[Marxism] Max Lane in latest Direct Action - Indonesia: 'Oppositionists' seek cabinet posts

Nick Fredman n.fredman.11 at scu.edu.au
Sun Oct 4 03:27:49 MDT 2009

v_brown_au wrote:

> Indonesia: 'Oppositionists' seek cabinet posts____
> By Max Lane, in Jakarta
> .....
> In one article by a PRD spokesperson, it was also argued that
> through rhetorical campaigning against neoliberalism in the lead-up
> to the election, retired general Prabowo had "wiped out his sins" of
> organising the torture and disappearance of pro-democracy activists
> during the late Suharto era. It was even argued that the numbers
> involved — 14 are still missing, presumed dead — were minor
> compared to the victims of Yudhoyono's neoliberal policies,
> forgetting that the disappearing of the 14, and the torturing of
> several others, were actually acts aimed at terrorising the whole
> pro-democracy movement.

It's hard to know what to make of the quotation of four words without
any indication of where they came from (apparently from some article
by some unnamed PRD person), let alone what context these four words
appeared in or what else the apparent PRD leader wrote. Max seems to
escalating his campaign of dubious rhetorical tactics (disingenuous
excision of a few words from their context, outright distortion,
lecturing the PRD on things they've already clearly stated) in his now
long-running factional intervention in the Indonesian far left.

As I've written here before, perhaps Max is correct in some of his
criticisms; I don't have the time or Indonesian language to thoroughly
investigate. But considering his blatant distortion of what is readily
available in English, my previous demonstration of which I'll re-paste
in below, and utter silence about the PRD's previous history of
critical support for bourgeois figures (let alone his own presumably
still extant view of voting for Labor before Liberal), in my eyes Max
has lost all credibility as an objective observer of the Indonesian
far left, despite the usefulness of his more general analyses of
Indonesia (note: there may be a detailed exposition of the PRD's own
views publicly available in English soon, which I can relate is very
different from Max's distorted account).

Below is what I wrote before, referring to a previous article by Max at
. Perhaps, as Max claims the PRD made no criticisms of these figures, the
clear characterisations of Prabowo as a murderer of pro-democracy activists
Megawati as a neolioberal and both as cynical opportunist members of
the "oligarchic elites",  given by the PRD writers below, were just
for the benefit of Green Left readers and not repeated in any form
anywhere in Indonesia. And perhaps it will snow in Jakarta for

Here's what I wrote and quoted before:

For example Max claims:

> Now the PRD/Papernas line is framed within the assertion that in the
> 2009 presidential election there was a ?contest between pro-people
> policies versus pro-capital ones?. The alleged champion of the ?pro-
> people policies? is ?Prabowo Subiyanto...The new PRD/Papernas line
> was oriented towards giving electoral support to General Prabowo

Well you'll have to excuse me for interpreting the actual article, as
opposed to the minimalist quotes Max selects, as meaning that the
stated Papernas line was framed within and oriented towards organising
mass actions and making demands on bourgeois politicians while
explaining the latter's demagogic nature pretty clearly:

 From http://www.greenleft.org.au/2009/801/41260

> Indonesia: Challenging the neo-liberal regime
> More than 2500 people from the Volunteers of People?s Struggle for
> the Liberation of Motherland (SPARTAN) held a festive anti-
> neoliberalism protest in front of the National Election Commission
> on July 1 in Jakarta.
> The multi-sector coalition, initiated by the People?s Democratic
> Party (PRD) to intervene in the 2009 election, held similar protests
> involving more than 1200 people in Makassar on the island of Sulawesi.
> Hundreds rallied in Surabaya, Medan, Lampung, and protests occurred
> in 11 other cities...
> ...Until the rise of neoliberalism as an issue in this year?s
> presidential election, previous electoral contests did not involve a
> contest between pro-people policies versus pro-capital ones.
> However, the bitter truth is that this development is not directly
> caused by any advances for progressive and democratic forces.
> Rather, it comes from a conflict within the oligarchic elites. This
> specifically involves Prabowo Subiyanto, a retired lieutenant-
> general who commanded the notorious Kopasus elite troops involved in
> the kidnappings and killings of pro-democracy activists in 1998.
> Lately, the content of Prabowo?s speeches are almost identical to
> the arguments of progressives in recent years. This is both the way
> he explains the nature of neoliberalism as well as, to a degree, the
> proposed economic solutions.
> Prabowo is running for vice-president with the presidential
> candidate Megawati Sukarnoputri in this election. Is his populism an
> illusion, considering that Megawati carried out a neoliberal agenda
> when she was in power between 2001-2004?
> Only time will tell...
> ...[Papernas is among] those who focus their attack against the most
> obvious representation of neoliberalism, Yudhoyono, while remaining
> critical of the other candidates.
> For this sector, intervening in the elections is a way of promoting,
> and seeking to organise around, anti-neoliberal policies. This is
> what the SPARTAN-organised protests have sought to do.
> Supporting this view, the National Liberation Party of Unity
> (Papernas) have said that Yudhoyono?s rivals who speak against
> neoliberalism still have to prove that they are not just ?thieves
> who shout thief?.
> Anti-neoliberalism cannot be demonstrated only through debates and
> advertisements, but through concrete measures such as the
> nationalisation of the oil and mineral industry, cancellation of
> foreign debt and a national industrialisation program.

So whatever criticisms of the PRD/Papernas might be valid, they did
use the elections to mobilise some several thousand people around
radical demands. Did the boycott campaign of Max's favoured group
achieve much? (Max does not seem to mention it).

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