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The Indonesian Counter-Revolution

Jack Gale (1981)

From: Betrayal: a history of the Communist Party of Australia;

Published: by Allen Books.

THE Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) claimed 3½ million members in August 1965; its
youth movement another 3 million. The trade union movement SOBSI claimed 3½ million
members. The BTI, the peasants' movement, also PKI-controlled, claimed about 9 million
members; the Communist Party Women's Movement 3 million; LEKRA, the writers' and
artists' movement, had 5 million and the HSI, the scholars, movement, 70,000 members.

Given that there would be considerable duplication a conservative estimate of membership

and support for the PKI would have been some 20 million Indonesians. How was it,
therefore, that in October 1965 somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million members and
supporters of the party were slaughtered after a coup, where almost no resistance was offered
and where hundreds and probably thousands of political prisoners remain rotting in
Indonesian jails to this day?

To understand how this bloody defeat was inflicted on the Indonesian working class and
peasantry, it is necessary to examine the growth and development of the PKI, its relationship
to Sukharno, the nationalist President of Indonesia, the theoretical and political positions of
the PKI leaders and the relationship between the PKI and the rest of the world Stalinist
movement. Of particular relevance is the role of the Communist Party of Australia as the two
parties had close historical links. During World War II, for example, a number of Indonesian
communists took refuge in Australia and were tutored and trained by CPA leaders. Exiled
PKI members from the Tanah Merah prison camp in West New Guinea, made up of long-
term detainees from the unsuccessful 1926 uprising and newer communist detainees had been
sent by the retreating Dutch colonialists to prison camps in Australia for "safe keeping". The
camps at Liverpool near Sydney, Cowra and at Mackay in Queensland soon became centres
for Communist Party activity and organisation.

Rupert Lockwood in his book The Black Armada, describes how quickly the internees sought
out the CPA for support in their work:

The Communist Party of Australia, with its intimate contacts, aiding organisations amongst
the exiles and providing courier services and sometimes finance anticipated the republican
movement ahead of other organisations and political groupings. (Rupert Lockwood, Black
Armada, p 36.)

There was more involved than just providing finance to the Indonesian comrades. The CPA
was responsible also for redirecting the political line of the PKI.

In 1956, after the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, an agreement
was reached between Moscow and Peking that the Chinese Communist Party would take over
responsibility for the training of Australian and South-East Asian cadres. By 1961 more than
100 members of the CPA had attended courses in Peking, and the works of Mao Tse-tung and
Liu Shao-chi became prominent in CPA schools. Tribune reported on July 10, 1963, the visit
of Soepeno of the editorial board of the PKI's daily paper, Harian Rakjat (People's Daily) to
participate in Tribune's 40th anniversary. He paid tribute to the CPA and its assistance during
the war:

At that time (the end of World War II, Ed) our Indonesian Communist Party was not so
strong. We gained strength after our comrades returned from their war time years in Australia
-bearing valuable communist books and pamphlets provided by the Australian Party.

Reported in the same issue is a letter from E.A. Bacon, a member of the Political Committee
of the CPA, who had returned from celebrations of the 43rd anniversary of the PKI. Part of
the letter reads:

Party cadres welcomed me as a brother and discussed their problems freely and frankly with
me. Leading party speakers at every meeting emphasised the importance of fraternal relations
between the two parties and the peoples and gave detailed accounts of the importance of the
fraternal help given by the Australian Party to the Indonesian Party in her times of need. I
found that comrade Laurie Aarons in particular stands very high in the estimation of the
Indonesian Party for the comradely help h as given on his two Indonesian visits.

World War II had seen Japanese imperialism force the Dutch colonialists out of Indonesia,
only in turn to be forced out of Indonesia by the allied forces and the struggles of the
Indonesian resistance movement.

In 1951 D.N. Aidit became secretary-general of the PKI. He declared that the tasks of the
party must be a "struggle against the feudal lords and the compradors who are closely
connected with capital" and their replacement by "a government of the people, of peoples
democracy" . What must be established, he continued,

... is a united front of all anti-imperialist and anti-feudal forces in the country. That is to say,
the working class, the peasantry, the petit-bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie. The task
of this alliance is to bring about not socialist but democratic reforms. (D.N. Aidit, The Road
to Peoples Democracy in Indonesia, p 94.)

