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New Left Review I/28, November-December 1964


Robert Curtis

Malaysia and Indonesia





Malaysia itself is a new and largely factitious creation, but the Malaysian ‘affair’ has deep historical roots. It has arisen because of profoundly complex and interrelated social, economic, cultural and political developments in Malaya and Indonesia. It is far less interesting in itself than for the light it sheds on the contrasts between the two nations and the bonds that unite them. This essay is an attempt to put Malaysia into a wider context, neither simply as a disagreeable episode in the benevolent dissolution of empire, nor as a struggle between reaction and progress in South East Asia, nor as a radical step forward in the anti-colonial struggle. These are perspectives which have been abundantly elaborated in the press of the First, Second and Third Worlds and advance our real understanding very little, since they are based on abstract slogans, not on the rich densities of Asian sociology and history.

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