Nationalism and Political Identities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America



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Bentley, chapter 35



Nationalism and Political Identities in Asia, Africa, and Latin America


  1. Colonization and the contradictions of nationalism:



  1. Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948): Gandhi's teachings of nonviolent protest and class unity found receptive Indian audiences. He combined Hindu and Christian ideologies and rejected industrialization in favor of home manufacturing. His famous “Walk to the Sea” represented both his ideology and his manipulation of public relations and political tactics. As a result, Britain slowly granted concessions to the Indian National Congress and Muslim League, particularly in internal affairs. Meanwhile, protectionism between the wars, particularly during the Depression, created growth in the Indian industrial sector. The expanding class of wealthy Indian merchants and businessmen supported independence, as educated and English-speaking Indians had done before them. British weaknesses during World War II, along with Indian contributions to the war effort, resulted in British promises of independence after the war. When a postwar split between Muslims and Hindus divided the movement, the Muslims broke away to form the Pakistani state. The British viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, declared independence for India and Pakistan in August 1947. Conflict between Hindus and Muslims continued, resulting in Gandhi's assassination in January 1948.


  1. Jomo Kenyatta (1895-1978): Kenyatta spent almost fifteen years in Europe, during which time he attended various schools and universities, including the London School of Economics. An immensely articulate nationalist, Kenyatta later led Kenya to independence from the British. Kenyatta was among a new generation of Africans who spoke and understood the language of the colonizer, moved with ease in the world of the colonizer, and outwardly adopted the cultural norms of the colonizer such as wearing European- style clothes or adopting European names. It was within the ranks of this new elite that ideas concerning African identity and nationhood germinated.


  1. Emiliano Zapata (1879-1919): Unlike Gandhi or Kenyatta, Zapata was not formally educated. Zapata was a village leader, farmer and horseman who became an important leader in the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). He was instrumental in bringing down the corrupt dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz in 1911 and joined forces with other revolutionary generals to defeat Victoriano Huerta in 1914. Zapata commanded an imposing army, but he rarely sallied forth, preferring to stay on his home turf of Morelos. Zapata was idealistic and his insistence on land reform became one of the pillars of the Revolution. He was assassinated in 1919.



  1. Colonialism in Africa: Colonialism received a boost at the end of the First World War when the Allies won control of German colonies. Although few Europeans lived in Africa before World War II, they made a deep impact on Africa economically, socially, religiously, and politically. Europeans invested heavily in colonial railroads, harbors, and mines, which enormously increased the output and value of agricultural and mining commodities. However, forced labor and urbanization increased malnutrition and disease. Racial segregation in housing, health care, and public accommodations became more pronounced. Economic development primarily benefited Europeans and often had a negative effect on African people. Christianity was introduced to Africa by Western missionaries, with the exception of Ethiopia. By opening schools that taught literacy and craft skills, missionaries educated a new elite for job opportunities but also exposed Africans to European political ideas. Islam also spread successfully during the colonial period. It also emphasized literacy but was less disruptive to traditional African society. Labor demands and the widening disparity between the wealthy and the poor embittered many Africans, causing a growth in nationalist movements.



  1. African nationalism: In the decades following the Great War, European powers consolidated their political control over the partitioned continent and imposed economies designed to exploit Africa’s natural and labor resources. Many Africans were disappointed that their contributions to the war went unrewarded. In place of anticipated social reforms or some degree of greater political participation came an extension and consolidation of the colonial system. Nevertheless, ideas concerning self-determination, articulated by U. S. President Woodrow Wilson during the war, and the notion of the accountability of colonial powers that had been sown during the war gained adherents among a group of African nationalists. Those ideas influenced the growth of African nationalism and the development of incipient nationalist movements. An emerging class of native urban intellectuals, frequently educated in Eu-rope, became especially involved in the formation of ideologies that promised freedom from colonialism and promoted new national identities.


