Oil and Water Do Not Mix (1957)


This excerpt comes from “Assessing Bung Karrno’s Conception,” an

article comnunting on the President’s Conception speech of February 21, I957 (fig), 

which was published as a supplement to the Djakarta

Daily Indonesia Baja, of March 5, 1957.



When we come to examine Bung Karno’s conception of a Gotong


Rojong Cabinet, we are faced with an idea which is intrinsically good

and idealistic but in practice cannot be put into effect. It could only

be put into effect if all parties represented in parliament shared a

common goal and if their political differences concerned only how this

goal was to be attained.


But it is this common goal which is lacking. Especially as between

the PKI on the one hand and the religious parties and some nationalist

groups on the other, there is a difference of ideology and goals which

is very fundamental, so that it is difficult to bring these two together in

a Gotong Ro/ong Cabinet. We can leave for the moment the question

of how portfolios would be divided between these mutually suspicious



Some will concede that there are indeed differences of principle be-

tween the PKI and the religious and nationalist parties as regards their

ideology and view of life but go on to ask whether there are also such

differences as regards goals. Yes, as regards goals, too, there are dif-

ferences of principle! The aim of the religious and nationalist parties

is the building-up of one national state, an Indonesian nation which

will be just and prosperous. The PKI is basically part of an interna-

tional movement which aims at world revolution. Its means of realiz-

ing this is by setting up proletarian dictatorships everywhere.


From time to time the Communists are allowed to adapt their tac-

tics to accord with a particular situation, but fundamentally their

struggle may not deviate from the principles laid down by Lenin

which are known as democratic centralism. This means absolute obedi-

ence to the leader, and no right to disagree, in the interests of the

whole. And this leader is, for Communists all over the world, Moscow.


For a Communist, the Soviet Union is the capital with which all his

ideals can be realized, for the Communist struggle stands or falls by

the success of the Soviet Union.


Because Soviet Russia is the pioneer of the realization of his ideals,

the Communist puts the interests of its international political struggle

first. In order to strengthen the position of the Soviet Union, he will,

if necessary, sacrifice all other interests, including those of his own

country’s freedom. This has been shown by the history of the last

thirty years. As they see it, once Russia has achieved victory in its

struggle against imperialism, the freedom of other countries will come

of its own accord.


Absolute obedience to the leadership of Moscow is a fundamental

law of life for a Communist. It is the foundation of the Communist

movement’s strength. A person cannot be a real Communist unless

he understands and can adapt himself to this iron discipline. So an

Indonesian government in which Communists are participants can-

not carry out an independent foreign policy. Whatever his personal

feelings may be, a Communist will be betraying his ideals if he does

not put the interests of the Soviet Union first, even where these con-

flict with the interest of his own country.


Because of this, Bung Karno’s efforts to bring the PKI and the re-

ligious and nationalist parties together in a cabinet must fail. It is

like trying to mix oil and water. There are, indeed, some among us,

opportunists, who hope that the PKI can be made into a Titoist com-

munist movement and argue that this could be done by bringing it

into the cabinet to participate in carrying out national policies, in-

cluding our independent and active foreign policy.


That possibility is not reasonable! The PKI will continue to take

Moscow as its guide, will continue to hold fast to the fundamentals

of Leninism and Stalinism. Quite apart from considerations of icleol-

ogy, there is no advantage for the PKI in becoming a Titoist com-

munist organization, a body standing by itself and competing with

other parties, without any ties to international communism. This

would only weaken it. The possibility does not exist, especially in view

of Moscow’s present position of returning to the centralist principles

of Stalin.


Bung Karno is afraid that a movement such as the PKI, which ob-

tained six million votes in the recent elections, cannot just be left to

be in the opposition. Quite apart from the question of what value

one places on those six million votes, what are we to do if the groups

which obtained more than three times as many votes as the PKI are

unwilling to accept the PKI? To force them to accept it would sharpen

the conflict and take us further away from our ideals of national peace

and national unity.


But what is wrong with the PKI’s sitting in parliament as an op-

position party? A good democratic government consists of government

and opposition. The government acts and the opposition acts as a

check on it. If the PKI acts as a good and firm opposition in parlia-

ment and does not merely obstruct and make trouble, it can influence

the course of government and turn it in a favorable direction. It can

prevent corruption in the government parties and so help to raise

the present low level of political morality. In this way the gover

ment parties will be forced to give proper attention to the

improvement of the lot of the common people.


Only a good and responsible opposition, one with a sense of res

sponsibility for the welfare of the government and the people can

contribute to the healthy development of democracy, which is

parently struggling to survive.