Anarchism in Indonesia

Anti-Duterte graffiti in Indonesia, 2017.
Anti-Duterte graffiti in Indonesia, 2017.

Vadim Damier and Kirill Limanov on the history of anarchism in Indonesia.

Submitted by Foristaruso on November 14, 2017


by Vadim Damier and Kirill Limanov

The leftist movement in Dutch East Indies emerged first under the influence of the Social Democratic and Socialist currents of the Netherlands. Anarchist ideas were little known (1), although one of the first critics of the Dutch colonial system was the writer-anarchist Eduard Douwes Dekker, known under the pseudonym "Multatuli" (1820-1887). Working in the years 1842-1856 in the colonial administration in the Dutch East Indies (even before his turning to anarchism), he became acquainted with the brutality of colonialism and made accusatory speeches, works of art and articles, trying to raise public opinion against the colonialists. At the beginning of the 20th century, the texts of Multatuli exerted a significant influence on the anarchist and syndicalist workers in the Netherlands (2).

Grandnephew of Multatuli, Ernest François Eugène Douwes Dekker (1879 - 1950), a native of the European-Indonesian family, became one of the leaders of the anti-colonial movement in the archipelago. During his trip to Europe in 1910 - 1911, he established contacts with activists of radical movements for the liberation of the colonies, including with the Indian Shyamaji Krishnavarma, who later described him as a "political anarchist," adherent to the tactics of individual acts and assassinations. In the magazine "Het Tijdschrift", published by E.F.E. Douwes Dekker in Java since 1911, articles of foreign left and radical authors were published, including of Krishnavarma and Indian anarchist Har Dayal. The publisher stressed himself in the materials he wrote that, given the curtailment of workers' rights in Europe itself, he does not believe that parliamentary democracy can be useful for the society that he seeks to create. He hinted at the possibility of using revolutionary violence, although he added that the proposed revolutionary path does not necessarily imply truly violent methods. In February 1913, he openly wrote that resistance against colonialism is a moral duty, since no matter how "soft" the colonial regime is, this system is always based on inequality, injustice and the privileges of rulers, and therefore inevitably is a form of despotism and tyranny. As methods of struggle, Douwes Dekker mentioned demonstrations, agitation, revolution, passive resistance, strikes (especially in the sphere of communications and transport), boycott and insurrection. He welcomed modern revolutionary movements in various countries of the world and, following the anarchist and socialist propagandists in Europe, welcomed sabotage and syndicalism, condemning reformist socialism. He called Jesus Christ "a glorious anarchist" and a fighter for freedom (3). Nevertheless, when in 1912 Douwes Dekker created the radical nationalist Indian Party, there was nothing of anarchism in its program and in the activities of this organization.

Trade unions that emerged in the Dutch East Indies from the first decade of the twentieth century, were influenced by Marxist socialists, who in May 1914 created the Indian Social Democratic Union (ISDU). Its members also worked actively in the colonial army and navy, in the Union of the lower ranks of the fleet, and during the First World War – in the Union of Soldiers and Sailors, which in November 1918 acted as the organizer of the uprising of soldiers and naval sailors in Surabaya and the formation of the Council of Soldiers 'and Sailors' Deputies . Despite the hegemony of Social-Democracy in this movement, there are references to the influence of anarchists, although it is not entirely clear from sources whether they were conscious supporters of anarchist ideas, or whether this definition simply served to denote radical and "subversive" sentiments.

Thus, reporting on the demonstration of military seamen in Surabaya on May 7, 1916, which was caused by discontent with poor treatment, nutrition and treatment, lack of hygiene and indignation because of war profits, the local newspaper "Soerabaijasch Nieuwsblad" mentioned that a certain "a very young sailor with obviously anarchist ideas" tried to persuade his comrades not to stop themselves at violations of the law. The demonstration was held without the approval of the leadership of the Sailors' Union and was accompanied by clashes with the police. During the shootout, 5 people were injured. The Social Democrats hardly managed to stop the protest; in the course of subsequent repressions, one of the organizers was sentenced to 8 months in prison, and 47 sailors were dismissed (4). The leadership of the Dutch Union of the lower ranks of the fleet criticized its branch in Surabaya for not having vigorously distanced itself from the speech, and the leader of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of the Netherlands, Pieter Jelles Troelstra, complained that the leadership of the union lost control, as a result of which "to the anarchist elements among the personnel was given a free hand" (5). The party declared that it was necessary to fight the "anarchist elements" in the Union of Soldiers (6), while the commander of the Royal Dutch East Indies Army, Van Rietschoten, called for counteracting the fact that the military are joining the unions and associations that make a "propaganda in a purely anarchist direction" (7).

The propaganda work in Dutch East Indies was conducted by Dutch Christian anarchists and Tolstoyans who organized the Movement for a Clean Life in the Netherlands in 1901. On January 1, 1907, the movement begun to publish the monthly "Levenskracht", edited by Dirk Lodewijk Willem van Mierop (1876 - 1930), later one of the organizers of the Union of Religious Anarcho-Communists. The publication advocated non-violence, life on the nature, natural clothes, vegetarianism, etc. Through him, active agitation was also conducted in the Dutch East Indies, where in 1923 a branch of this movement was formed (8).

Chinese anarchists tried to spread revolutionary ideas among the Chinese population of the Netherlands. Anarchist Zhang Ji, a future participant of the Tokyo Asian Solidarity Society in 1907, spent some time in Java, where he translated from the English language that part of the book "The History of Java," which dealt with the resistance of Chinese immigrants to the Dutch colonial power. His translation was published in "Zhongguo ribao", published in Hong Kong as an organ of Chinese revolutionaries (9).

