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British Decolonization Since 1945: A Pattern or A Puzzle?

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British Decolonization since 1945: A pattern or a puzzle?

Name: Ong Zheng Guang

Student ID: N1600342F

British Decolonization since 1945 sparkled the interests of many even till today. The question on whether it is the outcome from the relative decline of the British economy and the ebbing away of Britain as a world power or whether it is the result from the manifestation of deliberate and intended policies by the policy-makers still remains a highly debatable topic. In this literature review, we will be exploring the varying rationale behind British Decolonization since 1945.

According to Harold Macmillan, a British politician, rather than attributing the cause of British Decolonization to the loss of will or even the power to rule and decolonization to defeat and decline, a different perspective should be considered which is British colonial policy after 1945 makes it possible for the growth of its colonies and eventually transcending from colonial subordination to sovereign status. However, it is also an undisputed fact that British policies after 1945 was accompanied by several contradictions which refuted the beliefs of Harold Macmillan, citing examples from the case of independence between India and Pakistan in 1947 and the reluctant concession of self-government to Burma and Ceylon which highlighted inconsistencies in the British foreign and colonial policy after 1945. The inconsistencies questioned the validity of British Decolonization being a planned and deliberate decision undertaken by its policy-makers and opened up possibilities that decolonization might be the solution to meet its social and economic limitations after the Second World War or even succumbing to decolonization out of fear and anxiety to external factors.  


After the Second World War, Britain was struggling to recover its economy and hoping to alleviate social unrest through the recovery. This led to the acknowledgement of their inferiority in economic resources and potential military power to the United States and Russia, and the realization that its power and influence would have to be relooked into. Decolonization in this case might be the solution to Britain situation at that moment, and an attempt to prevent unnecessary struggles and commitments for its own good.



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