JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
The history of exploration and capitalism and imperialism and conquest for much of its history is a fleshed-out skeleton based on misery and temptation and ruin. There are of course many images of he background to fortune of the beauty that hard-fought money has brought. It is interesting to look though at the scenes when the wizards draw back the curtain to history, accidentally or not, even in such inauspicious locations as this pamphlet, a minor work on the rubber industry in Sumatra.
The photograph of the decimated and routed forest is one of pride, ca. 1931-style, a mark of progress, development, industry, capital.
There were millions of acres under cultivation at this point, with (according to the figures quoted in the pamphlet) more than 320,000 workers/laborer-peasants doing the heavy lifting, the vast percentage of these being from China and Java. There is also a mention of the worker agreements that would get them to Sumatra, noted as "penal sanctions"--the practice required people to work for three or five years and if they somehow forfeited that agreement they would be imprisoned and sentenced to further labor when released. It was a vicious enterprise.
But as strong as this was it must have undoubtedly been a manifestation of an even wider form of societal control, such as worker society existed there, living under the domination of the plantation owners.
In any event the photograph on the cover was a prideful thing that today would be seen as usurious and representative of some deep tragedy. In short: nothing new.