An age in motion : popular radicalism in Java, 1912- 1926. [1. publ. ed.] 9780801421884, 0801421888

Takashi Shiraishi examines the emergence during the first quarter of the twentieth century of an Indonesian popular move

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An age in motion : popular radicalism in Java, 1912- 1926. [1. publ. ed.]
 9780801421884, 0801421888

Table of contents :
Frontmatter --
Contents --
Maps and Tables --
Preface --
Abbreviations --
Glossary --
1. The Arena --
2. The Birth of the Pergerakan --
3. The Age in Motion --
4. The Insulinde and Peasant Strikes in Surakarta --
5. Solo in the Pergerakan --
6. The Age of Reaction, the Age of Parties --
7. Islamism and Communism --
8. Final Years --
Epilogue --
Selected Bibliography --

Citation preview

Popular Radicalism in java, 1912—1926 \

Takashi Shiraishi


An Age in Motion Popular Radicalism in Java, 1912—1926 Takashi Shiraishi

“An important book, not only for South¬ east Asia specialists but for the comparative study of ideological change. Dealing with a liminal period in the transition between tradi¬ tional and modern thought, and with a con¬ junction between religion, nationalism, and social radicalism, it should attract the atten¬ tion of historians of intellectual change and people interested in contemporary move¬ ments elsewhere in the world. In this book, Shiraishi shows vividly how the ideology of the independence movement was born in the experience and thought of ordinary peo¬ ple.”—Ruth McVey, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London “This superb political and intellectual study of early twentieth-century Indonesian nationalism in Java sets a new standard for writing history as subtly and richly as it hap¬ pened.”—Daniel S. Lev, Department of Polit¬ ical Science, University of Washington Takashi Shiraishi examines the emergence during the first quarter of this century of an Indonesian popular movement (called pergerakan). Expressed in such forms as news¬ papers, rallies, trade unions, revolts, novels, and songs, this popular movement marked a time when Indonesians began to view their world in a new way, to articulate this new con¬ sciousness in modern forms, and to believe that these expressions could have a political effect—in sum, it was a time that Indonesians felt to be in motion. Modern Indonesian poli¬ tics was born in the pergerakan, and Indone¬ sian nationalism, Islamism, and communism, as political movements, trace their origins to this period.

(continued on back flap)

An Age in Motion

Asia East by South A series published under the auspices of the Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University An Age in Motion: Popular Radicalism in java, 1911-1916,

by Takashi Shiraishi

An Age in Motion Popular Radicalism in Java, 1912—1926

Takashi Shiraishi

Cornell University Press Ithaca and London


Copyright © 1990 by Cornell University All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in a review, this book, or parts thereof, must not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher. For information, address Cornell University Press, 124 Roberts Place, Ithaca, New York 14850. First published 1990 by Cornell University Press. International Standard Book Number 0-8014-2188-8 Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 89-37476 Printed in the United States of America

Librarians: Library of Congress cataloging information appears on the last page of the book. © The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials Z39.48—1984.

Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2018 with funding from The Arcadia Fund



Maps and Tables







xix 1

The Arena The Age of Capital, i Reorganization



The Age of Capital, 2


The Modern Age



The Birth of the Pergerakan The Surakarta Sarekat Islam

4i 41

Dunia Pergerakan (The World of the Movement)


The Rise of Tjokroaminoto 70 Marco in Doenia Bergerak (The World in Motion)


The Age in Motion The Rise of Semaoen

9i 98

Tjokroaminoto’s Radicalization


The Age of Strikes and the Rise of “the Strike King”




The Insulinde and Peasant Strikes in Surakarta Tjipto, a Ksatrya


Misbach, a Muballigh


The Rise of the Insulinde, 1


The Rise of the Insulinde, 2


Misbach and the Peasant Strikes


Tjipto, Douwes Dekker, and the Polanharjo Affair Vll






Solo in the Pergerakan Tjipto in Motion



The Resurgence of the Sarekat Hindia


“The Age of the World Upside-Down” The Sarekat Abangan 197 The Government Strikes Back


The Collapse of the Sarekat Hindia


The CSI Split



The Age of Reaction


The Age of Parties


Islamism and Communism Misbach’s Return



Solo in the Age of Reaction Journey to Manokwari Islamism and Communism

266 278 285

Final Years Marco’s Return

299 299

The Government versus the Party The Surakarta PKI and SR in Motion The Final Year



The PFB General Strike Fiasco



The Age of Reaction, the Age of Parties Deepening Schism



309 316


Epilogue Selected Bibliography Index

339 343 355

Maps and Tables

MAPS 1. Java 2. Residency of Surakarta, 1920s 3. Center of Insulinde/NIP-SH actions

xxiv 4 155

TABLES 1. Railway transportation through East-West and SemarangVorstenlanden Lines


2. The area leased to European plantations in Surakarta and Yogyakarta, 1862—1920


3. Sugar and tobacco production in the Vorstenlanden, 1880—1910


4. Sugar and tobacco production in the regencies of Surakarta, Boyolali, Klaten, Sragen, and Wonogiri in 1890, 1900, and 1910


5. The number of second-class native schools and pupils


6. Native elementary schools in Java and Madura


7. Native students attending Dutch-language schools


8. The CSI Central Committee, 1914—17




The rise of a popular movement, expressed in such forms as news¬

papers and journals, rallies and meetings, trade unions and strikes, associations and parties, novels, songs, theaters, and revolts, is the phenomenon that most vividly struck the Dutch as the “native” awak¬ ening in the Indies in the first quarter of the twentieth century. It was and still is called the pergerakan (movement), in which “natives” moved (bergerak) in their search for forms to express their new politi¬ cal consciousness, put in motion (menggerakkan) their thoughts and ideas, and confronted the realities of the Indies in the world and in an age they felt to be in motion. In the orthodox historiography shared by both Indonesians and Indonesianists, the pergerakan is often seen as the movement in which the yet-nameless nation was in search of its own name, Indonesia, and its national ideal, Indonesia Merdeka (Free Indonesia). In this view, the pergerakan begins with the letters of R. A. Kartini and the establish¬ ment of the Boedi Oetomo (BO, Lofty Intent), the first individual and organizational expressions of national awakening, and ends with the establishment of the Perhimpoenan Indonesia (Indonesian Association) and Soekarno’s Partai Nasional Indonesia (National Party of Indo¬ nesia) and with sumpah pemuda, the oath by which Indonesian youth committed themselves to Indonesia as one country, one nation, and one language. In this view, the pergerakan in the first quarter of the twentieth century was essentially transitional, in the sense that it was national but not yet really nationalist. Its historical significance can be appreciated only in terms of what it eventually attained, the discovery of the national ideal of Free Indonesia and the creation of traditions that had taken shape in the course of the pergerakan, above all the ideological and organizational classificatory system of nationalism, Isxi



lam, and communism. In this perspective, all the individuals and or¬ ganizations that “moved” are understood as precursors of what even¬ tually succeeded them. Kartini is thus seen as the mother of Indonesian national awakening; the BO and the Indische Partij (IP, Indies Party) as nationalist; the Sarekat Islam (SI, Association of Islam) and the Moehammadijah as Islamic; and the Indische Sociaal-Democratische Vereeniging (ISDV, Indies Social Democratic Association) and the PKI (Perserikatan Kommunist di India, League of Communists in the In¬ dies, and later Partai Komunis Indonesia, Communist Party of Indo¬ nesia) as Communist. What is the historical basis of this historiography? It seems that this view is a child born from the marriage between Dutch Indies state files and the post-independence Indonesia-centric perspectives. Its founda¬ tion was laid by J. Th. Petrus Blumberger in his trilogy De Communistische Bewegirtg in Nederlandsch-Indie (The Communist move¬ ment in the Netherlands Indies), De Nationalistische Beweging in Nederlandscb-Indie (The nationalist movement in the Netherlands In¬ dies), and De Indo-Europeescbe Beweging in Nederlandscb-Indie (The Indo-European movement in the Netherlands Indies).1 Petrus Blum¬ berger, a former administrative official of the Indies state, came to occupy the celebrated position of its founding father because of the rare access he enjoyed to Dutch colonial archives, through whose files and dossiers he could view the pergerakan in the Indies as if looking at fish in an aquarium. In writing his trilogy, however, he not only ob¬ tained data from Dutch colonial files but also, and more important, inherited the two classificatory systems the Indies state employed in organizing its memory. One of the systems was racial, reflecting the fundamental principle by which the Indies state classified and thus segregated the Indies population into the “Europeans,” the “Eura¬ sians” (Indos), the “foreign Orientals,” and the “natives.” The other was organizational, because the state worried more about organiza¬ tions than about individuals and because organized political parties had become normal by the time Petrus Blumberger embarked on his research on the pergerakan. The BO, the SI, and the Communists (the ISDV and the PKI) were thus juxtaposed with trade unions, religious movements (the Moehammadijah and the Ahmadijah), and ethnic movements in De Nationalistische Beweging, while the IP and its suc¬ cessors, the Insulinde and the Nationaal Indische Partij-Sarekat Hindia (NIP-SH, National Indies Party-Association of the Indies), were jux¬ taposed with the Indo-Europeesch Verbond (Indo-European Union) in 1J. Th. (Haarlem: (Haarlem: (Haarlem:

Petrus Blumbergber, De Communistische Beweging in Nederlandsch-Indie Tjeenk Willink, 1928); De Nationalistische Beweging in Nederlandsch-Indie Tjeenk Willink, 1931); De Indo-Europeesche Beweging in Nederlandsch-Indie Tjeenk Willink, 1939).



De Indo-Europeescbe Beweging simply because the IP was the brain¬ child of an Indo, E.F.E. Douwes Dekker. In the post-independence era, two types of changes took place. The first one was nominal, as names were changed to express Indonesia¬ centric perspectives. The Netherlands Indies became Indonesia, the “native” awakening became the Indonesian national awakening, and Inlanders (natives) became Indonesians. Second and more significant, the original two classificatory systems were consolidated into one ideo¬ logical and organizational classificatory system of nationalism, Islam, and communism. This change was brought about because the racial categories were outright colonial and because the classificatory system of nationalism, Islam, and communism had become commonsensical since the middle of the 1920s in the discourse of Indonesian politics. Partial rehabilitation of the IP as a nationalist precursor resulted from this revision. With these revisions a hybrid historiography came into being. Once born, this hybrid orthodox historiography has been challenged in no fundamental way and has continued to orient further research on the pergerakan, research done primarily to fill in “gaps” left by Petrus Blumberger. The only exception was Ruth T. McVey’s classic, The Rise of Indonesian Communism. Investigating the changing party lines of the PKI and its relations with the Comintern, she demonstrated that the Communist movement in the Indies defied racial segregations.2 Yet even her work remains a partial revision of the orthodox historiogra¬ phy because, concentrating her attention on the development of Indo¬ nesian communism (the ISDV and the PKI), she did not really question the validity of the classificatory system of nationalism, Islam, and com¬ munism. Yet the orthodox historiography has two fundamental weaknesses. First, the fact that the Indies state organized files on the pergerakan in terms of organizations does not necessarily mean that organizations are of paramount importance for the understanding of the pergerakan. Indeed, how can the orthodox view be justified, if those who “moved” in those years thought, said, and acted in the first person and if only in the 1920s did parties start to suppress first-person voices in the name of organization and discipline? Second, seeing the pergerakan in the 1910s and the first half of the 1920s as transitional, the orthodox historiography fails to ask one set of important questions: how people were confronted with what realities, what thoughts and ideas guided them, and above all what forms and languages they employed to ex¬ press their new consciousness. 2Ruth T. McVey, The Rise of Indonesian Communism (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1965).



The age of pergerakan in Indonesia is comparable in its importance to the rise of a popular movement in China in the 1910s and 1920s, in the Philippines in the 1880s and 1890s, and in Malaya in the immedi¬ ate postwar years. It was in those years that people—at first a few from particular social groups and backgrounds and later wider segments of the population—began to see the world in a new way (which was, however, intimately related to older ways), to feel that they could change their world, and to express this new consciousness in modern forms and languages now familiar to us, such as newspapers, rallies, strikes, unions, parties, and ideologies. It is this new consciousness and the richness of forms and languages in which it was cast which gives the pergerakan its major significance. How, then, can we understand the pergerakan in its own fertility and richness? Who “moved” in what realities and against whom? What were their thoughts and ideas? In what forms and languages were they expressed and how were those forms and languages read? In short, what was the pergerakan like? Certainly there are a number of ways to approach these questions. We may focus our attention on individual pergerakan leaders’ thoughts and try to understand how their minds struggled with the realities of the Indies in the 1910s and the 1920s.3 We may place ourselves in a certain locality and try to appreciate the richness of the pergerakan there. Or we may view the pergerakan from the center of the Indies state in Buitenzorg and try to understand how the pergerakan was encased in the “Glass House” and was monitored, shaped, and eventually crushed by the Dutch Indies state.4 The approach employed in this book is eclectic in this respect: we will set our stage in Surakarta, Central Java, and read pergerakan leaders’ and followers’ words and deeds in their social, cultural, politi¬ cal, and economic contexts, while keeping fully in mind what went on outside Surakarta—in Java, the Indies, and beyond—as read and dis¬ cussed in newspapers and at rallies and meetings. This approach is justifiable for two reasons. If we try to see the pergerakan from the center, we will easily end up viewing it in the Glass House, taking pale and senseless images of the pergerakan gleaned from files and dossiers as real; and if we concentrate our attention solely on a certain locality or on a certain personality, that hybrid historiography will remain intact. In this sense, this book is not just a study of the pergerakan in 3See for instance Benedict Anderson, “A Time of Darkness and a Time of Light: Transposi¬ tion in Early Indonesian Nationalist Thought,” Anthony Reid and David Marr eds., Percep¬ tions of the Past in Southeast Asia (Singapore: Heinemann Educational Books, 1980), pp. 219—248; Kenji Tsuchiya, Indonesia Minzoku-shugi Kenkyu: Taman Siswa no Seiritsu to Tenkai (Tokyo: Sobunsha, 198Z). 4Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Rumah Kaca (Jakarta: Hasta Mitra, 1988).



