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.

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.

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

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.

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.