18 March 2008

[Marxism] The DSP's postion of "non-interferance" whilst taking sides on the PRD split

The Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP)’s support for PRD-Papernas and not KPRM-PRD is becoming clearer. I read Stuarts latest reply to me on Friday but I thought I would wait until today in order to see the Green Left article on the PRD split that Stuart assured us was coming and to give the content a chance. I was disappointed that there was no such article in this week’s paper. Instead the only article on Indonesia was one promoting the good work of Papernas in two 300 person strong rallies held in Indonesia.

This is hardly surprising given that Stuarts framework in the name of “not declaring one side ‘revolutionary’ and the other not”, has lead Stuart (and the DSP?) to defacto support PRD-Papernas.

Stuart sets up a straw man of my position and attempts to knock it down by declaring:
Given that we are not jumping to say this, it follows logically that we will continue our relationship with the PRD. As for the new group, we are not refusing relations, we are testing things out. We are encouraging them to continue sending us their material. We certainly aren't declaring them not revolutionary or anything else James is attempting to imply or push us towards.”

Well Stuart there are actually two PRD’s at the moment and it appears that the DSP is continuing relations with one section but not the other. Why would you continue relations with as you call it the “PRD” meaning PRD Papernas but the best you give to KPRM-PRD is “not refusing relations” and “encouraging them to continue sending us their material.” Accepting their documents just means you haven’t put a blocker on your e-mail, so what? I occasionally read books by Francis Fukiama and get the Zionist organisation Australian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) to send me material so I can find out what they are thinking but that doesn’t mean I support them.

Stuart claims:
Of course, the arguments runs that the new group are the *real* PRD because they are the *real* continuors of the revolutionary program of the PRD. The actually existing PRD is not the *real* PRD because it has betrayed its program and tradition.”

Given the split in the PRD the DSP has had 4 options:
1. To support PRD Papernas as the continuation of the revolutionary PRD

2. To support KPRM-PRD as the continuation of the revolutionary PRD
3. To continue political support with both as the continuation of the revolutionary PRD
4. Declare a plague on both your houses and not support either.

Stuart claims that the DSP has gone for option 3 not 1. But then how does Stuart explain that one side the DSP has political relations with while the other side they just are “open to” political relations with. How does Stuart explain that the DSP supported two PRD-Papernas members attending the Latin America Asia Pacific Solidarity Forum and not a single member of KPRM-PRD? Does Stuart see the DSP having a similar relationship with KPRM-PRD as they currently have with PRD-Papernas?

So yet again we await another week to see a Green Left article on the PRD split/expulsion. As Stuart puts it “Of course we are *continuing* to try and study the situation. So maybe we will have something more concrete to say in the future as we attempt to study what is going on in light of finding out from the comrades there on both sides what the arguments and facts (and interpretations of facts, as always occurs) are and what it means on the ground.

Which would be nice but given neither the internal bulletin of the DSP nor its paper Green Left have provided anything for their comrades to read I doubt seriously if they are studying the issue.


[Marxism] Indonesia: Information on the split in the PRD

Earlier this year I spent one month in Indonesia to study Indonesian political developments and the split in the People’s Democratic Party (PRD) – Indonesia’s revolutionary Marxist party. I also wrote some news articles for Green Left Weekly. The articles included that which first reported the split in the PRD http://www.greenleft.org.au/2008/738/38186, as well as an unpublished Green Left article earlier sent to this list see http://kprm-peoples-democratic-party.blogspot.com/2008/02/indonesia-reject-parliamentarism-and.html.

As there is not yet much analysis available in English on the split I will make some points to provide readers with background to the situation.

People following the PRD split threads on this list would know that the Split (which began July 2007) occurred ostensively over how to approach the Indonesian elections scheduled for late 2009. The majority of the PRD’s central leadership committee expelled those members of the committee that did not agree with the majority approach. This preceded further expulsions from the PRD and its allied organisations including the expulsion of whole branches and districts where a majority of the members did not agree with the PRD majority’s approach to elections.

Why force a split over a tactical question like how to relate to a parliamentary election? The PRD minority (now called the Political Committee of The Poor - People's Democratic Party - KPRM-PRD) argues it is because the differences are not really just tactical – but that the PRD majority has taken an opportunist turn to the right. They say this can be seen in part by looking at the majority approach to the 2009 elections.

So what are their election tactics?

In short the PRD majority’s election work consists of trying to form a coalition between their own PRD led broad left party (National Liberation Party of Struggle – PAPERNAS) and one or another bourgeois party that can meet the electoral registration requirements (i.e. will be allowed to compete in the 2009 elections).
PAPERNAS failed to get registration in its own name – that is what triggered the split last year.

Dita Sari is the Chairperson of the PRD majority (now PRD-PAPERNAS). In her own words to a Green Left weekly interview in October 07; “Before we were focusing on campaigning among the social movements. But we found the social movements were very fragmented and sometimes very sectarian and apolitical. What we are trying to do now is campaign for our program among the mass bases and structures of this Islamic party that we are targeting for a coalition… building a coalition with another party, which is not left, revolutionary or progressive, but to some extent can accept our program. “ see http://www.greenleft.org.au/2007/735/38075. That party is the Star Reform Party (PBR).

I was able to attend all of Dita Sari's presentations at the Latin America – Asia Pacific International Solidarity Conference (LAAPISC) in Melbourne in Oct 2007. She was an invited guest of the DSP along with another leader of the PRD majority Agus “Jabo” Priyono.

