Vol.3, No.1 Ramon Guillermo

Contents>> Vol. 3, No. 1

Themes of Invention, Help, and Will: Joachim Campe’s Robinson der Jüngere in Tagalog and Bahasa Melayu Translations

Ramon Guillermo*

* Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature, College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City 1101 Metro Manila, Philippines

e-mail: bomen.guillermo[at]gmail.com

Joachim Heinrich Campe’s pedagogical work Robinson der Jüngere (1779/1780) represents one of the most important and popular educational works of the European Enlightenment. It is not widely known that this work was translated into Malay as Hikayat Robinson Crusoë (1875) and into Tagalog as Ang Bagong Robinson (1879) in the late nineteenth century. This paper attempts a preliminary comparative analysis of these translations with a particular focus on the problem of translating concepts from political economy into Tagalog and Malay.

Keywords: political economy, Joachim Heinrich Campe, Adam Smith, Malay translations, Tagalog translations, Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, translation studies


This paper presents a preliminary comparative analysis of the translations of Joachim Heinrich Campe’s pedagogical work Robinson der Jüngere (RDJ) into Malay—Hikayat Robinson Crusoë (HRC)—and Tagalog—Ang Bagong Robinson (ABR). Given the strong economic themes present in these works, and in Robinsonades in general, the analysis shall be done from the point of view of the translation of political-economic concepts. Doris Jedamski explains why these types of translation analyses have not until recently been given the attention they deserve, despite their obvious advantages:

. . . indigenous translations and adaptations of Western novels and their impact in colonial societies have so far found little scholarly attention. A possible explanation for this negligence is the general misapprehension that translations and adaptations are no more than the reproduction of European cultural products in indigenous languages, without the insights into cultural transformation that are present in “original” novels by colonial subjects. (Jedamski 2002, 45)

Since this study is partly intended to provide “insights into cultural transformations” by means of translation analysis, it does not aim to assess or measure fidelity or translational accuracy. Rather, it seeks to compare the conceptual systems and discursive elements informing the three texts in question. Its aim is to make use of the contrastive resources that the techniques of translation analysis bring in order to probe into the specificity of discursive elements and conceptual histories in the respective texts being analyzed. Given this objective, the fact that HRC and ABR are “relay translations” of the original German text, from Dutch and Spanish respectively, can be considered a secondary problem in the context of the overall study. The translations will be read on their own terms with respect to their distinctive discursive characteristics. It is undeniable that as far as the receptor cultures and reading publics who are without access to the original language of the source text are concerned, these translations are, for all intents and purposes, stand-alone works. However, as much as possible some of the mediating translations will be consulted in order to refine the analysis and establish the origin of some major textual differences. It should be emphasized in advance that this paper is not a study in linguistics but rather an exercise in attempting to combine what has been called “discourse analysis” and “conceptual history.”

Text 1: Robinson der Jüngere

Daniel Defoe’s (1660–1731) novel with the full title The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an uninhabited Island on the coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With An Account how he was at last as strangely deliver’d by Pirates. Written by Himself, otherwise more briefly known as The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe or even just Robinson Crusoe, was first published in 1719 and is considered to be the first English novel. Due to its great success among the reading publics of Europe, it also became one of the most well-known and widely translated works in world literature.

The mythos of Crusoe attained such a degree of popularity in eighteenth-century Germany that the term “Robinsonade,” referring to a distinct literary genre, was coined by the writer Johann Gottfried Schnabel (1692–1758) as early as 1731 to refer to works sharing similar themes and premises (Schnabel 1994). An enormous amount of critical and scholarly material on German literary Robinsonades accumulated up to the end of the twentieth century (Wegehaupt 1991; Stach 1996). Among the eighteenth-century German Robinsonades, the most popular and most successful on a Europe-wide scale was a two-volume educational work by the Enlightenment pedagogue Joachim Heinrich Campe (1746–1818) titled Robinson der Jüngere: Zur angenehmen und nützlichen Unterhaltung für Kinder (The new Robinson: Agreeable and useful entertainment for children, 1779–80) (see Fig. 1). The title alone indicates a new attitude to the pedagogical practice of the time, which considered “useful” and “entertaining” as irreconcilable opposites.


Fig. 1 Title Page of Campe’s Robinson der Jüngere (28th Edition, 1837)

Campe was one of the most prominent figures in the German Enlightenment and was well known throughout Europe in the nineteenth century for his innovative edu­cational and linguistic theories. He began his career as the tutor of the future naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) and his brother, Wilhelm von ­Humboldt (1767–1835), who would become an important founder of historical linguistics, a philosopher, and a politician. (Interestingly enough for the present study, the latter would end up writing some of the most important and pioneering early European studies on Malay and Tagalog.) Campe was part of an eminent group of educators that included Johann Bernhard Basedow (1724–90) and Christian Gotthilf Salzmann (1744–1811) and was heavily influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s educational novel Émile, ou De l’éducation (1762). The group were known as the “Philanthropen” (those who love humanity), and their educational approach was called “Philanthropismus.” They frowned upon rote learning and corporal punishment, criticized the authoritarianism of adults in the learning process, and rejected the treatment of children as “small grown-ups.” Campe was also a well-known and effective advocate of what is today disparagingly called ­“linguistic purism” (Sprachreinigung). His reasons for advocating the above position on language use were consistent with his Enlightenment beliefs in human emancipation, democratization, and pedagogical effectivity. One of the representative philosophical works defining Campe’s educational outlook in the context of his time was the short study Von der nöthigen Sorge für die Erhaltung des Gleichgewichts unter den menschlichen Kräften (On the necessary concern for the preservation of balance among the human powers, 1785). It was during the 1770s, when he ran a school in Hamburg along “philan­thropist” lines, that he produced his free “Rousseauist” version of Robinson Crusoe, titled ­Robinson der Jüngere, considered the first work of German literature intended for ­children. Rousseau had famously written that the first book the student Émile would read would be Robinson Crusoe, a book that according to him was the best treatise on “natural education” (Rousseau 1882, 131–132). Campe’s adaptation of Defoe’s plot is supplied with a frame story of a father telling the story to his children, his wife, and some of their friends. As a literary work for children, Campe’s rendition emphasizes a more explicitly didactic and moral function. Looked at from the practical side, the story is divided into 45 parts, each of which is short enough for evening reading sessions with children.

Campe’s 17-year-old hero from the German city of Hamburg, named “Krusoe” (rather than Robinson), is the last surviving son of his parents after one brother died in a war and another of disease. Against the wishes of his parents, who spoil him due to their fondness for him, he decides to set out to sea in order to seek his fortune. Various untoward incidents intervene, purportedly to teach him a lesson for disobeying his ­parents, until he finds himself the lone survivor of a shipwreck on a remote island in the Caribbean. David Blamires, who finds that Campe succeeded in crafting a “miniature history of human development,” divides Campe’s novel into three periods as follows:

In the first, he is alone and has to make shift with just his head and his hands. In the second he gains a companion, Friday, and learns to value human society. Finally, in the third the wreck of a European ship provides him with tools and other things that make for a more civilized life and eventually permit him to return first to England and then to Hamburg, where he is reconciled with his father and finds that his mother has died. (Blamires 2009, 30)

The central, and in Campe’s view quite crucial, distinction between his and Defoe’s works is that where Defoe’s Robinson has at least a gun, some tools, food, and drink to get him started, Campe’s has nothing but the clothes on his back and some songs he has learned by heart. Indeed, some readers better acquainted with this type of environment would find it quite strange how easily Campe’s Robinson is able to satisfy his ravenous hunger after washing up on the island without any tools to help him open oyster shells. He also seems to have plucked and eaten coconuts just like apples from a tree.

Though Robinson der Jüngere was soon eclipsed in the English-speaking world by Johann David Wyss’s (1743–1818) phenomenally successful Der Schweizerische Robinson (1812–13), more famously known under the title Swiss Family Robinson (ibid., 79ff), Campe’s novel would be read and translated into innumerable languages, including Malay and Tagalog, throughout the nineteenth century. Data gathered from Hermann Ullrich’s (1898) bibliography of Robinson Crusoe and various other Robinsonades spanning the period 1770–1870 (not including the Tagalog and Malay translations) shows that RDJ was translated into at least 12 languages during that period, most often into French (with 14 translations), Danish (7), and English (5). Relevant to the present study are the two translations into Dutch and one translation into Spanish. Ullrich estimates that 117 German editions of RDJ were printed until 1894, but he unfortunately does not include data on the many abridgments of Campe’s Robinsonade upon which the Malay translation may have been based (see Figs. 2 and 3). Although this is beyond the scope of this study, it might be interesting to note that for the period 1900–90, Reinhard Stach (1996) was able to identify at least 111 editions, adaptations, and abridgments of Campe’s work (with available years of publication). Of this total, 93 appeared between the end of the first decade of the twentieth century and the 1940s, after which there was a sharp decline.


Fig. 2 Number of Translations of Robinson der Jüngere and Number of Languages Translated into per Decade from 1770 to 1870


Fig. 3 Number of Translations of Robinson der Jüngere per Language from 1770 to 1870

Source: Ullrich (1898)

Text 2: Hikayat Robinson Crusoë

In 1875, Joachim Heinrich Campe’s Robinson der Jüngere was translated from Dutch into Bahasa Melayu as Hikayat Robinson Crusoë by the “Indo” (Eurasian) Adolf Friedrich von Dewall (or Von de Wall). He was born in Cirebon on April 28, 1834, and died in Jakarta (formerly Batavia) on July 6, 1909. His father, Hermann, was a German (which explains the “von” in his name instead of the Dutch “van”) employed as a government official in West Borneo, where the young Adolf grew up, it is said, “almost like a native” among the locals. When Adolf entered government service, his mastery of Melayu and sufficient grasp of both Sundanese and Javanese led him to be assigned to work as an official translator of adventure stories and popular scientific works intended for educational purposes (Molhuysen and Blok 1930, 386).