The work of Chinese anarchists in the Dutch East Indies began before the First World War, and activists acted in close contact with like-minded people in China, the Philippines and British Malaya. Initially, the revolutionaries of different views grouped around the Chinese reading houses, which began to open throughout the archipelago since 1909 and served as a kind of political association opposing to the Dutch and Chinese authorities, creating newspapers ("Hoa Tok Po", " Soematra Po ", etc.) (10). After the overthrow of the monarchy in China in 1911, the anarchists focused on organizing the labor movement and spreading the ideas of the social revolution. They conducted work, in particular, through the offices of the "Workers' Party" (Gongdang / Kungtong), which, in fact, acted not as a political union, but as a sort of working association or trade union organization. At the initiative of the Bureau of Communications of the Workers' Party in the South Seas (Southeast Asia), which was based in Singapore, its branches were established in the cities of the Dutch East Indies as Makassar (Celebes), Batavia, Surabaya (on Java) and Kupang (western part of the island of Timor) (11).

Apparently, the first anarchist cells arose between 1914 and 1916, as indicated by the Review of the Anarchist Movement in the South Seas. In this report, published in the Chinese anarchist publication in 1927, it was mentioned that in the Dutch East Indies there were "many comrades who did their best to spread the propaganda of "Minsheng " ("Voices of the People ") in the ports on the islands South-East Asia" (12). The newspaper "Minsheng" was founded in 1913 in southern China by the anarchist Liu Shifu and was published until 1916 and in 1921. It was widely distributed also among the Chinese outside of China.

Former activist of the Sun Yatsen`s "United League", Bai Binzhou (Pai Pinchow), who formerly headed the Batavian newspaper "Hoa Tok Poe), and Wang Yuting (1892 - 1967), arrived in 1918 from Kuala Lumpur, published the anarcho-communist newspaper "Zhenli Bao" ("Voice of Truth") in Semarang on the Java (13). In 1918, anarchist Liu Shixin, brother of Shifu, began editing the publication of the newspaper "Soematra Po" ("Sumendala Bao" / "The Newspaper of Sumatra") (14), in the district of Deli (Medan) (15).

According to the memoirs of Liu Shixin, he went to Southeast Asia in the summer of 1918 with a group of 6 or 7 people. Originally they stopped in Singapore, but then they moved to Sumatra "for propaganda of socialism, having no overall plan and organization, with a very naive practice". Soon they attracted the attention of the local police, who called them "Bushiwei" ("Bolsheviks") (16).

By 1919, on the islands of the Indonesian archipelago, small groups of the "Society for the Truth of the Southern Seas" based in Singapore were formed, which disseminated materials on anarchism (17). The central figure in the "Society of Truth", as the Chinese researcher Li Danyang says, was Liu Shixin (18). In April 1919 in Semarang, the Chinese workers created the "Workers' Party", which in fact stood on the positions of anarchism. Its paper was the "Zhenli Bao" mentioned above, which was published twice a month. The active agitation in this newspaper was led by the anarchist Wu Dunmin, who lived in British Malaya. To the British authorities in Selangor he explained during the interrogation that "Zhenli Bao" is published by the "Workers' Party" with a view to "promoting human rights". In fact, he openly propagated anarchist ideas in this publication. So, in an editorial on the case of May 1, 1919, he welcomed the working class of the whole world and the achievements of the socialist movement, declared that in order to achieve "a free and happy communist land of mutual aid" workers must shake off the "enslaving shackles of the rich" to carry out anarchism (19). In the same year, Bai Binzhou and Wang Yuting founded the newspaper "Sanbaolong Yuebao" ("The Voice of the Semarang"), which was published until 1922 (20).

Anarchist work was also conducted through the local branches of the Chinese "Workers 'Union", or "Workers' Party" in Surabaya and other cities (21). According to British intelligence, the authorities of the Dutch East Indies in 1918-1920-ies. experienced great problems with the anarchist societies of the Chinese in Java, Sumatra and Celebes. During the police searches and seizure, a lot of documents were confiscated, indicating the connection of local Chinese anarchists with societies in China and Singapore (22). Already in 1918, according to the East Cost of Sumatra Institute, the activity of workers' organizations was noted, whose "economic motives" had a "political ground". Particular attention was paid to the distribution of Chinese and Malay newspapers, which expressed "revolutionary and socialist ideas". The unrest on the plantations was accompanied by repeated attacks on Dutch administrators (23).

In response to the intensification of propaganda, the Dutch authorities arrested two editors of "Soematra Po" in March 1919, including Liu Shixin (in British documents he appeared as Shek Sam), and other anarchists in Medan, and also Zhong Fen in Makasar, on island of Celebes. The grounds for the arrest were the "compromising documents" discovered by them during the search, with plans for what was called "a major Bolshevik propaganda campaign" (24). After 52 days in custody, Liu Shixin was deported from the Dutch East Indies for propagating the ideas of anarcho-communism and the Russian revolution. By the summer of 1919, he returned to Guangzhou (25). Arrested in Java, Wang Yuting and Bai Binzhou were deported to Hong Kong in early September 1919 (26). Also, Zhong Fen and other most active agitators were deported from the country (27).

Despite these repressions, it was not immediately possible to defeat the anarchist movement. In the 1920 - 1921 in Sumatra, a wave of strikes broke out on the railways of the Deli Railway Company, the largest of which was at the beginning of September 1920. Five thousand contracted worker-coolie and 10,000 civilian railway workers demanding a salary increase joined the strike, and employees of post and telegraph too. Local peasants sympathized with the strikers, supplied them with rice and other food (28). Some participants in the strike called for reprisals against Dutch colonial officials (29). The troops were pulled into the Deli area, canons were directed against the building where workers' assemblies were held (30). Intending to decapitate the strike, the local administration arrested ten activists at the very beginning, charging them with breach of contract, and hundreds of workers went to prison together with the arrested, saying: "in prison we will be better fed than in our enterprises". The result was that those arrested were released (31). Under threat of dismissal of all participants of strike after 15 days of struggle performance has been stopped.

