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Marhaenism (Indonesian: Marhaenisme), is a socialistic political ideology originating and developed by the first President of Indonesia Sukarno.[1] It was developed from the thought of Marxism which is applied according to the nature and culture of Indonesia or simply as "Marxism adapted to Indonesian conditions".[2]

Marhaenism is a variant of Marxism, but it emphasizes national unity, culture, and collectivist economics, as well as democratic rights, while condemning liberalism and individualism. It was established as an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist ideology, but combines both western and eastern principles. The ideology was the guiding ideology of the Indonesian National Party.[3]


The name of the ideology is said to be taken that of a land-poor farmer named Marhaen (d. 1943), whom Sukarno met in 1926-1927.[4] Sukarno attributed the farmer's poverty to a lack of access to production tools. Sukarno thenceforth took to referring to members of the agrarian class as "Marhaens." This term was first used by Sukarno in his Indonesia Accuses (Indonesia Menggugat) speech in 1930, to replace the term proletariat.


Marhaenism is essentially a struggle ideology formed from social nationalism, social democracy and Sukarno's cultural beliefs.

According to marhaenism, in order to be economically independent and free from exploitation by other parties, each person or household needs factors of production or capital. The form can be in the form of land or machines/tools. In a modern context, vehicles, information technology devices, kitchen utensils and electronic goods can be effectively utilized as capital or production factors. Although not large, the ownership of this own capital is necessary to ensure the independence of the person or household in the economy.

In contrast to capitalism, capital in marhaenism is not to be hoarded or multiplied, but to be processed to meet the necessities of life and produce a surplus. Farmers plant to feed their own families, then sell the surplus or excess to the market. Tailors, craftsmen or laborers produce goods which later some will be used by themselves, although the rest is of course sold. Ideally, this self-sufficiency requirement should be met before serving the market. This means when workers, craftsmen or farmers produce goods that will not be consumed by themselves, he only acts as a factor of production for others, which makes them vulnerable to being dictated by the market or exploited. In aggregate (overall) in a marhaenist economic system, goods that are not/not yet needed will not be produced, because every person/household must first ensure the profile and level of their own needs before making anything. The innovation of the birth of a new product will occur when the need is really concrete.

This method encourages the achievement of efficiency, while preventing wastage of resources and consumptive attitudes. And because it is only functioned to produce a surplus, it is also impossible for the available capital to be hoarded or misappropriated to suppress the economic growth and development of other parties.

The marhaenism referred to by Sukarno can be compared with the formulation of the entrepreneurship theory approach which was only introduced in the 70s by David McCleland, which is almost 50 years later. The difference is, if McCleland puts more emphasis on the option of planting the need for achievement or the will to get ahead from the people or small entrepreneurs, so that in fact it is dominated by a functional approach, Sukarno's approach to marhaen (farmers and small traders), actually structural, namely through the cultivation of a progressive revolutionary attitude.

In a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, September 30, 1960, Sukarno firmly stated that Pancasila was essentially a sublimation of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Communist Manifesto. This means that Pancasila is actually the third alternative from the two opposing camps in the Cold War between the West Block and the East Block at that time. Ideologically, Sukarno's ideas were very similar to the "Third Way" that was formulated by Anthony Giddens 20 years later.[5]


  • Sukarno. (2000). Marhaenism . Promedia.
  • Saksono, Ignatius Gatut. (2008) Bung Karno's Marhaenism . Yabinkas Learning House.
  • Pour, Julius. (2010). The September 30th Movement: doers, heroes & adventurers.
  • Soerojo, Soegiarso. (1988). Whoever sows the wind will reap the storm.


  1. ^ Dictionary of the modern politics of South-East Asia
  2. ^ Partai Nasional Indonesia 1963-1965
  3. ^ The Transition to Guided Democracy: Indonesian Politics, 1957-1959
  4. ^ "Marhaenisme", Wikipedia bahasa Indonesia, ensiklopedia bebas (in Indonesian), 2021-09-08, retrieved 2022-06-15
  5. ^ Marhaenisme Pancasila