Literature Commissar

Mar 5th, 2008, in Opinion, by

Ross sees the young Pramoedya Ananta Toer as a bullying commissar of literature.

Retrospect on a Red

Let’s have a look at an unrepentant Red, namely Pramoedya Ananta Toer.

His writing style leaves me cold, as it is dour, depressing, and obsessive, but that’s a matter of personal taste. To be fair, it may have lost a lot in the translation, for I gather the books were turned into English by another notorious marxist, Max Lane, erstwhile Aussie diplomat turned agitator.

Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Pramoedya Ananta Toer

But Pramoedya’s record of political nastiness is beyond dispute.
For those who won’t take the word of a mere bule, let’s go back to Tempo, issue May 16-22, 2006, which I’m sure you can find for yourselves. Just a few excerpts to show that plenty of distinguished Indonesians have long since seen through the smoke-screen.

No less than 25 “prominent literary figures and cultural observers” signed a protest to the Magsaysay Award Committee in July 1995, objecting to Pramoedya getting the Committee’s Award.

They deplored his

unethical role during one of the darkest periods for creativity during the Guided Democracy era, when he led the persecution of artists and literary figures who disagreed with him.

The article quotes him from the April 1964 Bintang Timur

if literary scholars do not want to be left behind by political developments, then they should be active in the people’s struggle and revolution.

People’s struggle – a phrase that might have referred to the East German Uprising of 1953, or the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, but no, Pramoedya was head of Lekra (Lembaga Kebudayaan Rakyat/Institute of People’s Culture), a Communist puppet league of self-styled intellectuals, and he was talking about the PKI’s push to stifle what was left of Indonesian freedom as Sukarno’s Nasakom fascist regime collaborated with the Reds.

In those pre-Suharto days, the PKI was using its power to crush dissent. Imagine how much worse it would have been if they had succeeded in seizing full control. Nyoto, a notably vicious Politburo hack, said that

it is about time to end the debate on whether or not culture is politics, because whoever claims that culture is apolitical is truly a reactionary.

Typical Communist!

This rationale for totalitarian terror saw the burning of 2 million books of a “counter-revolutionary” nature. Tempo informs us that

Lekra was also influential in campaigning to destroy independent publishers, such as the one that dared to deliver “Dr Zhivago”, plus Islamic publishers too.

In 1962, the respected Muslim writer Hamka was insulted, demonized and jailed for 3 years in Sukabumi. Mochtar Lubis, one of the 1995 protest signatories, had his Indonesia Raya newspaper closed down and spent some 9 years behind bars for his opposition to the Reds.

Pramoedya wrote that supporters of the Cultural Manifesto, of October 1963, (unlike him, they were honest writers who did “not consider one sector of culture to be more important than others,”) were so bad that

their annihilation, like it or not, must be organized.

This was evidently a follow-up on his hysterical tirade in Jogja, where he ranted that

the annihilation of the enemies of the Revolution must be carried out because the masses must be taught to differentiate who are friends and who are enemies of the Revolution.

Masses- oh, yeah, the poor folk. Was Pramoedya one of those? Since when did Communists care about poor people, with their luxury dachas outside Moscow and Mao’s orgies while his people starved. Rancid hypocrites.

As Taufiq Ismail said,

not only did he never apologise for all the violations of human rights that he was responsible for, he was not even willing to admit his actions.”

And W.S. Rendra is surely correct in saying that

I am not slandering when I say that Pramoedya as the head of the LEKRA never protested nor opposed the burning of these books.

The late and unlamented Red has his champions, of course, including Max Lane (Lane ran as Socialist Alliance Party’s candidate for Lowe in Sydney’s west – results were the second lowest of any Socialist Alliance Party. These results are off SAP’s website: Seat of Lowe, LANE, Max – 233 votes, 0.35%) who declared that Pramoedra’s writings persuaded him into such tripe as

for the first time I understood that revolution is a creative process.

(Burning books, for example?)

Max Lane
Max Lane

Lane got himself fired from a diplomatic post in the Australian Embassy and now is a leading figure in the Marxist movement back in Aussie. He thinks Indonesian school-kids, from elementary to university levels, should be force-fed Pramoedya, “compulsory reading”, so he told Tempo, as unrepentant of his intolerant creed as his mentor. Presumably Lane hopes such indoctrination would have the same effect on Indonesian youngsters as reading Pram’s guff had on him, but as I’ve said before, Indonesians are not fools – I reckon they’d soon suss out what kind of character they were dealing with.

