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
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.