The Communist Uprisings of 1926-1927 in Indonesia: Key Documents

The Communist Uprisings of 1926-1927 in Indonesia: Key Documents

The Communist Uprisings of 1926-1927 in Indonesia: Key Documents

The Communist Uprisings of 1926-1927 in Indonesia: Key Documents

Excerpt

The revolts in West Java and on the West Coast of Sumatra dealt with in the documents translated in this volume were, at one and the same time, traditional and modern phenomena. They were traditional in the sense that such predominantly rural uprisings had punctuated Dutch colonial rule in the Indies for several decades, if not for centuries. In many respects — not least in the part played by local Islamic leaders — the events of the 1920’s not only closely resembled the rural unrest of earlier times, but they seemed to flow from the same, or at least very similar, causes as had inspired their predecessors. The distinguishing modern features of these insurrections lay in both their size and the character of their leadership. Unlike the revolts of the earlier centuries, those of the twentieth were not limited to one region or even to one island; and it was only in ther twentieth century that a central leadership, largely urban in origin and inspired by modern ideologies and organizational tactics, had sought to direct traditional peasant unrest into new channels. In fact, the events of 1926-1927 were unique only to the extent that they were Communist-led, for it is equally true that, as such, they constituted not a beginning, but rather the end of what might be called the proto-nationalist phase in modern Indonesian history. That movement had started with the meteoric rise of Sarekat Islam two decades before, and it was the last sparks of that earlier mass movement which some communist leaders fanned into short-lived and suicidal insurrections in the mid-1920‘s.

In the context of colonial history, the rebellions of 1926/27 mark a decisive turning point. They irrevocably closed a chapter in colonial policy, even if its demise was never officially proclaimed or admitted by the Netherlands. The policy that was quietly being interred, the so-

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