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Undated photo of Musso

Musso (1897, in Kediri, East Java – Madiun, in 31 October 1948) was one of PKI leaders and one of figures in Madiun affair.


Early life[edit]

Musso was born Munawar Musso in 1897, Pagu, Kediri.[1][2][3] His father was a bank clerk in Wates, Mas Martoredjo.[3]

In Batavia, Musso studied at teacher school. He met Alimin, disciple of G.A.J. Hazeu and D. van Hinloopen Labberton.[2] According to Soemarsono, one of PKI leaders in Madiun affair, Musso continued to Hogere Burger School in 1913.[4] Musso stayed at Tjokroaminoto's boarding house with Alimin and Sukarno.[5] According to Arnold C. Brackman, at the time Musso worked as cashier at Surabaya post office.[6] In Surabaya, Musso also met Henk Sneevliet.[7]

Beginning of PKI career[edit]

Musso and Alimin had the more important task in infiltrating Sarekat Islam than Surjopranoto. They were members of both the PKI and SI before they were arrested due to Afdeling B affair.[8] Musso was involved in a farmer revolt in Cimareme, Garut supported by Sarekat Islam Afdeling B.[9] In the trial, while Alimin confessed to making a false statement to help Tjokroaminoto, Musso refused to make a confession. In the prison, the Dutch government handled him roughly. Agus Salim complained to Voolksraad for this treatment. According to McVey, Musso held a grudge against the Dutch government after this treatment. After Musso and Alimin were released in 1923,[10] the former was offered to teach Indonesian language with English as language of instruction in Japan by van Hinloopen Labberton.[2] However the Japanese government rejected Musso's explanation that he did not a sufficient academic diploma, though McVey assumed that the main reasons were his experience in prison and his political views.[11] Musso then reorganize Batavia PKI branch and led this new organization.[12]

In January 1925, a committee of the Indies National Congress conducted a meeting resulting in the formation of the politically neutral, Surabaya-based Indonesian Study Club association. Musso was present at the club's first convention in February supporting the club agenda and wishing it to be more closer linked to the grassroots.[13] In early 1925, Musso and Alimin gave a speech at a rally organized by the VTSP in Banten increasing communist influence in that region.[14] After the failure of the machinists' strike on 5 October, Musso concluded that the strike had been premature.[15]

In December 1925, PKI leaders planned to rebel against the Dutch Indies government. The government knew this and arrested most of the leaders in January 1926. Musso was one of the few who managed to escape.[16] He along with Budisutjitro and Sugono fled to Singapore meeting PKI agent Subakat and Alimin who previously had been staying with Tan Malaka in Manila.[17] The five plus Sardjono, Mohammad Sanusi, and Winanta held discussions for three days before deciding to organize a revolt by the middle of 1926. The meeting also resulted in the sending Alimin to Manila to request Tan Malaka to gam support for the revolt, but this plan was rejected by Tan Malaka.[17][18] In February, another meeting was held but Alimin made no mention the rejection by Tan Malaka.[19]

Comintern member[edit]

Some times in March 1926, Musso and Alimin went to Moscow via Canton to ask for support from Comintern for a revolt.[20][21] Knowing the plan from meeting in Singapore remained to be implemented, Tan Malaka arrived in Singapore in June to prevent Musso and Alimin, but he was too late because both of them had already gone to Russia.[22][23][24] The plan was if they could get support from the Comintern, they would instruct the PKI in Dutch Indies to refrain from beginning a revolt until aid materials arrived. It would be after the arrival of aid, that then PKI would launch a full revolt, else if Comintern didn't support this plan the PKI would launch guerrilla and terror attacks.[22] The Comintern rejected the request reasoning that Dutch Indies government's control was still too strong. To prevent the revolt the plan as proposed by Musso and Alimin, the Comintern instructed them to stay in Moscow longer studying the Trotskyist deviation.[20] However, in October Musso still managed to instruct his people in Dutch Indies to start a revolt.[25]

In 1927, Musso and Alimin went to Russia and studied at Lenin school for several years.[26]