The inspirer of the strike campaign, according to the authorities, was an anarchist-communist Zhang Shimei (32) from Fuzhou (in the Chinese province of Fujian), who came to Medan from Singapore. Details of his biography, cited in various sources, diverge (33). It is known that he spoke beautifully in Malay, and the administration was afraid that Zhang would continue anarchist propaganda even in custody. Therefore, he was exiled to New Guinea. In 1923, he was pardoned by a royal amnesty and deported to Singapore (34).

The decline of anarchist work in the archipelago was caused not only by repression, but also by the disappearance of the movement in neighboring Malaya. Although as far back as 1926-1927, a branch of the pro-syndicalist Union of Mechanics of Hong Kong operated in East Indies (35).

One of the last traces of the presence of Chinese anarchists in the Dutch East Indies was the activity of Fu Wumen, who led headed various anarchist publications between 1918 and 1924, and in September 1928 came to Surabaya. Until 1929, he was the editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Dagong Shangbao" (36). However, there is no evidence of his participation in the anarchist movement during this period.

In the Netherlands, some Indonesian students had contacts with Dutch anarchists. Having found themselves in a much more free environment than under the colonial regime in the archipelago, many students established links with left-wing political forces (including Social Democrats, revolutionary socialists, and Communists), and took part in the work of the International League against Imperialism and Colonial Oppression, at whose congresses also anarchist anti-militarists spoke (38). Some of the students showed interest in anarchism. Among them was, for example, the future first prime minister of the Indonesian Republic (1945 - 1947) Sutan Sjahrir. As Salomon Tas – the former chairman of the Social Democratic Student Club, with whom Sjahrir had been in close contact soon after his arrival in Amsterdam in 1929 – recalled, his new friend "moved farther and farther to the left in search of radical comrades", until finally met with a handful of anarchists who lived in the commune. However, Sjahrir, according to Tas, quickly moved away from this and became interested in socialism in a "more practical" form (39). After gaining independence, Sjahrir became the head of the Socialist Party of Indonesia.

The fact that the young Indonesian nationalists, ultimately, did not find a common language with the anarchists of the Netherlands, is not accidental. Although these latter were resolute opponents of colonialism, they were sharply critical of the idea of creating new national states. The Dutch anarchists emphasized that national independence would not eliminate the exploited position of the workers in the colonies, but would only replace the oppression of the colonialists by the oppression of their own bourgeoisie, their own militarism, and so on. Speaking at an anti-colonial congress in Brussels in 1927, the representative of the International Antimilitarist Commission, anarcho-syndicalist Arthur Müller-Lehning, warned the oppressed peoples to follow the example of the West and create new states. He urged them to renew social life in the spirit of eliminating classes (40). And at the Congress of the League against Imperialism in Frankfurt am Main (1929), the delegate of the International Anti-militarist Bureau, anarchist Bart de Ligt, declared that the struggle should not only be waged against colonialism and the imperialism of the "white" powers, but also against nationalism and the rudiments of imperialism among oppressed nations; not for the power of the national bourgeoisie, but for the "free and open International ... of all languages and races". He linked the struggle for the creation of independent national states with the desire of the elites of the oppressed nations to independent domination. "Everywhere in this part of the world we see the emergence of a native bourgeois class that yearns to create its power on the basis of the exploitation of the broad masses of its countries". This new class certainly struggles there for national independence, but at the same time it is building a new economic system borrowed from the white bourgeoisie..." – explained the Dutch antimilitarist. He called for a struggle against militarism in the liberation movements, against "anti-imperialist militarism," which, as the experience of China shows, could only lead to a new imperialism. Support, in his opinion, was worth only unarmed and non-militaristic movements (41). It is clear that such statements could not be popular among activists who were eager to create their own national bourgeois state.

By the time of the proclamation of Indonesia's independence in 1945, there were no signs of the existence of an anarchist movement in any form in the country. The political elite of the new state used the label "anarchism" to condemn their opponents and the "grassroots" appearances of the workers that were unsuitable for it. After the fall of 1945 workers began to spontaneously seize railroads, industrial enterprises and plantations, establishing working control over them, and local authorities dubbed this movement "anarcho-syndicalism." As the researcher Jafar Suryomengolo points out, this term was borrowed from Marxist literature to describe the danger and risks of workers getting out of state control, but the label was not meant to describe the actual process of workers' control, but to reject and condemn the phenomenon. Abdulmajid, who led the Indonesian students after the departure of the Hatta, and other socialists "brought" this expression from Holland. In February 1946, Vice President Hatta openly attacked "syndicalism," speaking at an economic conference in Yogyakarta, and by the spring of 1946 the enterprises had passed under the control of the state (42). President Sukarno, in turn, feared the "anarcho-syndicalist" tendencies in the Indonesian Workers' Party created by the trade unions (43). But these accusations had nothing to do with the real anarchist or anarcho-syndicalist movement.

Anarchism reappeared on the archipelago only in the 1990s. In the years 1993-1994, an Indonesian punk scene emerged. Gradually, part of it turned to anti-dictatorship and anti-fascist activity; they established links with social movements and with the labour movement. As the Indonesian activists themselves described, the anarchist movement arose around 1998. "At that time anarchy was synonymous with punk, and some people in this community began to take a deeper interest in anarchist ideology and values. Since that time, anarchist discourse began to develop among individuals and collectives in punk / hardcore community, and later in a wider range of groups of activists, students, workers ... ". Discussions began on how to create groups and organizations on a non-hierarchical and decentralized basis. The first, as yet unstable, groups and small magazines were published, in which various problems of social movements were discussed: questions of feminism, anarchist values, anti-capitalism, social resistance, antiglobalism, ecology, etc. Access to the Internet facilitated the spread of anarchism. A serious problem was the lack of anarchist literature in Indonesian languages, and brochures by M. Bakunin, E. Goldman, R. Rocker were translated and published ... (44)

The participation of young Indonesian anarchists in social movements began with shares in distributing food to the needy ("Food not bombs"), supporting protests and anti-fascist work. So, in August-September 1999, the activists of the Bandung Antifascist Front supported the struggle of the striking workers of the Rimba Aristama factory, organized solidarity and demonstration actions. In December 1999, representatives of radical youth anti-fascist groups from all over Indonesia convened the first meeting of the "Antifascist Network of Nusantara" in Yogyakarta, which had an anarchist orientation (45).

