Political Progress in the Netherlands Indies


ONE of the most important and least understood factors in the complex politics of the Eastern Pacific is the Dutch island-empire called Insulinde. Writing many years ago Paul LeroyBeaulieu, the far-seeing French economist and political scientist, urged his people ‘to dwell attentively upon the rôle of Holland in Asia and on the creation and development of her colonies in that region.’ An intimation of the interest of the American government in present developments in the Netherlands Indies may be found in the fact that the chief representative of the United States in the Orient, the Governor-General of the Philippines, recently made the long journey from Manila to Batavia to acquire first-hand information as to the situation there, at a time when political developments within his own jurisdiction might have rendered his absence extremely unfortunate.

America has, indeed, much reason to ‘dwell attentively upon the rôle of Holland in Asia.’ As the sovereign of more than 11,000,000 Malayan people, for whose future we are in some degree responsible, as a nation with an increasing concern in the general politics of the Orient, and as a people whose industrial future depends in part upon an adequate foreign supply of mineral oil, we cannot safely remain indifferent to events in Insulinde. For under the Dutch flag live more Malays than exist in all the rest of the world; the Dutch islands because of position, richness, and the military weakness of their sovereign occupy a peculiar place in the Oriental political system; and Dutch Malaysia contains oil reserves to participate in which the United States has already fought, and apparently lost, one stubborn diplomatic battle.

Recent activities of Japan in Java indicate clearly the interest of that Empire in the Dutch colonies. Last summer a distinguished commercialpolitical mission visited the islands and completed arrangements for a biweekly Japan-Java steamship service to run from Kobe to Sourabaya via Japan’s mandated islands lying west of the Philippines. Within the past year millions of dollars have been invested by Japanese corporations in plantations in western Java. Japanese in Java have been capitalizing the present Dutch-Indian distrust of the United States, a sentiment arising from our attitude on Sumatra oil and our wartime invasion of a hitherto virtually closed market, to work up antiAmerican feeling wherever possible. An ably staffed and very active department of the Government of Formosa exists for the sole purpose of keeping Tokyo informed of every event of political significance in southern China and Malaysia. A glance at the map of the Eastern Pacific with especial reference to the long fringe of islands which flanks Asia from Siberia almost to Burma, coupled with an understanding of the deep-seated feeling which exists throughout the East that Japan is the potential leader of a panOriental movement, is enough to explain this Japanese activity in the Malay archipelago. It might be added that a conspicuous part of the standard schoolroom equipment of the Dutch possessions is a wall map which includes Mindanao as a part of Insulinde, and that Japan has established a large colony on the southern coast of that rich and undeveloped island of the Philippine group.


The distinguishing characteristic of the political development which is now occurring in the Netherlands Indies is that it is based upon the historic institutions of the native inhabitants. It is a commonplace that the Netherlands East Indies Company, the instrument of Dutch authority in the Orient from 1602 to 1798, existed for the sole purpose of trade. This association of adventurous merchants cared nothing for the glory of sovereignty and felt no impulse either to save the souls or to improve the worldly state of the island peoples with whom it dealt. So instead of the legions, the law, and the language of Imperial Rome, the soldier, the priest, and the administrator of Colonial Spain, or the groups of hardy settlers which reproduced England in half a dozen parts of the world, the Dutch sent to their Eastern possessions only the factor. At an enormous distance and with inadequate support from home, this functionary always sought to trade rather than to govern. The company maintained a few strong posts at strategic points and sought the exclusive control of the Malayan seas. Its policy was never to assume the government of a native state if it was possible to procure the spices and other products which it sought by dealing with the existing ruler or by replacing him with an always available rival. Consequently, at the end of the eighteenth century when, under Spanish rule, the branch of the Malay race which inhabits the Philippine Islands had been Christianized and organized socially and politically upon the lines of a unified Occidental state, the inhabitants of the lower part of the Malay Archipelago were still Mohammedans grouped into a congeries of native states bound to Holland by treaty only.

