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.
(Maaf atas kesalahan dan ketidakjelasan Bahasa. Saya menulis ini langsung dalam Bahasa Indonesia.)
Dalam bahasa Indonesia kata “nation” biasanya diterjemahkan ‘bangsa’ atau ‘nasion’. Sebenarnya kata ini sulit dimaknai dalam situasi-situasi tertentu yang terjadi. Komunitas manusia yang namanya “nation” adalah produk berkembangnnya sistem produksi baru yang bernama kapitalisme di Eropa. Sistem produksi baru ini, yang semakin memanfaatkan teknik produksi menggunakan ilmu teknologi, melahirkan aktor sejarah baru, yaitu kaum pengusaha pemilik alat produksi baru tsb. Kelas sosial ini tidak bisa terima keterbelakangan cara berpikir kaum bangsawan dalam hampir segala hal. Mereka juga tak bisa terima Eropa terbagi2 “kerajaan”2 kecil dimana2, dgn mata uangnya sendiri, bahasanya sendiri, dan segala macam lokalisme yang lain. Kaum pengusaha ini (kaum bourjuis) membangun gerakan bertujuan mendirikan wilayah politik dan pasar yang lebih besar dan luas, dgn bahasa yang sama, dan dengan kebudayaan baru yang menolak keterbelakangan pikiran sistem feodal, baik yg berlaku di kalangan bangsawan maupun rakyat. Rakyat banyak (yg miskin sekali itu) sering juga mendukung gerakan kaum burjuis ini untuk hancurkan feodalisme dan menjadi kekuatan penting dalam prosesnya. Tetapi kemudian dikhianati oleh kaum bourjuis yg memimpinnya. Continue reading “Tentang masalah “nation”.”
The two articles below are 2 of many I wrote during the 1990s on Filipino politics. These two give some insight to the origins of the Workers Party (PM), in the Philippines, whose ideas are inspired by the assassinated leader, Popoy Lagman. Representatives of the PM will be speaking at next year’s Marxism 2013.
See the article at the end of this post by Ben Reid on Lagman’s assassination. I will post more of these early articles between now and Marxism 2013.
The second round vote for the President of Timor Leste has been announced. The two candidates were Lu’olo (Francisco Guterres), a candidate put forward by FRETILIN and Taur Matan Ruak (José Maria Vasconcelos), a non-party candidate, being supported by Xanana Gusmao, current prime minister and president of the political party, National Council for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT). In the first round there were 12 candidates, Lu’Olo and Matan Ruak were the top two scoring 28% and 23% respectively. Other candidates who had relatively strong showings were current president, Jose Ramos Horta, who was a non-party candidate as well as Fernando de Araújo, president of the Democratic Party (PD), and currently speaker of the parliament. The PD has been a member of the current coalition government led by Xanana Gusmao and the CNRT. Both Araujo and President Horta scored similar votes at around 18%.
In the second round Matan Ruak (TMR) won with 61% to Lu’olo’s 39%. (Figures rounded).
This was a very strong win for TMR, beyond what the figures show: however it is a win that still leaves some basic questions unanswered. Below are some notes on based on observations from afar and chats with contacts in TL on the elections, and on the prospects for new emerging forces to play a role.
Reading the results?
The absence of any ongoing, reliable polling processes as well as of an extensive media, including district based media, makes it very difficult for the outside observer (and perhaps also even Timorese political actors) to know for sure what the mass of the population are thinking about politics. The majority of the population lives in rural village communities, more-or-less based on subsistence agriculture, geo-politically separated from the gossip-intense hot house of Dili (and even Bacau). An outside observer, such as myself, is very dependent on information and judgments of Timorese contacts, in whose judgments one has confidence.
Malaysia: Socialists at forefront of changing politics
By Max Lane
On July 29, six leaders of the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) were released from prison, 34 days after their arrest on June 25. Their release was a result of the tremendous sustained and energetic campaign that received broad support, especially in Malaysia. Thirty members of the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) were arrested on charges of “waging war against the king” on June 25, as they were handing out leaflets calling for the resignation of the Malaysian government. Twenty-four were released soon after, but six remained in detention. They were also accused of attempting to revive communism in Malaysia, an accusation based on the fact that in the bus they were using, police found t-shirts with pictures of Ching Peng, the former chairperson of the now defunct Communist Party of Malaysia (MCP), which led a guerrilla war against British colonial rule in the 1950s and 1960s.
After being released on day seven of their arrest on the above charges, they were rearrested on the spot under an Emergency Ordinance. The formal justification for this was changed twice – the last version claimed that they were a threat to public order and accused of being the organisers of a demonstration for electoral reform. They were kept in solitary confinement, subjected to long interrogations, denied serious access to lawyers and family and physically abused, including hours-long standing interrogations. Two detainees were taken to clinics due to heart conditions.