Communist Party of Indonesia

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Communist Party of Indonesia


(Partai Komunis Indonesia; CPI), founded May 23, 1920, out of the Social Democratic Federation, which was formed on the island of Java in 1914. In its first years the party experienced serious difficulties in growth; its policy was adversely affected by leftist deviations, expressed particularly in the slogan of Soviet power, which was incorrect for the conditions of that time. With the help of the Comintern, which the party joined in 1920, the CPI gradually overcame its errors and mastered Marxist-Leninist theory and revolutionary strategy and tactics. The party played an increasing role in the national liberation struggle of the Indonesian people. In 1926–27 the CPI led a popular uprising against the Dutch colonialists. After the uprising was defeated, the CPI was disbanded and outlawed. In 1935 a leader of the party, M. Musso, took the initiative in setting up an underground Communist organization on Java that became the nucleus for a re-created party.

During the Japanese occupation (1942–45) the CPI fought under the difficult conditions of the underground. The Communists of Indonesia participated in the national liberation revolution of August 1945, which led to the proclamation of Indonesia as an independent republic.

After the proclamation of Indonesia’s independence, representatives of the CPI were members of all the bodies of power in the country, including the government. A. Sjarifuddin, a member of the Politburo of the Central Committee, was the republic’s minister of defense from 1945 to 1947 and prime minister in 1947. The party conference of 1948, held under Musso’s leadership, adopted the resolution New Path for the Republic of Indonesia, which set forth the party’s program. It also adopted a resolution on the official merger of the CPI with the Labor and Socialist parties of Indonesia, which had worked under the guidance of the CPI.

The bloodshed provoked by domestic reactionary forces at Madiun (eastern Java) in September 1948 dealt the CPI a heavy blow. Many of its prominent leaders, including Musso and Sjarifuddin, perished or were executed without trial or investigation. However, the party had recovered by 1951. A new leadership headed by D. N. Aidit was elected. In 1951 the CPI began publishing its press organ, the newspaper Harian Rakyat.

The Fifth Congress of the CPI (1954) adopted a policy of building up a mass party and creating a united national front of all the patriotic forces of the country. In the first parliamentary elections, held in 1955, the party received more than 6 million votes and finished as the fourth largest party, and in the local elections of 1958 it received more than 8 million votes, more than any other party.

The Sixth Congress of the CPI (1959) pointed out that the party’s main task was “the implementation of the demands of the August Revolution of 1945 through the formation of a government of people’s democracy, which should be a government of the united national front created on the basis of an alliance of the working class and the peasantry, with a leading role played by the working class.”

By the mid-1960’s the CPI had become the largest Communist party of the world’s capitalist countries, with more than 3.5 million members and candidate members. It exercised leadership of many trade union, youth, and women’s democratic organizations, with a combined membership of more than 16 million. The CPI might well have become the leading force in the Indonesian people’s struggle to strengthen their political independence and gain economic independence, as well as to fight against imperialism and domestic reactionary forces.

However, in the early 1960’s the leadership of the CPI, which was strongly influenced by Maoism, began neglecting its former Marxist-Leninist orientation. The party was swept by a tidal wave of petit bourgeois elements, since the great growth in the party’s ranks in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s came from the peasantry and the urban petite bourgeoisie. The party leadership unconditionally supported Indonesian president Sukarno’s idea of guided democracy, which meant a strengthening of the president’s personal dictatorship, and tailored the party’s policy to the actions and policy of the president. The process of ideological disarmament, abandonment of class positions, and the replacement of proletarian slogans by petit bourgeois and nationalist slogans was vividly manifested at the Seventh Extraordinary Congress of the CPI (1962), where the party leaders proclaimed Sukarno’s political program (the Political Manifesto) the second program of the party. In foreign policy the party’s leadership supported Sukarno’s idea of creating a Jakarta-Peking axis, propagandized the Maoist concept of a special role of the Third World countries in the people’s liberation struggle, and promoted the tactics of setting up separate Afro-Asian organizations. All this weakened the relations of the CPI with the international Communist movement.

