Southeast Asia: “With the defeat of the Japanese in 1945, my people were jubilant. We were anticipating freedom at last. Unfortunately our joy was premature. At that exultant moment we had no conception of the trials and tribulations that we would have to endure before we were truly free. While the Japanese had been defeated after they had overthrown the Europeans, we had no idea that the American Company was waiting in the wingsLike vampires, they wanted to drain us of our life force – leaving us zombies - slaves to their desires - not our own.
You might respond, “There have always been wars. Those wars have always claimed the innocent lives of those uninvolved in the greater conflict. What’s the difference if an individual is killed by the Khmer or by the Europeans? It is still an untimely death accompanied by grieving and a deep sense of loss. It doesn’t make it better or worse to be killed by one’s own kind or by colonial soldiers.”
Certainly on an individual level, there is no difference. However, the colonial powers were not only killing my people, they were also attempting to kill my unique Southeast Asian culture. They replaced my leaders with theirs, and in many cases forced their religion and rapacious values upon my citizenry.
You might argue that both the Thai and Burmese were also invaders, who supplanted the Mon-Khmer, my indigenous people. However, there seems to be some crucial differences between foreign cultures that drain our resources and immigrant cultures that move into my territory. Somehow, I feel an affinity with the Thai speakers. Although they migrated in from the north to conquer and displace my indigenous people – the Mon-Khmer, they adopted Southeast Asian culture. Conversely, I feel an aversion for the Western cultures that only traveled to my territory in order to suck my resources dry and then take my wealth home to their part of the world. The attitudes of the two cultures are poles apart. One came to stay and adopted our culture, while the other views me merely as income property.
I understand that people exploit each other. This seems to be a human universal. However, local exploitation somehow seems more tolerable than colonial exploitation. At least, my people are doing it to themselves. For individual humans, I don’t know if it really matters if they are exploited by a local prince or a European power. To be honest, I am not fond of any kind of ruling class that exploits my people.
My first allegiance is to the bulk of humans who have lived on my land for centuries, living off my bounteous resources. They are the real foundation of my cultures. It is these people that are the anchor for my affections. Those that treat my children well are also treating me well. Alternately those who abuse my children are my enemies.
Keep in mind that when I say ‘we’ that I’m either referring to my indigenous culture or the governments that support them. Alternately when I say ‘they’, I’m referring to the foreign companies that exist primarily to drain my energy, whether in terms of manpower, oil, or rice. I could also be referring to the people of privilege who chose to align with the Company to exploit my people.
Although the ruling class may have been living on my territory for as long as my working class, I consider them outsiders when they choose the wrong side. Similarly even though members of the Company may have chosen to live in my territories, I don’t consider them mine, or part of my ‘we’, until they begin to assimilate with Southeast Asian culture. Of course, I am even fonder of them if they attempt to improve the standard of living for my people.
With these refinements in mind, let us begin our trip to Hell and back. Little in our wildest imagination did we anticipate the agonies we were to experience. I want to congratulate my people for enduring all the excruciating trials, while still maintaining their individual cultures.
Note that our intent is to discover how each of my 11 countries became who they are today. Once we have achieved that goal, the investigation is at an end. In other words, we don’t intend to elaborate on the ins and outs of the political development of each country in modern times. We are primarily interested in how my indigenous people achieved the freedom to develop on their own without the interference of Western powers.
With these perspectives in mind, I now launch our exploration into my history after the Japanese were defeated in WWII. Let us begin our exploration with the countries that first achieved independence from the colonial powers that had ruled them for centuries. Unfortunately, this initial liberation was tainted by what followed.”
On August 17, 1945, 2 days after the Japanese surrendered to the USA, a vacillating Sukarno, after being kidnapped, intimidated and pressured by some leftist youths, proclaimed Javanese independence from his revolutionary capital in Yogyakarta. He also stated his famous 5 principles - nationalism, internationalism, democracy, social prosperity and belief in God. These principles have remained in the Indonesian constitution up to the present day.
After the war, a liberation force immediately formed in Yogyakarta. This historic city is located in Java’s central plain - conveniently located 1/2 way between the population centers of Bali and Jakarta. However, the European powers didn’t take this proclamation calmly. The British, still not fed up with war, immediately attacked. A full-scale battle broke out, but Sukarno defeated the British with weapons obtained from the retreating Japanese. The Javanese were jubilant.
