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"A wonderful, thoughtful, and stimulating book." -PAUL GILROY

Vijay Prashad

A NEW PRESS PEOPLE'S HISTORY I HowardZinn, Series Editor

The Darker Nations

A People's History of the



Series Editor Howard Zinn



© 2007 by Vijay Prashad All rights reserved.

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without written permission from the publisher.

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"The Dictators" and a section of "Recabarren" by pablo Neruda from Canto General, translated by

Jack Schmitr. Copyright © 1991 by The Regents of the University of California. Reprinted with permission of University of California Press.

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Published in the United States by The New Press, New York, 2007

Distributed by W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York


The darker nations : a people's history of the third world / Vijay Prashad. p. cm.-(A New Press People's history)

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN-13: 978-1-56584-785-9 (he.)

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I. Developing countries-History. I. Title.

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The Third World today faces Europe like a colossal mass whose project should be to try to resolve the problems to which Europe has not been able to find the answers.

-Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 1961'

The Third World was not a place. It was a project. During the seem­ ingly interminable battles against colonialism, the peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America dreamed of a new world. They longed for dig­ nity above all else, but also the basic necessities of life (land, peace, and freedom). They assembled their grievances and aspirations into various kinds of organizations, where their leadership then formulated a plat­ form of demands. These leaders, whether India's Jawaharlal Nehru, Egypt' s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah, or Cuba' s Fi­ del Castro, met at a series of gatherings during the middle decades of the twentieth century. In Bandung ( 1955), Havana ( 1966), and else­ where, these leaders crafted an ideology and a set of institutions to bear the hopes of their populations. The "Third World" comprised these hopes and the institutions produced to carry them forward .

From the rubble of World War II rose a bipolar Cold War that threatened the existence of humanity. Hair-triggers on nuclear weapons alongside heated debates about poverty, inequality, and freedom threat­ ened even those who did not live under the u.s. or Soviet umbrellas. Both sides, as Nehru noted, pelted each other with arguments about peace. Almost unmolested by the devastation of the war, the United S tates used its advantages to rebuild the two sides of Eurasia and cage


Guinea-Bissau, September 1974: No Fist Is Big Enough to Hide the Sky. © ALAIN DEJEAN I SYGMAI CORBIS

m a battered Soviet Union. phrases like "massive retaliation" and "brinkmanship" provided no comfort to the two-thirds of the world's people who had only recently won or were on the threshold of winning their independence from colonial rulers.

Thrown between these two major formations, the darker nations amassed as the Third World. Determined people struck out against colonialism to win their freedom. They demanded political equality on the world level. The main institution for this expression was the United Nations. From its inception in 1 948, the United Nations played an enor­ mous role for the bulk of the planet. Even if they did not earn perma­ nent seats on the UN Security Council, the new states took advantage of the UN General Assembly to put forward their demands. The Afro­ Asian meetings in Bandung and Cairo ( 1 955 and 1 96 1 , respectively), the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement in Belgrade ( 1 96 1 ), and the Tri­ continental Conference in Havana rehearsed the major arguments within the Third World project so that they could take them in a con­ certed way to the main stage, the United Nations. In addition, the new states pushed the United Nations to create institutional platforms for their Third World agenda: the UN Conference on Trade and Develop­ ment (UNCTAD) was the most important of these institutions, but it was not the only one. Through these institutions, aspects other than political equality came to the fore: the Third World project included


a demand for the redistribution of the world's resources, a more digni­ fied rate of return for the labor power of their people, and a shared ac­ knowledgment of the heritage of science, technology, and culture.

In Bandung, the host Ahmed Sukarno offered this catechism for the Third World:

Let us not be bitter about the past, but let us keep our eyes firmly on the future. Let us remember that no blessing of God is so sweet as life and liberty. Let us remember that the stature of all mankind is diminished so long as nations or parts of nations are still unfree. Let us remember that the highest purpose of man is the liberation of man from his bonds of fear, his bonds of poverty, the libera­ tion of man from the physical, spiritual and intellectual bonds which have for long stunted the development of humanity's ma­ jority. And let us remember, Sisters and Brothers, that for the sake of all that, we Asians and Africans must be united.2

The idea of the Third World moved millions and created heroes. Some of these were political figures like the three titans (Nasser, Nehru, Sukarno), but also Vietnam's Nguyen Thi Binh and Ho chi Minh, Al­ geria's Ben Bella, and South Africa' s Nelson Mandela. The project also provided the elements of a new imagination for its cultural workers­ people such as the poet Pablo Neruda, the singer Umm Kulthum, and the painter Sudjana Kerton. The horizon produced by the Third World enthused them, along with those who made history in their everyday lives. The Third World project united these discordant comrades.

The Third World project came with a built-in flaw. The fight against the colonial and imperial forces enforced a unity among various politi­ cal parties and across social classes. Widely popular social movements and political formations won freedom for the new nations, and then took power. Once in power, the unity that had been preserved at all costs be­ came a liability. The working class and the peasantry in many of these movements had acceded to an alliance with the landlords and emergent industrial elites. Once the new nation came into their hands, the people believed, the new state would promote a socialist program. What they got instead was a compromise ideology called Arab Socialism, African Socialism, Sarvodaya, or NASAKOM that combined the promise of equality with the maintenance of social hierarchy. Rather than provide the means to create an entirely new society, these regimes protected the elites among the old social classes while producing the elements of so­ cial welfare for the people. Once in power, the old social classes exerted


themselves, either through the offices of the military or the victorious people' s party. In many places, the Communists were domesticated, outlawed, or massacred to maintain this discordant unity. In the first few decades of state construction, from the 1940s to the 1970s, consistent pressure from working people, the prestige of the national liberation party, and the planetary consensus over the use of the state to create de­ mand constrained these dominant classes to some extent. They still took charge of the new states, but their desire for untrammeled profit was hampered by lingering patriotism or the type of political and economic regimes established by national liberation.

By the 1970s, the new nations were no longer new. Their failures were legion. Popular demands for land, bread, and peace had been ig­ nored on behalf of the needs of the dominant classes. Internecine war­ fare, a failure to control the prices of primary commodities, an inability to overcome the suffocation of finance capital, and more led to a crisis in the budgets of much of the Third World. Borrowings from commercial banks could only come if the states agreed to " structural adjustment" packages from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the world Bank. The assassination of the Third World led to the desiccation of the capacity of the state to act on behalf of the population, an end to making the case for a new international economic order, and a disavowal of the goals of socialism. Dominant classes that had once been tethered to the Third World agenda now cut loose. They began to see themselves as elites, and not as part of a project-the patriotism of the bottom line overcame obligatory social solidarity. An upshot of this demise of the Third World agenda was the growth of forms of cultural nationalism in the darker nations. Atavisms of all kinds emerged to fill the space once taken up by various forms of socialism. Fundamentalist religion, race, and unreconstructed forms of class power emerged from under the wreckage of the Third World project.

The demise of the Third World has been catastrophic. People across the three continents continue to dream of something better, and many of them are organized into social movements or political parties. Their aspirations have a local voice. Beyond that, their hopes and dreams are unintelligible. During the middle decades of the twentieth century, the Third World agenda bore these beliefs from localities to national capi­ tals and onward to the world stage. The institutions of the Third World amassed these ideas and nailed them to the doors of powerful buildings. The Third World project (the ideology and institutions) enabled the powerless to hold a dialogue with the powerful, and to try to hold them


accountable. Today, there is no such vehicle for local dreams. The Darker Nations is written to remind us of that immense labor and its importance.

The account is not exhaustive but illustrative. The Darker Nations makes a broad argument about the nature of the Third World political project, and the causes and consequences of its decline. The world was bettered by the attempt to articulate a Third World agenda. Now it is impoverished for the lack of that motion.


Among the darker nations, Paris is famous for two betrayals. The first came in 180 1, when Napoleon Bonaparte sent General Victor Leclerc to crush the Haitian Revolution, itself inspired by the French Revolu­ tion. The French regime could not allow its lucrative Santo Domingo to go free, and would not allow the Haitian people to live within the realm of the Enlightenment's "Rights of Man." The Haitians nonethe­ less triumphed , and Haiti became the first modern colony to win its independence. I

The second betrayal came shortly after 1945, when a battered France, newly liberated by the Allies, sent its forces to suppress the Vietnamese, West Indians, and Africans who had once been its colonial subjects. Many of these regions had sent troops to fight for the libera­ tion of France and indeed Europe, but they returned home empty­ handed .2 As a sleight of hand, the French government tried to maintain sovereignty over its colonies by repackaging them as "overseas territo­ ries." A people hungry for liberation did not want such measly hors d'oeuvres.

In 1955, Aime Cesaire, the Martinique-born philosopher and then­ Communist activist, published his Discourse on Colonialism . Alioune Diop's celebrated publishing house, Presence Africaine, released the short manifesto as one more of its bold books intended both to create a dossier of the cultural wealth of Africa and its diaspora and to put Euro­ pean colonialism on notice for its brutality.3

In the opening pages of Discourse, Cesaire writes, "Europe is indefensi­ hie." "From the depths of slavery," millions of people " set themselves up


Belgrade, Yugoslavia, September 196 1 : Standing tall-presidents and prime min­ isters at the first meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement. From left: Nehru, Nkrumah, Nasser, Sukarno, Tito. COURTESY OF THE NEHRU MEMORIAL MUSEUM AND LIBRARY, NEW DELHI

as judges." The colonizer continues to brutalize the people in Vietnam, Madagascar, West Africa, the West Indies, and elsewhere, but the colo­ nized now have the advantage. "They know their temporary 'masters' are lying. Therefore that their masters are weak."4

In 1 945-46, thousands of French troops returned to the Red River delta in Indochina, and Ho chi Minh and his comrades retreated to the highlands of the Viet Bac to regroup for an extended war of liber­ ation. This war lasted for almost a decade. But the French had an ally in another ambivalent revolutionary. By 1 952, the u.s. government had already begun to pay for almost two-thirds of the battered French military treasury's expenses. The French had to depart after their army suffered an embarrassing defeat from the poorly equipped but highly motivated Viet Minh at the garrison town of Dien Bien phu ( 1 954).

In 1 945, meanwhile, the French paratroopers and air force used brutal force to disband the anticolonial Algerian Amis du Manifeste et de la Liberti! (Friends of the Manifesto and Liberty), harass hundreds of thousands of people through the French policy of ratonnades (a rat


hunt), and kill tens of thousands of Algerians. This massacre provoked the formation of the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), which emerged in a spectacular assault on French positions in Algeria on All Saints' Day, November 1, 1954 .

And again, in 1947, when the people of Madagascar demanded their freedom, formed the Mouvement Democratique de la Renovation Malagache, and rose in revolt, the French forces countered them with bloodthirsty violence and killed tens of thousands. The guerrilla war continued, until the French had to concede some power to the Malagasy people, but only after a decade of repression and deceit.

These are some of Cesaire's examples, but there are more. Each in­ stance pits a people fired up for freedom, even willing to submit them­ selves to suicide attacks (as in Vietnam and Algeria) or else suicidal advances against superior French military positions. The sacrifice of the colonized to secure their freedom terrified the French army and its po­ litical supervisors, just as it provided inspiration for others who had to fight for their own process of decolonization.

Why did the French forget liDerte, egaliti, fraterniti when they went into the tropics? As Cesaire noted, Albert Sarraut, the French minister of colonies in the 1920s, had written that France must not turn over the colonies to the nationalists in the name of "an alleged right to possess the land one occupies, and some sort of right to remain in fierce isola­ tion, which would leave unutilized resources to lie forever idle in the hands of incompetents. "s Sarraut followed John Locke' s logic, as put forward in his 1689 treatise on government: " God gave the World to Men in Common; but since he gave it to them for their benefit, and the greatest Conveniences of Life they were capable to draw from it, it can­ not be supposed he meant it should always remain common and unculti­ vated . He gave it to the use of the Industrious and Rational (and LaDour was to be his Title to it;) not to the Fancy or Covetousness of the Quar­ relsome and Contentious." 6 For Sarraut, those who developed the land had title to it, even as those without title would do the actual work on it. Since only Europeans could count as competent users of God's nature, only they could own it.

In 1922, Ho chi Minh wrote a rejoinder in the French Communist press to the same Sarraut,

We know very well that your affection for the natives of the colonies in general, and the Annamese [Vietnamese] in particular, is great. Under your proconsulate the Annamese people have


known true prosperity and real happiness, the happiness of seeing their country dotted all over with an increasing number of spirit and opium shops which, together with firing squads, prisons, "democracy," and all the improved apparatus of modern civiliza­ tion, are combining to make the Annamese the most advanced of the Asians and the happiest of mortals. These acts of benevolence save us the trouble of recalling all the others, such as enforced re­ cruitment and loans, bloody repressions, the dethronement and exile of kings, profanation of sacred places, etc.7

In Europe, the Holocaust gave pause to the idea that barbarity comes only from the darker races. In the aftermath of Auschwitz and Tre­ blinka, Europe tried to blame Adolf Hitler as an insane individual or else the Nazis as a party with a warped ideology. In conference after conference, Europe' s intellectuals bemoaned the insanity of the brutal massacre of Jews, Communists, Gypsies, and the disabled-but most of them remained silent about the ongoing violence in the tropics. Cesaire invokes the barbarity of Western Europe and the United States, only to stop and warn us, "I am not talking about Hitler, or the prison guard, or the adventurer, but about the 'decent fellow' across the way; not about the member of the SS , or the gangster, but about the respectable bour­ geoisie. " The violence in the tropics is nothing if not "a sign that cru­ elty, mendacity, baseness, and corruption have sunk deep into the soul of the European bourgeoisie." 8

Cesaire' s indictment of the European soul had company. Within France, a group of intellectuals had been repulsed by the horrors of both world War II and the ongoing war in Algeria. One such dissident voice belonged to Albert Sauvy. Sauvy had been a Resistance fighter, and after the war he began to write for France-Ohservateur, a paper that under the leadership of Sauvy's fellow Resistance veteran Claude Bour­ det, became an organ of anticolonial thought. Bourdet himself wrote a scathing denunciation of the Algerian War. "Have we become the Gestapo in Algeria? " Bourdet asked.9 The pages of France-Ohservateur, soon to be renamed L 'Ohservateur, was home to anticolonial intellectu­ als like Michel Leiris and Claude Levi-Strauss, who orbited around the antiracist activities of the UN Educational, Scientific, and cultural Or­ ganization (UNESCO) House.IO

In 1952, Sauvy, in the pages of L 'Ohservateur, offered an evocative tripartite division of the planet into the First, Second, and Third Worlds. 1 1 When Sauvy wrote in the Parisian press, most people already


understood what it meant to live in the First and Second worlds. In March 1946, the former British premier Winston churchill had declared that an "Iron Curtain" had descended across Europe, from the Baltic to the Adriatic, and it had divided the former allies into two distinct blocs. churchill said this during a long speech in the United States, primus in­ ter pares of the First World. This First World or the "West" was formed by states, notably the United States and those of Western Europe, that pledged themselves to partly regulated market capitalism and would, in 1949, form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The Second world rej ected market capitalism for socialist planning, and it generally worked in collusion with the largest socialist state, the U SSR. "Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia: all these famous cities and the populations around them," churchill told the students at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, " lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow." 12

The First and Second worlds fell out openly when U.S . president Harry S. Truman announced his support for the anticommunist forces in Turkey and Greece ( 1946), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) helped the conservatives defeat the popular Communists in the Italian and French elections of 1947, the USSR forced the Eastern European states into its orbit, and the animosity attained dramatic proportions during the First World's blockade of Berlin in June 1948. In this melee, an adviser to Truman (Bernard Baruch) used the term "Cold War" to describe the conflict, and a columnist (Walter Lippmann) made the phrase widely known. 13

The Cold War defines how most people see the period from 1946 to the demise of the USSR in 1989-9 1; the East-West conflict, intensi­ fied by nuclear weapons, dominates the stage for this crucial fifty-year period .