Being a translation probably intended to be used for teaching “proper” or “high” Malay, HRC was most likely used as a school textbook and would be reprinted by the Government Printing Office (Pertjetakan Goewernemen) eight times by 1910 (Jedamski 2002) (see Fig. 4). Previous studies by Jedamski (ibid.; 2009) and Waruno Mahdi (n.d.) have been helpful in situating HRC within the field of Malay language and literature. Jedamski’s pioneering research on HRC was probably the first to stress its importance for Malay and Indonesian literary historiography. Although Jedamski considered this translation to be the first literary work to successfully introduce the novel form to a Malay audience, she justifiably entertained doubts regarding the efficacy of HRC with respect to its Malay readership due to the great difficulties that she observed regarding the transmission of “alien” European concepts such as that of “individualism” to a very different religious and sociocultural context. She also observed the difficulties in actually measuring the impact of this work on the development of Indonesian literature as a whole:

Von de Wall’s Crusoë was printed with government support and, as in the case of all succeeding Indonesian versions of Robinson Crusoe, it was used for educational purposes (that is, within the Dutch-controlled education system). As such, it seems safe to assume that the dissemination of the Crusoe story was primarily undertaken as an educational measure. Statistics on distribution figures or records on readers’ reactions to the book are, of course, almost non-existent. It is therefore almost impossible to make reliable statements with regard to the reception of this novel in colonial Indonesia. (Jedamski 2002, 29)


Fig. 4 Cover of Von Dewall’s Hikayat Robinson Crusoë (8th printing, 1910)

The language of HRC appears to follow closely the linguistic conventions of “hikayats” or Malay sagas of the same period. One indicator of its closeness to conventional literary patterns is the fact that out of approximately 1,047 sentences, 58 percent start with the word maka (hence), 4.5 percent with sjahdan (so it happened/and then), and 4 percent with hatta (then/thereupon). This means that around 70 percent of the sentences begin in a formulaic way, akin to oral performance. Waruno Mahdi makes the following observation:

The language is a remarkably good example of classical “High” Malay, and the only points of criticism regard the vocalization that is inevitable when mastery of the language tradition is based exclusively on acquaintance with Jawi script written sources. (Waruno Mahdi n.d., 25)

Second, it turns out that one of the most pressing problems in analyzing HRC as a relay translation is in establishing its immediate Dutch language source text. The title page of HRC only indicates the source language to be Dutch but does not specify the title of the Dutch edition that served as the main source text. This is a more pressing issue with respect to HRC than ABR because the Malay version represents a significant abridgment of RDJ along with several, not insignificant, textual revisions. HRC has no chapters and is one long text. The framing story of RDJ has been removed, chapters and other divisions have been eliminated, the long subplot about Friday’s father has been deleted, and almost every aspect of the text has been simplified or made more compact. Chapters 20, 25, 27, and 28 are completely omitted from HRC. The Malay text perhaps adds up to only one-fourth or even less than the original length of RDJ. A sentence-by-sentence comparison shows that only an average of 38.45 percent of content per chapter has been retained from each of the 30 chapters of RDJ (see Fig. 5).


Fig. 5 Approximate Sentence-by-Sentence Matching of Robinson der Jüngere and Hikayat Robinson Crusoë by Chapter (1–30) in Percentages

Jedamski (2009, 199) has proposed the source text as being Gerard Keller’s trans­lation titled Geschiedenis van Robinson Crusoe verkort (The abridged story of Robinson Crusoe, 1869). An interesting sidelight to the history of HRC is that Von de Wall’s translation was considered attractive enough to be published twice without proper attribution by other people claiming to be its author in the daily Bintang Sorabaia (Star of Surabaya)—the first time in 1888–89 and the second, under the false title Hikayat Anoewari, anaknja saorang miskin (Story of Anoewari, son of a poor man), in 1901–2. Jedamski gives details on the reactions of some readers to these attempts at plagiarism (ibid., 177–179).

Text 3: Ang Bagong Robinson

Joaquin Tuason, the Tagalog translator of Campe’s Robinson der Jüngere (1879), was born on August 19, 1843, and died on September 27, 1908. Despite his being one of the most prolific and well-known Tagalog writers of the nineteenth century, relatively little is known about him. Modern literary prejudices against “mere” translators and authors of religious works have ensured his slide into obscurity. He was the son of a landowner-merchant in Pateros and received schooling at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila (Mojares 2006, 430). He worked as a translator of Spanish religious and moral treatises and also wrote poetry in his own right from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century. Among his works, Matuid na Landas Patungo sa Langit (Straight path to Heaven) was the most popular and was printed in 10 editions after its initial publication in 1869 (Quirino 1995). For a relatively complete bibliography of Tuason’s works, see Manuel (1955).

His translation of RDJ was titled Ang Bagong Robinson, historiang nagtuturo nang mabubuting caugalian, na guinauang tanungan nang icatuto at icalibang nang manga batang babayi,t lalaqui (The new Robinson, a story that teaches good conduct, that has been made into a question and answer form so that girls and boys can learn and be entertained) (see Fig. 6). Like the Malay version, Tuason’s translation was not translated directly from German but was a relay translation from Tomás de Iriarte’s (1750–91) El Nuevo Robinson, which was first published in 1789 and reprinted in 1804 and 1811 (Ullrich 1898). Iriarte’s translation is said to have been a popular textbook in Spanish schools long before Defoe’s original was finally translated into Spanish in 1835 (Pym 2010). In his “Translator’s Prologue,” Iriarte heartily recommends Campe’s version while praising the “justified banning” of Defoe’s Robinson by the Tribunal de la Fé in 1756 and inclusion in the Index librorum prohibitorum due to its abundance of “dangerous maxims” (peligrosos máximas) (Campe 1820, IX). He also informs the reader that he took the liberty of suppressing, adding to, or changing Campe’s text in not just a few places to correct some factual errors, clarify some ideas that seemed too difficult for children to grasp, and reduce the number of bothersome digressions and repetitions (ibid., XII). One of his interventions is to correct Campe’s description of llamas having “humps” (corcoba). He also adds a long, “more scientific” discussion about lightning (ibid., 125–127), to which Tuason in turn adds a footnote about lightning in the Philippines. Iriarte’s prologue (also partially translated by Tuason) ends with long quotations from Inca Garcilaso de la Vega’s (1539–1616) account of the life of Pedro Serrano, a Spaniard shipwrecked on a desert island, which is considered one of the many literary precursors of Robinson Crusoe. The differences between its presumed French source (by an anonymous translator) and ­Iriarte’s translation have been closely scrutinized by Marizzi (2008). He discovered that the originally informal modes of address used by the children to address their parents had become formal in Iriarte, and that the letters written by the children no longer used childish language as in the French and German versions but had become filled with “horrible formalisms.” Their speech had also departed from Campe’s deliberately simple language and were now replete with complex grammatical constructions. Contrary to Campe’s effort to use German terms that could be understood by ordinary people, ­Iriarte’s text is peppered throughout with “learned words” (cultismos). Marizzi’s opinion is that these changes reveal differences between the Spanish and German reception of Enlightenment ideals. Tuason’s Ang Bagong Robinson was the second work in novel form, after the Tagalog translation of Enrique Perez Escrich’s El Martir de Golgota in 1872, to be introduced to a Tagalog reading public. Significantly, the Tagalog translation was commissioned and published by the Dominican Colegio de Santo Tomas.


Fig. 6 Title Page of Tuason’s Ang Bagong Robinson (1st printing, 1879)

Though there were Spanish editions in several formats, including single-volume, two-volume, and three-volume ones, the edition upon which the Tagalog translation is based is probably the 1846 edition, because its first volume is made up of the first 13 chapters, unlike the original German version, where the first volume consists of only the first 11 chapters. The second volume of this Spanish edition contains chapters numbered 14 to 31.

The second volume of the German edition contains chapters 12 to 30. The reason there is one additional chapter in the Spanish edition is that the 17th chapter corresponding to the German edition has been broken into two chapters. Each chapter in the Spanish edition is titled “Tarde” (afternoon), which explains why the Tagalog translation has chapters titled “Afternoon” (hapon) rather than “Evening” (Abend) as in the German original. The Tagalog translation follows the 1846 Spanish edition closely with respect to the division of volumes and chapter numbering (as Elmer Nocheseda observed in an email dated June 23, 2010).

Tuason, like Iriarte, admitted to having made changes to the text: “In translating this work, I have removed what I deemed of no use to Tagalogs; in the same way, I added prayers to the benevolent Virgin whenever Robinson faces misfortune” (Sa pagtagalog nito,y, aquing linisan ang inaacalà cong uari hindi paquiquinabangan nang manga tagalog; gayon din naman aquing dinagdagan nang pagmamacaauà sa mapagpalang Virgen sa touînang daratnan si Robinson nang anomang casacunaan) (Campe 1879, 12).1) One example of such a change is the fate of Campe’s heavily modified version of the song “Morgengesang” (morning song) dating from 1757, written by Christian Fürchtegott Gellert (1715–69) and with music by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. Instead of being a straightforward Spanish version, the verses included in Iriarte’s translation constitute a totally different work from Gellert’s original. For his part, Tuason explains in a footnote that aside from his translation of the relevant verses from Iriarte, he has appended eight additional strophes in his translation. In these strophes he mentions “Virgen Maria,” “Ester,” “Joséng Esposo ni Maria” (Jose, the husband of Maria), and the “daquilang Arcángel Rafael” (great Archangel Rafael). Tuason’s additional explanatory footnotes are also worth mentioning in this context. For example, he adds a note in the sixth chapter commenting on the rarity of anyone being struck by lightning in Europe as compared to the “archipelago” (sancapuluan), where there is news of at least one person being struck dead by lightning every year (ibid., 157). In the 10th chapter, he explains that during the winter season (panahon nang taglamig) leaves fall from the trees, and the plants, seemingly dead, do not bear fruit (ibid., 240). A note in the 14th chapter on the mention of the “abedul” (birch) tree says, “these trees cannot be found here in the Philip­pines” (Ang mana cahoy na ito,y, uala rito sa Filipinas) (Campe 1880, 5). There are even such slippages as when the father/narrator in the story compares a fruit on Robinson’s island to a “guava fruit as we have here in the Philippines” (bayabas natin dito sa Filipinas) (Campe 1879, 117) and says that a llama is for the island “what a deer would be here in the Philippines” (na siyang pinacausá cung baga dito sa Filipinas) (ibid., 141).

