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Catastrophe in Indonesia

by Max Lane Seagull Books
Pub Date:
Hbk 86 pages
AU$33.99 NZ$34.77
Product Status: Not Our Publication - we no longer distribute
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In 1965 Indonesia had the largest communist movement in the world outside of the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China. Indonesian President Sukarno supported the movement and was edging Indonesia towards socialism, when a mutiny coordinated by D. N. Aidit, chairperson of the Indonesian Communist Party, was launched on the last day of September 1965, and the backlash destroyed the movement. As Max Lane describes in Catastrophe in Indonesia, though this attempt to replace the anti-communist army leadership was organized without the knowledge of the communist party, the army launched a subsequent propaganda campaign against the communist movement. Consequently, the government collapsed, opening the way for an extremely violent uprising in which over one million people were killed and tens of thousands imprisoned. All left-wing ideas and activities were banned—and remain so today.

In Catastrophe in Indonesia, Lane probes this massive and complicated collapse of communism, providing a thorough and knowledgeable explanation of how the movement’s leadership trapped itself in such a disastrous situation. As well, he brings the story up to the present, analyzing the overall impact on Indonesian politics and the re-emergence of a new Indonesian left today.

The Crash of the Left in 1965

Opportunity and Pretext

Indonesia’s Unique Political Landscape

Rapid Radicalization of the Masses and Rapid Militarization of the Bourgeoisie

Contradictions in Tactics

Guided Democracy

Features of the Guided Democracy Landscape

The Rituling Trap

Rituling’s Fundamental Flaws

Rituling, Elections and a Confrontation with the Army

1965: Intensification of the Struggle

Returning to 30 September

Indonesia’s New LeftNotes

Max Lane is an independent scholar and activist with forty years of experience of Indonesian and left-wing politics. He has translated Indonesian literature by Pramoedya Ananta Toer and W. S. Rendra and is the author of Unfinished Nation: Indonesia Before and After Suharto.