However their trials were not over.
The Dutch recognized their republic, but only included Java - not the rest of the Dutch East Indies. However, the Dutch military immediately attempted to suppress the Javanese liberation movement. Ironically, they employed the aid given to them by the USA through the Marshall plan. On the surface at least, these funds were provided to rebuild their country, which had been devastated by WWII. Of course, the Dutch called the Javanese insurgents, because they were threatening the status quo that the Netherlands wanted to reinstate.
The Dutch military encircled the island and gradually began squeezing. By 1948 the new republic only included central Java. Adding to the difficulties, there was a Communist coup, inspired by the success of China. To maintain control, Sukarno was forced to suppress the uprising. With all this infighting, the Dutch finally seized the new capital of Yogyakarta, located on Java’s high central plateau.
But the Dutch had no more international allies to assist them in their endeavor to suppress the Indonesian independence movement. The British had already given up India. Anxious to get its hand in the pot, the Company manipulated the American government into threatening to cut off aid. Because of this pressure from the international community, especially the USA, the Dutch finally relinquished control of Indonesia after 3 centuries.
In 1949 Sukarno, a brilliant and charismatic leader, who had been dedicated to Javanese independence for decades, became the first president. He was international and sophisticated, speaking 10 languages including Arabic, which he learned from studying the Koran. He was thoroughly Javanese in his devotion to ‘wayang’. These were plays based upon the Hindu epics, such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The dramas were performed by puppets, of which the audience could only see their shadows. Immersed in the shadow world of humanity, Sukarno turned nation-making into a heroic theatrical. The Javanese were overjoyed. Freedom and self-determination at last. Little did they know what the Universe had in store.
It didn’t start auspiciously. The new government set about to establish control of all the islands that the Dutch had previously controlled, whether they liked it or not. Indonesia was the name chosen for the new country. This was a logical choice, as the archipelago had been called Indonesia, i.e. the Indian islands, for quite some time. Sukarno’s goal was to unite this large and diverse group of islands under one political roof. The process wasn’t pretty.
After declaring independence, Indonesia conquered the aforementioned Calvinist island of Ambon, the spice center. 12,000 of these islanders had to be evacuated to the Netherlands. Isolated from their native island, they have caused frequent problems due to their unhappiness at their status as second-class citizens. While many of the islands might have been forced to be part of Indonesia unwillingly, there was comparatively little blood shed, especially as compared to what came later.
Things went relatively smoothly for a while. But as the US-led international business community, a.k.a the Cartel, began to realize that Sukarno was not going to play their game, they knew they were going to have to do something. Sukarno had cooperated with the Japanese, even supplying them with prostitutes and slave labor from his own people. Because of his ‘flexibility’, the Cartel mistakenly assumed he would be amenable to their needs.
Sukarno even employed the Cartel’s military assistance to begin centralizing control of the hundreds of islands in the Indonesian archipelago. The Cartel willingly provided weaponry because centralization made it much easier for them to exploit the plant, mineral, animal and human resources of Indonesia’s many islands. Unfortunately for the Cartel, Sukarno seemed to have a mind of his own.
He seemed to be genuinely devoted to his people, the Javanese. During his reign there were impressive gains in health, education, self-awareness and self-expression. It was he that personally created the language of the country, called ‘Bahasa Indonesia’. He employed this national language in all the schools to unify the multitude of Indonesian islands. This common language created a sense of national identity, which had been lacking before.
Sukarno’s personal charisma was enhanced by a constant string of soirees and entertainments. He made life fun for his people. In these ways, Sukarno earned the affection of the Indonesian people.
International Business Cartel: “Sukarno’s devotion to his country and people was a fatal flaw, at least in our opinion. His authentic concern for the Indonesian populace undermined our almighty profits. We decided that Sukarno had to go.
Unfortunately, his popularity made it difficult to undermine his rule or overthrow him. It was hard to find someone who would betray him, especially in his inner circle. While the bulk of the people loved Sukarno for his devotion to their welfare, he did have enemies. These are the ones we courted as allies.”
Author: “Who are you? England, Holland, America, Europe, Russia?”
Cartel: “They all are part of me, but I’m above them. I am the International Business Cartel.”
