Who is Max Havelaar?

In a novel, Max Havelaar is a colonial official who exposes serious misconducts by his superiors and challenges the entire colonial system.
A novel as a starting point
Max Havelaar is the principal character in the novel «Max Havelaar or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company», published in 1860.

The novel is about colonial civil servant Max Havelaar, who uncovers serious misconduct by his superior in Java and ultimately challenges the entire colonial system.
Actually, an autobiography
The key point of the whole story, however, is that Multatuli - the name of the Dutch author - was a pseudonym of a man called Eduard Douwes Dekker, who actually describes his own career as a colonial civil servant in the figure of Max Havelaar.

Towards the end of the book, the author pens a passionate condemnation of an autocratic, incompetent colonial administration that cannot in actual fact be controlled from the home country.
Exploiting popularity
The book and its main protagonist are extremely popular in the Netherlands to this day.

Therefore, when organisations providing quality labels for fair trade were set up in a number of countries, the founders of this one considered Max Havelaar to be the obvious choice of name.

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