  1. African independence movements: There were several forces that gave rise to independence movements in Africa. First, some Africans received education from Christian or Muslim schools, and thus the African elite were exposed to political ideas from the West that emphasized natural rights and helped them form ideas of independence. World War II had a big impact on the African demand for independence. Many Africans participated as soldiers in the war and returned to Africa with new radical ideas that favored liberation. Another source of encouragement for independence came from Haile Selassie and his successful campaign against the Italians in Ethiopia. World War II demands for labor, conscription, and food exports, together with Allied ideals of liberation and freedom, convinced many Africans of the need for radical change.


  1. French Equatorial Africa (64 deaths per mile of track): Perhaps the most significant hold Europe had on Africa was control of railroads to the interior.


  1. European wholesalers and retail traders: Europeans controlled most of the key import and export sectors of the African colonial systems. Often immigrants from other parts of the empire, e.g., India, controlled key retail-trade outlets. The indigenous Africans were rarely in control of these key sectors and so saw their wealth systematically extracted out of Africa.



  1. European health care in Africa: Although they claimed to improve it, colonialism usually worsened health care.


  1. Migrant labor in Africa: The “head tax” system, under British rule, forced many villagers to go into the mines and agricultural fields as migrant workers. The wages would be remitted to pay the dreaded “head tax.” This system was used by the British to move and control African labor.



  1. Patterns of racial segregation in settler colonies: The so called “color bar” system was especially pronounced in “settler colonies” such as Kenya. The Africans were barred from holding bureaucratic administrative positions and from holding key economic positions. The color bar was a form of racial segregation, complete with the ritual humiliation of the black African majority.



  1. Christianity and mission schools: Christian religions proved attractive in some parts of Africa because they established mission schools.


  1. Contrast between liberal ideas and realities of colonialism



  1. Pan-Africanism: W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey—Black consciousness – linking the diaspora. Resistance to white supremacy and the colonization of the mind.



  1. African National Congress: In 1912, the African National Congress was founded by Western-educated lawyers and journalists.



  1. Italian invasion of Ethiopia (1935)



  1. Impact of World War II on African independence



  1. Indian independence movement: The English, ironically, set the state for a mature and full blown nationalist Indian independence movement by doing the following things: Britain developed the infrastructure of India in the form of harbors, railroads, modern cities, and cotton and steel mills. English became the lingua franca for a land with many different languages. English rule also created Western-educated professionals and bureaucrats who were to become the leaders of the independence movement. British rule was provided by a viceroy and administered by the Indian Civil Service. These individuals were scrupulously honest and imbued with a sense of duty toward the Indian people. This system set a template which the Indians themselves could move into as a means to manage India following WWII and independence




  1. Indian Civil Service: The Indian Civil Service was considered one of the most honest bureaucracies of all time but Indians themselves were mostly barred from entering the service. All potential employees, for example, were forced to take the civil service exam in London (few Indians could afford to do this).



  1. Indian National Congress, 1885: In 1885, that professional class founded the Indian National Congress, which petitioned the government for reforms rather than for independence.



  1. Muslim League, 1906: To protest Hindu dominance of India, Indian Muslims formed a group called the All-India Muslim League. The All-India Muslim League united Islamic Indians, especially in provinces such as Bengal, which protested British rule.


  1. Impact of World War I: Indian nationalists during World War I supported Britain enthusiastically and expected that India would be granted independence after the war. The British were supported during World War I by Indian troops and national supporters, who expected in return political concessions and respect. While Britain promised eventual self-government, its details were vague and unsatisfactory. Indians incurred a high population loss from starvation during the war, as well as losses in the influenza epidemic, and it was felt that the British did nothing to assist them.