Aidit emphasises here the Stalinist theory of two distinct stages in the socialist revolution.
The first involves the establishment of bourgeois democracy and makes it the duty of
communists to sub ordinate themselves, the working class and the peasantry to the interests
of the national bourgeoisie. This was the policy of the Indonesian Communist Party in the
years to follow.

The CPA shared this line from the start. As Rupert Lockwood wrote:

By mid-1944, republican groups, called Indonesian Independence Committees, embracing

PKI members, Muslims and non-affiliated Indonesian groups, were formed semi-secretly.
The slogan was for a republic not for a soviet or a socialist power as in the sectarian days of
1926. The future regime would be a 'democratic republic' that would be 'bourgeois
democratic'. (Lockwood, op cit p 36.)
By 1959 the PKI gave total support to the "guided democracy" of President Sukharno and his
Konsepsi - the perspective of an alliance between the main ideological streams of
nationalism, Islam and communism (NASAKOM).

The missing ingredient in the previous government had been the PKI but in 1965 the
Indonesian Stalinists were eventually granted ministerial positions in the NASAKOM
cabinet, along with the generals. On NASAKOM, Aidit had commented:

We must wave on high the banner of the national front because only in this way can we
concentrate national strength as widely as possible, and waving high the banner of the
national front must mean especially supporting the co-operation of Islamic, Nationalist and
Communist political Aliran, as well as arousing the peasants, the largest group in our country
to take part in the political struggle. (Bintang Merah, Vol XVI, July-August 1960 p 308.)

In 1961 he declared:

Our class struggle takes the form of a national struggle. The basic principle which we must
stand by in pursuing the national struggle is that the class struggle is placed below the
national struggle. (Ever Forward to Storm Imperialism and Feudalism, Jakarta, 1961 pp 19-
20, emphasis added.)

This view was not a new notion devised by Aidit but the direct product of the Stalinist
conception of "two stages": first a bourgeois democratic revolution, then the socialist
revolution. Its bankruptcy was soon to be revealed.

Rex Mortimer, the member of the CPA Central Committee with particular responsibility for
Indonesia, wrote in Communist Review of April 1965:

The national tasks of the Indonesian revolution have been accomplished with extraordinary
success. After a bitter war with the Dutch from 1945-1949 the physical presence of the Dutch
occupiers was removed, and with the liberation of West Irian in 1963 the remaining enclave
was eliminated.

The gross distortion of this analysis is revealed in the next paragraph when he admits that the
".. . social effects of the Indonesian revolution have been in key respects disappointing. The
failure to break the grip of the feudal landlords in the countryside has had adverse effects".
This failure, Mortimer went on, had left the peasants poor and hungry, made improvements in
agriculture impossible and left "the feudalists and their retainers as a powerful source and
bulwark of reactionary forces in the country as a whole".

In other words the essential tasks of the national revolution had not been, and could not be,
achieved under the leadership of the bourgeois nationalist forces in Indonesia. This is
fundamental to the Marxist analysis of the epoch of imperialism as developed by Lenin and
Trotsky. It is impossible to achieve the tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution short of
the socialist revolution and there must be a flowing over of the struggle for national
independence into the struggle for the world socialist revolution.

It follows that the central task is to establish independent revolutionary leadership in the
working class in preparation for the struggle for power, and to give every assistance,
theoretical, political and physical to the national and colonial revolution. What this
perspective means in practice was succinctly summed up by Trotsky in his address on the
tasks before the 12th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in April 1923:

This catastrophe is being prepared in the West and in the East - more slowly than we
expected in 1918. I said 'an in t e East' because while the struggles of the Indians, the
struggles of the Chinese, and the other colonial and semi-colonial peoples (such as Indonesia,
Ed) belong to another historical epoch, a much more backward one than the struggle of the
proletariat for power, yet these two epochs are today united in a single epoch; the Indian is
fighting against the same imperialism which the advanced proletariat of Britain is fighting
against. And, therefore, in the scales of history, in the scales of the Communist International,
the struggle of the oppressed colonial peoples and that of the advanced European proletariat
constitute two parts of one and the same struggle, merely waged with different types of
weapons. For us, therefore, the colonial and national struggle is not an echo from some
ancient epoch which we have half forgotten, but a condition for the victory of the proletarian
revolution throughout the world. (Leon Trotsky, Tasks Before the Twelfth Congress of the
Russian Communist Party)

The PKI, supported and aided by the CPA opposed this perspective.