Certainly Pramoedya did time during the New Order but boasted of a

six-story house in the middle of a plantation in Bojong Gede, Bogor.

Like many spokesmen of the down-trodden, he seems to have had a taste for the good life. Or was that wealth as fictional as his commitment to intellectual freedom? Answers please in non-A.R.S.E. coherent English.

57 Comments on “Literature Commissar”

  1. Rob says:

    Most things lose a little in the translation most often because translators or interpreters sub-consciously reference words to their own framework of understanding and sometimes this has an impact. Yet, that said, I have to agree with Janma that to simply say that the only legitimate rendering of Pram’s work is in Indonesian is a narrow way to look at the written and oral traditions of the world.

    Ross, if he had read the original Indonesian versions would more than likely have ended up with the same conclusions for the reasons alluded to by Janma. I might not have said hate for all things communist and Pram, but I willlet Ross dig that hole for himself if he wants to acknowledge any underlying personal hatred for or of Pram. But just reading Ross’ posting (opinion pieces) it is not rocket science to work out where he is coming from. If you disagree make a reasoned response to the opinions of the author, my guess is that you are unlikely to convert him to your point of view anyway.

    The analogy with the Al-Qu’ran is an interesting one and one I have heard before and heard often. It relies on not only converting people to the “true faith” of Islam but would require them to learn Arabic before they could really consider themselves Muslims. This has been an issue before and will undoubtedly be an issue again. IM has addressed this topic in other postings relating to the jailing of a cleric who dared to preach the faith in Indonesian.

    My understanding of God has always been that God would want you to be in conversation with him (assumption is male…sorry girls)…I find it hard to believe that God is going to say “wait a minute, before you can communicate with me you have to be functionally literate in Arabic!, if you are not come back when you are and we will chat then!” Does not strike me as the omnipotent all loving God that most religions preach is the one true God!

    Other arguments that get trotted out every now and then stem from this one…like converts to the religion are not as good a Muslims as those born into Islam. I am still to here what Sura justifies this belief!

    But getting back on track…the English translations of Pram’s work are pretty good and worth the read if you cannot read the originals in Indonesian. They are worth a read even if you can read the originals in Indonesian…I have read both and thoroughly enjoyed both. I read Max Lane’s translations by the way. His political affliations or leanings do not make the man a poor translator!

    In response to the idea of force-feeding Pram. Any syllabus that purports to be teaching Indonesian literature must include Pram. It must also include other literary luminaries and literature critics such as Rendra, Goenawan Mohamad, HB Jassin, and Mochtar Lubis, among many others.

    Whether you love or loathe Pram’s work there is little doubt it forms a part of the Indonesian literary fabric.

  2. timdog says:

    I have absolutely no hatred or fear of communists whatsoever, but I too when reading Pram IN TRANSLATION have a problem with his qualities as a writer. A summary of my complaints about the Buru Quartet follows. I know I will be abused and scoffed at and dismissed for not having sufficiently good Indonesian to read the original, so I will say that the following applies only to the TRANSLATION. But I will add that as many of the complaints are about structure and characterisation I think it would be a fair bet that they DO also apply to the original:

    When a book becomes a historical, social or political artefact it is difficult for it to be judged objectively as a piece of literature. The Buru Quartet has enormous status as a political entity, and as a symbol of all that the liberal world holds dear. The story behind the books is an epic in itself: a writer, a hero of the Indonesian revolution, falls from favour under a new military regime; he is imprisoned without trial for his political beliefs; he survives a decade of confinement; for years he has no access to pen or paper, but he recites the first volumes of his masterpiece orally to fellow prisoners; eventually the work is written down, eventually he is released and the books published, only to be abruptly banned by the same despotic government. By the time Indonesia emerged into democracy and Pramoedya’s books returned to the shelves, the Buru Quartet was an exalted work, inevitably appended with superlative epithets. But no matter how astonishing the back-story, no matter how ambitious the scope and scale, it is important for the Quartet to be critically appraised, for as fiction and literature it is deeply flawed.

