Holland's Modern Renascence.
HOW A COUNTRY WITH 600 PEOPLE
TO THE SQUARE MILE PROSPERS
was originally an agricultural country. If it had remained that, it would
never have had an important position in the world. It would have been
impossible to feed 600 people to the square mile, a density of population
surpassed in Europe only by Belgium. In the U.S. the density of the population
is not even 40 people to the square mile. In Minnesota this figure is
not quite 30 to the square mile.
If Holland had remained
only an agricultural country, on the same scale as centuries ago, the
600 people would be starving. On the contrary, the people of Holland live
to-day in comparatively great comfort.
What is the cause? As a result of the growing commerce, agriculture became
an industry producing articles of high grade, after importing lower grade
articles. The modern and splendid state of agriculture is a result of
the influence of commerce and of the commercial policy of Holland: free
of industry in Holland has the same characteristics.
I do not intend,
to try to give you a complete exposé of the industry of Holland.
I have not done so when speaking about the history and the commerce.
My idea is to give
you an impression of Holland by showing you some characteristic examples
of all the subjects I treat. My method is: to lay stress on the essential
points and not to give a complete, exhaustive summary of one subject.
are popularly supposed to exist entirely on shipping, commerce and agriculture.
There may have been some reason for assuming this in the past; in the
last 50 years industry has developed in a short time to a large degree.
In these 50 years the number of industrial workers has doubled. The export
of industrial products is to-day of greater importance than that of the
products of agriculture, horticulture and cattle breeding together. You
maybe astonished at hearing this fact. I am quite sure, that most of my
countrymen do not know it, because the development of industry has really
been marvellous in the last 20 years.
A great industry
in Holland is only possible if it exports to the world market. The home
market is not large enough to give birth to a great industry. Especially
because in Holland and in our colonies we follow a policy of free trade
and the open door, so that industries of foreign countries compete with
us without being placed at a disadvantage. The industrialists of Holland
are obliged to buy their raw materials and to sell their products on the
world market. They do not live in a hot-house, as the industries in a
protectionist country do. Not being protected by the government, they
have still two great advantages above the industries in protectionist
1st. the raw materials
are bought at world prices; they have not to pass a tariff;
2nd. the products
are not destined for the comparatively very small market of our own country,
but for the unrestricted market of the whole world.
I quite understand
that the industrialists of the U.S. are protectionists, because the home
market is large enough. The great industrialists of Holland are obliged
to be free-traders: their home market is too small to allow their being
restricted to it.
I will not tell
you about the very old Dutch industry, namely the production of brandy
and liqueurs, which found its origin in the days that Holland was the
grain market of Europe. This famous Dutch industry would surely not interest
the inhabitants of a country, where brandy and liqueurs are prohibited.
very old and characteristic industry of Holland is that of shipbuilding.
| Building of (mercantile) ships
|| In thousands
| Percentage of
The wood, of which ships were constructed centuries ago, and the steel,
of which they are built to-day, has to be imported from abroad. Nevertheless
the art of shipbuilding in Holland had so good a name, that Peter the
Great, Czar of Russia, came to Holland and lived there some time, to study
the art of shipbuilding.
To-day Holland is
the third shipbuilding country of the world. England is the first, Germany
the second, sometimes Japan is the third, sometimes Holland. In 1929 Holland
was the second. The difference between Germany, Japan and Holland is not
The quality of the
Dutch fleet is relatively very good. A German economist introduced not
long ago a standard for establishing the quality of ships, taking into
account the age, the speed and the size. The results of his investigations
were, that 40 pct. of the Dutch seaships fulfilled these requirements,
37 pct. of the English fleet, 24 pct. of the German fleet, 16 pct. of
the Japanese fleet and only 9pct. of the fleet of the U.S.
In one very special
trade, that requires great experience and a high degree of seamanship,
Holland is still to-day the first of the world. I mean the salvage of
vessels in distress and the towage over sea. How great the confidence
is in the seamanship of the Dutch seaman, is proved by the illustration
on p. 38 showing a part of a great drydock,
constructed in England, and transported to Singapore by the best Netherlands
company, doing this business. The insurance of this dock by English underwriters
was not contracted, before they had been informed, that the transport
was to be carried out by this Dutch company. One glance at the picture
is sufficient to demonstrate what a degree of good seamanship is necessary,
to do that difficult work well.
rise of the cotton textile industry in Holland is characteristic of
the development of the Dutch industry. 60 years ago this industry was
largely protected by the government. It exported for a value of 17 millions
of guilders. When free trade was accepted, nearly 60 years ago, the industry
developed to a much greater extent. The value of the export to-day is
more than 100 millions of guilders. The value of the exports is as great
as the value of the products for the home market.
