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Workers Vanguard No. 1079

27 November 2015

Fifty Years Since Anti-Communist Massacre in Indonesia

Reprinted here is an article from Australasian Spartacist No. 227 (Spring 2015) followed by an article that appeared in Spartacist at the time of the 1965-66 massacre.

*   *   *

Fifty years ago, beginning in October 1965 and continuing through early 1966, over a million Indonesian Communists, workers, peasants and ethnic Chinese were slaughtered in one of the most savage massacres in modern history. This bloodbath, a holy war against Communism, was carried out by an alliance between the army and Islamic fanatics with the direct involvement of the American CIA, aided and abetted by its Australian counterpart ASIS. This catastrophe for the Indonesian working class was a direct product of the support by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), as well as their mentors in Beijing and Moscow, to the capitalist government of Sukarno and his Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI). The PKI leadership preached “joint unity” with Sukarno and the PNI to form a “united national front, including the national bourgeoisie” which would carry out “not socialist but democratic reforms.”

This class-collaborationist program was based on the Menshevik/Stalinist dogma of “two-stage revolution,” which led to the bloody defeat of the Second Chinese Revolution of 1925-1927. The Indonesian proletariat was politically disarmed and was unable to defend itself when the Indonesian generals, led by Suharto and backed by the imperialists, struck to behead the PKI, the largest Communist party in the capitalist world. This resulted in 32 years of repressive military rule before the blood-drenched Suharto regime was toppled following two years of economic crisis and massive student-centred protests in 1998.

The key lesson of Indonesia 1965 is that the PKI’s class-collaborationist “united national front” was a program of betrayal and that the liberation of the workers and oppressed masses in countries of belated capitalist development like Indonesia requires fighting for the Trotskyist program of permanent revolution. This program holds that in semicolonial countries, where the capitalist rulers are tied by a thousand threads to the dominant world powers, only the proletariat mobilised independently and leading the oppressed masses can overthrow the local bourgeoisie and tear off the imperialist yoke. This task is inseparably linked to the fight for proletarian revolution in the advanced capitalist countries, opening the road to socialism. It is necessary to build internationalist revolutionary workers parties in the semicolonial countries and in the imperialist heartlands as part of the fight to reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution.

For a detailed analysis of the events of 1965, see “Lessons of Indonesia 1965,” Spartacist [English-language edition] No. 55, Autumn 1999.

“Indonesia: Lesson in Betrayal”
Spartacist No. 5, November-December 1965

The reign of terror being carried out by the Indonesian army against the working class of that country follows logically from a process of treachery tragically familiar in the annals of working class struggle. The working people of Indonesia are now paying with their blood for the betrayal by the leadership of the 3,000,000-member, pro-Chinese Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), which must share guilt for the present violence. Workers and militants of all countries, particularly those who look to the CP of China for “revolutionary” example and direction, cannot afford to ignore the warning of this classic lesson.

Mao’s Peaceful Coexistence

Guided by the Mao government’s “bloc of four classes” doctrine and need for “Peaceful Coexistence” with “progressive, non-aligned” capitalist “friends,” such as Indonesian President Sukarno (a former collaborator with colonialism), the PKI—largest Communist party in the capitalist world—has been helping administer Indonesian capitalism while suppressing the struggles of the Indonesian workers and keeping them wedded to Sukarno’s police-state. Meanwhile the Chinese press has heaped continuous praise upon Sukarno, mentioning nothing of Indonesia’s poverty-stricken economy, the abysmally poor conditions of Indonesian workers, Sukarno’s military aid to Laotian right-wingers, etc. (This position has been echoed by Maoists in the U.S.; the October 1965 issue of Progressive Labor magazine reprints a “revolutionary” speech of Sukarno, apparently as a contribution to “Marxism-Leninism”!)

Nowhere is the Maoist opportunism of the PKI better reflected than in their adherence to “Bung (Brother) Karno’s” cynical strategy of “Nasakom”—a Popular Front of nationalists, religious groups, and Stalinists under the roof of class collaboration. Following this policy, the PKI concerned itself with the “national interests” of the Indonesian bourgeoisie, pressured for reforms, and endeavored to woo various ministers and sections of the military leadership over to its “struggle against U.S. imperialism.” Accepting Sukarno’s promise to arm the workers and peasants “if necessary,” the PKI called for “co-operation between the people and the Armed Forces,” and to offset unrest over Indonesia’s economic deterioration raised as a major slogan “For the Maintenance of Civil Order, Help the Police!” This counter-revolutionary policy led directly to the present violence and the Army’s work is undoubtedly facilitated by it.