During the nineteenth century the Dutch viceroys gradually assumed the direct government of most of Java and Madura, now the home of about 37,000,000 of the 47,000,000 inhabitants of their wide-flung domains. But even under the centralized system which the great Daendels inaugurated the Native governmental organization is utilized. The Native regents, hereditary chiefs of subdivisions of the old Javanese kingdoms, are officials in the Dutch hierarchy, with each of whom is associated a Dutch resident, or ‘elder brother,’ who really directs the government of the district under the strict supervision of the Governor-General in Batavia. The regent is, in turn, assisted by subordinate native officials, wedenos, who also serve with Dutch controleurs, and whose duties within their smaller districts are similar to those of the regent within his larger sphere. Within the villages the old democratic Malay institutions are largely maintained and the natives, Inlanders, the Dutch call them, as a rule live under their ancient law, or adal, administered by native tribunals.

Outside of Java and Madura, Dutch authority is exercised chiefly through residents, or controleurs, who act as authoritative advisers to hereditary native rulers. There are still some three hundred and fifty of these selfgoverning districts in the ‘external possessions.’ Thus the Dutch, instead of destroying, have utilized the political and social organization which they found in their Asiatic colonies, and, along with these old institutions, their Malay subjects have retained much of their ancient culture and the religion which they possessed when their present masters arrived from Europe.


The present movement toward selfgovernment in the Dutch Indies began in the local field in 1903. Constitutionally authorized in that year, urban, district, and provincial councils were gradually instituted in those places which the Batavia administration deemed ready to use them successfully. In the urban and district bodies the government is represented by administrative officials sitting ex-officio, while the European population, the Natives, and the foreign Orientals speak through elected and appointed members. The provincial councils are entirely appointed. Thus far Europeans predominate in the provincial and municipal councils, ‘so that modern European ideas of local administration and sanitation, especially in the greater centres of population, may be guaranteed.’ District councils are now being created, however, with Native majorities.

Both electoral and membership qualifications for these bodies are high, consisting of the payment of considerable taxes or the ability to speak and read Dutch. The result is that the electorate consists of Dutchmen, Eurasians, and the wealthier Natives, Chinese and Arabs — the Eurasians, a powerful and highly self-conscious class, having by far the greater number of votes. The new organs thus established exercise a limited control over the usual subjects of local administration.

The decentralization and popularization of local government which was thus begun in 1903 is being slowly extended through Java and Madura, and to a few of the ‘external possessions.’ The Dutch are not in a hurry. They have been in the Indies for more than three centuries: why should they attempt to remake the country in a generation? Furthermore, having made no rash promises, one of the indiscretions of less experienced colonial powers, they are not pledged to apply the dogmas of democracy to subjects not prepared to receive them.

Local self-government in Insulinde does not yet mean popular self-government. In preparing the masses of the people for popular government of the Western type, the Dutch have progressed in the Indies to about the point which had been reached by Spain in the Philippines in 1898. But in the Philippines the Spaniards destroyed all native political organization, while in Insulinde the Malay still expresses himself governmentally through his ancient political institutions, which are controlled but have not been obliterated by his alien overlord.

Thirteen years after the inauguration of limited local self-government in the Indies, Holland introduced a similar element in the central administration of her Eastern colonies. In 1916 an ad of the States-General provided for the establishment of a Volksraad to be associated with the Governor-General, the Council of the Indies, and the departmental secretaries who had hitherto been the sole repositories of governmental power in Batavia. A distinguished Dutch citizen, whose family has been associated with the Indies for generations and who played an important part in the organization of the new council, described to the writer the influences which led to this step. He said, in substance: —

