Imágenes de páginas


The closest parallel to the culture system known to the writer is the system of forced cultures established by the Spanish governor in the Philippines in 1780. It was applied at first to the production of tobacco, indigo, and silk, but was later restricted to tobacco alone. On land fit for the cultivation of tobacco the natives were forced, on penalty of severe corporal punishment, to grow that crop and to deliver the product to the government at an arbitrary and nominal price. The government sold the product in Europe, and got from this source a considerable part of its revenue. Fiscal reasons determined the introduction and maintenance of the system in the Philippines as in Java. The system resulted in abuse of the natives, corruption of the officials, the discouragement of private enterprise, and such a deterioration in the quality of the product that much of it was unsalable at any price. A report to the home Government in 1871 from the director of the culture showed that the net gain from it was much less than had been supposed ($1,360,000) and would vanisha entirely if the government made the necessary expenditures on machinery, factories, and warehouses, paid the arrears due to native cultivators ($1,600,000 for the crops of 1869 and 1870), and paid cash in the future. He showed that the population of the richest districts of the islands had been reduced to utter misery by the culture. They were worse off than the slaves in Cuba, for these were fed by their masters, while the government would not allow the natives in the Philippines the time necessary to gain their food supply. The forced culture was finally abolished in 1882.


The Dutch have sometimes claimed that they were no worse than their English neighbors, and that only “British cant" could deny the existence of forced cultures in British India. The claim is justified by the facts to a certain extent. In the indigo and opium cultures in India there have been cases of compulsion of the natives by the planters attended with as grave abuses as any that marked the application of the culture system in Java. There is this essential difference, however-that the British Government has never made itself responsible for the evils by encouraging the system that gave rise to them, and if it sinned it was by omission. Dilke drew the proper contrast between the policies of the two Governments when he said "With our system there is some chance of right being done, so small is our self-interest in the wrong.” The British Government faced the right way, whatever were its weaknesses; the Dutch Government was in itself a wrong. The author of a recently published article on the policy of the Dutch in Java expresses a doubt whether the oppression of the native population was a necessary result of the system, and is not rather to be ascribed to abuses in the application of a principle than to the principle itself.

[ocr errors]



The culture services, borne in addition to the land tax and the services due the government for building roads and forts, etc., proved to be a burden that was intolerable in those parts of the island that were not specially favored by nature. In the course of time a movement of population was set up from the districts in which the system had been introduced to government lands not subject to it and to the lands held by private individuals. Popnlous regions lost as much as one-half or two-thirds of their inhabitants through emigration. Those who remained at home suffered from recurrent famines and pestilences due to the diminished food supply. The natives were not left time or land enough to raise their food and were not given wages enough to buy it. That the government might have the fields earlier for sugar cane the cultivators were forced to plant the kinds of rice that matured earlier, but gave a smaller crop of poorer quality.

Of all these events practically nothing was known at the time in the Netherlands. No government industry was ever so free from the supervision of the general public or so unchecked by the public criticism that keeps governments in the right track as was the culture system. The minister of the colonies was the only man in the Netherlands who knew the real state of affairs in the East, and he was responsible to the King alone. * The one great fact known to the Dutch people and to their representatives in the States-General was the net surplus that was turned into the treasury every year. Arguments against the system would have needed to be strongly urged and widely spread to meet this argument for it.



In fact, there was practically no opposition to the culture system in the Netherlands before the revision of the Dutch constitution in 1848. The members of the Liberal party did not before that time oppose the government's colonial policy; they opposed the political system that allowed the government to have a policy of any kind free from their knowledge and control. It was not until the fundamental question of government by the King or government by the people had been settled that the details of government could form a subject of parliamentary discussion. The colonial question was of minor importance in the agitation that resulted in the constitutional changes of 1848, but the new constitution established conditions essential to reform of the colonial system in providing that the colonies should be governed by the King and chambers, not by the King alone, and by exacting annual reports to the States-General on the state of the colonies. A new class of men entered the second chamber, liberals skilled in the doctrines of classical political economy and opposed to monopoly and compulsion. *

The colonial question occupied the chief place in Dutch politics in the decade from 1860 to 1870. The struggle over it gave rise to bitter party feeling and tempted the King to an interference that put a dangerous strain upon the constitution and was decided only after a number of ministerial crises. By the later date, however, the Liberals had won the victory, and the culture system had practically been abolished in favor of cultivation by free laborers working under private planters.




