Privilege In The Crotch Of Rulers And The History That Described Them

The second article in VOI's signature Series, "Privilege: Myth or Real?" In the article "The Gray Crown Is Named Privilege", we discussed what privilege is and how it is socially formed. The article has also touched on how privileges can in fact be formed through political mechanisms. In this article, we will review apharteid politics to explore how privileges are formed through political mechanisms.

Privilege is a form of privilege that a person gets without going through a business process. Privileges - whether used intentionally or not-- can help a person to achieve certain achievements. Privilege can take many forms, from physical appearance, gender, group affiliation - race, religion, or ethnicity - to the country in which a person lives and grows and develops.

As explained by the sociologist of the State Islamic University (UIN) Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta, Tantan Hermansyah. According to him, sociological theory explains privilege as a result of interactions between subjects (individuals) who then have functions in the relationship between these subjects.

"For example, in an organization. A group of individuals who agree," said Tantan, contacted by VOI, Tuesday, March 3.

Referring to the concept of agreement, true privilege is not only formed naturally through social processes. It can also be formed through political mechanisms. The most famous example of political privilege is the series of racist apartheid policies in South Africa.

At that time, November 6, 1962, the United Nations (UN) called for all its members to end economic and military relations with South Africa. The call is a form of condemnation by the United Nations against racist political policies imposed in South Africa.

Black society at Driefontein (Commons Wikimedia)

It all started at the beginning of the National Party's rule in 1948. Under their rule, various racist policies began to be formed. The roots of all these racist policies are formulated in the concept of apartheid politics - derived from the word "apartness" - aka the politics of racial separation.

Through this policy, the authorities granted privileges to white people - dominated by Dutch and English descent - in various lines of life. Under the feet of the supremacy, black necks were choked. They were forced to live in separate areas and were prohibited from entering white people's neighborhoods without special permission.

From a social perspective, apartheid is clearly an anomaly. After all, whites in South Africa at that time were a minority. However, this anomaly also emphasized that the privilege of white people in South Africa at that time was a privilege formed through the political system. If misfortune hit blacks, whites were endowed with power over most of the country's land and wealth.

Franz Fanon, in the book Black Skin White Masks (1952) explains how the privilege of white people has a destructive impact on the existence of blacks. In the book, Fanon tells the story of a white child who hysterically sees a black Fanon. “Mama, look at that nigger! I'm scared!"

In Indonesia during the Dutch East Indies

In Nusantara land, a similar story happened. Regarding the privileges the Dutch get over the Indonesian natives. The privileges that the Dutch obtained in their colonies could not be separated from the power instilled by their trading partnership, Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC). This agency is known as a trading company with strong political status in Asia.

The VOC was so strong that it even had its own army. They also have the privilege of having access to concluding agreements with local authorities. Historian Ong Hok Ham, in a writing in a Tempo column entitled Bureaucracy, from the Dutch East Indies published in 1984, explained this speciality.

In addition, the VOC was also portrayed as a party capable of building the image that they were friends to kings or local authorities. "In Indonesia, especially Java, the VOC built its political position through agreements with the kings of Mataram and other rulers in the coastal areas," he wrote.

"The Company generally sided with the rulers in dealing with the rebels. Therefore, from the start, the local rulers were maintained, even strengthened. This means that the indigenous social structure was preserved," Ong Hok Ham continued in the article.

Supported by the power of the VOC, the various privileges of the Dutch nation were explained by L. Ayu Saraswati in a book entitled White: Skin Color, Race, and Beauty in Transnational Indonesia (2013). Ayu Saraswati explains how light skin color - tending to be white - was a sign of higher status throughout the colonial period. To make matters worse, throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, European accounts labeled the dark-skinned Indies natives as lazy and stupid.

Illustration (Source: Indische Magazyn)

"This is reflected in the memoir of an Indo woman, which tells how during her childhood in the Indies, students and teachers looked up to European students who were white and bright in school," he wrote.

Privilege for whites was strengthened in 1854, through the enactment of two separate legal books. The two books distinguish human groups in the archipelago on the basis of citizenship, trade, civil, and crime. Not only that. Through the forced cultivation system, the Dutch took advantage of the privilege to enrich themselves and at the same time impoverish the natives.

Not only by seizing land, the Dutch also obliged the natives to pay rent in the amount of two-fifths of their agricultural output. "Under this system, the Dutch also took over the sugar cane plantations and sugar factories, managed, and even owned these factories," wrote Ayu Saraswati.

Finally, it was not only those who became local people who were angry with Dutch behavior. Eduard douwes dekker or known by the pen name Multatuli also wrote down Dutch barbarity through his masterpiece entitled Max Havelaar (1860). Multatuli views that "the more Dutch people deal with the Javanese, the more wealth will be here, and the more poverty there will be."

Next Article: Political Privilege in the Circle of the President