Catastrophe in Indonesia

Max Lane


4.25 x 7 inches, 102pp. October 2010

ISBN : 9781906497675

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In 1965 Indonesia had the largest communist movement in the world outside of the USSR and the People’s Republic of China. On 30th September and 1st October 1965, middle-level army officers attempted a mutiny to replace the anti-communist army leadership. This mutiny, collapsed and opened the way for one of the greatest and most violent purges of the Left in any country in the world. One million people were killed and many more curtailed of their rights; tens of thousands were imprisoned. All left-wing ideas and activities were banned—and are still banned today.


This essay provides an explanation of how the movement’s leadership cornered itself into a situation where there were fewer and fewer openings for an attempt at an open revolutionary change. It also analyses the impact of this catastrophe on Indonesian politics and the phases of re-emergence of a new Indonesian left between 1965 and today.


Max Lane is an independent scholar and activist with 40 years of experience of Indonesian and left-wing politics. He has translated five novels and one historical work by Indonesia’s greatest writer, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, and plays and poems by Indonesia’s greatest playwright and poet, W. S. Rendra. He is the author of Unfinished Nation: Indonesia Before and After Suharto.


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