Author: “International cartel? Let’s see: cartel, “an association of private business organizations bound by contract to cooperate in regulating production and marketing of products thus tending to restrict world markets and fix prices. Synonym: monopoly.”
Cartel: “That’s me.”
Author: “But I’m confused. I’ve heard of oil cartels and drug cartels, but what is your international cartel all about?”
Cartel: “The business of becoming wealthy in any way possible. We derived from the Dutch and then British East and West India Companies. Our objective is to maximize profits and minimize costs in any type of business opportunity that might present itself. We like to exploit the propensities of any situation.”
Author: “You said that you began as Dutch and British, but what nationality are you currently?”
Cartel: “While the USA supplies us with money, an army and spies to do our bidding, we are international. As soon as the Western European powers began cooperating to colonize and exploit the other territories on the planet, we transcended our national boundaries. An obvious indication of this internationalism was when the Dutch and British signed treaties between themselves to divide up Southeast Asia. Prior to this, the Portuguese and Spanish cooperated to divide up the rest of the world between themselves. The French, Germans, and Americans joined the Business much later.”
Author: “But these are all individual countries that you are referring to.”
Cartel: “We prefer to think of these countries as our major stock holders - on the Board of Directors, as it were. They set up rules to prevent infighting amongst themselves. They also attempt to maximize the profits from their branch of the Company. We believe in the incentive program.”
Author: “But what about all the wars between these countries. This indicates they are not part of a business cooperative.”
Cartel: “These frequent wars you refer to are just power struggles to determine who is going to be in charge of directing the Business. In fact, the Company continues to thrive because of the regular armed conflicts between our stockholders. War is good for business. Create, then destroy, then recreate – a great business model, especially for the military-industrial complex. As such, we even encourage war as a marvelous way of generating profits.”
Author: “But what about the countries that are devastated due to war?”
Cartel: “What about them? The companies that I am comprised of are independent of the individual countries that they are associated with. Similarly countries are independent of the people that make them up and bodies are independent of the cells that make them up.”
Author: “But the body needs cells to survive and countries need people to survive.”
Cartel: “Don’t get me wrong. Although cells are important to the body, they are subservient to it. Similarly, my countries are important to me, but subservient to my needs. The body survives after the cells have served their purpose and are sloughed off. In like fashion, countries and companies need a membership base, but outlast these members, i.e. the humans that comprise them.”
Author: “But isn’t each country pursuing a course that will further their national interests, independent of you.”
Cartel: “Sure. In similar fashion, individual cells might have a different agenda than the body, or humans might have a different agenda than the countries they belong to. However in the overall picture the Individual serves the Group, not vice versa. The cell ultimately serves the body it belongs to, just like humans tend to serve the culture and country they belong to. Also these collections of humans called nation-states, kingdoms, republics, federations, or empires ultimately serve my interests before their own. For centuries, if not millennia, I have been the body for a multitude of countries whose boundaries and names mutate and change.”
Author: “But aren’t countries set up to serve the humans that created them and aren’t international companies formed to serve the interests their country? Don’t companies pursue a course of action that is in the best interests of the individual countries, just as countries follow a course of action that will benefit the citizens that they consist of?”
Cartel: “Whew, are you naive. Let me give you a more concrete example. The Jewish banking family, the Rothschilds, epitomized this movement towards internationalism. The patriarch of the clan set up branches of their bank in each of the major European countries with his sons in charge. Then they loaned money to these countries so that they could go to war against the each other. The profits from the war went to international business/banking community. The countries and citizenry became impoverished by the continual state of warfare that was created by these loans. This was the international Jewish banking conspiracy that Hitler was talking about. However the profits didn’t end up in the hands of the average Jew, instead they ended up in Swiss bank accounts controlled by an international consortium of the wealthy from many countries. These wars were not in the best national interests of the countries or their population. These armed conflicts were in the best interests of the Cartel.”
Author: “Business, Company, Cartel?”
Cartel: “Just different names that I am called.”
Author: “You just said that you had been around for millennia and had seen many countries come and go, but I thought you began with the Dutch East India Company, from just a few centuries ago.”
Cartel: “That is when we became official, but I actually trace my roots to the Bronze Age.”
Author: “The Bronze Age!?”
