HS-102 Readings

Nationalism and Liberalism Since World War II

In the forty years since the end of World War II, in what ways has the
process of development and modernization continued?

The process of modernization has continued in the following ways:

1. Nationalism or nation-building, a process which began in Europe in association with industrialization, has continued to spread with increasing rapidity to become a global phenomenon. The struggle for independence from colonial rule, which began after World War I, accelerated after World War II.

    The nations of  Central and South America had already, with a few exceptions, achieved independence in the 19th century. The few remaining colonies there became independent in the 20th century.

    In Asia, all of the former colonial holdings of the British, the French, the Dutch and the Portuguese became independent in the years following World War II.

    So, also, did all the former European colonies in Africa.

    This did not occur without bitter struggles. Marking the history of these forty years were:
     a. the Hindu-Moslem conflict, which created the partition between India and Pakistan, and the subsequent struggle between Pakistan and Bangladesh.
     b. the Indo-China struggle for independence from  France and the United States, which led to the independent nations of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
     c. the Indonesian struggle for independence from the Dutch.
     d. the Algerian war for independence from France
     e. the struggle of Congo for independence from Belgium,
     f.  the struggle of East Timor for independence from Indonesia, which was marked by savage reprisals of the Indonesian army.
     g. The struggle of Tibetans for independence from China, which continues into the next century with little indication of success,
     among others.

    The conflicts, which are the most difficult to resolve, are those involving more than one ethnic group claiming the same homeland. Some of these may have been worked out while others are continuing today. Among the most prominent are:
     a. The Israeli-Palestinian War
     b. The struggle in northern Ireland
     c. The Biafran-Nigerian War
     d. The struggle between Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda and Burundi
     e. The Moslem-Christian conflict in the Sudan
     f. The struggle for independence or autonomy of indigenous people in Guatemala.
     g. The struggle for independence of the Kurds from Turkey and Iraq.
     h. The struggle in Sri Lanka between the Sinhalese majority and the the Tamil minority.
     i.  The struggle in the Caucasus between the Moslem Azerbaijani and Christian Armenians.
     j. The struggle beween Sikhs and Hindu in India
     k. The stand-off between Greeks and Turks in Cyprus
     l. The conflict between Serbs, Croats and Moslems in Bosnia and
Croatia; and the stand-off between Serbs, Albanians and Greeks in Kosovo
and Macedonia.
     m. Tribal conflict in Afghanistan and in Somalia,
     among others.

2. the Liberal revolution has continued in the following ways:
     a. Women have continued their struggle for equality with men. The Women's rights movement has helped to open the job market for women in the more devevelopd countries, though wage levels are still only about 70% of men's, and the so-called glass ceiling is very evident with top management positions in both government and private industry held almost entirely by men. There is great urgency to empower women in the less-developed world in order to lower fertility rates.

    b. The South African struggle against Apartheid has brought an end to the Apartheid regime, though the economic divide between blacks and whites is very wide.

    c. In the United States, the black civil-rights movement has ended segregation in the South. A black middle-class has emerged, but there are a disproportionate number of blacks who are poverty-stricken and disadvantaged.

What was the direction of English domestic policy after World War II, and
which political party led the way?

After World War II, the English economy, devastated by war, was re-focused on domestic problems. The Labor Party gained power and introduced a national health care program which the English people today find indispensable. They also nationalized the railroads. In a time when railroads are no longer profitable for private enterprise, but they do provide a valuable public service, it made sense to put them under government control. Utilities were also nationalized, though the benefits of government as opposed to private ownership, are not clearly established. Labor Unions became very disciplined in that they could paralyze the entire economy by carrying out a nationwide strike.

    During the administration of Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative Prime Minister, the trend was reversed. Privatization has been encouraged, and the Labor unions have been weakened.

    In the United States a similar political battle has been waged between those in favor of government involvement, which was begun during the New Deal, and those who would like to dismantle government programs, particularly at the Federal level.

    The depression of the 1930,s demonstrated the need for government involvement in the economy, to redistribute wealth and provide services. The question remains: how much government involvement is appropriate, and how much should be left to the private sector?

    Democratic governments in the most advanced industrial nations appear to be searching for a practical answer to that question.