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Earliest Possible Decolonization

Japhy

You'll not see nothing like the Mighty Joe Kenn
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Albany, NY
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#1
Simple question really, what's the earliest that the Great Powers can start getting the hell out of the rest of the world and start shutting down their Empires?
 

Alex Richards

She needs an artificial Mountain, not AV
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Derbyshire
#2
What pre-requisite of Empire are you considering here? As in 'avoid the Scramble for Africa entirely and you can argue for Home Rule for India in the 30s but Sao Tome being Portuguese to the present' or 'After the Scramble' because really you can't get much earlier than OTL for a lot of places in that case unless it's 'nuclear waste over the metropole.'
 

d32123

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Seattle
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#3
You basically need the cost of establishing indirect rule to be less than direct rule. OTL decolonization came through a varied combination of economic devastation in the metropole, the establishment of independent native bureaucracies, and ultimately for some peoples technological advancements that made successful asymmetrical warfare more of a serious possibility than ever.

I think earlier world wars would both lead to earlier economic devastation and the military technological advancement necessary to bring about earlier decolonization. Even during the OTL interwar period many Empires were seriously discussing change and I think just moving the timetable up a little is very plausible.
 

Indicus

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Trawno
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#5
I think the big difficulty is how you keep another colonial entity from coming in and conquering the colonies. OTL Latin America mostly avoided this after independence due to Brazil being large and Britain being content with commercial dominance of places, but even that didn’t avoid stuff like France invading Mexico.

Maybe make Europe involved in a string of Napoleonic-style massive wars in the nineteenth century. Maybe this could simultaneously exhaust the treasuries all of the colonial powers, resulting in them cutting off the colonies gradually to save money and also keeping them from further colonial expansion.

There was some talk in the UK over the immoral nature of EIC governance before and during the Indian Mutiny. If somehow the Mutiny is successful or Britain divests herself of ruling India - the raison d'etre of a lot of the rest of the Empire goes away. but idk seems a little utopian to me
Bear in mind that the Mutiny was a fairly restricted affair - it occurred in and around the Ganges and in Madhya Pradesh. While I do think you could maybe make it larger with Sikhs rebelling in the name of Duleep Singh due to a different Anglo-Sikh settlement, Maharashtra rebelling thanks to Nana Sahib going south and Nagpur’s princes being more rebellious, etc., Bengal and the Dravidian South would remain fairly securely in British hands in virtually any scenario.

Also, most people talking about the EIC’s immoral governance wanted India brought directly under British rule and reforms implemented, not independence. The only exception I can think of to this is a few Chartists, who were fairly powerless anyways.
 
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Thande

The Great and Powerful Wizard, Opnohop Moy
Published by SLP
#6
I think the big difficulty is how you keep another colonial entity from coming in and conquering the colonies.
On reflection that would make a good AH story, playing with the readership's expectations. I tried to do it a bit with the Great Jihad in LTTW (uprising that could be painted as 'anti-colonial' ejects Britain, France and Portugal from parts of India, just ensuring that those parts will become Chinese, Korean etc. colonies instead a few years later).
 
#7
The only exception I can think of to this is a few Chartists, who were fairly powerless anyways.
Well, then I guess the POD should be early enough to fix that, shouldn't it? I'm fond of a POD I saw mentioned on this forum: Victoria dies young, so Augustus of Hanover becomes King of Britain, and Chartism gets going into a real revolution. I suspect a British republic under the red, white, and green would have a different foreign policy, even if not entirely anti-colonial in practice.
 

Indicus

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#8
Well, then I guess the POD should be early enough to fix that, shouldn't it? I'm fond of a POD I saw mentioned on this forum: Victoria dies young, so Augustus of Hanover becomes King of Britain, and Chartism gets going into a real revolution. I suspect a British republic under the red, white, and green would have a different foreign policy, even if not entirely anti-colonial in practice.
There are a couple of issues with this. First of all, I’m unsure if a Chartist Britain would really get rid of the colonial empire. Even on Ireland, they were divided - while O’Connor supported repealing the Act of Union, Lovett did not. On colonialism, most Chartists definitely supported it, albeit with reforms. The Chartists opposed to all forms of colonialism I was talking about were pretty obscure - these were 1850s Chartists, when the movement was on its deathbed.

Also, even assuming the anti-colonial Chartists win out and the British Empire gets broken up, that doesn’t account for all the other colonial empires, which would also want to pounce on the newly independent territories, as I stated above.
 
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David Flin

A home of love and laughter.
#10
Could WWI somehow lasting a year or two longer and costing more (in blood and money) have lead to colonial withdrawal a couple generations early?
Given the state of German food production and distribution, as a result of a calamitous drop in agricultural production, the impact of the blockade, and the disintegration of transport infrastructure (them hamster runs were getting increasingly desperate), I'm not convinced that Germany could have held out much longer without some significant PODs earlier in the war.

I've been through before (several times) the OTL state of German civilian life towards the end of the war, where disease through malnutrition was endemic throughout the industrial regions.

The winter of 1918/19 was milder than that of 1917/18. However, German agricultural output, which pre-war accounted for around 75% of German needs, had collapsed, and was producing around 30% of the pre-war output. Shortage of horses, shortage of manpower, shortage of fertiliser, shortage of farming equipment ... The blockade meant that the 25% pre-war shortfall had, to all intents and purposes, been cut off. Net result, December 1918, Germany is producing about a quarter of its needs. This is not sustainable.

Now, one can modify things, but, in the absence of major changes, one way or another, the war is coming to an end by mid 1919 at the latest.
 
#11
There are a couple of issues with this. First of all, I’m unsure if a Chartist Britain would really get rid of the colonial empire. Even on Ireland, they were divided - while O’Connor supported repealing the Act of Union, Lovett did not. On colonialism, most Chartists definitely supported it, albeit with reforms. The Chartists opposed to all forms of colonialism I was talking about were pretty obscure - these were 1850s Chartists, when the movement was on its deathbed.
Sure, sure. It's still nineteenth century Britain. But a Britain that treats Africa and Asia like the US treated Latin America (maintaining nominal independence and nominal native government even in the midst of military occupation) is going to make the decolonization process play out very differently IMO.
 

Alex Richards

She needs an artificial Mountain, not AV
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Derbyshire
#12
Sure, sure. It's still nineteenth century Britain. But a Britain that treats Africa and Asia like the US treated Latin America (maintaining nominal independence and nominal native government even in the midst of military occupation) is going to make the decolonization process play out very differently IMO.
This is accurate, but then arguably the biggest possibility here is actually that this leads to an Imperial Federation of the older colonies.

'Home Rule All Round' in the 1850s-60s which basically sees the situation where colonies are granted self-government under British protection, and considering that most of the colonies weren't all that economically independent at this point and you've got a government who if the question of India was raised would just go 'oh sure yeah you can just be an allied protectorate', this is perhaps the only set of circumstances where the metropole makes the necessary sacrifices for the Federation to actually work.