Surakarta. But Surakarta as an arena is strategic for our purposes because Surakarta was the only center of the pergerakan in which all social forces—Javanese princes and aristocrats, native officials, native bourgeoisie, Western-educated native intellectuals, pesantren (Islamic boarding school)-educated Muslims, artisans, workers, peasants, Indos, Chinese, Dutch administrative officials, and Dutch plantation managers—joined the pergerakan or became its enemies; and because three figures who defy the classification of nationalism, Islam, and communism—Tjipto Mangoenkoesoemo, Marco Kartodikromo, and Hadji Mohammad Misbach—illuminated the pergerakan in Surakarta in their own different ways. The chapters that follow are divided chronologically into four parts. After delineating Surakarta as our arena, I discuss the pergerakan in its formative years (1912—17) in Chapter 2 and its transformation in the age of strikes (1918—20) in Chapters 3—5. I then move on to the pergerakan in the age of parties in Chapters 6 and 7, and discuss in the last chapter the final years of the pergerakan leading to the ill-fated Communist revolts in late 1926 and early 1927. In dealing with the problem of variations in the spelling of Indone¬ sian names and words, I have found no satisfactory solution. The system I follow is this: personal and organizational names as well as Indonesian words in quotations are spelled in the original (hence, for instance, Tjipto Mangoenkoesoemo, not Tjipto Mangunkusumo or Cipto Mangunkusumo, and Boedi Oetomo [BO], not Budi Utomo [BU]); place-names and Indonesian words not in quotations are spelled in the modern system (hence Yogyakarta, not Djogjakarta or Jogjakar¬ ta, and muballigh, not moeballigh). This book traces its conception to my encounter with Hadji Moham¬ mad Misbach’s serialized article in Medan Moeslimin, “Islamisme dan Kommunisme [Islamism and communism],” at the National Museum Library in Jakarta in December 1977. Unable to make sense of it, I looked for and tried to reconstruct a meaningful historical context in which to locate and read the article. This eventually led me to question the orthodox historiography of the pergerakan. In the very slow proc¬ ess of maturation of my research over ten years, I accumulated an enormous amount of debt to many people and institutions. Here 1 above all wish to acknowledge my great intellectual and personal debt to Benedict Anderson, Shinkichi Eto, and David K. Wyatt, who have all given me support and encouragement and in very different ways have shaped my thinking about Indonesia and Asia. I am also deeply grateful to Sherman Cochran, Audrey Kahin, Ruth McVey, James Siegel, Kenji Tsuchiya, and Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who not only



read the manuscript and offered many helpful and insightful sugges¬ tions and criticisms but also made available their own materials for my benefit. Acknowledgment is also due the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Southeast Asia Program of Cornell University, the Depart¬ ment of International Relations of the University of Tokyo, the Minis¬ try of Education of Japan, and the Nitobe Fellowship, whose support permitted me to study at Cornell University and to do research in the Netherlands and Indonesia. I am also grateful for the help I received from the archives of the Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken (Ministry of Internal Affairs) in The Hague, which granted me permission to consult papers in the Archives of the Netherlands Indies, and from the LIPI of Indonesia. The list of friends at Cornell University and in Indonesia, the Nether¬ lands, and Japan whose thoughts, writings, and experiences have helped me in so many ways is too long to append here. Special thanks are, however, due Sumio Fukami, Hiroyoshi Kano, Yudhistira, Adhie and Antho Massardi, the late Akira Nagazumi, William and Jeanne O’Mal¬ ley, Onghokham, Saifullah Mahyuddin, and the late Haji Roesli. My editor at Cornell University Press, Holly Bailey, was helpful in many ways, Fois Krieger copyedited the manuscript with care, and Jana Mrazkova made index with great thoroughness. Finally, my wife, Saya, an Indonesianist in her own right, helped and inspired me in so many ways, and to her I dedicate this book with love. Takashi Shiraishi

Ithaca, New York






Binneniandsch Bestuur (Interior Administration, the European Civil Service) Boedi Oetomo Centraal Sarekat Islam Europeesche Lagere Scholen (European Elementary Schools) Gouverneur Generaal (Governor General) Hollandsche Burger Scholen (Dutch Middle-Class Schools) Hollandsche Inlandsche Scholen (Dutch Native Schools) Inlandsche Journalisten Bond (League of Native Journalists) Indische Partij (Indies Party) Indonesische Padvinders Organizatie or Organisatie Pemoeda Indonesia (Indonesian Youth Organization) Indische Persoverzicht (weekly survey of Javanese, Malay, and Chinese-Malay newspapers) Indische Sociaal-Democratische Partij (Indies Social Democratic Party) Indische Sociaal-Democratische Vereeniging (Indies Social Democratic Association) mas (Javanese title of nobility below raden) Nationaal Indische Partij-Sarekat Hindia (National Indies Party-Association of the Indies) Nederlandsch Indische Spoorweg (Netherlands Indies Railway) Opleiding School voor Inlandsche Ambtenaren (Training School for Native Officials) Politiek Economische Bond (Political Economic Union) Personeel Fabriek Bond (Sugar Factory Workers’ Union) Perserikatan Goeroe Hindia Belanda (Netherlands Indies Teachers’ Union) Politieke Inlichtingendienst (Political Intelligence Service) Perserikatan Kaoem Boeroeh Oemoem (General Workers’ Union)




Abbreviations Perkoempoelan Kaoem Boeroeh dan Tani (Peasants’ and Work¬ ers’ Union) Perserikatan Kommumst di India (League of Communists in the Indies), or Partai Komunis Indonesia (Communist Party of Indonesia) Perserikatan Kaoem Tani (Peasants’ Union) fesaioean Perserikatan Kaoem Boeroeh (Concentration of Trade Unions) Perserikatan Pegawai Pegadaian Boemipoetra (Native Pawn¬ shop Workers’ Union) Partij Sarekat Islam (Party of the Association of Islam) raden (title of nobility) Sidik Amanat Tableg Vatonah (To Confirm, Convey, and Propagate Goodness) v Sarekat Boeroeh Batik (Batik Workers’ Union) Sarekat Boeroeh Goela (Sugar Workers’ Union) Sarekat Dagang Islam or Sarekat Dagang Islamijah (Commercial Association of Islam) Sarekat Hindia. See NIP-SH Sarekat Islam (Association of Islam) Sarekat Penolong Kesengsaraan Indonesia (Association of Help¬ ers of Indonesian Misery) Sarekat Ra’jat (Association of the People) Sarekat Tani (Peasants’ Union) School tot Opleiding van Inlandsche Artsen (Native Doctors’ Training School) Tjong Hoa Hwee Koan (Chinese Association) Tentera Kandjeng Nabi Mohammad (Lord Prophet Moham¬ mad’s Army) Vereemging Inlandsch Personeel Burgerlijke Openbare Werken (Union of Native Public Works Employees) Vereemgte Oost-Indische Compagme (Dutch East India Com¬ pany) Vereemging voor Spoor- en Tramwegpersoneel (Railway and Tramway Workers’ Union)



nominal(ly) Muslim, strongly influenced by Hindu-Buddhist and animist religious ideas

adat Algemeene

customary law, tradition or custom General Investigation Service

Recherchedienst Arbeidsleger

Labor Army




0.7 hectare one who holds a lease on land of an appanage holder Interior Administration, the European civil service (BB) in

bekel Binnenlandsch Bestuur

Dutch Java




slander wages the peasant receives from the plantation for his agri¬


cultural labor hormat

forbidden by Islamic law respect, especially used for deference forms, prescribed clothing.


language behavior the process of arriving at new judgments by drawing conclu¬


sions from basic sources of Islam (the Koran and hadith), as opposed to acceptance of tradition Islam lamisan


Islam sedjati jongkok kampung

true Islam humble, crouching walk quarter or area, administrative or otherwise, of a city


money paid by a plantation to a peasant in compensation for an extra two to six months’ use of his field



kaum abangan

See abangan. “young” group, that is, progressives

kaum muda



kaum putihan



(group of) devout Muslims patih’s office

ketoprak korban

Javanese popular opera sacrifice, victim

kretek kring

cigarette with ground cloves added to the tobacco literally, circle; subbranch

kromo ksatrya kuli kuli kenceng Kweekschool kyai

commoner without rank and status; high-Javanese

See satria. peasant under bekel’s control who cultivates land, pays taxes and performs corvee labor peasant entitled to have the usufruct of half a bau of arable land and a housing plot Teacher Training School


respected elder man, especially of Islamic learning appanage


foreman, overseer

mantri polisi

native police officer merdeka/mardika free mualim (pi. religious teacher, guide mualimin) muballigh (pi.

preacher, Islamic propagandist

muballighin) mukmin/

the believers, the faithful

moekmin munafik/


moenafik Narpowandojo negara

Association of Kasunanan princes state, capital

negaragung nggogol

the inner realms, the core region traditional form of peasant protest, mass petition to a high official


low Javanese


government opium monopoly

orang particular pandita panggugah Pangreh Pradja

white-collar workers employed by private business, as opposed to those in government service sa8e> priest in wayang tradition awakener

partijtucht patih

indigenous administrative corps party discipline grand vizier


appanage holder


recital of Koranic verses

pengulu perang sabil

head of the religious officials holy war

pesantren pikul

traditional rural Islamic school


61.76 kilograms or 136,161 pounds literally, quarter; institution that arbitrates conflicts between peasants and plantation owners

Glossary priyayi Procureur Generaal racun radja (raja) ra’jat/rajat recherche regent polisi Rekso Roemekso ronda rust en orde sama rata sama rasa santri satria satria maling satria palsoe (palsu) satria sedjati Sekaten sembah Siang-hwee singkeh sinyo slametan tabligh tandak tata tentram tentram Volkslectuur


member of the Javanese official class Prosecutor General poison king people detective force, investigation department native police chief in the same rank with regent the Guard, association established by H. Samanhoedi for mutu¬ al help and assistance night watch tranquillity and order equality and solidarity student of a pesantren warrior-aristocrat of Javanese legend and tradition thief satria fake satria

true satria court festivity celebrating the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday gesture of obeisance with hands held before face Chinese Chamber of Commerce a Chinese who has recently arrived from China European or Eurasian boy ritual communal feast religious meeting, Islamic public sermon Javanese female dancer order and tranquillity tranquil, calm People’s Reading, government agency that published books and ran libraries for the population and surveyed native and Chinese-Malay newspapers People’s Council Volksraad prince, ruler vorst principalities Vorstenlanden wargo pangarso literally, members willing to go first; “group presidents of SI who were appointed for each kampung wargo roemekso literally, guard members; cadres theater of flat leather shadow puppets wayang Javanese stage show wayang orang district chief wedana native police chief in the same rank with wedana wedana polisi literally, little man; ordinary people wong cilik age zaman

An Age in Motion


The Arena

In the colonial era of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the regions of Surakarta and Yogyakarta in Central Java formed four“selfgoverning” principalities under the suzerainty of the Dutch Indies state. The city of Surakarta was the seat of the Kasunanan and the Mangkunegaran royal houses, while Yogyakarta was the seat of the Kasultanan and the Pakualaman houses. These four royal houses legit¬ imately claimed to be heirs of the once powerful Javanese dynasty of Mataram, but were Dutch colonial creations as well. The Dutch placed their domains under two administrative residencies of Surakarta and Yogyakarta and called the entire region the Vorstenlanden (prin¬ cipalities), distinguishing it from the rest of Java directly ruled by the Dutch Indies government. From the time of the East India Company (VOC), the Dutch re¬ peatedly exploited internal dissension, wars, and disturbances in the Mataram kingdom to extract ever greater economic, territorial, and political power. In 1743, after the Mataram king or susuhunan (sunan) had been ousted by his rivals in a rebellion and then restored to the throne by the Dutch, he moved the palace to Solo (Surakarta), while ceding the northern coastal regions to the VOC. This was the founding of the Kasunanan house in Surakarta, and also the beginning of Dutch colonial penetration into the core regions of the former Mataram king¬ dom, for the patih (grand vizier) in charge of the administration of that domain was now brought into the service of the VOC and the sunan. A rival royal house, the Kasultanan, was then established in Yogyakarta by the Treaty of Gianti in 1755, with Sultan Hamengkubuwana I given control of half the core and outlying regions of Mataram. Two years later another rival, the Mangkunegaran royal house, was founded in Surakarta by the Treaty of Salatiga, with Mas Said as its founding