The phrase "East-West conflict" distorts the history of the Cold War because it makes it seem as if the First and Second Worlds confronted each other in a condition of equality. In an insightful article from 1968, the Swedish sociologist Goran Therborn wrote, " The Cold War was a fundamentally unequal conflict, that was presented and experienced on hoth sides as heing equal. " 14 The USSR and the United S tates portrayed each other as equivalent adversaries, although the former had an economic base that was far inferior to the latter. Despite the great advances of the Soviet regime in the development of the various republics, the USSR


began its history with a battered feudal economy that was soon ravished by a civil war and, later, the ferocious assaults of the Nazi war machine. In 194 1, both the United States and the USSR had populations of about 130 million, but whereas the United States lost upward of four hundred thousand troops in the war, the Soviets lost between twenty and thirty million troops and civilians. 1 5 The Great Patriotic War devastated the USSR's economy, population, and capacity to rebuild itself. Further­ more, the imperatives of rapid development tarnished the ideals of So­ viet society since its population went into a severe program to build its productive base at the expense of most internal freedoms. The dominant classes in the First World used the shortages and repression in the U S SR as an instructive tool to wield over the heads of their own working class, and so on both economic and political grounds the First World bore ad­ vantages over the Second . Regardless of the ideological commitment of the U S SR to total equality and that of the United States to market equality only, the latter appeared to many in Europe and elsewhere as a more compelling model after World War II . For this reason, Therborn argues, "An unequal conflict fought as equal redoubles the inequality. The Cold War was a long penalization of socialism." 16 The concept of socialism had to pay the penalty for Soviet limitations.

But the First and Second worlds only accounted for a third of the planet' s people. What of the two-thirds who remained outside the East­ West circles; what of those 2 billion people?

The First World saw them as poor, overly fecund, profligate, and worthless. Images of poverty in the formerly colonized world flooded the magazines and newspapers of the First world-not more so per­ haps than in times past, but with a new emphasis. Now, these countries did not have the tutelage of their colonial masters but had to wallow in their inability to handle their resources and disasters. Images of natural calamities, famines, and droughts joined those of hordes of unkempt bodies flooding the First World's living rooms-where pity and revul­ sion toward the darker nations festered . Paul Ehrlich's 1968 The Popula­ tion Bomh received such tremendous acclaim in the First World because its neo-Malthusian ideas had already become commonplace: that the reason for hunger in the world had more to do with overpopulation than with imperialism; that the survivors of colonialism had only themselves to blame for their starvation. The people of the colonies cannot save themselves, so they must be saved. The agencies of the First World could provide them with "family planning" or "birth control" technolo­ gies to break the Gordian knot of population growth, and they could offer


them charitable aid. When "aid" came from the First World, it would not come without conditions. As the president of the world Bank, Eugene Black, wrote in 1 960, "Economic aid should be the principle means by which the West maintains its political and economic dynamic in the un­ derdeveloped world. " 17 Contempt sometimes manifested itself in conde­ scension. When the First World overly romanticized the darker nations as childlike or overly cultured, it did not see its people as human, fallible, contradictory, and historical.

When Asia and Africa had been under the direct colonial control of Europe, the colonizers spoke of the value of the regions, both for their resources and human labor. Amnesia rapidly set in within the First World, for those precious regions, even the Jewel in the Crown (India), became seen only as the sewer pit of humanity. Mother Teresa would soon get more positive airtime as the white savior of the dark hordes than would the self-directed projects of the Third World nationalist governments. 18 Any time one of the darker nations tried to exert its in­ dependence from the "political and economic dynamic" of the First World, military invasions and embargoes tried to strangle its capacity, and the media went along. For example, when a rebellion against British rule among the Kenyan Kikuyu went into high gear between 1 952 and 1 956, the British media trafficked in images of native savagery (several hundred thousand Kikuyu died in the "war" ) . The British policy sought to exterminate rather than contain the rebellion, and in the interim it en­ ergized the most vicious settler racism (the journalist Anthony Sampson recalled, "I heard it everywhere I went. How many Kukes [Kikuyu] had to be gotten rid of, how many Kukes did you wink today. [It was] almost like they were talking about big game hunting") . The concentration on the presumed savagery of the natives by the media provided an open season for the calculated violence of the imperial troops.19

But the First World also saw that zone of the world as prey for the Second World . To those who had recently attained political indepen­ dence but had not yet harvested the fruits of opportunity and equality, the attraction of egalitarianism was great.20 Certainly, Communism as an idea and the USSR as an inspiration held an important place in the imagination of the anticolonial movements from Indonesia to Cuba. Yet the Second World had an attitude toward the former colonies that in some ways mimicked that of the First World. For the founding confer­ ence of the Cominform held in Poland in 1 947, the Soviets did not invite even one Communist Party from the former colonized world, and cer­ tainly not the Chinese Party. Nine parties, mainly from Eastern Europe,


heard Andrei Zhdanov report that the world had been divided into two "camps, " the "imperialist and antidemocratic camp," whose "funda­ mental leading force is the United States" with Great Britain and France "as satellites of the United States," and the "anti-imperialist, democratic camp," which "draws support from the working class and democratic movement in all countries, from the fraternal Communist Parties, from the national liberation movements in all colonial and dependent coun­ tries, and from the help of all the democratic and progressive forces which exist in each country."21 In his long speech, Zhdanov made only this brief mention of national liberation movements. There was no men­ tion of China in his entire report. For the "imperialist and antidemo­ cratic camp," Zhdanov noted, " the leading role is taken by the Soviet Union and its foreign policy." 22 The Soviets did not see the rest of the planet as a storehouse of resources, but neither did they see it as filled with people who had fought a strong anticolonial struggle and wanted to lead their own movements, craft their own history. In answer to the formation of NATO in 1 949, the U S SR had created the Warsaw Pact in 1 955, a military agreement with Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

" Sadly," Sauvy wrote, the two major camps " struggled for possession of the Third World." But Sauvy identified something critical from the standpoint of the darker nations: that they should not be seen with pitiful eyes, since they had not only struggled hard to dispatch their colonial masters but had also begun to create a political platform for unity against what the Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah called "neocolonialism," or domination by means other than territorial conquest. The "Third World" was not prone, silent, and unable to speak before the powers. Indeed, at the founding conferences of the United Nations (San Francisco, 1 945) and UNESCO (London, 1 945), the delegates from the Third World held their own. While there has been much-deserved attention to the role of Eleanor Roosevelt for the drafting of the human rights agenda at the San Francisco meeting, the historical record tends to underplay the crucial role played by the twenty-nine Latin American states. Cuba sent thirty-year-old Guy Perez Cisneros as its representative, and he fought doggedly for an expan­ sive interpretation of human rights, helped along the way by the Panaman­ ian delegation, which offered the decisive draft declarations on education, work, health care, and social security.23 In London, at the UNESCO meeting, India's Rajkumari Amrit Kaur recognized that neither of the two camps had an agenda that rose to the occasion of the Third World. Hav­ ing gauged the sentiment of the Third World delegates, she called for


"true freedom," which meant a world in which "exploitation and injustice [would not] flourish side by side with pious expressions of good intentions and high-sounding policies."24 The hypocrisy of "pious expressions" had already begun to infect the post-world War world, and dogged persistence from the Third World delegates to these conferences resulted in the cre­ ation of institutions for justice rather than declarations of intent.

Sauvy used the term Third World in a manner that resonated with how that part of the planet had already begun to act. His term, crucially, paid homage to the French Revolution, an important inspiration for the ongoing decolonization process. At the end of his article, Sauvy wrote that the "ignored, exploited, scorned Third World, like the Third Es­ tate, demands to become something as well ." In the ancien regime prior to 1 789, the monarchy divided its counselors into the First Estate (clergy) and the Second Estate (aristocracy), with a Third Estate being for the bourgeoisie. During the tumult of the French Revolution, the Third Estate fashioned itself as the National Assembly, and invited the to­ tality of the population to be sovereign over it. In the same way, the Third World would speak its mind, find the ground for unity, and take posses­ sion of the dynamic of world affairs. This was the enlightened promise of the Third World.

Sauvy's term Third World defined the political platform being con­ structed by the new nations in the formerly colonized regions of Africa and Asia. A central character in this story is Nehru, the prime minister of the Republic of India from 1 947 to his death in 1 964. When Sauvy' s term came to his ears via his nationalist colleague Acharya Kripalani, Nehru heard it as "Third Force. " He did not like the idea of force, because, as he told the Indian Parliament in 1 957, force is measured by "armed strength, nuclear strength, ballistic strength, monetary strength, " and since the countries that came together against the camp mentality did not have any of these, the only thing they could do was to "collect together." The countries that come together "may create moral pressures, but not a force. It will not make the slightest difference to the great military powers of today if the militarily weak countries band themselves together." Nevertheless, Nehru told the parliament in 1 958, "it is right that countries of a like way of thinking should come together, should confer together, should jointly function in the United Nations or elsewhere. "25 The misheard term allowed Nehru to reiterate the main points of the Third World platform: political independence, nonviolent international relations, and the cultivation of the United Nations as the principle institution for planetary justice.


The struggles that produced Nehru had also incubated many of these ideas. Forged in the smithy of colonialism, the Indian freedom move­ ment drew from the resistance of the peasants and workers, the revolu­ tionary idealism of young people, and the smothered aspirations of the new professional classes. These social forces had tried violent terrorism and uprisings as well as the quiet solicitude of petitions. Neither armed struggle nor unctuous petitions dampened the confidence of colonial­ ism. Rather, the turn to mass nonviolent struggle had commanded the field, and it is this experience of "moral force" (or Satyagraha, action on the basis of truth) that appealed to Nehru (as it did, among others, to Ghana's Convention People' s Party as well as the South African Defi­ ance Campaign of 1 952) . These anticolonial struggles that had adopted the broad approach of mass nonviolence had begun to converse with each other from as early as the 1 927 League against Imperialism confer­ ence in Brussels. The delegates to that conference, like Nehru, con­ firmed their mutual antipathy to European-style cultural nationalism.26

If European nationalism took as a given that a people (who are per­ haps a " race") need to be organized by a state so that their nation can come into its own, the anticolonial nationalists mostly argued that the people (who are often far too diverse to classify one way or another) need to be free of colonial rule. The formerly colonized people have at least one thing in common: they are colonized. Nehru, Sukarno, and others who had been pushed by similar social processes developed an alternative "national" theory. For them, the nation had to be constructed out of two elements: the history of their struggles against colonialism, and their pro­ gram for the creation of justice. Whereas there were several limitations to their program, it was clear that few of the movements that moved toward the Third World agenda came with a theory of the nation that based itself wholly or even largely on racial or monocultural grounds (where they would have demanded, for instance, cultural assimilation).27 Instead, they had an internationalist ethos, one that looked outward to other anticolo­ nial nations as their fellows. The Third World form of nationalism is thus better understood as an internationalist nationalism.

Many of those who complain about the term's homogenization of the distinct histories of different regions miss the point . The conserva­ tive economist Lord Peter T. Bauer rejected the term Third World in his 1 98 1 book of essays because he felt that it treated the world as a "uniform and stagnant mass devoid of distinctive character, " and that it denied " those individuals and societies which comprise the Third World of their identity, character, personality and responsibility." 28


Bauer entirely misconstrues Sauvy' s term, and indeed the movement that fashioned the category into a political force. The category is an act of artifice for a global social movement that had only a short history behind it. Sociopolitical identities that are constructed outside sociopo­ litical movements are often unable to draw people to them-Third World as an idea could not have become common currency only from Sauvy' s coinage or the First World media' s use of it. The anticolonial nationalist movement produced a series of gatherings and a language of anticolonialism that elicited an emotional loyalty among its circle and beyond . This historical struggle made the identity of the Third World comprehensible and viable. The identity gained credence through trial and error, while participation and risk in the struggle produced the trust that gave the term social legitimacy.

Nehru, Sukarno, Nasser, and other leaders of the main social ten­ dencies against colonialism who refused the camp mentality used other terms than the Third World to define themselves. They did not reject camps as such, only the dangerous camps available to them that did not promise much for their social constituencies, for the peoples of the darker nations. They spoke of themselves as the Non-Aligned Move­ ment (NAM), the Group of 77 (G-77), or else with reference to the con­ tinents that formed the bulk of the colonized world (Africa, Asia, and Central and South America) . These groups held conferences and pro­ duced joint action in the United Nations as well as at other international venues. Sauvy' s notion of the Third World perfectly suited the way the unwieldy group operated: as the voice of the previously colonized that refused the bipolar division of the world, and sought to produce a world governed by peace and justice. The non-aligned states, the G-77, the Afro-Asian group, and others did not see themselves as united for cul­ tural or economic reasons; they came together in a political movement against imperialism' s legacy and its continuance.

To read the texts produced by the political project of the Third World can be gravely misleading. Most of the documents and speeches are triumphal, and few of them reveal the fissures and contradictions within the Third World. While this book will frequently use the words of leaders and institutions, it does not rely on them for its sense of the imagination and capacity of the Third World . The social forces that produced the Third World by the 1 950s had a wider distribution than in any other modern political project of this scale. From peasant move­ ments in India to rail workers in Senegal, from landless laborers in In­ donesia to dissatisfied economists in Argentina-this is barely a sample.


A small, almost minuscule class became brokers between the massive so­ cial upsurge across the planet from the 1 9 1 0s to the 1 950s channeling that energy into the organizations they led . This group of leaders (whether India's Nehru or Indonesia' s Sukarno, Mexico's Lazaro Car­ denas or Ghana's Nkrumah) elaborated a set of principles that both skew­ ered the hypocrisy of imperial liberalism and promoted social change. On paper, the Third World gleamed. As the project met governance, it began to tarnish rapidly. One of the reasons for this is that the Third World failed to seriously undermine the deep roots of the landed and fi­ nancial gentry in the social and political worlds that had been governed from above by imperial powers and their satraps. Without a genuine so­ cial revolution, the Third World leadership began to rely on the landed and merchant classes for its political power. Capillaries of power that provided legitimacy to the colonial rulers often transformed themselves into avenues for the delivery of votes in the new democratic dispensa­ tion. While this is broadly the case, one should not underestimate either the sheer magic of the individual franchise, which drew and continues to draw millions of people to the polls who often vote in unpredictable ways, or the opportunity provided for opposition political organizations to challenge local power and the national bourgeois leadership. Never­ theless, a major consequence of the lack of a social revolution was the persistence of various forms of hierarchy within the new nations. The inculcation of sexism, and the graded inequality of clan, caste, and tribe, inhibited the political project of the Third World . This is what the Palestinian historian Hisham Sharabi calls "neopatriarchy," where the Third World project, despite its commitment to modernity and modern state formation, "is in many ways no more than a modernized version of the traditional patriarchal sultanate. "29 The class character of the Third World leadership constrained its horizon, even as it inflamed the possi­ bilities in its societies. The Third world, then, is not just the voice of the leaders or their political parties but also their opposition.

