Having said that, the end of the British Empire in the late 1940s did help shape today’s world, in particular, the independence granted to colonies for assisting the allies in WWII. For each country set free, the shock of self-determination after centuries of dominance was bound to lead to turbulence but after seventy years there should be stronger signs of global stability. Yet we still live in broken years with the end of inequality seemingly a long way away.
Where South Africa is concerned, the most notorious obstacle to peace was the imposition of Apartheid in 1948, the year when many countries were set free from colonial control. Having already been granted independence in 1931, it seems the Afrikaners enforced segregation after WWII to quell any uprisings that may have arisen when blacks saw the end of colonies elsewhere in the world. Liberation for others turned out to be a filip for oppression of the blacks; and as we have recently been reminded, 42 years of struggle then passed before racial inequality ended with the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990. Yet as Mamphela Ramphele, Bantu Biko’s lover said, the Africa of today is not the one the black leaders envisaged. The elite hierarchy and brutal police still exist with the only difference being that it’s blacks not whites who are the cause of oppression. With luck, Ramphele’s new political party, Agang, meaning Build, will bring changes and she believes this can happen within 3-5 years ; but free South Africa has only existed for twenty years, which seems very young for stability. Also, the centralised political system left by the Afrikaners is at conflict with the separatist and native tribal culture. Hopefully Ramphele is the person who can unite South Africa again and complete the task that Mandela and Biko started.
To turn to Asia, you only have to look at Genghis Khan in the 13th century to know that conquering through invasion and fear existed there long before the British Empire. Regretfully, today we still have dictatorships such as that in North Korea. Post-war independence and easy access through travel and technology has made it easier for corrupt and violent governments to be empowered by states like China and Russia and their scant regard for human rights. With this kind of influence, it’s hard to see a way forward other than a campaign for the end of corruption led by the UN and Transparency International. Some form of amnesty like the IRA had in Northern Ireland may also be necessary.
As for the Middle East, in 1948 the Jewish People’s Council helped themselves to a state of Israel in Palestine and the war still rages. The allies felt guilty for not ending the holocaust sooner so tacitly supported the seizure of land. Palestinians weren’t responsible for starting the second world war and shouldn’t have paid the price for what happened to the Jewish people, either then or at the start of the twentieth century with the rise of anti-semitism. That the British had a Mandate for Palestine, which allocated part of the Palestinians’ land to Israel only aggravated the situation. Restoring the political states to the pre 1948 position is the only right thing to do.
In conclusion, the world took on a different shape after WWII, with unrest following freedom. Seventy years later, we’re still fighting for liberation from oppression, previously the colonial powers, now many countries have returned to their own racial conflicts. Corruption at the state level is also a major factor and no-one can blame the British for that. Even so, there has to be optimism for the future. Without hope we may as well throw in our hands now. After the Arab spring in the Middle East, maybe the world is heading for more equitable societies but I’m not sure it will happen soon without a revolutionary and global campaign for peace. As politicians are led by self-interest, there also needs to be a strong push from the not-for-profit sectors to ensure a fairer social order. In the ideal world, charitable organisations would be part of elected governments to balance the natural greed of people who usually end up with the power. I really don’t see how political parties can achieve peace on their own because let’s face it, every country and every nation has made a mess of it in the past.
In the words of Rohini: If grown-ups want children to share everything and stop fighting, then they should also behave like that.