An Age in Motion

prince. He swore allegiance to the sunan, the VOC, and the sultan, received the title of Pangeran Adipati Mangkunegara, and controlled his appanage as a self-governing principality. Further division and ero¬ sion of the Vorstenlanden came in the early nineteenth century. During the wars that attended the British interlude in Java (1811-16), a tiny new principality, the Pakualaman, was carved out of the domain of the Kasultanan. And with the quelling of the Java War (1825-30) and the Dutch takeover of the outlying regions there emerged the final shape of the Vorstenlanden, confined to the core region of Mataram and Pajang in inland south Central Java, divided administratively into four prin¬ cipalities, and politically and militarily impotent. The residency of Surakarta was composed of the Kasunanan and the Mangkunegaran domains. The region’s border was formed partly by Mount Lawu in the east and Mounts Merapi and Merbabu in the west. In the center of the residency lay the fertile Solo plain, bounded by the foothills of Mounts Merapi and Merbabu in the west and the foothills of Mount Lawu in the east. To the south lies a dry limestone plateau, Gunung Sewu, and in the north the Solo plain meets a range of moun¬ tains. The Solo River runs through the Solo plain, generally from south to north, passing near the capital of Surakarta on its journey to East Java and the Java Sea and bringing fertile volcanic deposits to the soil of the Solo plain. The capital of Surakarta, where the sunan’s and the Mangkunegara’s palaces as well as the Dutch resident’s office were located, was in the middle of the Solo plain. The city lay on the left bank of the Solo River, and the Pepe River ran through its center. The largest part of the city belonged to the Kasunanan. About one-fifth of the area of the city belonged to the Mangkunegaran. Outside the capital, the area was divided between the Kasunanan and the Mangkunegaran. If we follow the administrative divisions that had emerged toward the end of the nineteenth century, the regencies of Klaten and Boyolali as well as a large part of Sragen belonged to the Kasunanan, while Karanganyar and Karangpanden belonged to the Mangkunegaran. The regency of Wonogiri was largely in Mangkunegaran domain, except for the dis¬ tricts of Sukoharjo and Tawangsari, which belonged to the Kasunanan. According to the first reliable census in 1920, the sunan’s domain cov¬ ered an area of 3,360 square kilometers with a population of 1,383,000, while the Mangkunegaran covered an area of 2,780 square kilometers with a population of 706,000. The population of the city of Surakarta was 134,000, including substantial European, Indo-European (Indo), Chinese, and Arab populations. In 1920 the population of Europeans and Indos was 5,000, half of whom lived in the city. The Chinese numbered 14,000, of whom 8,000 lived in the capital, and the Arab

The Arena


population was 800, all in the city.1 The plural nature of the popula¬ tion was much more pronounced in the city of Surakarta, where Euro¬ peans, Indos, Chinese, Arabs, and other “foreign Orientals” composed some 10 percent of the whole population.2 True to traditional conceptions, the center of the realm was the capital (negara), and the center of the capital was the sunan’s palace.3 The sunan lived with his wives and female dignitaries in the inner core of the palace. Outside the inner court and enclosed by the walls of the larger complex extended the living quarters of officials, functionaries, courtiers, and various craftsmen and workers. On the north and south sides of the sunan’s palace lay two squares. To the west side of the northern square lay the Great Mosque, and the area surrounding the mosque was Kampung Kauman, the living quarters of the sunan’s religious officials, the abdi dalem putihan, headed by the pengulu. Outside the capital, sunan’s negaragung (the core region) extended to the south, the west, the north, and the northeast. The replication of traditional conceptions of the realm, however, ended there. To the southwest, beyond the sunan’s negaragung, was the Kasultanan, equal in status with the Kasunanan. Within the resi¬ dency itself, Karanganyar and Wonogiri to the east and to the south¬ east of the capital were under the control of the Mangkunegaran. And in the capital, the Mangkunegara’s palace lay northwest of the sunan’s palace, on the west bank of Pepe, with the living quarters of the Mang¬ kunegaran officials and legionnaires. Northwest of the sunan’s palace, across the Pepe River, was the Kepatihan (the patih’s office). It was a traditional institution inherited from Mataram, but now the sunan only nominated the patih, while the Dutch confirmed his appointment. With the backing of the Dutch, to whom the patih owed allegiance as well as to the sunan, the Kepatihan grew more independent of the sunan, and actual administrative authority and responsibility were in his hands. In between the sunan’s palace and the Kepatihan, just north of the square, lay the European section, with the residency house, offices, a church, theater, clubs, schools, and Fort Vastenburg. The Dutch resi1Volkstelling 1920 (Batavia: Landsdrukkerij), pp. ioo-ioi. 2In the residency of Yogyakarta the Kasultanan covered an area of 2,900 square kilometers with a population of 1,148,000 and the Pakualaman an area of 145 square kilometers with a population of 96,000, which was composed of the Pakualaman territory in the city of Yogyakarta and the regency of Adikarta. In terms of area and population, the Kasunanan clearly came first, closely followed by the Kasultanan and the Mangkunegaran, with the Pakualaman as a tiny appendage. 3For traditional conceptions of the realm, see Selosoemardjan, Social Changes in Jogjakar¬ ta (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, i960), pp. 23-27; H.K.J. van Deinse, De Foestand in de Vorstenlanden (Leiden: P. Somerwill, 1887), pp. 32—33.

INDIAN OCEAN Map 2. Residency of Surakarta, 1920s

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dent performed a dual function. First, he had legal jurisdiction over Europeans and all other inhabitants in the residency who were not subjects of either the sunan or the Mangkunegara. Second and more important, he was the official representative to both princes and politi¬ cal agent of the governor general of the Dutch Indies. To the sunan he was officially a “father” and to the Mangkunegara a “friend.” His relations with the sunan were largely determined by a political contract the ruler had signed at his accession, while his relations with the Mang¬ kunegara were determined by a certificate of relations. The main Chinese quarter was Pasar Gede (Great Market) in the center of the city and on the north bank of the Pepe River. It was administered by the Dutch-appointed Chinese officers. The Chinese officers in turn were intimately connected by kinship and business with the Chinese opium farm. In the nineteenth century, when pass and quarter regulations were applied to the Chinese, Chinese officers were responsible for Chinese traveling in their regions, and the farmers and their employees were exempted from residence rules and accorded a liberal application of pass regulations. Under such conditions, the reve¬ nue farms, the most important of which was the opium farm, were the major vehicle by which Chinese merchants tapped rural markets, and the vast commercial networks centering around the revenue farms were dominated by the Javanized Chinese elite. The Chinese officers were those most prominent among this elite. The Chinese officers and the farm Chinese thus controlled these networks, along the human links of which material goods, money, and credit entered the countryside in exchange for Javanese rice and other agricultural produce. In the resi¬ dency of Surakarta, Pasar Gede formed, true to its name, the center of non-European commercial activities.4 The deviations of the Kasunanan from the traditional conceptions of the realm, as represented in its topology, reflected the fundamental anomaly felt and experienced by the Javanese ruling elite in the post1830, post—Java War years. Locked in southern Central Java, divided into four, and painfully aware of their military and political impotence in the face of the Dutch, it was clear that the rulers could no longer be what Javanese rulers should be. This reality threatened the very basis of traditional legitimacy, even if the internal workings of the royal admin¬ istrations were largely left to the patihs. In this new era of Dutch colonial rust en orde (tranquillity and order), Surakarta and Yogyakarta were placed in different situations.5 4For a superb description and analysis of the opium farms and the Chinese officers in the nineteenth century, see James R. Rush, “Opium Farms in Nineteenth-Century Java: Institu¬ tional Continuity and Change in a Colonial Society, i860—1910" (diss., Yale University,

*977). 5The following discussion of the colonization of Javanese cultural tradition is, unless


An Age in Motion

The year 1830 not only marked the beginning of a new era in the Vorstenlanden but it was also the year that the new governor general, J. van den Bosch, introduced the Cultuurstelsel, the Forced Cultivation System, in the Indies government territories. This new colonial policy, which required that Dutch officials work more closely with native officials, needed more Dutch Javanese experts who could speak Jav¬ anese and were knowledgeable about things Javanese. To this end, the Institute of the Javanese Language (Instituut voor het Javaansche Taal) was established in Surakarta, where future Dutch Javanese experts learned Surakartan Javanese and made excursions to such places as Dieng, Borobudur, and Prambanan to see the remains of Old Javanese tradition. In the 1840s the institute was replaced by the newly estab¬ lished Royal Academy in Delft, which was later moved to Leiden and linked with Leiden University. The leading figure in building up the institutional basis of Javanese studies in the Netherlands was Taco Roorda, who became the founding father of Dutch Javanology at Leiden University. Throughout these years, it was Surakartan Javanese and culture that was studied and learned by future Dutch Javanese experts and Javanologists. Javanese-Dutch dictionaries and texts on Javanese grammar were compiled based on Surakartan Javanese, and the type of Javanese script produced was based on that of the sunan’s court. Surakartan Javanese became the standard Javanese, and Sur¬ akarta, especially the sunan’s palace, was accorded the status of the epitome of Javanese culture by Dutch power and Dutch Javanology. Furthermore, Dutch Javanologists studied Old Javanese literature, Old Javanese language, and Old Javanese history, which had long been lost to the Javanese. Dutch Javanology restored the Old Javanese tradition and then linked it with Surakarta. The Surakartan principalities, above all the Kasunanan, were thus accorded by the Dutch their historical claim to Javanese tradition and hence their claim to cultural legitimacy. This process of cultural legitimation of Surakarta by the Dutch, however, had another side. First, Dutch Javanology, with its innate interest in things Old Javanese and equipped with funds, methods, and institutional continuity, soon exposed the fundamental superficiality of the Javanese literad’s understanding of the Old Javanese tradition and became its sole conqueror. It was Dutch Javanology that “discovered,” “restored,” and gave shape and meaning to the Javanese past. If the Javanese wanted to go back to their own past, they too had to read the works of Dutch Javanologists written in Dutch and, if possible, go through Javanology training in the Netherlands.6 Second, along with

otherwise noted, based on Kenji Tsuchiya, “19-Seiki Jawa Bunka-ron Josetsu: Jawa-gaku to R°ngg°warsito no Jidai,” in Kenji Tsuchiya and Takashi Shiraishi, eds., Tonan Aija no Seiji to Bunka (Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1984), pp. 71-127. ^Thus in the early twentieth century a number of Kasunanan and Mangkunegaran princes were sent to the Netherlands for higher education and studied Javanology; they included

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the development of professional Dutch Javanology, there arose in Sur¬ akarta an Indo-Javanese-Chinese community that, being essentially ama¬ teur, loved and patronized “modern, decadent” Javanese literature and all the other cultural activities ignored and disregarded by the Dutch Javanologists. This community was formed with the first Javaneselanguage newspaper, Bromartani, as its center. It was published in 18 5 5 by C. F. Winter, an Indo who was born in Yogyakarta and lived and died in Surakarta. And it was read, contributed to, and subscribed to by the small, most Westernized segment of the Javanese elite as well as by Indos and Chinese and became the new forum of Javanese liter¬ ary activity.* * * 7 Nothing more clearly illustrates this cultural transformation of nineteenth-century Surakarta than the place R. Ng. Ranggawarsita occupied in this age. The legitimizer of the realm through his language, he was the court poet of the Kasunanan and yet of no use to the palace because by then cultural legitimacy was conferred by the Dutch. His patron was thus no longer the sunan’s palace but Dutch Javanologists and the growing Indo-Javanese-Chinese community that patronized modern Javanese literature. He worked as an informant for Dutch Javanologists, but he increasingly became a dubious informant on Jav¬ anese literary and cultural tradition. By i860 Cohen Stuart ridiculed his ignorance of Old Javanese, and by the end of the nineteenth century the fraudulence of his claim to authority on ancient Javanese traditions was proved beyond doubt in the minds of Dutch Javanologists. Yet his poetry was legendary in his lifetime and set the standard for artistic accomplishments of the day. His writings were spread by printing, not hand-copied manuscripts, and they were enjoyed by members of the Indo-Javanese-Chinese literary community but not in the court circle. Ranggawarsita’s position as the court poet being such, his poetic world was pervaded with mutability and eeriness, in which the palace, the script, the past, and the age were caught as hollow and empty as lifeless inscriptions and abandoned but enduring monuments of the past.8 The world he created in his writings showed that the rulers and the realm were impotent and that the very source of traditional wisdom had been conquered by the Dutch. Ranggawarsita thus said the impossible— that the rulers could no longer be what they should be and were now just empty signs—and left the world in 1873. But the intense sense of contradiction, obscurity, and mystery was there in his writings, and once a new sense of direction and new kinds of social visions were

R. M. Soerjosoeparto (future Mangkunegara VII), R. M. Woerjaningrat, Pangeran Ngabehi (future Pakubuwana XI), and Pangeran Hadiwidjaja, all of whom were to play important roles in the Boedi Oetomo in the 1910s and 1920s while appealing to Javanese nationalism. 7Anthony Day, “Meanings of Change in the Poetry of Nineteenth-Century Java” (diss., Cornell University, 1981), pp. 257-263. 8Ibid., pp. 187—189, 257, 267-284.


An Age in Motion

obtained, his writings would become a fertile cultural arsenal for those who would use them out of the context in which Ranggawarsita him¬ self had lived and suffered.