When Sukharno introduced the concept of "guided democracy" in 1959, bringing together
representatives of political parties and the army in an advisory capacity to the president, Aidit
formulated the following proposition:

The state power of the Republic of Indonesia is a contradiction between two opposing
aspects. The first aspect is that which represents the interests of the people. The second aspect
is that which represents the interests of the people's enemies. The second aspect is embodied
in the attitude and policy of the rightists and diehards .. . But in any case the state ... as a
whole is now led by the forces which represent the interests of the people, or in other words it
is led by the popular aspect. (The Indonesian Revolution, pp 40-42.)

The PKI's struggle with regard to state power is to enable the popular aspect to grow
increasingly strong and to take a dominant position, and on the other hand to exclude from
state power the forces which oppose the people. Such is the content of the people! s demand
for re-organisation (of the state organs) and for a Gotong Rojong (coalition-cabinet with
NASAKOM as the fulcrum. (ibid pp 85-86.)

Here Aidit's and the PKI's view of the relationship of the state to class forces is made clear:
reform the state and gradually increase the power of the progressive elements within the state
bureaucracy and the military. In 1964 in an interview with S.M. Ali of the Far Eastern
Economic Review Aidit declared for the peaceful road to socialism in Indonesia.

When we complete the first stage of our revolution which is now in progress, we can enter
into friendly consultation with other progressive elements in our society, and without an
armed struggle lead the country towards socialist revolution. The chastening effect of the
present stage of the revolution will maintain a kind of revolutionary pressure on Indonesia's
national capitalists. There will be no armed struggle unless there is foreign armed
intervention on the capitalists' behalf. And when we successfully complete our present
national democratic revolution the chances of any foreign power interfering with Indonesia's
international affairs will become extremely remote. (Far Eastern Economic Review, April 16,
This was the recipe for the wholesale slaughter of the PKI in the counter-revolution of
October 1965. In May 1964 Aidit, in the light of later events, was to make a bitterly ironic

Supposing they (the pro-American reactionaries) succeed in wiping out the communists (a
very odious possibility) then the reactionaries will take the stage and the middle elements will
quickly become no more than their errand boys. The best thing for the middle forces is to
follow the advice given by President Sukharno ever since 1926, that is to support
NASAKOM co-operation. (Harian Rakjat, May 6, 1964.)

In late 1964 the peasants started to take over the land and clashes developed with reactionary
elements and the police. In November three peasants in the Bojolali district of central Java
were shot and killed by police. Attacks became more numerous. In February Harian Rakjat at
reported four BTI cadre killed, 43 peasants injured, 50 hectares of peasants crops destroyed
and the houses of BTI cadre and peasants damaged in attacks by right wing Moslems.
Throughout this growth in hostilities, the PKI and the BTI leadership called upon their
supporters to resist provocations and to improve NASAKOM co-operation with other
elements, including the armed forces. At a meeting of the Central Committee of the PKI in
May 1965 Aidit urged the suppression of the peasants' actions on the basis that:

The efforts of these reactionary landlords succeeded because of the mistakes of some party
cadres including those who work among the peasants. In a number of places BTI cadres are
not implementing the directive concerning 'small scale action' that are just, beneficial and
within defined limits. To achieve success, actions must be prepared with an understanding of
the position of the landlord who is the target of the action by organising and consolidating
those who are to take part in the action and by undertaking extensive, profound and
convincing propaganda so that they will succeed in establishing the broadest front involving
more than 90 per cent of the village inhabitants. In several places the BTI cadres, carried
away by their desire to spread the peasant actions, immediately became impatient, indulged
in individual heroism, were insufficiently concerned with developing the consciousness of the
peasants and wanting a definite event, were not careful enough in differentiating and
choosing their targets. (Harian Rakjat, March 10, 1965.)

Aidit was to describe the PKI as the "red thread in the Indonesian national movement".
(Problems of the Indonesian Revolution p 138.)

