GE3V17049 The Cultural Cold War

Class 1 From Brussels to Bandung






  • Prashad

  • Outline 1

  • Key ideas are marked in red

Class Description




  • Importance of the Topic

  - Black Panther is a popular expression of many of these ideas.

  - The ‘Decolonisation of Society’ is important in the Global South. In South Africa, debates about 

  - Decolonisation Group


  • Map of the World in 1945

- Asia: India is the first country to gain its independence in 1947 and South America already acquired its independence in the 18th century. The world was already on the road to independence.


  • First Wave Decolonisation: 18th Century: Latin American Decolonisation

- In South AmericaSimón Bolívar and José de San Martín led the final phase of the independence struggle.

  • Second Wave Decolonisation 1918:

- Collapse of the Russan, German, Habsburg and Ottoman Empires in the aftermath of the First World War

- Establishment of the League of Nations. 

 -  Mandate territories were created by the League of Nations. These were German colonies were given to othe colonial powers who were supposed to guide them to independence. The German territory of Ruanda-Urundi goes to Belgium - which already had Congo as a colony - after World War I.

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Intro to Module 1

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1. Run-up to Bandung (1930s-1955)

2. The Non-Aligned Countries? Internationalism and anti-imperialism (1950s-1960s)

3. Collapse of the Third World Project (1970s)

4. After the Third World (1980s)

We are going to explore those 4 peirods in 4 modules online. A lot of these moment are marked by a conference


1. Bandung (1955)

2. Cairo (1961)

3. Creation of the Non-Aligned Movement in Belgrade (1961)


4. The (failed) Afro-Asian Conference in Algiers (1965)

5. Tricontinental Conference in Havana (1966)

Simon Bolivar



  • After World War II: 2 processed developed: The Cold War and Decolonization


Process 1: The USSR faces the US in a bipolar Cold War

  • Truman Doctrine,  12 March 1947

    •  "it must be the policy of the United States to support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures."

    • Containment of communist danger and the expansion of the USSR,  also in the Third World

An example of that containment is the Korean War,

  • The United States, the Empire of Liberty faced, the Soviet Union, the Empire of Equality, a notion developed by  Odd Arne Westad in his book The Global Cold War.

Process 2: Colonial Collapse

  • France sent troops to supress the Vietnamese, West Indians and Africans as the protested colonial opression in the aftermath of the war. Many colonial troops had fought on the battle fields of Europe and now wanted to claim 

  • Defeat in Dien Bien Phu, 1954 is the High point– Ho Chi Minh

    • On September 2, 1945, hours after the Japanese signed their unconditional surrender in World War II, communist leader Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

    • In 1946, he hesitantly accepted a French proposal that allowed Vietnam to exist as an autonomous state within the French Union, but fighting broke out when the French tried to re-establish colonial rule.





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Third Estate in the French Revolution



Out of this Dual Process grows the Third World.  What is the Third World?, there are three definitions:


DEFINITION 1: A critique of the Civilizing Mission

  • Aimé Césaire (1913-2008)

Poet in French, author and politician from MartiniqueFather was a teacher, mother was a seamstress. Together with Leopold Senghor and Diop led a movement called Négritude, a movement that argued Europe and Africa had a shared culture. Publishes, Toussaint Louverture in 1960, A history of the Haitian revolution 1791 leads a slave rebellion  in Haitie​​

Césaire Points to a contradiction: in Europe – he says –  there is reflection on the horrors of Holocaust, but not colonialism


  • He publishes Discourse sur le colonialisme, 1950 (republished in 1955)

Albert Sarraut, French minister of the colonies in the 1920s makes an argument. If you develop the land, you  own the land “God did not mean for the land to remain uncultivated. But, Césaire points out there were actualy very few developmental accomplishments.


Critique of the Civilizing mission: “Europe bragged about its so-called achievements, the diseases it had cured, and the improved standards of living it had delivered, while in fact the Europeans had only taught men to have an ‘inferiority complex, to tremble, to kneel, despair and behave like flunkeys.”

  • Frantz Fanon (1925-1961)

Prashad overlooks Fanon, but the Algerian psychologist and doctor became important during the Algerian War. He makes the argument that violence is the only way to destroy the colonial project.


The Front de Liberation National in Algeria resists French rule violenty in the 1950s. that is the context of Fanon’s work

  • He publishes Black Skin, White Mask, 1952

a psychiatrist and key theorist of the Algerian War, rejected the so-called dependence complex. In his Psychologie de la colonisation, Octave Mannoni had argued that the Malagasy could not bear the fact that they were not white men. Fanon exposed this insight as false: the ‘white man’ had imposed discrimination and had robbed the non-whites of their self-worth.


