Reading Journal Essay

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Reading Journal: Decolonization

Louis and Robinson (LR) concluded three main economic and political sources of pressure for English decolonization. The first was the way in which the politics and economic of the Empire were managed pre-war. The historian specified because of the “object of Britain not sustaining the empire, but that the Empire should serve to sustain Britain”, and “empire on the cheap”, the metropole became dependent and sensitive to the volatile natures of the periphery, both economically and politically. By with the end of the Second World War, it became clear that British prosperity and the economics of the empire were reciprocal, and because of the geo-political changes of the Second World War, Britain was in debt and loosing its hold over its extra-European polities. To simply put it, the revenues in the periphery weren’t enough and the cost of maintenance became more expensive. The second source of pressure was due to the subsequent competition of the Cold War. Under the pressure of debt and the competition between America and the Soviet, Britain was forced to cooperate under an “Anglo-American coalition”. The agreement entailed the American generously subsidizing the imperial system for the British and erasing most of the debt the English owed, in return the Empire was to be used as defensive, geo-political tool for the United States. Under such agreements and the Cold War geopolitical pressures, the initial “prestige” and political function of the Empire became less British and less “imperium”, as it operated more to the benefit of the United States. Such benefits for the United States included easier access in the injection of the Dollars into the economies of underdeveloped countries in the periphery. “The competition between the Ruble and the Dollar for the economic and military contracts as well as the doctrinal loyalty” displaced the informal sway of the Sterling, thereby ending one form of means of control for the British. LR concludes with the third source of pressure coming from the global establishments such as the World Bank and the United Nation. As a means to fight of the communist political and economic ideologies, President Kennedy introduced “New Frontiers” that committed to Third World Development, which thereby contributed to the growing influence of anti-colonial sentiments and social movements of the time. LR argues the last source of pressure played a lesser role in Britain’s decision to decolonize. In contrast to LR, Philpott argues the influence of ideas and anti-colonial sentiments played a central role in the contraction of the English empire. He does not disagree with LR’s argument that the “imperial implosion” was the result of relative economic and military decline, but if not for the anti-colonial ideas, and its converting and motivating social power, the contraction of the English empire would had been less (relatively) peaceful, and more violent and costly. To elaborate, due to the anti-colonial sentiments, and the pressures and urgency of such ambitious, the metropole was given more time to make thoughtful economic development schemes and political decision, in order to make the decolonizing process as smooth as possible. Philpott suggests the incentive for a smooth decolonizing transition was largely due to