Iriarte uses the term “indio” to translate the German words “der Wilde” (the savage) seven times, “Freitag” (Friday) nine times, and “Indianer” (Indian) and “Amerikaner” (American) once each. Given the heavily loaded connotations of “indio” in the Philippine colonial context, where it referred to “pure natives,” it should be interesting to see how Tuason, who was himself a Chinese mestizo, reacted to it as a translator (this problem was posed by Elmer Nocheseda in an email dated August 4, 2010). He translates Iriarte’s usages of “indio” 11 times as “Domingo” (“Sunday,” Iriarte’s translation of the name “Friday”); 5 times as “tauong bundoc” (mountain people); and once each as “mabangis na tauo” (wild people), “manga caauauang tauo” (wretched people), and “indio.” (“Indio” appears in the Spanish text without a corresponding equivalent in the German original seven times, while it is left untranslated in the Tagalog text six times.) There is one instance where the text differentiates between Peruvian Indians, who are “civilized,” and the other “indios,” who are savages. Tuason is thus able to use the word in the sense of “civilized indios” in the sentence: “Isn’t it so that the Peruvians are not really savages like other indios?” (¿Cung sa bagay, ay ang manga perulero ay hindi totoong manga ­tauong damó na para nang ibang manga indio?) (ibid., 120). The Peruvians were indeed “indios,” but despite this they were not savages like “all the other” indios and instead were “truly civilized” (totoong mana sivilisado) (ibid., 121). In all other cases where “indio” refers unambiguously to savages, Tuason avoids translating the word or replaces it with “tauong bundoc” (mountain people) in five instances. The appellation “los indios bravos,” which was adopted by Jose Rizal and his friends, occurs once in Iriarte’s translation and is rendered as “mabangis na tauo” (savage people), which has the same meaning as the original term “die Wilde” (savages), which appeared in RDJ. “Salvage” (alternative spelling: “salvaje”) is translated into Tagalog as “tauong bundoc” 68 times, as “tauong damo” (grass people) 3 times, and as “tauong tampalasan” (vile people) in one instance. Quite puzzlingly, “tauong bundoc” and “tauong damo” do not actually fit into the island context but are rather pejorative terms for “uncivilized” people who have escaped from the Spanish colonizers by living in the mountains. Finally, Iriarte’s usage of “barbaro” (barbarian) is translated as “tauong bundoc” four times and as “tauong mababangis” (savage people), “manga tampalasan” (vile people), and “mga tauong tacsil” (traitorous people) once each (Fig. 7).


Fig. 7 Iriarte’s Use of “Indio” and Tuason’s Equivalents

Many interesting aspects of Tuason’s translation still have to be looked into, particularly in relation to Iriarte’s Spanish translation. Similar to Jedamski’s assessment of HRC, the literary historian Resil Mojares notes that the “bourgeois individualism” in Defoe’s original Robinson Crusoe appears to have been supplanted by religious virtues in Tuason’s rendition (Mojares 1998, 89).

Translation Analysis

Without a doubt, Defoe’s original novel has far outlasted Campe’s version, despite the latter’s countless editions, translations, and abridgments, both as a far more complex work of art and in terms of popularity. The temporary advantages that the banning by Catholic censors of Defoe’s “dangerous” novel offered over the other “safer” Robinsonades sanctioned by Church and state authorities have long since disappeared. UNESCO’s Index Translationum (accessed November 4, 2013) lists 224 new editions and translations of Defoe’s novel into various languages from 2000 to 2012. There were only two translations of Campe’s version in the same period, one in Japanese (2006) and the other in Danish (2005). For its time, Campe’s extraordinarily successful Robinsonade was perhaps just as much an effort at rendering a version of Robinson Crusoe that could be more safely digested by German-style Protestantism, as it was an attempt to produce something more in line with the Rousseauist pedagogical aims of the Philanthropists. Iriarte’s very “Catholic” translation of Campe’s work, despite the controversy surrounding ­Rousseau’s Émile, must be considered as part of the early Spanish reception, generally mediated through French translations, of the pedagogical ideas he inspired in the ­German-speaking world among thinkers such as Campe himself and Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746–1827). On the other hand, the reasons behind the translation of what appears to be a Christian treatise in a predominantly Islamic Dutch colony are perhaps murkier. (“Allah” is used consistently throughout the text to refer to “God”; “Tuhan” [Lord], on the other hand, is never used.) Doubtless, however, is the fact that both Von de Wall’s and Tuason’s translations must be understood, even with all their ideological distortions, deliberate omissions, and dubious additions, as further extensions overseas of the dissemination of German pedagogical Rousseauism, mainly through French translations.

Any finite translation analysis cannot deal with all aspects of the texts in question but has to discover a conceptual point of entry or fulcrum. Finding and selecting a central point upon which to anchor the translation analysis requires a period of reflection on the textual materials. The preliminary analysis indicates that a useful point of entry in the analysis would be the comparison of the respective languages of “political economy” in RDJ, HRC, and ABR. This may seem somewhat odd given that Campe’s text is ostensibly a moral-pedagogical treatise. However, one of the major preoccupations of RDJ is the problem of the pressing needs that Robinson has as he is stranded on the island and the means by which he succeeds in satisfying these needs. Melani Budianta’s (2002) excellent study of the concept of “money” in Aman Datoek Madjoindo’s novel Tjerita Boedjang Bingoeng (The story of Bujang Bingung, 1935) has already shown the potential of this kind of “political-economic” approach to literary material. RDJ may, in fact, be one of the first texts translated into Malay and Tagalog with significant discussions on modern European economic themes.

In his famous reference to Robinson Crusoe, Karl Marx writes:

Because political economy is fond of Robinsonades, Robinson appears at first on his island. Humble as he may be, he has nevertheless various needs (Bedürfnisse) to satisfy and must therefore perform different kinds of useful labor, make tools, fabricate furniture, tame llamas (Lama zähmen), fish, hunt etc. (Marx 1956, 90)2)

It can be noticed here that Marx mentions Robinson taming “llamas” rather than the “goats” that are more properly found in Defoe’s novel. This may lead one to suspect that Marx actually read Campe’s version, with its “humped llamas,” rather than Defoe’s version, with its hairy goats. It would, however, be rash to conclude this since Campe’s Robinson was a German from the city of Hamburg while Marx specifically refers to Robinson in the continuation of the passage above as being a “good Englishman” (güter Engländer). Robinson’s habit of keeping a journal, a fact that is central to Marx’s point, is also more pronounced in Defoe’s version. It may therefore be the case that Marx was familiar with both versions and his portrait of Robinson in Das Kapital is a kind of composite from Campe and Defoe. Ian Watt (1996, 178) even asserts that Marx poured his scorn on the economists who used Campe’s RDJ as an illustrative text and imagined it was the original version. Moore and Aveling’s (Marx 1961) English translation of Das Kapital supervised by Friedrich Engels replaced Marx’s reference to Campe’s llamas with Defoe’s goats. In Ben Fowkes’s (Marx 1976) translation, on the other hand, the goats are restored to llamas (see Fig. 8).


Fig. 8 Robinson Crusoe’s Llama (Frontispiece, Robinson der Jüngere)

Many readers of the above passage have found it difficult to accept Marx’s assertion that the relation between Robinson and the products of his labor on the island, in spite of the simplicity of Robinson’s situation, “contained all the essential determinants of value” (Und dennoch sind alle wesentlichen Bestimmungen des Werts enthalten). Michael Berger in his guidebook to Das Kapital dismisses this statement as being incoherent, since, according to him, “Robinson does not produce for exchange, his work is only concrete work, and therefore his products do not possess value. It is hardly evident that all essential determinations of value are contained in this example. . . . The text only says therefore that in precapitalist modes of productions, no social relations are hidden” (2003, 59). Michael Heinrich, on the contrary, emphasizes that Marx is referring to the existence of the “essential determinations of value” and not “value” per se as being present in the example: “Marx does not write that value relations would exist on Robinson’s island. Given the lack of exchange, this would be empty nonsense. What he writes is that the ‘essential determinants of value’ would exist” (2009, 194). Heinrich understands “essential determinants” in this passage to refer to “the proportional allo­cation of the total amount of labor” (die proportionelle Verteilung der Gesamtarbeit). Jacques Bidet (2007, 286), for his part, argues that the interpretation of “value” in this passage is not to be confused with that specific to capitalist social relations but is rather a general or transhistorical notion that the “time of labor” always remains the “measure of the cost of production.”3)

Marx offers a way of reading Robinson Crusoe as an economic parable that could profitably be taken up in this study. However, using his concepts to analyze Campe’s specifically economic discourse would probably lead to unwanted anachronisms. In light of the 100-year gap between RDJ and Das Kapital, it would be quite unlikely that they would be speaking the same economic idiom. Fortunately, the first foreign language into which Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (WN) was translated was German. It was translated in 1776, the same year its first edition was also published in English and three years before the first printing of RDJ (see Fig. 9). This translation was made by Johann Friedrich Schiller (1737–1814), a cousin of the famous poet and dramatist. Despite the fame of Smith’s earlier Theory of Moral Sentiments, which met with an immediate enthusiastic reception upon its translation into German in 1770, this translation of WN failed to find a substantial readership and did not apparently exert any influence at all on economic thinking in Germany at the time of its publication. Norbert Waszek (1993, 166), like many other historians, attributes this partly to the allegedly poor quality of Schiller’s translation, although Keith Tribe (2000, 128), who finds nothing substantially inferior about this translation, disagrees with the verdict. Tribe instead attributes the poor reception to the inability of German economists at that time to fully understand the novelty of Smith’s ideas beyond mercantilism and physiocracy. The next translation, by Christian Garve, the first volume of which came out in 1794, turned out to be much more successful. Waszek offers the following explanation:

While J. F. Schiller was simply a translator with no literary reputation, Garve was one of the most highly respected and influential German philosophers in the 1770s and 1780s. . . . The fact that a man of his standing undertook the new translation ensured a wider and more sympathetic audience for Adam Smith. (Waszek 1993, 167)


Fig. 9 Time Line of Relevant Works

Nevertheless, it would take a few more decades until Smithian economic ideas began to be genuinely understood and adopted in Germany, where cameralism still dominated the field of public administration, economic theory, and policy (Tribe 1995).

Given that the first German translations of WN and RDJ are almost contemporaneous, it might be possible to take up Marx’s insight on the economic content of the ­Robinsonade as a literary genre in general so that this can be applied to RDJ, while carefully avoiding anachronism by using WN and its early German translations as the main discursive reference points. Although there are indications that Campe had some awareness of the prevailing economic doctrines of his time, it is not actually necessary to assume that he had read WN either in English or in German translation in order to compare the implicit economic ideas in RDJ to their nineteenth-century translations in Malay and Tagalog. It is sufficient that he was evidently dealing in some economic terms and notions in RDJ that were in general usage in the late eighteenth century.

Table 1 shows selected lexical elements from RDJ related to the thematics of political economy. (The old spellings from the eighteenth-century German text and nineteenth-century Tagalog and Malay texts will be maintained when quoting from these in the course of the analysis.) Fig. 10 shows the “economic” terms selected from RDJ, HRC, and ABR in relation to some central concepts from WN and Das Kapital. The foregoing translation analysis will look into some salient economic notions as these were translated from RDJ to HRC and ABR. The most central of these notions (not all of them explicitly formulated in WN) are “exchange value,” “use value,” “division of labor,” “abstract labor,” “socially necessary labor time,” and “needs.”

