Rampart Vol. 9 No. 4. October 1970
The Berkeley Mafia and the Indonesian Massacre
By David Ransom
Harvard Bringing It All Back Home
some extent, we are witnessing the return of the pragmatic outlook which
was characteristic of the PSI-Masjumi coalition of the early fifties when
dominated the scene," observed a well-placed insider
in 1966. That same year, Sumitro slipped quietly into Jakarta, opened
a business consultancy and prepared himself for high office. The prospect
was not long in coming. Having received its bona fides from the lords
of international finance, the Indonesian generals regime was ready to
names its "Development Cabinet." In June 1968, Suharto organized
an impromptu reunion for the class of Ford, known in Jakarta as the "Berkeley
Mafia." As Minister of Trade and Commerce he appointed Dean Sumitro
(PhD, Rotterdam); as Chairman of the National Planning Board he appointed
Widjojo (PhD, Berkeley, 1961); as Vice Chairman, Emil Salim (PhD, Berkeley,
1964); as Secretary General of Marketing and Trade Research, Subroto (Harvard,
1964); as Minister of Finance, Ali Wardhana (PhD, Berkeley, 1962); as
Chairman of the Technical Team of Foreign Investment, Mohamed Sadli (MS,
MIT, 1956); as Secretary General of Industry, Barli Halim (MBA, Berkeley,
1959). "Koko" Soedjatmoko, who had been functioning as Malik's
advisor, became ambassador in Washington.
consider that we were training ourselves for this," Sadli told a
reporter from Fortune-"a historic opportunity to fix the course of
events." To make the most of the opportunity, Ford provided the Indonesians
with a post-graduation present-a development team from Harvard.
Harvard people are "advisors," explains DAS Deputy Director
Lest Gordon-"foreign advisor who don't have to deal with all the
paperwork and have time to come up with new ideas." They work "
as employees of the government would," he says, " but in such
a way that it doesn't get out that the foreigners are doing it."
Indiscretion got them bounced from Pakistan. "We stay in the background."
They stayed in the background for the five-year plan. In the winter of 1967-68, a good harvest and a critical infusion of U.S. "Food for Peace" rice had kept prices down, cooling the political situation for a time. Hollinger, the DAS's first full-time man on the scene, arrived in March and helped the economists lay out the plan's strategy. As the other DAS's technocrats arrived, they went to work on its planks. "Did we cause it, did the Ford Foundation caused it, did the Indonesians cause it?" asks AID's Cal Cowles rhetorically. "I don't know."
plan went into force without fanfare in January 1969. With its key elements
being foreign investments and agricultural self-sufficiency, it is a late-20th
century American "development" plan that sounds suspiciously
like the mid-19th century Dutch colonial strategy. Then, Indonesian lands-often
corvee-substituted for Dutch capital in building the roads and digging
the irrigation ditches necessary to create a plantation economy for Dutch
capitalists, while a "modern" agricultural technology increased
the output of Javanese paddies to keep pace with the expanding population.
The plan brought an industrial renaissance to the Netherlands, but only
an expanding misery to Indonesia.
in the Dutch strategy, the Ford scholars' five-year plan introduces a
"modern" agricultural technology-the so-called "green revolution"
of high-yield hybrid rice-to keep pace with Indonesian rural population
growth and to avoid "explosive" change in Indonesian social-i.e.,
it will do neither, though AID is currently supporting a project at Berkeley's
Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies to give it the old college
try. Negotiated with Harsja Bachtiar, the Harvard-trained sociologist
now heading the Faculty's Ford-funded research institute, the project
is to train Indonesian sociologists to "modernize" relations
between the peasantry and the Army' state power.
The agricultural plan is being implemented by the central government's agricultural extension service, whose top men were trained by a University of Kentucky program at the Bogor Agricultural Institute. In effect, the agricultural agents have been given a monopoly in the sale of seed and the buying of rice, which puts them in a natural alliance with the local military commanders-who often control the rice transport business-and the local santri landlords whose higher returns are being used to quickly expand their holdings. The peasants find themselves on the short end of the stick, but if they raise a ruckus, they are sabotaging a national program and must be PKI agents, and the soldiers are called in.