In July 1928, Musso under the name Manavar along with Alimin, Semaoen, Darsono, and Tadjudin attended the Sixth Congress of Comintern led by Stalin. He expressed his opinion about the failure of the revolt in Jawa and Sumatra the year before.[27] After the congress, Musso served as member of executive committee of Comintern. Musso also continued his study at Lenin University in Moscow but he didn't finish it.[28]

Musso married a Russian woman in 1929 and became father of two children.[20][28]

In April 1935, Musso went to Surabaya meeting Siti Larang Djojopanatas, wife of Musso's old friend Sosrokardono to request staying in their residence for several months.[29] Musso was sent there to consolidate the old PKI that crushed in 1927.[20] Musso explained Dimitrov line, a new Communist tactical approach, in several newspaper, including three times inIndonesia Berdjoeang.[30] Focusing in Surabaya and Solo, in this consolidation, Musso managed to persuade Pamudji, Azis, Sukajat, Djoko Soedjono, Amir Sjarifudin, and Tan Ling Djie to join PKI.[31] Musso instructed the new members to infiltrate and join the nationalist organizations. The Dutch Indies government discovered this and exiled the members to Boven Digul. However Musso went back to Moscow before the government arrested and exiled him.[20]

Article written in Bintang Merah stated that Musso went to Prague in early November 1947 helping Soeripno that represented Indonesia to discuss consular agreement with USSR. However, Soeripno himself claimed that Musso went there in March 1948.[32] In January 1948 after the signing of Renville Agreement, Musso defended his comrades in Indonesia from criticism by Moscow, especially Amir Sjarifudin, stating that it was "just a tactic, in order not to draw attention of anti-communist faction."[33] After the talks in Prague finished on the third week of May that concluded the establishment of diplomatic relations between USSR and Indonesia,[34] Musso, under the name Soeparto, and Soeripno returned to Indonesia on 21 June 1948. They dropped in New Delhi and stayed for half a month or three weeks waiting Indonesian Air Force finished the transaction of aircraft. They join the flight of a newly bought aircraft to Indonesia, stopped by in Thailand then stayed in Bukittinggi for eight days.[32]

Musso planned a Communist revolution, consistent with Soviet policy, named A New Road for the Indonesian Republic whether in Prague or on the way home.[35] While in Prague, Musso discussed with Soeripno and Paul de Groot, a Dutch communist, Netherlands-Indonesia relations and whether Indonesia was to become a Netherlands' commonwealth or fully independent.[36] The plan, according to Ann Swift, was doubtlessly approved by Moscow, though Musso himself denied this.[37] According to the former Armed Force Chief of Staff Himawan Soetanto, the idea was influenced by the so-called "Zhdanov line". The idea was named New Road because it was different from old PKI which was influenced by the Dimitrov line.[38]

Musso and Soeripno landed in a swamp in Tulungagung on 10 August.[39] After being picked up, they moved to Solo to meet the military governor Wikana.[40] They arrived in Yogyakarta on 11 August 1948.[41][42] On 12 August, Merdeka, a newspaper based in Solo, wrote that "there was a possibility that Musso, a veteran leader who was very popular, had returned".[43] Later, on 13 August, he met Sukarno to discuss a revolution.[42] During a meeting of the PKI Politbiro on 13–14 August, Musso presented the New Road. He denounced the Indonesian revolution as a bourgeois revolution instead of an authentic proletariat revolution. He also demanded more labor representatives in the government and the armed force.[44] Musso also criticized the PKI movement while absent and the use of funds from van der Plas - 25000 gulden by Amir Sjarifudin to fight Japanese army, the resignation of Amir as prime minister without consulting to the party, leader of illegal PKI didn't hasten the formation of legal party after independence, and complexity of the communist organizations which divided into PKI, Pesindo, and SOBSI.[45]

