‘the Rise of Nationalist Movements Was the Primary Motive Behind British Decolonisation After 1945.

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‘The rise of nationalist movements was the primary motive behind British decolonisation after 1945.’ The British Empire was the largest empire in history. At its peak, it consisted of 14 million square miles of territory and 400 million people. Yet, even though it had a history of over 400 years, it became redundant in 40. Imperialists such as Cecil Rhodes believed that the destiny of Britain was to colonise the world. Unfortunately, similar to the Roman Empire, its fall was both unanticipated and catastrophic. With two world wars, the fall of a long dominant region (Europe) and the rise to power of two new superpowers, the world had changed. The empire fell due a fortunate combination of motives: the anti-imperialist ideology of the US, public opinion in Britain, the appearance of Europe as an alternative, the strong rise of nationalism and most importantly economic distress in Britain. Even though they were all interlinked and nationalism received a lot of attention by the media and historians alike, the underlying factor was that of financial crisis. Nationalism was partly responsible for the rapid fall of British Empire. Anthony Low explains that decolonisation could only occur with the, ‘Growth of nationalist sentiments and nationalist forces.’ WW2, communication and education led to political and social changes; Ideas such as equality quickly captured the empire. As the country gained a desire for autonomy, there was little need for imperial rule. Nationalism can therefore be described as anti-imperialism. This can be seen in the decolonisation of India. As early as 1857, the sepoy rebellion revealed people’s craving for freedom from oppression. The 1919 and 1935 government of India acts, resulting in full provincial self-government, show a gradual sideling of imperial rule. This is reinforced by the ‘Quit India’ movement which demanded immediate British
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