The less important government cultures, those of tea, tobacco, indigo, pepper, and cinnamon, were given up between 1860 and 1865. Some of these had been the source of actual loss to the government, none had been the source of any considerable profit, and even the Conservatives were ready to agree that these cultures were not worth the keeping. The case was different with the remaining cultures of sugar and coffee, more important than all the others put together in respect to the land and labor occupied by them and the profits that they returned. The sugar culture was peculiar in that it had always given employment to a considerable number of Europeans, who carried on the processes of manufacture as contractors under the government. The organization of the industry under these Europeans promised to make the change from compulsory services to wage labor much easier, and to facilitate also the taxation on which the government must depend for its revenue when the industry was transferred to private enterprise. A law of 1870 provided for a gradual transition from forced to free culture. Beginning in 1878, the amount of land and labor owned by the natives was reduced annually, and in 1890 the transition had been completely effected. Meanwhile the planters were bound to pay the natives wages considerably higher than was customary under the culture system, and to pay them for their land as well, and in addition to pay to the government a tax on the sugar produced, varying from 2 to 3 florins per picul (133 pounds). The government lost slightly by the change, receiving, according to Pierson's estimates, 4,000,000 florins annually in place of over 5,000,000 forins which it had been making by the sale of sugar in the previous period; but the natives gained very decidedly, and the profits to the planters were suflicient to lead to a rapid extension of the culture outside the bounds that the government had set for it. Between 1871 and 1884, 50 new sugar factories were built, and the production rose from 2,725,000 piculs to 6,495,000 piculs.

This period of progress in the sugar industry has been followed by one of depression that has developed into a real crisis in recent years; but there is no evidence to connect the decline with the change from government to private management. It is due to the ravages of the "sereh” and to the fall in price caused by the increased production throughout the world and by the European bounty system.



[ocr errors]




But one government culture remains to be considered, the most important of all in the past and the only one that is still maintainel-the coffee cultwe. Under the old system coifee alone returned more than four-fifths of the total revenue that was obtained from the sale of prelucts by the government. The large profits were an index of the strength of the culture and led to its being retained for fiscal reasons long after the other cultures had been abolished. In 1898 the government coffee culture was still imposed on 250,157 families scattered through 14 of the 20 residencies into which Java is divided. In the budget of 1900 the receipts of the government from the sale of cofice are estimatel at 10,157,815 florins out of total receipts estimatel at 111,931,000 florins, and the specific expenditures on account of the cofiee culture are put at 5,713,461 florins. * With the fall in the price of coffee due to the increased supply in the world's markets and the consequent decline in profits, the motive for maintaining the government culture has grown weaker.

There is a great diversity oi opinion as to the best way to affect the transition from forced to free culture; but the change is sure to come and will probably be not long delayed. Oi the natives engaged in the culture nearly one-half are now freed from the obligation of planting more trees to replace those that die, and since 1994 forced culture and delivery of coffee have been entirely abolished in iour of the residencies where they formerly prevailed.

In their relation with the really free laborers of Java (those not subject to the influence of some political chief) European employers have experienced two great difficulties. At the start the difliculty is encountered of getting inen to bind themselves to work for wages who see any chance to continue their independent existence.

As a result, it is the universal practice among employers to ofier a large part of the wages for any period in advance. If the native takes the bait, he can be held to labor (in theory at least) until he has worked out the debt that he has incurred. The system of advances to secure the services of laborers is described as universal down to the present time. Employers and officials deplore it, but recognize its necessity. Even the government makes advances when it requires the services of wage laborers.