This story of the production of the Third World is not going to take us to antiquity or the devastation of the regions that become central to the concept. There is no brief here to tell the complete history of these regions or show that they are allied based on their underdevelopment. Certainly there are many social and economic, political and cultural features that are common to the many diverse countries of the Third World . But that is not my interest. We are going to follow the creation of the political platform from its first major meeting in Brussels at the League against Imperialism, then to Bandung, where twenty-nine Afro-


Asian countries gathered i n 1 955 t o proclaim themselves outside the East-West divide. The formation of the Afro-Asian movement is an in­ tegral part of the story, because it is through the relations between the main non-aligned countries of these two continents that the Third World is constituted . We move to Cairo for a look at the Afro-Asian Women' s Conference in 1 96 1 , not only to see the range of national lib­ eration organizations created by the Bandung dynamic, but also to ex­ plore the place of women's rights on the platform of national liberation. We then head to Buenos Aires and Tehran to examine the economic and cultural agenda of the Third World, before we come finally to Belgrade. For it is in the Yugoslavian capital in 1 96 1 that a number of states from across the planet gathered to form NAM, and pledge themselves to make the United Nations a serious force in world affairs. Finally, we rest in Havana, where the Cuban revolutions put the cult of the gun on the table. The Third World agenda hitherto had moved the spotlight away from insurgency movements against imperialism toward international treaties and agreements to give their regimes space for social develop­ ment. The Cubans and others raised several questions. What about those places that still lingered in colonialism, and what about their armed struggle? Did the legislative strategy bear any fruit, or did the two main camps simply take the Third World for granted? Despite the fear of nuclear annihilation and the importance of a climb down from militant escalation, is there no room for armed action against obdurate powers? Or would such militancy be crushed by overwhelming force? The Cubans and others raised these important questions at about the time when the Third World dynamic was at its height, and it appeared that such a direction would bring more, rather than less, gains. The dis­ cussion about armed struggle at a NAM forum raises questions about the level of dissatisfaction in the Third World for the general failure of the movement to make gains against capitalism and militarism. This part sympathetically lays out the self-image of the Third World . We have to first understand it for what it was before I can lay out my cri­ tique of its internal failures.


Brussels is an unlikely place for the formation of the Third World . In February 1 927, representatives of anti-imperialist organizations from across the planet gathered in the city for the first conference of the League against Imperialism. They came from warm climates to this cold city to discuss their mutual antipathy to colonialism and imperial­ ism, and find a way out of their bondage. The young and the old, the African, the American, and the Asian, these representatives brought their decades of experience to one of Europe's most celebrated capitals to find an agenda in common. Amid snow and far from home, the proj ­ ect of the Third World began to take shape.

A visitor to the city at that time would normally take in the remark­ able museums and the Palais Royal, a set of buildings gathered around the gorgeous Parc de Bruxelles that housed the royal families of Bel­ gium. Leopold II, the second king of modern Belgium, had trans­ formed the medieval city during his long reign ( 1 865-1 909) into a modern wonder-with wide roads, proper sewers, and a magnificent urban display that had been crafted for the Universal Exhibition of 1 897. While the city celebrated the genuine architectural and artistic treasures of northwestern Europe, it did little to reveal the basis of its own immense wealth. In 1 927, a visitor to Brussels would saunter through the Petit Sablon, a charming garden with forty-eight marble statues that represent the artisans of the city. For centuries the city had been known for its textiles, lace, and glassware, and it is this craft pro­ duction that the city celebrated . But by 1 927, the main source of wealth for Belgium and the city was not from the artisans but from Africa. It


was Africa, particularly the Congo, that made Leopold I I one of the richest people on the planet, and it enabled the Belgian economy to be­ come the sixth largest in the world (after Great Britain, the United States, Germany, France, and Holland) .

In 1 878, Leopold II initiated the foundation of the Comite des Etudes du Haut Congo, a private firm financed by himself that went into central Africa in search of resources and profits. The U.S . explorer Henry Stan­ ley took up an appointment from Leopold II, for whom Stanley helped subjugate the various chiefs of the Bantu . Leopold II, through the typical means of European colonialism, took possession of an area in the Congo that dwarfed his own kingdom. The Congo Free State, as Leopold II ironically fashioned it, was eighty times the size of Belgium. To settle tensions among the European powers over their African pos­ sessions, the German leader Otto von Bismarck convened the Berlin Conference in 1 884-85. Here, fourteen European powers (including the United S tates) participated in the dismemberment of Africa. Leopold II became the sole owner of 2.3 million square kilometers of land .

The Congo Free State, as a private entity, had an ambivalent rela­ tionship with the Belgian elected government. Being a constitutional monarchy, Belgium had a parliament that, after the 1 880s, began to seat socialists who were uneasy about colonialism. The parliament did not oversee the colony, and yet its riches provided the kingdom with much of its wealth. Although the Congo operations happened outside the scrutiny of the parliament, a substantial number of Belgians worked for the Congo Free S tate, and the reality of their jobs did not escape Belgian society. Leopold II set up the operations to extract the maximum profit, and over the course of the decades the Free State altered its policies sev­ eral times to ensure its basic objective. The many different policies were united by a premise: as a 1 923 manual put it, "The laziness of the col­ ored races is a kind of genetic burden." l Violence was necessary to overcome this natural indolence. Therefore, the Free State' s officials brutalized the people of the Congo, killing them mercilessly, and tortur­ ing those who could not or would not work. Leopold II 's Free S tate set up the Force Publique, a militia designed to strike terror in the heart of the workforce. If a worker did not work hard, the officer would cut off their hand; one district official received 1 ,308 hands in one day from his subordinates. Fievez, an official of the Free State, noted of those who refused to collect rubber or else who did not meet their rubber quota, " I made war against them. One example was enough: a hundred heads cut off, and there have been plenty of supplies ever since. My goal is ultimately


humanitarian. I killed a hundred people, but that allowed five hundred others to live."2 Rape was routine, but so was the mutilation of the male and female genitalia in the presence of family members. To supply the emergent tire industry, Leopold II 's Free S tate, therefore, sucked the life out of the rubber vines and murdered half the Congo' s population in the process (between 1 885 and 1 908, the population declined from twenty million to ten million) .

E.D. Morel, a Frenchman who worked for the English shipping line Elder Dempster, learned firsthand of the outrages in the Congo in the late 1 890s. Until Morel began to make complaints to the Foreign Office in London, the only agency to expose the atrocities was the Aborigines Protection Society (founded in 1 838 in London) . Morel made contact with Roger Casement, an Irishman who worked in the Foreign Office, and Casement used the Anglo-Belgian rivalry to secure himself the task of investigating the Congo (he actually used the principle of Civis Ro­ manus Sum to investigate misconduct against subjects of the British Crown-in this case, a few men from Sierra Leone who had entered Leopold's jails) . Casement traveled the Congo and published his catalog of outrages in January 1 904. The Congo Reform Association, the jour­ nalism of two U.S . Presbyterian ministers (the "Black Livingston" William Sheppard and William Morrison), Morel 's own Affairs of West Africa ( 1 902), Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness ( 1 902), and finally Mark Twain's King Leopold's Soliloquy ( 1 904 )-these documented the barbarity of Brussels.

The Foreign Office in London wrote a tepid note critical of the Bel­ gians, and Leopold II 's reply rightly accused the British of hypocrisy: much of the policies followed by the Belgians in the Congo had been standard for the English elsewhere. Indeed, Casement found that British companies in the Putamayo region between Colombia and Peru fol­ lowed the same kinds of barbarism, the U.S . -based United Fruit Com­ pany in Central America pillaged the dignity of the natives there, and in Portuguese Angola as well as French and German Cameroon, the com­ panies used much the same kind of rubber plantation regime. When the Belgians formed the Free State, the first country to back them had been the United S tates, and the others lined up to congratulate Leopold II for his civilizing work in Africa's interior (when Leopold II founded the In­ ternational African Association in 1 876, he used rhetoric that could have come from any imperial capital : "To open to civilization the only part of our globe which it has not yet penetrated, to pierce the darkness which hangs over entire peoples, I dare say, a crusade worthy of this century


of progress" ) .3 Belgium, after all, could claim to be a junior partner in the colonial enterprise. Between 1 876 and 1 9 1 5, a handful of European imperial states controlled a full quarter of the globe' s land, with Great Britain and France in possession of far more than Germany, Belgium, I tal y, and the states of the Iberian Peninsula (the U ni ted States directly controlled a small amount, but it held sway over all the Americas) .

The Congo Reform Association, the u.s. and British governments, and most of the actors who participated in the condemnation of the Bel­ gians remained silent on the brutality elsewhere. In fact, their criticism of the Congo enabled them to obscure their own role in the barbarity. As Adam Hochschild puts it, the Atlantic governments lined up behind the critique of Leopold II because it "did not involve British or Ameri­ can misdeeds, nor did it entail the diplomatic, trade or military conse­ quences of taking on a major power like France or Germany."4 The imperial powers made Leopold II the issue, at the same time as they buried the broader problem in which they had a hand : imperialism. In 1 908, Leopold turned over the management of the Free State to the Bel­ gian government, and the barbarism continued until the Belgians com­ pleted their rail system in 1 9 1 4 that rationalized the removal of the Congo's minerals all the way to 1 96 1 and beyond.5

The conveners of the 1 927 League against Imperialism conference chose Brussels deliberately: they snubbed Europe' s nose by holding an anti-imperialist conference in the capital of such brutality, and used Bel­ gium's own international embarrassment as a vehicle to get permission to do so in the first place.6 The organizers had initially hoped for Berlin, but the Weimar regime refused permission. Then they went to the gov­ ernment in Paris, but the French denied them on the grounds that the presence of the conference might stir up hope in the colonies. Belgium could not refuse the league, and Leopold II 's successor Albert I held no brief one way or the other. The Belgian government had recently anointed Emile Vandervelde as its foreign minister, a job he held along­ side his role as secretary of the Socialist Second International . The or­ ganizers made it clear that if Vandervelde turned down the league, it would reflect poorly on the Socialist Second International, whose repu­ tation had already been tarnished by its failure to oppose World War I . Additionally, the organizers agreed to take the Belgian Congo off the table for the duration of the event, even though it came in for indirect cri ticism through ou t. 7

The event, covertly funded in part by the Communist International (and believed to be funded by the Kuomintang and the Mexican government of


plutarco Elias Calles), took place in the Palais d'Egremont, one of those exaggerated palaces that dot the landscape of Brussels. Two hundred delegates came from thirty-seven states or colonized regions, and they represented 1 34 organizations. The delegates traveled from the major continents, some from within the heart of the imperialist states, and oth­ ers from their periphery. They worked on resolutions about most acts of barbarity, from the tragedy of the Indian countryside to that of Jim Crow racism in the United States, from the growth of Italian fascism to the danger of Japanese intervention in Korea. The rich discussions and resolutions as well as the personal contact between delegates influenced many of those in attendance for a lifetime. At subsequent meetings, the delegates referred to the Brussels event as formative, as the bedrock for the creation of sympathy and solidarity across the borders of the colo­ nized world.8

Two well-known Communist internationalists based in Berlin, willi Miinzenberg and Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, conceived of the con­ ference and did much of the legwork for it. Regardless of the Com­ intern's vacillation over alliances with the national bourgeoisie, the general support given to national liberation movements across Asia and Africa by the Russian Communists is clear. In 1 9 1 3, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin published a short piece in Pravda titled "Backward Europe and Advanced Asia," in which he noted, "Everywhere in Asia a mighty democratic movement is growing, spreading and gaining in strength. The bourgeoisie there is as yet siding with the people against reaction. Hundreds of millions of people are awakening to life, light and free­ dom." In response to this awakening, "all the commanders of Europe, all the European bourgeoisie are in alliance with all the forces of reac­ tion and medievalism in China." In opposition to this alliance, "young Asia, that is, the hundreds of millions of Asian working people [have] a reliable ally in the proletariat of all civilized countries. "9 When the So­ viets took control of Russia, they published and abrogated the secret treaties that the czar had made with the other European powers to divide up the darker nations among themselves. 10

In early 1 920, delegates from across the planet gathered in Moscow for the Second Congress of the Comintern, where they studied the con­ dition of imperialism and debated the effectiveness of strategies to com­ bat it. Two divergent lines grew out of the congress-whether to ally with the national bourgeoisie and treat nationalism as a transitional phase toward socialism, or rej ect the national bourgeoisie and forge an international working-class alliance for socialism against the illusions of


nationality. Later that year, the Soviets hosted the First Congress o f the Peoples of the East in Baku, where almost two thousand delegates from across Asia and elsewhere represented two dozen different peoples (from Persia, Bukhara, Turkey, and elsewhere); one of the notables was John Reed of the United States. II The delegates discussed the limita­ tions of Soviet power in the lands outside Russia, and sent their criti­ cisms to Moscow for consideration. But the main development from Baku was that the delegates went back to their homelands to found dozens of national Communist parties. 12

Miinzenberg and Chattopadhyaya did not choose the word league in the title of their new organization for nothing. The League against Im­ perialism was a direct attack on the League of Nations' s preservation of imperialism in its mandate system. In April 1 9 1 9, the Paris Peace Con­ ference produced the League of Nations, which followed Woodrow Wilson's "Fourteen Points" even though the United States did not join the league. The "interests" of the colonized had to be curtailed, the Covenant of the League noted, because the colonized were "peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world" (Article 22) . 13 Instead of independence and the right to rule themselves, the league felt that " the best method of giving practical effect to [the principle of self-determination] is that the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations who by reason of their resources, their experience, or their geographical position can best un­ dertake this responsibility, and who are willing to accept it, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as Mandatories on behalf of the League." 14 Self-determination did not mean the end to colonialism, but for the League of Nations it meant paternalistic imperialism.

Brussels scorned and repudiated Versailles. The delegates in Brussels came from Communist and Socialist par­

ties as well as radical nationalist movements. From South Africa came James La Guma and Josiah Gumeda (both of the South African Com­ munist Party), from Algeria came Hadj-Ahmed Messali (founding member of the first group to call for Algeria's independence, Etoile Nord-Africain), from Indonesia came Sukarno, Mohammad Hatta, and Semaun (the first two from a newly founded nationalist party, and the latter from the Communist Party), from Palestine came Jamal al­ Husayni and M. Erem (the former from the Arab National Congress of Palestine, and the latter from Poale Zion), from Iran came Ahmed As­ sadoff and Mortesa Alawi, and from India came Mohamed Barkatullah and Nehru (Nehru from the Indian National Congress, and Barkatullah


from the Ghadar Party, founded in San Francisco in 1 9 1 3) . From China came the largest delegation, mainly from the Kuomintang, but also from its branches across Europe. From the Americas came civil libertarians like Roger Baldwin and activists like Richard Moore as well as major na­ tionalist leaders like Victor Raul Haya de la Torre (Peru) and Jose Vas­ concelias (Puerto Rico) .

Albert Einstein became a patron of the organization, alongside the Swiss writer and Nobel Prize-winner Romain Rolland and the Chinese nationalist leader Madame Sun Yat-sen. Two years later, Nehru wrote in his autobiography, "There were also present at Brussels representatives from the national organizations of Java, Indo-China, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Arabs from North Africa and American Negroes. Then there were many left-wing labor organizations represented; and several well­ known men who had played a leading part in European labor struggles for a generation, were present. Communists were there also, and they took an important part in the proceedings; they came not as communists but as representatives of trade-unions or similar organizations. " The Brussels Congress, Nehru commented, "helped me to understand some of the problems of colonial and dependent countries." 1 5

The congress in Brussels called for the rights of the darker nations to rule themselves. 1 6 The connections made in Brussels served the organi­ zations well, because now some began to coordinate their activities, while others used their affiliation with the league to publicize their ef­ forts. While they planned to meet frequently, this did not happen for several reasons: the Comintern took a hard position against national lib­ eration movements in 1 927, with the view that these efforts would even­ tually betray the working class (the Comintern revised this line in 1 935); distances and proscription made travel difficult for the leaders of the many revolutionary movements, several of whom spent years in jail in the interwar period; finally, the outbreak of World War II made any such gathering impossible, not only because of the dislocation of war, but also because the social revolutionary wave that broke across the world held the attention of the many organizations and their leaders.