The Indonesian Communist Party, like their Chilean counterpart and today's Communist
Party of Australia, who describe the state as "large numbers of employees" regarded the army
and the military as being nothing more than peasants or workers. In this they deliberately
ignored Lenin's writings on the nature of the state in which he was at pains to point out that
the state is "bodies of armed men" who operate in the interests of the ruling class.

Yet years after the role of the military had been demonstrated in Indonesia in 1965 and again
in Chile in 1973, Eric Aarons was to write:

The state has large numbers of employees. Most of these, whilst having such privileges as a
certain security in employment, have roughly the same standard of living as people outside,
and feel similar economic pressures. They are parts of bureaucratic structures run from the
top down, with themselves on the bottom. To varying degrees they have to be closely in
touch with ordinary people and their concerns.
Thus, many functionaries of the state can take up similar economic struggles to the people
they 'rule'. They can become 'infected' by similar concerns such as ideas of women's
liberation, opposition to uranium development, antiauthoritarianism, etc ...

These examples may bring out the fact that while the function of the state considered in the
abstract remains the same always, the actual state is prey to all sorts of contradictions. This
creates the possibility for the state to be 'neutralised' or rendered incapable of actually
discharging this or that function under certain conditions. And this becomes the more
possible the more preparation has gone on previously. (The State and Socialism, Australian
Left Review, No 63, March 1978)

How similar this is to Aidit's conception of the state:

.. the important problem in Indonesia now is not how to smash the state power as is the case
in many other states, but how to strengthen and consolidate the pro-people's aspect and to
eliminate the anti-people's aspect. (Indonesia's Revolution, Jakarta, December 1964, p 80.)

Despite constant wrangling between Indonesia's military leaders and the PKI Aidit and other
Stalinist leaders constantly sought to appease, co-operate with and avoid confrontation
between the working class and the military. From 1963 onwards Aidit sought to avoid clashes
between the party's mass activists and the police and stressed the 'common interests' of the
police and the people and developed the slogan 'For Civil Order Help the Police (Harian
Rakjat, July 1, 1964.)

During the upsurge among the peasants in 1963 and 1964 when land was being taken over,
Aidit appealed to "all groups and state forces" to avoid violence. (Harian Rakjat, February
25, 1963.) Despite his having experienced conditions of martial law Aidit was able, when
delivering a lecture to army staff school trainees on March 7, 1964, to refer to the "feeling of
mutuality and unity that daily grows strong between all the armed forces of the Indonesian
Republic and the various groups of Indonesian people, including the communists."
(Revolution: The Army and the Communist Party, cited in Mortimer, op cit p 115.)

A month later when addressing a Naval Academy at Surabaja Aidit went even further and
developed the term "national defence'.

National unity and national defence can become two united weapons if both arc loyal to one
and the same policy, namely the Political manifesto. If national defence is loyal to the general
strategy of the Indonesian revolution, then every one of the armed forces must serve the
revolution) serve the struggle of the Indonesian people. If all of the armed forces are inspired
by this doctrine, the doctrine of oneness between the armed forces and the people, then we
can speak of the doctrine of national defence, that is the doctrine of serving the revolution,
serving the people. The above doctrine must not only play a role in great patriotic actions,
national and international, but also must become the guide in daily work. For example, in
carrying out small operations in training and also in study. (Aidit, Marxism and the
Construction of the Indonesian Nation, Jakarta, 1964, pp 40-45.)

In August 1964 Aidit urged all PKI members to rid themselves of sectarian attitudes" towards
the army, calling on all left wing artists and writers to make the "soldier masses" the subject
of art and literary works and to attempt to stimulate rapport between the troops and the
popular forces. This was called for not from the standpoint of overthrowing the army, but to-
bring about its gradual transformation. He also called upon the patriotic elements in the ranks
of the army to draw the line between themselves and the potentially "alien elements" and
"counter-revolutionaries". In 1965 the PKI was urging the appointment of political cadre and
the establishment of a fifth force of armed workers and peasants. On the occasion of its 45th
anniversary in May 1965 the PKI's Politburo issued the following statement:

The strength of the pro-people's aspect (of state power) is already becoming steadily greater
and holds the initiative and the offensive, while the anti-people's aspect, although moderately
strong, is relentlessly pressed into a tight corner. The PKI is struggling so that the pro-
people's aspect will become more powerful and finally dominate, and the anti-people's aspect
will be driven out of the state power.

