Indonesia’s Colonial Exploitation

JCA editorial board member Alec Gordon has published the latest of a series of articles that have sought to assess and calculate the level of colonial exploitation in then then Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia.

A Last Word: Amendments and Corrections to Indonesia’s Colonial Surplus 1880–1939” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2018.1433865) is a relatively short correction and reassessment of the data presented  in earlier work.

The abstract states:

This article corrects and amends earlier calculations of Indonesia’s colonial surplus appearing in past issues of the Journal of Contemporary Asia. The final corrected total for 1880–1939, the period of domination by private enterprise, is now put at approximately 27 billion Netherlands guilders. The main reasons for the changes were two faulty methods of calculation used previously and the realisation of several sizeable omissions more from the balance of payments. The new methods of creating estimates of missing items are explained whilst the erroneous method of the balance of payments dealing with undistributed profits is discussed critically. The balance of payments specifies no data at all for undistributed profits although, clearly, they are large. It is also observed that almost all other discussions of the size of undistributed profits deal with the part not mentioned in the balance of payments and are unaware of the hidden element that is included. Our total is almost certainly an underestimate.

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