In their workshop *The Indonesian left before and after Suharto’s ‘new order’ regime* Sari stated her basic justification for an electoral coalition with one or another bourgeois electoral party:
“From 1998 to now, platforms proposed by the left have already been accepted. An Anti neo-liberal platform is already accepted by centrist groups including academics. Anti militarism is also accepted by student and bourgeois political groups. Also anti feudal and anti corruption demands are also widely accepted.”
“So the challenge is not how to get our platform accepted – it is already. The challenge is to create momentum.” Later in the same workshop Sari stated:
“PRD-Papernas also see people in [the] centre, centrist groups who need to be moved [into action] because the anti-neo liberal platform is already accepted” by them.

However it is difficult to find any evidence that the Star Reform Party (PBR) had any agreement with the PAPERNAS three point program. I phoned Dita Sari for an interview for Links Magazine while I was in Jakarta but she declined the interview, stating that if I had any questions about PRD-PAPERNAS position I should refer to the PRD majority’s official position statement sent to the Democratic Socialist Perspective (my party) – however this is not publicly available.

The PAPERNAS program is1. Abolish the foreign debt!2. Nationalise the oil and mining industry!3. Build a strong national economy for the benefit of the people.

The Star Reformation Party (PBR) has never mentioned that program or those demands publicly.
PBR is an Islamic party with a reactionary landlord base in some areas. PBR has opposed increasing the budget allocation for education to 20% of Government expenditure (as stipulated by Indonesia’s constitution of 1945), opposed the campaign on foreign debt cancellation, and pushed for Islamic Law in many provincial representative bodies.

In Labuhan Batu and West Sulawesi PBR elite land owning politicians actually directly clashed with peasant mass organisations aligned with PAPERNAS. For example in West Sulawesi the chairperson of PBR hired thugs to evict peasants belonging to the National Peasants Union (STN) from his estate.

On October 30, 2007 an interview was published in the Rakyat Merdeka newspaper with Bursah Zarnubi, the chairperson and boss of the PBR. He openly slates that he is also involved in negotiations with the Concern for the Nation Party (PKPB) set up by Suharto’s eldest daughter Tutut Suharto and her favourite pro-Suharto generals. This public statement did not cause PRD-PAPERNAS to change their policy which is to seek a coalition with PBR.

The Concern for the Nation Party (PKPB) is chaired by Raden Hartono, a former Suharto army commander. He is quoted as stating during a campaign rally in March 2004 that "With an extraordinary boldness I want to affirm that I am a Suharto lackey". Tutut Suharto was chosen as the PKPB's presidential candidate in the last elections.

While PRD-PAPERNAS has not been put off by the apparent reactionary nature of the PBR, it seems the PBR has been less interested in forming an alliance with PAPERNAS, so the PRD-PAPERNAS leadership have had to look for other coalition possibilities if they wish to run in the elections.

12 March 2008

Indonesia: The Struggle for Political Alternative of the Poor

in response to Dita Sari Interview with Green Left Weekly 735 entitled "Indonesia: The struggle against underdevelopment" see http://www.greenleft.org.au/2007/735/38075.

2007 saw an unprecedented split in Indonesia’s most well known radical party – the People’s Democratic Party (PRD). The split spans the PRD from top to bottom. The following interview is with Zely Ariane – the spokesperson for The Political Committee of The Poor - People's Democratic Party (KPRM-PRD), conducted by Theresia Dian Septi Trisnanti .

1. When was the KPRM-PRD formed?
Zely Ariane: KPRM was formed in November 2007 as the result of a consolidation of PRD members from ten provinces that reject the coalition politics [currently being pursued by the PRD-Papernas leadership] and are ready to struggle to build a political alternative of the poor. The KPRM-PRD held its public declaration on the 31 January, 2008 in Jakarta.

2. Where are its main bases? What is the KPRM-PRD's main program of activities now and into the near future?

Zely Ariane: Our strongest bases are in Jogjakarta, Jakarta, North Sumatra, East Java and Kalimantan Timor. The original basis for the split in the PRD was that the majority of the PRD leadership could not tolerate a difference of opinion, or opinions rejecting the coalition tactic in the 2009 elections.

Our primary activity at the moment is to struggle for a politics of the poor that is neither co-opted nor co-operative with the remnants of the old regime (Suharto’s New Order) such as the military, the pro neo-liberal government and the fake reformists. We are concentrating at the moment on consolidating a new political mass organisation that will unite like minded political groups and individuals from PRD, Papernas and some other mass organisations. This new organ will soon be formed in order to struggle for a politics of the poor and to push towards completion of the national democratic revolution in Indonesia.

We can not let go of the political wreckage that exists in PRD at the moment. We are especially focused on relating to the mass bases who mostly do not understand and have not been involved in the party’s political decisions. As an example, the decision to support the Democratic Renewal Party (PDP) was taken in secret and is unknown by the party’s mass base because the internal situation in the PRD, Papernas and even the mass organisations has become increasingly difficult for campaigning - room for debate has been completely closed. So to win back these organisations requires an external pressure. That is the reason we plan to form a new political mass organisation that at the same time can function as our political identity.

We are forging unity of left democratic groups and a women’s liberation groupings from the democratic left spectrum – to become the vanguard in developing the feminist movement. We are establishing the frameworks and making lively efforts to mark International Women’s Day and also unifying efforts to create a Venezuela Solidarity Group.