Investigating the sour grapes of the post-colonial order has led some scholars to revisit colonialism in ways antithetical to the nationalist “consecrated rhetoric” (Heesterman 1978, 31). In the perspective of this revision, colonialism is seen as its own grave digger. Constrained by conflicting local contexts, colonial administrations, it is argued, had to make ad hoc adjustments (Phillips 1989, 11-12). Decolonization is viewed by these revisionists as a “recognition of the failure of colonialism rather than a response to the powers of nationalism” (1989, 13). It is true, perhaps, that decolonization has been studied with an overemphasis on resistance. Resistance, of course, cannot be discounted in accounting for the shoddy performance of the colonial state. However, much of the self-serving discourse of the nationalists can be easily scrapped without hurting the cause of resistance. For a better understanding of resistance itself, scholars argue, it is useful to start discussing it in “a sceptical frame of mind” (Gledhill 1994, 82).
Basic to this revision of the reasons that led to the end of the empire is an investigation of the inherent disabilities of the colonial state (Robinson 1972; Phillips 1989; Darwin 1991). It has been graphically called a “facsimile of a state” (Phillips 1989, 11) for being taken out and set apart from society (Heesterman 1987, 54). This dramatic severing of the colonizer and the colonized is reminiscent of Fanon's characterization of the colonial condition, for being unswervingly divided into European and native quarters, as “manichaean.”