DEFINITION 2: Different 'camps'

  • Andrei Zhdanov (1896-1948)

Soviet Politician and Close collaborator of Stalin

Zhdanov Doctrine

Cultural Doctrine 1964, divided the world in Imperial US camp v. USSR camp of peoples republics


DEFINITION 3: The French Revolutionary 'Third Estate'

  • Albert Sauvy (1898-1990)

- French demographer and Resistance fighter who wrote an article for the France-Observateur on 14 August 1952 in which he coined the term the Third World

- Anti-colonial intellectual in France who orbited around the antiracist activities of the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organizations

  1. First World: Capitalist World

  2. Second World: Communist World

  3. Third World: decolonised BUT there are still problems

- The Third Estate of the French Revolution

In 1952 Sauvy wrote that “this ignored, exploited, scorned Third World, like the Third Estate, wants to become something, too.” He was paraphrasing a remark by Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès, a delegate to the Estates-General of 1789, who said the third estate is everything, has nothing but wants to be something. The salient feature of the Third World was that it wanted economic and political clout. 


  • The context for Sauvy's writing was Neo-Malhtusian ideas about overpopulation​.

The Third World was problematic particularly because the threat of overpopulation.


​In Conclusion, the division of the world in a First, Second, and Third World has its origins in multiple ideas in Europe, the colonial territories and the USSR​



A key figure in turning these different conceptions of the Third World into a viable political project was Jawaharlal Nehru

  • Nehru

Prime Minister of India and a central figure in Indian politics. In 1947 after years of activism by the Congress Party, India becomes independent.

- Jawaharlal Nehru is the political leader of the Party and Mahatma Ghandi is the spiritual leader of the Party

- Graduate of Cambridge


  • Misheard Third World as “Third Force"

Did not like idea of “Armed Strength, nuclear strength, ballistic strength”. He stresses, instead, stresses moral pressure.

- Something that Prashad does not mention is, but is nonetheless important is the fact that Nehru had disagreements with Pakistan on Kashmir. He also had realist reasons to play politics.

- After 1947 Kashmir becomes contested territory between India and Pakistan and a Third World discourse helps smoothen the effects of this problem


Jawaharlal Nehru


Prashad is very clear about the fact that the Third World project ultimatly failed because anticolonial nationalist leaders became part of the 'Bourgeoisie' and lost sight of the masses.

  • Bourgeoisie

- “Built in flaw” of the Third World Project

- The Third World did not become a mass movement and could not attain its original goal of equality and fairness.

- Prashad’s Marxist interpretation (Indian historian and Marxist)


  • Creation of what Hashim Sharabi calls “neopatriarchy"

- Despite its commitment to modernity, the Third World natioanl state became a modernized version of  the patriarchal sultanate



Prasah does sees the failure of the Third World Project as something inherent to the project. Still a Bourgeois project and not a class project. Let’s now then turn to its political origins, which Prashad sees in Brussels.



Brussels became the location of this meeting because Belgium could not refuse. The Belgian colonial project had been subject to criticism.

  • In 1878 LII initiated the foundation of the Comité des Études du Haute Congo

- Henry Stanley sent to Congo by Leopold II to settle to Congo in competition with Zavoneran de Brazza

- Leads to Berlin Conference of 1848 where Africa is divided.


  • Origins: Red Rubber

- Leopold profited from the ivory of the resource-rich Congo and even more from its rubber, a primary product of the Congo. Rubber vines grew throughout central Africa; but harvesting rubber from a vine was more difficult than that from a tree. So prices for African rubber went up, and Asian producers of less expensive rubber gained market share.

- Famously the cutting of hands was a practice enstated in the Congo Free State. Soldiers had to cut off hands to prove that they had not waisted bullets.

- Leopold II however made the case that he would open the Congo up for free trade.


  • Edmund.D. Morel

- Morel was a Frenchmen who worked for the English shipping line Elder Depster whoe learned firsthand of the outrages in the Congo in the late 1890s. He sees emphty ships leave Antwerp and full ships return.

- Roger Casement also investigates the Congo as a Foreign Office official. In 1908 Congo is transferred from Leopold II to Belgium.






  • Particularely the European last names are important because they stress that there were also Europeans who were genuinely unhappy with colonialism and allied with anti-colonial activists. The breath of the anti-imperial coalition is often surprising. 

    • Brockway was the son of missionaries and espoused liberal beliefs from an early age, notably in his support for the Boers in the South African War (1899–1902). He became a convert to socialism in 1907


  • AND: Communists played an important role since they attended as a trade-unionist !

    • Communists had a clear anticolonial commitment. 