‘The plan for the Volksraad was launched as early as 1905, and from that time on there was an increasing Native demand for its creation. The Malays were supported by the Chinese who were also clamoring for better treatment and more political and civil rights. With the formation of the Chinese Republic in 1912 these demands became stronger, as did those of the Natives and of a section of the Europeans. The Philippine example, especially the increase of autonomy which occurred upon the advent of the Wilson administration, exerted a powerful influence here and was one of the great compelling forces that finally led to action. Dutchmen said, “We must do something or we shall be left far behind in the general development of the world.” And of course selfgovernment in the Philippines was used as a lever by the Natives, as well as by liberal Dutchmen here and in Holland. The creation of the Volksraad in 1916 was due to these causes and to the fact that, at that time, when Holland was busy at home protecting her neutrality and was in financial straits on account of the mobilization of her army and the disorganization of her trade, she could not afford to risk trouble in the Indies. The conservatives both here and at home were opposed to the step, but they could prevent it no longer.’

Similar views as to the forces which compelled the creation of the Volksraad are commonly expressed in Java, Native speakers emphasizing the compelling influence of their demands. The importance of the Philippine example is of particular significance to Americans, especially as this influence is equally powerful in every other part of the Orient.


The Volksraad in Batavia is one of the most interesting colonial councils in the world. Half of its forty-eight members are elected by the local councils which have already been described, while the other half are appointed by the Governor-General. Membership is divided equally among the Natives and the European and Chinese subjects of the Queen. The assembly is housed in a dignified and beautiful building, which was once the palace of the Governor-General, and it there enjoys quarters that any legislature in the world might envy. Called to their chamber by the sound of an ancient Javanese gong, the members represent almost every element of power and influence in Insulinde. Stalwart, white-clad Dutchmen, marked by the air of mastery which distinguishes that race in the tropics, slim Javanese, Sundanese, Macassars, or other Natives, often wearing Bond Street coats and haberdashery in combination with batik sarongs and Oriental footgear, an Arab Hadji in his fez, and impassive Chinese, all mingle together in the usual legislative fraternity.

The presiding officer, or ‘ voorzitter,’ is appointed by the Crown, and the present incumbent, Dr. W. M. G. Schumann, plays an important rôle in the transactions of the chamber. A Eurasian of German origin. Dr. Schumann is an authority on administrative law and had won distinction as an administrator and teacher before entering the first Volksraad as a Liberal. It is evident even to the casual observer that he does not hesitate to use freely the wide powers which the rules of procedure place in his hands, and that he is regarded as a leader by every group in the House. Members not only respect his judgment, but enjoy and at times fear his ready wit. It is often said, too, that the voorzitter enjoys special prestige and power because his appointment comes direct from the Crown, a condition that would not exist in most assemblies.

The powers of the Volksraad are so limited as to seem almost trivial when compared with those enjoyed by the Philippine Legislature, or even by the new National Legislature in British India. All legislative authority is vested in the Governor-General and his council of three or in the StatesGeneral itself. The Viceroy, however, must seek the advice of the Volksraad upon the annual budget bill, upon other financial measures of importance, and upon proposals to impose military duties upon the people. The budget must be approved by the Volksraad before the Governor-General can make it effective; but this seeming hold over the administration is rendered somewhat illusory by the provision that financial measures shall be finally enacted by the States-General, which often treats the budget from Batavia with as little respect as our Congress shows for Executive recommendations. In the exercise of his other powers the Governor-General is not bound to follow the advice of the Volksraad.

During the five years of its existence, nevertheless, the Volksraad has exercised a much greater influence than might have been expected from an a priori estimate of its legal powers; and that influence is plainly increasing. As one member of the chamber remarked, ‘We have never changed a budget, it is true, save in unimportant details. Our chief use is as a preventive. That is, we compel the Government to consider very carefully whether its budget or other measure will be approved before presenting it. Then when the measure is presented it is fully discussed. And,’ this gentleman added, ‘a new day had dawned in the Indies when the Government had to consider carefully what any local council, especially one composed in part of Natives, might think of its measures.’

