The Post-War World Has Been Shaped Primarily
1. The post-war world has been shaped primarily by a clash between Communism and Capitalism OR The post-war world has been shaped primarily by a clash between Nationalism and Imperialism Choose one of these assertions and develop an argument for it. With regards to the assignment question, I will certainly be in agreement with the argument the clash between imperialism and nationalism had shaped the post-war world more prominently as compared to the idea of communism and capitalism constituted to the molding of the past decades.
Very simply, studies showed that even till this age of globalization, the notion of imperialism and nationalism are still floating among us, with a modern twist, that is (Tomlinson, 1991). We first have to ask the question, what sparked off nationalism? The answer by most scholars would most probably be the oppression of great powers during the time of imperialism. What then, defines imperialism and how did it came about? According to O’ Brian (2007), imperialism is the practice of any one state to influence or conquer another with the intention to expand its wealth, power and control over dominions or self-governing colonies.
After the end of World War Two, with the declination of powers among the former colonizers across the globe, the industrializing countries like Britain and France were increasingly gaining possession of many colonies (Best, et al. , 20008). It is through colonialism that the imperial powers executed what we call as imperialism where in its best sense, is the ‘natural overflow of nationality’; its test is the power of the colonist to transplant the civilization they represent to the new natural and social environment in which the colonists find themselves.
And in which of course, lying beneath is a negative connotation that is often associated with a loss of identity and belonging (Hobson, 2007). The post-war world as according to Rajan and Sauer (2004) was significantly changed by the settling of foreign authority onto lands that previously had not been under any control. The intrusion of political and economic rights and cultural imperialism to mention a few had taken place and in fact, had subsequently prompted radical, socialist and even nationalist movement.
To be able to gain control over a country, military force is not necessary at times (Hobsbawn, 1990). The British had illustrated a perfect scenario where apart from military control; they had also planted seeds of ‘the British way of life’ indirectly by Anglicizing basically anything from street names to the lingua franca of a local community (Moore & Johnson, 2004), like what happened in Ireland and the Malayan Peninsula where English was once to be used as the spoken and official language for all formal documents in the bureaucracy (Othman, 1990). This formed the basis for cultural imperialism.
Tomlinson (1991) mentioned that cultural factors are instrumental in maintaining political-economic dominance. Hence, he defined cultural imperialism as “the process of imperialist is aided and abetted by importing supportive forms of culture” (p. 3). This issue has been so central that even Irish poet Seamus Heaney, a renowned Irish Nobel Prize winner and nationalist emphasized a great deal on cultural identities in his works, in relation to the colonization of Ireland and the intrusion of the British that seemed to wipe out the local culture by Anglicizing the names of placed in Ireland, killing those who disobeyed. I am the tall kingdom over your shoulder That you could not cajole not ignore. Conquest is a lie. ’ (Act of Union 1. 9, 74) Similarly, Brian Friel, who is another famous Irish playwright in his play Translations also highlights the loss of cultural identity after the Irish language has been literally translated into English and what is left with the locals were fragments of memories and left as victims of imperialism (Friel, 2002). What has been a quest for most colonized countries was an ‘oppression-free’ nation.
Repression of minority rights is often the first restriction on emerging ethnic national groups which includes outlawing native language, discouraging trade, and even relocating minority groups like the how the British imposed a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy that eventually separated three different ethnic groups to their ‘specialty’ in labor to yield the best outcome of profit for the British (Goodwin, 2001). With the increase awareness that these powers were slowly taking over bits and pieces of what originally belonged to them and the need to come together as one, the idea of nationalism seeped in.
