Decolonization

Arguably, the “ongoing process” of offsetting the prevailing psychosocial condition in Washington with reality and truth which I mentioned previously equates to a phenomenon or process known by historians and social scientists as “decolonization.” Jan Jansen and Jurgen Osterhammel define “decolonization” as “the disappearance of empire as a political form, and the end of racial hierarchy as a widely accepted political ideology and structuring principle of world order.” Thus, “decolonization” consists of two basic elements, namely, the dissolution of empire on one hand and the delegitimization of relationships based on subjugation between a power elite and everyone else on the other hand.

Jansen and Osterhammel add that because of these two aforementioned elements of “decolonization,” the process of decolonization has both a structural side and a normative side. In terms of the structural side of decolonization, what entails from the dissolution of empire is a “radical restructuring” of the international order set up by the status quo imperial power. And in terms of the normative side of decolonization, what results is a transformation in the “norms” which shape the relationships between both people and states. Thus, decolonization has both a physical and psychological effect on the international system as a whole.

In turn, there are three dimensions or “levels of analysis” for historians and social scientists who seek to analyze the process of decolonization. For one, there is the imperial level, which looks at the “enfeeblement” of the “metropole” (i.e., Washington, London, Paris, etc.) and its connection to the process of decolonization. Second, there is the local dimension of decolonization, which analyzes personalities, movements, and the inability of alien powers to maintain relationships with local power brokers. And third, there is the international dimension of decolonization, which looks at world public opinion and the issue of credibility and legitimacy on the part of the status quo power.

Jansen and Osterhammel also suggest that there are “explanatory models” for the process of decolonization which in turn explain the causes or drivers for this process. For one, there is the decision to pursue a “transfer of power” on the part of the colonial power for a number of reasons. Second, there is the issue of “national liberation” which the colonial power has to reckon with. Third, there is a “neocolonialism” model which suggests that the physical departure of a colonial power can be replaced with like-minded indigenous collaborators who facilitate the commercial and economic interests of the colonial power. Fourth, there is the “unburdening” model, whereby the colonial power can no longer handle an empire from an economic and logistical standpoint. And finally, there is the “world politics” model, which suggests that the structure of the international system (i.e., the rise of China, etc.) is the cause or primary driver for the process of decolonization.

Moreover, the “levels of analysis” and the “explanatory models” for decolonization are interconnected. And although decolonization is a real phenomenon and process, it is nonetheless a phenomenon and process that is currently incomplete. For one, racial hierarchy still exists in the international system to a certain extent. Also, the language and rhetoric of colonialism still exists. For example, when talking heads in Washington suggest that we “talk to Putin” to reach a “settlement,” the language very much relates to the language of colonialism, empire, and racial hierarchy which goes back to the likes of Churchill and others.

Finally, Jansen and Osterhammel argue that the linkage and interconnection between the “colonial situation, decolonization, and the current situation of states” differs between cases. Basically, the outcomes of decolonization differ from one case to another. For example, the outcome of decolonization for Algeria or Kenya was different than the outcome for Singapore or Malaysia. Nevertheless, as mentioned before, decolonization is the most noteworthy economic, political, and social phenomenon or process over the course of the last century or so, and it is a phenomenon or process that is currently ongoing.

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