Free Essay. Forms of Precolonial or Pre-Capitalist States in South East Asia

Published: 2023-01-09
Free Essay. Forms of Precolonial or Pre-Capitalist States in South East Asia
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Politics History Government Asia
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1453 words
13 min read

Many countries in Southeast Asia faced the challenge of political instability in the 18th century, and there were no clear structures of governance to run activities in the countries. Some countries in Southeast Asia did not have a formal structure of managing activities within a given region or community. There were civilized communities that had structures of governing the people and ensuring that all the activities within the community were managed. The communities that had a structural way of managing activities were not colonized; the communities that were colonized are the ones that did not have a formal structure of governance.

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There are countries in South East Asia that had already established proper structures of governance and regions of governance established; therefore they were not colonized by the western colonizers (Kingsbury, 2016). Having a clear structure of governance made it easier to maintain law and order in the communities that were being governed formally. Such communities had clear boundaries of the territories that were under the leadership of the community. The structures enable the people to live well where the conflicts are resolved in an amicable manner. Countries such as India had begun to form their kingdom with their leaders that led the people and solved the challenges that the people were facing. The western imperialism never affected the countries with the boundaries because

The countries such as India and China had their boundaries where the leaders that governed them had a boundary up to where they were allowed to lead. The western countries faced challenges colonizing countries that had already governing structure because they had a way they could come together to protect their territories (Kingsbury, 2016). The western colonizers also wanted communities to have a formal structure of leadership because they would be able to come up with ways of developing the communities and coming up with ways of solving the challenges faced by the people. The countries that had already established their kingdoms had started developing by the time colonizers wanted to colonize them, and up to date, they are more developed than other countries and communities. The great wall is an excellent example of the communities that had already done. The states were formed based on the ethnic diversity of the people living within a certain state.

The communities that had already come up with a governing structure had different structures of governance because they believed in different things and they wanted to live a different kind of life (Springer, 2017). The territorial structures were formed depending on the number of leaders that took up leadership positions. Kings led some communities while elected leaders led other communities that people chose to lead them. The people had recognized the importance of having the leaders that would guide them in taking the community forward and protecting the interest of the people.

Communities that had no structure of governance faced the challenge of solving the challenges faced by the people because the people were not united into uniting to solve the common goal. Leaders bring people together to solve common problems that the people faced (Springer, 2017). Challenges such as war caught the people unaware hence they did not defend themselves. The colonizers did not face opposition from the communities which did not have any structure of governance. In such communities, some people were opposing the colonizers while others were not against the idea of colonization.

Thailand had its political system before colonization known as the mandala system of governance. The mandala political system was different from the political system in terms of the attributes of the leaders. The mandala system was led by a king known as the Siamese king (Kingsbury, 2016). The king realized that the kingdom was going to be colonized because of lack of a clear governance structure and the location of the kingdom that was ideal for the colonizers. Siamese king decided to transform the kingdom and make it a more European system of governance so that the colonizers could find a similar system of governance similar to theirs. The new political structure was focused on modernizing the kingdom so that the colonizers could find a kingdom that was developing like their own. The previous mandala system was different from the European system of governance in terms of the structure of governance.

The mandala structure was among the best precolonial structures of governance because the leadership was structured from top to bottom in the form of provinces where there were leaders that were responsible for managing the affairs of the province. The activities of the province administrators were to ensure that there was development depending on the needs of the people. There were no other kingdoms in South East Asia that had proper structures of govern that were able to take care of the interests of the people. The citizens also had their rights and were respected by the people in authority. The political structure of mandala enabled the kingdom to be able to coordinate activities of the kingdom in a structured form.

When the colonizers come to colonize Italy, they found that the kingdom had a structure of governance; therefore, they did not colonize it. They realized that it was difficult to colonize a country that was already established; hence they did colonize it (Springer, 2017). Many regions around the world were colonized where the European colonizers took charge of the communities that did not have a formal structure of governance.

China, on the other hand, had many small kingdoms that were ruled by different kings; the dynasties include the Xia dynasty, the Shang dynasty, the Zhou dynasty ad the Qin and Han dynasties (Springer, 2017). The dynasties were ethnically based and had different structures of governance depending on who ruled the dynasty and the population. The dynasties brought resistance to colonization making it had for the colonizers to set up base in China as they did in other different regions of the world. There were conflicts between different dynasties in China. The dynasties in China used the fighting skills to fight the colonizers when they were colonized.

The South East Asia kingdoms imported the forms of governance and administration where they embraced forming governments comprising of the people that were elected to represent the people in the government (Charney & Wellen, 2017). The new western structures of leadership are better than the traditional structures of leadership and governance. The western structures of leadership enable peaceful co-existence between different communities because different communities came together to form a country. Thailand also formed a better structure of governance where the traditional kingdoms that were led by kingdoms to the new structure of governance.

The European countries wanted to expand their territories to other parts of the world and the first thing that they did id trying to control other parts by establishing their leadership in other parts of the world. By establishing the leadership, they would be able to ensure that all the activities that occur protect their interests. They faced resistance from the communities where they went because of wanting to control them and take their resources. China is among the countries that faced much resistance from the dynasties.

The kingdoms and dynasties that were already established had their boundaries set on where the kings were allowed to rule up to. The boundaries separated different dynasties from each other to avoid the conflict of interest between the kingdoms. During the colonization's some western colonizers respected some kingdoms to the extent that they never attacked them. They collaborated with the kings in exploiting other regions surrounding the arrears of their kingdom. The kings were not concerned with the activities of the colonizers as long as the kingdoms were not affected.

In conclusion, the early political formations helping in shaping the political structures of today, people learned from the mistakes of the precolonial kingdoms as well from the western forms of government that colonized them. The mandala kingdom is among the best precolonial kingdoms that the other kingdoms embraced their kind of leadership. The changing of the structures of government have allowed the people to be served by their governments by creating a structure for responsible leadership.


Charney, M., & Wellen, K. (2017). Warring Societies of Precolonial Southeast Asia: Local Cultures of Conflict Within a Regional Context. NIAS. Retrieved from

Ivarsson, S., & Isager, L. (2010). Saying the unsayable: Monarchy and democracy in Thailand. NIAS Press. Retrieved from

Kingsbury, D. (2016). Politics in Contemporary Southeast Asia: Authority, Democracy and Political Change. Retrieved from

Springer, S. (2017). Neoliberalism in Southeast Asia. In Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian Development (pp. 49-60). Routledge. Retrieved from

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