West Africa, not Alsace: Is it worth it?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Jackson Lennock, Apr 13, 2018.

  1. Mightyboosh5 Well-Known Member

    May 7, 2015
    20th century French governments were pretty unstable otl and leaders could be removed by their party/coalition over small things.

    Does anyone think a 20th century French leader would truly have the internal support needed to grant full rights and citizenship to tens of millions of Africans, most of whom are Muslim?
  2. aurinoko Banned

    Feb 9, 2018
    I'd have to add that the Quatre Communes was somewhat of an anomaly, and not in any sense viewed as having a broad application. Suffrage - *Not* citizenship- was granted to the residents of the quatre communes in the midst of the radical backdrop of 1848, and was confirmed in almost a bureaucratic inertia in 1873. Ill-defined rights of the African orignaires was often undermined and limited by the governors of Senegal, and later, governor-general of the AOF. Clear definition and of the rights these around 20,000 orignaires' status as a citizen was only reaffirmed by the Diagne law of 1916, made possible under exceptional circumstances, i.e. WWI and conscription drive in West Africa headed by Blaise Diagne himself.

    Now, integrating entirety of West Africa, applying the AOF border, is simply unthinkable. Even Senegal proper is highly doubtful. The reason why Algeria was integrated - "integrate" is a dicey word, millions of Muslim Algerians were most certainly, not integrated- to the metropolitan administration was because of the sizeable European population and future plan to create a settler colony in the region. OTOH, West Africa did not saw any significant settler population, nor were they viewed as a place to be settled in the first place. Even in large urban centers like Saint Louis and later, Dakar, summertime saw a drastic reduction in European population due to perceived hostile climate.

    One of the big myth of French imperialism is this idea of "integrationism" versus British "delegated rule", this is a complete load of bollocks. There was no meaningful effort to "integrate" the Africans to the "French civilization". Even in Algeria, the percentage of "Muslim" pupils in the elementary school during the early 1950s was around 10%. In AOF and even worse, AEF, it would have been in low single digits. It would have been a monumental undertaking and would require an ASB-level change to the "acceptable" level of French political discourses and even French political situation. IMO, even in a situation where French government abandons the Metropole, it wouldn't have happened.
    rfmcdonald and Zagan like this.
  3. Redolegna Hamiltonian Federalist for a more perfect EU

    Jun 17, 2014
    Sétif and Madagascar say otherwise to say nothing of the torture and the actual wars of independence. The building of the Congo-Océan railway line likewise. French rhetoric in its colonialist attempts probably puts it above the other discourses. The reality of it, not so much.

    There is some kernel of truth to it for the groups that benefitted from it. For example, the décret Crémieux did turn all Algerian Jews into French citizens. So if the laws changed, it probably would be put in application. But the whole point of it, really, was to select small groups the better to practice divide and rule, so the laws wouldn't change in the first place.
    aurinoko likes this.
  4. aurinoko Banned

    Feb 9, 2018
    True, décret Crémieux is one of the larger integrationist policy French engaged in. Although I do consider it more in line with loi de 1889, which reinstituted jus soli principle for the French citizenship, giving tens of thousands of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese European settlers of Algeria a French citizenship, compared to something like Blum-Violette proposal. Crémieux decree was certainly more controversial than loi de 1889, but I think the overriding principle; buttressing the European -being fully aware of rampant anti-semitism and repeal of Crémieux decree under the Vichy rule- population of Algeria against the Arab-Berber "Muslim" population stands.
  5. rfmcdonald Well-Known Member

    Aug 30, 2012
    How do you get France to move beyond that? This is the big issue with this idea.

    Seeing in French Africa a possible strategic reserve, counterbalancing the growth of Germany's numbers in Europe with the growth of French numbers in Africa, is one obvious possibility. That nearly happened OTL in the early post-war era. Getting France to go one step beyond and to consider the populations of its colonies, especially of populous continental colonies like those of Africa, as potential French in a political sense, is another matter.
  6. Diez Mil Cantos Bilingual Citoyen de la Ville Reine

    Jun 10, 2012
    Un Estaca in Ontario
    I would recommend reading Aimé Césaire's Discourse on Colonialism to see the view of French colonialism from the perspective of the colonised. If France has acquired it's OTL empire by the same methods then there are a lot of issues with "developing the empire" especially for the conquered. They are going to want a voice and freedoms that France might not want to give before world war 2. By "developing and integrating" writers like Césaire and Senghor will have easier access to the French market and ideas will spread more easily between the non-European regions. This can be beneficial for economics but could easily allow for intercolonial unity and resistance against the French metropole. And the French to some extent saw that, which is why the continued to exclude Muslims in Algeria, and most of the populace in other of the empire. What France has held on to are Reunion, Martinique, Tahiti, Guadeloupe small islands that are (comparatively) easy to integrate by the metropole