In 1964–65, when Indonesia’s economic situation was deteriorating, the dissatisfaction of the masses was rising, and the country was isolated in foreign affairs, domestic reactionary forces stepped up their activity; the command of the Indonesian ground forces was the shock force of the reactionary elements. The reactionaries’ plans for seizing political power in the country brought about a counterplot of left-wing army officers (1965), which came to be known as the September 30 Movement. A small group from among the party’s leadership, without informing the Central Committee of its decision, decided to support the movement. The September 30 Movement turned into a palace putsch and was not supported by the popular masses. The right-wing circles unleashed bloody terror against the Communists and other democrats throughout the country. Several hundred thousand members of the CPI and other left-wing public organizations were killed, among them many party leaders, such as Aidit, Lukman, Njoto, Sudisman, and Njono, and tens of thousands of people were arrested. In March 1966, the CPI and the numerous public organizations affiliated with it were officially declared illegal and a law prohibiting dissemination of the ideology of Marxism-Leninism and communism was passed.

Despite the terror and repression, Communist groups began work in Indonesia in the deep underground on re-creating the CPI on the basis of Marxism-Leninism and ridding the party’s ideology of Maoism. They advocated restoration of relations with the international communist and workers’ movement. The Marxist-Leninist documents For the Correct Path of the Indonesian Revolution (1967), Pressing Tasks of the Communist Movement in Indonesia (1969), and For Democracy, Social Justice, and Welfare of the People (1975), which were published clandestinely, became a program for the organizational and ideological consolidation of the Indonesian Communists.

The Committee of the CPI Abroad, which directs all Indonesian Communist émigrés, is working hard to consolidate the party’s Marxist-Leninist ranks abroad and to restore and develop the ties of the CPI with the international communist and workers’ movement. Delegations from the CPI attended the International Conferences of the Communist and Workers’ Parties in Moscow in 1957 and 1960. The CPI approved the documents adopted by the conferences. (See Table 1 for congresses of the CPI.)

Table 1. Congresses of the Communist Party of Indonesia
First ...............SemarangMay 1920
Second ...............JakartaJune 1924
Third ...............Kotagede (near Jogjakarta)December 1924
Fourth ...............SoloJanuary 1947
Fifth ...............JakartaMarch 1954
Sixth ...............JakartaSeptember 1959
Seventh ...............JakartaApril 1962


Natsional’no-osvoboditel’noe dvizhenie v Indonezii (1942–1965). Moscow, 1970.
Aidit, D. N. Izbrannye proizvedeniia: Stat’i i rechi. Moscow, 1962. (Translated from Indonesian.)
Aidit, D. N. Indoneziiskoe obshchestvo i indoneziiskaia revoliutsiia. Moscow, 1958. (Translated from Indonesian.)
Aidit, D. N. Kratkaia istoriia Kommunisticheskoi partii Indonezii. Moscow, 1956. (Translated from Indonesian.)
Drugov, A. Iu., and A. B. Reznikov. Indoneziia v period “napravliaemoi demokratii.” Moscow, 1969.
Iur’ev, A. Iu. Indoneziia posle sobytii 1965 goda. Moscow, 1973.

B. I. IL’ICHEV [12–1595–2; updated]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
'After I came back from Indonesia in 1962, the most rabid anticommunist columnists in the Philippines Herald called me an agent of the Communist Party of Indonesia because I was the secretary general of the Philippine-Indonesian Friendship and Cultural Association.
(3) Many of them descended from the early immigrants of the merchant and artisan class (huashang) in Java, as opposed to the later immigrants of coolie labour (huagong) in Sumatra (Wang 1992:3-21) (5) In fact, in Java, ethnic Chinese were normally identified as merchants and moneylenders, thus adversaries of the Communist Party proletarian base (McVey 1965:224-5) (5) Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI, Communist Party of Indonesia) did not have notable Chinese constituents; among the 1300-odd activists interned in Digoel in the late 1920s, only 10 were Chinese (Salim 1977:32).
The Communist Party of Indonesia, which was favored under Sukarno's regime, was held responsible for the botched putsch.
in providing the Indonesian military with the names of members of the Communist Party of Indonesia (P.K.I.) to be hunted down and killed following an abortive coup in 1965.
Hindley, Donald 1966 The Communist Party of Indonesia 1951-1963.
(21) Donald Hindley, The Communist Party of Indonesia, 1951-1963 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1966), p.
The president is committed to preserving Indonesia as a pluralist society, Ramage said, citing Wahid's calls to legalize the Communist Party of Indonesia and acknowledge the role that his Nahdatul Ulama supporters played in killing suspected communists in the 1960s.
(36) Donald Hindley, The Communist Party of Indonesia, 1951-1963 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964), pp.

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