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NETHERLANDS: Little Empire

5 minute read

Because quaint windmills slowly twirl on the famed Island of Marken, tourists forget that nearby Amsterdam is as populous as Boston. Legend has made the Netherlands “a little country.” Therefore when news came last week of fresh Communist outbreaks in the Dutch East Indies, few U. S. citizens realized that almost half as many humans live under the Dutch flag as under the Stars and Stripes.*

Though modest Wilhelmina of the Netherlands is content to be styled a Queen, her realm is an Empire in all but name — an Empire three times larger in area and almost as populous as the Empire of Japan.

Alarums. At Siloengkang, Sumatra, last week, the Dutch Superin- tendent and four native bodyguards were shot from ambush by “Communists.” Near Padang a Dutch officer was set upon and wounded by other “Communists,” strung up by the thumbs, refused water until he died. Finally, at Sawahloento, Sumatra, the “Communists” seized the railway station, burned down the stationmaster’s house, and were only routed when the local Dutch Sub-Governor personally rallied the police and led them against the insurgents, killing seven, wounding 135, restoring Dutch prestige.

“Communists.” Ever since Com- munism became the bugaboo of Occidentals, Netherlandic despatches from Java, Sumatra and Borneo have described all insurgent natives as “Communists.” The insurgents’ chief avowed grievance is, however, that as Mohammedans they refuse to be governed by Christians. They are “Nationalists” and “anti-Christians” rather than “Communists” in the political sense.*

In Java the insurgent native newspapers bear such titles as: Young Java; Light of Islam; Agreement and Disagreement; and The Revival of Islam. The two great insurgent organizations are the Sarakat Islam, composed of influential Moslem merchants; and the Boedi-Oetomo, a society of Mohammedan Nationalists of all classes. Linked with these potent groups is The P. K. (Partij Kommunist) which has borrowed its name from western Communism, but closely resembles the Nationalist movement in India.

Program. The Boedi-Oetomo and Sarakat-Islam openly preach revo- lution and envision a Holy War. They stimulate pilgrimages by their followers to the holy and distant cities of Mecca and Medina; and they look for support wherever it can be found. Thus funds from the Third International at Moscow are welcome; but Indian and especia’ly expatriated Chinese merchants also contribute largely to the insurgent funds. For some years there have been more or less serious revolts in the Dutch Indies almost every six months, but they have been firmly put down and the insurgent movement is still loose, incohesive and therefore weak. The half million non-Moslems in the Dutch East Indies are in no present danger of expulsion by the 50 million subject-natives

Dutch Rule. The Netherlanders who have gone out to their Indies in recent years are colonial administrators of a very high type. They are trained and educated men. Most of them speak the native dialects fluently. Though they uphold the interests of Queen and Country they are not exploiters of the natives as was the old Dutch East India Co., dissolved in 1795.

Politically the Dutch East Indies resemble India in being divided into directly governed regions and subject-native states. Instead of a Viceroy there is a Governor General, now Dr. De Graeff.

Exports from the Dutch East Indies, upon last reports, topped one billion and a half gulden ($600,000,000), with imports at over half a billion. To the credit of the Netherlands, all nations participate in this trade without tariff preferences of any kind.

Marvels. The ancient Hindu civilization which gave way to Islam in the 15th Century left behind it a wealth of temples and antiquities scarcely inferior in interest to any similar remains whatever. Though the great Boro-Budur in central Java is inferior to the Pyramid of Cheops in size it is an architectural chef-d’oeuvre no less prodigious. Pyramidal in shape, it rises tier on tier, each tier a gallery ornamented with sculpture and symbolic devices in unparalleled profusion. The pilgrim, ascending by these galleries, traverses a distance of three miles past carvings which constitute a pictorial Bible of the late or “Mahayana” creed. The intent is that the pious shall climb from temporal vulgarities—depicted with unblushing naturalism in the lower galleries—to ever higher religious concepts which are exampled by a symbolism progressively refined, as the worshiper toils upward. When the supreme dagoba is reached and entered a crude and only half-hewn statue of the Buddha greets the eye amid carvings of supreme delicacy. Thus is symbolized the axiom that the Buddha is of a perfection impossible for mortals to realize or portray.

— Population of the U. S. and all its territories and possessions: 117,823,165. Population of the Netherlands and its col- onies and possessions: 56,399,932.

*It is now often said that should the Savior appear before an average U. S. police judge and profess the doctrines attributed to him in the Bible he would be clapped into jail as a “Communist.”

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