The Age of Capital, i In Ranggawarsita’s final years, the engine of new changes had al¬ ready been set in motion in the Vorstenlanden as well as in Java in general. The engine was capital. And the age of capital, the age of new liberal colonial policy and private capitalism, was formally ushered in with the passing of the Agrarian Law in 1870. In that same year the first railway in the Indies came to the Vorstenlanden from Semarang, run by the private Nederlandsch Indische Spoorweg (NIS) to transport sugar produced by private sugar plantations operating in the Vorsten¬ landen. A few years after the coming of the railway, the transportation of goods by water on the Solo River virtually died out, and commercial centers of the city moved from Sangkrah and Beton to the central parts.9 Railway transportation between Semarang and the Vorstenlanden steadily expanded. By 1875 the railway carried 899,000 passengers and 124,000 tons of merchandise a year and earned 2 mil¬ lion guilders, while in 1880 it carried 950,000 passengers and 334,000 tons of goods and earned 2.6 million guilders. In five years the goods transported by the railway increased by 270 percent. Then in 1884 the East line run by the State Railway (SS) reached Surakarta and linked the Vorstenlanden with Surabaya. In 1894 the West line came to Yogyakarta and completed the through line linking Batavia, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Surakarta, and Surabaya. In 1895 the East and West line run by the SS and the Semarang-Vorstenlanden line run by the NIS together carried 5,759,000 passengers and earned 3,054,000 guilders from passenger fares and 6,588,000 guilders from merchandise trans¬ portation. Furthermore, in the last few years of the nineteenth century and in the first decade of this century, tramways were built in the Vorstenlanden: the Yogyakarta-Brosot Tramway, the YogyakartaMagelang-Parakan Tramway, and the Surakarta-Boyolali Tramway, all run by the NIS.10 This development of the railway and tramway networks connected in a much more efficient way the countryside of the Vorstenlanden with the capitals, and the Vorstenlanden as a whole with major commercial centers to the west, north, and east, and moved 9R.M.P. Soerachman, Het Batikbedrijf in de Vorstenlanden (Weltevreden: Landsdrukkerij, 192.7), p. Z3. 10For the development of railways, see “Spoor- en Tramwegen” in Encyclopaedic van Nederlandsch Indie, zd ed. Statistical data are calculated from those included in Koloniaal Verslag, 1876, 1881, 1896.

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Table i. Railway transportation through East-West and Semarang-Vorstenlanden lines

Earnings from

1895 1900 1905 1910 1915



U3i9 1,609 1,704

5,759,000 9,738,000 13,361,000 28,420,000 42,579,000

2., 174 2,448

Goods Passengers (in thousand guilders) 3.054 4.022 4-979 8.825 13.685

6.588 9-743 10.216 15.738 22.194

Source: Calculated from the data in Koloniaal Verslag, 1896, 1901, 1906, 1911, and


people and goods in increasing quantities (Table 1). The changes al¬ ready under way were greatly accelerated, and in the countryside it was most salient in the penetration of Dutch plantations and the concomi¬ tant transformation of the appanage system. In the Vorstenlanden the Cultuurstelsel was not implemented in the years from 1830 to 1870 and Dutch private plantations could operate most freely in these princely territories. In the Vorstenlanden, even before 1830, some Chinese and Europeans leased land from the rulers and appanage holders. But in the pre-1830 years the land leased was not only small but also was located only in the vicinity of the capitals, cultivated for rice, vegetables, and fruits solely for local consumption. In the years from 1830 to 1850, this situation did not change much, and the land leased to Chinese and Europeans remained small. In Yogyakarta the land leased never amounted to more than 15,000 bau (1 bau equals 0.7 hectare) and in Surakarta not more than 50,000. But in the 1850s and 1860s Dutch private capital, while pressing the Indies government to open up Java for their activities, started to flow into the Vorstenlanden. The Indies government prohibited Chinese from leas¬ ing land in the Vorstenlanden but let Dutch private capital flow into the area. Thus the land leased to European planters increased enor¬ mously in the 1850s and 1860s. In Surakarta’ European planters leased an area of 30,000 bau in 1855. It increased to 160,000 in i860 and reached 200,000 bau in 1864. In Yogyakarta, the land leased to Euro¬ pean planters increased more modestly, but even there it went from 15,000 bau in 1853 to 46,000 in 1862.*1 The difference between Surakarta and Yogyakarta lay not only in the amount of land leased but also in the crops cultivated. In 1870, for instance, 137 plantations nJ. M. Roosenschoon, “De Westerse Cultures op Java voor 1870” (diss., Utrecht, 1945), pp. 444-448, 450-451.


An Age in Motion

were in operation in Surakarta, among which 73 plantations cultivated coffee solely or in combination with other crops, 31 plantations culti¬ vated sugarcane, 30 indigo, and 19 tobacco. In the same year 58 plan¬ tations operated in Yogyakarta, among which 46 cultivated indigo, 8 cultivated sugarcane, and 6 tobacco.12 The extensive cultivation of coffee in Surakarta and the absence of coffee plantations in Yogyakarta show that only plains were leased to European planters in Yogyakarta, while both plains and hilly areas were leased in Surakarta. The railway came to the Vorstenlanden in the service of plantations that had al¬ ready been operating in increasing numbers and size, and provided them with the means of transporting their product. Thus, in the 1870s the plantations in the Vorstenlanden greatly expanded, the area leased to European planters reaching 301,000 bau in Surakarta and 88,000 bau in Yogyakarta in 1880 (see Table 2). In the development of European plantations in the Vorstenlanden, the economic depression in the middle of the 1880s marked a water¬ shed. In the predepression years, plantations were owned and managed by private individual European planters responsible only to themselves. They leased land and ran their plantations with the capital they bor¬ rowed from financial institutions. The Culture Bank most active in the Vorstenlanden was Dorrepaal Co., which in 1884 financed twenty-two sugar, thirty-eight coffee, and fifty-three other plantations largely oper¬ ating in the Vorstenlanden.13 Because individual planters were short of money and the interest rates were high, they were vulnerable to falls in the prices of plantation crops, and could not afford to build capitalintensive sugar factories. Though several sugar mills existed there in predepression years, they were old-fashioned and were operated either by water power or by water buffalo.14 Nor could they afford to spend money for the improvement of techniques and seeds and for the exten¬ sive use of fertilizer. Productivity remained low. The expansion of plan¬ tations was essentially a static one. As more and more planters came, the area leased to plantations increased, and less capital-intensive in¬ digo and tobacco were cultivated in preference to the more capitalintensive sugar. The mid-1880s depression virtually wiped out these private individual planters. Dorrepaal Co. failed in 1884, was convert¬ ed into the Dorrepaalsche Bank, and was again reconstructed in 1887 as the Cultuur Maatschappij der Vorstenlanden controlling many plan¬ tations there. Now corporate capital took over plantations. The enter¬ prises were reconstituted as limited liability companies, and private individual planters gave way to salaried managers responsible to the directors of the companies. Culture Banks continued to finance these X2Koloniaal Vers lag, 1871. 13J. S. Furnivall, Netherlands India: A Study of Plural Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1944), pp. 197-198. 14Roosenschoon, “De Westerse Cultures,” p. 454.

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Table 2. The area leased to European plantations in

Surakarta and Yogyakarta, 1862-1920 (in bau) Surakarta 1862 1864 1875 1880 1890 18 95 1900 1905 1910 1915 1920


200,000 248,000 301,000 259,000 273,000 246,000 245,000 235,000 214,000 183,000

Yogyakarta 46,000 —

78,000 88,000 93,000 93,000 89,000 85,000 95,000 97,000 102,000

Sources: Figures of 1862 and 1864 are taken from

Roosenschoon, “De Westerse Cultures op Java,” p. 450. Figures of 1875 onward are taken from Koloniaal Verslag, 1876, 1881, 1886, 1891, 1896, 1901, 1906, 1911, 1916, and 1921.

enterprises, but they now insisted on control. Employing advisers from among the most competent plantation managers, they were able to insist on improvements in techniques and seeds and economy of pro¬ duction and intervened in the conduct of cultivation and business.15 Culture Banks in turn were linked to normal banking institutions head¬ quartered in the Netherlands. The corporate capital that controlled plantations thus had immense political power in the metropolis. In the postdepression years, then, corporate capital successfully put pressure on the Indies government to extend the land-lease period to thirty years, built highly capital-intensive sugar factories run by steam power, invested money for the improvement of techniques and seeds, and raised the productivity of plantation crops. Not only did the amount of land leased stop increasing but less fertile land also was returned to the rulers and appanage holders. Yet production rose spectacularly. Because of the development of railway networks, transportation no longer posed problems. The price stagnation of coffee and indigo in the world market made their cultivation less profitable, while sugar cultivation became much more profitable, especially after the Brussels Convention of 1902, which opened up the world market for cane sugar.16 The area leased to coffee plantations was returned, and indigo plantations were converted into tobacco and especially sugar planta¬ tions. 15Furnivall, Netherlands India, pp. 197—199. 16William J. O’Malley, “Indonesia in the Great Depression: A Study of Fast Sumatra and Jogjakarta in the 1930s” (diss., Cornell University, 1977), p. 46.

An Age in Motion


Table 3. Sugar and tobacco production in the Vorstenlanden, 1880—1910

Tobacco (in tons)

Sugar (in thousands of pikuls)

198 332

1880 1890 1900 1910








1,053 5,7i7





865 1,687




Source: Figures calculated from the data in Koloniaal Verslag, 1881, 1891, 1901,

and 1911.

In the last decade of the nineteenth century and in the first two decades of this century, the most important plantation crop cultivated in the Vorstenlanden was sugarcane and the second most important was tobacco. In Surakarta, sugar production rose from 332,000 pikuls (one pikul equals 61.76 kilograms or 136.161 pounds) in 1890 to 725,000 in 1900 and 1,215,000 in 1910, while tobacco production increased from 1,053 tons m 1890 to 5,716 in 1900 and to 6,421 tons in 1910. In Yogyakarta, tobacco production never became as impor¬ tant as in Surakarta, but sugar production was even higher than in Surakarta and increased from 475,000 pikuls in 1890 to 865,000 in 1900 and 1,687,000 in 1910 (see Table 3). In Surakarta, Dutch sugar and tobacco plantations occupied the fertile rice area in Klaten and, to a lesser extent, in the regencies of Surakarta, Boyolali, and Sragen, all belonging to the Kasunanan. Dutch plantations did not operate much in the Mangkunegaran. Instead, Mangkunegara IV, the “modernizer,” established the royal sugar factories of Tasikmadu and Calamadu in the early 1870s and ran royal sugar plantations, while abolishing the Table 4. Sugar and tobacco production in the regencies of Surakarta, Boyolali, Klaten,

Sragen, and Wonogiri in 1890, 1900, and 1910 Surakarta


Sugar (in thousands of pikuls) 1890 — 103 1900 66 4i 112 1910 91 Tobacco (in tons) 1890 11 1900 614 1910 839


295 200


203 520 829


26 98 183




306 121


Source: Koloniaal Verslag, 1891, 1901, 1911.



48 102

3 49



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appanage system in 1871 (see Table 4). In Yogyakarta, plantations operated in Sleman, Kalasan, and Bantul of the Kasultanan. The Pakualaman was too small even to give appanages to its princes and digni¬ taries, and in 1877 the Pakualam V abolished the appanage system altogether. European plantations thus penetrated into the Kasunanan and Kasultanan countryside, the very area where the appanage system, the traditional institutional device of the Mataram state to control and exploit the peasantry, was maintained and in turn transformed it to their own advantage. Traditionally the Mataram state controlled not the land but the people and the produce they raised by tilling the land.17 The king’s realm as well as the appanages were thus measured by jung, which was equivalent to four karya, the land that could support one caca or a household and that necessarily varied in size depending on the fertility of the soil and the availability of water. The Kasunanan as well as the other principalities inherited this traditional system of domination. The Kasunanan controlled some 10,520 jung in 1910—the number of jung the Kasunanan controlled changed over time because the population increased and the fertility of the land also changed due to irrigation— which were divided into the area in the service of the sunan and the area given as appanages to his princes (sentana dalem) and officials (abdi dalem).18 The appanages given to the princes and officials were called lungguh and the appanage holders patuh or lurah patuh. Ap¬ panage holders enjoyed the right to tax and to procure labor from the people living on their appanages—for three generations in the case of princes and for the tenure of office in the case of officials. Living in the capital, the appanage holder did not tax and procure labor from the people by himself, but appointed bekel for the manage¬ ment of his appanage. The land and the people living on the land under the bekel’s control was called bekelship (kabekelan). The relationship between the appanage holder and the bekel was personal and dyadic in the sense that it had to be established anew every time either one of them changed. At his appointment, all the obligations of the bekel to his appanage holder were specified in detail and he paid bekti money as a token of respect for his patuh. The bekel in turn received one-fifth of the bekelship land as his lungguh (appanage), for the cultivation of 17The following discussion of the appanage system and its transformation is based, unless otherwise noted, on R. Soepomo, De Reorganisatie van bet Agrarische Stelsel in bet Gewest Soerakarta (The Hague: L. Gerretsen, 1927); G. P. Rouffeur, “Vorstenlanden,” Adatrechtbundels 34 (1931); P. W. Jonquiere, “Grepen uit de Vorstenlandsche Hisrorie van de laatste jaren,” Koloniaal Tijdschrift, no. 7 (1918), pp. 1399-1425. ,8Of 10,520 jung the Kasunanan controlled in 1910, 1,880 jung were given as appanages to the princes, 5,700 jung to the officials, and 240 jung to perdikan desa (free village), while the sunan retained 2,700 jung in his own service. H. van Kol, Reisbrieven van H. van Kol: De Reorganisatie der Vorstenlanden (Yogyakarta: “Midden-Java,” 1911), pp. 11-14.


