Marx once said that “force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one.” He was referring to the employment of “the power of the State, the concentrated and organised force of society, to hasten, hot-house fashion, the process of transformation of the feudal mode of production into the capitalist mode, and to shorten the transition.”

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.

The dictator of Indonesia, Suharto, resigned on 21 May 1998. As Alan Woods and Ted Grant wrote at the time, this bloody tyrant ruled Indonesia with a rod of iron, having come to power over the corpses of over a million people. But he was blown away like a dead leaf in the wind by a mass movement of the students and workers. This momentous event opened up a revolutionary opportunity in Asia, one that was sadly never grasped. Nevertheless, the collapse of Suharto's regime was a tremendous victory for the Indonesian masses.

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.

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