Table 1 Selected “Economic” Terms from RDJ with Frequency of Appearance



Fig. 10 Selected “Economic” Terms from WN, RDJ, HRC, ABR, and Das Kapital

“Value in Exchange” and “Value in Use”

Smith defines “value” as follows:

The word value, it is to be observed, has two different meanings, and sometimes expresses the utility of some particular object, and sometimes the power of purchasing other goods which the possession of that object conveys. The one may be called “value in use”; the other, “value in exchange.” The things which have the greatest value in use have frequently little or no value in exchange; and, on the contrary, those which have the greatest value in exchange have frequently little or no value in use. Nothing is more useful than water: but it will purchase scarce anything; scarce anything can be had in exchange for it. A diamond, on the contrary, has scarce any value in use; but a very great quantity of other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it. (Smith 1904, 30)

Smith’s distinction between “value in exchange” and “value in use” (see also Marx 1956, 50) is elaborated thematically in RDJ when Robinson discovers a clump of gold in his cave dwelling. Robinson estimates that it is large enough to mint 100,000 “Thaler” (a Swiss or German coin). In ABR, on the other hand, it is stated that “if it was made into money” (Tag: cung gagau-ing salapi) it would add up to the huge sum of “one hundred thousand pesos” (Tag: sandaang libong piso). RDJ notes that Robinson is now rich in gold, the universal medium of exchange, and capable of buying anything he wants. Unfortunately, “there was no one [on the island] that had anything to sell” (Ger: da war ja keiner, der was zu verkaufen hatte / Tag: ualà isa mang tauong magbili sa caniya nang anomang bagay). Robinson therefore has the occasion to reflect on the unexpected “uselessness” of the clump of gold. He asks aloud, “of what use are you to me?” (Ger: Was nüzest du mir? / Mal: apakah goenanja emas ini bagikoe / Tag: Anong mahihita co sa iyo?). He then kicks it aside while remarking that he would exchange it without hesitation for a handful of “nails” (Ger: Nägel / Mal: pakoe / Tag: paco) or any other “useful tool” (Ger: nüzliches Werkzeug / Mal: barang jang bergoena / Tag: casangcapang paquiquinabangan). Since the use-value of money is its ability to function as a universal equivalent for other commodities that can function as use-values for the buyer, money that cannot fulfill this function is divested of all value except that which is appropriate to its physical characteristics as a metal. In Robinson’s condition, where the exchange of commodities is impossible, only the use-value of objects finally matters and not their value in exchange. (This may be seen as the exact reverse of Marx’s discussion of the “metamorphosis” of money into capital in which use-value is abstracted out to leave pure exchange-value as the goal of an economic transaction.)

In another, earlier, scene RDJ dramatizes the notion of “exchange value” by discussing an example of commodity exchange. The term for “commodity” in German is “Ware,” and this is translated into the standard Malay and Tagalog terms in HRC (Mal: barang, barang dagangan) and ABR (Tag: bagay, calacal). According to the advice of the ship’s captain who agreed to take him on a voyage to Africa, Robinson should buy (Ger: einkaufen / Mal: beli / Tag: bili) useless and cheap objects that “give pleasure” (Ger: Vergnügen / Mal: disoekai / Tag: totoong naiibigan) to the Africans and exchange these with them for “gold” (Ger: Gold / Mal: ema s/ Tag: guinto), “ivory” (Ger: Elfenbein / Mal: gading / Tag: garing), and any other valuable items that they may possess. The captain convinces Robinson that these cheap wares can be sold at a price “one hundred times more . . . than they are worth” (Ger: hundertmal mehr . . . als sie werth sind / Mal: seratoes kali ganda harganya). Unlike RDJ and HRC, ABR says only that Robinson should buy “cheap” things for which he will “be paid at a really high price” (Tag: babayaran sa iyo nang totoong mahal) and explicitly mentions “profit” (Tag: tubo) in the phrase “make a great profit” (Tag: pagtutubuan nang malaqui). By “buying cheap and selling dear,” Robinson will become a “rich man” (Ger: ein reicher Man), “go home rich” (Mal: poelang-poelang kaya), or “make a great profit” (Tag: pagtutubuan nang malaqui) from the venture. The wealth of the merchant, as it is represented in RDJ, therefore comes from selling goods above their “real value” (Ger: Werth / Mal: harga). The category of “real value” in the exchange of commodities is explicit in RDJ (Ger: Werth) and HRC (Mal: harga) but only implicit in ABR, which speaks rather of “commodities” (Tag: calacal) as being “cheap” (Tag: mura) or “expensive (Tag: mahal). It is evident in RDJ that the “real value” of commodities is not simply identical with the rate at which they exchange with other goods; it may be lower (or higher) than the rate at which they are sold. But Campe does not give any further clue in RDJ as to how this “real” or maybe even “objective” value is determined.

Smith, on the other hand, speaks of the “real price” of commodities as follows: “Labour alone, therefore, never varying in its own value, is alone the ultimate and real standard by which the value of all commodities can at all times and places be estimated and compared. It is their real price; money is their nominal price only” (1904, 35). In his translation, Garve renders “real price” as “the true price” (der wahre Preis) and Schiller as “the real price” (der reelle Preis) (Erämetsä 1961, 45). According to Smith, the reason more attention is paid to the “money price” of goods than to their real price is that actual profits can be made from such means as “buying cheap” and “selling dear.”4)

Although terms such as “use value” and “exchange value” do not directly appear in RDJ, the above examples clearly demonstrate the presence of these notions with reference to the “uselessness of gold” and the sense of the dubious origin of merchant profit, both of which are judged negatively by Campe from the religious and moral point of view of his time (Conze 1972, 166).

Abstract Labour and Division of Labor

Henryk Grossman, in his classic study titled “Die gesellschaftlichen Grundlagen der mechanistischen Philosophie und die Manufaktur” (The social basis of mechanistic philosophy and manufacture), posits the rise of the notion of “abstract homogeneous labor” (Grossman 1935, 190) in the eighteenth century during the development and spread of “organic manufacture” in Europe, which was characterized by the fact that the “work process is divided into the simplest, continually repeated and highly accomplished hand movements, where the result of the work of one worker is the starting point for the next one” (ibid., 184).5) Grossman’s opinion was that the most developed degree of division of labor represented by organic manufacture was the technological and social basis for the appearance of “abstract labour” as a concept in political economy (Marx 1956, 362ff).

It is well known that WN’s central concept is the “division of labor.” It famously begins as follows: “The greatest improvement in the productive powers of labour, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is anywhere directed, or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labour” (Smith 1904, 1). Smith seems to have found it much easier to make the old concept (Sun 2004) of “division of labor” understood, even in the fundamentally reconceptualized form it took within his system, than the newer one of abstract labor. Commenting on the difficulty of explaining such a novel concept as labor in the abstract, Smith writes, “The greater part of people . . . understand better what is meant by a quantity of a particular commodity than by a quantity of labour. The one is a plain palpable object; the other an abstract notion, which, though it can be made sufficiently intelligible, is not altogether so natural and obvious” (1904, 34). Smith’s German translators apparently faced a similar problem interpreting this concept. Richard Biernacki notes:

[The first German translations of WN] showed some reluctance to conceive of labor as an abstract category. Where Smith referred to “the demand for labor,” his interpreters rendered it as “demand for laboring hands” or “demand for workers.” Smith endowed the category itself with life, whereas German expositors resisted the detachment of the category from concrete persons. These early exegetes, unaccustomed to the reified form of labor as a commodity, thought of labor only as visible work. (Biernacki 1995, 265)

However, the translational problem is apparently not as straightforward as Biernacki portrays it.

This matter can be investigated more closely by looking at all the translations into German of the phrase “demand for labour” in Chapter 8 of WN (titled “Of the Wages of Labour”). The earlier translation by Schiller uses “Verlangen nach Arbeit” (desire/demand for labor) consistently throughout to translate “demand for labour.” Schiller’s is quite a literal translation, but it did not enter into general usage. Garve’s translation, on the other hand, uses the phrase “Nachfrage nach Arbeit” (demand for labor; a phrase that would be absorbed into modern usage up to the present day) as well as “Nachfrage nach Arbeitern” (demand for workers) and “Nachfrage nach arbeitenden Händen” (demand for laboring hands). Furthermore, Schiller translates “division of labour” consistently as “Vertheilung der Arbeit” (division/distribution of labour), which emphasizes the abstract nature of the “labor” being divided up and is, according to Erik Erämetsä (1961, 39), the earliest translation of this concept in German. For his part, Garve translates it as “Theilung der Arbeiten” (division of employments) and “Vertheilung der ­Arbeiten” (distribution/division of employments), which fail to render the abstract nature of labor. (Marx uses the modern word “Arbeitsteilung” aside from “Teilung der Arbeit” in his own economic writings.) These examples demonstrate that Garve’s more popular translation is in fact worse afflicted with the problem of interpreting “abstract labor” than Schiller’s.

The most relevant and extended passage on the social division of labor in RDJ unfortunately does not appear in HRC, because it is part of the framing story that has been deleted in the Malay translation (and presumably in the intervening Dutch trans­lation). In this passage, RDJ and ABR expound on the “benefits” (Ger: Vortheile / Tag: capaquinabangan) of “social life” (Ger: das gesellige Leben / Tag: paquiquisama) and the “great difficulty” (Ger: unendlich schwer / Tag: laquing cahirapan) that “a single individual” (Ger: jeden einzelnen Menschen / Tag: isang tauo) would face if he “lived alone” (Ger: allein leben / Tag: mabuhay nang nagiisa) and had to “provide for all his needs on his own” (Ger: für alle seine Bedürfnisse selbst zu sorgen / Tag: matacpang magisa ang lahat nang cailangan) without the “help of other people” (Ger: Hülfe seiner Nebenmenschen / Tag: tulong na maaasahan sa ibang capoua tauo). It goes on to assert that “a thousand hands” (Ger: Tausend Hände / Tag: sanglibong camay) would not be enough to prepare what “each of us needs every day” (Ger: was ein Einziger unter uns an jedem Tage braucht / Tag: nang quinacailangan nang baua,t isa sa arao arao). (According to Erämetsä [ibid., 92], “Hände” [hands] acquired an additional meaning as “worker” due to the influence of the German translation of WN.) Campe uses the example of a “mattress” (Ger: Madrazen), the production of which requires stuffing, linen covering, glue, cloth, yarn, thread, flax, etc., in order to illustrate the point that an almost endless number of “hands” working in various specialized occupations are needed for the production of a simple object for a single child to sleep on. In addition to these, the “various kinds of labor” (Ger: vielerlei Arbeit / Tag: ang sarisaring paggaua) required in the production of the tools of the various occupations involved in making the mattress must also be taken into account. The benefits of a “social existence” are contrasted with the difficulties of Robinson, who must provide for his own needs “without any other hand except his own” (Ger: keine einzige andere Hand, ausser den Seinigen / Tag: ualang ibang camay na macatulong sa caniya) and with “not a single tool” (Ger: kein einziges von allen den Werkzeugen) to aid him.