An Age in Motion

which he was entitled to procure labor from the people under his control. The peasant under the bekel’s control, who was called a kuli (coolie), cultivated the remaining four-fifths of bekelship land and was obliged to pay taxes and to perform corvee labor. In the case of a rice harvest, he paid one-half of the produce to the appanage holder, and in the case of a second crop harvest, one-third of the produce. The payment could be made either in kind or in cash. In either system it was the bekel who actually collected the tax and brought it to his appanage holder, in general twice a year on Garebeg Mulud (the feast day to commemorate the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday) and Garebeg Puwasa (the first day of jawal, celebrating the end of the fast). He was also obliged to pro¬ cure peasant labor for the appanage holder at the time of Garebeg Mulud, Garebeg Puwasa, and Garebeg Besar (the Islamic holiday of Hadj), and in the service of the state to maintain public roads, bridges, and irrigation ditches. The appanage system was thus built to mobilize peasant produce and labor, in which the bekel constituted the crucial linkage between the state—the ruler and his princes and officials—and the peasantry. It was the bekel who siphoned off the peasant produce and labor that the ruler and his princes and officials “ate” and who maintained order and tranquillity (tata tentrem) in the countryside. In the course of the nine¬ teenth century, however, as more and more princes and officials had to be fed by the appanages under the reigning colonial rust en orde, and as the money economy increasingly penetrated the Vorstenlanden, the position of bekel came to be manipulated by the appanage holders. The appanages were more and more divided to support increasing numbers of princes and officials, and the appanage holders in turn divided their appanages into ever smaller bekelship and appointed ever more bekel so as to get more bekti money from these newly created bekel. The very fact that the bekel were decreed to be hereditary and could not be newly created suggests that the contrary situation was prevalent. In this process the bekel lost most of their police and administrative functions and became simple tax collectors, each controlling only five to ten peasant households under his command. Van Kol describes the situa¬ tion in a somewhat exaggerated way as follows: In these regions there is no real administration to speak of. No one is responsible and everyone steals and cheats to his heart’s content. The officials in charge of tax collection are real leeches for the population; the only people with authority, the bekel, are hostile to the police and enrich themselves as quickly as possible, calculating as they do that their posi¬ tion is very fragile. The reason is that many have been dismissed, if for nothing else than for the sake of “bekti”—a sort of monetary “homage” that has to be paid to the local lord with every new appointment. New bekelship are sometimes put up for auction and given to the highest

The Arena


bidder. The more bekel appointed, the more profit goes to the appanage holder. No wonder, then, that their numbers have increased alarmingly, even though the increase is in conflict with the old Javanese laws, which prescribe only one bekel per jung.19 If one bekel per jung was indeed the norm, the erosion of bekelship must have been far more serious in the Kasunanan than in the Kasultanan, for in the Kasunanan there existed 20,250 bekel for 10,520 jung, while in the Kasultanan there were 5,750 bekel for 7,200 jung in 1910.20 It is against this erosion of the bekelship, upon which the appanage system was based, that the Dutch introduced administrative and agrarian reforms in the 1910s and early 1920s. While the degeneration of the appanage system resulted in the ero¬ sion of bekelship in the area Dutch plantations did not penetrate, in the fertile rice areas Dutch plantations further transformed the appanage system. In legal terms the plantation insinuated itself in the appanage system by becoming the bektl in its relation with the appanage holder, and the appanage holder in its relationship with the bekel and their kuli. In reality, however, this entailed the perversion of the appanage system in one important respect: the transformation of the maron system into the glehagan system in the indigo, sugar, and tobacco plantations. In the maron system, the peasant (kuli) under the bekel’s supervision cultivated four-fifths of bekelship land and paid one-half of the pro¬ duce in kind to the appanage holder. For the plantation, however, the produce the peasant raised, such as rice and second crops, was of no use. What the plantation needed was land and labor with which plan¬ tation crops could be cultivated for the world market. Thus in contrast with the maron system, in which the produce was divided equally between the peasant and the appanage holder, under the glebagan system the productive factors, land and labor, were divided between the peasant and the plantation. First, after one-fifth of the land was set aside for the bekel as his lungguh (salary land), the remaining fourfifths of bekelship land were divided into two: two-fifths of the land for peasant cultivation of rice and other food crops, and the other twofifths for the cultivation of plantation crops. In order to prevent planta¬ tion crops from depleting the soil of vital nutrients, the fields for the plantation crops and for peasant agriculture were exchanged annually, ideally alternating between rice and export crops every twelve months. Hence the name of glebagan, which means “to keep turning.” Second, the peasant was obliged to provide for the plantation the same amount of labor as he put into cultivating rice and other food crops on his own field. This unpaid corvee labor for the plantation guaranteed the plan 19Van Kol, Reisbrieven, pp. 13-14. 20Ibid., p. 11.


An Age in Motion

tation a sufficient labor supply for the cultivation of plantation crops It the plantation required the peasant to supply more labor than it was entitled to it had to pay him wages, glidig, for the extra labor, but the labor itself was obligatory. If he could not perform his corvee labor for the plantation, he had to compensate for it in cash, which was also called glidig. The transformation of the maron system into the glebagan system created entirely new conditions for agrarian conflict in the plantation area. The points of conflict between the peasantry and the plantation were essentially twofold. First, though the fields for peasant agriculture and for the cultivation of export crops were to rotate every twelve months such was not actually the case. This was especially serious in sugar plantations, where the cultivation of sugarcane needed fourteen to eighteen months from the preparation of the field to the harvesting. he plantation paid money, kasepan (rent), to the peasant for the compensation of the extra two- to six-month use of the field. But the amount of rent was always much smaller than the income the peasant could have gamed if he had grown rice or other food crops in the same period. The second point of conflict concerned the corvee labor the peasant was obliged to perform for the plantation. Though it is not theoretically impossible to talk about the labor on the tobacco and sugarcane fields as equal in amount to the labor he put into the cultivanon of nee and other food crops, in fact the types of agricultural labor needed for the cultivation of export crops and peasant crops were so i erent that there was no way to measure how many man-days of corvee labor were equivalent to the labor he put into the cultivation of rice. Thus the issue was not only the amount of wages paid for extra corvee labor but also what types of agricultural labor in the cultivation of export crops should be counted as unpaid and paid corvee labor. In addition, there were always grievances on the part of the peasantry over water distribution and the restrictions imposed by the plantation on the crops peasants cultivated. In these conflicts the bekel was powerless, both economically and culturally. If serious peasant grievances arose in the nonplantation areas, he might well soften his squeeze on the peasants under his con¬ trol for in most cases the appanage holder had no way to oversee the conduct of his bekel on a day-to-day basis. Even if their grievances were not redressed as the peasants demanded, what went wrong was clear. Maybe it was the appanage holder who was no longer as he used to be and too insistent and greedy; or maybe it was the greedy bekel who no longer knew the limit. But the relationship between the ap¬ panage holder and the bekel and that between the appanage holder and the peasants remained personal and concrete. However manipulated and degenerated, it retained and entailed the persistent sense of hier-

The Arena


archical Javanese social order. Once the plantation came to the scene, however, the radical departure was made. The Dutch plantation man¬ ager and overseers were only interested in the smooth and profitable operation of the plantation. They took every measure to make sure the cultivation of export crops went efficiently and without trouble. They employed local toughs to intimidate peasants and to suppress their grievances. They gave bonuses to the bekel when cultivation and har¬ vesting went as scheduled. But their relationship with the bekel and the peasants was thin and purely economic in content. In Dutch eyes the peasants were cheap labor and the bekel the head of an agrarian labor gang, not substantially different from the mandur (foreman). If a bekel did not or could not measure up to the expectations of the Dutch manager, he was simply dismissed. Under these circumstances, peasants resorted to two types of protest action. The first was individual actions to protect their own interests and to take revenge on the Dutch and the plantation. In the 1860s and 1870s, when Dutch plantations penetrated rapidly into the Vorstenlanden, bandits were very active. They beat up and occasionally killed European plantation administrators. Cane burning was also prevalent. During the final months just before the harvest, sugarcane is extremely dry and flammable. Peasants, eager to take back their land as quickly as possible so as to start cultivating rice, sometimes resorted to burning down the cane field and to doing damage to the plantation. But this type of social protest invited the strengthening of the police apparatus and became costly in the twentieth century, though cane burning oc¬ curred every year. The second type of peasant protest was collective and took two forms. One was nggogol, which was recognized as a legitimate form of peasant protest by the state, in which peasants went en masse to the office of the regent, complained about such grievances as heavy corvee duties, arbitrary conduct of Javanese foremen and Dutch overseers, and wages, and refused to obey the order of the regent to go home until their grievances were heard and the regent promised redress. If the regent did not respond to the nggogol as peasants hoped, they some¬ times went to the capital and did nggogol to the patih. Since it was seen as legitimate, the Dutch assistant resident or the controller also at¬ tended the scene of nggogol with the regent, listened to the peasant grievances, proposed to set up the prapat, and tried to arbitrate be¬ tween the protesting peasants and the plantation. The prapat consisted of two representatives each of the peasants and the plantation (hence the term prapat, meaning “quarter”) and worked under official super¬ vision. The other form of peasant protest was the strike (mogok), in which peasants collectively refused to perform corvee labor either for the state


An Age in Motion

or for the plantation. It was usually small-scale, involving one or at most several bekelship, but occurred almost every year. It was illegal in the sense that the peasants on strike transgressed the regulations stipuated in the pranatan (regulations issued by the patih in the name of the sunan/sultan). Therefore, in legal terms, the strike was different from the legal nggogol; but this difference was superficial, for the strike as a form of peasant protest functioned in the same way as the nggogol. In the nggogol, peasants went to the regency office, and the regent ac¬ companied by the assistant resident or the controller, heard their griev¬ ances. In the strike, the regent and the Dutch assistant resident came to the peasants on strike, heard their grievances, and proposed to set up t e prapat to arbitrate the conflict between the peasants and the plan¬ tation Once the officials proposed establishing a prapat, the peasants agreed and returned to work. Usually no one was arrested or punished, n either case, the bekel played no role. It was the state to which peasants looked to counter the powerful plantation. And it was the state authority, as we will see, which was enacted in peasant collective actions, irrespective of whether peasant grievances were redressed.

Reorganization With the era of liberal colonial policy coming to an end and the Ethical era beginning, the appanage system and the agrarian and ad¬ ministrative conditions in the Vorstenlanden came increasingly under attack, and in the 1910s and early 1920s reorganization or administra¬ tive and agrarian reform of the Vorstenlanden was introduced by the Indies government.21 Two factors contributed to its introduction The first was ideological. In the Ethical era, the idea that the people should be free from the bond of the land, and that there should be a separation between the usufruct of the land and the command over the labor of people who live on the land, became indisputable; and in the light of this idea the agrarian situation in the Vorstenlanden increasingly came to be seen as a “medieval” system, a carry-over of the nineteenthcentury Cultuurstelsel.22 The second factor was the drive of the Indies state in the Ethical era toward standardization, centralization, rational2 ^he following account of reorganization is based, unless otherwise noted, on “Aleemeene Hervorming van de Maatschappelijke en Agransche Toestanden in de Vorstenr,’ *n Mededeehngen der Regeering omtrent enkele Onderwerpen van Algemeen Belang (Weltevreden: Landsdrukkerij, 1921); Resident van Surakarta, “Vervolg verslae omtrent den stand der hervormingen in de Zelfbestuursgebieden Soerakarta en Mangkoe Negaran in het Gewest Soerakarta over het jaar 1919,” 20 Aug. 1920, Gouverneur Generaal (hereafter abbreviated as GG) aan Minister van Kolomen, 4 Oct. 1920, Exh. 22 Nov. 1920 22V45 t0eiP°Dm0; °e ReorSanisatie van het Agrarische Stelsel in het Gewest Soerakarta Van Kol, Retsbneven, p. 53.

The Arena


ization, and expansion. In the Vorstenlanden, though some measures had been taken in the middle of the nineteenth century to standardize variegated administrative machinery, and though Dutch assistant resi¬ dents were appointed and stationed in each regency in the early 1870s, the control and supervision of the internal workings of the administra¬ tive machinery were largely left to the patih, and the Dutch resident was content with the control of the top command post. In the 1900s, however, successive Dutch residents started to intervene in the internal workings of administrative machinery. In 1914 the outgoing resident of Surakarta, van Wijk, noted with some satisfaction that during his tenure the flow of government documents changed and that the regents had begun to submit their reports to the resident and the assistant residents rather than to the patih. Yet the Kasunanan and Mangkunegaran administrative bureaucracies were still huge patron-client networks at that time, and as he observed it was reorganization that could streamline the administrative machinery by enabling the Dutch resident to intervene directly in their internal workings in such matters as recruitment, personnel management, salaries, and finance in gener¬ al.23 In this sense, reorganization was an attempt to put the administra¬ tive machinery under the direct command of the Dutch resident and to extend the authority of the Indies state to the area that had hitherto been left to the already-eroded appanage system and Dutch planta¬ tions. Reorganization was introduced by Dutch initiative in 1912 and was brought to completion in 1924. The reforms consisted of four basic measures: (1) the abolition of the appanage system, (2) the formation of the village as an administrative unit, (3) bestowing clearly defined usufruct rights in the land to the peasant, and (4) the revision of landlease regulations. Let us look at these measures one by one. First is the abolition of the appanage system. Measures to this effect were taken in 1917 in the Kasultanan and in 1918 in the Kasunanan. (In the Mangkunegaran the largest part of the appanages had already been abolished in the early 1870s.) Former appanage holders were instead given salaries and allowances in cash, and peasants and planta¬ tions were to pay the land tax and rent to the treasuries of the prin¬ cipalities. With the appanage system went the bekelship. Bekel were dismissed and given pension land. In the Kasunanan, the bekel was given a quarter bau of pension land, the usufruct he enjoyed for his lifetime. After his death, his pension land was to be returned to the newly constituted administrative village and to be incorporated in the village treasury land. Second is the formation of the village as an administrative unit, replac23Van Wijk, “Memorie van Overgave.”


