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Glosarium Pengetahuan

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[Glance to the west and enjoy the north star.]
Danial Indrakusuma

Human’s have the capacity to reflect on history – something which distinguishes them from animals. An honest reflection on history, based on the search for the facts and their exposure and identification, can provide lessons for the exploited and oppressed classes. It can reveal the strengths that these classes can have the capacity to multiply and use as their weapons. And where are you in this multiplication of strengths?

We have experienced a reversal of the current, and its as if the current cannot be turned into a progressive direction again. We have drawn the lesson from capital and from the exchange of what is good in cultures, that we have resist in the best possible way. It was capital and this exchange of culture that pressed the youth vanguard of the 1990s to awaken and resist – students, intellectuals, farmers and workers. They resisted the brutality of Suharto’s New Order – themselves unarmed. (According to Pramoedya Anantar Toer: “This is the only such event in human history, don’t forget that). Then came “reformasi freedom”. Even though we put this “freedom” in quotation marks, it is still the case that it has expanded the space in which the exploited and oppressed masses – peasant farmers, students, workers – have been able to organize resistance. (And, as it was when facing the viciousness of Suharto’s New Order, it has been the youth standing on the Left side of the road, that have been the vanguard.) The resistance has even found its way into the Yellow Unions. But still, the inner circle of Suharto’s New Order hankers for restoration. They almost achieved that at the last Presidential election, only being narrowly defeated by the outer-circle of Suharto era. This narrow win by the outer circle was helped for the people’s longing for a “prosperous and just Indonesia”, as in our old Indepenence era slogan: a sentiment that was manipulated via the current hegemonic demagogic populism.

The old yellow unions, which have not been able to overcome the legacy from the Suharto era and transform themselves into a pro-reform union, have supported those longing for a restoration of the old inner-circle from the Suharto dictatorship, trying to reverse the direction of the populist sentiments among the exploited and oppressed classes that are prevalent today.

Yet the victory for the restoration of Suharto’s New Order has had other support. The Red and White Coalition led by Suharto era restorationist, General Prabowo has a majority in the new parliament. If we are not careful in the way we draw lessons from the past, the oppressed and exploited classes can be deceived by the demagogy of the restorationists about “defending the people” and “nationalism”. The oppressed classes are not yet able to draw a clear line of demarcation with those forces. And where were you at the defeat of the Suharto era inner circle’s attempt at restoration?

What were the correct positions before and after reformasi – that is, the fall of Suharto’s dictatorship:

1. The Peoples Democratic (PRD) concentrated on finding alloies to oppose the regime’s package of 5 laws that controlled political life s well as against the Army’s role in politics. Whenever we could find no allies – because people were afraid – we resisted by ourselves, no matter the risk. When our allies were only willing to take up lesser democratic demands, we accepted such allinces as well – indeed sometimes we urged such alliances. But we never allied ourselves with those who were not fully opposed to Suharto, who maintained any relationship with Suharto’s New order regime. We were not interested in those who wanted to use their alliance with us in some kind of bargain deal with Suharto’s regime. The aim was to radicalize the atmosphere and to open up more space where a stronger resistance could be built. We also refused alliances with those who had carried out no anti-dictatorship activity or who were interested in compromise, because did not want to set a precedent before the people that might falsely imply that the regime could be weakened through compromise deals. This would only delay the radicalization of resistance.

2. The main result of these tactics was our capacity to strength the militancy and radical stance of the masses. The alliances we had built with democratic allies had extended our reach-out to the masses. This was crucial as we knew that many of our allies would not have the consistency to maintain a fight against Suharto’s dictatorship. A militant mass base was essential. We instructed our cadre to let go of all individual personal interests and move immediately to Jakarta. They were assigned to 92 neighbourhoods: slum areas, areas around campuses and factory worker areas. The atmosphere heated up further. We were able to intervene in the 1997 election campaign (without any agreement from the legalized parties) and popularize demands under slogans urging the unity of all opposition forces to force Suharto out. These demands were raised among the almost one million people who were on the streets on some days of the campaign. These were known as the Mega-Bintang-Rakyat demands. Mega stood for Megawato Sukarnoputro who led the Indonesian Democratic Party. Bintang represented the United Development Party, a moslem party. By using this slogan, we were directing the people’s attention to the question: how serious were these two parties in fighting Suharto? If it turned out that they were less than serious, there would be more recognition of the seriousness and honourableness of our struggle. Almost a million people swept through the streets, even sometimes sweeping away army barricades. It was this intense heated atmosphere that pulled in the students to deliver the final blow against Suharto’s New Order, with the issue of REFORMASI – a call for a kind of DEEP REFORM.

This call was in turn hijacked by the elite elements of the opposition to Suharto – the New Order’s outer circle. These were people like Megawati, Amien Rais and Abdurrahman Wahid, also known as Gus Dur. Megawati and Gus Dur both later became Presidents of Indonesia. This was possible because we had not yet won a central place on the national political stage – we had been forced to organize on an underground basis for much of the time. It was still in their hands.

