by Max Lane, written May 24, 2018
May 21, 2018 marked the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the dictator Suharto, who ruled Indonesia from 1965 until 1998 — 33 years; a very long time. This 33 years constituted a massive percentage of the time Indonesia has existed. The leadership of the national revolution proclaimed independence on 17 August, 1945 but the colonial power, the Netherlands, was not forced to take its soldiers and bureaucrats home until the end of 1949. Its capitalists remained dominant there until they were expelled between 1956-1958. The effort to consolidate a new nation and a new state only began in 1950.
The challenge of consolidation in the first years was greater for the nation — a new community — than the state itself — the congealed power of a (capitalist) ruling class, who faced no immediate threat from any other organised class force.
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