Assess the view that the rise of nationalist movements before World War II was a reaction by the governed to economic exploitation. To assess the importance of the economic exploitation of the governed by the colonial powers, this essay will consider the impact,nature of importance, time period and perspectives. The discussion will compare the role of economic exploitation to other causes of the rise of nationalistic movements before World War II. This essay will look at the time period between 1918 and 1941.
Finally, this essay shall be arguing that while the economic exploitation of he governed was partially responsible for the rise of nationalist movements , factors such as Western education being provided to locals and the religious circumstances in South East Asia. The economic exploitation of the governed by the colonial powers lead to the rise of nationalist movements, as the economic policies taken by the colonial masters caused the perpetuation of many South East Asians.
The introduction of capitalism into previously self-sufficient economies brought about competition from migrants and brought instability into the South East Asian markets u to the new interactions with foreign markets, as the local economies are now subjected to the demand and supply mechanism of foreign economies. The bringing in of immigrants by the colonial powers was done without consulting the locals, and was done solely with the benefits of the colonial powers in mind, as these immigrants provided more reliable manpower and also served to dilute the local population.
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Economic Exploitation by Colonial Powers
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As such the locals were very much exploited economically as they were usually unable to get better paying Jobs within colonial organizations , even though they were in their homeland. Also, the exposure of South East Asian markets to other global markets mainly benefited the colonial powers which had access to information about the world trade situations. The locals being less informed about global economies would tend to be cheated or exploited by the colonial powers into selling local produce at under global market prices and into buying imports at prices way above global market prices.
A testament to the effect of the economic exploitation on the rise of nationalist movements would be the creation of the Karakas Islam(SSL) in Indonesia in 1913. The SSL was set up to represent the economic interests of local Muslims against the economic dominance of the Chinese and the Dutch. Apparently, the issue of economic exploitation was so close to the hearts of the locals that the SSL managed to gather a large following of 360000 within 3 years of forming.
This shows that economic exploitation was affecting the locals and as such resulted in land alienation which lead to the formation of nationalist parties to represent their interests. While economic exploitation of the governed by the colonial powers did indeed have some part in leading to the rise of nationalist movements, there are any other factors, one of which is the increased availability of Western education to South East Asians. This allowed locals to see beyond their parochial, traditional ,small minded mindsets.
The collective educational experience of South East Asians, both western and local education, allowed many to see that they were being exploited by their colonial masters. Furthermore, Western education exposed the locals to alternative forms of government that were more reliable and Just, which seemed more appealing than the rule to the colonial powers . This aroused the interest in the coals to unite and fight for change and obtain concessions from their colonial masters. An example where the availability of Western education lead to nationalist movements would be in the case of Precambrian Indonesia (P').
The leaders of PI were mostly young University Graduates that had access to Western education material during their studies. They included Mohammad Hat , the leader of the P', and Saguaro, the future leader of Indonesia. The influence of Western education had a pivotal effect in exposing these young men to the possibility of an independent Indonesia, and it was with this exposure that these young Indonesian managed to Oromo the P', which had a huge member base and popular support.
It is evident from the formation of the nationalist group Pl that the influence of Western education did lead to the rise of nationalist movements in South East Asia. Another reason for the rise of nationalist movements in South East Asia before World War I is the religious circumstances in the region. Many South East Asians were extremely religious, because religion provided an emotional anchor through easily understood principles, which would become a familiar and potent rallying point for South East Asians in mimes of hardship, like the period of colonial rule.
When rallied, many religious groups either evolved into political groups with devoted nationalistic aims or became a source of popular support that can be exploited by nationalist groups. The colonial powers did not adequately address the religious circumstances in South East Asia at the start of their reign, leaving such a powerful untapped source of possible popular support to remain virtually untouched. As such, it was inevitable that sooner or later there would be a trigger for the religious circumstances result in the locals rallying against the colonial powers.
A perfect example of the above is the "Shoe incident" of 1916 in Burma. When the British colonized Burma, they removed the King from power, which removed monarchical suppression on the Buddhist monks. As such, the monks were able to slowly spread their influence through out the country. The support gathered by the monks was then unleashed by a single trigger, the "Shoe Incident" in 1916. The Young Men's Buddhist Association (YMCA) successfully managed to rally many Burmese to protest against the perceived disrespect against the religious beliefs of the Burmese (wearing shoes into Buddhist Temples).
They manage to gather so much support that the British were forced to back down on the issue and give the Burmese religious authorities the right to decide what the proper decorum within temples was. With this controversy, the YMCA had managed to effectively turn a religious issue into a political one. From the above example, it is obvious that the religious circumstances in South East Asia also was a reason for the rise of nationalist movements.
In conclusion, while economic exploitation of the governed by the colonial powers had partially lead to the rise of nationalist events, factors such as religious circumstances in South East Asia and the availability of Western Education were also huge contributors to the rise of nationalist movements. For example, if Western education was not so readily available to the locals, even if the hardship that they faced was a thousand times worse, they still would not have any idea how to go about changing things, as they would have no understanding of democracy and how to go about obtaining it.
Also, if the locals had not had such strong religious beliefs and religion did not have such a strong interline over them, the locals would never nave been able to band together o stand up to the colonial powers as there would be nothing that they could identify themselves by, they would Just be a group of individuals instead of a religious group bound by their common beliefs, and as the saying goes, "United we stand, Divided we fall".
As such, it is not farfetched to say that the economic exploitation by the colonial powers was what sparked the pre World War I nationalist movements , while the religious circumstances and Western education were the tools and means that allowed the movements to take place. Without either of the two, the above mentioned nationalist movements could possibly have never happened.
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