The struggle of the revolutionary Indonesian people is carried out by combining people's
revolutionary mass actions from below with revolutionary mass actions by the bodies of the
state from above. (Harian Rakjat, May 7, 1965.)

Aidit announced in a report to the central committee of the PKI in May that the
"NASAKOMisation" of the armed forces could be achieved and that the fifth force could be
established with the co-operation of the armed forces. During 1964 when the confrontation
with Malaysia was at its height it was customary in the cities to see units of volunteers from
factories and offices drilling in military fashion, armed with nothing more lethal than sticks.
Yet during this period Aidit declared to A-BTI national conference:

If the British and US imperialists dare to make an armed attack on Indonesia, then they will
not only lose Malaysia but all of their positions in South East Asia. The whole of South East
Asia will 90 up in flames of revolution and it will certainly not be confined to South East
Asia alone. (Harian Rakjat, September 11, 1964.)

The masses of workers and peasants, impatient for the promised gains of independence to be
passed on, began taking over Dutch and then British enterprises, forcing the Sukharno regime
finally to take the enterprises under state control. Aidit told them to follow the path of
austerity, claiming that "the heart is stronger than the stomach" and "freedom comes before
material welfare". (Set Afire - the Banteng Spirit, pp 13, 3 1.)

Apart from the wartime training which the Communist Party of Australia gave to the
representatives in exile of the PKI, the two parties maintained close links with regular
fraternal delegations visiting each other. Communist Review of July 1949 carried an article
titled Lessons from Indonesia written by a Chinese Communist Party member Sha Ping. It
argued for the two-stage revolution and called on the working class to unite with progressive
sections of the national bourgeoisie in a "united front" against imperialism.

The vanguard of the proletariat, the Communist Party, must be built into a political party of
broad mass character, wholly in concert ideologically, politically and organisationally. This
party must learn to combine the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the practical
revolutionary activity of the people of its country. Only such a party can formulate the correct
political line, principles and policy to lead the people toward victory of the national
democratic revolution. (Communist Review, July 1949.)
Ignoring the real lessons of the victory of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949 the Stalinist
Sha Ping urged the Indonesian communists to follow the course pursued by the Chinese party
in 1926-27.

Then the Chinese Communist Party, under the direction of Stalin and the Comintern
submitted to the discipline of Chiang Kai-shek's bourgeois nationalist Kuomintang and paid
the price for the failure to maintain the independence of the party with the lives of thousands
of members and the virtual destruction of the party. Chiang Kai-shek in 1926-27 and General
Suharto in Indonesia in 1965 demonstrated in bloody fashion that when faced with the
decision to support the interests either of the "people" or of imperialism, the national
bourgeoisie will side with imperialism with which it shares a hatred and fear of the working
class and the oppressed masses. But the Stalinists maintain that there can be an amalgam of
interests between the working class and sections of the national bourgeoisie.

Laurie Carmichael, national committee member of the CPA was asked in October 1977: "Are
you suggesting an alliance between the working class and some sort of national bourgeoisie
or other sections of capital?" He replied:

I don't make that fundamental. What I regard as fundamental is the organisation of the
working class in all sectors of the economy - asserting its authority by way of its mass
movement in action. If it so happens that, in the development of the program, other
opportunities present themselves, then our program and strategy should be designed to
harness opportunities.

No, for example, it can be said that the national bourgeoisie includes BHP. I do not envisage
the possibility of BHP being contained within the counter-strategy about which I am
speaking. (Intervention, No 9, October 7.)

The Peking-oriented Stalinists take this a step further by calling for an alliance of the "Bloc
of Four Classes", the working class, the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie and the national
capitalists in the struggle against imperialism. Today this is extended with the theory that
"Soviet social imperialism" is a greater danger than US imperialism and justifies the
formation of blocs with imperialist countries against the degenerated workers' state of the
Soviet Union.

At no stage did the CPA offer any criticism of the disastrous policies of the PKI and, in fact,
praised the direction in which the party was heading. Communist Review of November 1955
carried a report of a speech to the 6th national Congress of the PKI by the fraternal Australian
delegate, J.R. Hughes, who said:

The Australian Party rejoices in the successes which are attending your struggles against
imperialism and colonialism and for the carrying through of the national democratic

And again it is thanks now to the inspiring and profound leadership given by the Party that
the great Indonesian people have steered a true course through many and varied difficulties ...

