A New Ideological Contestation Emerging in Indonesia? (Article by Max Lane)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
 A long period of ideological vacuum in mainstream politics came to an end in the
lead-up to the 2014 presidential elections and was further confirmed in the 2017
Jakarta gubernatorial elections.
 This was initially reflected in the different stances of 2014 presidential candidates
Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto on issues such as the direct election of the
president and regional heads, and was a reflection of support or opposition to the
political liberalisation that has occurred since reformasi.
 Since the 2014 presidential elections, opposition to political liberalisation has shifted
towards the adoption of religious ideology.
 The weak defence of political liberalisation by President Widodo is manifested in
his policy of making concessions to both sides within the framework of the state
ideology, Pancasila.
  The outcomes at the grassroots level of Widodo’s economic policies will heavily
influence the evolution of this new ideological contestation.

For full article read here.  

The Politics of Wages and Indonesia’s Trade Unions (Article by Max Lane.)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY.
 In 2015, all unions opposed a new regulation on wages that restricted the use of the
dignified standard of living condition.
 In the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial elections, a coalition of unions signed a Political
Contract with one set of candidates who promised wage increases above those
mandated by recent government regulations.
 The new Governor of Jakarta has not adhered to the Political Contract he signed,
causing tensions with some unions.
 Indonesia’s two largest union confederations have now become aligned to
competing political blocs.
 It is likely that there will be no serious union challenge to the new regulations.
However, de-escalated campaigning and strong alignments with existing political
blocs may open up space for some of the many other unions to grow.

For full article click HERE

The Further Erosion of an Indonesian Political Taboo (Article) by Max Lane

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
 On 16-17 September 2017, groups opposed to alternative perspectives on the events
of 30 September 1965 (G-30S/PKI) and its aftermath, mobilised to disrupt a seminar
held in Jakarta.
 These were the same groups that mobilised against ethnic Chinese Christian former
Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in late 2016 to early 2017.
 The mobilisation reflects the political polarization that currently exists between
conservative hard-line groups, and politically progressive groups.
 Although the seminar was stopped, it did nevertheless further the erosion of old
political taboos standing in the way of alternative views reaching wider national
audiences.
 Resistance to the erosion of the G-30S/PKI taboo will continue, even if President
Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s government’s stance on the opening up of public
discussion about 1965 remains ambiguous.

For full article click HERE

New essay (working draft): Indonesia: 1965 and the Counter-Revolution against the Nation.

Indonesia:  1965 and the Counter-Revolution against the Nation.

By Max Lane

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“The impact of the counter-revolution was, however, even deeper than the sum of these combined policies – from mass murder and terror to totalitarian imposed ignorance and passivity. The 1965 counter-revolution was a pre-emptive purge aimed at the prevention of the final unfolding and completion of the revolutions that were brewing: a national revolution as well as a social revolution.”

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Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, of immense geopolitical strategic importance straddling the sea and air lanes between the Indian and Pacific oceans, and with substantial mineral resources. Yet today, and for the last 50 years, its international political presence has been almost zero, including on the Left. The primary reason for this is the 1965 counter-revolution in Indonesia and the consequent radical remaking-cum-unmaking of the country, the nation. On the one hand this counter-revolution produced an Indonesian state and economy that posed no threat to either western or Japanese imperial economic or geo-political interests, and on the other a society whose new post-counter-revolutionary experience would emasculate any progressive class fightback for decades, even until now, and thus also its intellectual and cultural life.

Continue reading “New essay (working draft): Indonesia: 1965 and the Counter-Revolution against the Nation.”