    The first three books are narrated by Minke, an educated Javanese, a writer and journalist. It is in Minke himself that a key problem of the entire Quartet is most apparent: an abject failure of characterisation. There is little real feeling of Minke’s development and changing ideas. There is no real sense of him maturing as a character through the course of the books. As a voice he remains sketchy and indistinct, and at times rather hard to believe in (for example in his rather troubling ability to speak every language under the sun with the exception of Chinese, without, apparently ever having to learn them).

    In the enormous cast of individuals who people the book there are very few who take real shape. Bad people are only revealed as bad with clumsy, pantomime dialogue; bit player after bit player speaks in exactly the same voice. This is particularly the case when it comes to the women of the books. Pramoedya railed against much of traditional Javanese culture, and a key theme of the books is the power and importance of women in the history of the Indies. But perhaps the Javanese sense of ideal womanhood was too deeply ingrained in him. Minke’s first wife, Annelies, is intended as a beguiling, fragrant figure. Instead she is an irksome epitome of demure 19th Century womanhood. She is intensely annoying, given to fainting and taking to her bed at moments of mild stress, and she eventually expires, apparently from no disease other than an excess of delicate femininity. Minke’s second wife, Mei, a young Chinese revolutionary appears at first a more solid figure. But scarcely has she met Minke than she too takes to her bed and begins to waste demurely away. His allegedly formidable third wife is barely even a silhouette of a real character and she speaks in precisely the same cloying voice as the others. Even the real-life Kartini resembles this same vague and delicately female outline when she makes a cameo.

    The exception to all this of course is the mighty Nyai Ontosoroh, a formidable and brilliant figure, and one of the few real characters of the entire work. It should have been she who was the central figure of the books throughout (alas, Pramoedya was not great enough a writer to truly convey the sense of the dalang, the master – or mistress – behind the scenes).

    The strained circumstances of the books’ creation and eventual appearance make it very unlikely that the manuscripts ever met the red pen of a professional editor: it shows. Some brutal expurgating could probably cut the length by half, yet keep all the integrity, and make it far more readable. As a fictional rendering of the historical birth of Indonesian identity it is a mighty undertaking. But all too often, especially in the shambolic third book, all attempts at proper literary story-telling are abandoned for half a dozen pages of badly written historical background. And at times throughout the books the writing itself is astonishingly poor. The prose is often startlingly clunky and amateurish – though it is of course difficult to know if this is an accurate reflection of the original, or merely the inadequacies of the translator.

    A writer of fiction dealing with real historical events faces a considerable challenge. Some succeed by making their protagonist a minor, inconsequential character, or by fictionalising a real figure. But Pramoedya placed invented persons at the heart of things, and in doing this he is largely successful and the tweaking of real historical events that this necessitates does not jar. But there are some needless historical inaccuracies, for example, the background information about the Balinese resistance to Dutch conquest in book three – which has no bearing on central characters or story – is largely plain wrong…

    As a story the first book is strongest; it is in the final book that voice and character succeeds. Minke is replaced as narrator by Pangemanann, and he is far more palpable a figure, his tormented, compromised soul far easier to feel and believe (though like book three the final volume does have some excruciating longeurs). Alongside Nyai Ontosoroh he is almost alone as a true character in the whole work – in its translation at least. And this is perhaps a large part of the problem – in the original character and narrative is driven by use of language, of tone and inference, of different tongues, and this is unavoidably lost in translation.

    The Buru Quartet is a hugely important work in both Indonesian literature and history, and it deserves to be read by any eager student of that nation. It stands for something crucial too. But no matter what its importance or political aims no work of literature earns the right to shrug aside its responsibility to be just that – literature and readable fiction – and in this, to some extent, the Quartet fails.

    This was a review I posted on Amazon by the way…

  3. Ross says:

    Timdog has gone to great lengths to explain his appreciation of some literature. He is obviously an educated man and thinks about things, unlike some contributors, e.g. Achmad the the Rude Supercilious Expat, who reads little and whose posts reflect his ignorance (of common civility as much as literacy).
    How then can Timdog tell us he has ‘no hatred of communists, whatsoever.’
    He only has to read the news and see what communism is doing to Tibet at the moment, what it continues to do to Vietnam every day, and how it has turned a prosperous country like Cuba into a despotic cesspool. It’s our duty to detest red vermin, not least those who professed to write about human suffering and yet enlisted in the ranks of those who revel in it!
    For pity’s sake, Timdog, what’s more important. a dead red’s scribblings or mass-murder, prison camps and the wholesale denial of basic freedoms.