The Political Manifesto put forward by the president on your national day has been
interpreted as re-discovering the positive aspects of national revolution, pursuing the idea of
guided democracy, and advancing the president's concept which, excluding the enemies of
the revolution, will unite all the progressive forces in government to fulfil their declared aims.
I understand that your Party has consistently put forward and supported this cause, stressing
that herein lies the path to people's democracy, a new type of government with the power
vested in the people which will open up new vistas for the people as a whole ...

We (the CPA, Ed)are full of admiration for your achievements in this direction and consider
it a useful addition to the international experiences of the working class movement.
(Communist Review, November 1955.)

Hughes went on to say that the study of Marxism and Leninism "applied to the conditions of
your country constitutes a basis that can guarantee that the Indonesian people can build a
mighty national front that will ensure full national independence, democracy, higher living
conditions and peace". (ibid) He equated the legitimate nationalism of a colonial country with
the reactionary nationalism of an imperialist country like Australia. "Both our peoples have
struggled in different ways for the independence of countries. We each love our nation and
seek its full independence." (ibid)

One month later in an official report to the CPA Central Committee. Hughes said:

The Party there (the PKI) sets itself three main tasks:
1. To build a wide anti-imperialist front
2. To build a wide Marxist-Leninist party ideologically, politically and organisationally
united and
3. To work with the government and state forces. (Communist Review, December 1955.)

Describing the party's tailending of the Sukharno regime, which of course the CPA
supported, Hughes said, " .. . the Party puts life and action into the many progressive
pronouncements made by president Sukharno".

From his visit Hughes concluded: "It would seem that there is the basis for long-term co-
operation in the present conditions between the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party
around the

conception of Sukharno's 1945 principle." An "historic joint statement" was signed by the
two parties at the conclusion of the PKI Congress, which for Hughes and the CPA
represented the

... strengthening of the bonds between our peoples and raised higher the banner of proletarian
internationalism, and cemented the friendship of our parties. It has assisted the cause of peace
and demonstrated the concern and leadership of our party for our country and its people.

The CPA never wavered from the counter-revolutionary theory that the "peaceful road to
socialism" was possible in Indonesia and on June 26, 1963 printed a statement from the
Central Committee which maintained that Indonesia's armed forces were a progressive force.

It has been in this struggle and against feudal reaction and armed revolt financed and supplied
by the US and other imperialist powers that Indonesia has built up her own armed forces, not
for expansion as propagated by reaction in Australia. (Tribune, June 26, 1963.)
The PKI had a responsibility to support and participate in the national struggle against
imperialism. But it maintained that this meant also that the army would not move against the
workers and peasants at home. The Stalinists' conception was set out in a statement by the
Trade Union Federation SOBSI.

The SOBSI maintains the viewpoint that the armed forces of the Republic are still the true
son of the popular revolution ... and therefore from the officers down to the NCO's and
soldiers . . . they cannot be drawn into actions which are treacherous to the Republic. Besides,
president Sukharno, who identifies himself with the ' people, possesses a strong influence
over members of the armed forces and he refuses to be a military dictator. (SOBSI May Day
reception speech, Review of Indonesia, Vol 2, June 1960, pp 28-29.)

But if Sukharno was unwilling to be military dictator Suharto certainly was not and he came
to power at the head of the army which in the last months of 1965 murdered between half a
million and I million communists and their supporters.

Commenting on the coup the CPA said:

Internationally the United States has ceaselessly sought to work for an Indonesian puppet
regime that would open the way for its exploitation of the rich archipelago and would support
its strategic intervention in South-East Asia. The notorious CIA was exposed as having
organised, with some British help, the abortive colonial revolt in Sumatra against the central
Indonesian government in 1958. A number of senior Indonesian army officers including Yani
and Suharto, were trained in the USA.

Last week's arrests of CIA agents shows interference was continuing. Mr Rex Mortimer,
central committee member of the Communist Party of Australia (and author of a book titled
Indonesian Communism under Sukharno) who made a study tour of Indonesia last year, said
this week: 'Behind and alongside the army leaders stand a group of exploiters who fear the
growing strength of the Communist Party and its allies. The most powerful are officials who
have waxed rich through the management of the state industrial enterprises, including
industries and estates taken over from the Dutch ' British and Americans. Many of these
officials are themselves army men and notoriously corrupt with close connections with anti-
Sukharno capitalists, officials, landlords and financiers. (Tribune, October 4, 1965.)