Indonesian ruling class, observes Dutch scholar Wertheim, is now "openly
waging [its] own brand of class struggle." It is a struggle the Harvard
technocrats must "modernize." Economically, the issue is the
Indonesia's widespread unemployment; politically, it is Suharto's need
to legitimate his power through elections. "The government
have to do better than just avoiding chaos if Suharto is going to be popularly
elected," Papanek reported in October 1968: "A really widespread
public works program, financed by increase imports of PL480 ["Food
for Peace"] commodities sold at lower prices could provide quick
economic and political benefits in the countryside."
is pushing its Indonesian New Deal with a "rural development"
program that will further strengthen the hand of the local Army commanders.
Supplying funds meant for labor-intensive public works, the program is
supposed to increase local autonomy by working through local authorities.
The money will merely line military pockets. DAS Director Papanek admits
that the program is "civilian only in a very broad sense, because
many of the local administrators are military people." And the military
has two very large, and rather cheap labor forces, which are already at
work in "rural development."
is the 300,000-man Army itself. The other is composed of the 120,000 political
prisoners still being held after the Army's 1965-66 anti-Communist sweeps.
Some observers estimate there are twice as many prisoners, most of whom
the Army admits were not PKI members, though they fear they may have become
Communists in the concentration camp.
Java the Army uses the prisoners in public works. Australian professor
Herbert Faith was shown around one Javanese town in 1968 where prisoners
had built the prosecutor's house, the high school, the mosque, and (in
process) the Catholic church. "It is not really hard to get work
out of them if you push them," he was told.
Just as they are afraid and unwilling to free the prisoners, so the generals are afraid to mobilize the troops. "You can't add to the unemployment," explained an Indonesia deskman at the State Department, "especially with people who know how to shoot a gun." Consequently, the troops are being worked more and more into the infrastructure labor force-to which the Pentagon is providing road building equipment and advisors.
it is the foreign investment plank of the five-year plan that is the pay-off
of Ford's 20-year long strategy in Indonesia and the pot of gold that
the Ford modernizers-both Indonesians and Americans-are paid to protect.
The 19th century colonial Dutch strategy built an agricultural export
economy. But the Americans are interested primarily in resources, mainly
unmined resource is Indonesia's 120 million inhabitants-half of the people
in Southeast Asia. "Indonesia today," boasts a California electronic
manufacturer now operating his assembly line in Jakarta, "has the
world's largest untapped pool of capable assembly labor at a modest cost."
The cost is ten cents a day.
the real price is oil. During one week in 1969, 23 companies, 19 of them
American, bid for the right to explore and bring to the market the oil
beneath the Java sea and Indonesia's other coastal waters. In one 21,000-square-mile
concession off Java 's northeast coast. Natomas and Atlantic-Richfield
are already bringing in oil. Other companies with contracts signed have
watched their stocks soar in speculative orgies rivaling those following
in the Alaskan North Slope discoveries.
Ford, like an over-attentive mother, is sponsoring a new Berkeley project at the U.C. law school in "developing human resources for the handling of negotiations with foreign investors in Indonesia."
in Indonesia, the "chaos" that Ford and its modernizers are
forever preventing is once more gathering force. Late last year, troops
from West Java's crack Siliwangi division rounded up 5000 surprised and
sullen villagers in an odd military exercise that speaks more of Suharto's
fears than Indonesia's political "stability." Billed as a test
in "area management," officers told reporters that it was an
exercise in preventing a "potential fifth column" in the once-heavily-PKI
area from linking up with an imaginary invader. But the Army got no cheers
as it passed through the villages, an Australian reporter wrote. "To
an innocent eye from another planet it would have seemed that the Siliwangi
division was an army occupation."