  4. Ziad says:

    Ross, you maintain a unitary view of communism which makes you incapable of sympathizing with communists even when they are unjustifiably victimized. If China represents genuine communism I would oppose communism all the way, but in fact socialism is a broad humanist tradition, historical communisms have been shaped by events and individuals and under specific circumstances many wrongfully adopted communism as etiquette for an absolutist tyranny that actually practiced forms of state lead capitalist or state capitalism which is the worse form of capitalism since it deprives workers of any tool of resistance. Communism is the emancipation of the productive forces in society and as such it has been rarely applied or applied with great restraints (such as the early days of the Russian revolution where workers administered their workplaces without supervision from any instances not even the communist party). Now Stalinism had much to do with negating the essence of communism, or maybe genuine democratic communism was not viable under enormous pressures from the western colonialist powers (who afforded their citizens with high standards of living by sucking the blood of other nations). So if one adopts a composite view of communism it might help understanding the sincere humanist motives that lead people like Pram and other intellectuals (intellectuals have always been one of the backbones of socialism). I adopt your critique of Pol Pot style Communism, but I urge you to acknowledge the injustices that have been done to communists and other progressives in cases like Indonesia (Communism is also a much needed remedy to religious fanaticism and irrational sectarianism, hope I am not offending anybody by lecturing on this subject but my country of origin has suffered too from sectarianism).

  5. timdog says:

    Ross, having been to both China and to Vietnam, and having read a little political theory I would just say that I am inclined to agree with the following proposition (one which incidentally is given a great deal of credence by many commentators):

    China has long, long since abandoned all ideological and functional adherence to communism and given itself over wholeheartedly to free-market capitalism, private enterprise and private industry. However, instead of also installing the basic tenets of democracy and human rights which are generally considered the requisite companions of a “capitalist” system in the West, the Chinese authorities have maintained an utterly disengenuous facade of “communism”, manifested by little more than a red flag and a reverence for past leaders. This provides an excuse for pursuing an outright “capitalist” system without instituting “democracy”…
    Thus, while cities across China burgeon with private investment and quite literally millions of individual private fortunes are made without any communist curtailment, we still have the kind of thing that is currently going on in Tibet. Despotism, yes; brutality and wickedness, yes, but communism? Really? Hardly… The same applies to Vietnam…

    Communism, when put into practice has generally been an unmitigated disaster, (with the notable exception of the admirable successes in terms of development and education achieved by democratically elected “communist” – ah, the irony – state governments in Kerala, and to a lesser extent Bengal – obviously prevented from comitting any excesses by their position within a wider democratic Indian nation). However, unlike you, I simply do not consider communism to be a threat or an issue in the modern world, and certainly not in the modern Indonesia…

    (I do though, very much consider China to be a thorny and dangerous issue, but “communism” has nothing to do with that)…

    I am also, incidentally, highly dubious about the value of communism as a counter to religious extremism as suggested by Ziad . Communism in practice has only known how to deal with religion through brutality (see what happened to mosques and temples, monks and muslims in cultural revolution China), and as the rapid resurgence of religion in post-communist states (the rise of ugly anti-semetic Catholicism in Poland for example) clearly demonstrates – it didn’t work…

  6. Ziad says:

    I agree Timdog, state communism was inefficient and counterproductive in dealing with the issue of religious extremism, and that is because it was intolerant nevertheless the materialist rationale allowed great advances in science and technology, but that was not my point either. My point is that religion has been used as a tool against progressive forces in third world countries; on the contrary the presence of communist parties in many of these countries alimented a vivid cultural life and helped mature a new consciousness.
    Regarding your first point, it is true that communism has lead in many instances to disastrous results, but that does not necessarily mean that the basic principles of equality and justice are bad. Communism have had positive achievements in health care and education, however the communism and other “developmentalist” regimes could not resist the neoliberal offensive (that was extremely violent in many instances, as noted by Naomi Klein in her new book The Shock Doctrine). Even today communism is still a relevant ideology India as you have mentioned is an example, but also Nepal, Cyprus, Venezuela, Bolivia”¦ and many other nations are having their democratic experiences with active communist and socialist movements that are trying to affect slow change by legalistic approaches, their success will be determined in the future, but at least they prove that when democratic means are open communists will abide by the rules of the game. Now if you look at a country like Indonesia, and beyond the many lies about the PKI, the communists have in fact been more inclined to the pacific route (at least anyone would agree that Indonesians were not subjected to a harsh communist rule like in the Ex soviet Bloc for instance) whereas in country like east Germany or Russia and despite a lengthy communist rule that was systematically subjected to one sided criticism still retain strong communist movements that are active and well represented in parliament. So how come people in those countries have a much more positive assessment of communism and are more tolerant towards their communists (who were the oppressors) while people in Indonesia (not all) are not willing to acknowledge the injustices done against their local communists and allow for a discussion of communism?