Article Link: INDONESIA AND THE FALL OF SUHARTO: PROLETARIAN POLITICS IN THE “PLANET OF SLUMS” ERA by Max Lane

Published June 2010 in JOURNAL OF LABOR AND SOCIETY

Abstract

This essay summarizes some of the basic features of the “informal proletariat” in Indonesia using the definition presented in Mike Davis’s Planet of the Slums. These include features that flow from the low levels of industrialization of the national economy as well as those related to the day-to-day socioeconomic reality of this specific segment of the urban proletariat. The essay goes on to show that the fact that the “informal proletariat” predominated within the proletariat as a whole facilitated forms of different political mobilization and organization than that usually associated with proletarian politics, such as trade unions, during the period of intensifying political struggle against the authoritarian Suharto government, especially in the 1990s. It also notes how the relationship between radicalizing students, convinced of the idea of “democratic revolution,” as espoused by V.I. Lenin, also facilitated these non-trade union forms of organization. It identifies the interacting relationship between the mobilization of the formal and informal sectors of the proletariat during periods of political struggle as a possible important element of addressing the question as to what extent the informal proletariat might be able to assert political agency.

Get full article here

 

ARTICLE (re-post): WHY YOU SHOULD READ INDONESIA’S “THIS EARTH OF MANKIND” by Max Lane

“In January 2014 Joshua Oppenheimer’s film on Indonesia, The Act of Killing, was nominated for an academy award, reflecting its penetration into mainstream film watching. Many people will be introduced to Indonesia by this vivid study of the country’s ruling lumpen elite. Another, very different, introduction to Indonesia might be reading Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s historical novel Bumi Manusia (This Earth of Mankind).

The English language edition of This Earth of Mankind was published by Penguin in 1983. The sequels to this novel, Child of All Nations, Footsteps and House of Glass, were published over the following several years by Penguin in Australia and the United Kingdom. They were launched into the United States by William Morrow, Hyperion and Penguin in the 1990s. As their translator, I am very pleased to see that they are still in print 30 years later, having had many reprints. The four novels are likely to appear soon as eBooks, Penguin USA having bought the eBook rights. They appear already to be advertised as eBooks for Kindle on Amazon.com.

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Pramoedya’s work has, on the whole, met with critical acclaim in the West, in particular the United States. The publication of other translations followed, such as Silent Songs of a Mute,Fugitive, Girl from the Coast and collections of short stories. In 1992 the New York Times reviewer wrote:

Now comes a book of far greater scope and depth from independent Indonesia’s greatest but still most controversial fiction writer, whose career spans more than 40 years. “This Earth of Mankind,” the first in a cycle of four novels, is the tale of a bittersweet coming of age in Java, Indonesia’s dominant island, almost a century ago. Through it, we are taken back to the days of nascent Indonesian nationalism. But the author is a humanist, not a propagandist, and so his novel is also a wonderful example of the best storytelling tradition of his country.[1]

In 1996, after House of Glass appeared, the Washington Post reviewer wrote:

The Buru Tetralogy is one of the 20th century’s great artistic creations, a work of the richest variety, color, size and import, founded on a profound belief in mankind’s potential for greatness and shaped by a huge compassion for mankind’s weakness.[2]

Jamie James in his article “The Indonesiad” in The New Yorker wrote:

Pramoedya’s masterwork is the Buru Quartet, a cycle of novels set in the final, decadent years of Dutch colonialism in Java. The series follows the life of a revolutionary journalist named Minke. The first native Javanese boy to attend the elite Dutch colonial high school, Minke is full of idealistic notions about European progress. The process of his disillusionment and forging of his Indonesian identity – a new element in the periodic table of history – [forms] the novels’ core. The Buru Quartet is saturated with the gothic gloom and steamy atmosphere of the rain forest. With the publication this month, by William Morrow, of the quartet’s final volume, “House of Glass,” and the paperback reissue, by Penguin, of its predecessors, “This Earth of Mankind,” “Child of All Nations,” and “Footsteps,” American readers can now follow Pramoedya’s saga of Minke – one of the most ambitious undertakings in postwar world literature – from beginning to end.[3]

Continue reading “ARTICLE (re-post): WHY YOU SHOULD READ INDONESIA’S “THIS EARTH OF MANKIND” by Max Lane”

Article: Old Politics Rises to Challenge New Politics in Jakarta by Max Lane

Published Singapore  22 November 2016 in ISEAS Perspectives  CLICK here to read.