Several congresses were held. The groups were unstable, often disintegrated and replaced with new ones. At the very end of the 1990's and at early 2000's, the Committee for the Action of the Oppressed People and the Anti-Fascist Anti-racist Action existed for some time in Jakarta, and there was an info-shop "Brainwashing Corporation" trying to spread information about anarchism and theory. In Bandung, the "Countercultural collective" was active, practicing direct action "in everyday life"; the "Mutual Aid Forum" existed in Malang. In 2001, a group of anarchists from Western Java proclaimed (as opposed to countercultural orientation) the idea of forming an "anarcho-party" and an anarcho-syndicalist movement.

At the beginning of the XXI century, the anarchist movement in Indonesia remained dispersed; different groups and individual activists adhered to different versions of anarchism and tactical forms. Nevertheless, they were able to join their efforts to implement joint projects, such as holding May Day demonstrations. Thus, in the organization of the procession, on May 1, 2007, groups such as Affinitas (Yogyakarta), Jarangan Otonomis (Jakarta), Apocalypse (Bandung), Jarangan Autonomus Kota (Salatiga), individual activists from Bali and Semarang, as well as people from the punk band of Jakarta. This unification for a specific action was called "Jarangan anti-otoritarian" ("Anti-authoritarian network"). The May Day action of 2007 gathered more than 100 people and marked the emergence of anarchism on the public stage. After that, new groups appeared in different cities, and anarchists took an active part in social protests, actions against the construction of nuclear power plants, etc. (46)

On May Day 2008, 200 people took part in the anarchist demonstration. Although this time groups from Bandung ("Apokalypse") and Salatiga ("The Melavan Syndicate ") refused to support it, the holding was undertaken by the capital collectives and "Affinitas" from Yogyakarta. The action was directed against large corporations and ended in clashes with police near the building of the corporation of millionaire and politicians Bakri. Participants in the procession were arrested. The repression of 2008 May Day slowed the growth of the young anarchist movement in the country. Some groups broke up. Nevertheless, new activists and groups emerged who continued to participate in the social struggle, including in radical forms, including clashes, acts of sabotage and expropriation. By 2010, anarchist groups and activists operated on the islands of Java (in Jakarta, Bandung, Jogjakarta, Pati, Surabaya, Rembang, Randublatung, Salatiga, Porong), Sumatra (in Palembang, Pekanbar, Medan, Ace), Kalimantan (in Balikpapan), Sulawesi (former Celebes - in Makassar, Manado and Gorontalo) and in Bali (47). May Day manifestations were held regularly in Jakarta. Some Indonesian anarchists were now interested in anarcho-syndicalism (48). So, in the beginning of 2010th. a group of activists from Surabaya created a small initiative, the Syndicate of Workers' Power, which claims its anarcho-syndicalist orientation and in 2012 assisted employees of the Garmondo Jaya garment factory in Bogor during a labor conflict (49).

In 2016, with the support of the Anarcho-syndicalist Federation of Australia, the "Brotherhood of Anarcho-Syndicalist Workers" (Persaudaraan pekerja anarko syndicalis, PPAS) was organized. It describes itself as a "libertarian labor movement" based on the principles of anarcho-syndicalism, proclaims its goal "a society based on freedom, mutual assistance, federalism and self-administration" and simultaneously intends to fight for the daily improvement of the situation of the working people (50). The "Brotherhood" called on all interested trade unions and individual activists to join it. The activists of the group took part in the May Day manifestations in 2016 and 2017. On November 1, 2016, Indonesian anarcho-syndicalists participated in mass protests of workers of Surabaya against a low level of wages. By autumn 2017, the PPAS included local groups in Jakarta and Surabaya, as well as some members of the independent trade union of taxi drivers Uber (KUMAN). The latter was created with the support of the PPAS and united up to 500 members in various cities of Indonesia. In the summer-autumn of 2017, the taxi drivers union entered into the first serious labor conflict with the Uber administration, seeking to increase pay and improve working conditions; a strike and demonstrations were organized. The action was supported by the anarcho-syndicalist International, the International Workers Association (IWA). At the call of IWA, on September 7, in a number of countries around the world, actions of solidarity with the struggle of Indonesian drivers were held (51). Members of the IWA Secretariat who visited Indonesia in September 2017 conducted a series of lectures and discussions on anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism that took place at the headquarters of the PPAS in Jakarta and in the premises of an anarchist group in Yogyakarta.


(1) The well-known historian of anarchism Max Nettlau believed even that in Indonesia, it seems, "only communist propaganda was available". Cf. M. Nettlau. A Short History of Anarchism. London, 1996. P. 259.