The rôle of the Volksraad in influencing both legislation and administration was admirably illustrated at the time of the debates upon the educational chapters of this year’s budget. In the Department of Education and Religion the writer found all of the higher staff absorbed in preparing material to be used by the secretary in justifying his proposals to the House, in meeting criticism of its weak points, and in defending the educational policy and administration of the Government. In the Volksraad the secretary faced his critics in precisely the same spirit that British ministers face the House of Commons during the debates upon the estimates. The fact that the assembly lacks power to dismiss him from office did not seem to make the three-day discussion less of an ordeal. Very obviously the Government was dealing with a body whose wishes could not be ignored. In this matter, as in many others, the influence already exercised by this new colonial council is another illustration of the fact that constitutions serve only as startingpoints for the development of the powers of legislatures.

The first Volksraad was decidedly radical in its membership but in the second elections, which occurred in 1921, the limited electorate returned representatives who were conservatives, almost to a man. The GovernorGeneral, however, then appointed a considerable number of Radicals, including a Socialist, to the assembly. The result is that in Batavia the Government is faced by an opposition which owes its existence to appointments by itself.


A natural concomitant of the development of the Volksraad has been a marked strengthening of Dutch-Indian political parties. Although these groups as yet possess only a rudimentary organization and a restricted membership, they are beginning to perform some of the functions which necessarily fall to parties in the government of large democratic states. That is, they assist in the creation and expression of public opinion, share in the selection of officials, and help to enforce the responsibility of those officials to their constituents. Several of them send speakers all over Java and to some of the ‘external possessions,’ besides being instrumental in the publication of widely circulated accounts and criticisms of the proceedings of the Volksraad.

In one group of these parties are to be found extensions, or imitations, of the established parties of Holland, as the Christian-Ethical, the Liberal, the Politico-Economic, the Roman Catholic, the Social-Democratic and the Communist parties. Membership in these groups is largely European with a fringe of Native adherents. A survey of the official declarations of these organizations reveals a substantial agreement that the Indies should eventually become autonomous, that the powers of the colonial legislature should be increased and that its members should be directly elected, that the natives should be educated and prepared for self-government, and that liberal economic and social legislation should be enacted. The extent of these reforms and the rapidity with which it is proposed to accomplish them increase as one proceeds from the Christian-Ethical party on the right to the Social-Democrats on the left. Most of the declarations are marked by the inclusiveness and generosity which is characteristic of the platforms of parties possessing neither power nor responsibility in government.

Of more recent origin than the Dutch groups, and of far greater potential importance, are the growing Native parties. Of these organizations the Javanese Nationalist Party (Boedi Oetomo) and the Mohammedan party (Sarekat Islam) are of greatest interest . The former is the organ of the upperclass Javanese, of the aristocracy. It is nationalistic but not democratic. It demands increased Native participation in the administration of the state, some extension of the suffrage, parliamentary government, equality before the law for all Dutch subjects of whatever color or race, and educational opportunities for all ‘in conformity with natural condition and future profession.’ This group is distinctly the Native party of the right.

On the left is Sarekat Islam. Based upon religion, nationalism, and democracy, colored by socialism and led by a Javanese of vivid and virile personality, this party possesses all of the qualifications for dynamic nationalist leadership. Its most recent declaration of principles begins with a vigorous protest against Dutch domination of the Indies. This domination is stated to have grown out of Europe’s need of the Orient’s rich products, to have been attained by Europe’s command of modern means of production, and to rest upon a system of racial discrimination. The introduction of European capital and methods into the islands is said to have destroyed the old native economic organization and to have ‘ put an end to free tradesmen and farmers who can live by their hands ... so that almost the entire island-population now consists of hired laborers who earn enough to exist, but not enough to live in a way fit for human beings. The larger part of those Natives who are educated do not seem conscious that their development is but another means for European capitalism to strengthen its position and become more favored in the eyes of the people of this country.’

The remedy urged by this party is unity of purpose and action among laborers and farmers in a fight to obtain for the whole island-population political rights, ‘which open the way to power and influence in the direction and control of the native land.’ The declaration frankly sets forth that, ‘in its aims, the Sarekat Islam holds strictly to the principles and laws of the Mohammedan religion,’ and these are said to provide for popular government and economic equality.

