. You claim that the war acted as a catalyst in the first sentence, but the rest of the paragraph suggests it was IRRELEVANT. You need to clarify your argument here.
Indeed, this The British system of self governing colonies, applied in India, seemed to almost condemn the British Empire to future decolonization (you could almost say “self-dissolution”). As a colony developed both social and economically, It would most likely bring with it a sense of nationalism because a more developed colony would gain a national identity and this would be encouraged by installing a regional government (I’m not sure why you think this. Why does social and economic development foster a sense of national identity? I’m not saying you’re wrong, you just don’t explain the point). So in effect, this system builds colonies towards independence. However system ? sense would ultimately move towards some form of imperial federation and it could be argued that the Second World War, and to a certain extend extent the First World War, merely disrupted this evolution of Empire to Federation, or that the British system it self was always going to end the way it did and that World War Two just accelerated the process. This is an interesting argument, but you don’t give any case studies to prove it. Could you maybe develop your “India” section to prove this case, perhaps? Or is it more applicable to the African colonies?
The policy of self government did not apply to a large amount of African colonies because of their relative ‘backwardness’ in comparison to the dominion realms, with the exception of South Africa which was a dominion. This prevented those colonies from becoming independent as fast as the Asian colonies. However another large problem with Africa was its tribal aspect which prevented a strong nationalist movement from ever developing in the territories prior to the war I’m not clear at this point how this section is answering the question – are you saying the war WAS important, or NOT? Don’t lose sight of the question. You’re not just answering “why did decolonization take place?” you’re focusing more narrowly on the exact contribution of the war. Some colonies later developed not necessarily nationalist, but more anti-imperialist movements. An example would be the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya whose goal was to remove white farmers and return the land to native Kenyans. There were also racial tensions in areas like Rhodesia and South Africa. However decolonization can not be pinned on racial tensions. Nationalist movements did begin to develop as the colonies began to advance, and one reason for these advancements were the new policies of the Labour government who wanted to make the colonies produce more money to help Britain pay its war debts. Various projects were implemented such as the Ground Nut Scheme in Tanganyika (later Tanzania). They also advanced as self government was devolved in the 1950s. But much like India or Canada, these sort of policies were implemented then and therefore the destination for these colonies would also have been independence in the end. A massive factor in African decolonization was the failed Suez Crisis in 1956, in which Britain, Israel and France attack Egypt to try and regain control of the Suez Canal. Its failure humiliated the imperial powers and showed their colonies that they were no longer great powers and showed the British government that they were no longer greater powers too. It is no coincidence that this victory of nationalism over imperialism followed a swift European withdrawal from Africa. This coupled with the fact that the colonies were no longer making as much money as from previous years and the prospect of joining a growing European market place just made the declining Empire less desirable. I don’t know your point here. This section just focuses on Africa in a geographical sense but within this I don’t know what you’re saying.
In conclusion, the war had a profound effect on Britain, it can not be completely responsible for decolonization. Although it weakened Britain and allowed colonies like India to break away, the colonies that did become independent quickly after the war were already advanced and moving towards independence. This policy of self governing had effectively made the dominion realms independent in the interwar period. So in essence, the war weakened Britain to the point that its pro-independence colonies could break away, but it was not the Second World War that caused African decolonization, which occupied about 15 years after the end of the war. The blame for this phase of decolonization can rest on the shoulders of the failure at the Suez Crisis which showed the British parliament that they were no longer able to act on imperialist urges. This therefore showed people like Macmillan that the “winds of change” should and would blow through Africa in the near future.
1. War did have a weakening impact on British / Imperial economy
2. However, this economy had already been in decline since the Depression, so merely accelerated a decline in influence which was made evident by the military defeats of WW2 which generated nationalist sentiment - Malaya
3. Nevertheless, in India the war only heightened, rather than created, nationalist fervor, which had been around much longer
4. Perhaps the strongest ideological factor was not nationalism, but self-determination: the central idea of the British Empire was that it was “civilizing” and once it had done this effectively the justification for holding on to those territories disappeared.
So far, it needs clarifying in terms of argument.
Beyond that, you need to develop it much more along the lines now of the guidance sheet I provided you with. There are no footnotes, book references, quotes from or debates between historians; you need to use the marksheet to ensure that this starts shaping up into an Extended Essay format.
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