Nationalist Struggles for Self-Determination - The Wave Term Paper

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Nationalist struggles for self-Determination - the wave of decolonization in Algeria and India

The fall of the European Empires in the twentieth century came in different manners, either with a war of independence or by negotiations between the parties involved. The uprising in nationalism after the First World War, following the famous Wilson points, led the way for a wave of decolonization after the Second World War, especially in Asia and Africa. India, as a non-violent revolution, and Algeria, with a violent war of independence are two different cases of this process, yet similar in some aspects.

India

The Nationalist Movement and its results

The nationalist movement in India is not new, having as main exponents only Gandhi or Nehru. As Duffet, Hicks and Parkin argue "political unrest is not a recent development in India [...] it has its roots in the nationalist movement that aroused during the first half of the nineteen century" (Duffet, 1942, 71). Political action became a need for young educated Indians, and not only, in order to facilitate a better life for their countrymen.

The demands of the Indian National Congress (later the Congress Party) at the end of the nineteen century, dealt with the involvement of more Indians in the civil service and the policies that affected India's population.

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The Congress Party "was an anti-colonial mass democratic party (...) enjoyed significant popular support" (Riley, 2007, 829). The Congress Party became after the First World War the main actor and the most successful in its efforts because its main adversaries, the left, were contained by the British rule, and due to its growing number of members. The party had a great deal of influence and power, not only from the number of supporters and members, but also due to its non-violent ideology. According to Riley, "central to Gandhi's program was non-violence as a tactic [with] a fine balance between restraint and radicalism following a compromise-struggle-compromise strategy" (Riley, 2007, 831), using both official negotiations but also civil disobedience and mass protests. Therefore, a violent confrontation on a large scale with the British administration was more reduced.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Nationalist Struggles for Self-Determination - The Wave Assignment

Demands for independence became more frequent before the beginning of World War Two. After the British Empire declared war on Germany in September 1939, India automatically entered war. Reactions in India were obviously negative. The Amendment of India Act of 1935, introduced in September 1939 with opposition from Indian politicians, stated that the country would, in case of war, be under direct and immediate control from the British administration.

One might consider the war, and especially giving British position in the war at that time, was used as a reason for India to officially ask for independence. Britain, in the face of low cooperation of Indians, responded vaguely to India's demands. These asked for the right of self-determination and the end of British imperialism having in view the speech that Britain gave, of fighting for world democracy; and giving a military solution to Britain's problem in Asia. If Britain would have recognized India's independence, than "India will gladly associate herself with other free nations for mutual defence against aggression and for economic co-operation" (Duffet, 1942, 84).

The response that Britain offered was obviously considered unsatisfactory by the Congress Party, as well as all the other political forces in India. The demands for independence grew within the following period, but also those coming from the Moslem League, regarding the partitioning into two states: a Hindu and a Muslim one. As a result of intense claims for sovereignty, Churchill decided on 11th March 1942 to send another proposal to the Indian political actors, offering in exchange of co-operation in the war, a step-by-step devolution. The proposals were not accepted by the two main actors, the Congress Party and the Moslem League (Duffet, 1942, 128).

Political disillusion within the Congress Party, and mostly Nehru's position towards a more active and violent participation against the British or the Japanese foreseen invasion, led to the weakening of the Party's stability and power. The Quit India Resolution, from August 1942, followed Gandhi's call for India's independence. In case the demands presented by this Resolution of the All India Congress Committee, were not accepted by the British, then a massive Civil Disobedience action would commence. Gandhi requested peaceful and non-violent manifestations, yet, the political response that Britain gave to these demands was negative. Yet Gandhi's constant appeal for non-violent actions had little or no effect. Furthermore he was accused of coordinating the violence and arrested. With over 300 dead and many other injured from the protestors' side, hundreds of police stations and post-office destroyed, the sudden uprising was put under control by British forces (Brown, 1994, 321-324).

In order to stabilize the system, the newly elected Labour party put forward the idea of elections, in the provinces and princely states that formed India. "Independence would be granted to the provinces and to the princely states" (Kulke, 2004, 322) and it would be their decision whether or not to unify. This way, the Pakistan state, through its Moslem League, was able to satisfy, in the end, its political demands for a nation Moslem state, separate from a Hindu India. The political demands of the Indian/Hindu actors were satisfied as well, as India became independent on the 15th August 1947, with Nehru as Prime Minister.

Algeria

Historical background

As a part of the French Empire since 1834, Algerians' status within the Empire was as second grade citizens. After a violent conquest at the beginning of the 1830's, the French offered Algerians the possibility that, on demand, they could become French citizens, under French rules. To be a Muslim in the French Empire represented the possibility of preserving the Muslim law (Digitheque de materiaux juridiques et politiques, 2005)

Algerian demands for independence

Algerian independence as an idea put in practice began to appear in lower forms after the First World War, as both a consequence of other demands for autonomy or independence in other colonies of the European Empires, but also as a consequence of the Algerian intellectuals' reaction to Wilson's points. Point Five, which represented an external push for Algerian elite to create basic pro-autonomy political forces, regards the fact of colonial claims. Wilson argued that, "based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined" (the History Place, n.d.). The formation of the Nord African Star Party, in 1926, set the basis for the latter Front de Liberation Nationale (National Liberation Front), a main combatant in the War of Independence.

In order to understand why the Algerians' demands took a violent form, one must analyze several factors. Algerian nationalism, so therefore the nation-state, has not existed within its society: it "has been pre-national for practically all of its history; the state tradition in Algeria is not an indigenous tradition" (Roberts, 1988, 584), the countries' economic integration being modernly built during the French occupation.

Algerian demands did not begin, as stated above, with independence. The first demands regarded eliminating discriminatory practices between Muslims and French and the enrollment of Algerian soldiers in the French Army without differences to the other members of the army. John Entelis argues that "the defeat of one reformist measure after another paved the way for the increasing radicalization of native nationalist forces" (Entelis, 1986, 35). Largely expressed in the human rights and discrimination direction the Algerian demands transformed into political ones of self-determination and independence.

Three tracks appeared in Algerian politics (Entelis, 1986, 50) that would have a significant role in the independence evolution: the liberal assimilationism (Ferhat Abbas), the islamic reformism (Abdelhamid Ben Badis) and the radical nationalism (Messali Hadj). There were two types of demands: the violent one of the National Liberation Front and the Algerian National Movement, and the peaceful one, of Ferhat Abbas. (Hahn, 1960) on the 10th February 1943, Abbas and 28 elected Moslem officials presented the Manifeste du people Algerien, document that represented a democratic and peaceful demand for independence. They asked for "the condemnation of colonialism (...) an Algerian Constitution [and later appending it with] a specific list of reforms, stating that Algeria must be erected into an Algerian state, and given its own constitution which would be drawn up by an Algerian constituent assembly elected by universal suffrage by all the inhabitants of Algeria." (Hahn, 1960, 143)

The integrationist path was in the end abandoned, in the face of France's blockage on anti-discrimination reforms and democratic demands the Algerians proposed. This new road, of violence and internal fighting, led to the formation of several parties and groups. The National Liberation Front (FLN), through its armed wing the National Liberation Army, invited all parties and movements to enter FNL's fighting against the French army. Despite the leadership role that it took, the FLN, one of the most influential Algerian political figures of that time did not join the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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