RDJ’s discourse on the “division of labor” is evidently a transitional one and has a lot in common with Garve’s translation of WN. The references to “a thousand hands” and to “various kinds of labor” (vielerlei Arbeit) similarly grapple with the problem of expressing the abstract notion of labor. Campe’s example seems to be a direct reference to Smith’s elaborations of the benefits of the “division” of labor in WN. The illustration used by Campe, “Madrazen,” actually seems to take its cue from Smith’s example regarding “the bed which [the workman] lies on, and all the different parts which compose it” and the tools used to make it. Smith writes about “the different hands employed” to provide the workman with food and ends the relevant passage in the same way Campe ends his:

If we examine, I say, all these things, and consider what a variety of labour is employed about each of them, we shall be sensible that, without the assistance and co-operation of many thousands, the very meanest person in a civilised country could not be provided, even according to what we very falsely imagine the easy and simple manner in which he is commonly accommodated. (Smith 1904, 13–14)

Two other passages refer more to the benefits of “cooperation” rather than division of labor per se, but it would not be completely out of place to discuss them here. In the first one, when Robinson cannot start a fire without the help of another person, he begins to feel “the helplessness of a lonely life and the great advantages provided by the companionship of other people” (Ger: die Hülflosigkeit des einsamen Lebens und die grossen Vortheile, die uns die Geselschaft anderer Menschen gewährt), “the difficulties of a person without a friend/companion” (Mal: kesoesahan orang jang tiada berkawan), “the real lack of a person who is alone and what benefits are derived from our companionship with other people” (Tag: totoong casalatan nang tauong nacaisa isa, at cung gaanong cagalingan ang quinacamtan natin sa paquiquisama sa ibang manga tauo). Another short passage on the benefits of cooperation is left out in HRC. It deals with the arrival of Friday and the fact that through their “common industry” (Ger: gemeinschaftlichen Fleiß / Tag: pagtutulungan) Friday and Robinson are now together capable of accomplishing tasks that “would have been impossible had [Robinson] been alone” (Ger: wenn er sich ganz allein befunden hätte, würde unmöglich gewesen sein / Tag: nacagaua sila nang maraming bagay na di sucat magaua cung nagiisa ang sinoman sa canila). By working together, Robinson and Friday realize how good it is that people stay together through “sociability” (Ger: Geselligkeit / Tag: paquiquisama sa canilang capoua) and “friendship” (Ger: Freundschaft / Tag: pagibig), “unlike animals who roam the earth alone” (Ger: nicht, wie die wilden Thiere, einzeln auf dem Erdboden herumschwärmen / Tag: magisa na para nang manga hayop). Campe therefore gives greater importance to somewhat idealized notions of conviviality, friendship, and altruistic behavior in these passages than does Smith, who, for his part, emphasizes the virtues of self-interested behavior. It seems that nothing could be further from Campe’s worldview than Smith’s famous words:

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. (ibid., 16)

Necessary Labor Time

One of the well-known theses of WN is the notion that the division of labor is constrained by the extent of the market. Smith explains this as follows:

As it is the power of exchanging that gives occasion to the division of labour, so the extent of this division must always be limited by the extent of that power, or, in other words, by the extent of the market. When the market is very small, no person can have any encouragement to dedicate himself entirely to one employment, for want of the power to exchange all that surplus part of the produce of his own labour, which is over and above his own consumption, for such parts of the produce of other men’s labour as he has occasion for. (Smith 1904, 19)

In a one-person economy in which exchange, and therefore a market, cannot exist, a division of labor among individuals is likewise ipso facto impossible. Robinson has to depend on himself alone to produce all the goods necessary for the satisfaction of his needs. Given this fact, the amount of time necessary for any additional work has to be carefully allocated with reference to all the necessary occupations within the “working day.” So when Robinson estimates that the “work” (Ger: Arbeit / Mal: pekerdjaan / Tag: paggaua) necessary for carving out a boat from a tree trunk with his primitive tools would take many years, he decides to consciously partition his time so that he has a particular task allotted for every hour of each day. In RDJ he devises “an orderly partitioning of the daily work hours” (Ger: eine ordentliche Eintheilung seiner Tageszeit) because he has learned by experience that “nothing advances and lightens our industry more than order and the regular partitioning of the hours of the day” (Ger: nichts mehr unsern Fleiß befördert und erleichtert, als Ordnung und regelmäßige Eintheilung der Tagesstunden). This is more or less reflected in ABR with the phrases “an orderly partitioning of his tasks” (Tag: maayos na pagcacabahabahagui nang caniyang manga gagau-in), because “nothing makes tasks easier . . . than a correct allotment of time” (Tag: ualang totoong nacadadali sa pagganap nang manga catungculan . . . para nang uastong pagbabahagui nang panahon). HRC makes this point implicit by stating only that Robinson decides to work “not more than two or three hours a day” on carving the trunk (Mal: ditentoekanlah dalam sehari tiada lebih dari pada doea atau tiga djam mengapak batang kajoe itoe) so that his “other tasks would not go to waste” (Mal: maka soepaja pekerdjaannja jang lain djangan tersia-sia).

Marx (1956, 90) writes about Robinson keeping a record of “the amount of time each of these various products costs him on the average to produce” ([die] Arbeitszeit, die ihm bestimmte Quanta dieser verschiednen Produkte im Durchschnitt kosten). ­Robinson therefore has a notion of the necessary labor time required for him as an individual to produce each particular object useful to him. In effect, Robinson attempts to map the social division of labor onto the limited hours of the working day available to him as a single individual. (“Necessity itself forced him to divide his time precisely between different occupations” [ibid., 91].) The proportion allotted to each task is pegged on Robinson’s estimates regarding the techniques and tools available to him and his level of skill. Thus, more difficult tasks that require more time to accomplish than easier ones are probably allotted more time in the working day.6) Naturally, the notion of a regulative “socially necessary labor time” (gesellschaftlich notwendige Arbeitszeit) (ibid., 53) cannot exist as such for Robinson’s production for each of his personal needs since his labor is, disregarding his memories of social life and production, completely that of an isolated individual. With the arrival of Friday, Robinson’s productive labor loses its purely individual character and a notion approaching “socially necessary labor time” enters into the picture. When Robinson tells Friday how much time it took him to carve out a small part of the trunk to fashion a small boat, Friday shakes his head and smiles and says “that he didn’t need to have done all that work” (Ger: daß es all’ der Arbeit nicht bedurft hätte) and that it could be “better and more quickly accomplished using fire to hollow out the log” (Ger: man könte einen solchen Blok viel besser und zwar in kurzer Zeit durch Feuer aushöhlen). In ABR, Friday remarks that Robinson “had wasted a lot of time and effort” (Tag: totoong maraming panahon at pagod ang caniyang sinayang) and that the job could have been done “in only a few days” (Tag: manga ilang arao lamang). In HRC, Friday observes that Robinson “spent too much time working on it” (Mal: terlaloe amat lama bekerdja) and persevered with “an unnecessary degree of difficulty” (Mal: dengan soesah jang boekan-boekan patoet) because a boat could have been “made by himself and his countrymen” (Mal: diboeat oleh Djoem’at dan bangsanja) with much better quality in just a few days (Mal: sedikit hari dan lebih baik). This passage from HRC, by bringing in Friday’s notion of the average amount of time and effort needed for himself and his countrymen (Mal: bangsanja) to make such a boat (as expressed in his smile), seems to make the notion of socially necessary labor time clearer than does either RDJ or ABR, where it remains implicit in Robinson’s and Friday’s differing estimates of the time necessary to produce a boat of a particular quality. From the point of view of Friday’s society, Robinson is a very unskilled boatbuilder; but alone on his island and without Friday, Robinson has no measure to gauge his own productivity or skill and in fact has no need to do so.7)


The German concept of “Bedürfnis” (need) in the quote from RDJ is said to have undergone a fundamental transformation in the eighteenth century. According to Johann ­Müller:

Up to the last decade of the eighteenth century, the word “Bedürfnis” was used quite rarely; the frequency of usage increased from around 1740–60, and from around 1770 onward it entered into general usage. The spectrum of meanings which it shows in the last decades of the eighteenth century is no longer substantially different from that of today. (Müller 1973, 442)8)

It was formerly used as a synonym for “Nothdurft” (call of nature) or “Armut” (poverty), and “Bedarf” originally referred to basic necessities. However, during the European Enlightenment “Bedürfnis” began to be used more frequently in its plural form—“Bedürfnisse”—to refer more and more to “needs” corresponding, on the one hand, to changing cultural and economic living standards and, on the other hand, to particular individualized needs or preferences. An “escalation of needs” (Bedürfnissteigerung) accompanied by the “dissolution of its limits” (Bedürfnisentgrenzung) came to the fore. But this could have become possible only with the simultaneous transformation of the notion of “labor” (Arbeit) itself:

The highest value was the striving for happiness in the material and moral sense. This could however only be attained by means of satisfying “needs.” These needs in turn called for labor and awakened the drive to reasonable industriousness, meaning the continuous increase of productivity through better technology, organization, and morale. (Conze 1972, 176)9)

According to Werner Conze, John Locke’s writings heralded a new era for the understanding of “labor” as a concept:

With [Locke] begins the history of the modern concept of labor, liberated from the lowest level in the scale of human activities no longer in the old Christian sense, its lifting to a specifically human potency and finally, its separation from human beings and its elevation to an abstract active Subject (labour makes . . .). Everything in the world, according to D. Hume, is purchased by labour, and our passions are the only causes of labour. Inasmuch as bourgeois society no longer portrays itself as before in the representative actions of the ruling estates, rather, labor receives a valuable social function as the confrontation of human beings with nature, the process began in which the concept became self-evident: it separated itself from its entanglement with poverty . . .; it began to free itself from the connections with “effort” and “burden.” Technology (artes) should lead to the alleviation of labor. (ibid., 168; italics in the original)10)

The analysis of the translation of “Bedürfnis” can usefully begin with a selected quote from RDJ and its translation in HRC (see Table 2). The quote from RDJ may be read as a capsule narrative of the development of the concept of Bedürfnis. Starting with the concept of “Noth” (hardship/necessity), which may be read as pertaining to the most basic needs, it moves to the concept of “Bedürfnisse” (needs), which possesses the broader and more modern definition. The quote from RDJ shows how the effort of human beings to satisfy their needs through “labor” (Arbeit) gives rise to the process of develop­ment of human knowledge about “nature” or the “Earth” (Erde) and the “invention” (Erfindung) of various tools (Werkzeuge) and machines that would facilitate the satis­faction of these needs. According to John Bellamy Foster (2000), Marx used a term borrowed from the German chemist Justus von Liebig’s (1803–73) usage, “metabolic interaction” (Stoffwechsel), to characterize the human labor process in general. Marx writes:

