Multatuli, Goethe, and colonial wars from Indonesia then to Afghanistan now


This video is called Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – Speedpainting by M. Missfeldt.

Dutch Theater Nomade, led by Ab Gietelink, often plays versions, adapted for twenty-first century theater, of older classical literature.

In 2006, they did a new version of Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This year, they do an adaptation for theater of the most famous nineteenth century Dutch novel, Max Havelaar by Multatuli.

In both plays, the Dutch soldiers participating in the war in Afghanistan play a major role.

In an interview about his version of Faust, Gietelink said:

‘Eighty percent of the Dutch parliament have voted in favour of the mission to Afghanistan. I am certain that if there would have been a referendum, the people would have voted against it. The motives for invading are the same ones as when we invaded Aceh a hundred years ago. These people may have good intentions. Then, rebels were called terrorists as well. However, those Achinese then did not come here, that is the difference.

This is a neocolonialist discourse. One really has to be careful with helping people who did not ask for that. I have been to Iraq just after the first Gulf war. Then, it was safer than now. I would not go there now. Some of the people then were pro Saddam, some were against; however, they all saw the United States as an enemy. The media never asked that to those people. Saddam had to go; however, basically, the people have to do that themselves.’

In an interview with Dutch daily Leidsch Dagblad, Gietelink also emphasized the Afghanistan issue. It is in the paper version of that daily. However, the Internet version of the interview left out the Afghan war issue. Gietelink said, that Multatuli had already criticized the Dutch military in Indonesia in the nineteenth century; and that that criticism is still relevant for the Dutch military role in Uruzgan in Afghanistan today.

Uruzgan now and Aceh then: here.

See video on preparations for Max Havelaar performance in Leiden: here.

Communism and anti colonialism in the 1920s: here.

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