Let us unite to overthrow the pro-imperialist government of SBY-Boediono and the rotten political elite. Replace them with a United Government of the Poor!
It has been 12 years since the Suharto dictatorship was toppled, overthrown not by the gun, or an elite conspiracy, but by the power of the mobilised people. But after 12 years of reformasi or political reform, power is still not in the hands of the people, rather it is in the hands of the rotten political elite: the fake reformists and the remnants of the Suharto’s New Order regime. Does this mean that Suharto’s overthrow in May 1998 was meaningless?
No! Absolutely not! The overthrow of Suharto on May 21, 1998 had great significance for the revolutionary process in Indonesia. This is true despite the fact that Suharto’s overthrow through mass mobilisation has NOT YET been able to replace the power of the bourgeoisie, and instead the fake reformists and the remnants of the New Order have returned to power with a different face, although the substance is the same, the oppression of the people by the agents of imperialism.
The significant meaning of Suharto’s overthrow as part of the unfinished revolution was: a dictatorship was able to be OVERTHROWN by the UNITY and the MOBILISATION OF THE PEOPLE, albeit (only) through populist demands (corruption, collusion and nepotism). May 1998 is clear evidence that MASS ACTION is tangible form of people’s power that organises its resistance; an endeavour to liberate the people from their consciousness as “slaves”, the “little people” and the “poor”. It was from the momentum of Suharto’s overthrow that MASS ACTIONS became a CULTURE, a WEAPON, an effective method of mass struggle, albeit one that is spontaneous in character.
Suharto’s overthrow heralded a process of political openness ensued and democratic space began to open up, although not fully. Liberation was discussed freely, although not infrequently there have been bannings and attacks. But discussions, the freedom to associate and express opinion, and organise, no longer has to be carried out stealthily as it was when Suharto was in power.
The configuration or structure of the political elite has also become more fragmented, there is no longer a single element bourgeoisie that is DOMINANT, as was the case during the Suharto era. Moreover an anti-militarist sentiment has been awakened among the people, although not yet fully realised.
But, these positive results have not yet been able to produce radical, genuine reform – this is the objective limit of the historical dialectic. This is of course because the ordinary people and the newly emerging movement have only just become acquainted – or reacquainted – with political mobilisation and mass action, organisation, books and the theory of struggle, as well as unity, after it was de-ideologised, de-politicised and de-organised during the 32 years of the New Order regime. This is especially so as the progressive movement is so small, and does not have strong overarching strategy (to converse widely with the ordinary people), so political HEGEMONY continues to be controlled by the fake reformists.
Today, 12 years after of the blood of democratic crusaders was spilt by blows of rifle butts and the muzzle of a gun, the people are still oppressed and impoverished by a new dictatorship: the dictatorship of capital, the dictatorship of imperialism. Yes, it is the fake reformists and the remnants of the New Order regime that now deliver imperialism to this country, who serve up the country’s abundant wealth and human resources to be sucked dry, exploited to fill the pockets of rich corporations. This is facilitated through the natural resources law, the foreign investment law, public order bylaws, the electricity law, the oil and gas law, the forestry law, the taxation law, the law on special economic zones, land release bylaws and other regulations that legitimise the appropriation of the country’s natural wealth for imperialism.
And the country’s rotten political elite don’t just impoverish ordinary people, they has also begun to narrow democratic space and betray the minimum demands of the 1998 reformasi movement. This is easy to see:
1. Not one case of human rights violations (the shooting of student protesters at the Trisakti University in May 1998, the Semanggi I and Semanggi II fatal shooting of students demonstrators in 1998-99, the shooting of Muslim protesters at Haur Koneng and Tanjung Priok, the massacre of as many as 1 million communists and left wing sympathisers when Suharto seized power in 1965 or the corruption committed by Suharto and his cronies has ever been brought to trial.
2. There has been no steps whatsoever to disband the Indonesian military’s (TNI) territorial command structure, which mandates the deployment of military command posts and detachments at all levels of the civil administration (Kodam – Regional Military Command, Korem – Military Command at a level below the residency, Kodim – District Military Command, Koramil – Sub-District Military Command (Kecamatan) level and Babinsa – noncommissioned military officer posted in villages and wards and affiliated with the civilian administration). It has instead become further implanted and extended in several provinces.