If the experience of other colonies is any criterion, Sarekat Islam, or some successor to its principles, will be the dominant Native party of the Dutch Indies during the period of national political development. Every extension of political rights to the people will strengthen it and weaken its opponents, European and Native. Its positive Moslem character will add the driving power of that militant religion to the emotional force of its intense nationalism. Indeed, it is not impossible that this party will become an important factor not only in the politics of Insulinde but of the entire Orient.


In the extension of popular education, as in many other matters, the Dutch have proceeded slowly in Insulinde but are now accelerating their pace. The school system is too complicated to describe in a general article but the trend of its development may be briefly indicated. In 1907 after the Government had realized that it could not afford to give all or even a large proportion of the children instruction in the ‘Inlander’ schools, where a first-rate five-year course is offered to about 400,000 pupils, it began to establish large numbers of village, or dessa schools. These institutions are supported partially by the central government, partially by the villages. In each rustic, single-room building the three R’s are taught to three classes by one teacher. The course covers three years and instruction is by Native teachers, men who have had five years of general education followed by two or three of normal training. No Dutch or other foreign language is taught, the purpose being to ground the child in his own language and literature and in the subjects which will be of the greatest practical importance to him in life. At present some 500,000 children are in schools of this type, and it is expected that ultimately all of the children not otherwise cared for will receive this sort of education. It is also planned to articulate the dessa schools with the higher grades so that it will be possible for an increasing number of pupils to carry their studies through to any desired goal.

The schools of Insulinde are the expression of a very different theory of education from that which obtains in the Philippines. In the American possession all instruction is in English from the first grade through the university, the avowed purpose of the system being to make English a common national language and to train a whole generation of Filipinos in the principles of Occidental, democratic citizenship. The Dutch-Indian schools for Native children, on the other hand, have been planned to develop the Native culture and personality. Malay languages, customs, music, and dancing are emphasized. In discussing this aspect of their system the most distinguished educator in the Dutch colonies said: —

‘To teach the child a foreign language and in a foreign language at the age of five, six, or seven, when he ought to be beginning to think, is to spoil his mind. He cannot think in the foreign tongue. He does not think in his own. What he learns he learns by rote, and later his mental processes do not develop. The first year should be entirely in the native tongue of the child, also the second. Then a small amount of Dutch and gradually more, until toward the end of his sevenor eight-year course he should spend only about ten per cent of his time in studying his own language and further acquiring his own culture. The early years of work in that tongue will have grounded him in its use, in a knowledge of his national traditions, customs, and literature. During this time his mentality and personality will have had a normal development and later he will acquire Dutch more rapidly than if he had begun it at once. In the end he will be both a better Dutch subject and a better Native. But,’ the educator added, ‘the Natives all want to learn Dutch and wish instruction to be in Dutch from the beginning.’

There is no teaching of civics or other deliberate preparation for citizenship or for a philosophy of life in the Native schools of Insulinde. The more progressive Dutch educators regard this as an ostrich policy, but thus far they have not been able to change it. A quantitative comparison between the educational systems of the Dutch Indies and the Philippines reveals strikingly the really remarkable effort that the latter country is making to train its children. Out of a population of about 11,500,000 Filipinos nearly 1,100,000 children are in the public schools, while of the 47,000,000 inhabitants of the archipelago to the south only 1,300,000 are receiving an education. It should be added, however, that the Dutch colonies, much against the wishes of the Native inhabitants, expend annually for national defense a sum more than twice as large as the entire Philippine budget, while the Filipinos under American sovereignty are quite free from military or naval burdens. Nor should Americans, who are inclined to believe that the straight and sure road to self-government runs through the schoolhouse, forget that it was the mature judgment of the late Viscount Bryce that in politics, ‘education, that is to say the education given by schools and books, signifies less than we would like to think.’


