Indonesia

This is a translated editorial statement from Militan Indonesia, first published on 22 August 2019, at the beginning of a wave of mass demonstrations across Indonesia and Papua. Since then, reaction has reared its head. The Indonesian government deployed an additional 6,000 police and military personnel to Papua. The internet was blocked. A pro-Indonesian militia was mobilised to terrorise Papuan people. Dozens of Papuans have been killed, with hundreds being rounded up.

We publish here a second round of May Day reports, from Pakistan, Indonesia, El Salvador and Nigeria. In all these countries, the on-going capitalist crisis has led to great exploitation and injustice, and workers are engaged in struggles on several fronts for decent wages and living conditions. Many are drawing radical conclusions, and responded very well to our comrades’ message of revolutionary class struggle!

Ted Sprague explains how the mighty Indonesian Communist Party was defeated and destroyed in 1965 by Suharto's forces of reaction, resulting in the murder of millions of communists and their sympathisers. This historical tragedy, the consequence of the political and theoretical errors of the Communist Party's Stalinist leadership, is rich with lessons for Marxists today.

20 years ago, a regime that seemed unmoveable, that had ruled for decades, while standing on the bones of millions of people massacred between 1965-66 and with its police and soldiers present at every corner, collapsed in the blink of an eye. On 21 May 1998, all over Indonesia, on TV and radio, a voice familiar to the ears of 200 million people proclaimed: “I have decided to declare that I have ceased to be the president of the Republic of Indonesia.” The people cheered and a new chapter in the modern history of Indonesia opened.

On a bright Sunday morning, Indonesian people were shocked by a string of bombings in Surabaya, the second largest city in the country. But there was something different this time compared to past bombings, which made the tragedy difficult to fathom. The perpetrators were three families, with parents who brought along their young children in a string of suicide bombings. The involvement of innocent children in such a barbaric act has multiplied people’s natural anger and disgust towards terrorism. Many feel we are entering into a 'bizarre' epoch – and they are not far from the truth.

Those who rule through deceit, hypocrisy and violence always look over their shoulder for the creeping spectre of truth. They do so more restlessly as they begin to feel the march of history catching up to them and the antiquated system they rest their privileges on. And such is the epoch that we are entering today as capitalism has dug itself into the deepest crisis in its history. The crisis is so deep that it is no longer in the realm of absurdity for the ruling class to think that the only way out is to keep digging until they come out of the other side.

After being in jail for 3 months for the crime of defending workers’ interests, comrade Abdul Hakam (a member of Militan Indonesia, the IMT section in Indonesia, who is also a labour organizer for FSPBI-KASBI Gresik) and Agus Budiono (FSPBI-KASBI Gresik trade union activists) are free at last. They can finally be with their wife and kids again, hug their fellow comrades, and free from the steel bars that seek to crush their spirit. Militan Indonesia and IMT would like to send our deepest respect to both comrade Hakam and Agus for their bravery and self-sacrifice.

On the morning of April 7th, 2016, comrade Abdul Hakam, a member of Militan Indonesia, the IMT section in Indonesia, was sent to jail for three months for his trade union activity. Hakam is a labour organizer for FSPBI-KASBI Gresik, one of a very few radical trade unions in Indonesia. Along with Agus Budiono, who is also from FSPBI-KASBI Gresik, he is charged under the “Unpleasant Act law” (Read Fight the Criminalization of Workers! Free Abdul Hakam and Agus Budiono). Their only crime is to be on the side of the workers.

Twenty years after the publication of Reason in Revolt, Militan, the IMT in Indonesia, is proud to announce the successful publication of this important philosophical book

In the early hours of 1 October 1965 a group of "progressive army officers" kidnapped and brutally murdered six army generals, apparently in preparation for a coup. At the time, they were alleged to be in sympathy with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). In reality, the “30 September Movement” was a provocation orchestrated by the anti-communist General Suharto to justify a coup against the Indonesian leader Sukarno, with the active support of the US and British secret services.

Militan, the IMT in Indonesia, is proud to announce publication of the Bahasa Indonesia edition of Reason in Revolt: Marxist Philosophy and Modern Science this coming spring. This will be another important tool in the construction of the forces of Marxism in Indonesia, once home to the third largest communist party in the world. We appeal to the internationalist spirit of our comrades, supporters, and readers of marxist.com around the world to assist us in putting this work into print by donating money.

Stability is the mantra that the ruling class keeps repeating, but this hope of stability will quickly disappear. Today's economic and political situation - nationally and internationally - does not allow stability beyond short periods - but this is a fragile stability built on sand.

The upcoming presidential election in Indonesia (July 9th) has become much more interesting with the formal entrance of Jokowi as one of the presidential candidates. For more than a year the rumour mill was running non-stop as to whether or not Jokowi would throw his hat into the race.