Nevertheless, regional formations did gather after Brussels, and many of these provided the bedrock for the Third World . The move­ ments represented at the 1 927 meeting had worked to prepare the ground for this experiment in intraplanetary solidarity. The gathering in Brussels makes sense in light of that long history of engagement. I'll go from continent to continent to offer a short summary on what preceded Brussels.


In Brussels, Africa did not have a major voice, but its representatives did put its liberation on the map. Of course, the deal struck by the organizers of the conference and the Belgian government took the Congo off the table, and given that it remained one of the central issues in Africa, the silence was palpable. Yet the South African delegates' strongly worded statement against the regime there raised the question of a "native republic" free of white contro1 . 1 7 The record shows contact between the delegates from across the continent, but nothing came of the meetings, perhaps because a leading light, Lamine Senghor of the Committee for the Defense of the Negro Race, died in a French prison shortly after the conference. 18 The Nigerian freedom fighter Nnamdi Azikiwe' s 1 937 Renascent Africa produced an image of the combined strength of a unified continent, and he joined with the Trinidadian radi­ cal George Pad more that very year to form the International African Service Bureau in London. 19 The real dynamic of African unity came at the Pan-African meetings that preceded and followed Brussels.

Driven by the force of the Trinidadian Henry Sylvester Williams, the first Pan-African Conference in London in 1 900 drew people from across the Atlantic world, including the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa. Williams opened the proceedings with a stern criti­ cism of British policy toward the Africans in the southern part of the continent. The African Association that Williams had founded in 1 897 had pledged to "promote and protect the interests of all subjects claim­ ing African descent, wholly or in part, in British colonies," for which reason he singled out South Africa and not the Congo or elsewhere.20 Being in London, Williams felt that the British policy of colonialism should be challenged . Nevertheless, the 1 900 meeting drafted a set of objectives for the Pan-African Congress that began with a much wider aim: "To secure to Africans throughout the world true civil and political rights. " W.E.B. DuBois, the great American leader, laid out the charge for the delegates: " In the metropolis of the modern world, in this clos­ ing 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 ." For DuBois, these "darker races" included " the millions of black men in Africa, America, and the Islands of the Sea, not to speak of the brown and yellow myriads everywhere." 21 By 1 945, at the fifth Pan-African Conference, DuBois would be a major leader, and would be surrounded by future leaders of the African continent and the Atlantic world, such as George Padmore, Kwame Nkrumah, and Jomo Kenyatta.22 "If the


Western world is still determined to rule mankind by force," the 1 945 conference declared, " then Africans as a last resort, may have to appeal to force in the effort to achieve freedom, even if force destroys them and the world." The demand for freedom came alongside the demand for socialism: "We condemn the monopoly of capital and the rule of private wealth and industry for profit alone. We welcome economic democracy as the only real democracy. Therefore we shall complain, appeal and we will make the world listen to the facts of our condition. We will fight every way we can for freedom, democracy and social betterment."23 The theoretical concepts of Pan-Africanism and African independence gained material force during the continent-wide labor strikes in the 1 940s-from Lagos in 1 945 to Dar es Salaam in 1 947, dockworkers slowed down the movement of goods, and joined the rail, post, tele­ graph, and factory workers as well as farm labor in a general strike against colonialism. These struggles produced organizations that were then marshaled by the Pan-Africanist and nationalist leaders who gave shape to an ideology.

When Ghana won its independence in 1 957, Accra hosted the first Conference of African States, and then it became the home to the All­ African People' s Conference. The idea of "Africa" in this conference, and elsewhere in the movement, operated in a homologous manner to the idea of the Third World . What brought Africans together in these forums was not culture or language but, as Nkrumah put it, "a common interest in the independence of Africa." "Africans," he wrote, "have be­ gun to think continentally," but not for cultural reasons.24 What they sought was a "political union" on the African platform and the Third World one. Certainly, Nkrumah's "Africans" who had "begun to think continentally" referred to the political movements and their leaders, not necessarily to the vast masses whose own political ideas might not have been this cosmopolitan. At Accra, the leadership of the political move­ ments recognized this and yet looked forward to the deepening of the idea of African unity across classes, across the continent.

If Africa has numerous languages and intertwined but separate histo­ ries, the same cannot be said of the Arabs of northern Africa and west­ ern Asia. Joined by language, the Arabs nonetheless suffered the costs of disunity. Ravaged by the Ottomans and the various European pow­ ers, the linguistic region that stretches from northwestern Africa to the borders of Iran has held sustained cultural contact but not political unity. Arab traders moved from one end to the other, and Muslims traveled from the two ends of the region to the Arabian Peninsula to perform haj j .


When the Ottoman Empire began to collapse, the peoples under its yoke mobilized for their freedom. The " Arab Revolt" on the Arabian Penin­ sula ( 1 9 1 6-32), in Egypt ( 1 9 1 8-1 9), in Iraq ( 1 920-22), in Syria and Lebanon ( 1 925-26), in Palestine ( 1 936-37), and elsewhere united the Arab people not just against the Ottomans and others but also on behalf of a united Arab nation. In Brussels, the Syrian delegation took the lead, mainly because Syria had just been in the midst of a heated struggle against the League of Nations' s mandate, here given to the French.25 The Egyptians, the Syrians, the Lebanese, and the Palestinians forged a united front in Brussels, although individual members disagreed over the role of religion as well as that of Jews in Palestine (the Palestinian Communists wanted a united front of Jews and Arabs against the British-a position endorsed by the league) .26 The tumult in Palestine in the mid- 1 930s ended the hope of a Jewish-Arab alliance against the British, and hardened the xenophobia on both sides.

When the British approached the Arabs in 1 942 to create a united or­ ganization against the Axis powers, they did not make a similar offer to the Jewish groups in Palestine, and so they further exacerbated the di­ vide. Influenced by the British proposal, and the sentiment of unity that preceded it, in October 1 944, representatives from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria met in Alexandria to plan a unity conference for the next year. The main theme was to be the creation of a framework to ad­ dress conflict peaceably, and develop economic and social ties within the region dominated by Arabic speakers. When these Arabic-speaking states met (along with Saudi Arabia and Yemen), they created the Arab League, to " strengthen the ties between the participant states, to co­ ordinate their political programmes to such a way as to effect real collab­ oration between them, to preserve their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries." 27 The first action of the league at its 1 945 Cairo meeting was to condemn France's presence in Syria and Lebanon, and at its third ses­ sion the following year, the league congratulated Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan for their independence. It also supported the Libyan struggle for independence, the Indonesian fight against the Dutch/English, and the Palestinian demand for the restoration of lands.28

The countries south of the great colossus of the United S tates did not form an independent association, for they had been yoked into a Pan­ American Union with the United States from the first Inter-American Conference of 1 889 (the name Pan-American Union came in 1 9 1 0) . "At periodic Pan-American conferences," the historian John Chasteen notes,


" u.s . secretaries of state promoted trade while Latin American repre­ sentatives voiced dismay at u.s . interventions in the region. The unani­ mous protests came to a head at the Havana Conference of 1 928."29 At the Havana meeting, the Latin American states wanted to raise the prohibited topic : the political relations between states, and the military interventions by the United States into Latin America. In 1 926, several thousand u.s . marines had invaded Nicaragua, to remain there until 1 933. The United States wanted the Pan-American gathering to stay with talk of tariffs and trade, but the Latin Americans refused. The most vocal critics of u.s . imperialism and for Latin American unity did come to Brussels in 1 928, where they came into contact with anti-imperialist forces from elsewhere. The most important presence from the region was Haya de la Torre of Peru, whose Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana CAPRA, 1 924) influenced radical nationalists from Mexico to Argentina.3D "For me, " said Haya de la Torre, "Latin America is the Pa­ tria Grande, of which each of its component states is an inseparable and interdependent part. I believe that the best patriotism for any Latin American with regard to the country of his birth is to sustain the insep­ arability of our states as members of a continental whole."3 1 In Brussels, the target remained Europe, and even as the participants passed resolu­ tions for the freedom of Puerto Rico and against u.s . imperialism in the Pacific Rim, there was little substantive exploration of the impact of u.s . imperialism in South America and elsewhere.32

The impact of populist nationalism across the continent, and the growth of political parties of the APRA variety, produced the first Con­ gress of Democratic and Political Parties of America in October 1 940. Representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela gathered in Santiago, Chile, where they discussed issues of mutual interest­ namely, the power of the great northern colossus-but they failed to make united headway particularly when many of the populist parties in these states came to power after 1 944.33 Instead, these powers contin­ ued to meet under the auspices of u.S .-dominated organizations, even as they persisted in their various forms of resistance. At the 1 945 Cha­ pultepec Conference in Mexico City, for example, the United States wanted to make European recovery a priority, another area of dispute with the Latin American states, which did not want to allow the open door for u.S . trade in the Americas to finance European reconstruction. These tensions within the American hemisphere became pronounced in the early United Nations, where 40 percent of the delegates came from


Latin America.34 At Chapultepec, furthermore, the American republics announced " that all sovereign States are juridically equal among them­ selves," and " that every S tate has the right to the respect of its indivi­ duality and independence, on the part of the other members of the international community."35 Such statements promoted the idea of inde­ pendence for the Southern Cone, Central America, and the Caribbean.

The idea of Pan-Asianism emerged from two distinct political tradi­ tions. From the progressives, such as Nehru and Sun Yat-sen, came a de­ sire for the union of the continent that had been rent by imperialism. Popular enthusiasm across Asia for Japan' s 1 904 defeat of Russia con­ tributed to the sense that the continent' s peoples should have close ties with each other. At the two Pan-Asian People's Conferences in Na­ gasaki ( 1 926) and Shanghai ( 1 927), the delegates from China and Korea held fast to the progressive notion of Pan-Asianism by demanding that the Japanese government abrogate its imperial pretensions. From Japa­ nese reactionaries came the view that Asia should be ruled by the Showa (enlightened peace) monarchy of Hirohito rather than by the Europe­ ans, or by the Asians themselves. Several secret societies, such as the Black Dragon and the Red Swastika, promoted the extension of Japan's 1 9 1 0 conquest of Korea forward, toward Manchuria ( 1 93 1 ) and Jehol ( 1 933) .

Japan' s militarism, however, could not usurp all the space of Pan­ Asianism, because the progressive side of it lingered, and became mani­ fest after World War II . In March 1 947, the liberation movements in Asia gathered in New Delhi to hold the Asian Relations Conference, where they pledged themselves to economic, political, and cultural co­ operation between the nations. The gathering greeted the onset of liber­ ation, and yet warned against "dollar imperialism." The Azerbaijanian delegate' s proposal against racism was hailed. "The most important thing about the conference, " Nehru told the press, "was that it was held ."36 The work done at this conference enabled Nehru to rapidly call a government-level Asian Conference once more to Delhi in 1 949 to condemn the Dutch/British action in the newly founded state of In­ donesia. Significantly, the 1 949 conference decided to coordinate activi­ ties among the new Asian states within the United Nations.

These regional formations had a wide appreciation for the universal struggle against imperialism, for the need for coordination and consul­ tation toward a just world. The best evidence for this is the enthusiasm with which each of these groups, and most of the countries within them, embraced the United Nations. It could be argued that one of the reasons


for the success of the United Nations in its first three decades, unlike that of the League of Nations, is that the states of the Third World saw it as their platform. It was from the United Nations' s mantle that the states of Africa, America, and Asia could articulate their Third World agenda. Whereas the league was a tool of imperialism and for the maintenance of peace within Europe, the United Nations became the property of justice for the formerly colonized worldY The Third World offered stiff resis­ tance within the United Nations on the U.s . aggression in Korea as well as the French domination of Morocco and Tunisia. In both the Morocco and Tunisian resolutions, the African, Arab, and Asian states had crucial support from the eleven Latin American states.

The collaboration between the African, Arab, and Asian regional for­ mations had a much greater intensity than the contacts they had with the Latin Americans. This was for several reasons. First, the Latin Ameri­ can states had attained formal independence from Spain and Portugal in the early nineteenth century so they did not share the contemporary ex­ perience of colonial domination. Most of Latin America, however, had come under the sway of either European or U.S . capital, and most of the governments had an antipathy to the empire of finance. In 1 896, the founder of the Argentine Socialist Party, Juan Bautista Justo, thundered, "We have seen the Argentines reduced to the status of a British colony by means of economic penetration," and this was enabled by the Argen­ tine oligarchy, the " sellers of their country."38 Bautista Justo' s statement entered the consciousness of many Latin Americans by its ceaseless rep­ etition. The distinctions between the Americas and elsewhere in terms of their colonial heritage became less pronounced over time as both zones understood how global capital subjected them. Yet this did not lead to organizational ties before the Cold War.

Second, the Latin American states lived in an alternative imperial or­ bit. Their target was not old Europe, but the New Yankee, and in this they differed greatly from most of Africa and Asia (except for the Philippines) . Additionally, their colonial orbit gave them Spanish as their lingua franca (except for Brazil and the Dutch colonies), whereas most of the anticolonial leaders from Africa and Asia spoke English or French, and many of them met in their continental sojourns, whether in London, Paris, or Geneva. The worlds of the Latin Americans did not cross frequently with those of the Afro-Asians. So even if the Afro­ Asian conferences from the I nos onward referred to oppressions across the conjoined continents, that did not mean that the Latin Americans were any less internationalist or any more parochial; the strong ties


forged in the 1 950s and 1 960s across continents shows that given the op­ portunity, many of them saw their struggles as part of an international, planetary crusade.

The legacy of the League against Imperialism is ambiguous. The ma­ jor imperial powers knew that such a formation was dangerous, and they arrested many of the activists who attended it as soon as they returned to their homelands or else to any place where their colonial overlord bore jurisdiction. The colonial powers quickly tainted the league' s work by in­ timating that it was nothing but a Communist front. Certainly, the Com­ munists played a major role in the league, but they did not exhaust its range and the claim made on it by peoples who had little experience with Communism. The reproach of "communist" served to make the Commu­ nist movement almost omnipresent and divine in the eyes of many who had been taught to distrust the word of the colonial master and to see that any enemy of that master was an ally in the fight. For isolated struggles, the league was a crucial instrument of propaganda, an important medium to get the word out about massacres or protests as well as to coordinate solidarity work. The league also allowed inaccessible movements to make contact with others, so that those who fought the French in Indochina could remain in touch with those who fought the same French state in West Africa. In addition, incipient labor organizations affiliated to the league as a means to break out of their isolation.

The Soviets and the Comintern did squander much of the goodwill gained in the immediate aftermath of Brussels by their impulsive and dis­ tracting shifts in political line. During the league's foundation, the ma­ jority opinion of the Comintern was that the Communists should work in a broad front with national liberation movements. Because of this, the Kuomintang joined the Comintern to fund the conference, and both worked together for its success. Just after the Brussels meeting, however, the Kuomintang massacred more than five thousand Communists in Shanghai and elsewhere to prolong a civil war. That the Comintern had joined forces with the Kuomintang in Brussels is astounding, but in the nationalists' postconference violence lay the seeds of the league' s de­ struction. This and other instances led the Comintern to denounce non­ communist national liberation forces, including Nehru, Roger Baldwin, and Hatta. The problem with the league's line was that it was inflexible-it chose to work with the Kuomintang before Shanghai, much to the chagrin of the Chinese Communists, and it chose to aban­ don its relationship with the Indian and Indonesian freedom movements even though these two did not have the kind of antipathy to the Left as


the Kuomintang. In places such as India and Indonesia, anticolonial na­ tionalism, even if led by a relatively weak national bourgeoisie, had be­ come a powerful social force that could not be sidestepped.39 The context of each setting, such as the internal class alignments, did not seem to bear on the Comintern's insistence on a homogeneous strategy for world rev­ olution. Even as the league lost its footing in much of the colonized world, the Brussels meeting itself played an important role in the consol­ idation of the idea of the Third World.