Labour is, first of all, a process between man and nature, a process by which man, through his own actions, mediates, regulates and controls the metabolism between himself and nature. He confronts the materials of nature as a force of nature. He sets in motion the natural forces which belong to his own body, his arms, legs, head and hands, in order to appropriate the materials of nature in a form adapted to his own needs [Bedürfnisse]. Through this movement he acts upon external nature and changes it, and in this way he simultaneously changes his own nature. . . . It [the labor process] is the universal condition for the metabolic interaction [Stoffwechsel] between man and nature, the everlasting nature-imposed condition of human existence. (cited in Foster 2000, 157)

Table 2HRC and RDJ


Granted that such an account of the human labor process may reasonably claim a trans­historical interpretation, Marx’s representation of it in these particular terms certainly could not have been conceived outside of the context of industrial society and the corresponding terminologies that grew out of it. If the relevant passage from RDJ is understood as an illustration of human “metabolic interaction” (Stoffwechsel) with “nature” or the “Earth” (Erde), then it could be seen as concentrating all the earlier economic themes into the structure of needs and productive labor as these developed in the late eighteenth and throughout the nineteenth century in Germany and other parts of Europe. Labor as an abstract potentiality is here understood as the confrontation of human beings with nature in order to satisfy their mounting and increasingly complex needs, thus necessitating the development of technology, complex organization (such as the division of labor), the reduction of socially necessary labor time, and so on and so forth. It could therefore be argued that “Bedürfnis” can serve as a point of concentration that draws together all the threads of Campe’s economic discourse in RDJ.

The version presented in HRC of this passage is obviously quite different. “Hadjat” (desire/need) and “kesoesahan” appear in the corresponding translation as the equivalents for “Bedürfnis” and “kesoesahan” (difficulty/adversity) for “Noth.” Similar to the idea present in RDJ, “human beings” (Mal: manoesia) are said to be confronted with “kesoesahan” and imbued with various “hadjat,” which sharpens “thinking” (Mal: pikiran) and deepens “knowledge” (Mal: ilmoe). However, the HRC version does not translate “Erde” (“Earth,” or in this case “nature”) and “Erfindung” (invention). Because of these omissions, the macro-narrative of “mastery of nature” through human technology and “invention” does not seem to arise in HRC. The capacity for thought and intellection (Mal: pikiran), however, is developed to overcome all “difficulties” (Mal: kesoesahan), “reject” (Mal: menolak) all “danger,” (Mal: bahaja) and “to satisfy” (Mal: memenuhi) the various “needs” (Mal: hadjat). It seems that HRC refers to the sharpening of a skill rather than to the development of a technology in overcoming these difficulties and satisfying these desires. “Kesoesahan” and “bahaja” in HRC clearly refer to situations that, even though they may occur often enough, do not constitute the normal condition of things. “Hadjat,” on the other hand, may be interpreted to refer to a “longing” or “desire” beyond the more basic necessities of life (Wilkinson 1919). HRC therefore includes a qualifier of “hadjat” as having to be “decent/proper” (Mal: patoet). Although “hadjat” does also appear in such contexts as “to urinate” (Mal: membuang hajat kecil) or “to defecate” (Mal: membuat hajat besar), the use of this word in the language of the Malay hikayats in general seems to accord more with an elevated kind of “desire.” (Terms such as “longing” or “desire” can indeed be translated as “Bedürfnis” in German, but some other words such as “Begierde,” “Lust,” “Verlangen,” or “Begehren” have much closer connotations.) (The first translation of the first chapter of Marx’s Das Kapital in Indonesian [1933a; 1933b; 1933c], serialized in the newspaper Daulat Ra’jat, consistently uses “lack” [Mal: kekoerangan] as the equivalent of need; but toward the end of the first section, it suddenly becomes unsure and uses “lack/need” [Mal: kekoerangan (keboetoehan)]. The newest translation of the same work [Marx 2004; Guillermo 2013] uses “kebutuhan” throughout.) The quote from HRC therefore seems to refer to zones “below” (kesoesahan/bahaja) and “above” (hadjat jang patoet) the norms of everyday need; and being extraordinary experiences, these necessitate the development/advancement of thinking and of knowledge. On the other hand, the concept of Bedürfnisse in RDJ, whatever its subjectivization, refers neutrally to needs that presumably can be satisfied by the confident advance of human mastery over nature.

Further analysis of HRC would also show that beyond the development of skills for evading hardship, the most obvious “solution” to “kesoesahan” in HRC is “pertolongan” (“help,” whether from God or from other human beings). According to W. J. S. ­Poerwadarminta (1976), “pertolongan” means “perbuatan atau sesuatu yg dipakai untuk menolong” (an act or something used to help). An example is “mendapat pertolongan dari dr penduduk kampung” (to receive help from the doctor of the inhabitants of the village). Out of 21 usages of the word “kesoesahan,” eight collocate with “pertolongan” (see Tables 3.1, 3.2, and 3.3). There is apparently no surface collocational structure corre­sponding to this in RDJ. Though the social and religious themes of “help” are not completely excluded in RDJ, the tendency in HRC contrasts strongly with RDJ in its focus on ethical competence rather than the almost completely excluded notion of techno­logical competence in overcoming hardships, resolving the problem of lack of resources, or mastering nature. If the life situation is below the norm, then HRC points to “pertolongan” (help/aid) as the always-dependable solution for human beings.

Table 3.1 “Kesoesahan” and “Pertolongan” Collocations in HRC


Table 3.2 “Kesoesahan” (Adversity) HRC Concordance List


Table 3.3 “Pertolongan” (Help) HRC Concordance List


In contrast to HRC, it can be remarked that the translation in ABR closely mirrors the conceptual arrangement of RDJ in the text presented in Table 2. Unlike HRC, which does not translate “Erde” (Earth/nature) and “Erfindung” (invention), ABR does translate these words, albeit rather ambiguously, as “earth/land” (Tag: lupa) and “effective means” (Tag: mabubuting paraan). It should be noted that the latter translation of “various inventions” (Ger: allerlei Erfindungen) as “effective means/good way” (Tag: mabubuting paraan) is not sufficient in itself to generate the technological themes present in RDJ. The two ideas of Noth and Bedürfnisse are conflated in ABR (as they are in Iriarte’s translation of the term “necesidad”) as “need” (Tag: pagcacailangan). The key to discovering the discursive specificity of ABR therefore has to be sought elsewhere. The second example (see Table 4) may serve as a preliminary illustration. In RDJ, Robinson prays that he will be blessed with “Stärke zur Ertragung” (strength to withstand hardship) in going through or experiencing “Leiden” (suffering). (This passage demonstrates incidentally how closely RDJ reflects the strong connection between “Arbeit” [labor] and “Mühe” [effort]/“Last” [burden] derived originally from the Judeo-Christian worldview [Conze 1972, 165].)

Table 4 HRC, RDJ, and ABR


It can be noticed that the same sentence as translated in HRC once again contains a collocation of “kesoesahan” and “pertolongan.” Here, Robinson pleads for the “pertolongan” of God so that he can “suffer” (Mal: menderita) the extreme difficulties he faces (Mal: kesoesahan jang terlampau berat) “patiently” (Mal: sabar). On the other hand, the version in ABR uses two words to describe the attitude toward “suffering”/“hardship” (Tag: cahirapan), namely, “to bear” (Tag: pagtiis) and “to endure” (Tag: pagbata). However, “pagtiis” and “pagbata” do not exhaust this theme in ABR. In addition, a person needs “strength of the will” (Tag: catibayan nang loob) in order to be able to bear and endure for an extended period. “Catibayan nang loob” here does not necessarily pertain to an “active will” but leans more to a kind of “passive will” to “endure” everything for as long as necessary. It has been observed that HRC is unique in relation to ABR and RDJ in its emphasis on “pertolongan”; for its part, ABR seems to dwell on the notion of enduring suffering more than either RDJ or HRC. Given the wealth of its lexicalizations on this theme, ABR can be said to have an “elaborated code” on “suffering” as opposed to the relatively “restricted codes” of HRC and RDJ.

It is therefore not surprising that in his “Translator’s Preface” (Paounaua nang Tumagalog) Tuason writes the following:11)

I also added that in bearing [pagtiis] any suffering [cahirapan], or in the attainment of any comfort one should not only desire a good fate in this life, rather to become a means for serving God and the attainment of eternal bliss . . . like Robinson, who, despite being only an example or metaphor, can become an example for anyone in dire straits or danger, so that one’s will shall not weaken [humina, malupaypay ang loob] or reproach the Creator of the world, and instead shall bow to his will, have endless faith in his mercy, worship his unattainable knowledge that what we think to be a misfortune and hardship comes from his love that will be followed by eternal bliss. In other words, we should bear [matiis] and accept with tranquility [malumanay sa loob] and give thanks for whatever he bestows upon us, may it be comfort or hardship [cahirapan]. (Campe 1879, 13–14)12)

The previous observation can be made even more evident by studying the collocations of “difficulty” (Tag: hirap, cahirapan) in ABR (see Table 5.1). In contrast to the collocational structure formed in HRC by the pair “kesoesahan-pertolongan,” the ABR reveals a significant collocational structure formed by “difficulty”/“adversity”/“poverty” (Tag: hirap, cahirapan) and several phrases corresponding to the “strength” or “weakness” of the “will” (Tag: loob). These phrases pertaining to the state of the “will” are as follows: “catibayan nang loob” (strength of the will), “malulupaypay ang loob” (weakening of the will), “pahihinain ang loob” (the will shall be weakened), “humina ang loob” (to lose resolve), “di macapaghina nang loob” (shall not weaken the will). It can be seen that in ABR, the subject confronted by “cahirapan” vacillates between a strong and weak will. However, only a “strong will” or “catibayan nang loob” (steadfastness) can allow the subject to “bear” and “endure” suffering. A concordance listing of the polarity of “weak will” (Tag: mahinang loob) and “strong will” (Tag: malacas na loob) would show how powerfully this theme works within the total ideational structure of ABR. The phrases referring to a “strong loob” are the following: “catibayan nang loob” (resilience of the loob), “lacas nang loob” (strength of the loob), “capanatagan nang loob” (confidence of the loob), “di nasira ang loob” (unweakened loob), “hinapang nang loob” (strengthening of the loob). The phrases referring to a “weak loob” are the following: “mahina ang loob” (weak loob), “nasira ang loob” (crushed loob), “caligaligan nang loob” (restlessness of the loob), “malupaypay ang loob” (weak loob), “pagsaulan nang loob” (to console), ­“catacutan sa loob” (fear in the loob). (For the sake of comparability, only the sections in which HRC overlaps with ABR have been scanned for relevant collocations, see Tables 5.2 and 5.3.)

