Joseph Hansen

World Events

(17 January 1949)

Source: The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 3, 17 January 1949, p. 2.
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The Real Stake in the Blitzkrieg Attack
Launched by Dutch Despots on Indonesia

Reports are beginning to filter through the censorship of guerrilla resistance against the Dutch despots in. Indonesia. This is only a token of what the Dutch can expect as the 76,000,000 people of Indonesia rise in all their power to cleans the land; of colonial rule.

The Dutch imperialists claim their blitzkrieg war is aimed at bringing “freedom” to Indonesia. Their real objectives, however, are not that idealistic. The 3,000 islands that comprise the archipelago happen to have natural resources of extraordinary richness and variety.

In 1937, of the world supply of cinchona bark from which quinine is made, Indonesia produced 90%: pepper 79%; kapok, used for surgical dressings and in insulating aircraft, refrigerators etc., 70%; rubber 38%; copra used in the manufacture of soap margarine, etc., 30%; sisal, an important fiber, 23% tea 17%; and oil palm products 20%.

This far from exhausts the list. Indonesia is a big producer of coffee and fine tobacco. It is exceeded only by Cuba in the production of sugar. Three-fourths of the world’s nutmeg comes from these rich islands as well as vast quantities of cloves, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and other spices.

Indonesia is first in production of tapioca, familiar to most people as raw material for pudding but much more important in the manufacture of glue and mucilage.

Still we haven’t come to the end of Indonesia’s wealth. Before World War II, it rated fourth in the production of oil. About 65% of the world’s tin came from Indonesia. Among other minerals it produces manganese, phosphate, gold, silver bauxite, diamonds, sulphur and coal. Vast deposits of iron, nickel lead, zinc, sulphur and copper are still untouched.

On top of all these great natural resources, the soil is so productive that with the right crops and agricultural methods and the removal of restrictions on production, Indonesia can provide ample food not only for the present population – the densest, on earth per square mile – but even a far bigger population. According to one authority, Indonesia can easily support three times its present inhabitants.

Is it any wonder that the Dutch imperialists are anxious to restore their grip on these fabulously rich tropical islands?

In the early days, when the Dutch first brought the blessings of Christianity to a civilization which they at that time recognized as superior to their own, the profits of this holy enterprise were phenomenal. Running down the long column of dividends declared by the Dutch East India Company in the century or so following 1600, you find the stockholders consistently hitting a 33% jackpot, with much higher returns from time to time.

The lucrativeness of investments in Indonesia has not declined in recent times. In 1937, for example, Indonesian imports were 616 million guilders (a guilder, or florin, was then worth about 55c.); while exports reached 1,009 million guilders, a favorable balance of 493 million guilders. As one apologist for Dutch imperialism, Jacob van Gelderen, observed: “A rate of surplus value of exports of 49 percent of the total exports during 1937 and of 34 percent during 1938 is a remarkably high one.”

Van Gelderen continues:

“The surplus of exports is the source from which the yearly amount of interest, profits, dividends, various overhead expenses, pensions of officials, etc., are paid ... During normal years the total interest, dividends and profits appearing in the balance of payment has been calculated at 300 to 400 million florins ... The amount of interest of the Government debt is calculated at nearly 70 million.”

The real source of this loot of course is not the favorable bookkeeping balance, but the unpaid labor of the Indonesian people. The great bulk of the Indonesian population is agricultural. How low their pay is can be judged from the simple but eloquent fact that the cost of sugar production on the huge foreign-owned plantations is the lowest in the world.

Since the turn of the century, the development of western industry With its changing raw material requirements has been reflected in Indonesia by a shift toward mining and oil and rubber production with the consequent appearance of a small industrial working class.

In 1938, Dutch statistics listed a total of 1,630,000 workers divided as follows: 670,000, mostly women, engaged in such occupations as weaving, generally in their own homes; 840,000 workers in enterprises employing 20 to 30 hands; and 120,000 in large factories.

Up until recent years, there was virtually no native Indonesian capitalist class. The ruling class consisted almost exclusively of a thin layer of Dutch enthroned ever the vast sea of cruelly exploited brown laborers.

The total number of Europeans in Indonesia in 1920 was only 170,000. In 1930 the figure was 242,000. By way of comparison the normal annual increase of the Indonesian population is 750,000.

The Dutch are not the only ones with investments, in Indonesia. No accurate figures are available on the size of various holdings. A 1929 estimate gave the Dutch 75%; British 13.5%; Franco-Belgian 5%; American 2.5%; German 1%; Japanese 1%; others 2%. Since then, however, there has been a decided shift. American purchases of Dutch stocks are known to have risen sharply. In addition, through financial and political pressure, American imperialism is able to exercise great weight in Dutch affairs.

If Dutch stockholders are still first in line to benefit from the re-conquest of Indonesia, American stockholders are not far behind. In addition, direct investments of American imperialists in Indonesia have been increasing in recent decades. So has trade.

Among the American companies with tentacles in Indonesia are Goodyear Tire and Rubber, British American Tobacco, Standard Oil, Shell Oil, Colgate-Palmolive Peet, National Carbon, General Motors and International General Electric.

These powerful economic ties indicate why the State Department gave full financial and military, support to the Dutch drive against the Indonesian Republic. They also indicate why the State Department refuses to cut off Marshall Plan aid to the Dutch today despite the face-saving protests over Dutch methods that are being placed on the record of the United Nations.


Last updated on: 29 February 2024