The second great ciifficulty experienced by planters in their relations with the laborers is the tendency of the labores to break their contracts and leave their work, whether for good reasons or for no apparent reason. Under the culture system, which identified the economic and political organization and applied all the police power of the State to hold laborers to their work, it was possible to check the untrustworthiness and unfitiulness of the natives.




[ocr errors]


[From W. Basil Worsíold's A Visit to Java, 1893.] The great part of the special interest which attaches to Java is derived from the fact that it has been the scene of an interesting financial experiment. The history of the introduction of the culture system and of its gradual abandonment in recent years is interesting. The author of the proposal was General Van den Bosch, who became governor-general in 1850. The system continued in full operation until the year 1871, when the home Government passed an act providing for the gradual abandonment of the government sugar plantations. By the year 1990 sugar, by far the most important of the Javan indlustries, was practically freed from government interference. At the present time it is in debate whether or not the coffee industry should be similarly treated.




The immediate object of the culture system was to extend the cultivation of sugar, coffee, and other produce suited for European consumption; its ultimate object was to develop the resources of the island. This latter was, of course, the most important. Van den Bosch saw that the natives would never be able to do this by themselves. In the first place, they were still organized on the patriarchal model in village communities; and, in the second, owing to the tropical climate and the extreme case with which life could be sustained in so fertile a country, they were naturally indolent and unprogressive. Ile therefore proposed to organize their lahor under European supervision. By this method he thought that he would be able both to raise the revenue and to improve the condition of the peasants by teaching them to grow valuable proluce in addition to the rice crops on which they depended for subsistence. Van den Bosch became governor-general of Java and its dependencies in 1830. Before leaving Holland he had made his proposals known and obtained the approval of the Netherlands Government. He took with him newly appointed officials free from colonial traditions, and his reforms inspired such contidence that a number of well-educated and intelligent persons were willing to emigrate with their families to Java in order to take up the business of manufacturing the produce grown under the new system. Upon his arrival in the island a special branch of the colonial administration was created. The first work of the new department was to found the sugar industry. It was necessary to supply the manufacturers with both capital and income. Accordingly a sum amounting to £14,000 was placed to the credit of each manufacturer in the books of the department. Of this sum he was allowed to draw up to £125 per month for the expenses of himself and his fåmily during the first two years. From the third year onward he paid back one-tenth annually. Thus at the end of twelve years the capital was repaid. The manufacturer was to apply the capital so advanced to the construction of the sugar mill, which was to be fitted with the best European machinery and worked by water power. Free labor and timber from the government plantations was supplied, and the customs duties upon the machinery and implements imported were remitted. The building of the mills was supervised by the controleurs, the officials of the new department, and had to be carried out to their satisfaction. The department also undertook to see that the peasants in the neighborhood of each mill should have from 700 to 1,000 acres planted with sngar canes by the time the mills were in working order. In Java, as in other Eastern countries, the landlord has the right of selecting the crop which the tenant is to plant, and therefore the peasant saw nothing unusual in the action of the government. The controleurs ascertained, in the case of each village, how much rice land was necessary for the subsistence of the village, and they then ordered the remainder, usually one-tifth, to be planted with sugar canes. At the same time they explained that the value of the crop of sugar would be much greater than that of the rice crop, and promised that the peasants should be paid not only for the crops but also for the labor of cutting the canes and carryitg them to the mill. When, at the end of two years, the mills had been built and the plantations established, another advance was made by the department to the manufacturers. This was capital sufficient to pay for the value of the sugar crop, estimated as it stocd, for the wages of the peasants, and generally for the expenses of manufacture. This second advance was at once repaid by the produce of the mill. At first the department required the manufacturer to deliver the whole amount of produce to them at a price one-third in excess of the cost of production. Subsequently he was allowed the option of delivering the whole crop to government, or of delivering so much of the proluce only as would pay for the interest on the crop in advance, together with the installment of the original capital annually due. Working on these terms, large profits were made by the manufacturers, and there soon came to be a demand for such new contracts as the government had at their disposal.