Table 5.1 “Cahirapan” and “Catibayan nang loob” Collocations in ABR


Table 5.2 “Catibayan nang loob” (Strong Will) and Variants, ABR Concordance List


Table 5.3 “Cahinaan nang loob” (Weak Will) and Variants, ABR Concordance List


A third example (see Table 6) may lend further insights into the discursive specificity of ABR. This section has not been translated in HRC since it is part of the discarded framing story of RDJ. However, this particular quotation is particularly important because it represents a short exposition of the basic core of Campe’s educational philosophy as embodied in the term “Selbstüberwindung” (self-overcoming). According to Campe, the development of the capacity to postpone satisfaction or deprive oneself voluntarily of immediate desires in an “overcoming” of the self can strengthen one’s personality so that every difficulty in the future can be faced with “gelassener Standhaftigkeit” (calm resolve). The term “Selbstüberwindung” is not translated directly in ABR but rather substituted with an explanatory translation as the condition of being “accustomed to the lack of whatever comfort even that which you most desire.” The phrase in RDJ “stark am Geist und Herzen” (strong in spirit and heart) is translated in ABR as “catibayan nang loob” (strength of the loob), and “gelassener Standhaftigkeit” (calm resolve) is translated as “matitiis na mapayapa” (can be endured calmly). While RDJ does not specify what shall or must be “endured in calm resolve,” ABR collocates “catibayan nang loob” here with “cahirapan” (difficulty) and “caralitaan” (poverty). It could be asserted that the main semantic polarity in ABR is “cahirapan” (difficulty/poverty) versus “catibayan nang loob” (strength of the will).

Table 6RDJ and ABR



The notion of Bedürfnisse and its connection to science and human invention is apparently discursively specific to RDJ with respect to HRC and ABR. The tendency in RDJ is to develop a discourse around the fulfillment of unlimited needs by increasingly developed (though still bounded) technological means. This conceptualization of needs and their fulfillment in RDJ is neutral in relation to the situation in which the subject finds herself/himself. On the other hand, HRC seems to posit an unstated norm of satisfaction of basic needs or, more controversially, of “original affluence” (Sahlins 1974). It is only when human beings (Mal: manoesia) are confronted with an exceptional situation below (or above) the norm, referred to as a state of “kesoesahan” (difficulties), that poverty or deprivation looms as a possibility for the human subject. However, instead of appealing to technological invention as a solution to this “difficulty,” the predominant tendency in HRC is to look toward social and ethical solutions to the problem of deprivation or lack. Evidence for this is provided by the strong collocational pair “kesoesahan”–“pertolongan.” In his classic study of the concept of gotong royong, which elaborates on its various types, Koentjaraningrat observes:

The activity which is most spontaneous in character is evidently gotong rojong of the tulung lajat variety; by “spontaneous” is meant here the voluntary nature of help, which is given without any expectations and without keeping count of contributed services and goods. No further elaboration of this point is needed, as we all know that in cases of death or great calamities, people the world over offer spontaneous help to the afflicted family. There are probably few exceptions to this universal phenomenon. (Koentjaraningrat [1961] 2009, 52–53)

The other categories of political economy (“exchange value,” “use value,” “division of labor,” “abstract labor,” “socially necessary labor time”), which so tightly cohere in RDJ as various aspects of human-nature metabolism, therefore seem to fall away in HRC.

ABR, on the other hand, seems to emphasize the normativity of suffering and deprivation. Indeed, Mojares’ pioneering commentary on ABR (1998, 87–89) compares it with a medieval exemplum and stresses the influence upon it of the generic conventions of Catholic pastoral texts in Tagalog in which the translator Tuason was deeply immersed. If the situation of Robinson stranded on an island is considered in HRC as an exceptional state of “kesoesahan” (difficulty) and “bahaja” (danger) requiring “pertolongan” (help), it is, on the contrary, deemed exemplary of the human condition in ABR. ABR almost seems to posit a situation of “ontological scarcity” (or, as Iriarte puts it, “la miseria y necesidades del hombre en este mundo”) and inescapable suffering with a very strong Catholic flavor perhaps reminiscent of the lives of saints, which Tuason also translated into Tagalog, in which individual human beings have to learn to bear the difficulties inherent in life itself. This interpretation rests on the strong collocational pair “cahirapan”–“catibayan nang loob” (difficulty–strength of the will). Similar to HRC, the languages of political economy in RDJ seem to fall away in ABR as being insignificant in relation to the central problem of “bearing suffering.”

The differences between RDJ, HRC, and ABR are schematically represented in Figs. 11 and 12. It is evident that ABR and HRC do not share the interpretative grid upon which RDJ rests, namely, that provided by the material development of industrial societies in the Europe of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Notions central to RDJ such as that of “unlimited” human needs, human-nature metabolism (Stoffwechsel), and scientific-­technological innovation therefore do not figure prominently—if at all—in HRC and ABR. But one should take note that these societies were not static at all. Waruno Mahdi points to the crucial changes occurring in Indonesian society at the time of HRC’s publication:

It was not until around the middle of the 19th century that relevant portions of the population experienced sufficient changes in their economic and social life to bring them into direct contact with features of European industrial-age culture, and create a noticeable interest and demand for corresponding items of vocabulary and other means or modes of expression. (Waruno Mahdi n.d., 5)


Fig. 11 Robinson’s Situation in RDJ (Norm Neutral), HRC (below and above the Norm), and ABR (within the Norm)


Fig. 12 Interconnection of Concepts: “Bedürfnis”–“Kesoesahan”–“Cahirapan”

HRC represents a position that depends upon ethical and social solutions to exceptional situations of scarcity, adversity, and deprivation. In a hypothetical situation of limited needs, where sufficient means exist to supply these needs for a community, this is perhaps not an unusual outlook. The explanation for the particular discursive elements in ABR may most likely reflect the fact that the delicate balance between the limited needs and sufficient means has been interrupted by the deprivation of these previously adequate means, for example, by extractive colonialism. The aim of ABR in Tagalog as an even more emphatically moral-religious treatise was, as with many deeply ideological works in the colonial religious canon, the preaching of endurance and suffering within the context of colonial exploitation. The experiences of “kesoesahan” and “cahirapan” in HRC and ABR are qualitatively different from the “relative impoverishment” occurring in societies of developed industrial production since the revolution of “needs” had not yet taken place within their material and discursive worlds. That is to say, the “deprivation of means” by means of “primitive accumulation” had taken place before the notion of “unlimited needs” corresponding to notions of “relative impoverishment” could arise. Indeed, one can speculate whether RDJ, ABR, and HRC could be read more broadly as articulations of various kinds of responses to “capitalist modernity.” Another textual exploration would be necessary to work it out, but following the philosopher Bolívar Echeverría’s (2000) characterization of the four ethe of modernity, RDJ could be said to fluctuate between the romantic and realist types while ABR represents more distinctly a classical ethic; finally, HRC very roughly corresponds, only by analogy, with the baroque ethic.

The solution in RDJ to fulfilling human needs is the development of adequate technical means and the attainment of efficient productive organization. In other words, the means by which societal prosperity is to be achieved is not through social struggle but through the struggle to dominate nature. In contrast to this, the solution to “kesoesahan” and “cahirapan” in the colonial contexts of HRC and ABR seems to be the continual development of various discourses of critique in combination with various kinds of oppositional practice. What if “pertolongan” was inflected to mean the collective action of the “rakjat” (people) against the colonial oppressor? What if “catibayan nang loob,” instead of being conceived as a passive acceptance of one’s fate, becomes understood as the strength of the will to overcome the “hardships” (cahirapan) of the struggle in pursuit of the “himagsikan” (revolution)? Some evidence has been shown elsewhere, at least for the Tagalog case, that these types of critique would eventually articulate with and form connections with the discourses specific to the nationalist struggle (Guillermo 2009b) and eventually also with notions of labor and production within the discourse of the early radical labor movements (Guillermo 2009a). In these early receptions, the discourses of political economy presented in RDJ would therefore not simply be abrogated or rejected but rather be reimagined and reconfigured discursively in a new constellation in which conceptions of exploitation and liberation would displace the centrality of ideas of technical progress and mastery over nature. Unfortunately, although the history of European political and economic concepts and categories has been well studied, there are as yet no comprehensive and encyclopedic studies on this theme with respect to Philippine and Indonesian languages. This paper may be regarded as a small contribution to this field.

In 1951, around 75 years after the publication of Hikayat Robinson Crusoe, Pramoedya Ananta Toer would write some reflections in his novella Bukan Pasar Malam (Not an all night’s market) on the promises of technology and progress and the problem of the unfulfilled “needs” of the people after the attainment of Indonesian independence and democratic rule. It might be fitting, therefore, to end this study with Pramoedya’s words:

In between the darkness and the light fading in the red West, I passed the small road in front of the palace on my bicycle. This palace is flooded with the light of electric lamps. Who knows how many watts? I don’t know. I estimate that the electricity in this palace would not be lower than 5 kilowatts. And around it is felt the lack of electricity, but the person in the palace would only have to lift the telephone to order an increase. The President really is a practical man—not like the people trying to make a living at the roadside every day. When you are not a President and also not a minister and you want to receive 30 or 50 watts more, you would have to pay 200 or 300 rupiah. Indeed, this is not practical. And when the person inside this palace wants to travel to A or B, everything is ready—airplane, car, cigarettes, and money. As for me, in order to go to Blora, I have to scour Jakarta to find money to borrow. Indeed, this kind of life is impractical. And when you become President, and your mother is sick or you want to visit your father or any close relative—tomorrow or the day after you can go there to visit. But if you are a lowly employee who earns only enough to breathe, just asking for leave is difficult, because these small bosses know that they can forbid their employees anything. All of these things bothered me. Democracy is indeed a wonderful system. You can become President. You can choose the employment you desire. You have rights like other people. Because of democracy you no longer need to show reverence or bow your head to the President or minister, or any other high personage. True—this is one triumph of democracy. And you can do anything you want within the limits of the law. But if you have no money, you will be crippled and cannot move. In democratic states you can buy whatever you want. But if you have no money, you can only look at the object of your desire. This too is a triumph of democracy. (Pramoedya [1951] 2009, 9–10)13)

Accepted: March 8, 2013


Grants from the Asian Public Intellectual Program and the Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst, along with the support of the Department of Filipino and Philippine Literature, University of the ­Philippines–Diliman, allowed me to undertake this research. For their intellectual generosity and helpfulness, I would like to thank Melani Budianta and Syahrial from the Fakultas Ilmu Budaya, Universitas Indonesia, and Caroline Hau and Shimizu Hiromu from the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University. For sharing with me important materials, I am grateful to Elmer Nocheseda, Waruno Mahdi, and Cheng-Chung Lai.


