Ernest Germain

The Kremlin Finally Considers The Counterrevolution In Indonesia

Source: From World Outlook, 19 January, 1968, Vol. 6, No. 2, Paris and New York City.
Written: January 1968.
Translated: by World Outlook.
Transcrition & Marked-up: by David Walters for the Marxists’ Internet Archive 2009.
Public Domain: Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

It has taken more than two years for the pro-Moscow tendency in the international Communist movement to express a general opinion on the counterrevolution in Indonesia. To do so the Kremlin had to manufacture a split-off – a very small one evidently – from the Communist Party of Indonesia called “The Marxist-Leninist Group of the Indonesian Communist Party.” And in its issues of December 9 and 11, 1967, the French Communist party daily l’Humanité offers us the key passages of an “appeal” emanating from this “Group.”

Were the PKI’s Analysis and Strategy Correct?

The “Appeal of the MarxistLeninist Group of the PKI [Partai Kommunis Indonesia – Communist Party of Indonesia]” states that at the time of its fifth and sixth congresses the PKI had “correctly defined Indonesian society in its present stage as a colonial and semifeudal society” and that it was right to “adopt a tactic of developing the revolutionary struggle gradually and with circumspection.” (l’Humanité, December 12, 1967) It follows from this that according to this group the PKI leadership was correct in participating in the Sukarno government.

Basing themselves on such an analysis, they are obviously incapable of understanding the profound reasons for the PKI’s defeat. If it was correct to characterize the Sukarno government as a national-bourgeois government not belonging to the counterrevolutionary camp, how should generals Suharto and Nasution have been judged, who participated in this same government alongside the Communist leaders they later murdered?

The Appeal of the Marxist-Leninist Group criticizes Aidit’s policy, declaring that “we paid less and less attention to extending revolutionary mass action, we practiced close collaboration with the bourgeoisie and thereby we gradually lost our political independence.” (l’Humanité, December 12, 1967) Very good. But how was it possible at one and the same time to participate in the Sukarno government and not practice class collaboration with the so-called national bourgeoisie? How was it possible to seek to extend revolutionary mass action and at the same time to seek a united front with the national bourgeoisie which would not accept such actions at any price?

In fact, did not the PKI begin in 1964 to organize ever broader peasant mobilizations around land occupations and were not these mobilizations halted because Sukarno demanded it? Was not this the real turning point of the Indonesian revolution which divided its ascendant phase from its phase of decline?

The luckless authors of this Appeal of the Marxist-Leninist Group are in no position to trace the PKI’s errors back to their source, for in so doing they would put in question not only Aidit and his companions in struggle and Mao and his group who endorsed their errors until the last, but also Khrushchev and the Twentieth and Twenty-Second congresses of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the new program of the CPSU and the whole Stalin-Khrushchev tradition of the “gradualist” “strategy of stages” for the revolution in the colonial and semicolonial countries.

For, after all the tragic error committed by the PKI leadership was not a new one. It was committed before by the leaders of the Brazilian CP. It was committed by the leaders of the Iraki OP under Kassem. It was committed by the Chinese CP in 1927. The basis of this error is well known and has been denounced many times by the international Trotskyist movement: it is the concept that the historic tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution which is on the order of the day in these countries can be accomplished by forces other than the proletariat allied to the poor peasantry and led by its revolutionary party. It is the concept of a “bloc with the national bourgeoisie.” It is the concept that there are “intermediate” kinds of state between a bourgeois state and a workers’ state, a “national-democratic state,” a state of dual nature, as the unfortunate Aidit said.

It was this concept which cost a half million Communists, workers and poor peasants in Indonesia their lives just as it previously cost hundreds of thousands of victims in the Arab countries, in Latin America and in China. But the Indonesian so-called Marxist-Leninists, who are prisoners of a Menshevik theory of “revolution by stages,” dare not say a word about any of this. For the source of these catastrophic notions lies in the Kremlin, and it is impossible to denounce them without denouncing Stalin, Khrushchev and the program adopted at the TwentySecond Congress of the CPSU.

Was the “Indonesian Tragedy Caused by the Fact that the PKI Lined Up with Peking

Since they dare not expose the theoretical and practical source of their defeats, the pro-Kbrushchevist IndonesianCommunists obviously need a scapegoat and this appears in the person of the Peking leadership.

The authors of the Appeal are correct when they say that the “Chinese comrades were fully content to play on the positive and negative sides of President Sukarno.” (l’Humanité, December 12, 1967) It is true that the Chinese leadership took complete responsibility for Aidit’s opportunist line and his systematic subordination of the PlC to the bourgeois leadership of Sukarno. If any more proof is needed of Mao Tse-tung’s personal responsibility for this opportunistic support, it can be found in the message which Mao sent to the PKI Central Committee on May 20, 1965 (six months before the victory of the counterrevolution!) on the occasion of the party’s forty-fifth anniversary.