  7. timdog says:

    Ziad – the principles of equality and justice are more than just sound principles: they are among the most crucial of all sound principles… However, as someone who is essentially socialist in outlook, I’m inclined to think of communism as the black sheep of “our side of the family”, the one who brings shame on the rest of us, and has ultimately damaged socialism of all shades and hues… I suspect that the ultimate failure of global communism is what has led, eventually, to the death of mainstream socialism in much of western Europe – something that pains me mightily. That communism can – and does, in India for example – make valuable contributions when fettered by a broader democratic system doesn’t neccessarily mean that communism in it’s essence is a positive force…

    Your above post is sound, well-written, and convincingly argued (a rare treat around here ;-)) but I did have some trouble disentangling the multiple issues you adress.

    Why do there remain in so many post-communist states significant numbers of nostalgically dedicated party-faithful? For the same reason that there remain more than a handful of Empire-loyalists both in the UK itself, and, astonishingly, even among the “natives” of post-colonial states; for the same reason that there are plenty of Sukarnoist-jingoistic nationalists in Indonesia, for the same reason that even after a century of powerfuly-enforced secularism in Turkey there remain more than a few devout, faithul, Ottoman-revering Muslims – and, conversely, for the same reason that should Turkey be an Islamist theocracy a century from now that there will still be a core of utterly dedicated Kemalist hyper-secularists.
    It has nothing to do with the actually ideologies in question…

    As for communism in Indonesia – and what happened to the communists (and sundry others so-labelled): absolutely, the glaring, ignored wound in the nation’s history; something wrapped in such a mass of untruth, myth and propoganda that it is perhaps impossible to be objectively recovered, and something that ought, absolutely to be discussed, but which, as you say, is almost as unmentionable as the Armenian Genocide that squats in all its grotesquery at the dawn of modern Turkish history…

    And both countries need to adress these ghastly “elephants in the room” at some point if not to remain ever a little stunted in their nationhood…

  8. Achmad Sudarsono says:


    You just can’t take The Truth, or when an Indonesian Tells You Like It Is. Anyone who’s still rabbiting on about the “Reds” in 2008 deserves to be insulted or mocked. Your literary comments on Pramoedya aren’t worth commenting on.

    Timdog, is definitely thoughtful. Unfortunately, he seems to think this Blog is an academic journal and that people will read 1,000 words plus of prose.

  9. Achmad Sudarsono says:

    P.S – Ross,

    Ultimately, prison camps, mass murder, and denial of basic freedoms are fuelled by the kind of ignorance, shallow thinking and half-baked arguments you’ve made your trademark.

  10. Ziad says:

    Timdog, I am more of a libertarian who thinks that communism has to be democratic by definition, which makes me closer to the anarchist side of the socialist family (although I believe there should be a broad diversified leftist coalition), however I feel the urge to defend communists against generalizations, so if one can still find bright spots in the legacy of Eastern Europe, how come there persist in Indonesia this dark view of communists (despite them being the victims in this case).
    I am just arguing that communism is a political view that is legitimate and needed as a force in society that can voice the concerns of a segment of the population; communism might not be the best solution to Indonesia’s problems but looking on its current political landscape the communists can be way ahead most of the players. A society that is threatened by globalization and subjected to multinationals’ looting is in need for every progressive element including the communists who in turn has to reinvent themselves in order to be compatible with (illusionary) democracy of the postmodern era.

  11. Ross says:

    Now ain’t that a shame. Just when we get two guys arguing like people with brains -I mean Ziad and Timdog, – Achmad the Rude Supercilious Expat slimes back to soil the screen with more tripe. He’s a proven liar, who makes up his personal abuse as he goes along, and just who is that little chap in the photo beside his posts- over 17, one hopes?