As for the peasants, they were undoubtedly benefited by the introduction of the system. While the land rent continued to be calculated as before, on a basis of the produce of rice fields, the value of the sugar crop was so much greater than that of the rice, which it partially displaced, that the money received for it amounted on the arerage to twice the sum paid to government for land rent on the whole of the village land. Moreover, although the estimated price of the crop was paid to the wedanas, or village chiefs, the wages for cutting and carrying were paid to the peasants individually. The value of the crop, the rate of wages, and the relations between the peasants and the manufacturers generally were settled by the controleurs.

In 1871, when the culture system was in full operation, there were 39,000 bouws, or 70,000 acres, under sugar cane, giving employment to 222,000 native families, and 97 sugar mills had been started. One-third of the produce was delivered to government at the raie of 8 tlorins per picul ( 135 pounds), and the remaining two-thirds were sold by the manuacturers in open market. In the five years, 1806-1870, the government profit on sugar amounted to rather more than 25,000,000 florins.


Subsequently the cultivation of coffee, indigo, cochineal, tobacco, pepper, tea, and cinchona was added to that of sugar. The system pursued was not identical in the case of all produce. Cochineal, indigo, tea, and tobacco were cultivated in a manner similar to that adopted for sugar. But in the case of coffee, cinnamon, and pepper it was not found necessary to have any marutacturers between the controleurs and the peasants. Of these coffee, the most important, is grown on all lands having an elevation of from 2,000 to 1,500 feet. Each head of a family is required to plant a certain number of trees in gardens (the maximum was fixed in 1877 at fifty a year), and to keep a nursery of young trees to replenish the plantations. These gardens and nurseries are all inspected by native and European officials. The process of harvesting the berry is similarly supervised, but after that is accomplished the peasants are left to dry, clean, and sort the berries by themselves, and are allowed to deliver the crop at the coffee stores at their own convenience. Finally, private persons contract for periods of two or three years to pack and transport the coffee to the central stores at the ports. Of the coffee produced on government account, one-fifth only is sold in Java, and the remainder is sent home to Europe and sold there.


The culture system was so successful as a financial expedient that between the years 1831 and 1875 the colonial revenue yielded surpluses to Holland amounting to 725,000,000 tlorins. This total seenis the more remarkable when we know that from 1858 onwards, the colonial revenue was charged with 200,000,000 florins of the public debt of Holland, being the proportion borne by Belgiun before the separation of the two countries, which took place at that date.

In 1876, howerer, the long series of surpluses ceased, and they have since been replaced by deficits almost continuous. These deficits are due to three well-ascertained causes: (1) the Achin war, (2) publie works, and (3) the fall in the price of sugar and coffee. In order to show that this remarkable change in the financial fortunes of Java is in no way due to the culture system, it is necessary to go somewhat more into detail.

(1) Before the outbreak of the Achin war in 1873, the average expenditure of the colonial government for military purposes was 30,000,000 florins annually: During the period 1873-1884 this expenditure rose to an average of 50,000,000 forins, and the total cost of the war during that period amounted to 240,000,000 forins. Since 1884 the expenditure has been reduced by confining the operations of the troops to such as are purely defensive; even then the average annual expenditure has reached 40,000,000 florins.

(2) Since 1875 the construction of railways and other public works, notably the harbor works at Tanjong Priok, the port of Patavia, has been undertaken by government. Since the cost has been paid out of current revenue, and not raised by loans, these orks have necessitated a further annual expenditure of 8,000,000 florins. The total sum spent in public works between the years 1975–1884, amounting to 75,000,000 fiorins, is almost exactly equivalent to the deficit incurred during the same period.

(3) In suffering from the competition of France in stigar, and of Brazil in coffee, Java has not been peculiar. The British West Indian colonies are at the present time most disastrously affected by the bounty-fed sugar industry of France, and Ceylon is only just learning how to compensate itself for the diminution of its coffee export by the introduction of a new industry-tea.