In return for its aid, “Bung Karno” bestowed cabinet posts and other favors upon the PKI, including outlawing left-wing political opposition (indiscriminately labeled “Trotskyist” by the Maoists). This symbiotic relationship was further illustrated last March, when Communist petroleum workers took control of Standard Vacuum’s refineries at Sungei Gerong and Pendopo. Instead of consolidating these gains and pursuing a program directed toward workers’ power, the PKI allowed the Sukarno government to give back these plants to their imperialist owners. Foreign Minister Subandrio, another “friend” of the PKI, issued apologies to the firms and assured them that “there would be no further embarrassment of Americans” (N.Y. Times, 19 March 1965). Two months later, at the celebration of the 45th anniversary of the PKI, the party chairman D. N. Aidit eulogized His Excellency: “Among Bung Karno. The clear sky above us is witness to it. Thousands of eyes see him. Millions of people are listening to him over the radio and watching him on their TV screens.... Sukarno’s portrait hangs beside those of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin.

Proletarian Leadership

Modern history has amply demonstrated that the outstanding problem facing the international working class is the question of leadership—i.e., the necessity for an international revolutionary party which, on the basis of its program, can lead the working people to the conquest of state power in every country. A further illustration of the counter-revolutionary nature of Maoism and its own version of “Peaceful Coexistence” is China’s cynical support to the recent “palace coup” [the overthrow of Ahmed Ben Bella by Houari Boumedienne] in Algeria (where, unlike Indonesia, Peking does not control the mass party of the poor)—idiotically parroted in the U.S. by the Progressive Labor Party’s judgment that (in spite of Boumedienne’s recent oil give-away to France) the coup was a “revolutionary advance” because of Boumedienne’s rejection of the “Trotskyites,” Yugoslavs, etc., who “surrounded” Ben Bella (China’s former “friend”) and because of his “staunch support” of Peking’s upcoming Afro-Asian Conference (Challenge, 27 July). Mao’s former “ally,” the Indian government, is now an imperialist pawn, as China’s new “friend,” Pakistan, was yesterday, and will be tomorrow. Similar pursuits have led the Mao government to suspend struggle in one country after another while seeking collaboration with capitalist or feudal rulers such as Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia or the “patriotic bourgeoisie” of Japan “against U.S. imperialism.”

Counter-revolutionary Maoism

This line toward Japan, carried out by the big pro-Maoist Japanese Communist Party, has the gravest strategic consequences of all. Japan with its exceptional economic vulnerability and instability, its militant, organized working class and radical student movement, has been ripe for building a mass revolutionary party. At each point Chinese policy has deflected the proletariat from this course. A proletarian revolution in Japan, the industrial powerhouse of Asia, would profoundly alter the relationship of forces upon the whole planet. Such a revolution could only be carried out by a working class acting through soviets, armed and with a conscious party at its head—everything that China is not. Overnight U.S. imperialism’s power in East Asia would vanish; but the Maoist bureaucracy would be swept away in the same revolutionary wave. This at the most fundamental level is the basis for Chinese policy.

Political Revolution

Meanwhile, China’s rotten maneuvers have helped drive all the other deformed workers’ states (e.g., Cuba, N. Vietnam, and now N. Korea), except Albania, at best toward neutrality in siding with the USSR—at China’s expense; for Russia possesses overwhelmingly greater economic preponderance while China offers neither trustworthy military, nor economic, nor political aid. (The N.Y. Times, 13 October 1965, reports that even the feudal Cambodian government now draws back from China on the valid grounds that she has done next to nothing to stop the incessant bombing of her other “ally,” N. Vietnam.) Thus China is now almost totally isolated as she faces U.S. imperialism—a fruit of the Mao bureaucracy’s policies of coexistence with “friendly” capitalist governments and cowardly subordination of the interests of the working people to the special interests of the Maoist national ruling caste. It is no cause of joy to record that once again in the Indonesian betrayals it is proved that Mao & Co. in China, as Stalin and his successors in Russia, systematically undermine the defense of the workers’ states over which they rule. The defense of the Sino-Soviet bloc against imperialism urgently requires the political revolution by the workers in these countries against the ruling bureaucracy which strangles workers’ democracy and economic growth at home and betrays revolutions abroad.

Revolutionary Party

In the United States groups such as Workers World and Progressive Labor, in their inexcusable support of the Sukarno regime and other capitalist governments, have shirked their responsibility to tell the truth to American workers, a necessary prerequisite to building the revolutionary movement in this, or any, country. The substitution of the illusion of automatic, inevitable revolutionary victory through guerrilla warfare (Algeria, Vietnam), or elections (Allende in Chile), or terrorism (Venezuela), or evolution of existing governments (Goulart in Brazil, Indonesia) is characteristic of the anti-working class revisionism of the PKI and the CPs of both Russia and China. Even the peasant-based guerrilla war fought to a victorious conclusion has at best led only to a deformed workers’ state barred from the road to socialism by its bureaucratic leadership. Serious militants and revolutionists must decisively repudiate such methods and direct themselves to the outstanding task of constructing a revolutionary party which can lead the working class to the acquisition of state power.



Workers Vanguard No. 1079

WV 1079

27 November 2015


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