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  • Hi, I’m John Green;

  • this is Crash Course World History

  • and today were going to talk about decolonization.

  • The empires European states formed in the 19th century proved about

  • as stable and long-lasting as Genghis Khan’s,

  • leading to so many of the nation states we know and love today.

  • Yes, I’m looking at you, Burundi.

  • DID YOU EVER KNOW YOURE MY BURUNDI?

  • YOURE EVERYTHING--

  • [Stan brings Karaoke house down with his version of WindBeneathMyWings? Not kidding]

  • STAN, DON’T CUT TO THE INTRO!

  • I SING LIKE AN ANGEL!

  • [BEST]

  • [intro music]

  • [intro music]

  • [intro music]

  • [intro music]

  • [EVAR]

  • So unless youre over 60--

  • and let’s face it, Internet, youre not--

  • youve only ever known a world of nation states.

  • But as weve seen from Egypt to Alexander the Great to China

  • to Rome to the Mongols, who, for once, are not the exception here,

  • [lackadaisical layabouts listen to their legion's lamentations, lounging no longer.]

  • to the Ottomans and the Americas,

  • empire has long been the dominant way weve organized ourselves politically--

  • or at least the way that other people have organized us.

  • Mr. Green, Mr. Green!

  • So to them Star Wars wouldve been, like, a completely different movie.

  • Most of them wouldve been like,

  • Go Empire! Crush those rebels!

  • Yeah,

  • also they’d be like what is this screen

  • that displays crisp moving images of events that are not currently occurring?

  • [failing to imagine MFTP's ideas complexly]

  • Also, not to get off-topic,

  • but you never learn what happens AFTER the rebel victory in Star Wars.

  • And, as as weve learned from the French Revolution to the Arab Spring,

  • revolution is often the easy part. [tell that to residents of Alderaan]

  • I mean, you think destroying a Death Star is hard?

  • Try negotiating a trade treaty with gungans. [oh Naboo you di'int!]

  • Right, anyway. So, the late 20th century was not the first time that empires disintegrated.

  • Rome comes to mind. Also the Persians.

  • And of course

  • the American Revolution ended one kind of European imperial experiment.

  • But in all those cases, Empire struck back...

  • heh heh, you see what I did there?

  • I mean, Britain lost its 13 colonies,

  • but later controlled half of Africa and all of India.

  • And what makes the recent decolonization so special is that at least so far,

  • no empires have emerged to replace the ones that fell.

  • And this was largely due to World War II because on some level,

  • the Allies were fighting to stop Nazi imperialism:

  • Hitler wanted to take over Central Europe, and Africa, and probably the Middle East--

  • and the Ally defeat of the Nazis discredited the whole idea of empire.

  • So the English, French, and Americans

  • couldn’t very well say to the colonial troops who’d fought alongside them,

  • Thank you so much for helping us to thwart Germany’s imperialistic ambitions.

  • As a reward, please hand in your rifle and return to your state of subjugation.”

  • [a little awkward, that]

  • Plus, most of the big colonial powers-- especially France, Britain, and Japan--

  • had been significantly weakened by World War II,

  • by which I mean that large swaths of them looked like this:

  • So, post-war decolonization happened all over the place:

  • The British colony that had once beenIndiabecame three independent nations.

  • By the way, is this Gandhi or is this Ben Kingsley playing Gandhi?

  • In Southeast Asia, French Indochina became Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

  • And the Dutch East Indies became Indonesia.

  • But of course when we think about decolonization,

  • we mostly think about Africa going from this to this:

  • So were gonna oversimplify here, [got that, commenters?]

  • because we have to, [not because we hate and/or forgot you]

  • but decolonization throughout Afro-Eurasia had some similar characteristics.

  • Because it occurred in the context of the Cold War,

  • many of these new nations had to choose between

  • socialist and capitalist influences, which shaped their futures.

  • [and their future color-coding]

  • While many of these new countries eventually adopted some form of democracy,

  • the road there was often rocky.

  • Also decolonization often involved violence,

  • usually the overthrow of colonial elites.

  • But well turn now to the most famous nonviolent--

  • or supposedly so, anyway--

  • decolonization: that of India.