Although the culture syetem has yielded such satisfactory results, it has been gradually abandoned since 1871.

The reason for this change of policy is the feeling that the system, though necessary originally to develop the resources of the island, is at variance with the best interests of the natives, and binders the introduction of private enterprise and capital. Increased commercial prosperity is expected to compensate for the loss of revenue caused by the withdrawal of the government from the work of production. In the mean time, it has been found necessary to impose various new and direct taxes. The most important of these is a poll tax on the natives, which has taken the place of the personal service formerly rendered by them on the government plantations. Originally imposed in 1871, it yielded 2,500,000 forins in 1886. Another compensating source of revenue is the growth of the verponding. As already mentioned, this is a tax of three-fourths per cent on the capital value of house property and industrial plant. It is assessed every three years, and therefore is an accurate test of the growth of private wealth invested in the colony. In the fifteen years from 1871 to 1886 the amount yielded by this tax showed a growth of 75 per cent.

It is not necessary to detail the various steps by which the Dutch have carried out this policy of abandonment. It is sufficient to note the general result.

To-day all the industries, with the exception of coffee, opium, and salt are free. In the production of the two latter, opium and salt, the colonial government maintains a complete monopoly; in the case of coffee they compete with the planters. The extent of the shares respectively taken by the government and private enterprise in the trade of the island is exhibited by the following returns for 1889:

[blocks in formation]

The government still produces two-thirds of the coffee crop. In 1889 the amount produced respectively by the government and the planters was 578,000 and 356,000 pieuls.

Of the two chief industries of the island, sugar and coffee, the exports in 1890 amounted in value to 50,000,000 and 15,000,000 florins, respectively. To these must be added the new industries-tea and cinchona bark. The former is only in its infancy, and is confined to the immediate neighborhood of Soekaboemi, the headquarters of the planting interest in Java. Here there are two important estates, Sinagar and Parakan Salak, which are from 12,000 to 15,000 acres in extent. The latter industry is especially hopeful. In 1890 the area of cinchona plantations was 22,500 acres, and 6,000,000 pounds of bark, containing 4 per cent of sulphate of quinine was exported. This amount is equivalent to half the world's supply for the year.

Of the import trade, it is not necessary to say more than that the most important item is that of the various cotton goods, coming mainly from this country, which serve the natives with material for clothing suitable for their tropical climate. It is also important to remember that there are 250,000 Chinese residents in the island, by whom all the retail and part of the wholesale trade is conducted.


Undoubtedly the resources of Java are at the present time subjected to a heavy strain. On the other hand, it must not be forgotten that (1) the burden of the Achin war may be at any time removed, and (2) all public works are being paid for out of current revenue without recourse to loans. There is, therefore, no reasonable ground for supposing that the present financial difficulties of the colonial government are more than temporary. A glance at the balance sheet of the island for the year 1889 shows to what an extent the difficulties are due to an increasing sense of responsibility toward the natives, and to an intention to eventually open all the industries of this singularly fertile island to private enterprise.


[Report presented by M. H. Van Kol, member of the Dutch Parliament, to the first section of the International Congress of Colonial Sociology held at Paris in 1900.)


To create between the colonizing nation and its native subjects a bond of moral sympathy, to substitute for a domination imposed and maintained by force a state of political tutelage which is accepted because it is felt to be based on justice, and because of the advantages and services which it renders"-such is the vast and beautiful programme which the general secretary of our Congress has formulated in his report introductory to our labors.

Whereas formerly colonization was treated only from the view point of the mother country's interests, and with sole regard to the material advantages derived from commercial monopoly, forced labor of the natives, and the exploitation of their land, we are faced now and henceforth with a nobler and higher ideal.