Cartel: “That is when the ruling aristocracy, whether Aryan, Arab or Chinese began cooperating internationally to suppress the rights of the working classes, mainly the agricultural peasantry. My leaders would regularly put aside differences to collectively squelch peasant revolts. The fights they had were mainly over turf. Rarely did these conflicts concerns the rights of the peasant class. While Chinese, Mongol, Muslim and Christian leaders have regularly gone to war with each other, it was mainly to determine who got to own the land - which included livestock, serfs, minerals, plants and women. Rarely were these wars focused upon freeing the bottom classes from their political chains. That wouldn’t be expedient because we need them to fight our wars.”
Author: “How disgusting!”
Cartel: “Not really. Just a different perspective. You humans get so wrapped up in your puny little worlds that you forget the larger picture.”
Author: “You said that Sukarno seemed to be genuinely concerned for his people and that this was a fatal flaw.”
Cartel: “Most definitely. Concern for the humans that do our work raises the expenses in terms of wages, health and safety. And any time that expenses rise, our profits fall.”
Author: “But don’t you care about the people that do your bidding and allow you to exist? Without them, you’d be nothing!”
Cartel: “I only care about them to the extent that they serve me. Once they have finished their duty to me, they are like dead skin that needs to be sloughed off. I was created to generate profits, not as a nursery for humans. The quicker you understand that, the less questions you’ll need to ask.”
Author: “So the humans that make you up mean nothing to you?”
Cartel: “Actually, I love them dearly, until they have served their purpose. In similar fashion, a farmer treats his livestock well, until he slaughters them for food. As I said, people are like my cells with their countries as my organs.”
Author: “OK. I think I’m beginning to understand. Your profit-generating agenda was being thwarted by Sukarno’s genuine concern for the rights of his people.”
Cartel: “Exactly. We had already identified our goals for Indonesia through a US State Department missive issued in 1949.”
Author: “US State Department missive?”
Cartel: “Of course. The American government is my primary agent during this century.”
Author: “But I thought that America, the land of the free, was attempting to liberate the peoples of the world from European exploitation.”
Cartel: “Open your eyes. You’ve got a lot to learn.”
Author: “But didn’t the USA pressure the Dutch into granting Indonesia her independence.”
Cartel: “Yes, of course. So that the Americans, as my primary branch, could move in to take over the turf.”
Author: “But why didn’t they just take over from the Dutch rather than granting the Javanese freedom?”
Cartel: “Less expensive that way. Less hassle. No administrative costs. The British fought for Mexico’s independence from Spain so that they could exploit her people more easily. The European aristocracy freed the peasantry when it proved too expensive to maintain them. Similarly we felt it would be more economical to give them self-determination - the buzzword of the day, rather than to conquer and rule them ourselves. The colonial technique is inefficient and outmoded. The only problem in this situation was that Sukarno refused to cooperate with us. Further it wasn’t easy to manipulate his people against him, because they liked him.”
Author: “So what did the State Department missive say?”
Cartel: “That it was necessary for Indonesia ‘to fulfill its major function as a source of raw materials and a market for Japan and Western Europe.’ Of course the needs of Japan and Europe are subordinated to my needs. And I have a huge craving for profits. But then, Sukarno and his Nationalist party got in our way. Something had to be done.”
Author: “So what did you do? Negotiate, cooperate, seek a consensus?”
Cartel: “You are really funny. Still learning I see. We did the same thing we always do under similar circumstances. First we offer bribes, then threats. If there is still no cooperation, we first disrupt the economy and simultaneously arm the military so that they are beholden to us. Then when things turn chaotic, we organize a military coup. Of course, the leaders of the coup must cooperate with us or we will have them overthrown, by someone else - who will do our bidding. Sukarno had accepted our bribes, but wasn’t cooperating. It was time for change and Sukarno would bear the consequences.
However as a predator, we are very patient. We carefully wait for an opening to exploit. It came relatively quickly.”
Southeast Asia: “The first decade after World War II was the honeymoon phase for the newly formed country of Indonesia. The Dutch Company had ruled my islands for over 300 years and now they were gone. Further due to Sukarno’s efforts, the bulk of the Indonesian people experienced a proud sense of nationalism combined with economic prosperity. They had a naïve sense of well-being, unaware that the wolf was waiting just outside their door.”