Live and Let Live: A Red Indonesia and Beyond

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Wait, what’s this?

This was inspired by my previous timeline with a similar premise. If you haven’t read it, this timeline going to show the effects of a communist uprising in Indonesia during the 1960s, which in our timeline was prevented down thanks to a certain General Suharto. What I want to explore is a world where the Communist Party of Indonesia manages to organize an uprising, forcing the army and Islamist groups to rise up as well, to suppress said uprising. Eventually, this conflict leads to a very different Cold War and ends up having far-reaching effects across the world.

So why do you want to reboot this thing?

Looking at my previous work, I can see that there are some issues. For example, you’ve got the weird pacing issues. The inconsistent writing. The historical inaccuracies. The fact that basically every post makes no sense when put together. So yeah, there were some issues.

What makes you think that you’ll do any better this time around?

After writing alternate history for a while, I can say that I've become somewhat more experienced than I was two years ago. This time around, I’m trying to make sure that I have something resembling an outline for my timeline before I start it. And also, I’ll make sure I do some research before I start writing instead of editing it in later.

Is this going to cover just Indonesia?

No, not really. The problem with my last one was that I didn’t really focus on America or China until the last minute, but I’ll be sure to fix that this time around. Expect to see some chapters covering the White House, the Kremlin, or Bejing. So sit back, relax, and enjoy some music as we enter the Thousand Emeralds of the Equator, Indonesia.
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The Man Who Was A God

The Man Who Was A God


“A stable nation cannot exist without an enemy”

–President Soekarno, 1955


“The “Live and Let Live” Principle was a term coined by Indonesian President Soekarno during his opening speech at the Bandung Conference, where 29 Asian and African nations attended in a united cry against colonialism. The term was originally coined alongside the slogan “Unity in Diversity” as a cry to encourage tolerance and understanding between different nations and ethnicities across the world. The phrase would soon take many different meanings amongst Indonesians who would use the term to oppose foreign influence in national politics by the western and eastern bloc. As war began, the principle soon became a rallying cry for peace activists, who opposed the extreme measures taken by many sides of the war.”

-“A Dictionary of Political Concepts” by Barack Soetoro


“The thought that Indonesia could remain as a unified nation was an absurd concept promoted by faulty global institutions such as NATO and the United Nations following the country’s independence. What Sukarno failed to see was that he could not rule a nation divided since birth. In spite of the internal divisions within his nation, Sukarno remained defiant in ensuring his nation’s neutrality by remaining neutral in the Cold War between capitalism and communism. Discontent with Sukarno’s position on the global chessboard, America backed a revolutionary government in a rebellion known as the Permesta movement, forcing Sukarno to seek Soviet and Chinese arms to combat this act of unauthorized foreign aggression [1]. In protest, Sukarno withdrew the Republic of Indonesia from the United Nations, making Indonesia the first nation to do so.

In response, the CIA would turn to more covert attempts to overthrow the Indonesian government through funding right-wing generals, separatist militias, and anticommunist gang leaders. Eventually, a Council of Generals would emerge within the Indonesian army, led by the Commander of the Army, Ahmad Yani, along with his commanding deputies [2]. In addition, Yani’s head of intelligence, Siswondo Parman was a brother to Sakirman, the commander of communist paramilitaries. While some generals such as Suharto and Ibrahim Adjie were embittered at Soekarno appointing a relatively less experienced commander, they remained determined on replacing Indonesia with a NATO-friendly puppet regime. Soon, the President began to distrust his generals’ ambitions, but Sukarno still needed to appease the military elite to combat separatist movements across the nation.

In order to reduce the ambitions of General Yani, Sukarno would attempt to implement his idea of Nasakom (the balance of nationalist, religious, and communist ideals) onto the armed forces, which was divided into the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, and by proposing a the Bureau of Struggle that would serve to arm the proletariat order to create a force that would serve counterweight to the Army’s ambitions. The reason why Sukarno trusted the PKI, was that unlike Stalin or Mao, Chairman Aidit was a reformist who encouraged a worker-led economy and despised the Soviet policy of state atheism [3]. However, the republic itself would not live long enough to become a People’s Republic. With British-backed ambitions in Malaysia, the radicalization of politics, and ethnic tensions reaching a boiling point, it was only inevitable before Indonesia would give in to its pressures and finally fall apart.