In this message he declared that the “Central Committee of the Communist Party of Indonesia, with Comrade D.N. Aidit at its head, have applied and developed Marxist-Leninism skillfully [sic] and creatively in the light of their own country’s revolutionary experience,” and that they have “determined their revolutionary line and policy in full independence, in conformity with the fundamental interests of the Indonesian people and are leading the revolutionary struggle in Indonesia from victory to victory [sic!].” He also proclaimed the revolutionary unity of the Chinese CP and the PKI and declared that he would stand “unflinchingly” at the side of the CC of the PKI. (Pekin Information, Vol. 3, No. 22, May 31, 1965, p. 6)

Those who emphatically proclaim that revolutionists must “completely submit” to Mao Tse-tung’s thought, accept its “complete supremacy,” “without reserve,” will have some difficulty in claiming that the task of the Indonesian Communists in May 1965 was not to follow Mao’s appeal. This appeal enjoins them in fact to enter on the road which led to a terrible disaster: the murder of 500,000 revolutionists and men of the people by the triumphant counterrevolution!

But this being said, if the Kremlin and its Indonesian spokesmen have an easy time in denouncing Peking’s responsibility in the Indonesian defeat – Peking endorsed Aidit’s errors both to buy the alliance of the PKI against Moscow and for the purpose of “exploiting” Sukarno’s demagogic sallies against the UN and British imperialism – this denunciation serves as packaging for some more than defective merchandise.

Indeed, how did Peking influence the PKI leadership in a bad direction? Essentially as follows, if we are to believe the declaration of the Marxist Leninist Group. The “Indonesian revolution was made into the proving ground for this party’s [the Chinese CP] adventurist policy ... The subjective notion that the revolution would triumph only by the armed road exercised a hypnotic influence over us: we abruptly modified our revolutionary orientation in the wrong direction. This ‘left’ revisionist position became, so to speak, the theoretical prelude to the tragic adventure known under the name of the ‘30th of September Movement’” (l’Humanité December 9, 1967).

In other words, the Chinese CP was responsible for the Indonesian defeat because it turned the PKI’s policy to the left in an adventurist manner and in favor of armed struggle: such is the judgment of the Kremlin and its Indonesian spokesmen!

But what is the picture that emerges from the description of the events immediately preceding Lieutenant Colonel Ilntung’s abortive attempt at insurrection? If we are to believe l’Humanité in its issue of December 11, 1967, the council of generals led by Nasution and Suharto had indeed set up a conspiracy to seize power. The economic crisis was deteriorating. “The revolutionary and progressive forces had more than once tried to find a solution but their efforts were in vain because of [sic] the sabotage of domestic reaction, the unprecedented increase in military credits the waste of public funds, etc., etc.” (ibid.) These “difficulties” aroused general discontent.

In other words, the shaky equilibrium among the classes on which Sukarno’s Bonapartist government rested, with the aid and assistance of the PKI, was breaking up. The PKI leaders and their prompters in Moscow and Peking noted with consternation that the reactionaries within the country were sabotaging the revolution. (They doubtless expected that one day a revolution would triumph not in spite of the sabotage of domestic and foreign reaction but with its support!) Their policy had reached an impasse, and the reactionaries took advantage of it to overturn the Sukarno regime to their profit – that is the meaning of the generals’ plot.

Trapped in their policy of a united front with the “national bourgeoisie,” Aidit and his friends saw too late that they were in danger of being crushed. They made a last minute turn toward a revolutionary mobilization of the masses (the appeals launched at the time of the celebration of the forty-fifth anniversary of the PKI and at the time of the Congress of Agricultural Labor Unions, which the Marxist-Leninist Group scarcely mentions). But while these appeals caught the attention of the masses and speeded up thepreparations for the counterrevolutionary coup d’etat, they were not accompanied by any systematic preparation for an uprising or for armed struggle, not even with the object of self-defense.

That is why the progressive officers made a last desperate attempt -which had no chance of success – to retrieve the situation. That is why the P11 cadres let themselves be arrested and massacred by the thousands without resistance, creating immense demoralization among the rank and file.

The fundamental cause of this was the false theory of “the nationaldemocratic state,? and the lack of understanding of the nature of the Indonesian state and army, which completely paralyzed the proletariat and the poor peasantry at the decisive moment. “Adventurism” and “putschism” were but side effects of this fundamental course caused by desperation. And the authors of the Appeal of the Marxist-Leninist Group are scarcely in position to question this course, which was not primarily owing to the Chinese CP!