(2) J.M. Welcker. Eduard Douwes Dekker // Biografisch Woordenboek van het Socialisme en de Arbeiderbeweging in Nederland. 5. 1992. P.45–58 –

(3) K. van Dijk. The Nederlands Indies and the Great War, 1914 – 1918. Leiden, 2007. P.47–50. Members of the Indian Social Democratic Union characterized Douwes Dekker as a "nationalist anarchist" (cf. Socialisme en Indonesiё. Vol.1. De Indische Sociaal-Democratische Vereening, 1897 – 1917. Bronnenpublicatie / Bewerkt en ingeleid door F. Tichelman. Dordrecht, Cinnamisson, 1985. Р.187). The Dutch Social Democratic leader Henri van Kohl called him an "anarchist of action" (cf. J.W. Schilt. 100 jaar Indonesische onafhelijkheidsstrijd: Ernest Douwes Dekker en de Indische Partij // website "NPO Geschiedenis" -

(4) R.L. Blom, Th. Stelling Niet voor God en niet voor Vaderland. Linkse soldaten, matrozen en hun organisaties tijdens de mobilisatie van `14 – `18. Amsterdam, 2004. P.741–743.

(5) Ibid. P.745–746.

(6) Ibid. P.780, 782.

(7) Ibid. P.809.

(8) P. Hoekman. Dirk Lodewijk Willem van Mierop // Biografisch Woordenboek van het Socialisme en de Arbeiderbeweging in Nederland. 6. 1995. P.142–147 –

(9). R.E. Karl. Staging the World. Chinese Nationalism at the Turn of the Twentieth Century. Duke University Press, 2002. Р.168.

(10) A. Claver. Dutch Commerce and Chinese Merchants in Java. Colonial Relationships in Trade and Finance, 1800 – 1942. Leiden; Boston, 2014. P.197–198.

(11) Socialisme en Indonesiё. Vol.1. Р.41. The "Workers 'Party" (Gongdang), which was a kind of mixture of trade union, society of mutual aid and organization of self-defense / protection of workers' rights, first arose in China in December 1911, but was crushed by the Yuan Shikai regime in 1913. Nevertheless, its organizations began to be created from 1913 the Chinese in Southeast Asia. In 1917, after the liberation of Guangzhou from the power of the militarists of North China, there –, with the support of the "Workers' Party" operating in the Southeast Asia and Hong Kong – the Industrial Federation of Overseas Chinese was formed, which became the basis of the "General Worker Union" of Guangzhou.

(12) Ou Xi. Nanyang wuxhengfu zhui yundong zhi gaikuang // [18.10.2015].

(13) C.F. Yong. The origins of Malayan communism. Singapore, 1997. P.19.

(14) The newspaper "Soematra Po" ("Somuntaplap Po" / "Sumendala Bao") was found in 1908 (cf. Huaqiao huaren baike quanshu: xinwen chuban juan. Vol.6. Beijing, 1990. P.474) or in 1909 (cf. A. Claver. Op. cit. Р.197) by the members of United League. Since end of 1914 it was published by the Kuomintang at first as a weekly, and after 1924 as a daily newspaper called "Sumatra Pin Po" ("People's newspaper of Sumatra"). After the Second World War was guided by the Democratic League of China. In 1960 it was closed by the authorities of Indonesia.

(15) Guang Xushan, Liu Jianping. Zhongguo wuzhengfu zhui shi. Changsha, 1989. P.152; Lu Zhe. Zhongguo wuzhengfu zhui sixiang shi. Beijing, 1994. P.111; C.F. Yong. Op. cit. P.15.

(16) Wuzhengfu zhui sixian ziliao xuan. Vol.2. Beijing, 1984. P.935. Chinese anarchist Tanzu In confirmed that Liu Shixin "get to Indonesia to edit "Sumendala Bao"" (Fang Tanzu In –

(17) Kitayskie anarhisty i internazionalnyi anarhicheskiy kongress // Anarhicheskiy Vestnik. 1923. No.5-6. P.76–77; J.-J. Gandini. Aux sources de la revolution chinoise: les anarchisres. Paris, 1986. P. 170.

(18) Li Danyang. AB hezuo zai Zhongguo gean yanjiu: Zhen(li) she jian zita // Jindai shi yanjiu (Modern Chinese History Studies). 2002. № 1. P.50. –

(19) C.F. Yong. Op. cit. P.23–27.

(20) Wenshi ziliao cungao xuanbian: shehui // Zhonnguo renmin zhengzhi xeshang huiyi: Quanguo weiyuanhui: Wenshi ziliao weiyuanhui. Vol.25. Beijing, 2002. P.21.

(21) Report respecting Bolshevism and Chinese Communism and Anarchism in the Far East // British documents on foreign affairs: reports and papers from the Foreign Office confidential print. Part II. From the First to the Second World War. Series E, Asia, 1914–1939. Vol.26. October 1921 – February 1922. [Bethesda, MD], 1994. Р.72.

(22) Ibid. Р.72, 74.

(23) A.L. Stoler. Capitalism and Confrontation in Sumatra`s Plantation Belt, 1870 – 1979. 2nd. ed. Ann Arbor, 1995. P.62–63.

(24) British documents on foreign affairs: reports and papers from the Foreign Office confidential print. Part II. Vol.23. [Bethesda, MD], 1996. P.289.

(25) Ou Xi. Op.cit.; C.F. Yong. Op. cit. P.15.

(26) C.F. Yong. Op. cit. P.19.

(27) Report respecting Bolshevism and Chinese Communism and Anarchism in the Far East // British documents on foreign affairs…. P.74. According to British intelligence, during a search carried out by the Dutch authorities in 1919 in Semarang, documents were confiscated, including circulars from the "Society of Truth" to the local branch and directives from the "workers' party" from Guangzhou. Zhong Feng was considered a prominent figure in the "workers' party", who was well acquainted with her work in Singapore, Penang and other cities of Malaya. After that, Zhong Fen and "Shek Sam" (arrested in Makassar) were expelled from the Dutch Indies.

(28) Yugo-Vostochnaya Aziya: ocherki ekonomiki i istorii. Moskwa, 1958. P.157.

(29). C.F. Yong. Op. cit. P.17.