But we won more democratic space. This space is now being utilized by today’s activists to expand the struggle. (To understand better the struggle atmosphere of time read the interview with Marlin in the old LINKS magazine):

3. After the fall of Suharto, we maintained this alliance approach. We used all available legal openings to get our message out, including standing in the 1999 elections. We realized we had no chance of winning seats in the election, given the limited historical openings we had experienced up until then. But we wished to use whatever openings, however small, to maximize whatever hearing we could gain with the masses. We lost some members at that time who were unable to deal with this change: they departed and took other positions. Our position, including in any alliances, was aimed at exposing and destroying the fake reformers, the remnants of the Suharto Order, the militarists and the reactionary militia. Some of these militia’s used the fundamentalist banner and were also very anti-Left. This resulted in an explosion in many towns of militant popular opposition against the Suharto party, GOLKAR. As during the Suharto era itself, our democratic allies were often unable to maintain consistent position of opposition. With more democratic space available, it was also more possible to reach out to a new generation of young people – students – who were more open to progressive and left ideas, as well as to workers and farmer groups. It was also possible to reach out to a range of left social-democrat anti-capitalists. These were those who did not carry out black propaganda against the Left, as did the fake social democrats and the fundamentalists. This was how we positioned ourselves as regards unity.

4. New groups of young people, a new generation, mushroomed. They were open to the left ideas, including trying to put them into practice. Many of these retained ties with elements from the pre-1998 Left. Some were even able to advance the organisition of workers, with the formation of groups such as Workers Challenge Alliance and the The Joint Secretariat of Workers. Many were also involved in a range of farmers groups, including AGRA, FMN, FPR and others.
One among our priorities were to form alliances with them. That is why we rejected a move by a so-called “majority” in the PRD to fuse with the right-wing Star Reformation Party in 2007. With that decision, the original trajectory of the PRD ended. That trajectory was still valid: the enemies of the people had not yet been defeated.

5. Our work in this direction, especially given difficulties in uniting the Left as it was, was further disturbed by the emergence of a criticism that these priorities sidelined the efforts to liberate “non-class” sectors. It was over this issue that we diverged with this that later became the group PEOPLES POLITICS. In fact, struggle within the old PRD framework ended, and we have had to start building anew.

Yet, there has been encouraging developments. There has been a rise of labour struggles from within the memberships of the yellow unions. They have accepted and taken on board the struggle method of mass mobilisations, of aksi massa, and are less constrained by political taboos – a direct result of the 1998 reformasi victory. Thus has been an important advance, even if there has not yet been a qualitative transformation in their ideological outlook. This is partly due to the fact that the reactionary highly ideological educational curriculum in the schools has not yet changed. Another obstacle has been the bureaucratism of the yellow trade unions, which makes it hard for them to be the proper vehicles for the workers’ militancy and their new openness to more radical ideas. Relating to these developments is a key part of our attitude to unity.

6. Last year, 2014, after the counter-offensive in the industrial sector against the unions by a revitalized alliance between the capitalists, the state and lumpen-based, fundamentalist and other militan, it became evident that the labor movement revival coming out of the yellow-unions did nothave the capacity to achieve what was historically necessary and potentially possible, namely, their transformation into genuine fighting unions, with te capacity to develop a real workers party (perhaps along the lines of the early Wokers Party of Brazil). This inability was worsened with their alliance during the parliamentary and presidential election campaign with the parties of the New order restoration, lead by ex-General Prabowo, as well as the fake reformers and the fundamentalists.

We opposed Prabowo and his restorationist parties. But we were also very aware that Joko Widodo (Jokowi), Prabowo’s opponent for the presidency, would not bring any improvements for the people. But the Prabowo/GERINDRA-Fake Reformers-fundamentalist and lumpen-thug alliance would certainly make things worse for the people. Without getting trapped into defending Jokowi, we concentrated our attacks on th Prabowo led alliance. Jokowi had the better positioned marketing strategy and defeated Prabowo. But it was a slim victory, with only a 4,7% lead over Prabowo. This was partly because many elements in the pro-Jokowi camp compromised their anti-militarist stance weakening the militancy of the overall offensive against anti-Prabowo alliance. This restorationist alliance has strengthened with the formation of a more consolidated coalition having a majority in the parliament.

Our position is to seek unity on fighting this restorationist alliance. So far it has not ben at all easy to achieve unity on this ith concrte program, even with others on the left.

7. But we will not retreat on this position. There is now an historical opportunity with a clear target for our offensive and genuine potential elements for a unity which we can prioritise:

Historical political opportunity:

At the time of the elections, there was increased involvement of people in poltics, because of their longing for pro-people politics and democrcat – while many were at the same time deceived by the demagoguery of the elites. Even those apathetic out of frustration with politics – workers, artists, middle class elements, celebrities – began to make a contribution to encouraging the people’ participation in politics.

Since the elections, especially since the promulgation of some anti-democratic laws, there has been an increasing awareness of the threat to democracy. We have now the historical opportunity to politically defeat the Prabowo restorationist politics that threatens democracy. It is this force, which must be our main target. We will not retreat from this position and limit consciousness to that reflected in compromise or partial slogans such as for direct elections, or “against the neo-NEW ORDER”.
Look at back at the brutal history of the New Order and the still-strong remnants? Could it have been faced off using a “soft-soft” approach? Could have Suharto been forced out using “elegant” tactics? Can Prabowo, who was only defeated by a 4.7% margin. Be defeated with a “polite” strategy?

We need to earn from the experience of the student movement and its upsurges between 1971 and 1998, both the more gentle and the harsher ones – and of the participation of the masses in 1998.

Thus, the working class must be involved in mass actions against anti-democrtic regimes, pushing forward the struggle for THE FULLEST DEMOCRACY, creating the CONDITIONS THAT WILL FURTHER MAKE POSSIBLE THE WORKERS STRUGGLE AGAINST CAPITALISTS AND THEIR AGENTS.

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