The results of the old régime are well known; absolute subjection of the colony, an artificial economic organization, and a complete lack of administrative freedom on the part of the subject people. This narrow colonial policy, based as it was on egotism and violence, remained blind to the rights of the natives and deaf to the voice of justice toward the “inferior” races. Under pretext of civilizing, remorseless exploitation was resorted to. The people of different color and clime were ruthlessly exterminated.

Colonial expansion may be regarded as an inevitable phenomenon, the fatal result of capitalism and the economic evolution of the nineteenth century; this problem, however, is beyond the scope of our congress. Given the fact of our productive forces multiplying intinitely, our machinery throwing on the market each day enormous quantities of products, it became necessary to seek new outlets in order to escape the terrible crisis of overproduction.

On the other hand, it was neither just nor natural that the civilized nations of the west should remain as if huddled in a narrow space, suffocating from constantly increasing agglomeration, whereas half of the world with all the natural riches of its soil was left at random, being occupied by primitive and ignorant people, forming few scattered groups and holding sway over disproportionately large

If the new colonies were to be left to shift for themselves, their wealth would never be brought to the surface for the happiness of humanity. Furthermore, were one to abandon existing colonies it would mean to deliver them to anarchy and to condemn them to misery. Hence we have also a duty to fulfill and a problem to solve.

Wherever civilization can not originate spontaneously—and the history of centuries is a proof thereof-it must be imposed by the slow and patient work of education and the transformation a defective organization. We have to take under our benevolent charge these weakly and sickly children. This work of civilization and education requires much reflection and intelligence. It should be properly adjusted to the period of evolution in which the backward races live. A political régime has to be selected which should cause the least amount of friction with the native population in order to elevate them gradually by persuasion and example. In a word, their rights should be respected. Justice and kindness should be used to achieve what will never be done by violence and tyranny. This is the task which modern history imposes on us. How shall we perform it?



The moral duty which we have to perform may be said to be to favor the well-being of the natives, to improve their condition, and to raise them to a higher moral plane. This is our only excuse and defense of the fact that we take from them their complete independence which would be to their ruin. Our superior civilization, instead of a terrible scourge, might be a source of benefit for the natives by favoring and accelerating their material, intellectual, and moral evolution.

Abhorring as I do any colonial expansion by force or violent annexation, I do not hesitate to declare that we can extend our sovereignty only by peaceful means; it would be fortunate indeed if the European powers were to find the time to discharge their duties in the immense possibly even too large-colonies they hold at present.

In order to consolidate our dominion, so that we may in peace devote ourselves to the beneficent work, we must win the minds and the hearts of the natives, form the minds of the children at school, and those of the adults by our political administration.

Education adapted to their practical needs, carefully respecting their ideas, customs, and traditions, is likely to slowly raise the children to a higher intellectual and moral plane. A special programme will be needed for each country and even each region, but this question constitutes a subject of a more competent discussion by M. de Saussure.

All I would say here is that we ought to start with educating the young, who some day will be the adult, and that in the same way as the children the grown-up people are able to develop, and will develop, owing to our efforts. When a higher stage of evolution will be reached the hideous customs will disappear, the morals will become purer, and the natives will have mounted one step of the long ladder of civilization, the summit of which we can by no means be said to have reached.

One great principle should always guide us in this great work of education, and that is that each reform, each administrative measure, should be adapted to the given state of development and the existing conditions without breaking too suddenly their continuity.


The great law of progressive evolution dominates the moral as well as the physical world, both of them developing simultaneously. In the matter of intellect the faculty of comprehending and assimilating certain ideas depends largely on the environment in which man has been born, on heredity, the traces of which he shows, but chiefly on the means of production which he controls, so that the mode of production of material life dominates generally the development of the social, political, and intellectual life. The social evolution, independent of the will of individuals, may be favored or retarded by the power of some in the state or society, and within certain limits this of course holds true of the immense power wielded by the colonial government. The mode of production is, after all, the great factor in the evolution of mankind which ought never to be lost out of view.