Today, Indonesia serves as a crucial insight into one of the many problems behind the post-colonial world sculpted by the World Order. This issue being the idea that former colonial territories are willing to accept the same borders that their former masters drew for them in order to appease their imperial rivals. Ultimately, the west was not cruel, greedy, or exploitative towards the Indonesian people when granting them independence. It simply acted shortsighted in its decisions and paid the price in a long and costly war that saw millions of soldiers and innocent lives dead in a pointless war. But while Indonesia was as a byproduct of colonialism by empires, many conflicts today are the result of corporate greed and factions jockeying for power over an unstable world.

-“Imperialism in the 20th Century” by Kshama Sawant



General Ahmad Yani (center), Head Commander of the Indonesian Army grants amesties to the Permesta rebels in exchange for their surrender

“It was often said that the rise of tensions between the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) and the National Army (TNI) began briefly after the nation’s independence where PKI influenced militias and terror groups refused to disband under the orders of the Army. Led by Chairman Musso, the PKI’s actions would culminate in open warfare between the communists and pro-government forces at the city of Surakarta and the Madiun area. The so-called “Madiun Coup” would be led by the socialist Prime Minister, Amir Sjarifuddin and Musso by his side as the communists attempted to gain control over the young nation.

An estimated army of 5,000 to 10,000 left-wing terrorists and rebels faced off against the Indonesian Army but were ultimately cut down, on the orders of President Soekarno. The conflict resulted in the deaths of an estimated 8,000 civilians and soldiers. However, many historians believe that this was the event that allowed Soekarno to gain power over his rivals, which he would eventually use reform the nation under his own cult of personality, to the point where his people viewed him as a demigod. The Madura Coup’s failure would see the execution of both Musso and Sjarifuddin and others tied with to the coup on accounts of treason. Despite this, the PKI continued to live on.

A young communist named Dipi Nusantara Aidit survived the purges and began to rise his way into Soekarno’s inner circle, eventually convincing the power-hungry despot that the support of the communists was crucial in maintaining his corrupt dictatorship. Using his friendship with the President, Aidit would gain control over the PKI, eventually rising to the position of Chairman. Soon, the communist party would come under the control of a troika led by Aidit, Lukman, Aidit’s right-hand man, and Sudisman, a bureaucrat and a close friend of President Soekarno. The most liberal member, Njoto was replaced by Sudisman after it was revealed that he was having a love affair with a KGB informant named “Rita” [4].

Aidit would convince Soekarno to turn against the generals who held him in power and to support his attempts to militarize his fellow communists. In addition, Aidit would also encourage Soekarno would also outlaw parties which he believed to be a threat to the PKI’s growth, similar to how Vladimir Lenin murdered rival socialists without trial. Despite the warnings of General Yani, the PKI began to gain more influence over Soekarno, slowly encouraging him to set the course for his own downfall. It is often believed that there were only two people in Soekarno’s inner circle who knew how to flatter him. The first was his wife, Dewi and the second was Aidit [5]. Unknown to the President, these actions were all attempts to destabilize the country in order to make way for Aidit’s plans to usurp Soekarno as the new dictator of Indonesia. However, these plans would come to an end as the rot and corruption of Soekarno’s regime was revealed to the world.”

-“Cronyism, Corruption, and Chaos: A Modern History of Global Communism” by Newt Gingrich



PKI Chairman Dipi Nusantara Aidit leading a PKI march. These marches were common and frequent throughout Indonesia during the 1960's.