Almost three decades after the Brussels conference, Sukarno, newly installed as the president of Indonesia, opened the Afro-Asian Conference held in Bandung, Indonesia. Within minutes of his address, Sukarno of­ fered this assessment of the significance of Brussels:

Only a few decades ago it was frequently necessary to travel to other countries and even other continents before the spokesper­ sons of our people could confer. I recall in this connection the Conference of the "League Against Imperialism and Colonial­ ism" which was held in Brussels almost thirty years ago. At that Conference many distinguished Delegates who are present here today met each other and found new strength in their fight for in­ dependence. But that was a meeting place thousands of miles away, amidst foreign people, in a foreign country, in a foreign continent. It was not assembled there by choice, but by necessity. Today the contrast is great. O ur nations and countries are colonies no more. Now we are free, sovereign and independent. We are again masters in our own house. We do not need to go to other continents to confer.4o


In 1 955, the island of Java bore the marks not only of its three-hundred­ year colonial heritage but also its recent and victorious anticolonial struggle. The diverse island that is the heart of the Indonesia archipel­ ago is home to a large number of coffee, tea, and quinine plantations­ the main producers of wealth for the Dutch coffers. At one end, toward the west, sits the town of Bandung, the City of Flowers. Its tropical deco administrative buildings contrasted strongly with the shacks that housed its workforce, forming a cityscape of uneven hopes and aspira­ tions. In the 1 940s, the workers and peasants of the city and its hinter­ land rose in struggle alongside the pemuda, the youth activists. The cry of Siaaaap (Attention!) rang out in the streets of the city in opposition not only to the Japanese occupiers but also the British who had replaced them, and the Dutch who waited in the wings to reclaim the island. In March 1 946, when it appeared as if the British would not allow the Indonesians their independence, half a million residents of Bandung abandoned the city en masse, as they set fire to warehouses, homes, and government offices. I This event produced an epic song:

Hello-Hello Bandung

The capital of Parahyangan [Province]

Hello-Hello Bandung

The city of remembrance.

For a long time,

I have not met you.


Bandung, Java, Indonesia, April 1955: Bandung's people greet the representatives to the Afro-Asian Conference. © BETTMANN / CORBIS

Now, you are a Sea of Fire.

Let's take over again, Bung [comradeV

By 1 955 the city had been repopulated, now largely by poor mi­ grants who had been displaced by a rebellion led by the Darul Islam, an anticolonial force that had pledged to create an Islamic republic in In­ donesia (it died out by the mid- I 960s for lack of success).3 And even re­ populated, south Bandung remained scarred by the fire. The Indonesia government chose this city as the site for a meeting of twenty-nine rep­ resentatives of newly sovereign Asian and African nations. This meet­ ing brought Sauvy's concept to life. Of course, the April 1 955 meeting did not create the Third World out of whole cloth. It simply made man­ ifest tendencies such as the relatively common social conditions of the colonized states and the nationalist movements that each of these states produced. The Bandung Conference was, for the leaders of these na­ tionalist movements, also the culmination of a process that began at the 1 927 Brussels gathering of the League against Imperialism. All this is true, but what is still important about Bandung is that it allowed these leaders to meet together, celebrate the demise of formal colonialism, and pledge themselves to some measure of joint struggle against the forces of imperialism. Despite the infighting, debates, strategic postures, and sighs of annoyance, Bandung produced something: a belief that


two-thirds of the world's people had the right to return to their own burned cities, cherish them, and rebuild them in their own image.

Taking the podium on the first day, Indonesia' s president Sukarno welcomed the changes wrought by anticolonialism over Asia and Africa:

Irresistible forces have swept the two continents. The mental, spir­ itual and political face of the whole world has been changed and the process is still not complete. There are new conditions, new concepts, new problems, new ideals abroad in the world. Hurri­ canes of national awakening and reawakening have swept over the land, shaking it, changing it, changing it for the better.4

A vast section of the world that had once bowed before the might of Europe now stood at the threshold of another destiny. Indeed, the free­ dom attained by the new nations seemed unimaginable just a few years ago. When Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's Indian National Congress declared itself for Purna Swaraj or Complete Independence in 1 929, many felt that the step had been premature, that neither would Britain al­ low such a caesura, nor could India survive on its own. Nevertheless, Nehru, then the president of the congress, the leading arm of the anticolo­ nial struggle in India, told delegates gathered in Lahore in 1 929, "We stand today for the fullest freedom of India. Today or tomorrow, we may not be strong enough to assert our will. We are very conscious of our weakness, and there is no boasting in us or pride of strength. But let no one, least of all England, mistake or underrate the meaning or strength of our resolve." 5 The resolve eventually came for India (and Pakistan) in 1 947, as it came for Indonesia and Vietnam in 1 945, the Philippines in 1 946, Burma, Ceylon, Korea, and Malaysia in 1 948, and China in 1 949. In 1 95 1 , Ghana gained substantial independence (formally declared in 1 957) , the same year that Libya gained freedom from Italy to join Liberia, Ethiopia, and Egypt as Africa's independent states, while in 1 956 the Su­ dan broke from its Anglo-Egyptian bondage (just as Ethiopia absorbed Eritrea). These are the countries that gathered at Bandung.

Little apart from their common colonial and anticolonial history united these nations. Sukarno, scion of a diverse people who lived across hundreds of dispersed islands, understood the limited basis for unity among those who came to Bandung. But if a nation-state could be made of Indonesia, why could a transnational unity not be fashioned out of the Bandung nations? " Conflict comes not from variety of skins, nor from variety of religion," Sukarno announced, "but from variety of


desires. " A unity of desire forged out of struggle and organized into a common platform could undermine the social differences. "We are united by a common detestation of colonialism in whatever form it ap­ pears. We are united by a common detestation of racialism. And we are united by a common determination to preserve and stabilize peace in the world ."6 These would be the elements for the Third World's unity.

Unity for the people of the Third World came from a political posi­ tion against colonialism and imperialism, not from any intrinsic cultural or racial commonalities. If you fought against colonialism and stood against imperialism, then you were part of the Third World. Sukarno's views found common currency among most of the delegates to the Bandung meeting, whether of the Left (China), the center (India and Burma), or the Right (Turkey and the Philippines). When Sukarno ar­ gued that colonialism may have ended its formal phase, but that imperi­ alism still lingered, he echoed the views of many of the Third World's leaders as well as i ts people, who suffered daily from "underdevelop­ ment." Colonialism no longer came in sola topees but had "its modern dress, in the form of economic control, intellectual control. . . . It does not give up its loot easily. " To eradicate it, Sukarno urged the delegates and their populations to stand united as a Third World against imperial­ ism. But what can this Third World do, given that its " economic strength is dispersed and slight," and that without the "serried ranks of j et bombers," the Third World "cannot indulge in power politics" ? 7 What is left for this Third World on a planet where the atom bomb and the dollar determined the course of human history? What is left for a region that contained two thousand million people? 8 "We can inject the voice of rea­ son into world affairs. We can mobilize all the spiritual, all the moral, all the political strength of Asia and Africa on the side of peace."9

Sukarno' s speech was the most powerful brief for Third World unity, which is why it is the best-known statement from the Bandung meeting. to

Born in 1 90 1 , Sukarno came from the same social position as many of the important Third World leaders. From a family of lesser nobility, Sukarno' s father became swept up in the fervor of patriotism. He re­ named his son after a figure from the Sanskrit epic Mahahharata, Karna, who is known to be honest and fearless. l l Sukarno studied in European institutions (in Surabaja and Bandung) and trained to be an engineer, but harbored an ambition for Indonesian independence. This combination of being from the petty nobility or the emergent middle class as well as open to the type of educational advantages of European colonialism produced a series of leaders such as Nehru, Sukarno, U Nu of Burma, and the large


number of ilustrados or "enlightened ones" of the PhilippinesY As he finished his engineering studies, Sukarno began to publish Indonesia Muda ( Young Indonesia), the journal of the Bandung Study club. It was in this periodical that he first articulated his vision of a united front be­ tween all the patriotic forces against European colonialism. In Indonesia, the Marxists, the Islamists, and the nationalists formed the main oppo­ nents of Dutch rule, and Sukarno argued that all three must consider na­ tionalism to be "as broad as the air" in a manner similar to the Congress Party in India and the Kuomintang in China. As he described this vision, the Communist Party (PKI) led a putsch, which failed and led to its re­ pression. To take advantage of the energy produced by the PKI-Ied mass revolt from late 1 926 to early 1 927, Sukarno and his circle founded the Partai Nasional Indonesia (PNI) .

The PNI, like the Congress Party and the Kuomintang, had a grab bag ideology, rooted in an anticolonial ethos, but in favor of a vague na­ tionalism that attracted all social classes. The middle class came on board because many of them had been discriminated against in terms of admin­ istrative jobs and humiliated by the colonial hierarchy. Already veterans in the struggle for justice, the working class and the peasantry would gradually move to the PNI as it became central to the freedom struggle. Unlike the Congress Party in India that had became a mass movement by the 1 920s through the creative campaigns led by Gandhi and unlike the Vietnamese Communist Party whose mass base emerged through diligent organizational work led by Ho chi Minh, the PNI looked very much like other urban, middle-class anticolonial organizations in places as diverse as Peru and the Gold Coast-it developed out of an idea and reflected the views of a narrow stratum, but its platform would soon be adopted by many beyond its original circle. The educated youth would do the most work for the PNI and the organizations that shared its class origins. The Indonesian Youth Congress carried the struggle to the masses and provided many of the foot soldiers of the "noncooperation" struggle (a concept that Sukarno borrowed from Gandhi) . 13

Frustrated by Sukarno' s actions, the Dutch administration arrested him in 1 93 1 and held him until the Japanese invasion of the archipelago in 1 942. When the Japanese took power, Sukarno worked with them, but not as their shill; he used every opportunity he could get to pro­ mote nationalist ideas, so that as the historian George Kahin notes, his speeches on the radio "were full of subtleties and double talk which gen­ erally passed over the head of the Japanese monitors but were meaning­ ful to the population." 14 On August 1 7, 1 945, two days after the Japanese


surrender, Sukarno (and his associate Hatta) declared independence for Indonesia-a move delayed by the entry of British troops who had come to restore the islands to the Dutch. Sukarno still had little mass base, and his declaration was sheer bravado. The Indonesian people backed him despite their shallow knowledge of his program, and he won. The fires of Bandung raged because people now believed that colonialism had ended. European rule no longer had any legitimacy. In 1 949, Indonesia won its formal freedom.

Sukarno, like Nehru and other such nationalist leaders, came to the forefront of an upsurge against colonial power, without a clear agenda for the social development of their people. What was clear, however, was that they rode the wave produced by the actions of many small, lo­ cal organizations-such as merchants forums, the PNI, religious organ­ izations, and youth groups. Sukarno stood for freedom and justice, but not necessarily for a general revolution against the old social classes (such as the rural landed gentry, merchants, and others)-hence, the complicity of the Dutch and the PNI in the crackdown on the 1 948 Communist rebellion in Madiun (which led to the execution and incar­ ceration of scores of PKI cadre, and the suppression of the PKI in 1 95 1-52, when the government arrested fifteen thousand party mem­ bers) . 1 5 Sukarno did put money into education and state industries, drawing some of the agenda from the Communists, who continued to recruit a mass party (by 1 965, the PKI numbered three and a half mil­ lion cadre and twenty million members in mass organizations) . In 1 965, at his last Independence Day ceremony before a U.S . -backed coup ejected him, Sukarno stated, "We are now fostering an anti-imperialist axis-the Jakarta-Phnom Penh-Hanoi-Peking-Pyongyang axis." 16 He had moved closer to the Communists than he would have imagined when he first entered politics.

But Sukarno did not represent all the voices in Bandung. Communist China tore through the conference led by the ebullient

personality of zhou En-lai, whose legendary history and feverish at­ tempts to befriend all had endeared him to most of the delegates. 1 7 zhou had a vigorous schedule. Not only did Nehru guide him around and in­ troduce him to those who already respected the Indian political leader but zhou himself addressed as many sessions as possible and met almost all the delegates. Tea with the "centrists" Nehru and U Nu would be fol­ lowed by tea with " rightists" such as Carlos Romulo of the Philippines and John Kotelawala of Ceylon (where zhou met Afghanistan's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sardar Mohammed Naim). Finally,


zhou and the Chinese delegation hosted a banquet attended by the ma­ jor powers, but also the Arab states (represented by Crown Prince Faysal of Saudi Arabia, Seifel Islam Hassan of Yemen, Walid Salah of Jordan, Sami Solh of Lebanon, Mahmud Muntasser of Libya, and Is­ mail el Azhari of Sudan) .

zhou took a conciliatory tone toward the nationalist rhetoric of the conference and even begged those leaders who had a religious orienta­ tion to be tolerant toward his atheism. 1 8 The pacific approach by the Chinese delegation reflected the general Chinese Communist orienta­ tion toward foreign and domestic policy in that brief period from the 1 940s until the early rumbles of the cultural Revolution in the 1 960s. 19 Right after 1 949, when the Chinese Communists came to power, they cultivated a "democratic coalition" of peasants, workers, and intellectu­ als to strengthen and broaden their support and power base (Mao Tse­ tung encouraged the Communists on this line with the slogan "Don' t hit out in too many directions" ) .

If the Communists within China found alliances among the peas­ antry and some fractions of the middle class, they had a harder time on the international stage. The clash with the Soviet Union from the 1 930s onward continued after 1 949, and intensified after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1 953. The Sino-Soviet divide isolated China on a world stage otherwise predisposed to shun Communists. The United S tates rattled its sabers across the Sea of China over Formosa (later Taiwan) and Ko­ rea. In late 1 950, the Chinese government acted impetuously to defend the Korean people by sending its troops across the Yalu River into the conflict on the peninsula. The USSR had discouraged this, mainly be­ cause it had invested itself in detente with the First World. China re­ jected the "camp" divisions of the Cold War, and found itself isolated from its natural ally in the USSR, and later the Warsaw Pact. China was entirely encircled by hostile powers-the USSR to the north and west, and the U.S.-initiated military pacts on either end . In addition, there was no one to argue China's case at the United Nations because its seat was held by the government of Formosa. That the Chinese Communists re­ sisted the idea that the darker nations should be divided into the spheres of influence of the two powers made it a principled ally of the Third World . China, it seemed to say, stood for independence and self­ determination, not detente and division. Apart from principles alone, the Third World had something tangible to give China: however differ­ ent in orientation, Bandung provided the terrain to end China's isolation from world opinion and support.