  • So the story begins, more or less, in 1885

  • with the founding of the Indian National Congress.

  • Congress Party leaders and other nationalists in India

  • were usually from the elite classes.

  • Initially,

  • they didn’t even demand independence from Britain.

  • But they were interested in creating a modern Indian nation

  • rather than a return to some ancient pre-colonial form,

  • possibly because India was--

  • and is--hugely diverse

  • and really only unified into a single state when under imperial rule

  • by one group or another,

  • whether the Mauryans, the Guptas, the Mughals, or the British.

  • Okay, let’s go to the Thought Bubble.

  • The best known Indian nationalist, Mohandas K. Gandhi,

  • was a fascinating character: [and a fabric-draping genius]

  • A British educated lawyer born to a wealthy family,

  • he’s known for making his own clothes,

  • his long fasts,

  • and his battles to alleviate poverty,

  • improve the rights of women,

  • and achieve a unified Indian independence from Britain.

  • In terms of decolonization, he stands out for his use of nonviolence

  • and his linking it to a somewhat mythologized view of Indian history.

  • I mean, after all,

  • there’s plenty of violence in India’s past and in its heroic epics,

  • but Gandhi managed to hearken back to a past that used nonviolence to bring change.

  • Gandhi and his compatriot Jawaharlal Nehru

  • believed that a single India could continue to be ruled by Indian elites

  • and somehow transcend the tension between the country’s Hindu majority

  • and its sizable Muslim minority.

  • In this they were less practical than their contemporary, Muhammad Ali Jinnah,

  • the leader of the Muslim League who felt--

  • to quote historian Ainslie Embree--

  • "that the unified India of which the Congress spoke was an artificial one,

  • created and maintained by British bayonets.”

  • Jinnah proved correct and in 1947 when the British left,

  • their Indian colony was partitioned into the modern state of India

  • and West and East Pakistan,

  • the latter of which became Bangladesh in 1971.

  • While it’s easy to congratulate both the British and the Indian governments

  • on an orderly and nonviolent transfer of power,

  • the reality of partition was neither orderly nor nonviolent.

  • About 12 million people were displaced

  • as Hindus in Pakistan moved to India and Muslims in India moved to Pakistan.

  • As people left their homes, sometimes unwillingly, there was violence,

  • and all tolled as many as half a million people were killed,

  • more than died in the bloody Indonesian battle for independence.

  • So while it’s true that

  • the massive protests that forced Britain to end its colonization of India

  • were nonviolent,

  • the emergence of the independent states involved really wasn’t.

  • Thanks, Thought Bubble.

  • All this violence devastated Gandhi,

  • whose lengthy and repeated hunger strikes to end violence had mixed results,

  • and who was eventually assassinated by a Hindu nationalist

  • who felt that Gandhi was too sympathetic to Muslims.

  • Oh, it’s time for the open letter?

  • [we should just add wheels to the throne, maybe?]

  • An Open Letter to hunger strikers.

  • But first,

  • let’s see what’s in the secret compartment today.

  • A cupcake?

  • Stan, this just seems cruel. [and delicious. DFTB delicious.]

  • These are from Meredith the Intern to celebrate Merebration,

  • the holiday she invented to celebrate

  • the anniversary of her singleness. [no good can come of this, John…]

  • Dear hunger strikers,

  • Do you remember earlier when I said that

  • Gandhi hearkened back to a mythologized Indian past?

  • Well it turns out that hunger striking in India goes back all the way to,

  • like, the 5th century BCE.

  • Hunger strikes have been used around the world

  • including British and American suffragettes,

  • who hunger struck to get the vote.

  • And in pre-Christian Ireland, when you felt wronged by someone,

  • it was common practice to sit on their doorstep and hunger strike

  • until your grievance was addressed.

  • And sometimes it even works.

  • I really admire you, hunger strikers.

  • But I lack the courage of your convictions.

  • Also, this is an amazing cupcake.

  • Best wishes, John Green

  • Since independence, India has largely been a success story,

  • although we will talk about the complexity of India’s emerging global capitalism

  • next week.

  • For now, though,

  • let’s travel east to Indonesia, [by map?]