An Age in Motion

mg the former bekelship as “a village community.” In constituting the village, the following principles were followed, (i) The boundaries of a village should follow natural boundaries as far as possible. (2) A village should be constituted from 80 to 150 kuli kenceng (peasant entitled to have the usufruct in half a bau of arable land and a housing plot), so that the newly appointed village officials could exercise satisfactory supervision of the villagers. (3) The lungguh (salary land) for the village officials and pension land for former bekel should be located in the village where they live. (4) All the kuli kenceng should be given the usufruct in equal amounts of arable land, irrespective of the fertility of the soil. The land given to kuli kenceng should be divided into two in the plantation area, one for the peasant agriculture and the other for the cultivation of plantation crops. Following these principles, 1,226 villages were organized in the Ka¬ sunanan and 738 villages in the Mangkunegaran upon the completion of the reorganization. All the land now belonged to the village The land was classified and used as salary land for village officials, pension land for former bekel, village treasury land for financing village admin¬ istration, and village communal land, the usufruct rights of which were distributed to the kuli kenceng. Village officials were appointed from among former bekel by the regent. In Kasunanan, village officials were composed of the lurah (village headman), the carik (secretary), the kamitua (deputy village head), the modin (village religious official), the u "lin C^arge of water distribution and management), and the kebayan (village messenger). Each of the village officials was given salary land; 4.5 bau for the village headman, 2.25 bau for the secretarF> anc!1,0 hau each for the deputy village head, the religious official, the official in charge of water distribution and management, and the messenger. The salary land, as well as pension land for the former bekel, was exempted from the land tax and from lease by the planta¬ tion. The village officials were also exempted from labor service for the Kasunanan and for the village. Though all the village officials were appointed from among former bekel, only about one out of three former bekel could become a village official. Whether or not he could become a village official made a great difference to a former bekel. Former bekel who were appointed village officials controlled large amounts of tax-free salary land and enjoyed other privileges, while former bekel who were not appointed village officials were given only a quarter bau of pension land. Thus, as the Dutch rightly anticipated, reorganization produced strong disaffection among those former bekel who failed to become village officials. As we shall see, this reservoir of discontent formed an important background to peasant protest actions in 1919 and 1920 in the Kasunanan. Third, with the formation of the village, usufruct rights in village

The Arena


communal land were distributed to the villagers, while dominion over the land belonged to the ruler and ownership rights to the village. Village communal land was parceled out in plots, each of which was approximately half a bau, and the usufruct right was given to a vil¬ lager. The villager who was given the usufruct right in half a bau of arable land and was also given a housing plot was called kuli kenceng. In plantation areas, half a bau of rice land given to each kuli kenceng was further divided into two fields, blok A and B, to be rotated for the cultivation of rice and plantation crops. As long as village communal land was available, all the male household heads capable of performing obligations to the village and the state were accorded the hereditary status of kuli kenceng, which as a rule was inherited by the eldest son. The kuli kenceng was not allowed to have the usufruct of more than half a bau of village communal land. If that happened, say, by inheri¬ tance, all in excess of half a bau of rice land was returned to the village. If a kuli kenceng died without anyone to inherit his status, his usufruct in village communal land was returned to the village. When new land became available, the village gave usufruct rights to those who did not have any and created new kuli kenceng. The status of kuli kenceng naturally entailed obligations to the state and the village. First, the kuli kenceng was obliged to perform labor for the village, maintaining village roads, ditches, bridges, and graveyards, and in ronda (night watch). Second, he had to perform corvee labor for the state in the maintenance of public roads, irrigation canals, and dams. And third, he had to pay the land tax for his half a bau of rice land and his housing plot. In plantation areas, he had to pay the land tax for his quarter bau of rice land and his housing plot and also make available to the plantation his other quarter bau of rice land. The kuli kenceng who did not fulfill these obligations was fined, imprisoned, and/or deprived of his kuli kenceng status (and thus of his usufruct right of half a bau of village communal land). Fourth, under the new land-lease regulations put into effect in 1918, the plantation was to lease land not from the appanage holder but from the principality. Plantations that voluntarily cancelled old lease con¬ tracts with appanage holders and made new lease contracts with the principality under the new regulations were given fifty-year land leases and allowed to procure paid corvee labor from the kuli kenceng for an initial five years under conditions stipulated by the state. Thus the interests of the plantations were duly taken into account and the only changes brought about were the abolition of corvee labor and the change in the flow of rent from the appanage holders to the principality treasury. Neither the village nor the kuli kenceng had anything to do with rent, because the plantation directly paid rent to the state. In the high time of the Ethical era, the reorganization of the Vorsten-


An Age in Motion

landen was regarded by Dutch officials as the major enterprise of the Indies state in this area, and as such, successive Dutch residents main¬ tained that it would be a panacea to improve agrarian conditions and to guarantee rust en orde in the Vorstenlanden. But it was certainly not a panacea and did not substantially improve the conditions generated by the extensive operation of Dutch plantations. The implementation of the new land-lease regulation notwithstanding, the structure of con¬ flicts between the peasantry and the plantation remained unchanged. As we have seen, conflicts between the peasantry and the plantation before reorganization centered around three issues: the amount of rent; the mitigation of unpaid corvee labor and its conversion to paid corvee labor; and the amount of wages to be paid for corvee labor. The new land-lease regulation indeed abolished corvee labor and replaced it with free labor, but conflicts over the amount of rent and wages could not be resolved by institutional reform, for these concerned the ques¬ tion of how much. As long as the economic interests accruing to the peasants in the form of rent and wages remained smaller than the income they could have gamed by cultivating rice without the planta¬ tion, conflicts could arise at any time between the peasantry and the plantation, and could be aggravated by the arbitrary and arrogant conduct of Dutch overseers toward the peasantry. In contrast to this structural persistence of conflict between the peas¬ antry and the plantation, the relationship between the peasants and the principality underwent fundamental changes upon the introduction of reorganization. The abolition of the appanage system and the bekelship signified the final institutional liquidation of the traditional per¬ sonal and dyadic relationship between the appanage holder and his bekel and between the bekel and his kuli. The formation of the admin¬ istrative village was based on the wholly different idea of the corporate village. While the bekelship was formed by the bundle of dyadic rela¬ tions between the bekel and the kuli, the administrative village was a territorial corporation in which every kuli kenceng had an equal usufructry share in village communal land and which was managed by a board of directors, the village administration. But this board of direc¬ tors was not primarily responsible to the shareholders: it was the state that appointed them and gave them salary land. The administrative village was a modern institutional device for the state to rule the coun¬ tryside by the map, and village officials were the state’s agents, forming as such the lowest echelon of the administrative machineries now ra¬ tionalized and placed under the direct command and supervision of the Dutch resident. They could not act against the plantation because the management of the village naturally entailed the job of making land and labor available to the plantation and letting the operation of the plantation run as scheduled and without trouble. Reorganization

The Arena


brought about changes, but they were changes that placed the peasan¬ try in a position in which their obligations to the state and the planta¬ tion could be more effectively and closely administered by the village officials and the state.

The Age of Capital, 2 While the age of capital dawned in the countryside in the form of the ever deeper penetration of Dutch plantations and the concomitant per¬ version of the appanage system, it came to the city of Surakarta and to a lesser extent to Yogyakarta with the development of the batik indus¬ try.24 In Central Java, batiking had been practiced since the invention of canting (a small brass pot used in batiking), and had become the major all-female industry in the Vorstenlanden, first developed in ur¬ ban court centers and then diffused to surrounding rural areas. In Surakarta the art of batiking was so highly regarded that the ability to do batik work was considered a basic part of a woman’s education at court.25 From the middle of the nineteenth century, however, the open¬ ing of new markets, coupled with technical innovations in batiking, led to the transformation of the batik industry in two successive stages. The first stage of transformation took place in the 1850s. In the middle of the 1840s, a new batiking method was introduced from Semarang by a batik manufacturer of Kauman. This new cap (stamp) method involved stamps made of strips of copper welded to a base with a handle attached, the application of which made possible the produc¬ tion of cheaper batik in much more quantity with much less labor. In the course of the 1850s, increasing numbers of batik manufacturers came to employ the stamp method and established commercial batik workshops for market production. The 1850s and 1860s were the years when Dutch private capital started to flow into the Vorsten¬ landen. The Dutch plantations brought readily available cash to the peasants in the form of wages and rent, while exploiting their labor and depriving them of time. Peasants turned to local markets to buy neces¬ sary goods, one of the most important of which was cheap batik cloth. Given readily accessible local markets, batik production rose rapidly, probably doubling in the 1850s, judging from the import statistics of cotton goods, which more than doubled from 1850 to i860, the most 24The following account of the batik industry in the city of Surakarta is based, unless otherwise noted, on “Batik,” in Encyclopaedic van Nederlandsch-lndie; Soerachman, Het Batikbedrijf in de Vorstenlanden; Batikrapport, vol. 2 (Weltevreden: Landsdrukkerij, 1931). I also thank James Siegel for allowing me to consult his voluminous and highly useful notes on batik.

25S. Ann Dunham, “Women’s Work in Village Industries on Java” (unpublished paper, 1982), pp. 69-70.


An Age in Motion

significant part of which was for batik production.26 During this stage, the center of the batik industry in Surakarta was in the central parts of the city, such as Kauman, Keprabon, and Pasar Kliwon, and the com¬ mercial workshops set up were of small scale. Though the stamp meth¬ od greatly rationalized batik production, the stamps used in the bank¬ ing were small, usually 1X2 square centimeters, and the stamp process complemented, rather than replaced, the canting process. The second stage of development took place in the 1870s. Not only did local markets expand with the increasing penetration of Dutch plantations into the countryside but railways directly linked the Vorstenlanden to the major urban commercial centers—Semarang in 1870, Surabaya in 1884, and Batavia and Bandung in 1894—and thus continually opened up new markets for the Solonese batik industry. The technical evolution of the stamp continued. In the early 1870s the size of stamps became 10 X 15 square centimeters, and the stamp process came to occupy the central place in batik production in com¬ mercial workshops. New batik workshops of larger scale were estab¬ lished, no longer in the central parts of the city but in the suburbs. Batik entrepreneurs moved into the area of Tegalsari and especially Lawean, where the river nearby supplied much-needed water for largescale batik workshops. Now these large-scale batik workshops pro¬ duced cheaper stamp batik for mass consumption, not only for local markets but also for the “national” market. Batik production ex¬ panded again, probably more than doubling from 1870 to 1875, and it stayed largely at that level till the end of the nineteenth century except for the mid-i88os depression years.27 Throughout these years the city of Surakarta was the major center of the batik industry, and Surakarta batik dominated “national” as well as local markets till the end of the 1910s, when Pekalongan batik began to offer increasingly tough competition, especially in West Java.28 In these years, batiking was done all over the city. Reflecting -6The import 0f cotton goods for the Indies increased from 9.837 million guilders in 1850 to 20.943 million guilders in i860 to 16.024 million in 1870. Furnivall, Netherlands India d 171. 2 The import of cotton goods for the Indies in 1870 was 16.024 million guilders, while the

import of cotton goods for only Java and Madura amounted to 29.105 million guilders 1875. For more on the import statistics of cotton goods for Java and Madura for 1875 1920 see Furnivall, Netherlands India, p. 207, and p. 339 for the years 1875 to 1900; Koperberg, De Javaansche Batikindustrie,” Djawa 2, no. 2, p. 148 for the years 1905

in to S. to

-8See Batik,” in Encyclopaedic van Nederlandsche-Indie. According to this source, in I9*V ere ex,sted 225 batik workshops (defined as employing more than five workers) with 3,608 workers in Surakarta, while the second-largest batik production center, Pekalongan had H4 workshops with 1,266 workers. In the 1920s the lucrative West Java market was ost to the Pekalongan batik. See Batikrapport, vol. 2, p. 321. Yet the batik industry remained the major industry in Surakarta, even after it was hit by the great depression. According to the 1930 census, 6,900 out of 40,800 male workers and 14,100 out of 33,700 female

The Arena


the pattern of historical development of the batik industry, there was clear regional specialization of batik production within the city. The eastern part of the city, as well as the central part, such as Kauman, Keprabon, and Pasar Kliwon, largely continued to make fine batik, while the more western part, especially Tegalsari and Lawean, spe¬ cialized in the production of stamp batik for mass consumption. In this specialization, Kauman and Lawean occupied the central position. Ka¬ uman, an older center of batik production, was also a center of batik trade. It also was the area where the sunan’s religious officials lived. Though the wholesale trade in batik for the “national market” was controlled largely by Chinese and Arabs, batik trade for local markets was in the hands of Javanese traders. Many small batik traders came, dealt in batik cloth, and went to local markets by train. It was largely women who managed workshops, made batik, and engaged in the batik trade. Women thus earned money and supported their families, while men got or tried to get positions as officials and, in Kauman, became religious teachers as well. Therefore, in central parts of the city such as Kauman there emerged no independent class of native bour¬ geoisie, even though there were numerous batik workshops and many batik entrepreneurs amassed wealth. In Marco Kartodikromo’s words, batik entrepreneurs in this area were “still in the family” with sunan’s officials.29 In contrast with batik entrepreneurs in the central parts of the city, batik entrepreneurs in Lawean, who came to settle there from outside in order to set up large-scale batik workshops from the early 1870s, were economically stronger and socially, if not culturally, more auton¬ omous. As we have seen, large-scale batik workshops came to be con¬ centrated in Lawean, largely because the river nearby made water readily available. But the continual existence and prosperity of Lawean batik workshops were made possible by their production of cheap stamp batik, not only for local markets but also for the “national” market. They maintained their own commercial networks in East and West Java, largely independent of Chinese and Arab wholesalers. For instance, Hadji Samanhoedi, a leading batik entrepreneur in Lawean in the 1900s and 1910s, maintained branch offices in Surabaya, Banyuwangi, Bandung, and some other places, among which at least one, the Bandung branch, was managed by his own brother.30 This access to

workers were engaged in batik manufacture and trade in Surakarta. Volkstelling 1940 (Batavia: Landsdrukkerij, 1936). 29Marco Kartodikromo, Student Hidjo (Semarang: N. V. Boekhandel en Drukkerij Masman &c Stroink, 1919), p. 6. 30Deliar Noer, The Modernist Muslim Movement in Indonesia, 1900-1942 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 106.