    Communism was and is all over the place. It has enacted more holocausts than Hitler ever dreamed of. Indonesia was lucky to avoid it. Enough said -though yes, Ziad and Timdog, you make fair points about communism having had to skip the economic rubbish and use capitalism to keep going.

    But their political dogma remains, one-party tyranny, education used to poison minds (like Max Lane wanted here, forcing the youngsters to read Red Pram) and that is still (yes, in 2008, Achmad) what Castro (Raoul now, Fidel before) foists on the poor Cubans, who have never had a whiff of the freedom those fraternal fiends promised.
    Vietnam and Laos are run (in 2008, Achmad) by Communist Parties that subjugate all opposition.
    China – Red China, not Free China – hasn’t had political liberty since Owen Lattimore and his pinko pals pulled the rug out from under the good guys in the Chinese Civil War. Whines here from A.R.S.E. etc that Chiang Kai Shek’s regime was ‘undemocratic’ but Free China has emerged from it, whereas the Mao Beast’s heirs still (in 2008, Achmad) refuse their subjects any say in government.

    Okay, there are lots of millionaires in Beijing and even the poor urban workers eat better ( though the peasantry are still incarcerated in red-imposed stagnation) but what good is prosperity without the right to run your own country?
    We know left-libs like Achmad refuse to recognise the evil that communism does ‘in 2008,’ because he is either a completely brain-dead ninny or a fellow-traveller – I think the former is more likely; fellow-travellers usually evince more skill in their use of arguments.

  12. Achmad Sudarsono says:


    By all means, keep going with your line that the “Reds” are a danger right now. Go ahead. I dare you.

    All I’m asking is that people keep to basic standards of writing: short, sharp, clear.

    As for your own writing, same thing, sunshine. Short, sharp, clear. Repeat it. Again and again.

    Add a spicing of logic in there and you’re ready to go, Big Fella.

    But some friendly advice is just to shut up about the “Red Menace,”. As mentioned, seriously, sunshine, it’s 2008.

    Finally, why do you think I’m an Ex-Pat ? Could it be you think its impossible an Indonesian writes better English than you ?

  13. Ziad says:

    Let us try to quantify things in order to evade generalizations (though I am not a fan of qualitative approaches). There have been three major communist revolutions:
    “¢ The Russian (Bolshevik) revolution was the only successful post WWI revolution, the German and Hungarian revolutions were ill fated. It is important to bear in mind that Russia was not an industrialized country; industrialization was a pre-condition for success according to Marx .
    “¢ The Chinese Maoist revolution that wholly departed from Marx’s scheme.
    “¢ The Cuban revolution that followed the Chinese path but came in different cultural, social, and economic conditions.

    Eastern Europe was annexed by the triumphant Soviet Union after WWII, only defunct Yugoslavia had a substantial communist party that was on the verge of controlling the country, the rest of it witnessed a soviet dominated impositions of so called communist regimes. Vietnam was more of a prolonged liberation and anti-colonial struggle and soon after the departure of the Americans, burdened and exhausted Vietnam turned to market economy in 1984. The Sandinistas in Nicaragua were not able to consolidate their power for long although they left a generally positive legacy, (they allowed democratic elections even after their final military success and willingly passed the power to their opponents) and remained popular which allowed their current return to power.

    There were also several democratic ‘attempts’ (against all odds) to gain by the ballots, Spain was the earliest tragedy, they were soon massacred by the Fascist phalange in 1936 after their electoral victory, Chili in 1973 followed a similar path and the democratic process was violently aborted, Italy with the help of the US, the CIA the Vatican and other major European nations kept the communist party (that remained for long Italy’s biggest political party) away from power. Know if I would want to add to this a list of the countries that banned communism or subjected communists to discriminatory measures the list would be very long.

