The Colony The Dutch Indies

Iindonesia as we know it now, consists of many islands and has known colonial times for 300 years.

A colony is conquering an area outside its own country. To establish a settlement (cf. Van Dale). This settlement is administered by the other country (governors). That occupied area is intended to cultivate or to make a profit. A country is cultivated by transferring the customs and habits, among other things, of the behavior of a certain people. In India there was a mixed culture. The second generation, the Indo-Dutch born there, had culture habits of both the Indies and the Netherlands. The Indians also had their own cultural customs mixed with those of the Dutch.

The Dutch colony was created for profit. The land that turns an area into a colony is called the colonizer. When a country is establishing a colony (or several colonies), it is called colonization. In addition to the Dutch Republic, countries, since 1673, were made a colony by France, Courland, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, German Empire, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Japan, United States, Norway.

Between 1594 and 1795, approximately 4800 trade trips to Asia were made. Where the Dutch had a whole network of factories. A factory was a settlement owned by a European company. A company that had the factories controlled by a dispatched chief or factor (director, commander or governor). The factor took care of the purchase, sale and barter. The factories varied in size. Consisting of only a few warehouses and housing for staff. Or with a broader design, a headquarters, a church, a garrison with a miter or fortress to defend the trading post. The products were prepared for dispatch in the factories. Weighed and packed (De Meij van Streefkerk and Schovel, 1831)

In addition to factorijen (settlement), the Dutch Republic owned regions and islands. Trading posts for storage were located on the islands.

In 1602, the VOC (United East Indian Companies) was founded. The Company consisted of more than 100 ships and employed many thousands of people. To preserve the commercial economy, this company was given the right to go to war on behalf of the Dutch Republic. She also exercised the right to enter into treaties with native monarchs and practiced justice.
Thus the monarchs gained a monopoly on trade in their area and free trade was disrupted, which was mainly in Javanese, Chinese and Arab hands. It mainly traded in spices, porcelain, silk, satin, diamonds, sabers, precious stones, gold, turtles, cloves (Moluccas), nutmeg and mace (Blanda moose). The VOC was the first multinational company in the world (Doel, 2o00)

The street of Malacca had come into the possession of the VOC in 1641-1824 for trade. Especially for the pepper trade from Aceh and also Palembang and Jambi. In addition, they could secure maritime shipping for piracy, but pirates were active near the island of Aceh. The opening of the Sumatra Treatise (1824) established that Aceh would remain independent. With the Suez Canal, the approach route to the Indies was shifted via Aceh. In order to obtain peace in trade, Aceh had to be incorporated into the Dutch colonial empire. The expeditions in 1873, however, resulted in a protracted war until 1942 (Stolwijk, 2016)

Attempts to trade with China failed and the VOC was only tolerated in Japan. However, the Dutch did not get any further than the Japanese island of Deshima. Other trading companies were also denied access to Japan. Missionaries who tried to convert the Japanese to Christianity, including Spaniards and Portuguese, were killed.

The photo below shows the port of Nagasaki (1820) with the island of Dejima on which the Dutch flag can be seen.

Eiland Dejima (foto, Crafst Council Nederland)

Eiland Dejima (foto, Crafst Council Nederland)

When the English during the fourth Anglo-Dutch war (1780-1784) had taken many trading posts and hijacked full trading ships of the VOC, the losses would have risen sharply. Due to the war with France, the trading offices became owned by the English. In 1795, the VOC was declared bankrupt and nationalized.communicate and trade. This Malay later formed the basis for contemporary Indonesian or Bahassa Indonesia. This Dutch language was encouraged by the Dutch. The VOC was a trading company and did not see the spread of the Dutch language as one of its core activities. Dutch remained an official language, but only in a limited circle (Steenmeijer, 2009)

Land interest system (Landrentestelsel) and Culture system (Cultuurstelsel)
In 1830, under Willem I, the culture system was introduced in the Dutch East Indies to replace the land interest system. Under the land interest system, the native population paid 2/5 part tax, a form of lease, on the agricultural products it cultivated. On the other hand, the culture system obliged the population to use 20% of the land, in the form of leasehold, for government products. These were products for the European market, such as coffee, indigo, tea and sugar. These products were auctioned and sold in Europe by the Dutch Trading Company (Phijffer, 2000)

The native monarchs received so-called cultural percentages, when their products yielded more in the Netherlands. They were therefore paid more. The farmers only received ‘plant wages’ when their products had more value than the previous land interest. Farmers who did not have suitable land and for this reason could not grow products for the European market had to work for the government 66 days a year, the so-called “men’s services”. This system frequently led to the exploitation of the indigenous population by the native monarchs. The impoverishment of the native population eventually led to the abolition of the cultural system in 1870. This promoted private initiative in Java and protected the economic interest of the Netherlands.

Agrarische wet en Suikerwet
Two supporting laws that promoted the private initiative were the Agrarian Law (establishing the property rights of the land) and the Sugar Act (European private companies could start sugar plantations in the Dutch East Indies) Now tobacco and rubber were also grown in the Indies. However, the abolition of the Cultural System did not provide better conditions for the indigenous population (Phijffer, 2000)

The “men’s services” were a reflection of the then common slave trade. Appropriation means making people disenfranchised in choosing how to live their own life (right of self-determination), resulting in exploitation. In this period, after 2 centuries, the slave trade was abolished in 1858 (human trafficking started in 1634, Curaçao, after which Africa, Suriname and especially South-East Asia: trans Atlantic slave trade) (Kromhout, 2007)

Ethical assignment
Around 1900, the indigenous people’s interest predominated more than the VOC’s merchant interest. The Dutch state was faced with an ethical task. From a progressive-liberal circle people talked about “debt of honor”, which the Netherlands, especially to the Javanese, had to redeem. The Protestants spoke of a “moral (or moral) obligation.” This political policy focused on promoting irrigation (including road construction, information / knowledge transfer on agriculture and fisheries), emigration (relocation of Javanese to less populated Indian islands) and promoting education (public education, combating segregation). The policy aimed at the economic and political independence of the Dutch colony (Blok, 1977-1986)
Education thus became accessible to the native population. Due to the high percentage of illiteracy (93%) in 1930, combating segregation (access to higher education and thus ultimately holding higher positions) has been linked to a relatively long period of time. The official (top) functions were therefore still fulfilled by the Dutch for a long time (cf. Baudet and Brugmans, 1984)

Firstly, as a result of the crisis years, insufficient budget was allocated to achieve the set goals. So that many colonial officials lost faith in the success of politics. Secondly, the policy, economic and political independence of the Dutch colony was aimed at. This grew the self-awareness of the population and with it the emergence of the Indonesian National movement. The concept of nationalization was introduced by a small group of intellectuals.