“During his reign, Sukarno was seen as a demigod amongst his people. In the traditional abangan beliefs of Java, it was often said that the ruler of a kingdom would be appointed by the divine mandate of the gods, the leader’s wahyu. However, Sukarno’s wahyu did not come from appeasing the spirits, but rather, the careful manipulation of political factions within the nation. To maintain power Sukarno would rule through a system of “Guided Democracy” would oversee the careful balancing as what he saw to be the three major ideologies holding the Indonesian government in place. These ideologies would be nationalism, communism, and the Islamists, who would remain balanced under the Nasakom principle. These factions would be led by the National Party (PNI), the Communist Party (PKI), and the Ulama Revival Movement (NU) respectively.

Sukarno often feared that foreign powers would disrupt his careful management of factions and ordered Foreign Minister Subandrio to investigate for the presence of western intelligence agencies infiltrating the right-wing Indonesian Army. Even though the western powers viewed Indonesia as a nation with immense potential, Subandrio’s intelligence organization completely failed to find any evidence of cooperation between the CIA, M16, and the Indonesian Army. Strangely enough, Soebandrio would soon suffer a quick fate in July 1965, after his plane crashed during a diplomatic trip to Cairo, Egypt [6]. While American and British ambassadors, Marshall Green and Andrew Gilchrist were questioned by agents, no evidence would surface, and the investigation would become quickly disregarded by Sukarno to maintain Indonesia’s presence as a neutral nation in the Cold War.

Recently, the White House has revealed similar documents to what Soebandrio was tasked to investigate, detailing the extensive communications between the Indonesian Army and both British and American operatives. If such documents had been discovered, we could have seen the right-wing factions of the army become discredited or a possible revolt by the PKI. So was Soebandrio’s death, coordinated by the CIA? Similar proponents of the theory also believe that council of right-wing generals or the United Nations may have had a role in his death, but overall, it’s impossible to say what truly happened in the backroom dealings that dominated Indonesian politics during the Cold War.”

-“Faces of the Revolution”, by Joshua Oppenheimer



An image of the late Minister Subandrio, cira 1955

[1] The Permesta Rebellion was an uprising centered in Minado and Sulawesi led by Colonel Ventje Sumual. A large number of ethnic minorities became involved after they felt disenfranchised by the Javanese-dominated government and upset by Sukarno suspending the electoral process in exchange for his ‘Guided Democracy’. Later, they joined forces with a separate military uprising known as the PRRI rebellion which had similar goals. Eventually, both rebellions were defeated in 1961.

[2] A Council of Generals plotting to overthrow the Sukarno was a major fear in left wing circles across Indonesia. While its existence was never proven, Untung Syamsuri, the leader of OTL’s “communist coup” cited the council of generals as a major cause for the coup’s creation.

[3] Compared to his contemporaries in Moscow and Beijing, Aidit’s was more focused on the works of Marx instead of Lenin, supporting a natural transition from capitalism to communism.

[4] In OTL, Njoto’s affair was a rumor which began when his wife was still pregnant with his sixth child. While its existence remains doubted, Njoto was still dismissed from the Politburo and all functional posts within the PKI.

[5] From OTL

[6] In our timeline, the Gilchrist Document was a report released during Soebandrio’s trip to Cairo which detailed Ambassador Gilchrist’s plans with the British government to overthrow Sukarno’s government with the help of the TNI. However, Vladislav Bittman, a defector from the Czech Intelligence Agency would later take credit for the document’s forgery in 1968. To this day, the validity of the Gilchrist Document’s validity remained debated in academic circles.
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All The Little People

All The Little People


"It is imperative that the President does not steal the wealth of our motherland and the freedom of our people"

-Former Indonesian Vice President, Mohammad Hatta following his resignation


“Like many third-world nations during the Cold War, Indonesia was seen as a powder keg ready to burst. The council of generals plotted against their enemies while the Islamists and the communists fought over the working class. The Islamists tended to gain more support amongst the richer peasants and landowners who viewed the communists as a threat to their well-being and social status. The poorer peasants and industrial workers tended to lean on the communist side as they saw the PKI as their only path to prosperity. However, many uneducated farmers could not even tell the difference between Islamism and Communism [1].

