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AVERAGE NUMBER, HOURS AND DAYS OF LABOR, AND WAGES OF RAILROAD EMPLOY
EES IN THE PHILIPPINES DURING THE YEAR 1902–Concluded.
a Per day
c According to the requirements of the service.
LABOR CONDITIONS IN JAVA.
BY VICTOR S. CLARK, PH. D.
Java is the principal island of the Netherlands Indies from the point of view of population and industrial development. In many respects it presents in a typical and perfected form the results of a consistent colonial theory, wrought out during a century of national administration by a European government, and applied to an oriental people. Success and failure, the possibilities and the limitations of occidental influence upon the political, social, and economic condition of an eastern nation, are alike recorded in the history and in the present condition of the colony. An investigation of any group of sociological facts relating to this country, therefore, has a more or less general application wherever the problem arises of governing an oriental nation in conformity with the ideals of western civilization.
The island of Java resembles Cuba in area, outline, and agricultural capabilities, although its topography and geological features differ in many ways from those of its West Indian counterpart, and it lies 15° nearer the center of the Torrid Zone, or just south of the equator, while the latter island lies slightly within the northern tropic. Nevertheless the greater elevation of the interior plateaus of Java countervails the effect of its lower latitude, so that oppressive heat is hardly more common than in Cuba. The climatic differences of the two countries reveal themselves rather through prolonged effects upon organic life-upon flora and fauna-than by phenomena directly sensible to the visitor from other lands. The same influences probably help to shape sociological and economic conditions, which are doubtless as plastic as organic forms, and thus react indirectly upon industries. But in the main Java and Cuba produce the same agricultural commodities for export. Turning to the Philippines, if we exclude manila hemp, of which those islands seem to have a natural monopoly by virtue of some obscure endowment of soil or climate, our own insular dependency is engaged in similar lines of production. The kinship of the Javanese and the Filipino races is close, and there is evidence to suggest that the social traditions and instincts and the institutional inheritance of the two peoples are intimately related and probably identical in origin. Similar climatic conditions prevail throughout the Philippine and the East Indian archipelagoes. Therefore the Philippines and Java, and a typical West Indian island like Cuba, present the problem of tropical labor in three equations, so to speak, each with the unknown quantities in different but comparable relations, and consequently a study of labor conditions in any one of these countries throws light upon corresponding conditions in either of the others. Especially is a study of Javanese workers valuable as showing us a number of conditions as general among the Malay peoples under all forms of government, that we might otherwise wrongly attribute to accidental and easily remediable political or economic causes.
Java has an area of about 49,000 square miles, and is 5,000 square miles larger than Cuba and 8,000 square miles larger than Luzon. The population is, in round numbers, 29,000,000, or several times the total of the whole Philippine group, and fully sixteen times that of Cuba. Only about 63,000 of the inhabitants are classed as Europeans, and this includes a considerable number of persons who rank politically rather than racially with the whites. The long and slender outline of the island, running parallel with the equator, is, as in the case of Cuba, due to the presence of a more or less continuous mountain axis, whose prolongation in either direction is marked by adjacent land bodies. Sumatra to the west and the islands continuing to Timor on the east are the remaining links of this otherwise submerged ocean highland. A comparatively slight change of sea level would make of Java two islands of nearly equal extent, composed, respectively, of the Preanger and the Tosari plateaus, which now dominate the western and the eastern ends of Java, affording with their bracing air and temperate climate a welcome refuge for the white residents during the hot season.
The central plains between these two mountain regions were the seat of the lost and forgotten Hindoo civilization which flourished in the island ten or twelve centuries ago, and which has left no trace of its existence except massive Buddhist and Brahman ruins, whose origin the degenerate descendants of the builders ascribe to the gods themselves. Later the same district was the home of a Mohammedan empire, whose more or less disputed boundaries extended to Borneo and beyond, but which became a vassal state of the Dutch East Indies Company and now is divided into two equally impotent sultanates of limited extent. These remain as convenient administrative divisions, distinguished from ordinary residencies by a numerous and ceremonious court, more involved governmental procedure, and certain remnants of official privilege and property rights retained by the native rulers that affect private law and especially the conditions of land tenure. The mountain districts, on the other hand, were not organized into powerful states prior to the Dutch occupation, and therefore have been assimilated more completely into the uniform administrative system which the Netherlands Government is gradually extending to all its possessions in the Indies.