Musso, through the Politbiro, announced a merger of the PKI that had a poor leadership with Pesindo and SOBSI which was under the Demokrasi Rakyat Front on 21 August and turned PKI as a mass-based party, though the idea of merger was rejected by Asrarudin and SK Trimurti.[46][44][47] Other cadres that refused to merge under PKI were from Pesindo and Barisan Tani Indonesia which was inclined to Sjahrir and from the Murba and Angkatan Komunis Muda (Akoma) which was inclined to Tan Malaka. The merger was officially conducted on 27 August.[48]

On 28 August, Musso discussed with Ibnu Parna from Gerakan Revolusi Rakjat (GRR) and Akoma leaders for a possibility both organizations merged with PKI. However, after PKI published its reorganization on 31 August, GRR criticized Musso and PKI.[49]

In early September, all leftist parties were merged with PKI. After the reorganization, the new Politbiro was created on 1 September. The new members were younger and more amenable of Musso's idea including D.N. Aidit, M.H. Lukman, Njoto, and Sudisman.[41]

To publicize PKI's new course and gain more support, Musso gave speeches and conducted mass meetings. On 3 September, Musso met Barisan Tani in Indonesia, while on the 5th Musso met with students. Starting on 7 September, Musso, Wikana, Setiadjit, and Amir Sjarifudin held mass meetings in Central and East Java, beginning in Solo, Madiun the day after, Kediri on the 11th, Jombang and Bojonegoro on the 13th and 14th, and Cepu and Purwodadi on the 16th and 17th.[50]

Madiun affair and death[edit]

In the middle of the month, an incident between PKI-influenced armed forces and government loyalist armed forces occurred in Solo.[41] After this incident, according to Bintang Merah, on 16 September in Cepu, Musso ordered his men in Solo to keep incident from spreading.[51] On 18 September, the crossfire broke up in Madiun. PKI sympathizer stated that the new government called the National Front was formed after killing government loyalist officers and taking over strategic places. Hearing this, Musso, Amir, and the others went to Madiun to control the rebellion.[41] According to the PKI-influenced militia leader Soemarsono, his action was approved by Musso when Soemarsono visited Musso and Amir two days before. However, according to Ann Swift and Himawan Soetanto, Musso did not know about this.[52]

On the evening of 19 September, Sukarno ordered his people to choose himself and Hatta over Musso. According to M.C. Ricklefs, Musso had no experience in Indonesia so he had no base of political power over the majority of Indonesian people compared to Sukarno, even local militias that influenced by anti-government side would not support Musso.[53] Responding to this, Musso formed the Nasional Daerah Madiun Front, appointed Soemarsono as military governor and Djoko Soedjono as militia commander. Hatta was dissatisfied with the response, and stated that Musso wanted to take over the government and "establish Soviet government."[54]

The rebels were pushed after the Siliwangi Division was ordered to attack the PKI force in Madiun.[53] Musso and Amir who knew that they could not successfully resist a Subroto-led attack, instructed the PKI force to try to escape and hide in the mountains.[55] On 28 September, Musso, Amir, and Soemarsono left Madiun for Ngebel and Dungus, Ponorogo.[56] While in Balong, Ponorogo, Musso and Amir had a serious disagreements over tactical plans. While Musso wanted to move to the south Amir preferred moving north.[57]

On 31 October, in the mountains near Ponorogo, Musso was killed by government forces while trying to escape.[53][58]

Political view and legacy[edit]

In the largest sense, Musso was a true Stalinist who thought there could only be one party for the proletariat, a party led by Soviet-supported communists.[41] After returning from Moscow, Musso developed a vision of Jalan Baru untuk Republik Indonesia (The New Road for Indonesian Republik). This vision and the associated plans the direction of the PKI from being largely dominated by the ideas of Dimitrov to Zhdanov.[38] The next PKI leader after Madiun affair, Alimin, disagreed with Musso's vision and supported the idea of the PKI as small party of solid professional revolutioaries with militant cadres throughout all Indonesia. Despite Alimin's vision for the revolutionary struggle in Indonesia, young cadres during the era of Alimin dominance such as those led by Njoto, Aidit, and M.H. Lukman were largelu influenced by the ideas of Musso.[59]