(30) Ye.P. Zakaznikova. Rabochiy klass i nacionalno-osvoboditel`noye dvizheniye v Indonezii. Moskwa, 1971. P.91.

(31) Ibidem.

(32) Known also as Zhang Hungcheng, Chung Honsen, Chung Wansen, Chung Ximei or Wong Tekchai.

(33) C.F. Yong noted that Zhang Shimei worked in Singapore in 1920–1921 and came to Medan only 1921. He organized here a strike of railway workers against Dutch authorities, after which he was arrested and jailed for 3 years (C.F. Yong. Op.cit. P.17). According to Chinese anarchist sources, Zhang was a "motor" of the strike of electro-technicians in 1920 and was sentenced to 6 years of prison (Ou Xi. Op.cit.). Finally, it is possible to find an information that Zhang Shimei led the workers movement on Java in 1920 and that he was arrested only later and deported from Dutch Indies to China in 1924 (

(34). Ou Xi. Op.cit. According to C.F. Yong, Zhang Shimei returned in China in 1925 and joined the Communist Party. In December of 1927, he participated in the insurrection of Communist Party in Guangzhou, and searched by the Kuomintang. In January of 1928, the Communist Party of China sent him to British Malaya to build the Provisory Committee of Communist Party of Southern Seas. He was arrested in Singapore 8.03.1928 and sentenced to live-long imprisonment (C.F. Yong. Op.cit. P.17).

(35) Ye. Yu. Staburova. Anarhizm i rabocheye dvizheniye v Kitaye v nachale XX v. // Kitay: gosudarstvo i obshchestvo. Moskwa, 1977. P.213.

(36) Liang Yingmin. Fu Wumen – Xinjiapo huawen bao ren –

(37) R. Rocker. Anarcho-Syndikalism. London, 1989. P.165.

(38) For contacts of Indonesian students in the Netherlands with left organizations and international anti-colonialism movement see, for example: K. Stutje. Indonesian Identities Abroad. International Engagement of Colonial Students in the Netherlands, 1908 – 1931 // BMGN – Low Countries Historical Review. 2013. Vol.128-1. P.151–172.

(39) R. Mrázek. Sjahrir: Politics and exile in Indonesia. Ithaca, 1994. P.59, 61.

(40) A. Müller-Lehning. Der soziale und nationale Befreiungskampf Indonesiens // Die Internationale. 1929. April. Nr.6. S.15–17. In particular, four Indonesian students from the Indonesian Association took part in the congress: the future vice-president of independent Indonesia M. Hatta, N. Pamunchak, Gatot and Subarjo (see: K. Stutje. Op.cit.). A number of prominent European anarchists participated in the activities of the League against imperialism and its congresses in Brussels and Frankfurt, despite the strong influence of the Communist parties in the movement. "... Thanks to the League, for the first time we entered into real contact with the colonial peoples ..," Müller-Lehning explained in a letter to the Indian anarchist M.P. Acharya on August 15, 1929. "We are striving to work inside the League for so long, as it is possible, not because we so enjoy working with the Communists, but because we believe that otherwise we will lose all contact with the colonial peoples "(cf. H. Piazza. The Anti-Imperialist League and the Chinese Revolution // The Chinese Revolution in the 1920s: Between Triumph and Disaster, L .; NY, 2002. P.174).

(41) B. De Ligt. Die wesentliche Einheit des Kampfes gegen soziale Unterdrückung mit dem Kampfe gegen Militarismus und Krieg // Die Internationale. 1929. Oktober. Nr.12. S.1–6. At the Congress of the League, Hatta was also present.

(42) J. Suryomenggolo. Worker`s Control in Java, Indonesia, 1945–1946 // Ours to Master and to Own. Worker`s Control from the Commune to the Present. Chicago, 2011. Р.222.

(43) G.A. van Klinken. Minorities, Modernity and the Emerging Nation. Christians in Indonesia, a Biographical Approach. Lejden, 2003. Р.193.

(44) Cf.: Interview mit AnarchistInnen aus Indonesien // Von Jakarta bis Johannesburg: Anarchismus weltweit. Münster, 2010. S.238–247.

(45) Black Flag. [2000]. No.219. P.12.

(46) Interview mit AnarchistInnen aus Indonesien...

(47) Ibid.

(48) It is worth noting that in 2006, two Indonesian trade union associations (the National Federation of Trade Unions of Indonesia FSPNI, which contacted the IWA in March 2005, and a part of this federation, the National trade union center, created in 2005) asked to join the IWA. They cooperated with the World Federation of Trade Unions. These organizations were not accepted in the IWA, because they are neither anarcho-syndicalist nor revolutionary syndicalist, they declare their support for the UNO, the International Labor Organization, and they have liberated functionaries and a non-federalist structure. XXIII Congress of M.А.T. in December 2007 formally denied FSPNI membership (See: XXIII Congress International Workers Association, Manchester, 8, 9 & 10 December 2006 // International Workers Association Archiv. BI003, Dec. 18, 2007. P.50).

(49) Indonesian syndicalists fight for justice at PT Garmindo Jaya KNH –

(50) PPAS – Persaudaraan Pekerja anarko-sindikalis. Home –

(51) Uber drivers strike in Indonesia –; Solidarity with UBER drivers! // International Workers Association – Asociación Internacional de los Trabajadores –


Mike Harman

6 years 8 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Mike Harman on November 14, 2017

Thanks for posting this. I've moved it to a library article.


6 years 8 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Lugius on November 15, 2017

In 2016, with the support of the Anarcho-syndicalist Federation of Australia, the "Brotherhood of Anarcho-Syndicalist Workers" (Persaudaraan pekerja anarko syndicalis, PPAS) was organized

Two things are worth noting;

1. "Comradeship of Anarcho-Syndicalist Workers" is a better translation of 'Persaudaraan Pekerja Anarko Syndikalis' as it conveys the meaning intended by our comrades on the archipelago.