Of the twenty-nine states at the Bandung Conference, six important delegates had recently made military-economic arrangements with the United States and Britain. In 1 954, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand joined with New Zealand, Australia, France, Britain, and the United S tates to form the South East Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO, also known as the Manila Pact), while Iran, Iraq, Pakistan again, and Turkey joined with Britain and the United S tates to create the Central Treaty Organization (also known as the Baghdad Pact) . At Bandung, the Pakistani, Thai, and Filipino delegates defended these pacts on the ground that they protected the " small or weak nations" from domestic and international Communism. As Romulo put it, "The empires of yesterday on which it used to be said the sun never set are de­ parting one by one from Asia. What we fear now is the new empire of communism on which we know the sun never rises. "2o Mohammed Ali of Pakistan also defended the pacts on the basis of the " right to self­ defense, exercised singly or collectively" because of what he called "new and more invidious forms of imperialism that masquerade in the guise of 'liberation.' " 21 The two major papers on the two sides of the Atlantic, the New York Times and the London Times, gave the speeches of Ali, Romulo, and Kotelawala a great deal of space. The U.S . paper cheered these three leaders, and found it "gratifying to the West to hear a strong championship of liberty of thought and action," and see them put colonialism "into the right perspective, " which is to move the blame from European and U.S . imperialism to communismY

The pro-First World states at Bandung shared at least one thing in common: they were ruled by weak national bourgeoisies that had militant mass movements within which threatened their own legitimacy and power. The Filipino regime of Manuel Roxas and later Ramon Magsaysay, under whom Romulo served, was challenged by the Huk Rebellion of 1 946-54, a mass uprising that took up arms against the new government and its U.S . backers. With arms from Truman, Magsaysay's military dispatched the rebels just before the powers gathered in Manila to sign the SEATO treatyY Thailand had reason to fear a Communist rebellion, for its own undemocratic regime had been challenged from within and its region had been rocked by a popular Communist insur­ gency in Malaysia that ran from 1 948 to 1 960, only to be suppressed by an aggressive British carpet-bombing campaign.24 In 1 95 1 , the three­ year-old Pakistani Communist Party joined with anti-imperialist offi­ cers in a failed coup that led to the party' s suppression (by 1 954, it moved underground). Iraq and Iran, too, had strong left parties that


offered an alternative to the landed leadership which had taken power after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the region. Indeed, Iraq at this time had the largest Communist Party in the Arab lands. This pres­ sure conjoined with the U S SR to the north led many of these regimes to seek shelter under the military umbrella of the United S tates.

The blocs had much more than a military function because they worked to transform the social and political system of the states that yoked their destiny to the United States.25 The "security zone" created by the United States gave many of these states a security guarantee from Washington, DC , for a price: the creation of U.S . military bases in these countries, and the opening up of their markets to U.S . firms. As the U.S . journalist I .F. Stone observed, "Pax Americana i s the internationalism of S tandard oil, Chase Manhattan, and the Pentagon."26 By this analy­ sis, the independence of the newly liberated parts of the world was being curtailed not just by the military alliances but more important by the further integration of places like the Philippines, Pakistan, and Turkey into the economic plans of the First World's global corporations as well as the dynamic of "free market" capitalism that benefited these eco­ nomic behemoths.

When Romulo gave the Weil Lecture on American Citizenship at the University of North Carolina, and when he wrote in the New York Times Magazine, shortly after Bandung, he used both forums to offer a stern rebuke of U.S. economic policy. There is a Marshall plan for Europe, he told his audience in Chapel Hill, but only "chicken feed" for Asia. "What is worse," he stated in the Times, "it comes with the accompani­ ment of senatorial lectures on how we must be grateful and how imper­ ative it is for us to realize the advantages of the American way of life. And so on. Must Asia and Africa be content with crumbs and must we be told what a great favor is being conferred on us? " 27 Not only does the U.S . government provide meager aid, and not only does it favor its global corporations to ride rampant on the Third world, but it disfig­ ures the global agricultural markets with its "dumping of American sur­ plus products in Asia, such as rice. " This has "done irreparable harm to surplus-rice producing countries like Thailand ."28 Even allies like the Philippines could not easily stomach the economic arrangements of Pax Americana.

The heart of the Third World was in the hands of Sukarno, Nehru, U Nu, and Nasser. All four of them chided their colleagues for their formal association with the two major powers; they spoke against pacts and allegiances that divided the world into the toxic Cold War. On


September 29, 1 954, Nehru had explained his position on military pacts at length before the Indian house of the people. India had been invited to join the Manila Pact, yet it had refused principally because the In­ dian government felt that the military pact was not so much a defensive treaty but a way for the major powers to exercise their influence. Why are Britain and the United S tates part of the "defensive area" of South­ east Asia, Nehru asked? It is not because they are part of the region but because they want to use SEATO to exercise their influence on the do­ mestic and international relations of the pact countries. The " Manila Treaty is inclined dangerously in the direction of the spheres of influ­ ence to be exercised by powerful countries. After all, it is the big and powerful countries that will decide matters and not the two or three weak and small Asian countries that may be allied to them." 29 At Ban­ dung, Nehru bore the brunt of the objections from more than half the delegates whose countries had joined one or more pacts. He soldiered on, joined by the Burmese, the Indonesians, the Egyptians, the Syrians, the Cambodians, the North Vietnamese, the Laotians, and the repre­ sentatives of the Gold Coast and Yemen. "I submit to you," he told the political committee at Bandung, "every pact has brought insecurity and not security to the countries which have entered into them. They have brought the danger of atomic bombs and the rest of it nearer to them than would have been the case otherwise." 3o

Not only were there at least three different centers of opinion at Ban­ dung but there were also areas of Africa and Asia that had not been in­ vited to the conference. As the publisher of the New York Times noted, "The meeting is not truly regional. Australia and New Zealand are, for example, more intimately concerned with its problems than is the Gold Coast. Nationalist China, the two Koreas, Israel and South Africa have been excluded ."3 1 The same paper had no problem with the involvement of the United S tates and Britain in the regional pacts centered around Manila and Baghdad, perhaps because these two states already had a presumptive global role, whereas the darker nations should aspire to nothing more than a strictly local ambit. Kotelawala offered the pithiest reason for the exclusion of the republic of South Africa: "I can't go there. Why in the devil should I invite them?" 32 Apartheid disqualified South Africa' s government from fellowship with the nascent Third World . Israel suffered the same fate as Formosa because both had the reputation of being too beholden to the colonial powers and insuf­ ficiently driven by the dynamic of anticolonialism.33 Nevertheless, other pro-American states did get invited to and participated fully in


Bandung: Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and South Vietnam. Bandung also left out the two Koreas, which had recently been in conflict, and all the Soviet Cen­ tral Asian republics and Outer Mongolia, because they had an intimate relationship with Moscow.

What did Bandung accomplish? At Bandung, the representatives of the formerly colonized countries signaled their refusal to take orders from their former colonial masters; they demonstrated their ability to discuss international problems and offer combined notes on them. In this regard, Bandung did create the format for what would eventually become the Afro-Asian and then Afro-Asian-Latin American group in the United Nations. A fragment of this group (twelve Arab-Asian states) offered their first such feint at the United Nations during the 1 949 debate over the state of the Italian empire, and then, in force in Decem­ ber 1 950, to insist that the major powers (particularly the United States) agree to a ceasefire in Korea.34 Nehru, in the Indian Parliament after Bandung, underscored the importance of the United Nations after the conference: "We believe that from Bandung our great organization, the United Nations, has derived strength. This means in turn that Asia and Africa must play an increasing role in the conduct and destiny of the world organization."35 The final communique at Bandung demanded that the United Nations admit all those formerly colonized states, such as Libya and Vietnam, then denied admission into its body ("For effec­ tive cooperation for world peace, membership in the United Nations should be universal" ) .36 The creation of this UN bloc over time would be the most important accomplishment of Bandung-notably because this bloc would, alongside the socialist one, be the bulwark against " dol­ lar imperialism" and offer an alternative model for development.

Bandung is best remembered, among those who have any memory of it, as one of the milestones of the peace movement. Whatever the orien­ tation of the states, they agreed that world peace required disarmament. During Europe' s domestic era of relative peace ( 1 8 1 5-1 9 1 4) , the part of the planet under its control grew from a third to 85 percent, and Eu­ rope' s military technology exerted itself on much of this newly con­ quered terrain. From the 1 856 bombardment of Canton by British forces to the 1 9 1 3 Spanish aerial bombardment of Morocco, the colo­ nized world already knew what the weapons of mass destruction could do. The colonized also knew how such weapons cultivated a detached sadism among those who had their fingers on the trigger. English author R.P. Hearne, who had written a children' s book called The Romance of


the Airplane, wrote in Airships in Peace and War ( 1 9 1 0) , " In savage lands the moral effect of such an instrument of war [the air bomber] is impos­ sible to conceive. The appearance of the airship would strike terror into the tribes," for these planes can deliver " sharp, severe and terrible pun­ ishment, " and save " the awful waste of life occasioned to white troops by expeditionary work. "37 Hearne's thoughts are not idle, for aerial bombardment had become standard policy whether by the Italians in North Africa, the British in India and Iraq, the Americans in Nicaragua, or the Spanish in the Basque country or Morocco.

The racist disregard for human life occasioned a long discussion at Bandung on disarmament. In the conference communique, the dele­ gates argued that the Third World had to seize the reins of the horses of the apocalypse. The Third World had a "duty toward humanity and civilization to proclaim their support for disarmament."38 As the nuclear powers dithered over talks, the Third World called on the United Na­ tions to insist on dialogue and the creation of a regime to monitor arms control . The Disarmament Sub-Committee of the United Nations had been formed as a result of Indian (and Third World) initiative in the General Assembly in 1 953, to "lift from the peoples of the world [ the] burden and [the] fear [of annihilation] , and thus to liberate new energies and resources for positive programmes of reconstruction and develop­ ment."39 When the United Nations finally created the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1 957, its charter followed that of the final communique at Bandung, which asked the powers to "bring about the regulation, limitation, control and reduction of all armed forces and armaments, including the prohibition of the production, experimenta­ tion and use of all weapons of mass destruction, and to establish effec­ tive international controls to this end."40 The IAEA, in other words, is a child of BandungY

None of the flamboyance of the delegates on nuclear war is exagger­ ated. The United States had tested nuclear devices in 1 945, and used them on two Japanese cities; the USSR had tested them in 1 949, and the United Kingdom had done so in 1 952. Besides that, the use of massive aerial bombardment over Japan and Germany as well as elsewhere had created a world marked by the expectation of eventual annihilation. The Bandung states not only confessed to being outgunned in any future conflict but also pleaded for the sanity of disarmament. The 1 952 UN Disarmament Commission did not allay many fears, because most peo­ ple knew that the United States came to the table to undermine Soviet claims, that the First World had no desire to cut back on its military


prowess; indeed, in November of that year, the United S tates exploded its first thermonuclear device and further accelerated the arms race.42

That did not stop the Third World, which, led by India, proposed a four-point plan for disarmament to the United Nations in 1 956. As a first step, the two major nuclear powers (the United States and the U S SR) would have to suspend their experimental explosions. Second, the two powers should dismantle a few bombs to begin a process of total disar­ mament of nuclear weapons. The two powers should then come to the UN General Assembly and publicly declare their renunciation of nu­ clear weapons. Finally, all countries must publish their military budgets so as to have transparency in this great waste of social labor.

The struggle against colonialism had been both bloody and brutal, and the people of the Bandung states had lost lives even as they gained homelands. They knew the cost of war as much as anyone else, but more important, they had experienced the power of nonviolence to help shape the world. The obvious leader here was India, where the freedom movement had been shaped since the mid- 1 9 1 0s by ahimsa, mass non­ violent civil disobedience. Even those who had once taken to the bomb, such as the revolutionary Bhagat Singh, came to realize the power of nonviolence, as in his 1 930 statement, "u se of force justifiable when re­ sorted to as a matter of terrible necessity. Non-violence as policy indis­ pensable for all mass movements. "43 That India and Ghana, among others, could emerge out of colonialism by the use of nonviolence had an impact at Bandung-although the Third World had not yet been fully marked by the development of the armed nationalist movements in Algeria and Cuba, both of which were liberated by the gun. Until Ban­ dung, at any rate, nonviolence had a prestige, and for Nehru to propa­ gate the "Five Principles of Peaceful Co-Existence" had a gravity that might not have been allowed by the Bandung powers without India's ability to exert pain and social costs on the British Empire.

The Third world, however, remained vulnerable on at least two counts. The Bandung states continued to hoard weapons-a fact that led many to charge them with hypocrisy. Both India and Pakistan had already embarked on a catastrophic arms race after their first war in 1 947-48. Regional conflicts and invasions by imperialist powers (such as the Anglo-French-Israeli assault on Egypt in 1 956) made the need for "defense" second nature in these states. While the Bandung states made various shades of a strategic decision to maintain armies, they proposed a planetary transformation in the way states dealt with each other­ indeed, they demanded that the major powers take the lead to give teeth


to the United Nations' s role as peacemaker, to allow fellowship to be the basis for interstate relations rather than detente.44 Second, one of the Bandung powers, china, had decided in 1 955 (during the Taiwan S trait crisis) to develop nuclear weapons. chairman Mao had once called nu­ clear weapons a "paper tiger, " but now it seemed as if China wanted one of its own. The other Bandung states made many attempts to pre­ vent China from its pact with the atom, but they failed . The pursuit went all the way to the eve of China's test explosion in 1 964, as the delegates at the second Conference of Non-Aligned S tates in Cairo tried to "per­ suade China to desist from developing nuclear weapons."45 The chi­ nese turn to the bomb and the persistence of conflict between the Bandung states significantly undermined the otherwise-strong moral challenge posed by the Third World to the radioactive Cold War.

Bandung' s final communique did not open with disarmament or colonialism but with "economic cooperation. " Amid the crucial points on bilateral trade and liaisons from one state to another, the points showed a determined effort by the Bandung states to stave off the impe­ rialist pressure brought on them not so much by direct colonialism but by finance capital and the comparative advantages given to the First World by the legacy of colonialism. The communique called for the creation of a Special UN Fund for Economic Development (S UNFED) and for an International Finance Corporation to ensure the regulation of predatory capital flows. It envisaged the creation of a UN Permanent Advisory Commission on International Commodity Trade and en­ couraged its peers to diversify their export trade. Under colonial condi­ tions, the darker nations had been reduced to being providers of raw materials and consumers of manufactured goods produced in Europe and the United States. The Bandung proposals called for the formerly colonized states to diversify their economic base, develop indigenous manufacturing capacity, and thereby break the colonial chain. SUN­ FED and the other UN bodies had been drafted with the view to enable these developments.

These moderate proposals came after a preamble written to settle any fears among international financiers that the Third World had "gone so­ cialist," and yet, these proposals chilled the financial press in Europe and the United States. But even the most anticommunist among the Bandung delegates supported the idea of some autarky for the Third World from the immense power of the First World. When Romulo left the Bretton Woods Conference that set up the international financial system, he did so in anger at the manner in which the First World states "had already


set themselves up to be the ones to decide what the economic pattern of the postwar world should be.,, 46 The near-universal acclaim for the for­ mation of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 1 964 is evidence of the widespread agreement within the Third World on some anti-imperialist strategy for economic development.

The most powerful agreement at Bandung came over "cultural co­ operation." The lack of agreement on the nature of the global political economy resulted in a weak combined position. Progressive nation­ alisms drew from the class interests of those who predominated in their various societies. What united these various classes, however, was a forthright condemnation of the indignity of imperialism' s cultural chauvinism. The unity on this theme far exceeded that on the political economy. For the decade before Bandung, UNESCO had sponsored a crucial study of racism and racial attitudes in different cultural tradi­ tions. The work produced a series of important monographs, including works by the anthropologist Claude Levi-S trauss and the psychologist Marie Jahoda. UNESC O's work had grown from the post-Holocaust insight that race is not only a biological fiction but that its mobilization in world history had torn people asunder. At Bandung, the twenty-nine new states condemned " racialism as a means of cultural suppression." Imperial racism, they argued, "not only prevents cultural cooperation but also suppresses the national cultures of the people."47 Empires gen­ erally attempt to direct the cultural history of a people-to set one com­ munity against another (divide and rule) , adopt one group as the leader above the rest, or else disdain the cultural traditions of a region and pro­ pose its substitution by the empire' s own cultural traditions, at least for a select few. The Bandung twenty-nine demanded an end to this use of cultural richness for purposes of domination. But they went further, en­ joining the world to learn about each other's cultures, to demand that the darker nations not only find out about European culture but that each of the twenty-nine and beyond learn about everyone' s cultural his­ tory. The communique directed the countries toward " the acquisition of knowledge of each other's country, mutual cultural exchange, and ex­ change of information." This was not to be only in the arts but in all as­ pects of culture, including science and technology.48

From Belgrade to Tokyo, from Cairo to Dar es Salaam, politicians and intellectuals began to speak of the "Bandung Spirit." What they meant was simple: that the colonized world had now emerged to claim its space in world affairs, not just as an adjunct of the First or Second worlds, but as a player in its own right. Furthermore, the Bandung


Spirit was a refusal of both economic subordination and cultural suppression-two of the major policies of imperialism. The audacity of Bandung produced its own image.