This industry imports
cotton from America and Egypt, coal from Germany, machines from England
and America and it has an important export to the world market, where
it has to compete with the best equipped cotton industries of the world:
those in England, America and Japan.
In the years since
the great war some industries in Holland have developed by international
combinations to a scale without precedent. The four most conspicuous examples
are the margarine industry, the artificial silk industry, the production
of incandescent lamps and radio apparatus and the oil industry of the
are the figures of the production of margarine in the 8 most important
countries of the world for 1928:
| Production of margarine in 1928
(in 1000 Engl. tons).
136 or 126
These are not figures per head of population. The production in Holland
is practically the same as that of the U.S. consequently the comparative
figures per head of population of Holland and the U.S. are 15 to 1. That
means, that per head of population the production of margarine in Holland
is 15 times as large as that of the U.S.
In the production of artificial silk Holland is the 6th country of the
world. Counted per head of population, Holland would be the 1st country
of the world: it has an annual production of one kilogram (or a little
more than two pounds) per head of population. 95 pct. of the Netherlands
production of artificial silk is exported. The requirements of the home
market are met by the remaining 5 per cent, plus a quantity equal to the
double of this, which is imported.
And still the portion
of the capital invested in the artificial silk industry by the Netherlands
partners is much greater than the portion of the output which is produced
in Holland. This is proved by the following figures:
| Capital invested in the artificial silk industry.
| Controlled by:
|| (in millions
| Controlled by:
|| (in millions
Great Britain, Holland
and the U.S. together control more than 73 per cent of the capital invested
in the artificial silk industry. Great Britain's portion is 34 per cent,
that of Holland 22 per cent and that of the U.S. 17 per cent.
most phenomenal development of a modern industry in Holland, in what we
call an American style, is the production of incandescent lamps and radio
apparatus of Philips. The illustration on p.
91 gives an impression of the factories of Philips. The number of
workmen employed in the Philips-concern in Holland increased in one year
from 15,000 to 25,000. It is the largest factory of Holland. The exports
increased from 20 millions of guilders in 1927 to 46 millions in 1928
and to more than 100 millions in 1929.
The Philips concern
has, moreover, factories in a great many European countries and it is
connected with the General Electric in the U.S.
Holland has no special
call for such an industry. Nearly all the raw materials of which these
products are manufactured, have to be imported from foreign countries:
glass, metals, wood. The only materials of real Dutch origin used in the
production are: the vacuum of the lamps and the energy of the founders.
most important industry of Holland from the point of view of the international
market — if I may call it an industry — is that known to the
world under the name of: “The Royal Dutch”, or in full title:
“The Royal Dutch Company for the working of petroleum wells in the
Netherlands Indies.” Today it has an issued capital of more than
500 millions of guilders nominally (which is nearly the amount of the
annual budget of the whole country). Actually the capital of the “Royal
Dutch” is nearly 2 billions, which is approximately the whole national
debt of Holland.
The company was
founded in 1890 with a capital of 5 millions of guilders. The original
idea as the name proves — was to exploit the petroleum wells in
the Netherlands East Indies. If it had confined itself to
that idea, the importance of the company couldn't have been very great,
because the production of petroleum in the Netherlands East Indies is
not much more than 2 pct. of the petroleum production of the whole world.
By its international relations especially with the English Shell Company
the Royal Dutch acquired much greater importance. In 40 years its capital
increased from 5 to 500 millions of guilders. The Royal Dutch Shell concern
is the greatest competitor of the Standard Oil Companies on the world
market. This is another illustration of the fact that the influence of
the Netherlands partner in an international concern (margarine, artificial
silk, incandescent lamps, petroleum) is often much greater than the part
of the output of the concern which is produced in Holland. These are the
figures of the production of the 8 principal petroleum companies of the
| Petroleum production of the 8 principal
(average daily production in thousands of barrels).
|Royal Dutch Shell
Standard Oil New Jersey
Standard Oil California
I am not able to verify these figures. I have reproduced them from the
latest prospectus of the Royal Dutch.
These figures seem
to prove that the Royal Dutch Shell concern is the most important oil
company of the world. The starting point has been, that the great American
companies of the StandardOil do not form one concern. That seems to be
so, as a result of the Sherman Anti Trust-Act. If that starting point
is correct and these American companies are to be considered as separate
companies, the Royal Dutch Shell would really be the most important oil-concern
of the world. Surely the Royal Dutch Shell concern has a great influence
on the world market.