2. The support of the ASF should not be overestimated. The ASF played only a small part in the organisation of the PPAS and it should be seen as part of a broader initiative of the current IWA Secretariat which has been the responsibility of the ZSP since 2013. The IWA Secretariat, assisted by the ASF and a Taiwanese-born CNT member held two events in Hong Kong and Taipei during August 2014 which included, among other topics, a presentation on anarcho-syndicalist organisation which can be viewed here;

In February 2016, at the request of the ASF the IWA Secretary gave a series of presentations on anarcho-syndicalism and the IWA in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. At the Melbourne event contact was made with two IT workers from Singapore who had flown to Melbourne especially to hear the Secretary of the IWA speak on anarcho-syndicalism. The Secretary of the IWA attended a meeting of ASF Melbourne the following day as listened respectfully to a critique of the IWA's track record with regard to its attitude to the promotion of anarcho-syndicalism in the Asia-Pacific region in general and its eurocentrism in particular. What followed was a free and frank exchange of views relevant to the issue. The visit to Australia by the IWA Secretary was the first ever journey to anywhere near the Asia-Pacific region by a Secretary of the IWA.

In the following months, the ASF made increased efforts to reach out to any workers in the Asia-Pacific region who had demonstrated an interest. In September 2016, the ASF held an event similar to the ones held in HK and Taipei in 2014 in Singapore. A similar event was held in Jakarta in conjunction with the newly-organised PPAS.

In December 2016, the IWA Congress resolved to allocate resources in an effort to raise the awareness of anarcho-syndicalism in the broader Asia-Pacific region and to assist the ASF, the Australian section, in that endeavour. The ASF and the PPAS have agreed to work together to raise the awareness of anarcho-syndicalism and to develop anarcho-syndicalist organisation in the Asia Pacific region.

The PPAS have demonstrated that their understanding of anarchist ideas and anarcho-syndicalist praxis is surpassed by no-one which will no doubt come as a shock to the chauvinists in Europe and their companions in the USA but not to the ASF. As a direct result of the advent of the PPAS Indonesian migrant workers in Australia have joined and greatly facillitated communication between the two organisations.

All of these efforts by the current IWA Secretariat are in stark contrast to the prevailing attitude of previous IWA Secretariats. When the IWA events in Asia were first mooted in 2014, the then Italian-section, the USI, denounced it as a complete 'waste of the IWA's money'. This attitude to the development of anarcho-syndicalist organisations outside of Europe was not confined to the USI. The attitude of the USI was symptiomatic of a general disdain for workers not of the Atlantic centre. At the 2004 IWA Congress, the then US-section, the so-called 'AIT Minnesota' openly mocked the NGWF of Bangladesh as 'a canoe-paddlers union' without a single word of protest or admonition by the assembled delegates. If (thankfully now former) IWA sections like the USI were not revealing a thinly-disguised chauvinism they were demonstrating a peculiarly eurocentric paternalism as evidenced by the FAU's interaction with the Awareness League of Nigeria.

In my view, the current Secretary of the IWA, oft-demonised for being 'bureacratic', 'inquisatorial' or 'ideological' or insulted with pejorative terms like 'wicked witch of the East' or 'Tsarina' (insults which, if they don't reveal a certain ethnocentricism, border dangerously on misogyny) ought take credit for demonstrating the initiative to turn the IWA through 180 degrees away from the Atlanticism that plagues the revolutionary labour movement in general, be it the Anglocentrism of the IWW or the Eurocentrism of the splitters who presume the authority the 're-found' the IWA.

You cannot re-found what has already been founded and if you want to glimpse the future of anarcho-syndicalism and the IWA you need only observe the demonstrated leadership of our comrades in Jakarta, Manila, Singapore, Yogyakarta, Hong Kong and elswhere in Asia. Comrades demonstrating extraordinary courage in the most adverse of circumstances.

The PPAS is one of those organisations, like the ASF, that are mocked by IWW/CNT/FAU/USI as 'mere propaganda groups'. The PPAS, in a comparatively short period of time, have reached out to workers in precarious industries like hospitality and transport and have assisted in the foundation of anarcho-syndicalist unions like KUMAN. Long Live the PPAS!


6 years 8 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Steven. on November 15, 2017

Appreciate the useful information in that comment, Lugius. However just a note we have a number of threads talking about the issues with the IWA split, so anyone who wants to continue to talk about that will need to do so on the relevant existing thread.


6 years 8 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Lugius on November 15, 2017

Thank you, Steven, for alerting me to what I need to do. Allow me, in the the spirit of mutual aid, to reciprocate. You need to understand that I was not talking about any so-called 'split' in the IWA. I was talking about eurocentrism. I was using the IWA as an example and if you re-read my post carefully, you'll no doubt come to realise I was comparing and contrasting two periods of history; pre-2013 and post-2013, that is, the current Secretariat and all Secretariats hitherto. The event you refer to did not manifest itself until December 2015. But perhaps a better term is Atlanticism.

If you looks at the 'Forums' page you'll notice that posts about Ireland alone outnumber posts about Asia, Africa and the Middle East. If you combine posts from UK and North America, everything else pales into complete insignificance. Atlanticism.

So to be clear; my comment was not about "issues with the IWA split", it was about eurocentrism, anglocentrism, atlanticism. I use these terms for the overwhelmingly Atlantic audience of Libcom. The term more widely used in lefty political discourse in Australia is whiteness. I was only using the history of the IWA as a convenient example. But it is not confined to only the IWA. The IWW is far worse in this regard as evidenced by the timely publication of;

The author writes in the introduction;

Some chapters focus upon a single individual or group of Wobblies in a particular place. However, what quickly becomes apparent is how global the IWW truly was. Wobblies were footloose, as Americans sometimes said in the 1910s. That is, they moved around. They rode the rails (often without paying for their tickets) looking for work or to support an IWW strike, free speech fight, or other cause. They also boarded ships and sailed the seven seas. As they did so, they brought with them Wobbly newspapers published in more than a dozen languages (and contributors to this anthology read many of those).