Racially the native inhabitants of Java are divided into three main branches, all of whom are allied and profess the Mohammedan religion, but whose features, language, and customs differ in a marked degree. The Preanger highland is inhabited by the Soudanese, who are lighter colored, as a rule, than the coast dwellers-à people given to the cultivation of rice and the smaller food crops upon peasant holdings, or employed on tea and cinchona plantations. Coffee, which was formerly the staple crop of this district, has of recent years suffered from blight to such an extent that it is rapidly disappearing from cultivation in many places. The Soudanese are said to work best at occupations not involving the exertion of great physical strength, such as coffee and tea picking; but this direction of aptitude is probably the result of training rather than of racial peculiarities, as the home of this people is not in a country where cane raising and other severer forms of tropical labor have been profitable. Central Java is occupied by the Javanese proper, a darker, stockier, and more hard working race, trained to habits of plodding, if rather inefficient, industry by generations of subservient obedience to despotic rulers. These people were the subjects of the ancient Hindoo kings and their Mohammedan conquerors, and they live in the most densely populated portion of the island. They are employed in the cultivation of rice, tobacco, and sugar, and are recruited by cooly agents for work in other islands of the Netherlands Indies, and even for northern Borneo, the Straits Settlements, and the French colonies of New Caledonia. In the eastern end of Java, around the chief commercial center of Surabaya and upon the adjacent island of Madura, the Madurese are settled, a race of more typical Malay habits and aptitudes than the natives previously mentioned. They have something of the mechanical handiness that characterizes this sailor people, and furnish the best mechanics that Java affords. However, this superior skill may be accounted for in part by the fact that for over a century Surabaya has been the chief naval depot of the Dutch Indies, and that a population of several thousand natives has been almost constantly employed by the government at ship and boat building and other mechanical trades for several generations, while private employers have naturally settled near this source of labor supply. Surabaya is the headquarters through which sugar machinery is supplied to most of the Javanese plantations and where repairs are usually effected. Accustomed from youth to the stricter industrial administration of the workshops, the Madurese are said to be the steadiest workers among the natives. They appear to have a keener sense of the value of money, probably for the same reason, and possess some rudiments of thrift. But they do not engage with equal willingness in the more arduous forms of field labor, and when left alone with nature are said to take to sea pursuits and stock raising rather than to the cultivation of the soil.
In the mountains and in some of the remoter coast districts there are communities which appear to be quite distinct from the three main divisions of the native population of Java just described, and some of the port cities, like Batavia, have a mongrel population quite beyond the possibility of classification, but composed largely of imported elements. The great source of labor supply, however, is from the three branches of the people just mentioned. Practically there is no immigrant labor. Europeans are employed in supervising capacities, and some discharged soldiers and half-castes follow mechanical trades in the larger cities. The Chinese, who are fairly numerous in the towns, engage to some extent in petty manufacturing, but are chiefly employed in mercantile pursuits. They do practically no unskilled manual labor and very little arduous work of any kind. Essentially they are a race of traders everywhere in the Tropics, except when working under cooly contracts. They number about 280,000 in Java, or rather less than 1 per cent of the whole population. There are also some 18,000 Arabians and 3,000 other Orientals in the island, who are likewise almost entirely engaged in trade.
Cuba, with a population hardly exceeding 1,500,000, exports nearly $15,000,000 more per annum than Java, with equal natural resources and 29,000,000 people. On the other hand, Java consumes but $40,000,000 worth of imported commodities, including machinery and textiles. Deducting the value of the articles imported for the 63,000 Europeans, the average native hardly consumes foreign goods to the value of a dollar a year. This indicates the degree to which his energies are devoted to the production of those things which he personally consumes. The food that he imports is a negligible quantity. While the per capita value of exports from the Philippines ranges from $3 to $4.50, that from Java varies from $2 to $2.25. But if we were to deduct the value of food imports in each instance from the value of native commodities exported, we should find the difference in net export values thus resulting very slight, though apparently the Filipino must be credited with a somewhat larger production than the Javanese, as is to be expected from the sparser population and relatively more abundant natural resources of the archipelago. However, the Filipino consumes more imported goods than the Javanese, and in this sense his standard of living is higher. So, while exports exceed imports in Java in all normal years and are not infrequently 50 per cent higher than the latter, the balance of trade has been upon the other side of the ledger in the Philippines.