During October and November Tribune continued to report on the "serious armed threat to
Indonesia". On October 6, 1965 President Sukharno had issued a call for national unity and
an end to revenge seeking. Not to be outdone, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee
of the PKI distributed a statement to the press which was reported in Tribune:

Having studied the appeal by the supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the
Indonesian Republic, by the leader of the Indonesian revolution, president Sukharno, the
political bureau of the central committee of the Communist Party of Indonesia declares full
support for the appeal and appeals to all party committees and party members and
sympathisers, as well as revolutionary mass organisations led by the PKI members to
facilitate the carrying out of this appeal. (Tribune, October 13, 1965.)

In Tribune of October 27, under the heading "Growing Fears of Outside Meddling Rupert
Lockwood, the then Moscow representative for Tribune relayed the messages from Pravda,
the official newspaper of the Soviet bureaucracy:
Pravda expressed the Soviet People's anxiety to see honoured the October 6 appeals of
president Sukharno and the Indonesian government to normalise the situation and to refrain
from rash deeds which, says Pravda, might break up the Indonesian nation and lead to
chaos ...

It is clear under these conditions the unity of all progressive national forces in Indonesia takes
on a special significance.

This is the reason why all Indonesia's sincere friends cannot but feel concerned over the fact
that a campaign against left wing organisations, the Communist Party included, is being built
up there. We are convinced that the unity and cohesion of all sound, progressive forces
corresponds to the basic interests of the Indonesian people and we hope that neither internal
nor external reaction will be able to destroy this unity and push Indonesia off the road she has
chosen, will be able to divert her from the tasks set by the Indonesian revolution. (Tribune,
October 27, 1965.)

According to Tribune of November 3:

News from Indonesia, though mostly channelled through the army leadership, and therefore,
politically loaded to the right, makes it clear that a deep and complicated struggle has
developed. (Tribune, November 3, 1965.)

As the military and right wing forces proceeded with the slaughter, the Australian Stalinists
issued a statement which is a savage indictment of the theories of the "peaceful road" and
"peaceful co-existence".

Not one single confirmed report of any violence initiated by the Indonesian Communists.

Indeed the only official statement issued by the political committee of the PKI since that date
(October 5) as a directive to the whole party dissociated the party from the September 30
events and called for active support for the presidents policy of calming the situation.

The initiation of armed violence for political purposes is not a method of the communists
whose theory requires the development of mass political action as the basis for revolutionary
change. The use of arms according to communists may be necessary in some situations, but it
is justified only to defend the working class and democratic movement if and when the ruling
class launches armed attacks against them. Such a situation appears to exist in the countryside
of Java now. (Tribune, November 3, 1965.)

Where then was the preparation by the PKI for the defence of the Indonesian revolution, the
defence of the Indonesian working class and peasants who were being subjected to the most
vicious attacks that imperialism could muster? Where were the "close comrades') from the

A statement from the Central Committee secretariat of the CPA issued on December 10
describes the situation in Indonesia as a grave threat to democracy, to Australian security and
to peaceful relations in South-East Asia.
For those reasons Australian communists, extend their firm solidarity to the Indonesian
Communists struggling in defence of their democratic rights and the social and political gains
of all Indonesian working people. (Tribune, December 10, 1965.)

In one of the final comments by the Australian Stalinists on the situation in Indonesia under
the heading The PKI cannot be rubbed out Laurie Aarons, CPA secretary wrote:

The Communist Party of Australia declares its solidarity with Indonesia's communists. It calls
upon all Australian democrats to express their opposition to the growing excesses of militarist
dictatorship, including the forcible suppression of Indonesia's mass trade unions, peasant,
women's and youth organisations ...

Australian-Indonesian friendship and good neighbourly cooperation will best be served by

representative government of all democratic forces. It will be most seriously threatened by
military dictatorship and the repression of democratic forces now going on." (Tribune,
December 6, 1965.)

Despite Aarons' view imperialism in 1965 demonstrated its contempt for the theory of the
"peaceful road to socialism" and "peaceful co-existence".

