The Indonesian Killings and economic redistribution: a reply to Hilmar Farid
Abstract In 2005 Hilmar Farid published “Indonesia’s original sin: Mass killings and capitalist expansion, 1965-66,” the to date only scholarly attempt to interpret the destruction of the Communist Party of Indonesia, which led to the Killings of 500,000 people in the years 1965-1966, according to a classical Marxist framework. His argument is that the real story about the violence is one of massive transfers of agricultural land which alienated millions of peasants from their means of subsistence and paved the way for a wide-ranging capitalist transformation of the country. Empirical analysis shows that it is unlikely that such a massive alienation has happened. Many other scholars who have studied the Killings conclude that the violence was not solely driven by capitalist expansion. However, Farid has uncovered an important connection between political violence and economic redistribution that should be detached from the Marxist framework he has used in order to unfold its full significance for our understanding of the Killings.
Keywords: Indonesia, Killings, Political Violence, Communism, Capitalism
Mathias Hammer, born 1980 in Graz, Austria. Studied Indonesian history and culture in Austria, the Netherlands and Indonesia and is currently completing a PhD at the Australian National University, Canberra. His doctoral research is about land conflicts and the political violence of 1965-66 in the district of Klaten in Central Java.