It was a big room, as hotel rooms go. That hotel was famous for its large rooms. Big beds also. It was in the centre of Jakarta. On the roof was a very big swimming pool. But no garden surrounds, just concrete. Good for swimmers, but not for those who wanted to muck around in the water and occasional rest by the pool. Arid and concrete.The big room was meant for, as usual, two people. A double bed meant a couple, usually. Or just a lone person. When the door opened, after I knocked with the proper code, at first I couldn’t see how many people there were inside. Too much cigarette smoke. My eyes hurt and my throat itched. I thought immediately that the next few hours, no matter how interesting politically, was going to be torture physically.
This was in Jakarta, 199x. Suharto was still dictator.
The laying of criminal charges under the Intelligence Services Act 2001 against Witness K and lawyer Bernard Collaery in relation to their exposure of the Australian government’s reprehensible bugging of the East Timorese government’s cabinet room is a case of a defeated and wounded elitist white imperialism lashing out at somebody at home because they can’t do it to the people who humiliated them: the leadership and people of Timor Leste. Of course, no doubt they also see it as a warning against others who might dare try to expose the criminal activity of the Australian state. But don’t under-estimate the resentment of humiliation and defeat that Australian imperialism has experienced at the hands of Timor Leste. The first court hearing is scheduled for July 25 in Canberra. If they are convicted, the maximum sentence is two years gaol.
I hitch-hiked from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur in Malayisa, and then on to Ipoh, in 1970. This though wasn’t my first venture into hitch-hiking.
I started hitch-hiking when I was in high-school. I was a young boy living in the western suburbs of Sydney who read adventure stories, the best of which were, of course, this by Robert Louis Stevenson. But I read stories from the 20th century also. Hitch-hiking was the closest I could get to an adventure. I hitch-hiked around New South Wales sleeping over mainly in youth hostels. It was fun. There were no really big adventurous moments, although a few things do still remain vivid in my mind. I saw my first fully naked woman on one trip. I got a lift for a long stretch of driving coming back into outer western Sydney. The driver was a merchant sailor who had just visited his parents in the country and now he was on his way to see a friend. Perhaps, I thought, the kind of friend that a sailor has in every port. It turned out that the lady friend in question lived in a caravan park. We parked near the caravan and the sailor-man entered straight into the caravan calling out his friends name. She appeared wearing a gown that was obviously very deliberately open. She wasn’t aware that her friend had a 16 year old hitch hiker with him. Anyway, she did up her gown and we the three of us sat down around the caravan table and had tea and biscuits. I then got a lift from the same driver to the nearest railway station and caught the train back to Fairfield.
It was a map of Bali. It was one of those cheap topographic maps, made primarily for ornamentation rather than as an actual map. It was hung on the wall. I could see Denpasar, Bali’s capital, and the great volcano, Mount Agung that had erupted seven years before in 1962. Other mountains, rivers, lakes and towns were also easily discernible, even while I sat on the sofa across from the wall. To my right was a glass floor to ceiling wall through which I could see the green and colours of a tropical garden: yellows, and whites, and rich maroons. But the map hanging on the wall was large and spectacular enough to dominate this small sofa alcove inside the Bali Beach Hotel on Sanur Beach, the only international hotel in Bali in 1969.
In my June 20 post on the escalation of ideological warfare in the United States, I argued that the propaganda offensive by the Trump alliance in defense of their policy of separation of children from parents crossing into the US without documents was aimed at achieving a “we win, you lose” outcome: a decisive victory. I observed that the only resistance to this was from the left of the Democratic Party. The most recent developments need to be explained with some further elaboration of these propositions.
The United States, under Trump and likely for the foreseeable future, is on a dominate-the-world-totally (and space) trajectory. This is a consequence of the economic situation where imperialism (as the highest stage of capitalism) is now confronted with intensifying contradictions, whose symptoms are the various crisis on the imperial periphery of Southern Europe and the two temporary collapses since 1997. The capitalists at the center of contemporary imperialism, in the USA, need to achieve the most intense monopoly conditions for themselves possible. This requires maximum political dominance worldwide, both vis-a-vis the 3rd world, including the large 3rd world countries as well as the other imperialist countries (the EU, Japan, Australia, New Zealand) and also Russia.
“Suharto came to power in 1965 in events that brought this contestation to an end, by burying it via a genocidal wave of systematic mass killing and terror, repression, and a drastic dictatorship over historical memory. The 33 years of Suharto’s rule, therefore, in some ways represents 100% of the existence of the nation-state now known as Indonesia. Of course, this 100% is not 100% true. There are buried legacies in the memories of past struggles, many recorded in literature and political writings, and indeed also in the string of struggles since 1965, especially that of 1989–1998, which ended the dictatorship. Buried legacies that need to be dug up: are being dug up.”