Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country in the world. It was also the birthplace of the largest Communist party that ever existed outside the Soviet Union and China in the 1960s. Up to its violent decimation in 1965 the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) organised millions of workers, peasants and students. The purpose of the massacre of 1965-1966, when extreme right wing militias, with the help of the army and the intelligence officers of the CIA killed between one million and one and a half million Communist party members and left activists was to frighten the masses into passivity and submission. It also had the aim of obliterating the traditions of class struggle, the burning desire for socialist change, and the very memory of Marxist ideas albeit of the distorted Stalinist version.
For a whole period the dictatorship of Suharto succeeded in this task. But although this lasted for several decades it was still only a temporary phenomenon. Under the iron grip of a brutal dictatorship the class contradictions continued to develop. Finally, in May 1998 a massive uprising starting first with the youth of Indonesia, and then supported by the poor, the workers and the small peasants succeeded in overthrowing the hated regime.
Thus began the era of ‘reformasi’ (reform). There were many illusions that a new era had begun, that now there would be fundamental change. Many were deceived by the outer trappings of formal bourgeois “democracy”. However, the bourgeoisie remained in power, although with a democratic facade. The army is still a powerful force. To many left wing activists and the masses in general, the blood of the heroes of May and November 1998 seems to have been shed in vain. The hopes of social change have not materialised. Frustration is widespread.
But that is only one aspect of the situation. Society has remained fundamentally the same, a class society with terrible exploitation. Therefore the spirit of revolt has remained alive, in spite of the disappointments. The spate of strikes and protests has not ceased since 1998. This is accompanied by a painstaking search by the most conscious activists for ideas, Marxist ideas which can help to understand those events.
This layer has been trying to reassemble the pieces that were broken back in 1965-1966. Some of the pieces that were broken back then, the Stalinist policies and the ideological framework of Stalinism, do not deserve to be reassembled. Many understand that now.
Our task has been, and continues to be, to give today’s revolutionary youth and workers of Indonesia the necessary tools which will help them to grasp the essence of Marxism, freed from its Stalinist perversions and also its bourgeois falsifications. The International Marxist Tendency around www.marxist.com ever since the fall of Suharto has played a modest but concrete role in the process. With the help of Indonesian activists we are now proud to be able to present another major contribution towards accomplishing this task: the first version in Bahasa Indonesia of Reason in Revolt.
Now, for the first time ever, left-wing activists in Indonesia will have access to a profound explanation of dialectical materialism, the algebra of the revolution. Up to now, only a caricature of so-called “dialectical materialism” was accessible to activists in Indonesia. This was that dry, mechanical and un-Marxist ‘MDH’, the Indonesian version of the “Diamat” learned by rote in the schools of the former Soviet Union.
We want to thank the comrades who have worked so hard to achieve this colossal task, especially the translator who on his own has taken up this challenge of translating the work of Alan Woods and Ted Grant into the beautiful Indonesian language. Our gratitude goes also to the Institute of Research and Empowerment, the publishing house of Reason in Revolt based in Yogyakarta who have made the launching of this book possible.
The book was formally presented on February 20th at the Gadja Mada University in the presence of known left wing intellectuals. On this website, www.ireyogya.org, you will find details of how to purchase the book in Indonesia.
Shortly we will also start the online publication of this book. Every week up until the summer we will publish a new chapter. The Indonesian book also comes with a new introduction by Alan Woods. For our international readers we present it here in English.