During this time, the struggle towards nationalism, or establishment of political union on the basis of nationality ‘has been a dominant factor alike in dynastic movement and as an inner motive in the life of masses population’ so said Hobson (p. 1). To define nationalism is no easy task either. What becomes a great matter of dispute is how these national borders should be drawn, i. e. what constitutes a nation. What Joseph Stalin described a nation as depicted by Whitaker (1960) is the ‘historically evolved, stable community of language, territory, economic life and psychological make-up manifested in a community of culture’ (p. ). The idea of nationalism is often connected to the French Revolution back in 1789. It has then emerged as a powerful force in the post-Cold War world. Perhaps the most dynamic changes have taken place in areas once dominated by the Soviet Union and maybe the British (Price). It is critical to know that nationalism has reemerged as a vital factor in restructuring the international political scene in the post-war world especially during the post-Cold War period after British has transformed itself into a Commonwealth.
The dynamics of a bipolar nature of the dominance by the United States and the Soviet Union was not appreciated. Lesser powers cooperated in varying degrees with the ‘superpowers’ and a multi-polar and this restored a multi-polar world increasingly driven by contentious nationalist rivalries. This is supported by Milward (1992) that the world has witnessed the collapse of empire and the resurfacing of national components from within. The fragmentation of the Soviet Union into fifteen nations is one example.
The nature of nationalism itself is neither good nor bad as compared to extreme capitalism, socialism and imperialism. The events behind the scenes are what give meaning to these notions. Hence, some authors did classified nationalism into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ nationalism. The ‘good’ type talks about how the nations strived to create and maintain their own nations to create a territorial boundary and something in common to be called as ‘one’ nation. It is similar to patriotism, but nationalism goes beyond the affection towards a country which sometimes lead to the ‘bad’ side of nationalism.
The “bad” kind of nationalism pitted one own’s “superior” nation or race against all others in a struggle for survival of the fittest, in other words, the hatred and despise towards other nations started to manifest in the process of acquiring strength and unity. It is this kind of nationalism that gave nationalism its bad name in Europe through the actions of men like Adolf Hitler and Slobodan Milosevic in the 20th century (Moliss, 2002). One important element of the Holocaust was that the Nazi genocidal machine was aimed not only at the destruction of the European Jewish Community, but also at the Jewish seed itself.
The mass murder of the European Jews was a watershed event in human history (Gilbert, 1985). In the aftermath of World War II, the world — from individual nations to the United Nations; from religious leaders to professionals in fields as diverse as law, medicine, and science; from presidents and prime ministers to private citizens confronted its legacy (Signer, 2000). Many of the issues raised by this cataclysmic event continue to have an impact on our lives and the world in which we live.
The Vietnam War of 1955 which took twenty years to end was considered to be one of the most brutal nationalist movements in world history with the victory of Vietnamese over the Americans (Willbanks, 2007). Yet this distorted view of the Vietnam veterans as victims as much as victimizers, if not as brave heroes, was not accompanied by new public policies. Although most veterans did succeed in making the transition to ordinary civilian life, many did not. More Vietnam veterans committed suicide after the war than had died in it.
Even more perhaps three-quarters of a million became part of the lost army of the homeless. And the nearly 700,000 draftees, many of them poor, badly educated, and nonwhite, who had received less than honorable discharges, depriving them of educational and medical benefits, found it especially difficult to get and keep jobs, to maintain family relationships, and to stay out of jail (Chambers, 1999). If these do not prove enough that the clash of imperialism and nationalism had altered the magnitude of the post war world, what would be the other causes then?
The society of the post-war era was not concerned of what kind of social system that are benefitting to them in general. Rather, the primary issue was to fight for something in common the nation could relate to. The clash of communism and capitalism was not sufficient to demonstrate that the period had revolved around it as compared to the bloodshed and never-ending quest to fight for the independence of a nation. Try naming a successful communist country. Unfortunately, there are none.
The disintegration of the Soviet Union is a solid proof that communism just does not work in the modern society and as for capitalism, the economic success of the States was at a price of other nations which have a large struggling population (Schalit, 2002). It is only within a state with well-to-do economics, capitalism shall prevail. Hence, this clash has certainly not changed the post-war world as much as imperialism and nationalism. Bibliograpghy Best, A. , Hanhimaki, J. M. , Maiolo, J. A. , & Schulze, K. E. (2008). International History of the Twentieth Century and Beyond. Oxon: Routledge.
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