    • Vladimir Ilyish Lenin, Imperialims the Highest State of Capitalism in 1917 made the argument



  • Prashad argues that the represenatatives in Brussels put liberation on the map. Anticolonial meetings would follow this first meeting in Brussels in Africa, Latin America and Asia.​


  • Pan-African Congress in London in 1900

The first Pan-African Conference in London, in 1900, was followed by successive Pan-African Congresses in 1919, 1921, and 1927, in which W.E.B Dubois played an important role and where the ties with Africa were discussed.

W.E.B Dubois was a key African-American thinker who would move to Ghana in 1961 and "return home"

" In the metropolis of the modern world, in this closing year of the nineteenth century, there has been assembled a congress of men and women of African blood, to deliberate solemnly upon the present situation and outlook of the darker races of mankind ."

By 1945 Major leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Kenyatta joined the meeting


  • Theoretical Concepts of Pan-Africanism and African independence gained force during labor strikes

Prashad argues that a lot of the strikers in Lagos and Dar Es Salaam gave rise to this project.

However: it is questionable if they did. The demands for socio-economic rights were based on very similar colonial claims for development.

Nigerian Strike of 1945: British colonial acting governor refused to budge in increasing by 50% the wages of skilled Africans in the government railway service 

The general strike of 1945 was the largest workers strike in Africa involving about 42,000-200,000 workers. The strike was partly successful as most of the workers demand for an increase in cost of living allowance was met in 1946 and backdated to 1945. The workers who succeeded in bringing together different trade unions and striking for about 10 weeks were able to withstand colonial terrorism and generated worldwide sympathy from many anti-colonists.


  • Important to stress that these socio-economic Conflicts do not immediately emerge as anti-colonial political struggle. It is a slow process, socio-economic struggle evolves into anticolonial struggle.


  • Ghana’s independence (1957)


3.5 ASIA

  • Pan-Asianism has several defintions

- Progressive notion of Pan-Asianism

- Developed after the 1904 Russo-Japanese War when for the first time a white Army (Russia) is defeated.


- Japan Reactionary definition

Japanese emperor Herohito wanted to rule Asia as an empire and replace the Europeans


  • Progressive side materialised in March 1947 with the formation of the Asian Relations Conference

    • Nehru stresses how Asian countries should develop their mutual ties.


Prashad argues that these regional formations all were united in a universal struggle against anticolonialism. However, this should not obscure the amount of collaboration and conflict that still existed.


  • Inter-American Conference of 1889

Pan-American conferences, various meetings between representatives of some or all of the independent states of the Western Hemisphere (Canada usually excluded).

Between 1826 and 1889, several meetings between American states were held to discuss problems of common defense and juridical matters. At these meetings:

US Secretaries of State argued for more economic opening while  Latin American representatives voiced dismay


  • Protest at the Havana Conference of 1928

Latin American States wanted to raise the issue of political relations with U.S.

They had to keep doing this and they came into contact with others in Brussels. This strenghtened the Latin American resistance to U.S.


  • Unique Status of Latin America? Is Latin America Part of the Third World?

U.S. domination is one of the biggest colonial concerns in Latin America

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Gandhi at Asian Relations Conference, 1947


The legacy of the Brussels meeting is mixed

  • Negative

- Many activists arrested

- Impact of the league tained by seeing it as a communist front

- Relationship with Communism = tension among the Third World

  • The struggle in China between the Kuomintang of Chaing Kai Check and the Communist of Mao Zedong: What is left of anticolonial unity if even within Third World countries there is a struggle for 


  • Positive

- Propaganda function about massacres which exposed the lie of the Civilizing mission

- Connected different groups with one another

- Consolidation of idea of the Third World



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  • Meeting in Indonesia

- Spa town with a conference Hall. 

Cocktail parties where delegates had fun: Ghanaians organized a party with the film viewing to impress the British and other delegates.

- Between 18 and 24 April 1955, Third World leaders gathered in Bandung, Indonesia, a ‘sleepy resort town blessed with mild weather’.

- A few days ealier, on 15 April, the prime minister of Indonesia, Ali Sastroamidjojo, had begun welcoming delegates from Asia and Africa on behalf of the five organising countries: Burma (Myanmar), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India, Indonesia and Pakistan. At a meeting of the prime ministers of those countries at Colombo in April 1954, Sastromidjojo had proposed an Afro-Asian gathering and after a second meeting in Bogor, invitations were sent out for the Bandung Conference, a meeting often seen to be the birthplace of Third World solidarity.

Here was the dream of a turning point in international affairs, an attempt to create some form of common ideology whereby Third World states could obtain a place within an international system still dominated by imperialism.



