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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: September 2009

3 - The closest cousins: the great anti-colonial revolutions


The colonial, of whatever society, is a product of revolution; and the revolution takes place in the mind.

V. S. Naipaul

Revolt is the only way out of the colonial situation, and the colonized realizes it sooner or later … The colonial situation, by its own internal inevitability, brings on revolt.

Albert Memmi

The most thoroughgoing of the anti-colonial revolutions which swept the Third World after World War 2 bear striking resemblances to the successful social revolutions just analyzed. The only significant difference between the two types is arguably a relatively minor one: the target in the anti-colonial case was not a local dictator but a foreign, colonial power occupying the country. There is also the fact that the outcomes have not in all cases resulted in such deep social change as to qualify as social revolutions, and therefore this chapter selects those cases which most unambiguously produced social revolutions by our definition's emphasis on substantial social transformation after coming to power. With appropriate modifications that take into account the external locus of political control, we may hypothesize that the same factors are operative as in non-colonial instances.