    My analysis would be: The ‘revolutionary’ communism was tainted by Stalinism and the specific experience of Russia an agrarian economy not wealthy enough to sustain adequate levels of production to guarantee good standards of livings, for this and for many other reasons Bolsheviks under Stalin resorted to excessive and indiscriminate terror, they later introduced these practices to East Europe, but apart from Russia there was nothing that can be described as “genocide”! although societies were monitored and controlled the level of political violence is highly exaggerated in those countries.
    Chaing Kai Shek definitely was not the good guy in China’s case it is him who declared the war on Mao. Mao’s legacy is highly debated but as a faithful Stalinist he left many casualties behind him, however in both cases you do not need to talk about “genocide” to make a point about excessive and indiscriminate use of political force that should be condemned by everybody. Nevertheless, I would not consider this an inherently communist behavior, Suharto, Pinochet, Franco, Saddam”¦ and many others prove that anti-communism can match and exceed communist tyranny, now the market forces prefer to prosper under a democratic ‘outlook’ but only after the radical danger is eliminated by Suharto like dictators, this is why the US dumps its puppets from time to time.
    Cuba is a more complex case, Castro’s country have a vivid cultural life where you can see daring criticisms of the regime (look at the movie Fresa Y Chocolate) a respectful educational system, good doctors and higher life expectancy than all of the Americas including the US. Cuba being a single party state is surely not the best democratic example, but the regime is not a brutal one, there haven’t been political executions in Cuba since a long time ago, while countries like Colombia, Salvador and Guatemala (democracies by US standards) witness systematic eliminations of leftist oppositions. Isn’t ironic?!
    Now if you deny social change you will get revolutions, when you corner revolutions you turn them to tyrannies and accidentally abort the revolutionary process. But change has to come it has to find its way “¦ the point is to make it democratic.

  14. dewaratugedeanom says:

    I would like to propose for Patung to create a special site for politico-scientific wankers where they can enjoy to revel in pompous jargon instead of conveying their opinions in a concise and clearly understandable prose that may be a benefit for all of us.
    Esoteric rants like these make one lose his interest in politics.

  15. Ross says:

    Achmad the Rude Supercilious Expat now denies he’s a foreigner. My orginal assumption was based on his sheer crass rudeness and his taste for a toilet-talk standard of ‘debate’ (though he has yet to debate in any meaning ful way.
    Indonesians are usually courteous, and apart from dreggy sorts who learned bad ways in overseas unis, keep their arguments on a civil level.
    Then ARSE began to lie like fury (his motivating force, fury, never a glimmer of humour in that dull, pedestrian prose) and a stream of mendacity flowed out, concerning my clothes, my computer, my social life and even concerning the age of the mythical bar-girl I allegedly encountered (he must have got a lot closer, if he inspected her ktp to learn her age!) In fact, the last 17 year old I had such fun with was probably around my first year at uni, when I was 19, which is not exactly a reprehensible relationship. Why the lies, ARSE- what have you got to hide?

    So he’s a liar, a bore, and lacks even the pretence of concern for oppressed people, whether in Hanoi, Vientiane, Lhasa, Beijing or Havana. Blindly he repeats his inane mantra, there is no communist horror today, even as its victims fall bleeding on Himalayan roadside. – what a dumb, heartless klutz!

    Okay, a few days off have enabled me to wind up the compsymp creep again, so I am back to work on Saturday. He can bottle up the spleen till I have time to goad him some more, next month.
    He’ll be busy celebrating his special day next Tuesday, of course.

  16. Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Hey Folks – who’s more fun to read – Ross or me ? Anyone, Bueller, anyone ?

  17. Janma says:

    Achmad, you and Ross go together like a horse and carriage….
    no fun without the other!
    Bueller? Who is he? LOL

  18. Achmad Sudarsono says:

    From 1986 American film Ferris Bueller’s day off. Teacher is explaining supply-side economics in a sleepy Chicago class room, asking for a student response, “Bueller, anyone, anyone…?”

    What do you think about our Insult-a-Thon ?

  19. Country man says:

    Wow..there many mixing thing among Pram products in literature, Pram political belief, communism in general ters, Member of communist party in Indonesia performance and their understanding of Communism, Socialism in general and Socialism bigot…..Pram is no doubt is a fanatic Commie…his products are woth to be applaused venthough very strong influenced by his political belief ..Whera are you all when Pam is the Chairman of LEKRA ?

  20. vitriolic says:

    The ‘debate’ between Ross and Achmad is seriously interesting, I’m pretty sure Achmad is just another irate and insulted Indonesian pissed off at this bigoted self-righteous expat charading as this literary enthusiast. Pram may or may not be a Communist, but you must be seriously daft to compare Indonesia’s only Nobel Literature Prize candidate to JACK THE RIPPER, this shows you uncouth taste and petty minded idiocy.