  • Moral force

- Sukarno stressed the central theme in his opening speech when he explained that the former colonies had little real military power. The only weapon at their disposal was ‘spiritual’ in nature. Addressing the representatives that filled the conference hall, Indonesia’s leader defined a particular form of soft power available only to those who had suffered the humiliations of colonialism in Africa and Asia:


“What can we do? The peoples of Asia and Africa wield little physical power. Even their economic strength is dispersed and slight. We cannot indulge in power politics. Diplomacy for us isn’t a matter of “the big stick”. Our statesmen by and large aren’t backed up with serried ranks of jet bombers. What can we do? We can do much! We can inject the voice of reason into world affairs and mobilize all the spiritual, all the moral, all the political strength of Asia and Africa on the side of peace. Asia and Africa, 1,400,000,000 strong, far more than half of all human population, can mobilize what I have called the moral violence of nations in favour of peace."


- The newly emerging nations had little real power and the fight against colonialism would have to be fought on the battlefield of ideas and international norms.




  • Are essentially ‘Bourgeois” again stressing this element of the “built in flaw of the Third World movement’. Leader come to the meeting with different goals in mind.

  • Indonesia-Sukarno

- Sukarno had trained to be an engineer in European schools

Indonesians in resisting Dutch re-colonization efforts via diplomatic and military means until the Dutch acknowledgement of Indonesian independence in 1949. 

- He was able tot unite different factions in Indonesia:


  • Zhou Enlai – China

- Zhou Enlai was a force to be reckoned with. He played an important role at the Bandung Conference because he was very active. 

- First Premier of the Peoples Republic of China who was seen as charismatic.

- On his way to the Bandung conference, an assassination attempt was made against Zhou when a bomb was planted on the Air India plane Kashmir Princess, chartered for Zhou's trip from Hong Kong to Jakarta. 

As a “yellow race” Zhou stressed that China was actually part of the Third World = a way to break the political isolation. Since China had turned Communist Taiwan was the official representative of China in the UN


  • The Global Cold War tensions also cut through the Bandung Meeting

  • Pacts of Manilla and Baghdad

- The South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) (1954) – Manilla Pact, which is part of the Truman Doctrine and unites Pakistan, the Philippines New Zealand, Australia, France, Britain, and the United States, means there are already regional coalitions.


- While Iran, Iraq, Pakistan again, and Turkey joined with Britain and the United S tates to create the Central Treaty Organization


  • Some Delegates where very anti-communist

- When John Kotelawala of Ceylon described the Soviet influence in Eastern Europe as ‘another form of colonialism,’ he angered many. Not least because an analogy damaged the shared project of moral strength in which the Cold War in its entirety was rejected as immoral.


Prashad argues that the “Security Zone” is basically a bargain: security D.C. in return for opening up the market. His interpretation is a bit one sided, however. The U.S. is seen by Prashad as only having financial aspriations.


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  • Ghana only had an ‘observer’ because it was not yet a fully independent country like many other countries in Africa.

  • African countries feel excluded


  • Rejection of Colonialism

- Further delegitimization of the civilizing mission and Racism

  • Peace Movement

- The primacy of ideas also stemmed from the devastating consequences of a possible violent conflict which would invite intervention and open the door to the use of atomic weapons. Not only was independence at stake, but also ‘the end of civilization and even of human life.’ Sukarno found an ally in the Iraqi prime minister, Mohammed Fadhil Jamal who argued that the world needed ‘ideological disarmament’, the end of the Cold War. Weapons of mass destruction had to be eliminated, but the morality in international relations had to be increased. Jamali made an impassioned plea for ‘moral rearmament and physical disarmament whereby men of all races and nations […] work for mutual harmony and peace.’



  • Economic Cooperation

- Cooperation in the UN ‘Special UN Fund for Economic Development SUNFED


  • Cultural Cooperation

- “Racialism condemned as a means of cultural oppression”

  • Importance of Race

- African-American civil rights activist, Richard Wright writes about the importance of race and colonialism in the African worldview: "Black people primarily regard Russian Communists as white men. Black people primarily regard American, British and French anti-Communists as white people… Is that surprising? It ought not to be."



  • The Third World project shifts from non-state actors to Bourgeois leaders of the newly independent states, according to Prashad.

  • The Bandung conference shows the importance of moral power versus  European Aggression

  • You have to be critical of Prashad who writes about the Third World from a Marxist perspective, which leads to certain insights and conclusions that are not always as convincing as they could be.


  • Moscow

1956 Khrushchev replaces two camp theory with a “zone of peace” at the Twentieht Congress of the Communist Party. Krhutchev realised that influced could be acquired in the Third World.



  • U.S.

John Foster Dulles considered “neutralism as immoral”​. The U.S. stance on Bandung was much more negative. There was less of a realisation that Bandung could be exploited to the advantage of the 

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