To reduce the power of the Islamists, the PKI began to turn their supporters against the richer peasants. Aidit’s ideology was remarkably similar to Mao Zedong’s, viewing capitalism as a different form of feudalism. There were the landowners who employed the poor peasants and the rich peasants who owned the land on which they toiled. During his life, he had also studied the anti-kulak programs utilized by Stalin to stamp out dissident in the Soviet Union and used these same tactics against his political opponents. While anti-communist leaders often protested Aidit’s fight for class struggle, Sukarno insisted that the PKI should serve as a counterweight against the Islamists who dare rebel against him during the Darul Islam rebellion.

Aidit voiced plans for the PKI to serve as a counterweight against the ambitions of his generals through the creation of a fifth fighting force. In his mind, this fighting force would be deployed to fight civil unrest, revolt, or invasion, similar to the Combat Groups of the Working Class in East Germany. In Sukarno’s mind, the armed peasants could keep his more ambitious generals in check, many of whom he distrusted and disliked. Interestingly enough, Aidit’s calls for the people to arm themselves would come after returning from a trip to China. Could it be that the Chinese had discovered some sort of infiltration by the CIA and M16? Sukarno certainly thought so and voiced his support for the fifth fighting force [2].

His secretary of defense, Abdul Nasution protested Aidit’s plans, insisting that it was no more than a ploy for the Chinese to undermine the nation. After all, the majority of funding had come from the People’s Republic. But soon, his cries would fall on deaf ears, and he was quickly replaced by Pranoto Reksosamodra, who was seen as much more tolerable in the eyes of the PKI. Sukarno’s sacking of Nasution was his way of removing the more “reactionary” members of the nationalist wing as Nasution was often unwilling to compromise with left-wing elements. In fact, it had been Nasution who convinced Sukarno to call off future elections to curb the PKI’s rapid growth.

The other reason why Nasution’s sacking was accepted was because he had made to many enemies within the army. General Ahmad Yani was upset by Nasution’s hardline stance on communism and his views on Nasakom. Although Yani did not have much respect amongst his peers, many members of the army were still diehard Sukarno loyalists and supporters of Nasakom. As a result, Nasution began to fire commanders that had close relations with Yani and replace them with members from the national party. This rebellious attitude against the government would inspire many other officers to distance themselves from Soekarno, angering the president greatly. On 1967, the Worker’s Milita (Milisi Kaum Buruh or MIKABUR) was created under the command of Sakirman, the head of the Bureau of Struggle and a PKI member. The nationalists protested, believing it to be an attempt to undermine the army. Eventually, their fears would be proven right and revolution would come to Indonesia, albeit, not a communist one.”

-Indonesia: A History of the Nusantara Archipelago by David Toddhunter



People take to the streets demanding that President Sukarno disband the PKI


“During the last days before the revolution, Indonesia had slowly slipped into decline, corruption, and economic mismanagement that would wound the region for years to come. In the president Palace, lavish parties would be held, and there, Soekarno could be seen gifting elaborate presents to his future wives. While children were starving on the streets of Jakarta, Soekarno was allowing his country to be consumed by flames both politically and economically. He paid little to no attention to the rampant corruption within the government as all three of his factions continued to jockey for power, sometimes violently.

In only five years, the rupiah had inflated by over 750%, while some prices would increase by 50% weekly [3]. To continue his fruitless attempts to fill his citizens with patriotism, Indonesia would involve itself in pointless wars in Malaysia, Brunei, and New Guinea. His fights against “the forces of imperialism” would only provoke the hornet’s nest that was SEATO. At home, his country was wracked with poverty as he was unwilling or unable to provide adequate solutions to repair the economy. Succession movements in Minahasa, Papua, and the Moluccas rose against the republic as ethnic tensions began to boil over. In short, Soekarno’s reign was a far cry from the free Indonesia he had spoken of.

The hallmarks of peace, equity, and social justice had been cast aside to make way for his personal kingdom. It soon became clear that Soekarno’s regime could only be held together through careful cooperation with the Eastern bloc. Meanwhile, his cooperation with the communist party had been disguised as his way of reaching out to the people, when in reality, it was his way of appeasing the Soviets and Chinese in exchange for arms and aid. This would be proven true after appointing Sudisman, a member of the communist party to the position of Foreign Secretary.