Could you get any more anglocentric than extolling missionary efforts as a virtue? Reading this book closely it becomes apparent that in over a century the IWW has remained confined to the Anglosphere (US, UK, Canada, Australia,NZ) with America at the very centre. Where the wobs did manage to gain some traction in any numbers in non-ES countries they eventually left to join the IWA. That the wobs don't get this, and this book underlines that, serves as a measure of their Anglocentricism. They can push pins into a map of the world all they like but they remain overwhelmingly monocultural and no amount of Mandarin translations of Father Hagerty's Wheel or the Little Red Songbook will change that. It's 'American Exceptionalism' writ large. But as sure as the Astros are Champions of the World, Cole's work will no doubt precipitate an outbreak of self-congratulation among the wobbly fraternity on how exotic they are.

So to summarise, my comment on this excellent article pertained to the issue of whiteness as manifested by anglo-american-euro-centrism. Doubtless, it will cause some discomfort to those of us who fit the description but no good will come any effort to bury the issue under some other thread. Steven.


6 years 8 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Ed on November 16, 2017

Just to let people know, following a message we received via facebook, there has been a minor alteration to this article (removing an activist's name).


6 years 8 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Lugius on November 16, 2017

Thank you for that.


6 years 8 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Craftwork on November 16, 2017

There are also insurrectionists in Indonesia, associated with Conspiracy cells of fire, and that milieu.


6 years 8 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Steven. on November 17, 2017


Thank you, Steven, for alerting me to what I need to do. Allow me, in the the spirit of mutual aid, to reciprocate.

mate, no need to get arsey: my comment was trying to head off people responding to you trying to restart the row over the IWA, stopping any potential discussion of anarchism in Indonesia being overtaken by another tedious rehash of an internal dispute.

admin: subsequent off topic comment about IWA dispute unpublished. If people want to discuss the IWA or complain about moderating decisions start a new thread or contribute to an existing thread


6 years 7 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Foristaruso on December 3, 2017

Translation into Indonesian:


6 years 7 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Khawaga on December 5, 2017

Seems to me that Lugius' points about the IWA's attitude towards non-Atlantic AS groups is pretty relevant to a discussion on Asian AS groups.


6 years 7 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Sike on December 6, 2017


Seems to me that Lugius' points about the IWA's attitude towards non-Atlantic AS groups is pretty relevant to a discussion on Asian AS groups.

Yep, seems that way to me as well.


6 years 7 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Lugius on December 11, 2017

admin: subsequent off topic comment about IWA dispute unpublished. If people want to discuss the IWA or complain about moderating decisions start a new thread or contribute to an existing thread

I wrote

So to be clear; my comment was not about "issues with the IWA split", it was about eurocentrism, anglocentrism, atlanticism. I use these terms for the overwhelmingly Atlantic audience of Libcom. The term more widely used in lefty political discourse in Australia is whiteness. I was only using the history of the IWA as a convenient example. But it is not confined to only the IWA. The IWW is far worse in this regard as evidenced by the timely publication of;

My initial comments on the topic were relevant. Very relevant. That I contrasted and compared the attitude of the IWA Secrertariat when it was the responsibility of the CNT to that of the IWA Secretariat since it has been the responsibility of the ZSP is rendered by the admins as "issues with the IWA split".

In my opinion it reveals two things; the very eurocentrism I have been referring to, the comments were only read in the context of a dispute centered in (essentially) Europe and not about anarchism and/or anarcho-syndicalism in Asia and the relation of non-Asian anarchism and/or anarcho-syndicalism to it . i.e. it prioritises issues in Europe over those affecting the development in Asia of anarchism as theory and anarcho-syndicalism as praxis.

It also reveals a censorious effort to control the discussion around the issues emerging from the CNT's declaration of re-founding the IWA. (the 'split' referred to by the admins) The previous time I started a new thread that mentioned the re-founding the IWA in passing, it was zapped by Juan and I was told there was already a thread. I can only presume that this is done to save the current team of admins the embarrassment and discomfort that the issue causes them on account of the majority of admins being members of the IWW. The same IWW that has signed up to re-founding the IWA.

I looked at the posting guidelines and I'm struggling to work out which guideline I'm breaching specifically. Then again, admins are at liberty to demonstrate their awesome power by fixing a smartarse with a single keystroke. I'd think there'd be a lesson in that for all of us, don't you?

Mike Harman

6 years 7 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Mike Harman on December 11, 2017


I can only presume that this is done to save the current team of admins the embarrassment and discomfort that the issue causes them on account of the majority of admins being members of the IWW.

I can only think of one admin who's a member of the IWW. There's no embarrassment or discomfort on the IWA split, we just try to keep discussions in one place to avoid duplicate threads and confusion. If you think this is a bad moderation policy, please open a thread in the feedback forum - unless you want to turn the discussion under this article into a discussion of libcom's moderation policy which is considerably less relevant than the IWA split to anarchism in Indonesia.


6 years 7 months ago

In reply to by

Submitted by Ed on December 11, 2017

Mike Harman

I can only think of one admin who's a member of the IWW.

In fact, I think three of us are current or former members of Solfed (an organisation whose activities -particularly in Brighton - we often hold up as an example of some of the best praxis in the UK at the moment). I personally am an ex-SF member (I helped set up/relaunch two SF locals) with huge respect for ZSP and ASF. Lugius' comment really couldn't be more wrong.