It is clear, then, that the improvement of minds, the abolition of barbarous customs, the change of traditions and habits can go on only progressively by slow stages. We are able to accelerate the evolution and progress, but we can not regulate them at our pleasure. Our wishes are impotent, our orders ridiculous and harmful. A social organization can not be changed by means of decrees, still less by an army of soldiers or functionaries.

Sometimes we may have to face artificial institutions which are not the result of spontaneous development, but that of the arbitrary will of an individual or a class; such institutions can be easily eradicated, for they have not taken root in the soil for which they were intended. But all those organisms which are the result of past evolution, which have originated and grown up with the natives, will disappear only with the factors that have caused them to originate.

Cannibalism, slavery even, disappear amidst changed social surroundings; the laziness and servility of the natives, their wasteful character, are but the results of economic conditions in which they have lived, and are sure to change with them. Let us therefore not strive after chimeras, but let us take account of reality and learn how to adapt our administrative organisms to the customs and conditions of the natives. Let us respect their organization of the family, tribe, commune, and everything else that makes up the “covenant of their life.

It is only by studying their language and learning their customs, traditions, and history that we will be enabled to rule people who for centuries have had a different civilization. To be sure, the task is difficult, and this the more because our predecessors have left us a heritage of continued spoliations, crimes, injustice, and cruelty, the memory of which has filled the hearts of the natives with hatred and distrust; the task is difiicult but not impossible. Since we are unable to either push them into other regions or, following the example of colonizers of former centuries, to exterminate them, all that is left to us is to conciliate the natives by bringing them into closer touch with ourselves by gaining their lost confidence and acquiring their affections by our benevolence.

Let us guard against any act of hostility or injustice. Let us not impose on them our laws and codes which they do not understand, and which will do them only harm, and even demoralize them.

Let us push our efforts in the direction of a native administration, strong and independent, but under the strict and honest control of the European administration. We have never known, nor shall we ever know, how to rule directly these people of distant and unknown countries, people whose desires and wishes we don't know. Our sphere of activity would be too large, our administration too extended and complicated, if we intended to regulate all the details thereof. The foreigners stand in need of the knowledge and devotion of the natives. Our direction, counsel, and control ought to be sufficient; where our direct rule would cause but harm the indirect rule, with the assistance of the natives, will have a salutary influence for the good of the people whose faith we have in our hands.


Two systems present themselves to useither to allow the natives to administer themselves under European tutelage, or else to assimilate them to the inhabitants of the mother country by imposing on them our ideas and laws. Between these two policies the choice can not be doubtful. Our rule of conduct should be to preserve or procure for the natives the greatest possible amount of authority, while never forgetting that there is close connection between the administrative, political, religious, and social organizations of these primitive races. The duty devolving on us, then, is to leave to the local powers large independence in the conduct of their affairs,

Their administration, although imperfect in our eyes, has something attractive for them, for they have grown up with it, and it corresponds to their tastes, tendencies, origin, and even prejudices. This system possesses the advantage of being adaptable to the exigencies of the moment and admitting of modifications under trying circumstances, whereas our laws are too inflexible, inexorable, and harsh for them. Let us, therefore, always and ever begin by maintaining the native administrative organisms in the expectation that a higher degree of civilization will improve, purify, and perfect them by means of our counsel, control, and ardent desire to see justice done to the weak and oppressed.

Since there can not be any absolute system and no general solution applicable to so many different situations, the particular condition of each colony has to be studied and each special case considered on its own merits. Being in the position of the tutor we have to study the child and distinguish between the periods of infancy, adolescence, and maturity. Very often the native will appear to us separated from ourselves by an abyss, and neither wishing to crush or exterminate him, nor being able to fuse and assimilate him to ourselves, we must attempt to bring him in closer touch with ourselves. What he is at present we have been some centuries ago; what we are he will become some day, for even the most retrograde races have shown themselves capable of civilization. History furnishes us the proof for it. These colonies are like the children in the family, at first they cause us care and trouble, but later on they give us joy and support. We are able to elevate the natives, to bring them into closer touch with ourselves by means of our ideas, eclucation, friendly guardianship, and control, animated by the spirit of justice and fraternity. It would be preposterous to try to assimilate the natives; all we can do is to guide them in the proper path. Let us see to it that the child grows up and develops; let us charge our selves with his education, so that when he has grown up through our care we should be able to let him govern himself by granting him autonomy.