An Age in Motion

the “national” market in turn made Lawean batik workshops less dependent on local markets, where batik cloth was in demand only when peasants had readily available cash after harvesting rice and second crops and after the harvesting and milling of sugarcane, and could manage to operate even in the slack seasons from November to April.31 In the workshops in Lawean, it was again the wife of a workshop-owning family who played the dominant entrepreneurial role in choosing batik designs, purchasing materials, managing and supervising the production process, and marketing goods. The sup¬ pliers of materials such as cotton goods and dyes looked at her clothes and jewelry, especially her earrings, to judge the credit standing of the workshop. But in Lawean men were also batik entrepreneurs and rarely officials. Though a son of a Lawean batik entrepreneur might well become a government official, he then never returned to Lawean; and if a son followed the path of a batik entrepreneur he often married the daughter of a Lawean batik entrepreneur. Though individual fam¬ ilies who owned workshops in Lawean may have changed over genera¬ tional time, Lawean was at any given moment predominantly the area of batik entrepreneurs who controlled the “national” market, and as such remained socially closed to the world outside, as eventually was symbolized by the high whitewashed walls surrounding the area.32 The batik industry in Surakarta thus entered the twentieth century with two centers of batik manufacturing and trade. Lawean batik en¬ trepreneurs produced stamp batik for “national” as well as local mar¬ kets, while batik entrepreneurs in the central parts of the city produced and traded batik for local markets. Batik production continued to expand and batik manufacturers and traders prospered, until hit by the steep price rise of materials caused by World War I. In the meantime, their own weakness lay in the supply of materials such as cotton goods, wax, and dyes, for which they were dependent on the Chinese and Arab wholesalers who distributed materials imported by European firms abroad. And it was exactly this weak spot that the Chinese tried 31Once the West Java market was lost to Pekalongan batik in the 1920s, Lawean batik workshops could no longer be free from seasonal fluctuations of demand in local markets. See Batikrapport, vol. 2, pp. 98-101. 32The existence of large-scale batik workshops in Lawean naturally created and con¬ centrated substantial numbers of batik workers. The division of labor arose not only along functional lines but also by sex. Stamping and dyeing was done by men. Canting work, wax scraping, and hand-hemming was done by women. And other tasks such as soaking, pound¬ ing, boiling, and drying were done variously either by men or women. In this division of labor, printers occupied a special position. Since the handling of stamps required a lot of skill and the stamping process formed the central part of the batik production process, printers were paid three to four times higher than other workers and their positions were more stable as long as the industry was booming. Thus the labor relations remained largely harmonious throughout the years before World War I and it was only in the mid-i920S that printers emerged as an independent social force (see Chapter 8).

The Arena


to exploit when they began to invest money in the Solonese batik industry toward the end of the 1900s.

The Modern Age With the opening of the twentieth century, the age of a new colonial policy, the Ethical era, began. The watchword of the new era was “progress.” The words signifying progress—such as vooruitgang (ad¬ vance), opheffing (uplifting), ontwikkeling (development), and opvoeding (upbringing)—embellished the language of the day together with bevordering van welvaart (promotion of welfare). A daughter of the regent of Jepara, Raden Adjeng Kartini, started the first letter to her Dutch pen pal with the sentence “I have so desired to make an acquain¬ tance with a modern girl,”33 and soon became an idol of Dutch ethici. It was in this sense that progress was understood: progress to moderni¬ ty, progress as evolution under Dutch tutelage and modernity ex¬ emplified by the Dutch in the Indies and understood as Western civili¬ zation. This notion of progress gave a new sense of direction to the people of the Indies, a sense of direction that had been absent in Ranggawarsita’s final days. The world and the age were now on the move, and as if symbolizing it the electric tram came into operation in Batavia with the opening of this new era. The new era was, as Furnivall aptly named it, the age of “expansion, efficiency, and welfare.”34 The archipelago “from Sabang to Merauke” was now under Dutch control, and within this territory the colonial rust en orde was realized. Dutch business activities expanded rapidly: ex¬ ports doubled in the first decade of this century and more than octupled by 1920. The Indies state was increasingly rationalized and centralized, and state activities were expanded. Volkscredietwezen (People’s Credit Service); Government Pawnshops; Agricultural Information and Exten¬ sion Service; Opiumregie (State Opium Monopoly); Peoples’ Health and Medical Extension; Post, Telegraph, and Telephone Service; State Railways; Government Schools; Forestry Service—all formed part of state activities. Those employed in these state activities joined the native administrative officials from Pangreh Pradja (indigenous administrative corps) and swelled the ranks of government priyayi (member of the Javanese official class). Besides, in urban centers, orang particulier, white-collar workers employed by private business (as opposed to those in government service), emerged and with government priyayi formed the middle class. A government priyayi, quitting his job and moving to a 33Quoted in Kenji Tsuchiya, “Kartini no Shinsho Fukei,” Tonan Ajia Kenkyu 22, no. i (June 1984), p. 63, italics mine. 34Furnivall, Netherlands India, p. 227.


An Age in Motion

Table 5. The number of second-class native schools and pupils Number of pupils

Number of schools Private



1900 1905

55i 674





















232,629 32.0,974 357,970





rv VC




I?942 3,I27 3,400





Source: S. L. van der Wal, ed., Het Onderwijsbeleid in Nederlands-Indie, 19001940 (Groningen: J. B. Wolters, 1963), p. 7.

city, could get a job in Dutch private business and become an orang particulier. An orang particulier in turn could become a state function¬ ary. They were the salaried middle class, mobile but essentially urban, and had one thing in common: Western-style education. The expansion of Western-style education was the hallmark of the ethical policy. Not only was Western-style education imperative to produce the kind of work force needed for the state and Dutch private business activities but it was also seen as a major means to “uplift” the natives and to guide them to modernity and to “association between East and West.” Thus toward the end of the nineteenth century and especially in the first two decades of this century Western-style educa¬ tion was greatly expanded. In 1893 two types of elementary schools for natives were introduced, the Eerste Klasse Inlandsche Scholen (FirstClass Native Schools) for the priyayi and the well-to-do, and the Tweede Klasse Inlandsche Scholen (Second-Class Native Schools) for the children of the population. The increase in the number of secondclass native schools and pupils can be seen in Tables 5 and 6. The firstand second-class native schools, however, offered instruction in the vernacular and Malay, and their pupils could proceed only to com¬ mercial, technical, and vocational schools upon graduation. Given the Table 6. Native elementary schools in Java and Madura Year




















Source: Koloniaal Verslag, 1896, 1906, 1911, 1916.

The Arena


Table 7. Native students attending Dutch-language schools





1905 1910

D353 1,681

1915 1920


Vocational (STOVIA,


OSVIA, etc.)

13 118

376 —



50 406




Source: Van der Wal, Het Onderwijsbeleid, pp. ii-iz. aMULO stands for Meer Uitgebreide Lagere Onderwijs, Extended Primary Education or junior high school.

language stratification in the Indies, these native schools were there¬ fore second-rate, and it was only in 1914 that the HIS (Hollandschinlandsche scholen, Dutch native schools) were created out of the FirstClass Native Schools, where instruction was given in Dutch, and were linked to the Dutch secondary school system. Before that, parents who saw the merits of Western-style education and could afford to do so sent their children to ELS (Europeesche lagere scholen, European ele¬ mentary schools), and pupils upon completion proceeded to Dutch secondary education at the HBS (Hoogere burgerscholen, Dutch middle-class schools), the STOVIA (School tot Opleiding van Inlandsche Artsen, Native Doctors Training School), or the OSVIA (Opleiding School voor Inlandsche Ambtenaren, Training School for Native Officials). The number of native students who attended schools where instruction was given in Dutch is shown in Table 7. As we can see from Tables 5—7, although Western-style education expanded substantially, the number of students was never great com¬ pared with the huge native population in the Indies, and the literate formed only a tiny proportion of the population. According to the 1920 census, the literacy rate of the natives in Java was still only 2.74 percent in the vernacular and 0.13 percent in Dutch. And yet the number of literate people was substantial: 943,000 in native languages and 87,000 in Dutch.35 For an understanding of what happened to this substantial number of literates, the radical difference between traditional and Western-style education is of crucial importance, for Western-style education was not only secular but also geared to the politically cen¬ tralized and racially and linguistically stratified colonial order, while traditional education was essentially religious. In Western-style educa¬ tion, the higher one went up the educational ladder and the nearer 35Volkstelling 1920, pp. 141-142, 148-149.


An Age in Motion

one came to the urban centers of the colonial world, the greater the chance that one could get a “respectable” job, the more deeply satu¬ rated in the world of Dutch language, and the more modern and re¬ mote from the kind of life one’s parents’ generation had led. In this process of metamorphosis there were two essential ingredients.36 First, as is always pointed out, Western-style education provided the key to upward mobility, but it was upward mobility in the racially stratified social order created and maintained by the Indies state, where natives were natives, however well educated. Being a Javanese, a Sundanese, or a Minangkabau, did not make any difference, because all were natives. Thus the category of natives, which could make sense only in terms of Dutch colonial domination, formed the basis of new solidarity for those who went through the Western-style educational system created by the Dutch. Second, the experience they had in the schools and in their life after graduation was radically different from that of their parents’ genera¬ tion. The very fact that they had a modern education and got jobs as a newly created urban salaried middle class became the basis of their generational solidarity. They called themselves kaum muda (the young), more modern and advanced than their parents and those who did not have Western-style education. Among kaum muda themselves, those who attended European elementary schools and secondary schools were more modern and advanced than those who went to native schools. The key was their knowledge of Dutch and their access to the Dutch world in the Indies, for the Dutch exemplified modernity and the Dutch language was the key to open the modern world and age. The emblems of kaum muda were the Dutch words sprinkled in their daily conversations in the vernacular, their wearing of Westernstyle clothes and shoes, their habit of going to restaurants and drinking lemonade, seeing movies, enjoying music and not gamelan—in short, doing the modern things that the Dutch did. In his novel Student Hidjo—here “student” is an emblem of modernity—Mas Marco Kartodikromo explains kaum muda as those who understand Dutch, and he depicts two members of kaum muda, Raden Hidjo who is a gradu¬ ate of HBS and has passed the final examinations, and his fiancee, Raden Adjeng Biroe, against the background of Solo. “Let’s go!” said Raden Adjeng, who stood beside him [Hidjo] and looked as if she could not stand waiting for him. “Goed [good]! Wait for a while!” Hidjo continued to read the book. 36The following discussion is based on Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (Lon¬ don: Verso, 1983).