The Indonesian economy is slowing down, like many of the “emerging” economies. In these conditions methods of struggle that led to important gains for the working class in the recent past no longer have the same effects. This poses a number of questions that have to be answered by the labour movement.

Today is the beginning of a week of strikes and general strikes in Indonesia. During the past month the call for a general strike has been heard in every major factory in the country. The 28th of October has been in the mind of every worker, as it has been in the mind of every capitalist and politician – of course for different reasons.

“In terms of the numbers killed, the anti-PKI massacres in Indonesia rank as one of the worst mass murders of the twentieth century". (CIA study in 1968)

In this period of world economic crisis, Indonesia has been hailed as a miracle economy, registering a solid 6% annual growth for the past few years amid a sputtering world economy. However, despite this impressive growth, Indonesia cannot escape from the clutches of austerity that is gripping the whole world.

Here we publish the excerpt of Militan Indonesia’s perspective document which was passed at its 3rd National Conference in March 2013.

More than 500,000 took to the streets on May Day in what was in effect the second largest general strike in the history of Indonesia. The working class of the 4th largest country in the world is starting to move in a very radical manner as the workers are imbued with confidence from their recent successes.

The recent criminalization case of comrade Sultoni Farras, a worker activist from Progresif Union and Sekber Buruh, who is being sued with “Unpleasant Action” law by the bosses, puts forward a question that at first seems petty but if we look further turns out to be quite fundamental in the workers’ struggle. This relates to the question of “pleasantness” and “unpleasantness”. (Note: in Indonesia, the word “pleasantness” can also mean “happiness”)

Amazing! There is no other word that can describe the situation on October 3. Workers all over Indonesia went on strike and took to the streets. This first national general strike in half a century truly raises expectations and hopes that it will be a turning point for the Indonesian labour movement.

Tomorrow, October 3, will witness an important event in the history of the labour movement in Indonesia. For the first time in 50 years, Indonesian workers will carry out a national general strike which will involve an estimated 2 million workers in 21 different cities. Three demands serve as the basis of this general strike: increases in the official minimum wage, an end to all outsourcing arrangements, and universal national health care for all.

Following the traditions of the Bolshevik Party, that a party journal is an important collective organizer, the Indonesian comrades are publishing the second edition of their newspaper, Militan Indonesia.

The website of Militan Indonesia (www.militanindonesia.org), the website of the supporters of the IMT in Indonesia, is two years old. Launched on September 19th, 2009, this website has become one of the main sources for revolutionary Marxist theory in Indonesia.

The September 30th anniversary commemorating the “failed” 1965 “G30S coup” has come round once again. It was a dark day that changed the fate of the Indonesian toiling masses. The Good Book says, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16). The same fate but in reverse befell the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) that was reduced from being the largest Communist party outside the Soviet Union and China to a handful surviving in the underground and in exile. It is no exaggeration to say that the collapse of the PKI transformed the world political order in Indonesia.

The 1997 economic crisis that hit the South East Asian countries, in the changed conditions of Indonesia led to revolution in 1998 and the ousting of the old regime. However, it failed to remove the bourgeoisie from power, who adopted “Reformasi” as a means of channelling the revolution down safe lines; while granting “democracy”, however, they pushed for a greater intensification of the exploitation of labour and for greater “liberalisation”. Important lessons have to learnt from this period by the activists of the left in Indonesia today.

The defeat of the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party) in the 1920s led to the handing over of the leadership of the national liberation struggle to the emerging national bourgeoisie which was tied hand and foot to imperialism. While the national bourgeoisie was inherently incapable of completing the task of national liberation, the Stalinist PKI in the 1950s adopted the incorrect two-stage theory, which was later to lead to the bloodiest counter-revolution in 1965.

We start today a four part article on the development of capitalism in Indonesia. In Part One we see how the original Dutch East Indies colony, that was later to become Indonesia, played an important role in capitalist accumulation for the nascent Dutch bourgeoisie, the first to actually carry out a bourgeois revolution in Europe.

More than ten years after the revolutionary “reformasi” movement in Indonesia, the thirst for Marxist ideas remains unquenchable. Those ideas continue to inspire left-wing student and workers activists and induce fear among the ruling classes. The fear of communism, instilled by the terror of the Suharto dictatorship, has not completely been removed but it has been eroded.

Twelve years since the magnificent movement that overthrew the hated Soeharto regime in Indonesia it is time to draw a balance sheet of what was achieved and what the state of the movement is now. As the crisis of worldwide capitalism begins to bite, Indonesia too is faced with a new situation, one where the working class and youth will seek to learn the lessons of the past. This two-part document attempts to draw those lessons.