  1. General Reginald Dyer: In the aftermath of the war, when it became apparent that the British had no intention of honoring the agreement to grant Indian independence, the Indians stepped up resistance campaigns against British authority (often inspired by Gandhi’s strategy of Satyagraha). General Reginald Dyer was took it upon himself to enforce British curfew and speech restriction laws (the Rowlett Act) by opening fire on a peaceful crowd of Indian demonstrators as Amritsar, Punjab, April 13, 1919. The “Amritsar Massacre” infuriated the nationalist leadership and helped to galvanize Indian resistance. Even more resentment against the British surfaced later when the British lords not only delayed an investigation of Amritsar but ultimately rewarded Dyer for his service.



  1. Home Rule and the “great soul”: During World War I, Indian support for Britain led the Home Rule League to ask for more radical reforms, such as Indian control of internal affairs. Britain responded with some minor concessions toward self-rule. A return to conservative policies after the war caused violent uprisings by Indians, who believed that British concessions were an attempt to postpone Indian independence. Intensifying violence and repression prompted Mohandas Gandhi to strive to abate them.



  1. Ahimsa: Ahimsa, loosely translated, means abstinence from violence either by thought, word, or deed. Non-injury requires a harmless mind, mouth, and hand. In a positive sense, it implies compassion and cosmic love. It is the development of a mental attitude in which hatred is replaced by love. The scriptures define ahimsa as the true sacrifice, forgiveness, power, and strength. At its core, ahimsa is based on the intentions of a person whose focus is to not harm anyone.



  1. Satyagraha: “Love-force” or “truth-force” as defined by Gandhi. The form of nonviolent resistance initiated in India by Gandhi in order to oppose British rule and to hasten political reforms



  1. Salt March: The Salt March, also known as the Salt Satyagraha began with the Dandi March on March 12, 1930, and was an important part of the Indian independence movement. It was a direct action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly in colonial India, and triggered the wider Civil Disobedience Movement.


  1. World War II



  1. Quit India Movement



  1. Jawaharlal Nehru



  1. Muhammad Ali Jinnah



  1. Gandhi’s fate



  1. The Mexican Revolution: Several important factors influenced the events leading up to the Mexican Revolution. Of all the Latin American nations, Mexico was the most affected by three centuries of Spanish colonial rule. There were divisions between Mexicans of Spanish, Indian, and mixed ancestry, as well as deep class divisions between the wealthy and the poor. Those class divisions were in part created and widened by the reliance of the Mexican economy on the exchange of agricultural goods and raw materials for U.S. manufactures. By 1910, the wealthiest 1 percent of the families of Spanish origin owned 85 percent of all land. American and British companies owned most of the railroads, mines, and plantations. The great increase in railroads and other infrastructure benefited only wealthy Mexicans, exacerbating class divisions. The small middle class and the masses of landless peasants owned little property and had even less political power. The abandonment of traditional Mexican culture by the wealthy class further alienated the Mexican masses. These numerous divisions laid the groundwork for the Mexican Revolution.




  1. Porfirio Diaz



  1. “Liberty, Order and Progress”: The motto of General Porfirio Diaz during his thirty-four years of rule. – Real, actual rule was governed by another motto: “pan o palo”




  1. The Cientificos: Diaz surrounded himself with highly educated Mexicans of European decent, including Jose Limantour. These “social scientists” justified the liberal capitalist policies of the Diaz regime through appeals to social Darwinism.




  1. Mexican racism



  1. Zapatistas: Emiliano Zapata and his peasant armies seized millions of acres of land and returned it to the Indian villages. This is the origin of the ejido system in Mexico



  1. Pancho Villa:



  1. Constitutionalists: Constitutionalists drew support mostly from the Mexican middle class and industrial workers. The Constitutionalists eventually won control in Mexico because they controlled oil exports, used the profits from oil to buy weapons and ultimately killed Zapata and Villa. In order to reduce tensions and co-opt mass support for their former rivals, they also adopted many agrarian and social reforms.



  1. Role of the United States



  1. The Constitution of 1917



  1. Lazaro Cardenas



  1. Diego Rivera


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