The Arena


“Kom [come] now!” said Raden Adjeng strongly and took away the book Hidjo had just started to read. “Kom” said Hidjo while half laughing, stood up from his chair, and looked at Biroe’s very, very cute face. [It was the night of Puasa (fasting month) 25 and two of them went to Sri Wedari, which was, Marco says, “the zoo owned by Hingkang Sinoehoen of Solo” and where electric lamps illuminated like the sunlight.] In Sri Wedari Raden Adjeng and Hidjo went around and looked around the situation there. “Let’s go! Djo. Do you see a movie or wayang orang?” asked Raden Adjeng and held Hidjo’s hand with hers. “Nee, Lieve [No, love],” said Hidjo and his voice, which was not loud, was brought closer to Raden Adjeng’s ears as if he wanted to kiss her. “We just look for a place in the restaurant which is a little dark and talk there.”37 Here the conversations and the scene are full of things modern—their usage of Dutch, Hidjo’s reading a printed book bought at a bookstore, sitting on a chair, illuminating electric lamps, a movie, a restaurant where they would drink lemonade—and these modern things are jux¬ taposed with things traditional. Note his fantastic phrase about Sri Wedari: “the zoo owned by Hinghang Sinoehoen of Solo.” The zoo is plainly modern. What is bizarre is Hingkang Sinoehoen (the sunan) of Solo, which indicates Marco’s essentially Batavian colonial/national conception of the Indies. In his conception, Solo constitutes only a local part of the Indies, his country, and this is the reason he writes as if there were many Hingkang Sinoehoens, not only of Solo but also of Yogyakarta, Blora, and other places.38 This was kaum muda and the milieu in which they lived. This does not mean that they were totally Westernized and cut off from tradition¬ al ideas, perceptions, habits, and ethics. They were not. What is impor¬ tant is that things traditional lost coherent meaning and were jux¬ taposed with things modern so that they became accessible to the modern style and their meaning changed. What was unique about the times was this juxtaposition. Kaum muda thus formed their “national” consciousness of being natives of the Indies, and as such moving with other “nations” in linear open-ended time toward modernity, the vanishing point in the future from which their present existence gained meaning. They did not know one another personally, but they knew for certain of the others’ exis¬ tence in Batavia, Bandung, Semarang, Solo, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, 37Marco Kartodikromo, Student Hidjo, pp. 12—13. 38I owe this point to Benedict Anderson.


An Age in Motion

and all over the Indies, and they shared many experiences, ideas, and assumptions about the world, the Indies, and their time. For a while this “nation in embryo” did not have its own name and they were simply natives (bumiputera) and kaum muda. In fact, the pergerakan nasional (national movement) understood in the orthodox historiogra¬ phy of post-independence Indonesia was the journey of this “nation in embryo” in search of its own name—Indonesia. But well before the “discovery” of Indonesia this growing “nation in embryo” certainly existed in kaum muda’s minds and styles and soon acquired its own institutional means to express its “national” consciousness. The means was native newspapers. In the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first of this century, especially after 1906, when the new press law substituted post- for precensorship, the number and circulation of Malay and other vernacular periodicals greatly expanded from eight in 1890 to eighteen in 1905 to thirty-six in 1910. Though no statistical data are available about their circulation, its increase can be guessed from the fact that printed matter sent by the postal service increased by 370 percent from 1890 to 1910.39 The first to become active in journalism were Indos, and the leading journalists of the day were such Indos as H.C.O. Clockener Brousson of Bintang Hindia, E. F. Wiggers of Bintang Barat, and G. Francis of Pemberita Betawi. Then, from the middle of the 1900s , the Chinese started to establish printing houses and to publish periodicals in increasing numbers. In 1905 the Chinese pub¬ lished one newspaper in Java, but five in 1907, nine in 1909, and fifteen in 1911. It was largely Chinese publishing activities that con¬ tributed to the spectacular increase in the number of periodicals in the second half of the 1900s. In this development of journalism, natives also took part, first apprenticing themselves to Indo and Chinese jour¬ nalists, then as editors of Indo- and Chinese-published newspapers, and finally as publishers of their own newspapers as well. The first native journalists emerged in the mid-i90os. In Batavia, R. M. Tirtoadiwinoto, F. D. J. Pangemanan, and R. M. Toemenggoeng Koesoemo Oetojo became editors-in-chief of Ilmoe Tani, Kabar Perniagaan, and Pewarta Prijaji. In Surakarta, R. Dirdjoatmodjo edited Djawi Kanda published by Albert Rusche & Co., and in Yogyakarta Dr. Wahidin Soedirohoesodo became the editor of the Javanese journal Retnodboemilah published by Firma H. Buning. They were soon fol¬ lowed by increasing numbers of native journalists: R. Tirtodanoedjo and R. Mohammad Joesoef, both editors of Sinar Djawa published by Hong Thaij Co.; Djojosoediro, the editor of Tjabaja Timoer pub¬ lished in Malang by Kwee Khaij Khee; and Abdoel Moeis, the editor of 39Koloniaal Vers lag, 1891 and 1911.

The Arena


Pewarta Hindia in Bandung published by G. Kolff & Co. These emergent native journalists, by their very act of writing articles, com¬ menting on letters sent by readers, and editing newspapers for un¬ known numbers of unknown people, were in fact presiding over “the nation in embryo” and expressing their solidarity with their readers as natives and as kaum muda. This quality of solidarity was clear from the start. Pewarta Prijaji, edited by R.M.T. Koesoemo Oetojo, the regent of Ngawi, for instance, appealed for the unity of prijaji and allotted most of its space to translations and detailed explanations of government statutes, supplements, and legal judgments—in short, in¬ formation useful to the government prijaji; and there existed an asso¬ ciation of its supporters, sympathizers, and subscribers, with fifteen branches in Java, Madura, and Sumatra.40 But in the first several years those native journalists were employed by Indo and Chinese publishers and were not entirely independent in presiding over “the nation in embryo.” In 1903 R. M. Tirtoadhisoerjo, then already a star reporter at the age of about twenty-one, started his own newspaper, Soenda Berita, with the financial help of the regent of Cianjur, R.A.A. Prawiradiredja. It was the first newspaper financed, managed, edited, and published by natives. Then in 1907 he started a new weekly, Medan Prijaji (Forum of priyayi), and the next year, in 1908, together with Hadji Mohammad Arsad and Pangeran Oesman, established the first native limited-liability company, N.V. Javaansche Boekhandel en Drukkerij en Handel in Schrijfbehoeften “Medan Prija¬ ji” and bought one of the first native printing houses. Tirtoadhisoerjo, born to a Bojonegoro regent family in 1880 but refusing to enter the Pangreh Pradja, went for some time to the STOVIA in Batavia (1893/94—1900) and joined Pemberita Betawi as an editor. In 1906 he founded Sarekat Prijaji (Association of Priyayi), to promote, through establishment of a fellowship, the education of the sons of priyayi and native aristocrats. Medan Prijaji was initially conceived as its organ and published as a weekly (1907—9) and then as a daily (1909—12). Tirtoadhisoerjo created his own journalistic style in Medan Prijaji, militant and sarcastic in tone and mixing many Javanese and Dutch words in his Batavian Malay, and it became the leading native news¬ paper of the day with its subscribers reaching two thousand in early 1911.41 Though the title of the newspaper was Medan Prijaji, it was no longer the forum for only the priyayi, as Koesoemo Oetojo’s Pewarta 46See Hoofdbestuur van Insulinde aan GG, 18 Dec. 1917, Mr. 14X/18; Procureur Generaal aan GG, 9 May 1919, Mr. 303X/19, Vb. 9 July 1919, No. 61.

The Insulinde and Feasant Strikes


transform the Insulinde into the IP, the Surakarta Insulinde thus oc¬ cupied a special position as a vanguard, all the more so because Tjipto, his trusted friend, was there. Shortly after the general meeting, Douwes Dekker, in the name of the Insulinde central leadership, authorized the Surakarta Insulinde to carry out propaganda activities freely at its own initiative and independent of the central leadership. In the Surakartan pergerakan context, the Surakarta Insulinde was the united front of opposition forces to the priyayi establishment that controlled the BO and the religious establishment and Lawean batik entrepreneurs who controlled the Surakarta SI. Its significance can be more clearly understood if we compare the Surakarta Insulinde to the Yogyakarta SI, which was then also emerging as a center of the SI movement. In Yogyakarta, as we have seen, the SI was led by Soerjopranoto, with his organizational base in the Arbeidsleger-Adhi Dharma and the PFB, and Fachrodin, with his base in the Moehammadijah, especially in its dynamic tabligh branch. Soerjopranoto was a member of the Paku Alam house and thus sat at the lesser apex of the Yogya¬ karta priyayi order. The Arbeidsleger-Adhi Dharma was a patronage association of Paku Alaman aristocrats, and the PFB the union of skilled sugar factory workers employed on a regular basis. Fachrodin was the son of a sultan’s religious official. The Moehammadijah en¬ joyed the solid support of sultan’s religious officials as well as batik entrepreneurs in the city of Yogyakarta and Kota Gede. Thus the social bases of the Yogyakarta SI lay in Paku Alam aristocrats and priya¬ yi, the Kasultanan religious establishment, batik entrepreneurs, and skilled sugar factory workers. In contrast, both Kasunanan and Mangkunegaran aristocrats and priyayi were under the influence of the BO. Tjipto’s attack on the Javanese nationalism of the BO only alienated them from the Insulinde. Nothing illustrates this more than the fact that Soetadi, secretary of the Surakarta Insulinde and commissioner of the BO Surakarta branch, simply quit the Insulinde at the general meeting in December. Tjipto and his younger proteges were only on the periphery of the Solonese priyayi order. Likewise, Misbach and the SATV were in opposition to the religious establishment. Besides, the SATV found its support among batik traders in the central parts of the city, while Lawean batik entrepreneurs remained aloof and some¬ times hostile to the SATV. Workers, especially printers and govern¬ ment pawnshop and Opiumregie officials, joined the Toenggal Boedi and the PKBT, but in this royal city of Surakarta, they were also marginal. The Surakarta Insulinde was a united front of orang par¬ ticular, reformist Muslims, and workers, all marginal in the Surakar¬ tan social hierarchy. As long as the Surakarta Insulinde confined its activities to within the city, it could not expect to expand its constitu¬ ency. But peasant discontent was growing in the countryside. The out¬ breaks of peasant strikes were reported both in the Kasunanan and in


An Age in Motion

the Mangkunegaran. Peasant strikes themselves were not new, but their frequency was alarming. From August 1918 on, peasant strikes were reported in Pucangsawit, Dukuh, Pojok of Sukoharjo and Gulon of Calamadu.57 All these peasant strikes were small-scale and ended quickly. Their causes were everywhere similar: peasants refused to perform corvee labor for the plantation and demanded an increase in wages for paid corvee labor (glidig), because the steep price rise of necessary commodities made the current wage level utterly untenable. Shortly after the Insulinde general meeting, the Kartasura circle, which had been suspended since May, was reactivated by Misbach. He start¬ ed his propaganda activities as an Insulinde propagandist and SATV muballigh in the tobacco and sugar plantation areas of the Kasunanan with the Kartasura circle as his outpost. And it was there in the coun¬ tryside that the Surakarta Insulinde experienced dazzling expansion.

The Rise of the Insulinde, 2 Toward the end of 1918 Misbach started his propaganda activities in Kartasura, Banyudono, and Ponggok. After the reactivation of the Kartasura Insulinde circle, the expansion of the Insulinde in this area was spectacular. On December 29, 1918, the Karangduren branch of the Kartasura circle was organized on the Tegalgondo tobacco planta¬ tion (district Banyudono, regency of Boyolali), some 4 kilometers from the town of Kartasura. On February 16, 1919, the Nglungge circle was established in district Ponggok (regency of Klaten), some 12 kilometers from Kartasura. In March the Klaseman branch of the Kartasura circle and the Pundung circle were organized on the Tegalgondo plantation (district Kartasura, regency of Surakarta) and on the Manjung tobacco plantation (district Ponggok). In April the Gawok circle was estab¬ lished in district Kartasura, and by the end of May two more circles were organized on the Polanharjo tobacco plantation (district Pong¬ gok).58 For reasons we shall see, neither Misbach nor the Surakarta Insulinde leadership knew how many joined Insulinde circles. Even if estimated very modestly, however, membership exceeded ten thousand in less than half a year. Peasant strikes in Nglungge and on the Tegal¬ gondo tobacco plantation took place during this expansion. To under-

'7For the peasant strike in Pucangsawit, see Islam Bergerak, io Aug. 1918. For the strikes in Dukuh and Gulon (Mangkunegaran), see Islam Bergerak, 10 Sept. 1918, and 10 Nov. 1918. For the strike in Pojok, see Islam Bergerak, zo Oct. 1918. Also see Sismadi Sastrosiswojo’s remark on the age of strikes in Islam Bergerak, 10 Oct. 1919. >s“Chronologische Volgorde der Feiten” in Resident van Surakarta aan GG, Z3 May 1919, Mr. 3ZZX/19 (hereafter Chronologische Volgorde, Mr. 3ZZX/19). Resident van Surakarta aan Procureur Generaal, 3 July 1919, Mr. 474X/19.

The Insulinde and Feasant Strikes


stand why the Insulinde grew so rapidly and on such an enormous scale, and why the Insulinde expansion was accompanied by growing peasant unrest, we have to examine peasant grievances in the Kasunanan countryside, the nature of circle leadership, and the way circle leaders organized peasant discontent in their propaganda for the In¬ sulinde. But before going into these questions, let us first examine how Misbach saw the peasant situation in rural Surakarta and what he called for by circle leaders and peasants. To understand Misbach’s ideas about the peasant situation, the basic message he conveyed to peasants, as well as the role he assigned himself in leading Insulinde circles, a cartoon published in the April 20 issue of Islam Bergerak will give us a good starting point. In this cartoon (see Figure 1), the most visible exploiter and oppressor is the Dutch “kapltalist.” He sucks the blood of the peasant through the pipe fixed to the peasant’s stomach, while saying, “Ha, it tastes sweet.” The half-visible exploiter and oppressor is the government commanded by the resident of Surakarta. The government oppresses the voice of peasant protest and grievances by gripping the peasant’s head tightly by the hand, on which is written “Articles 154 and 156 of the criminal law,” articles that regulate the freedom of speech and press. The government op¬ presses the voice of the peasant not only because the capitalist com-


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