We also publish an excerpt from a monologue written by Ratna Sarumpaet (translated to English by Robyn Fallick). This monologue was written in her memory in 1997 and it has since become a tradition to perform the monologue at every May Day celebration. “Marsinah Accuses” has also been performed in many other countries.

Marsinah (1969-1993) was an Indonesian worker who was kidnapped by the army and brutally murdered on May 8th 1993 because of her involvement in the strike action at her workplace. She led a strike with 500 of her fellow workers, knowing full well that under the dictatorship of Soeharto her life was in danger. Marsinah has since become a symbol and inspiration for the workers’ struggle in Indonesia. Let us celebrate International Working Women’s Day and remember Marsinah by rolling up our sleeves to fight for socialism, the only way out of the misery of capitalism.

We are proud to announce the launching of the www.militanindonesia.org website in Indonesia. Its aim is to defend and promote the ideas of genuine socialism within the Indonesian labour and youth movement. We wish it every success and invite all Indonesian readers to check it out, send in articles and reports and support it.

On April 9 of this year Indonesia held its fourth 'democratic' elections since its independence in 1945. What has been lacking throughout this period had been a genuine labour movement based mass workers' party. This has coloured debate on the left including the question of "boycott". What is required is a return to Lenin and a study of how he dealt with the question in the Tsarist Duma.


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Strikes at two cigarette factories in Indonesia highlight the growing militancy of workers who receive miserable starvation wages. The strikes at PT Cakra Guna Cipta, who are organized by the SPBI and at the PT Pakis Mas cigarette factory are a clear example of this growing mood of anger and determination to win better wages and conditions.

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Workers at PT Timur Selatan, a wood processing company, that produces furniture and wood products, have occupied their factory in response to the bosses’ decision to close it down. The workers need your help to keep their struggle going

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Last week Indonesian police brutally attacked peasants defending their land rights, even using napalm bombs to destroy their homes, leading to the death of one child and leaving many injured. We issue this Solidarity Statement with the People of Suluk Bongkal Village and call on others to do the same.

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The Permanent Revolution by Leon Trotsky is one of the most important Marxist books of the last century. The International Marxist Tendency is producing an Indonesian edition of this book, scheduled to be published in January. We publish here the introduction written by Alan Woods.

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A translation of a leaflet and poster being circulated by the Working People's Association (Perhimpunan Rakyat Pekerja, PRP) in Indonesia as part of a campaign by radical Indonesian trade unions to highlight class issues and socialism on May Day.

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On January 27, 2008 General Soeharto, former dictator of Indonesia, passed away. This man was responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of communists in a bloody coup in 1965. Despite these monstrous crimes and his well-documented corruption the old butcher died in his bed, untouched by the law.

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Just One Day Comrade (Sehari Saja Kawan) is one of many poems written by a well-known Indonesian poet Wiji Thukul about the strength of workers’ unity. Through the power of his words, he has inspired many youth and workers to fight against the oppressive capitalism.

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In the midst of the hue and cry over the non-renewal of RCTV’s license in Venezuela, freedom of speech is being blatantly violated in other parts of the world. In Indonesia, an event to discuss Marta Harnecker’s book ‘Understanding the Venezuelan Revolution’ was disrupted through intimidations by the police and hooligans.

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The Indonesian ruling class thought they had destroyed Marxism forever when they brutally suppressed the Communist Party of Indonesia in 1965. However, people and organizations are born and die, come and go, but ideas cannot be killed. Just ten years after the overthrow of the Suharto regime and the promise of democracy and prosperity, not much has changed in Indonesia - except that the workers and youth are searching for ideas that can lead to a fundamental transformation of society, the ideas of Marxism.

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In his preface to the recently published Indonesian edition of Reason in Revolt, Alan Woods points out that the intense anti-Islamic propaganda in the West is merely a “crude ideological cover for the pretensions and arrogance of imperialism and especially US imperialism, which seeks to dominate the entire world and subject it to its pitiless exploitation”. In answer to all this what is needed is that the rational, scientific outlook of Marxism should become the viewpoint of the labour movement in all countries.

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We are proud to announce the recent publication of the Indonesian edition of Reason in Revolt. The book was launched publicly on February 20th at the Gadja Mada University. Here we provide some background information and details of how to order the book in Indonesia.

May Day is not a holiday in Indonesia. Even if May 1 fell this year on a Saturday it is still a normal working day for most workers on the archipelago. Workers have to take a day off or go on strike to be present. Despite this and other obstacles thousands of workers hit the streets in the main industrial centres like Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya on the island Java, Medan in Sumatra, Palu in Sulawesi and smaller places like Riau and Batam.

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