In the Royal Dutch
Shell concern the Dutch party has a great influence. The “Royal
Dutch” is a Dutch company. The General Manager, Sir Henry
Deterding, though living in London, was born in Holland and is
still a Netherlander. The two managers are citizens of Holland. The Royal
Dutch possesses shares of the Shell. The Shell Company does not possess
shares of the Royal Dutch.
characteristic for the industrial renascence of Holland in the 20th century
is the rise of the coal production. In the beginning of this century,
there were only a few, not very important, coal mines in Holland. The
bulk of the coal required for industrial and household purposes, had to
To-day Holland is
able to produce nearly sufficient coal to supply the entire home-market.
And this is possible, allthough the consumption of coal has increased
very much. The great war has much influenced this phenomenal development.
preceding considerations, though not exhaustive, may have been sufficient
to prove, that modern Holland has been able to give birth to industries
of great influence on the world market. It was possible for these
important industries to grow in such a small country as Holland is, as
a result of our commercial policy. The most characteristic fact in the
growth of the Dutch industry is its relation to the world market. Without
its international commerce and its agriculture and industry for the world
market, Holland would never have been able to feed more than 600 people
to the square mile. These 600 people live in comparatively comfortable
circumstances. And perhaps this is the most remarkable fact in the economic
position of Holland — especially from an American point of view
— that so dense a population is compatible with so great a wealth.
The density of the
population of the U.S. is 40 people to the square mile.
| people to the square mile
| increase of population to the
square mile in 10 years
| unemployed (August 1930)
|| ± 4 pct.
|| ± 1½ pct.
| commercial policy
Let me try to show
you the meaning of a density of population of 600 people to the square
mile — the exact figure is 614 — with an example. If the U.S.
had the same density of population as Holland has — more than 600
people to the square mile — the number of inhabitants of the U.S.
would not be 125 millions as it is to-day — but more than 1800 millions
of inhabitants. That is to say, that nearly all the inhabitants of our
planet from Europe, Asia, Africa and South-America, black, yellow and
white men, would come over to live in the U.S. Such a density of population
— a nightmare for the U.S.! — is a fact in Holland.
Immigration in the
U.S. is not very easy. Immigration from Holland to the States is strictly
of goods is limited, just as the immigration. If the commercial policy
of Holland may be called „free trade”, the commercial policy
of the U.S. must be called strict protection. The entrance of persons
and goods is strictly limited.
In Holland in 10
years (1918-1928) the increase of the population was: 75 people to the
square mile. In the U.S. in the same period, the increase was 6 people
to the square mile. So in the U.S. in these years the people living on
one square mile increased by one new inhabitant every two years. In Holland
the people living on one square mile increased by one new inhabitant,
every 7 weeks.
The figures in the
picture, indicating the percentage of unemployed in the U.S. and Holland,
are very roughly approximate. The figure 4 for the U.S. is based on the
information, that in the summer of this year 5 million inhabitants of
the States were able and willing to work, but without any work. These
figures are not official. I don't know, whether they are exact. August
1930 was a very unfortunate moment for the U.S. The States were at a low
point of the crisis. The influence of the crisis in Holland was not so
The figures of Holland
are also very roughly approximate. But these figures are, with all these
restrictions, the best I could get.
The people of the
U.S. seem to be of opinion, that, when the 41st inhabitant to the square
mile comes — and he is only to be expected in two years time —
the whole country will starve.
We in Holland, having
a density of population, which is 15 times as great as that of the States,
and having an increase of the population, which is 15 times as great as
that of the States, hardly restrict the import of goods and do not restrict
In Holland we are
accustomed to speak of the great economic wonderland in America. I hope
having proved to you, that, with as much reason, we might speak of the
little country with great economic wonders: Holland.
You may disapprove
of my opinions, you may refuse to accept my principles and theories, but
nobody can deny the facts, which are in the picture on p.
93. These are all facts, with the exception perhaps of the figures
relating to the unemployed.
I do not propose
to you, that you should follow the economic principles accepted in Holland.
I come to you, pretending to know something about the economics of my
own country. I cannot pretend to know enough of the U.S., to be able to
form an opinion on the economic principles, ruling in your country. I
do not oppose the principles and theories, accepted by the people of the
U.S. for their own country.
My task is limited
to exposing to you the position of Holland, by showing you facts, which
cannot be denied.
I do not propose,
I do not oppose, I only expose.