3. They have begun to stifle democracy, the freedom of opinion and expression, as shown by recently enacted laws such as the freedom of information law, the draft law on state secrets, the draft law on broadcasting, the draft law on the press, the draft law on state intelligence, proposed changes to the labour law and the anti-pornography law, as well as the banning of books by the Attorney General’s Office.
4. In terms of living standards, the price of basic commodities continues to rise and job opportunities are further shrinking with the bankruptcy of the national industry, farming and agriculture due to economic liberalisation.
Given the fact above then, is the regime of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Boediono (SBY-Boediono) the same as Suharto’s New Order? Such a conclusion is pragmatic and simplistic. The New Order was built on the pillars of restricting democratic space (the dual function of the armed forces, the packet of five repressive political laws, corruption, collusion and nepotism and so forth) and restricting the freedom of capital or monopolising sectors of the economy for the benefit of Suharto and his cronies.
The current political and economic system meanwhile is integrated with the market, so it facilitates appropriation, which equates with less monopolisation by the state. The contraction of democracy is a logical consequence of imperialism. The opening up of markets, the freedom to exploit on a national scale requires laws that safeguard such economic policies, without which economic liberalisation will not succeed. Or in other words, economic stability requires a relative political stability. Relative political stability means stabilising the economy within the limits that benefit economic liberalisation. Because of this therefore, the current contraction of democratic space cannot be equated with the New Order dictatorship, particularly in political and economic terms where there is absolutely no element of the bourgeoisie that is dominant.
The principal factors for the lack of a dominant element of the bourgeoisie in this country are:
1. Post 1998, anti-militaristic consciousness remains deeply imbedded in society.
2. Increasingly, the ordinary people no longer believe that fake reformists and the remnants of the New Order will to bring them prosperity. As a consequence the political influence of the rotten political elite is declining (as shown by the increase in golput (to abstain from voting or not mark the ballot paper in the 2004 and 2009 elections).
3. A growing portion of dominant capital is controlled by international corporations, while companies controlled by the national bourgeoisie are increasingly paralyzed and in a state of collapse, because of their low level of productivity.
4. Although Yudhoyono’s Democrat Party received the largest number of votes in the 2009 elections and has succeeded in consolidating the Democrat-led national coalition, in reality Yudhoyono and Boediono are unable to control the threats and attempts to bolster their image by coalition party members, who are in fact only seeking a better bargaining position in order to get a bigger share of the cake.
So, both in political and economic terms, there is no element of the bourgeoisie that is dominant in this country. Because of this therefore, the task of the struggle for democracy and prosperity at the moment is to destroy the domination and hegemony of imperialism, the SBY-Boediono regime and the rotten political elite through UNITY and MASS MOBILISATION OF THE PEOPLE.
Leaving aside the struggle to overthrow Suharto, us, the ordinary people and the movements, need to escalate the struggle for democracy and prosperity. There will be no GENUINE democracy or prosperity in the hands imperialism and the agents of imperialism. Therefore the overthrow of the pro-imperialist SBY-Boediono government and the rotten political elite, and their replacement with an alternative government, a united government of the poor, is the absolute precondition for the realisation of these ideals.
It is a united government of the poor that will pursue programs to BROADEN DEMOCRACY and PROSPERITY, including, among other things: Free education and healthcare, housing, clean water and energy, a cheap mass transportation, raising incomes and creating job opportunities, repairing environmental damage, reducing the price of basic commodities, democratic political and electoral laws, honest historical writings, restoring the people’s historical memory, justice for human rights crimes, dismantling of the TNI’s territorial command structure, the trial of and seizure of the Suharto family, his cronies’ and other corruptors’ assets, and a 50 percent quota for women in all public offices.
With such a program, it will NOT JUST be the process of reformasi that will be completed, but democracy and prosperity will be extended and we will be able to create the conditions for a society without poverty, one that is democratic, modern, ecological, just, and of gender equality.
May 21, 2010
People’s Democratic Party-Political Committee of the Poor
[Translated by James Balowski.]