In a book published in 1974 titled Indonesian Communism under Sukharno - Ideology and
Politics 1959-65, Rex Mortimer came to the conclusion that:

Ingenuity and flexibility were the hallmarks of the PKI ideology in the period surveyed. They
were the cardinal qualities required in the circumstances posing formidable problems for the
communists in their quest for survival and political advance ...

(However) the prospect of a regime in which army power in the Political sphere would be
greatly augmented and officially legitimised, and in which the PKI's fate would necessarily
depend to a large extent on the favour of a wilful and unpredictable president, shook the
confidence of the Communist leaders and provoked the strongest signs of disquiet ever to
appear in the higher echelons of power.

The fate of the multi-million strong Communist Party of Indonesia depended on Sukharno's
decision. This is where the Stalinist theory of two-stage revolution took the Indonesian
working class and peasants.

There is no doubt that both the leaders of the PKI and the CPA were aware of the possibility
of attacks by imperialism and its agencies within the Indonesian bourgeoisie itself. As early
as 1962 Tribune reported that "Dutch, US and other imperialist agencies have undoubtedly
made contact with the 'Darul Islam' murder gangs.

They have sworn to assassinate the president (Sukharno) who has united all the patriotic
elements in the fight to clean the Dutch empire out of West Irian.

Imperialism's hatred of president Sukharno and its desire to get rid of him, have sharpened a
hundred fold by his speech last month of the seventh congress of the Indonesian Communist
Party. (Tribune, May 16, 1962.)

Also in the Central Committee statement issued on December 10, 1965 the CPA said:
Now that the military clique of generals who have seized control are attacking the
achievements of the Indonesian revolution, their main fire is directed at the PKI. Published
evidence from various sources has made it clear that, as early as last August, the plan of the
top generals for a militarist coup against the Sukharno government and its anti-imperialist
.policies was known in Jakarta political circles. (Tribune, December 10, 1965.)

Instead of calling for the PKI and the working class and the peasantry to prepare against the
counter-revolution the Stalinists in both parties remained committed to the peaceful road and
relied completely on Sukharno to stop the military threat.

Nine Years after the coup Rex Mortimer wrote the following "apology" for the policy which
had led to the slaughter:

Every Political strategy requires its fair share of fortune at crucial stages if it is to succeed.
And even the most carefully laid plans and calculations are liable to be set at nought by an
unpredictable event. If the Aidit programme was peculiarly vulnerable, it is by no means
clear that it could have been otherwise. In retrospect the odds seem always to have been
against the communists, even when they were making their greatest advances. (Mortimer, op
cit p 404.)

The Aidit program was "vulnerable" because it was based on the Stalinist two-stage theory
which is presented by Mortimer and the Stalinists as the only one possible.

The fight against this theory and its consequences in practice had been carried out by the
Trotskyist movement, especially after the slaughter of the Chinese Revolution in 1926-27
where the same theory was applied. Trotsky's analysis of the Chinese defeat was tragically
confirmed in Indonesia.

Under the pretext that China was faced with a national liberationist revolution, the leading
role was allotted in 1924 to the Chinese bourgeoisie, the Kuomintang. It was officially
recognised as the leading party. Not even the Russian Mensheviks went that far in 1905 in
relation to the Cadets, the party of the liberal bourgeoisie.

But the leadership of the Comintern did not stop there. It compelled the Chinese Communist
Party to enter the Kuomintang and submit to its discipline. In special telegrams from Stalin
the Chinese Communists were urged to curb the agrarian movement.

The workers and peasants rising in revolt were forbidden to form their own soviets in order
not to alienate Chiang Kai-shek, whom Stalin defended against the oppositionists as a reliable
ally at a Party meeting in Moscow at the beginning of April 1927, that is, a few days before
the counter-revolutionary coup d'etat in Shanghai.

The official subordination of the Communist Party to the bourgeois leadership and the
official prohibition of the forming of Soviets (Bukharin and Stalin taught that the
Kuomintang took the place of Soviets') was a grosser and more glaring betrayal of Marxism
than all the deeds of the Mensheviks in the years of 1905-17. (Leon Trotsky, The Permanent
Revolution, New Park Publications, London, 1962, 1 14.)

China 1925-1927 was the precedent for the Indonesian betrayal of 1965.