    Indonesians are not this meek, idiotic, English writing incapable stooges who cling to every wise-ass white guy. Some of us are intelligent and can see through your pathetic bigotry and insecurity.
    Do show your ‘literary masterpiece’, has it been translated to over 30 languages? Will people actually care if you die? I don’t think so, you warrant no such attention and respect.

    So please, for the sake of your dignity just shut up and read something. Learn Indonesian, I don’t know, get a life? Poverty, famine and so many other things are still plaguing humanity today, get over the “Red’ Pram nonsense.

    fyi. I’m Indonesian, a girl, and 17. And yes, I have also read Solzhenitsyn, Pram in English & Indonesian, Dostoevsky, Dickens and Orwell. You’re not so special.

  21. Purba Negoro says:

    Sorry Pram is just Western academic autoerotisicm material for talentless hacks like Max Lane “gee I wish I was Chomsky”.

    I understand Pram’s socialist, liberalist cosmopolitanism and pro-multi-culturalist baubles had had Max Lane and other typical armchiar-socailists walking around covering their crotches with his books while sneaking off the the toilet for a sweaty ten minutes.

    Nobel prize candidacy? Phhht. Even I, Purbanegoro Jayawijayatrikorasuraya Sudarsonoratnopurapurbalinggam Wesagungne IX can be nominated.

    Typical bule- only comprehend the obvious and the superficial- but i suppose Dr Suess-like Pram is easier to translate the wayang-esque Cairil Anwar and other true literary genius’ important enough to be published by Indonesians- as opposed to Malaysian like Pram.

    Pram couldn’t find a major Indonesian publisher- even Lontar thought he was crap.

    But,alas, the good Indonesian poets etc have already been covered by better academics- and how else can hack Max Lane get his name on a book- compulsory measurements for a resident Academic…

  22. diego says:

    Are we talking about communist / communism here? Well, I’d like to rant to, short one.

    I dislike leftists.

    There I said it.

    Communist / leftist / socialist are basically the same, right? They’re so critical of almost everything. Their biggest enemy (that they haven’t managed to defeat, never… I guess, with their constant complaining) is McDonald.

    You need to be aware of the existence of leftist around you. Here’s a simple test to detect them.

    First, ask him a question: “Do you like McDonald?”.
    If the answer is “no”, probably he is a leftist.
    Then ask the second question: “Why?”
    If the answer is “because it tastes like shit”, then he’s not leftist. He’s a normal person. I too dislike McDonald.
    If the answer is “because it’s blulrbb… mega corporation… blurb… american imperialism… blurb… global capitalism… blurb”…, then… there you got your leftist.

  23. Burung Koel says:

    @ diego + 1

    That line of questioning would have saved Senator McCarthy a whole lot of trouble.

  24. diego says:

    @Burung Koel:

    I was not joking when I said I detest leftists…, detesto izquierdismo.

    Leftists persons I’ve met along the way are hypocrites. For that single reason I dislike leftists.

    I also found lots of resources on the web that backup my assertion “beware: leftists people are hypocrites”. This one: … and this one:

  25. Burung Koel says:

    Hypocrites come in all shades and shapes, diego. Remember that it was the ‘leftist’ George Orwell who did more than most to expose the totalitarian nature of Stalin’s regime.

    The people I tend to admire (from all political persuasions) are the ones with high ethical values, and who try and make a real difference. I note that one of your links is to a local blog in the US that criticises Bruce Springsteen. Springsteen has made a positive difference to the lives of many people, and his concerts are testament to the uplifting power of popular music. He has written some of the most significant songs of the last few decades, which will outlive him and his critics. Can the Clark County blog make the same claim?

    And whatever you might think about his politics, Springsteen did say he made a mistake over the Wal Mart deal – something a real hypocrite would never do.

  26. diego says:

    @Burung Koel

    Ok, I admit, my disdain for leftist is mostly because everytime the word “leftist” comes across, I can’t help but thinking a co-worker I used to have, a stinking unwashed bohemian pot-smoking european, who kept talking about socialist ideals, and I’ve never noticed him doing anything social.

    Anyway, you’re right. Maybe I should’ve said “I hate poseurs”.

    Hey, where’s dragie? ™

  27. Burung Koel says:

    @ diego

    I can’t remember working with you. 🙂

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