Not the least interesting of the tasks of the observer in the Netherlands Indies is to study the attitude of various classes of people toward the political and social changes which are almost universally recognized as taking place there. The old-time officials and business men, reacting as the class does everywhere, regard the Volksraad and the movement toward Native education and political development as almost wholly bad. It got under way during the war, when the colonies were left in comparative freedom by the home government, when liberal elements controlled the States-General and a liberal Governor-General ruled in Batavia. Now many Conservatives are very much surprised and extremely indignant that the granting of some rights to the Natives should lead them to demand others. They are just beginning to realize what education and representative councils may lead to, and they are both angry and alarmed. Since the war this element, both in the Indies and in Holland, which did not escape the post-war wave of reactionary politics, has attempted to bring the colony back into its former leading strings.

This task is proving a difficult one in Insulinde, as in several other parts of the world. It is resisted not only by all of the Natives, but by a large number of resident Dutchmen. In Java one realizes immediately that most of the permanent Dutch population feel very strongly that day-to-day control from the distant home-capital is no longer possible. They wish to rule the colonies from Batavia primarily for the benefit of the colonies. They do not care to have their financial, business, military, and educational policies determined by men at The Hague over whom they can exercise no effective control and who think first of the interests of the mother country. Furthermore, the more liberal members of this group realize that Native progress cannot be checked. On the whole they approve of the liberal developments of the past few years and expect them to be carried forward, although there are different views as to the speed and the ultimate end of the movement.

One interesting aspect of the situation is the attitude of the Eurasians toward Native aspirations. This class occupies a very powerful position in the country, controlling much of its wealth, holding many of the highest official positions, and exhibiting more cohesive force than any other group. In the main the Eurasians oppose the further education and development of the Natives. They do so because they fear them. They realize that they are so completely outnumbered that the rising power of the Malays will be acquired at their expense. Consequently they are more Dutch than the Dutch and resist any movement that may lessen the power of Holland in the islands. Their position in this matter probably is well founded, for it is apparent that much more actual feeling exists between the Eurasians and the Malays than between either the Dutch and the Natives or the Dutch and the Eurasians.

The views of the Natives are expressed in part in the platforms of Boedi Oetomo and Sarekat Islam, already sketched. They were further set forth not long ago in the Volksraad by one of the leading Javanese Moderates. This member declared that the changes that have occurred during the last generation or two have made it imperative for the Natives to become generally educated and to have a voice in their own Government. The forces which from time immemorial had enabled them to hold society together, to govern themselves locally, and to live economically have been so changed that the people likewise must be changed. In the old days, this Malay said, there was a feeling of local solidarity, respect for local rulers, laws, customs, and institutions. Economically the local groups were more or less self-sufficing; local industry throve and local agriculture was sufficient for the needs of the people. Now, with the advent of roads and railroads, the people move about constantly. The old group-system with all that it implied is breaking down, or has broken down. Nowadays the Chinese and the European trader can come into every village. They can buy up the agricultural products for a song and their manufactured articles drive out Native handiwork. This situation, the speaker declared, can be met only by the education and enfranchisement of the Native. Otherwise he goes under, economically and politically, in the new social and economic environment. As one passes through the crowded Javan countryside with its throngs of depressed, tired-looking brown people, among whom women are the commonest and most heavily laden packanimals, he realizes that there are realities back of this statement.

The reaction of most Europeans to this strong presentation of the Native case was well expressed to the writer by a distinguished conservative member of the Volksraad who said, speaking of his Malay colleagues: ‘The Native members are often keen debaters, men possessed of good minds. The trouble with them, as with all Orientals, is lack of precision of thought. They love to talk and argue and fight for the sake of doing these things. They are not unlike ourselves in that respect, save that they do not have minds of precision. They do not think a thing through to its logical conclusion; do not foresee the inevitable consequences of their words and their acts. They are animated by emotion rather than by reason. They want money, education, and development, and they expect the Government to provide all of these things. How — the means to the end — they do not say in detail or in a practical way. In the economic development of the islands they have had little share and they exercise little economic influence now. The capital and the direction, the creative energy, are all European or Chinese. The Natives lack this creative energy yet they wish to control politically. The guiding and impelling force, however, must come from the Europeans.'