Nowhere was the impact felt strongest than in Moscow, among the newly installed leaders who took charge after the 1 953 death of Stalin. Nikita Khrushchev and Nicolay Aleksandrovich Bulganin went on a ma­ jor world tour, beginning in Yugoslavia, then going to India and Burma. Nehru and U Nu visited Moscow, and Nasser went to Yugoslavia-all this as the U S SR increased its economic aid to the newly aggressive na­ tional bourgeois states of Africa and Asia. The visit of the Soviet lead­ ers to Marshal Tito in Yugoslavia sent a signal that they had decided to change their tenor on the new nations.49 Tito had already become close to many of the Bandung twenty-nine states, having visited India, Burma, Egypt, and Ethiopia. On Belgrade radio at the end of the con­ ference, Tito offered his verdict: "The number of Asiatic and African countries participating in the conference, and the huge interest in the conference in Asia and Africa show that a crossroads of history has been reached in the sense that those peoples are determined to decide their own fate as far as possible. " 50 Tito would soon join the main players in the Third World to help decide this fate. In the joint declaration of the Soviets and the Yugoslavians on June 2, 1 955, they affirmed the concept of the Third World, welcomed the successful conclusion of the Ban­ dung Conference, and noted that the conference had made a significant advance for the cause of world peace.51 Finally, the U S SR allowed its al­ lies, such as the Czech government, to sell arms to the Egyptians, and it too consolidated economic ties with the Bandung states.

Dramatically, in 1 956, the twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) rejected its earlier two-camp theory of the world. The congress reiterated the position taken by Nehru and U Nu at Bandung, and by Nasser in Cairo. It noted that the camp theory provided a vision of the world that suggested that war was the only so­ lution to the division, that across the abyss of the divide there could be no conversation and dialogue toward peace. For that reason, the con­ gress adopted the notion of the "zone of peace, " to include all states that pledged themselves to a reduction of force on behalf of a peace agenda. The congress included in the zone of peace the socialist Second World and what it called "uncommitted states" -that is, the non-aligned Third World.52

The Soviet motivations for this transformed role in world affairs are complex. Some argue that the new leadership of the CPSU had revised


the previous commitment to the working class in the formerly colonized world and had now shifted its allegiance to the national bourgeoisie. The Soviet leadership, then, can be seen to be motivated by a desire to undo the postwar Soviet era of lax support for the nationalist movements, and therefore, the interest in expanding socialism by alliance rather than by social revolution. Others contend that the policy is motivated less by any general theory of world revolution, and more by the influence of the Chinese in the Third World . The USSR's shift occurred, by this logic, more in the context of the growing Sino-Soviet split than in any ideolog­ ical congruence with the Third World's agenda.53

If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, then the Soviet adoption of the idea of "non-alignment," for whatever reason, tasted far better in the darker nations than the First World's disdain for it. The newly in­ stalled British government of Anthony Eden showed open hostility to what it termed "neutralism." Before Bandung, Eden, then foreign secre­ tary, had urged his ambassadors in African and Asian countries that re­ viled Communism to send delegations to Indonesia with the purpose of putting up a show against the Chinese as well as to secure the formerly colonized world into a relationship with the First World . 54 Eden, who in 1 938 had urged European powers to "effectively assert whi te-race au­ thority in the Far East," projected Britain' s hope for continued imperial power, even as it had already become an extension of the United States.55 The Anglo-French invasion of Egypt in 1 956 sealed the attitude of the Third World toward Britain, and even Ceylon (at Bandung, very pro-First World) joined the Burmese, Indonesians, and Indians in a November 1 2, 1 956, condemnation of the assault.

The United States had an even more hostile attitude toward Bandung from the start. Indeed, when U.S . congressperson Adam Clayton Pow­ ell Jr. decided to attend the conference, the U.S. State Department not only tried to dissuade him but, as Powell told the press, advised him to " stay away from the U.S . Embassy and U.S . Ambassador Hugh S . Cummings Jr., because his association with the U.S. Embassy would give an official flavor to his presence." Twenty-four hours after Powell arrived in Indonesia, however, he was asked by the State Department to go to the embassy because, as Powell put it, otherwise " Communist propaganda would say that the U.S . State Department was discriminating against a member of Congress because he is a Negro. " Powell refused to stay in the embassy, in protest. "This conference is not anti-white," Powell told a news conference, "but it was anti-American foreign policy and it could become an anti-white movement unless a narrow-minded


and unskilled American foreign policy is revised ." When he returned from Bandung, he could not get a meeting with the S tate Department, to which he had wanted to bring information about Saudi funds for rebels in North Africa.56

After Bandung, the u.S. foreign policy establishment took a strong position against what it called "neutralism." If a state decided to reject the two-camp approach of the United States and the USSR, then it was considered not to have a position of its own but to be neutral . In 1 952, the U.S . planners had declared that neutralism was, according to Secre­ tary of S tate Dean Acheson, "a shortcut to suicide," and as conflict broke out in the neutral world, the U S SR might "force the maximum number of non-Communist countries to pursue a neutral policy and to deny their resources to the principle Western powers." 57 Ambassador Douglas MacArthur warned the United S tates that the Bandung Spirit might move Japan, a crucial geopolitical ally, to neutralism; the United States might lose its naval bases, and to prevent this, should treat Japan with more respect.58 Following John Foster Dulles' s trip to East Asia for a SEATO meeting in 1 958, the National Security Council deliberated and created a policy on mainland Southeast Asia. The document had to admit that the states in the region valued their independence above all else. The U.S . government, it noted, should " respect each country' s choice of national policy for preserving its independence, but make every effort to demonstrate the advantages of greater cooperation and closer alignment with the Free world, as well as the dangers of align­ ment with the Communist bloc." The United States must tie these states into interdependence with its own economy ("Provide flexible eco­ nomic and technical assistance as necessary to attain U.S. objectives" ) , i ts cultural institutions ("Make a special, sustained effort to help educate an expanding number of technically competent, pro-Western civilian and military leaders") , and its military power ("Maintain, in the general area of the Far East, U.S . forces adequate to exert a deterrent influence against Communist aggression, in conformity with current basic na­ tional security policy" ) . 59

The Third World dominated Bandung-that is, those powers that sought to create a non-aligned space from which to critique both the camp mentality and the rush to war won the battle to define Bandung' s legacy. Nasser, Nehru, and U Nu held the stage, not Romulo or Kotelawala. When U Nu traveled to Washington, DC , in 1 955, he told the National Press club that the UN Charter "is in effect one great mu­ tual security pact." Like Sukarno, U Nu came from a patriotic family of


some means who had been swept up in the early struggles against British rule in Burma. If Sukarno made an attempt to align Marxism and nationalism with Islam, U Nu spent his youth trying to develop a Buddhist-Communist-nationalist synthesis. In the late 1 930s, U Nu wrote an article titled " I Am a Marxist," which asked, "How can people who starve and have to struggle from day to day for their very existence practice religion? " Such adverse conditions for Buddhism meant that " to help work for Marxism would be to repay our gratitude to Buddha for his suffering in all his aeons of existences for the benefit of mankind." 60 U Nu played a leading role in the Anti-Fascist Organiza­ tion created in 1 944 to fight the Japanese Occupation, and it, along with General Aung San' s Burma National Army, became the vehicle for Burmese independence in 1 948. A shaky relationship with the Burmese Communist Party, Communist China, and the U.S.-backed Kuomintang army that camped in large parts of Burma strengthened U Nu's belief in a third way apart from the two-camp division of the world. The United Nations, in which the Third World played a unique role, would not be neutral in conflicts but would actively oppose them. "A divided world stands in greater need of a common forum to discuss differences than a world united," U Nu said in Washington. For this reason, " I believe that if the United Nations did not exist today, the world would be working feverishly to establish it or something like it." 61 The Third World and its vehicle, the United Nations, would not be neutral but would be actively against the polarization of the world.

On September 24, 1 996, the UN secretary general Boutros Boutros­ Ghali addressed a commemorative meeting of NAM. The seed of this movement had been sown at Bandung, Boutros-Ghali noted. "At Ban­ dung, the birth of non-alignment was an act of stunning, world­ transfixing boldness. Freed from the shackles of colonial oppression, the non-aligned stepped onto the international stage, raising a new voice for all the world to hear. International politics were fundamentally and for­ ever transformed." Boutros-Ghali' s enthusiasm was anachronistic. It would probably have made sense in the late 1 950s, but by the 1 990s, the Bandung Spirit had withered and the United Nations was not what it could have been. The Bandung Spirit could have changed international politics, and it certainly made every attempt to do so, but as we shall see below, it did fail . I ts failure, however, cannot be sought in its ideals alone.

A young socialist trained in Paris, Boutros-Ghali returned to Cairo in 1 949 to teach at its main university, edit a business weekly (al-Ahram Iktisadi ), write a book on Afro-Asian political solidarity in 1 969, and


struggle in his early years to move Nasser' s Egypt toward justice and so­ cialism.62 When Boutros-Ghali lectured in the law faculty, Nasser re­ turned from Bandung and announced that the conference was "one of the two most important events of modern history" (the other was atomic energy) .63 Nasser' s enthusiasm for the Bandung Spirit was soured by the events of September 1 955, when he linked Bandung to the Czech sales of arms to the Egyptians. For Nasser, the independence signaled at Bandung had to be protected by arms, an early perversion of the Third World agenda. Enthusiastically, Nasser wanted Bandung II to be held in Cairo, and even though it wasn't, Cairo became the favored destination for a host of Afro-Asian solidarity meetings, from the Economic Conference in 1 958 to the Medical Conference in 1 964. But most important for a movement that had begun to be represented by men, the Bandung dy­ namic hosted the Afro-Asian Women's Conference in Cairo in 1 96 1 .


Unlike Bandung, Cairo in the 1 950s had the feeling of a defiant city on a war footing, ready to take on the First World with rhetoric or guns, if necessary. In 1 952, a group of young officers in the Egyptian army seized power. Organized by Lieutenant colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Free Officers forced out a monarchy long tainted by corruption and sub­ servience to European interests. The Free Officers represented all the major strains of Egyptian political life. There were old-school national­ ists of the Wafd Party, members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Com­ munists, and also aristocrats who had lost faith in King Farouk. The diversity was a testament to the organizational capacity of Nasser, who understood the necessity for broad unity in the fight against the monar­ chy. Most of the officers who joined and supported the coup came because it represented the aspirations of the "new middle class" of bu­ reaucratic and technical workers. The ideology of Pan-Arabism and the secular Turkish lineage of Kemal Ataturk appealed to their ideas about Egyptian modernity. Initially, the officers had hoped to assassinate a slew of monarchists and paralyze the government. As Nasser drove away from a failed bid to kill General Hussein Sirri Amer, he heard " the sounds of screaming and wailing. I heard a woman crying, a child terrified, and a continuous, frightened call for help. " l Rather than kill Amer, the offi­ cers had hit some innocents. "We dream of the glory of our nation," Nasser later wrote, "but which is the better way to bring it about-to eliminate those who should be eliminated, or to bring forward those who should be brought forward? "2 The holstered gun alongside the mass ral­ lies would become the preferred instrument of revolution.


Nasser took charge of the revolution and made from the many lineages that produced it the ideology of Arab Socialism. The United States and Europe did not reciprocate Egypt's request for assistance, so Nasser's government turned to the USSR and its allies. Nasser goaded the French further with his support for the Algerian FLN; indeed, Egypt became one of the FLN's principle supporters in its fight against French colonialism. The United States revoked its agreement to finance the Aswan Dam, and Nasser retaliated by seizing the Suez Canal, then owned by a French company.3 In late 1 956, an Anglo-French-Israeli ex­ peditionary force landed in Suez to counter this, and the Egyptians fought back valiantly, only to be saved in the last instance by U.S. , USSR, and Third World condemnations of the assault. The streets of Cairo overflowed with the voice of the diva of the East Umm Kulthum, singing Misr Tatahaddath 'an Nafsiha (Egypt Speaks of Herself) and Misr allati ji khatiri wa-ji Dami (Egypt, which is in my mind and in my blood), or else,

He taught us how to build glory.

So that we conquered the world.

Not through hope will the prize be obtained.

The world must be taken through struggle.

Nasser embodied the hopes of the Egyptians and the Arabs for sev­ eral years after the coup of 1 952, and when he returned from Bandung, he brought with him news that the world looked to Egypt for leader­ ship against the barbarism of the Cold War. The Egyptian government opened its doors to the Afro-Asian solidarity organizations, especially by being the secretariat of numerous Afro-Asian and non-aligned insti­ tutions. Cairo became the headquarters of the movement, the host to a number of important conferences and conclaves, and the meeting place for Arab nationalists from across North Africa and West Asia.4

In late December 1 957, Cairo hosted the Afro-Asian People' s Solidarity Conference, the next major event after Bandung. Forty-five African and Asian countries sent their delegates-double the number at Bandung. While Bandung welcomed a diverse set of views, this confer­ ence took a partisan position against the First world-coming as it did just after Suez, and in the wake of the acerbic comments on decoloniza­ tion by political leaders from Britain (Anthony Eden) and the United States (John Foster Dulles) . Anwar es-Sadat, then Nasser's closest ad­ viser, played host to the conference. In his welcome address, Sadat


accepted the Bandung flame for Cairo. Delegates from newly liberated countries joined leaders of ongoing national liberation movements (no­ tably from the world of the Portuguese colonies) .

What also separated this conference from Bandung was the presence of women not only in the hall but also at the podium. One of the three plenary addresses came from the Gandhian Rameshwari Nehru, whose social reform work in India later earned her the Lenin Peace Prize ( 1 96 1 ) . The most remarkable figure at the conference, however, came from Egypt itself. Aisha Abdul-Rahman was born into a devout family from the Damietta Port region of northern Egypt in 1 9 1 3 . Her father taught at a local theological institute, while her great grandfather had been the grand imam of al-Azhar in the nineteenth century. With the encouragement of her mother and grandfather, Abdul-Rahman studied through correspondence courses (her father would not allow her to go to school) . In 1 929, through the mail, Abdul-Rahman earned the first teacher's qualification from al-Azhar University (women were only allowed on the campus in 1 964) . At age twenty-one, Abdul-Rahman en­ rolled in King Faud I (later Cairo) University, from which she earned a phD in early Arabic literature. The university initially only allowed foreign women to attend a few classes, but thanks to a progressive rec­ tor, Ahmad Lutfi al-Sayyid, five women matriculated in 1 929. Sohair al­ Qalamawy, a pioneering Egyptian advocate for women's rights, was one of them.5 She would soon be followed by Abdul-Rahman. Long before she earned her doctorate, Abdul-Rahman had become a household name among literate circles as a popular columnist for Egypt's leading newspaper, Al-Ahram. Pointed criticisms of both the monarchy and the Nasserite dictatorship came alongside several books on Arab women poets as well as her own poetry. Protected by her editor, Mohammad Heikal, Nasser' s friend and ideological anchor, Abdul-Rahman contin­ ued to openly criticize elements of the state that bothered her.6 In 1 957, as both a journalist and a professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at Ain Shams University in Cairo, Abdul-Rahman offered one of the main speeches at the conference.