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1) An example of this is the following: “Asking forgiveness from the beautiful and merciful Virgin that she should watch over him in that remote place, that no one should hurt him, he renewed his hope in the Mother of Mercy, who is the most powerful intermediary to her Son: since this blessed Virgin is his beloved Mother and support in all of his suffering when He was alive in this world. He also called upon his beloved Saints Joseph and Archangel Rafael” (Nagmamacaauà naman sa maalindog at mapagcalarang Virgen na siya,y, calingain sa iláng na yaon, na ualang sucat macasamang sinoman; pinagtibay niya ang pag-asa sa Ina nang auà, na siyang lalong malacas na taga pamamaguitan sa caniyang Anac: yayamang ang mapalad na Virgeng ito ang pinacaibig niyang Ina at caramaydamay sa madlang cahirapan nang siya,y, nabubuhay dito sa lupà. Nanauagan naman sa maloualhating cay S. José at sa Arcangel S. Rafael na caniyang manga pintacasi) (Campe 1879, 91).

2) “Da die politische Ökonomie Robinsonaden liebt, erscheine zuerst Robinson auf seiner Insel. Bescheiden, wie er von Haus aus ist, hat er doch verschiedenartige Bedürfnisse zu befriedigen und muß daher nützliche Arbeiten verschiedner Art verrichten, Werkzeuge machen, Möbel fabrizieren, Lama zähmen, fischen, jagen usw.”

3) Bidet writes: “Marx ascribes [the law of value] to Robinson Crusoe as a generic figure of labouring society, and it is also that of the future communist society. Theories of Surplus-Value makes this particularly clear: ‘Time of labour, even if exchange-value is eliminated, always remains the creative substance of wealth and the measure of the cost of its production’. A ‘law’ of this kind is confined, as we shall see, to asserting the general relationship between the fact that labour is always ‘expended’, and the fact that as rational activity aiming at use-values it is important for it to be reduced to a minimum and divided in proportion to social needs. So this is in no way a ‘law’ in the sense that this term functions in ‘law of value’, that of a structure the existence of which is established by historical materialism for a determinate kind of society, and possesses, as a theoretical object, an explanatory value, because it denotes a particular system of compulsion to produce and interest in producing. It is, rather, a general matrix logically prior to the determinations specific to historical materialism as a theory of modes of production.”

4) “If a London merchant, however, can buy at Canton for half an ounce of silver, a commodity which he can afterwards sell at London for an ounce, he gains a hundred per cent by the bargain, just as much as if an ounce of silver was at London exactly of the same value as at Canton” (Smith 1904, 40).

5) “. . . welche den Arbeitsprozess in einfachste, sich stets wiederholende und mit Virtuosität vollzogene Griffe zerlegt, wobei das Arbeitsresultat des eines Teilarbeiters den Ausgangspunkt für die Arbeit des folgenden bildet.”

6) “Adversity forced him to precisely divide up his time among his different functions. The fact that one takes up a greater portion, and another less of his total work depends on the greater or lesser difficulty necessary to attain the desired effect” (Die Not selbst zwingt ihn, seine Zeit genau zwischen seinen verschiednen Funktionen zu verteilen. Ob die eine mehr, die andre weniger Raum in seiner Gesamttätigkeit einnimmt, hängt ab von der größeren oder geringeren Schwierigkeit, die zur Erzielung des bezweckten Nutzeffekts zu überwinden ist) (Marx 1956, 90–91).

7) Although Smith does not explicitly conceptualize “socially necessary labor,” it could be argued that he gives various inklings of it in WN.

8) “Bis in die ersten Jahrzente des 18. Jahrhunderts kommt ‘Bedürfnis’ selten vor, von etwa 1740–1760 nimmt es an Häufigkeit zu, von etwa 1770 an kann man es dem allgemeinen Sprachgebrauch zurechnen. Das Spektrum der Verwendungsmöglichkeiten, das es seit den letzten Jahrzehnten des 18. Jahrhunderts zeigt, ist vom heutigen nicht mehr wesentlich unterschieden.”

9) “Oberster Wert war das Streben nach Glück im materiellen und moralischen Sinne. Dies aber konnte nur durch Befriedigung der ‘Bedürfnisse’ erreicht werden. Die Bedürfnisse wiederum forderten Arbeit und weckten den Trieb zur vernünftigen Arbeitsamkeit, d.h. einer fortgesetzten Vervielfältigung der Arbeitsleistung durch verbesserte Technik, Organisation und Arbeitsmoral.”

10) “Damit beginnt die Geschichte des modernen Begriffs der Arbeit, ihre nicht mehr christlich begründete Emanzipation von der untersten Stufe der Rangordnung menschlicher Tätigkeiten, ihre Erhebung zu einer spezifisch menschlichen Potenz ja letzlich ihre Ablösung vom Menschen und ihre Erhöhung zum abstrakten wirkenden Subjekt (labour makes . . .). Everything in the world, hieß es bei D. HUME, is purchased by labour, and our passions are the only causes of labour. Indem die bürgerliche Gesellschaft sich nicht mehr, wie bisher, im repräsentativen Handeln der Herrschaftsstände darstellte, sondern Arbeit als Auseinandersetzung der Menschen mit der Natur einen gesellschaftlichen Funktionswert erhielt, setzte der Prozess der Verselbständigung des Begriffs ein: er löste sich aus der Verschränkung mit armut . . .; er begann sich auch von seiner Verbindung mit ‘Mühe’ und ‘Last’ zu lösen. Die Techniken (artes) sollten zur Arbeitserleichterung führen.”

11) This can be compared to Iriarte’s comment in his “Prologo”: “Nothing is more praiseworthy in this work than the healthy moral doctrine laid out in the whole of it. Inspire love, gratitude and respect to the supreme Creator and Father of human beings, enter with limitless faith into the adversities which he sends us, and an impervious humility which separates us from the temerity of wanting to understand and more or less judge, his inscrutable judgment: excellently portrays the misery and needs of human beings in this world . . .” (Nada hay tan loable en esta obra como la sana doctrina moral oportunamente sembrada en toda ella. Inspira amor, gratitud y respeto al supremo Criador y Padre de los hombres, suma confianza sin límite en las adversidades que nos envía, y una ciega humildad que nos aparte del temerario designio de querer penetrar y muchos ménos calificar, sus inscrutables juicios: pinta excelentemente la miseria y necesidades del hombre en este mundo . . .) (Campe 1820, VII).

12) “Idinagdag co rin naman dito na sa pagtitiis nang anomang cahirapan, ó pagcacamit nang anomang caguinhauahan ay hindi lamang ang dapat hangarin ay ang magandang capalaran sa buhay na ito, cundi lalonglalò na ang maguing daan nang ipaglilingcod sa Dios at ipagcacamit nang caloualhatiang ualang hangan . . . tulad cay Robinson, na baga ma,t, isang halimbauà ó talinhagà lamang, ay magagauang uliran nang sinomang na sa sa isang caguipitan at capanganiban, nang houag huminà, malupaypay at maghinampo ang loob sa Namamahalà nang sangdaigdigan, bagcus umayon sa caniyang calooban, manalig sa ualang hangan niyang caauaan, sambahin ang di malirip niyang carunungan, na ang inaacalà natin na isang casacunaan at cahirapan ay bunga nang caniyang pagibig na pagcacaraanan nang ualang hanga nating caloualhatian, cung baga,t, ating matiis, at tangapin nating malumanay sa loob at pasalamatan, maguing caguinhauahan at maguing cahirapan man, ang minamarapat niyang ipagcaloob sa atin.”

13) “Antara gelap dan lembayung sinar sekarat di barat yang merah, sepedaku meluncuri jalan kecil depan istana. Istana itu—mandi dalam cahaya lampu listrik. Entah beberapa puluh ratus watt. Aku tak tahu. Hanya perhitungan dalam persangkaanku mengatakan: listrik di istana itu paling sedikit lima kilowatt. Dan sekiranya ada dirasa kekurangan listrik, orang tinggal mengangkat tilpun dan istana mendapat tambahan. Presiden memang orang praktis—tidak seperti mereka yang memperjuangkan hidupnya di pinggir jalan berhari-harian. Kalau engkau bukan presiden, dan juga bukan menteri, dan engkau ingin mendapat tambahan listrik tigapuluh atau limapuluh watt, engkau harus berani menyogok dua atau tigaratus rupiah. Ini sungguh tidak praktis. Dan kalau isi istana itu mau berangkat ke A atau ke B, semua sudah sedia—pesawat udaranya, mobilnya, rokoknya, dan uangnya. Dan untuk ke Blora ini, aku harus pergi mengelilingi Jakarta dulu dan mendapatkan hutang. Sungguh tidak praktis kehidupan seperti itu. Dan kalau engkau jadi presiden, dan ibumu sakit atau ambillah bapakmu atau ambillah salah seorang dari keluargamu yang terdekat—besok atau lusa engkau sudah bisa datang menengok. Dan sekiranya engkau pegawai kecil yang bergaji cukup hanya untuk bernafas saja, minta perlop untuk pergi pun susah. Karena, sep-sep kecil itu merasa benar kalau dia bisa memberi larangan sesuatu pada pegawainya. Ini semua merupakan kekesalan hatiku semata. Demokrasi sungguh suatu sistem yang indah. Engkau boleh jadi presiden. Engkau boleh memilih pekerjaan yang engkau sukai. Engkau mempunyai hak sama dengan orang-orang lainnya. Dan demokrasi itu membuat aku tak perlu menyembah dan menundukkan kepala pada presiden atau menteri atau paduka-paduka lainnya. Sungguh—ini pun suatu kemenangan demokrasi. Dan engkau boleh berbuat sekehendak hatimu bila saja masih berada dalam lingkungan batas hukum. Tapi kalau engkau tak punya uang, engkau akan lumpuh tak bisa bergerak. Di negara demokrasi engkau boleh membeli barang yang engkau sukai. Tapi kalau engkau tak punya uang, engkau hanya boleh menonton barang yang engkau ingini itu. Ini juga semacam kemenangan demokrasi.”


Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 3, No. 1, April 2014, pp. 3-47
©Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University


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