While the PKI kept their supporters loyal to the Pancasila, the people were growing discontent at Sukarno’s unwillingness to resolve the issues at hand. Anti-government rebels such as Abdul Kahar Muzakkar to gain power under the banner of the Islamic State [4]. While the Darul Islam rebellion had been declared dead with the assassination of Sekarmadji Kartosoewirjo, Sukarno’s misrule allowed the movement to grown once more. By 1967, Muzakkar’s territories had expanded from Maluku to Java, posing an ever-present threat to Sukarno’s regime. In an effort to retain his goodwill with the common people, the president would often make public appearances to ensure his citizens that everything would be alright.

But the people did not see the shining leader who had fought for their freedoms, they saw an ill man whose face had become bloated by disease and corpulence. His famed promiscuity and eccentricities, which had once endeared him to the people, now turned them against him. One day on December 10th, 1969, it had been revealed that Sukarno was traveling to China for a series of secret meetings. Perhaps he traveled to discuss the possibility of infiltration by western intelligence or requested further funding for his worker’s militia. But the people refused to see it that way [5]. The President, who lived as a Maharaja while they starved, had left the country to appease his foreign masters. And so, they took to the streets, rising up against injustice, oppression, and the false god who ruled them.”

-Intifada: A History of Global Democracy, Jamaal Kadivar



Abdul Kahar Muzakkar, Imam of the Islamic State of Indonesia following 1966


“I spent my childhood learning America is good because they fought with us against the Belanda. But in the konfrantasi with Malaysia, everyone was afraid that one day, America would come into our country, kill Bung Karno, kill Indonesia, and kill our people. But later, we did not need to worry about the last part, Sukarno was already killing our people for America *laughs. Today, you see America giving food to hungry people and refugee in Indonesia, but in the past, we had no aid. Sukarno say that America is a traitor for supporting the Permesta. Our hunger is the sacrifice for kemerdekaan, he say, kemerdekaan from capitalism and imperialism.

In truth, everyone knows that Sukarno keep all the money for himself and his… harem. So what do we do, pemuda with no food, no money? We steal. In English, you call me “thug” or “gangster”, but we do not steal for ourself, we steal for our people who become hungry while government become fat and corrupt. One day a PKI man ask me, if I love my country, why do I not join Mikabur. I say to him, “I want to become kommunis like you, I will move to China and starve there instead”. PKI believe they will own us by giving food and money. As Sukarno say, “To hell with your aid!”

After the Mikabur hunt us, our leaders start talking about the Quran and Allah, how our lives are full of sin, and we must fight for Imam Muzakkar and Islamic State. Of course, they still smoke ganja and drink beer, they are still pemuda. At first, I think they are fools for joining Darul Islam, but then, I realized, why fight against Indonesia when it is us who will change Indonesia. When the Belanda beat us, we rise against them and make a new country for us. Now it is Sukarno who beats us, with his kommunis dogs. Of course, you American do not forget about us. Sukarno stop America from giving aid to his people, but we are not Sukarno’s people. I remember when we march on the streets against Sukarno with your M16. “Down with Sukarno!” we say. “Down with China, down with the kommunis, long live Darul Islam!”

-Adam bin Suparman recalls joining the Darul Islam rebellion



PKI Chairman Aidit delivers a speech to the Worker's Militia, calling for action against the Darul Islam movement

[1] From a CIA report made on the Darul Islam rebellion in Indonesia during 1961

[2] Sukarno, Aidit, and Chairman Mao did support a fifth fighting force consisting of workers and peasants IOTL

[3] All of these statistics are from OTL

[4] Abdul Kahar Muzakkar was the leader of the South Sulawesi branch of the Darul Islam movement before being killed by Corporal Sadeli of the Indonesian Army

[5] In November 1964, Sukarno did travel to China for secret meetings during the Konfrontasi against Malaysia