Sukarno described Musso as "jago", a rooster pet for fighting because when Sukarno and Musso lived together in Tjokroaminoto's house, Musso "liked to fight".[35] Ruth T. McVey paired Musso with Alimin as the leaders of revival of the PKI in the 1920s. Soe Hok Gie described Musso as quite similar to Haji Misbach, as someone who "liked to run amok" and was rather reckless.[60]

A statue of Musso is said to be planned to be built in a park in Phnom Penh as a tribute to Musso who visited Phnom Penh in 1931.[citation needed]



  1. ^ Swift 2010, p. 91.
  2. ^ a b c McVey 2006, p. 169.
  3. ^ a b Dhyatmika 2011, p. 2.
  4. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 8.
  5. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 8, 10.
  6. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 9.
  7. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 10.
  8. ^ McVey 2006, p. 168.
  9. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 10-11.
  10. ^ Triyana 2011, p. 137.
  11. ^ McVey 2006, pp. 169-170.
  12. ^ McVey 2006, p. 170.
  13. ^ McVey 2006, p. 283.
  14. ^ McVey 2006, p. 303.
  15. ^ McVey 2006, p. 310.
  16. ^ Ricklefs 2001, p. 225.
  17. ^ a b McVey 2006, p. 316.
  18. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 13.
  19. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 17-18.
  20. ^ a b c d e Swift 2010, p. 92.
  21. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 18.
  22. ^ a b McVey 2006, p. 321.
  23. ^ McLane 2015, p. 92.
  24. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 19.
  25. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 20.
  26. ^ McVey 2006, p. 202.
  27. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 30.
  28. ^ a b Dhyatmika 2011, p. 31.
  29. ^ Dhyatmmika 2011, pp. 32–33.
  30. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 34.
  31. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 34-35.
  32. ^ a b Swift 2010, p. 93.
  33. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 38-39.
  34. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 40.
  35. ^ a b Swift 2010, p. 94.
  36. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 42.
  37. ^ Swift 2010, pp. 101, 108.
  38. ^ a b Dhyatmika 2011, p. 43.
  39. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 37.
  40. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 38.
  41. ^ a b c d e Ricklefs 2001, p. 280.
  42. ^ a b Swift 2010, pp. 91, 94.
  43. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 41.
  44. ^ a b Dhyatmika 2011, p. 44.
  45. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 45-46.
  46. ^ Swift 2010, p. 108.
  47. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 50-51.
  48. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 51.
  49. ^ Swift 2010, pp. 113–114.
  50. ^ Swift 2010, p. 106.
  51. ^ Swift 2010, p. 121.
  52. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 77, 95.
  53. ^ a b c Ricklefs 2001, p. 281.
  54. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 98.
  55. ^ Swift 2010, p. 130.
  56. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, pp. 99, 103.
  57. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 104.
  58. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 105.
  59. ^ Dhyatmika 2011, p. 117.
  60. ^ Triyana 2011, p. 135.


  • Dhyatmika, Wahyu, ed. (2011). Musso, Si Merah di Simpang Republik. Seri Buku Tempo. Jakarta: Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia. ISBN 9789799109194.
  • McLane, Charles B. (2015). Soviet Strategies in Southeast Asia: An Exploration of Eastern Policy under Lenin and Stalin. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9781400879663.
  • McVey, Ruth T. (2006). The Rise of Indonesian Communism (reprint ed.). Jakarta: Equinox Publishing. ISBN 9789793780368.
  • Ricklefs, M.C. (2001). A History of Modern Indonesia Since c. 1200 (3rd ed.). Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781403990242.
  • Swift, Ann (2010). The Road to Madiun: The Indonesian Communist Uprising of 1948 (reprint ed.). Equinox Publishing. ISBN 9786028397223.
  • Triyana, Bonnie (2011). "Jalan Berliku Tuan Mussotte". In Dhyatmika, Wahyu (ed.). Musso, Si Merah di Simpang Republik. Seri Buku Tempo. Jakarta: Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia. ISBN 9789799109194.