The history of national liberation movements, Abdul-Rahman pointed out, often ignores the central role played by women in them, and in the liberation of women by the struggle. "The renaissance of the East­ ern woman has always coincided with liberation movements," for libera­ tion from imperialism meant that "women were emancipated from the fetters of social slavery and escaped from moral death." Within the con­ fines allowed by imperialism, "women remained the victim of ignorance,


isolation and slavery." Since national liberation movements, for all their machismo and lack of appreciation for the role of women, still operate on the assumption that everyone has to be liberated, this conceit proves valu­ able to women who can take advantage of the opening to press for their social dignity and political rights. "The success of these revolutions de­ pends on the liberation of the enslaved half, on rescuing women from paralysis, unemployment and inaction and eliminating the differences between the two halves of the nation-its men and women."7

Abdul-Rahman makes an underestimated point about the linkage be­ tween anticolonial nationalism and women' s liberation.8 There is noth­ ing that stops the former from reproducing various patriarchal ideas. Yet most of the anticolonial movements relied on women, and several of them had put women's concerns on their freedom agenda. In 1 9 1 9, Egyptian women of all classes took to the streets of Cairo to protest the British crackdown on demonstrations for a free Egypt. The women cut telephone wires and disrupted railway lines to stall the ability of the British troops who relied on them, and they attacked prisons to free their comrades. The British set aside their good manners and fired on the women radicals. Several of the women died, notably Shafika Mo­ hamed, Hamida Khalil, Sayeda Hassan, Fahima Riad, Aisha Omar, and also, as the feminist writer Nawal EI-Saadawi notes, the hundreds of poor women who "lost their lives without anybody being able to trace their names. ,, 9

During the major mass protests in India in 1 905, 1 909, 1 9 1 9, 1 920-2 1 , and 1 930-3 1 , women held the streets. l O Iran' s constitutional movement saw women in public protest from 1 907 to 1 9 1 1 , and again in 1 9 1 9 . I I

Much the same has been documented for women in China, Indo-China, Indonesia, Ghana, and South Africa. 12 These protests, and their contacts with women from other parts of the world, emboldened the bourgeois women to form organizations and exert themselves within the frame­ work of national liberation. 13

Well-heeled Egyptian women formed organizations for women's rights in the aftermath of these cross-class demonstrations. Huda Sha'rawi, from a family of wealth and political power (her father was the speaker of the House of Representatives), became the pioneer of the Egyptian women's movement. She founded the Egyptian Feminist Union in 1 923, established the French-language periodical L 'Egyptienne, and went to Rome for the 1 924 International Conference of Women. Unveiled, Sha'rawi with her comrades Ceza Nabaraoui and Nabawiya Musa let European feminists know that Egyptian women came with a heritage


(wrath) from the Pharaonic era and early Islam that needed to be re­ claimed. At the Rome conference, Sha' rawi reported that the European delegates wanted the Egyptians to be " romantic, ignorant heroines of the European novelists." The idea of the veil kept the real, living strug­ gles of the Egyptians out of the European feminist mind, which "made them ignorant of everything about us. " Yet the Egyptian woman, hid­ den in plain sight, understood European feminism because, as Sha'rawi remarked at the conference, "nothing is more similar to an Oriental woman than a Western woman." 14

Many of the pioneers of the organized women's movement came from the old social classes that had either retained their aristocratic posi­ tions despite or in spite of the pressure from imperialism. A few of the leaders came from the new social classes that had been created by impe­ rialism (military and civilian bureaucrats and merchants) . Sha'rawi's husband, Ali, had been a founder of the Wafd Party, and her father, Sul­ tan Pasha, was one of the richest landowners in Egypt. Abdul-Rahman's family had no such national pretensions, but she nonetheless came from a learned, relatively prosperous section. Women such as these drew their inspiration from the mass action against imperialism that en­ veloped them as well as from their interactions with European women (who were in the midst of their own suffrage campaign) . While they found many allies among the European women, by and large the women of the colonized world experienced a patronizing dismissal. When con­ fronted by the hesitancy of the International Alliance of Women in 1 939, Ceza Nabaraoui wrote, "What did we demand? A little sympathy for the unfortunates who suffer in the East from the wrongs of imperial­ ist policies. " And what did they get? The International Alliance of Women proved " that their magnificent program addresses itself only to certain people of the West," and that they "alone deigned to enjoy lib­ erty. " 1 5 From the contradictions of their privileged locations, bourgeois women like Sha' rawi and Nabaraoui not only put the demand for the franchise on the table but they also created organizations whose subse­ quent history would move far from the salons and into the byways of small villages and towns.

As Sha'rawi and Nabaraoui fought to win the franchise for Egyptian women within the confines of the monarchy, in distant Latin America three women mirrored their work. Amalia Caballero de Castillo Led6n worked in the Alianza de Mujeres de Mexico, Minerva Bernardino worked in the Accion Feminista Dominica, and Bertha Lutz worked for the Brazilian Federation for Feminine Progress. All of them came from


the old social classes, and each pushed a fairly conservative agenda for women' s emancipation. While they fought to get women the vote, these organizations and leaders settled for fairly patriarchal social definitions of family and marriage. The Alianza de Mujeres de Mexico followed after the 1 93 1 National Women's Congress of Workers and Peasants, which had demanded land rights, adult education, and equality for the sexes in unions. Nothing of the sort entered the Alianza de Mujeres, nor did it cross the minds of Accion Feminista or Feminine Progress. 16 Nonetheless, these three women insisted that the phrase " the equal rights of men and women" be inserted into the UN Charter based on the dis­ cussions at the 1 945 Chapultepec gathering and the 1 938 Lima Confer­ ence of Latin American statesY These Latin American delegates, moreover, pushed the United Nations to form the Commission on the Status of Women underneath the UN Economic and Social Commission.

In 1 947, the Commission on the Status of Women adopted its guide­ lines: to "raise the status of women irrespective of nationality, race, lan­ guage, or religion to equality of men in all fields of human enterprise; and to eliminate all discrimination against women in statutory law, legal maxims or rules, or in interpretations of customary law." 18 The guide­ lines meant nothing because they could not go into force. 19 It was not until 1 967 that the UN Economic and Social Commission put forward the "Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women" for a vote to the UN General Assembly, all of this as a prelude to 1 975 becoming the International Women' s Year when Mexico City hosted the first UN conference on women.20 Bourgeois feminism of the Alianza de Mujeres and Feminine Progress variety created a set of important inter­ national institutions and platforms that would be used later by women's rights activists aware of the deep inequality within the Third World . Such activists, who would populate the Afro-Asian meetings, did not emphasize gender struggles outside the broader struggle to create sover­ eign nations and working-class power within these nations.

Anticolonial nationalism drew from all sections of the oppressed population-men and women, working class and merchant-not only for demographic reasons but also because they had adopted the idea of equality. Few of the new states that had experienced anticolonial strug­ gles had a problem with universal adult franchise. In Egypt, women briefly won the vote in the 1 923 Constitution before the monarchy re­ voked their right to the ballot box. In 1 952, after the Free Officers' Rev­ olution, Nasser promised to reinstate the vote. The two main muftis took opposite positions on this, with the Grand Mufti Shakyh Hasanayn


Makhluf against it, and Shaykh Allam Nassar for it. In 1 956, women won the vote again.21 In the Wafd Party's early years in power, Nasser opposed its bourgeois nationalist anxiety with egalitarian democracy (including equality between men and women).22 By the 1 950s, women worked within the framework of the national liberation project because it appeared that it would be able to deliver the groundwork of the even­ tual liberation of women, notably, as Abdul-Rahman put it in 1 957, for the "awakening of consciousness and the will to live. ,, 23

At the 1 957 conference, the Afro-Asian Solidarity Organization created an Afro-Asian Federation for Women.24 The federation sub­ sequently hosted a conference in 1 96 1 , again in Cairo, attended by delegates from thirty-seven countries and movements.25 At this first Afro-Asian Women's Conference, the delegates crafted a more coherent agenda for the struggles of women within the platform of the Third World . Few of the movements that gathered in Cairo in January 1 96 1 saw themselves a s Europe's misbegotten sisters, and fewer still felt that they had no title to the concept of the Third World . They came to insist that their female forebears had fought in the national liberation move­ ments and so earned the right to craft the future. Karima El Said, deputy minister of education in the United Arab Republic, welcomed the dele­ gates from thirty-seven states with this reminder, "The woman was a strong prop in these liberation movements, she struggled with the strug­ glers and she died with the martyrs. "26 In the longer general report to the conference, the writers detailed the efforts of women within national liberation movements, from Vietnam to India, from Algeria to South Africa. " In Afro-Asian countries where people are still suffering under the yoke of colonialism, women are actively participating in the struggle for complete national liberation and independence of their countries. They are convinced that this is the first step for their emancipation and will equip them to occupy their real place in society." 27 That is, partici­ pation in the anticolonial struggles would not only attack one of the impediments to the women's liberation agenda but the contribution it­ self would transform the relations between men and women in the movement and society.28 Not only did women join the guerrilla wars in Algeria, Cuba, Guinea, Indonesia, Kenya, Korea, Oman, Venezuela, Vietnam, and elsewhere but they also helped supply the fighters, aided the injured, and in Egypt, India, Zanzibar, and elsewhere, dominated the street protests.

Imperialism made progress for women nearly impossible.29 Even if women's movements did concentrate on various aspects of oppression,


no women' s organization could afford to ignore the anti-imperialist fight. The sisterhood of those who came to Cairo had been formed in struggle against imperialism, with the expectation that political rights within the independent nation would allow them to take the struggle further. Without political rights, all the other reforms would be mean­ ingless. The state could promise equal education and equal wages, but if women had no political rights, how would they make sure these reforms were enacted and maintained?30

Even the brief history of independence had shown these women' s rights activists that the national liberation state should not be left alone to be magnanimous in its gestures.31 The new states had not been nir­ vana for women. Not only do the two Cairo conferences offer a list of prescriptions, a vision of equal rights for men and women, but within these lists is also an implicit critique of the new states for their failure to promulgate many of these policies. The list demands not only that the new states adopt the new international standards for which they them­ selves fought, such as in the International Labour Organization and other UN bodies, but that they actually implement them. The birth of the na­ tion, Abdul-Rahman reminded the conference, was only " the first step of true solidarity." 32

Every right that the women won was not itself the end of the struggle but helped build the power to further their demands. High on the Third World women' s agenda was the stipulation that women must have choice over marriage: they must be able to dictate if they marry, when they marry, and to whom they marry. "Marriage should be based on the principle of the personal freedom of choice for the spouses concerned," agreed the delegates to the 1 957 conference. If men and women have any problems in their relationship, the state should provide them with "marriage counseling and planned parenthood ." To fight against the idea that marriage is simply about property or progeny, the conference demanded that "drastic measures should be taken to abolish polygamy." To offer women some freedom from the domestic sphere, "working women should be entitled to free medical care during pregnancy and childbirth, and to a suitable holiday with full pay during childbirth." Finally, it was argued, " the right of married women to work must be recognized and guaranteed ."33 Most of the policy demands were not simply for the betterment of everyday life; their purpose as well was to create the power for an engaged civil society that includes women.

Of the rights demanded by women to increase their political capac­ ity, much is already familiar from the 1 920s onward : cultural rights (the


right to equal and free education being the principle one) and social rights (as listed in the previous paragraph).34 A long section of the 1 96 1 Cairo Recommendations on "Equality in the Economic Field" took the point further to argue that if women did not fight for and gain economic rights, they would not be able to be full political citizens. Modern citi­ zenship meant that women should not have to rely on the family unit for their economic well-being but should be full economic partners within the family. The 1 957 conference reiterated the slogan "equal pay for equal work," which reappeared four years later. The 1 96 1 conference offered a detailed vision for feminist struggle in the economic arena, for the right of women to hold any job, gain promotion commensurate to their talents and not gender, have the right to their jobs regardless of pregnancy or convalescence, have vocational and technical training for all types of jobs, and have the right to join and lead trade unions. It de­ manded that contract work be abolished since such work is frequently done by women, without benefits and out of the clear light of legal reg­ ulation. For women agricultural workers, the recommendations called for the " equal distribution of land for those who till it and the guarantee of means of agricultural production."35 Finally, the recommendations included women who do not work for a wage. For them, the conference had two recommendations: that the state try to reduce indirect (sales) taxes on consumer goods and so lighten the burden on household fi­ nances, and that the state find ways to give women income support with­ out making them perform meaningless jobs.

Anticolonial nationalism, even in its reformist incarnations, worried about the woman question. An end to social oppression found its way on to the agenda of national liberation. At its most traditional, such an end looked like the modernization of patriarchy, with the new woman relegated to the domain of the home.36 On the more progressive side of national liberation, one finds many who argued that cultural traditions had ossified under the impact of patriarchy and feudal relations, and any opportunity to redress this had been suffocated by imperialism' s alliance with the old social classes, which benefited from misogyny and status. Women and men, in this model, had to struggle against conservative domesticity, and reconfigure what is to be the public space of the nation and the private domain of the family. As the report on social issues put it, women "participate in the struggle for independence of their coun­ tries and its maintenance so that they may be able to abolish all customs and traditions which are degradatory to the status of women."37 Third World women's rights activists sought to reconfigure the nation in their


interest; to them, in the struggle for justice, the nation was more inclu­ sive than the family, and therefore it was within the horizon of anticolo­ nial nationalism that they dreamed and acted.

Nasserism's relationship to gender relations shows how even a puta­ tively progressive project is prone to conservatism. What advances came for Egyptian women in the Nasser era, writes political scientist Mervat Hatem, were in the guise of a " state feminism." The regime "produced women who were economically independent of their fami­ lies, but dependent on the state for employment, important social ser­ vices like education, health and day care, and political representation."38 This state feminism opened up some space for women in the domain of politics and the economy (apart from the right to vote, the 1 956 Consti­ tution allowed all women the right to education and work) . In 1 957, two women, Aminah shukri and Rawiyah 'Arriyah, won elections to the parliament. Yet the Nasser project remained constrained by social con­ servatism in terms of its attempt to undermine "personal status laws" and patriarchy. In 1 955, the Nasserite regime eliminated the Sharia courts, yet the religious judges remained in newly constituted personal status courts. The weak vanguard within Nasserism remained the Min­ istry of Social Welfare (led by Hikmat Abu Zeid), which unsuccessfully tried to raise the question of personal laws in the National Assembly in 1 958. In the context of state feminism, where some gains had been reg­ istered, Abdul-Rahman put her faith in the nation as a political vehicle for the struggle against monarchy, tradition, and empire. Two years af­ ter the Cairo conference, the Ministry of Social Welfare took up some of its topics in a conference on women and work, where the theme of women's economic independence (including in the arena of family planning) dominated. This was an outcome of Cairo, 1 96 1 .

More militant national liberation formations such as the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGe) had problems other than that of a neopatriarchal state. They registered the hesitancy of their male comrades toward the reconstruction of the fam­ ily as an institution. Liberation for women is good theoretically, they al­ lowed, "but in my home? Never! "39 Such attitudes did not faze fighters like Teodora Ignacia Gomes, who laid out the logic of women's rights in the national liberation frame:

First of all, women must fight together with men against colonial­ ism and all systems of exploitation. Secondly, and this is one of the most fundamental points, every woman must convince herself


that she can be free and that she has to be free. And that she is able to do all things that men do in social and political life. And thirdly, women must fight in order to convince men that she has naturally the same rights as he has. But she must understand that the funda­ mental problem is not the contradiction between women and men, but it is the system in which we are living.4o

6 1

The progressive side of anticolonial national liberation not only dreamed of equality but also tried to construct a program for equality based on the history of economic exploitation and cultural suppression. From Buenos Aires came the economist who stitched the economic cri­ tiques and anticipations into a doctrine, and it is to him and those who gathered his ideas into action that I now turn.