Nationalist Struggles for Self-Determination - Term Paper

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Instead, Messali Hadj created a separate adverse party (Algerian National Movement), yet as violent in acquiring independence as FLN (Entelis, 1986).

Although having the same enemy, and the same goal, the various Algerian groups (political or military) did not succeed in providing a common and united front. Their demands were scattered in importance.

As shown in the writings of John Entelis, or Matthew Connely, it was not the chaotic liberation war that the Algerians took that led to their independence, as a victory. France, under the pressure of media, NGO, international partners, and even international law, had to grant Algeria's independence. Connely argues that "in some aspects, France's policies were behind the time [and that] their adversaries already appeared to be leading the new direction of history" (Connely, 2002, 279).

Subject to "intense political, economic, diplomatic strains" (Entelis, 1986, 55), France became entangled in a lose-lose game: the more victories in Algeria, the more international support for the Algerian cause, and the more internal problems. The first response that France gave to the Algerian demands was indifference. The second was, as a consequence of Algerian violence in presenting these demands, a clear and violent no the independence issue. Yet, following international and internal pressures, de Gaulle, in March 1962, agreed in Evian, France to a cease-fire that later, in July 1962 lead to the Algerian independence.

Indian and Algerian pursuit of independence

The Indian and Algerian cases are similar in some aspects, but considerably different in other aspects. Both states emerged from colonial empires at their collapse, both sought the route towards democracy and the rule of law and went on to create states out of fragmented social classes, religions or interests. Yet, the methods in which the two states obtained independence are different: according to the concepts that Dylan Riley and Manali Desai present in "The Passive Revolutionary Route to the Modern World: Italy and India in Comparative Perspective," India took the road of a non-violent passive revolution, while Algeria took the road of violent revolution - war against its colonizer.

Therefore, what makes for the difference in the process of acquiring independence between the two countries? India passed through a process of political transformation, with different ideologies confronting, from democracy to communism. Algeria did not experience that. As John Entelis argues "Algeria's revolution was more war than social or political revolution." (Entelis, 1986, 57). Algerian nationalism did not exist outside the French Empire, and had to be built after the state was created. The different classes and groups that make Algeria, similar to India's in formation, were impediments to the creation of a national society. The Algerian elite "conceived the role of the state to be the creation of the nation." (Roberts, 1988, 584)

Demands between the two countries are similar, both in form and in evolution: starting with pre-independence desires, from more autonomy to a basic self-rule, within the Empire. Yet the basic difference between the two cases is the existence of violence or not. Indeed, one might argue that India had violent clashes, but those, in general, were not provoked by the Indians, but by the British forces. The war and the guerilla strategies that the Algerians used were different from the Indian actions to obtain independence.

Another difference appears from the ruling state point-of-view. In view of political turmoil, Britain offered a compromise solution, and intervened to control the situation later on. It offered the possibility of a democratic resolution to the matter, while France did not consider Algeria's independence as being a subject to discuss.

As stated before, the nationalist tradition in the two countries was different. While in India it becomes an important aspect in the mid nineteen century, Algerians' nationalist movements are late. Therefore, the formation of stable and experienced political forces within the country is different from the Indian case, and that is one of the explanations of the way in which the self-determination demands were made. Another aspect of this is the demands vs. political background issue. While in India, the Hindu did not hinder democracy, in Algeria, Islam is in many aspects opposed to the democratic principles found in their demands.


Brown, J.M., (1994) Modern India: The Origins of an Asian Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Connelly, M. (2002) a Diplomatic Revolution: Algeria's Fight for Independence and the Origins of the Post-Cold War Era. New York: Oxford University Press.

Duffett, W.E., Hicks, a.R., Parkin, G.R. (1942) India Today: The Background of Indian Nationalism. New York: John Day.

Digitheque de materiaux juridiques et politiques. (2005) Senatus-consulte sur l'etat des personnes et la naturalisation en Algerie, retrieved 21st March 2008, at

Entelis, J.P. (1986) Algeria. The Revolution Institutionalized. Westview Press

Hahn, L. (1960). North Africa, Nationalism to Nationhood. Washington DC: Public Affairs Press.

Kulke, H., Rothermund, D. (2004) a History of India. New York: Routledge.

Roberts, H. (1988). "Radical Islamism and the Dilemma of Algerian Nationalism: The Embattled Arians of Algiers." Third World Quarterly, Vol. 10, No. 2, Islam & Politics.…

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