Friday, January 22, 2010

De tweede wereld waarin wij leven

The Second World in which We Live

Chapter 7 is about religion. Faith is the other world referred to. Catrinus Mak's ministry took a bizarre left turn in the late 1930s. The Oxford Movement held sway. Suddenly, everyone was going to freewheeling group discussions, said to be, "Not unlike group therapy in the 1970s." Meditation was also practiced.

From there, Big Mak moves on to the question of colonization. When would the colony be ready for independence? Many people thought it would take 300 years. Soekarno's progress from young engineer being mentored by Douwes Dekker to leader of a mass movement is traced. In this portrayal, he comes off as a young Fidel Castro, trying to make his cause all things to all people.

It looks as though without WWII, the forties would have been like the fifties, with all sorts of independence movements going full steam.

In this chapter, Big Mak also looks at the other side of the story. Although he is in favor of independence, he points out how nationalism led to neglect. Decades and decades went by, and in spite of Jakarta's name bestowed by the revolution, the water and sewage system was still Batavia.

This brings to mind what I have observed. That is, Third World elites tend not to live in their countries. I suspect that many Third World passport holders have never been "Home." Rich Latin Americans abound in the US, and I have seen many rich Africans in Europe. I do not know if Indonesia has this problem of an absentee ruling class. It appears, however, that they put far less effort into governing than they put into taking power.

Independence might have been a lot different had the Soetarjo Petition been implemented. It called for a 10 year transition period, ending in a dominion status, as one finds in former British colonies. This was put forward in 1936. In any case, war intervened, and the transition could not have gone as planned. The petition was sunk by Dutch politics. Still, it made me wonder if things could have been amicable.

Mak goes on to family politics and the birth of his brother, Hans. The Maks had a large family born over a number of years. The first children were traditionally named, after members of both sides of the family who were in line for that sort of thing. They became less traditional, and this made some people angry.

In the background, there is the rise of Hitler and the beginning of the war. Even in 1938, Hitler had some prestige. Looking at old newsreels where he is respectfully referred to as, "Chancellor Hitler," is jarring. At the time, many thought his demands were a reasonable way of remedying Versailles. Only Winston Churchill and a few others knew what they would be up against.

Mak's mother thought the children had been in the tropics for too long. She thought they should have some time in the Netherlands. At the time, colonial children would often be sent to boarding schools in the mother country. The family set sail in June, 1939. It's hard to read, because both the Dutch East Indies and the Netherlands itself would shortly be occupied.

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