But before the coming generations are to see the ripe fruit of the tree we have a long-winded work to perforin. So long as the natives of these distant countries live under our protection and friendly tutelage, we must leave to them a large amount of administrative freedom and procure for them as much of well-being as is in our power.


Let us not demolish their holy ark (“leur arche sainte”), whether it has taken the shape of the tribe, the community, or the village; let us leave intact their organization required by their customs, which, moreover, is usually the result of past evolution. The chiefs of the village or the district should be of their own blood, both when they are elected by the natives according to the customs of the country as well as when they are appointed by our Government. The work of the European functionaries should be restricted to a strict but just and enlightened control, and to the administration of those public undertakings of common interest which are to benefit all inhabitants, black and white, of the colony:

Among the public services of general interest to the colony, whether they be organized by larger or smaller territorial districts, the more important are the administration of financial and monetary affairs, that of posts and telegraphs, that of the means of communication (canals and railroads), the establishment of ports and maritime transportation, the maintenance of the higher courts of justice, the matters of common defense and commercial relation with other countries. A large decentralization of financial administration particularly will prevent this branch from becoming a monopoly in the hands of the Europeans, and will permit of the admission of natives who have shown that they possess the necessary capacity for useful service along these lines.

Being responsible for the financial results we must try above all to lessen the expenditures and increase the revenues. Without taking recourse to ill-advised economy of cutting down the salaries of European and native officials, we should, by fixing the revenues, prevent all exaction and illegal gain. By regulating their amount, not according to the greediness of the mother country, but according to the evident and real needs of the colony, these revenues may be cut down to a large extent, particularly if prudence is shown in organizing the public service of these primitive countries on a less extensive footing than in the countries of Europe. With the help of a thousand European officials England rules British India with her two hundred and eighty-seven millions of inhabitants; France has twelve hundred and sixty-seven in Indo-China for a population twelve times less.


The revenues may be increased considerably even by decreasing the charges imposed on the natives. The state monopoly of some public services, which lend themselves more easily in the colonies than anywhere else; the working of the better mines and the petroleum wells by the state; participation in the net profits of franchises granted to private individuals; a good organization in order to make more productive the state domains (forests, salt springs, pearl fisheries), without wasting or squandering blindly the future wealth of the soil and subsoil, will cause to flourish the finances. The taxes, shaped to a large extent in accordance with local custom (land tax, capitation tax, tax on games and sports, licenses on professions, etc.), should take a fixed character easy of control and not subject to arbitrary action. A monopoly such as that of opium might constitute a source of considerable revenue for the treasury, while limiting the harmful consumption of this drug pending its complete abolition.

The administration of justice should leave large scope to the employment of natives under the strict control of the colonial government. In this case as well the ideas and customs should be respected, while at the same time the most cruel and barbarous punishments should be done away with. One of the chief points is an eflicient guaranty of the property of the natives against all encroachments on the part of outsiders, without, however, lapsing into the ridiculous extreme of exacting proois of title or other documents in a country where they do not exist yet. The protection of the native's property against theft and usury can also be obtained by a good organization of the police, and it is in this field as well that the inhabitants of the country may play an active and indispensable part.


By leaving to the kings and native princes their titles and honors we avoid the risk of offending them, which, owing to the almost religious prestige which they possess, may turn out a great danger.

The introduction of improved methods in agriculture and stock raising, by means of persuasion and example rather than by force, would make the necessary tax burdens less heavy. Traveling instructors from among the natives might spread better methods and give useful advice to the agriculturists. Popular education could neither dispense with the cooperation of the natives, who know the language

No. 4-30

« AnteriorContinuar »