The Road to Madiun: The Indonesian Communist Uprising of 1948

The Road to Madiun: The Indonesian Communist Uprising of 1948

The Road to Madiun: The Indonesian Communist Uprising of 1948

The Road to Madiun: The Indonesian Communist Uprising of 1948

Excerpt

The year 1948 was the darkest of the Indonesian revolution. It was a year of negotiated retreat when Indonesian guerrilla units were withdrawn from behind Dutch lines, and a year of uneasy truce as Republican leaders haggled with the Dutch at the conference table and watched with frustration and growing anger the reinstitution of Dutch rule in the greater part of the Indonesian Archipelago. During the year all the tensions of the new Indonesian Republic, deprived of the unifying release of battle against a common enemy, turned inward to boil within the narrow confines of that part of Central and East Java still in Republican hands. Left alone these tensions might not have exploded, but 1948 was also the year Indonesia became inescapably entangled in the Cold War. By September the pressures had become too great, and left and right forces of the Indonesian national revolution found themselves pitted one against the other in conflict at Madiun.

The Madiun revolt has been pictured in many ways. At one extreme is the Communist explanation that Madiun was a US-inspired “provocation,” aimed at forcing the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) into revolt so it could then be destroyed with impunity by the “right-wing reactionaries” in control of the Republican government. At the other extreme is the right wing’s counter-explanation that the Madiun Affair was part of a closely coordinated Soviet plot for Communist seizure of nationalist governments throughout Southeast Asia. Neither of these provides a satisfactory explanation of the deeply complex forces, both foreign and domestic, at work within Indonesian society which led during the

1 See Mirajadi, “Tiga Tahun Provokasi Madiun,” Bintang Merah, August/September 1951.

2 See the Masyumi-run newspaper Abadi, September 4, 1953.

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