There Was No Need to Take Up Arms

What is much worse, the authors of the Appeal of the Marxist-Leninist Group state that Suharto and Nasution’s plot could have been foiled by “a common front of struggle against the council of generals, Indonesia would have seen immense political progress, the national progressive forces would have been consolidated and a government of cooperation [sic], the goal of a prolonged strugle, would have been formed.” (l’Humanité, December 11, 1967) It seems like a dream!

Here we have the generals, controlling the most hardened and best equipped divisions in the army, preparing a coup d’etat for October 1–2, getting ready to arrest and no doubt murder the Communist and progressive leaders. How is this plot to be foiled? By a general mobilization and arming of the masses? No, reply the Indonesian Jthruschevists, this would exhibit “excessive revolutionary zeal [sic], a desire to win at the fastest rate, an unjustified attempt to force the advent of the revolution.” (l’Humanité, December 11, 1967.) No, it is better to establish a “front of struggle” – peaceful, of course. With whom? With Sukarno and his confederates? But this “front” had existed for long years. The “government of cooperation” also was already in existence.

It was precisely because this “front” and this “government” were paralyzed and the masses were beginning to turn away from them that the reactionaries ventured to prepare a coup d’etat. The idea that a coup d’etat can be foiled by “peaceful coexistence,” by appeals for “cooperation,” or by purely verbal violence is, as the entire history of class struggles teaches us, a utopia. The Nasution-Suharto plot could only have been foiled by the most extensive mobilization and arming of the masses, by audacious revolutionary initiative, by calling for land occupations and the desertion of the soldiers of the reactionary divisions. But that is just what Sukarno did not want. The Khrushchevists did not want it either. That is why their defeat was inevitable.

Incapable of drawing the lessons from this defeat, the Khrushchev rightists of the PKI declare even today that “the party must return to the right road, which is that of creating a front of national union. It is important to extend the party’s influence throughout the masses of the people, using all forms of struggle, legal [sic] as well as illegal.” (l’Humanité, December 11, 1967) And what is their aim? Is it dividing up the land, agrarian revolution, which is the basic demand of the immense majority of the Indonesian population? No! It is the conquest of “democratic rights and social progress,” it is fighting for Indonesia to remain [sic] in the anti-imperialist and peace camp and maintain [sic!] its good relations with the socialist countries. (l’Humanité December 11, 1967.)

Here the ridiculous vies with the odious. I have seldom read such scandalous prose from the pen of “Communists.” In reading these lines, one wonders what country they apply to: Is it perhaps that comfortable “neutral” little bourgeois-democratic land of Finland, where the CP has been collaborating in the government and has pushed through a devaluation lowering the living standard of the masses? But they do not apply to a country with a bourgeois-democratic regime, where such a line, while still ultraopportunist, reformist and class collaborationist in character, would retain an appearance of “realism” in the short run. No, they apply to Indonesia, a country groaning under a ferocious dictatorship, where 500,000 Communists have been massacred, where other hundreds of thousands are in prison, whose corrupt leaders, open and avowed agents of imperialism, junket around the world begging for capitalist investment and imperialist credits. They apply to a country where the best Communists have developed the only possible response to the ferocious terror, guerrilla warfare, with the political support of Peking (which confirms the fact that there is indeed a difference between the line of Peking and that of Moscow as regards their revolutionary potential in the concrete international reality of today – whatever the majorweaknesses in the Maoist position). And this country must “remain” in the “anti-imperialist camp#8221;?

The editors of l’Humanité seize avidly on this revolting document, suddenly seeing in it a weapon against the Cubans and OLAS [Organization of Latin-American Solidarity]. They conclude (l’Humanité December 11, 1967) that the “use of armed forces is not by itself sufficient to guarantee success. Quite the contrary, inasmuch as it is not conformable with the conditions and circumstances of the different countries, it can lead to failure and setbacks. Such is [sic] the case of Indonesia.”

The American weekly Newsweek (December 25, 1967), gives us a succinct and very impressive description of the case of this Indonesian regime with which it is necessary to “peacefully coexist” and which it is necessary to “keep in the anti-imperialist camp.” It published an account of a recent massacre of the Chinese population on the island of Kalimantan (Borneo) which described how the heads of murdered men, women and children lay everywhere.

Fifty thousand Chinese refugees are confined in concentration camps. They try to sell their children to the rare passers-by in order to save their lives. But the Kremlin sages tell us that only the “peaceful” road will be successful against these bloody monsters, as Hitler’s example taught us all.

True, the same issue of Newsweek explains how the Indonesian army uses Soviet helicopters to support its antiguerrilla activities. That doubtless explains it.

Last updated on 29.12.2011