From such dissimilar points of view do the Dutch and the Malays regard each other and their common problems; and their attitudes are typical of those of white men and colored, or of advanced and backward peoples, wherever the former rule the latter. The vital fact of the situation in the Dutch Indies and elsewhere, however, is that the problems of such opposing races are problems that can be solved only by coöperation. The Japanese in Korea and Formosa, the English in India, and the Dutch in the lower Malay Archipelago have come to a realization that permanently hostile subjects will render unprofitable and dangerous the richest province of the most powerful empire, and they are now seeking to substitute consent for force as a basis for their sovereignty in these dominions. They are discovering that the transition is not an easy one.

Yet many of the leaders of the unwilling Oriental subjects of Occidental nations, and of Japan, are beginning to learn that, for the present at least, their masters are necessary to them. They are demanding universal education, better sanitation, higher standards of living generally, and a modern political organization. But even in Java, richest of the far-famed isles of the East, there is not enough economic development to support the social superstructure that the Native leaders would build. Nor has the Malay or the Indian yet demonstrated that he can lay the necessary economic foundation without Occidental aid. In the Philippines, where by far the greatest progress has been made toward a successful adaptation of Western institutions to the uses of an Eastern nation, the people have been relieved of tremendous burdens of government, such as national defense, which other Oriental colonies bear and from which no independent nation can escape. And the Philippines have practically reached the limit of social development possible with their present economic resources.

The hard fact is that the Malays and other tropical and economically backward peoples cannot dispense with the coöperation of more highly developed nations until they become productive enough to pay for the sort of civilization which they seem determined to acquire. They can, however, insist that meanwhile their relations with more advanced states rest upon a fairer basis than they have in the past, and that steady progress be made toward autonomy or independence, economic and political.

In the political field the present need of Western tutelage is almost equally great, however stridently Native leaders may publicly deny its existence. It arises from the fact that the ancient institutions of these tropical peoples are inadequate to the exigencies of government under modern economic and political conditions. In British and Dutch India, national consciousness has not yet submerged ancient, local, religious, and racial antagonisms, while even in the Philippines there is a possibility that sectional divisions will become dangerous once the pressure of American domination is withdrawn. Further, as the Javan who pleaded his people’s cause in the Volksraad clearly recognized, it has become necessary to reorganize Native society upon principles that are, in the main, foreign to the history and the temperament of Oriental races. It is highly significant that from Korea to Turkey the professed goal of the nationalists is selfgovernment of the modern Occidental type — that is, democratic self-government. But experience seems to show that capacity for this type of government comes only from long training, and that it is really successful only among people who are habitually loyal to law and willing to stand up and fight for their rights under the law. Loyalty to law is not an Oriental concept and the Oriental masses have not yet acquired either the knowledge or the will to resist oppression by their traditional rulers. No Eastern nation, save only Japan, has yet successfully adapted Western political organization to its use.

So, because its old institutions have been destroyed or rendered inadequate to the present needs of its people, the East must tolerate the West yet a little longer within its gates. But it is doing so with an increasing insistence that the position of dominance now held by the West shall be only temporary, and with a hardening determination that it will become the master of its own future.

Will that future unfold under the inspiration of Occidental or of Oriental leadership and ideals? This is the ever present question in the Eastern world. As for Insulinde, every native of ‘that magnificent empire which winds about the equator like a garland of emeralds’ would say with the Javanese Princess, Kartini: —

‘New conditions will come into the Javanese world, if not through us, through those who will come after us. Emancipation is in the air; it has been foreordained.’ 1

  1. Three articles, taken from a collection of Princess Kartini’s letters, appeared in the Atlantic in November and December 1919, and in January 1920. — THE EDITORS