Materialism in Imperialist Policy (was Re: Replying to Alan & thoughts on Jared's thesis)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Mon Sep 13 09:18:33 MDT 1999

>>> However I am not at all sure that the USA wants to break up the
>Indonesian state. Certainly Australia has done all it can to
>prevent such a scenario unfolding. <<
>Right, Gary. Looking at it from the USA is certainly appears that the
>Washington intervenes to keep its ties with the Indonesian military.
>They can say, "See, we saved the Timorese, using our leverage with our
>friends, so that is why we will continue our relationship."
>Its a bit premature, I think, to predict that the breakup of Indonesia is
>now the imperial goal. They need the Indonesian military to keep the
>political situation under control.
>Jon Flanders
I agree with Jon. While Jared & Nestor are certainly correct in pointing out &
warning us of the general trend (i.e. an increasing use of 'humanitarian
interventions' to exercise direct imperial control) whose existence most of us
have already noted, Indonesia still isn't Yugoslavia.
Within the socialist Yugoslavia, the decentralizing tendency of augmenting the
_de facto_ economic and political autonomy of republics had existed _long
before_ the actual secessions, wars, & imperialist scramble for pieces of action
(consult the scholarship on Yugoslavia published before 1990, especially the
works written from the points of view sympathetic to Yugoslav self-management
socialism, and you'll see that seeds for present difficulties have been long in
the making, without which imperialists would have found it hard to break up
Yugoslavia and isolate Serbia so easily as we have seen); while we have not seen
the same tendency in Indonesia. For instance, have we seen a development in
Indonesia comparable to what follows?:

***** A major reform of the economic system proclaimed in 1965 was supposed to
introduce a genuine (socialist) market economy and enhance the power of
"self-managed" enterprises -- and hence, in theory, that of the working class --
through a withering away of the state's role in the economy, then commonly
called "de-etatization" (_de-etatizacija_), at all levels. The reforms
eliminated almost all central planning and control over investment funds, which
were turned over to banks and enterprises, and virtually completed the
liquidation of federal economic powers...[except powers of partial funding of
development in underdeveloped regions and the foreign currency regime]. It is
now recognized, however, that _de-etatizacija_ stopped with the destruction of
the federal citadel, leaving other "etatisms" intact and correspondingly
strengthened. With most enterprises and banks limiting their activities to the
territory of a single federal or smaller unit and most enterprises too
inefficient and financially weak to forswear turning to the state and party for
help, tendencies to regional autarky persisted and "politicization" of the
economy was in fact enhanced at the regional and local level. (136)
>From Dennison Rusinow, "Nationalities Policy and the 'National Question',"
_Yugoslavia in the 1980s_, ed. Pedro Ramet (Boulder and London: Westview Press,
1985). *****

What would a comparable analysis of the political economy of Indonesia reveal to
us? Would it demonstrate material conditions that imperialists would want to
exploit a la Yugoslavia?
Imperialist policies, too, are _materialist_ in the Machiavellian manner, so
they try to build upon & exploit the actually existing material conditions +
internal political oppositions, if and when they want to fully destabilize and
break up Third World countries. What I have read of Indonesia doesn't convince
me that there have existed ripening provincial nationalisms + decentralizing
politico-economic tendencies strong enough to become convenient vehicles of
imperialist meddling. So, I think that the independence of East Timor (which
will be, alas, a nominal affair) is not likely to result in the general break-up
of Indonesia, _other things being equal_ (_with changes in other things_, Jared
& Nestor may prove 'prophetic'). Imperialists will most likely try to shape the
political direction of Indonesia as Indonesia.

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