Indonesia: 1965 and the Counter-Revolution against the Nation.
By Max Lane
“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.”
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.
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.
“Banyak para sarjana, intelektual, maupun kaum muda Indonesia yang fasih berbicara mengenai sejarah pemikiran Yunani kuno hingga Eropa modern. Namun, ketika membicarakan sejarah bangsanya sendiiri, mereka gagap atau cuma mengikuti teks-teks historis maupun sastra arus utama sehingga gagal mengenali negerinya sendiri.
Setidaknya, itulah inti kritik yang dilontarkan Max Lane, seorang Indonesianis asal Australia dan sosok yang kali pertama menerjemahkan Tetralogi Pulau Buru Pramoedya Ananta Toer ke dalam bahasa Inggris.
Tetralogi Pulau Buru, adalah sebutan beken untuk empat roman karya sastrawan terbesar Indonesia tersebut: Bumi Manusia, Anak Semua Bangsa, Jejak Langkah, dan Rumah Kaca.
Orang-orang terdahulu, mereka berjuang dan berkorban untuk mendapatkan kemerdekaan secara susah payah. Tapi setelah merdeka mau apa? ” kata Max dalam diskusi peluncuran bukunya ”Indonesia Tidak Hadir di Bumi Indonesia” di Galeri Cipta III, Taman Ismail Marzuki, Cikini, Jakarta Pusat, Sabtu, 12 Agustus tahun lalu.”