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Biographies Chapter 4



                                                                                           Back to Faculty: Chapter 4



Michael Borodin: 1884-1951. One of the aliases assumed by the Russian labor agitator and Comintern agent, Mikhail Markovich Grusengerg.  Bom in the Russian Pale, an area set aside for Jewish subjects of the Czars, Borodin became a Bolshevik in 1903 and was forcibly exiled by the failure of the 1905 revolution. From 1909 to 1918, when he returned to his homeland with the success of the October (1917) Revolution, Borodin studied, tutored, and eventually opened his own school in Chicago, Illinois. Due to his abilities with language and social organization, he was useful to Lenin as an agent of both the new Soviet state and the Comintern. One of his first assignments was to help establish the Communist Party of Mexico.

Borodin arrived in Guangzhou, China in September of 1923, with four assignments: 1) to reinforce the new alliance against "imperialism" between the KMT and the USSR (the Sun-Joffe Agreement); 2) to assist in the reorganization or actual "Bolshevization" of the KMT; 3) to solidify the incorporation of socialist ideals and socialist cadres into the KMT; and 4) to "persuade" the Chinese Communists of the need to adopt the policy of a "united front" with the KMT against domestic warlordism and Western imperialism. Borodin successfully formed close personal relationships with moderate and leftist Nationalist leaders and established the military arm of the party at the Whampoa Military Academy. However, with the rise of Chiang Kai-shek and the triumph of the conservative wing of the KMT during the Northern Expedition, Borodin was forced to flee China. After his return to Moscow, the seeming extinction of the CCP in 1927 was blamed on Borodin. Accused of "losing China," Borodin was held for questioning and then relegated to minor posts, until Stalin had him exiled to a Siberian prison camp (gulag) in 1949, where he died in 1951.


Chen Duxiu: (chuhn do show) 1879-1942. As a Chinese student in Japan, Chen became convinced that China needed quick and fundamental changes if his country were to survive in the twentieth century. After returning to China, Chen became involved in educational reform and the popular publication business. He became a professor in the liberal arts program at Beijing University. Convinced that the transformation of Chinese youth was the only way to quickly reform China, he began publishing a radical newspaper-magazine, New Youth, first in Beijing and later in Shanghai. As dean of the liberal arts department, Chen's contacts with students and intellectuals radicalized his thinking. Although classically educated, he became identified with the vernacular language movement and with Marxism, especially after the May Fourth Incident. In July of 1921, Chen was elected as the first Secretaiy-General of the CCP, a post that he held until 1927. On Stalin's orders, he was dismissed for pursuing "wrong" policies. Labeled a “Trotskyite," Chen was never again politically relevant either to the CCP or to Chinese politics. Although recognized as the co-founder of the CCP, Chen died alone and unimportant in Sichuan and has been ignored in the PRC.


Mohammad Hatta: 1902-1980. After graduating from Dutch primary and secondary schools, Hatta went on to Holland for university education. In school at Rotterdam, he converted the Indies Students' Society from a mere social club to the political Indonesian Union. After becoming involved in nationalist movements and the League Against Imperialism, he was arrested for subversive activities. He was acquitted and returned to Batavia in 1932.

In 1931, Hatta founded the National Education Club. He believed that the education of nationalist leaders was more important than the formation of mass parties (such as the PND which would be easy targets for Dutch suppression. Arrested again in 1935, he was exiled from Java until just before the Japanese invasion. During the war, he served under the occupation as vice-chair of mass organization.  In August 1945, he and Sukarno declared Indonesia's independence, with Sukarno as president and Hatta as vice-president.


Sukarno: 1901-1970. First president of the Republic of Indonesia, a position he hold from 17August 1945, the day on which he proclaimed Indonesia's independence, until his formal deposition on 27 March 1968. Sukarno was one of the charismatic leaders of Afro-Asian nationalism. He could claim, with some justice, to be the founder of the Indonesian Republic, but his closing years were marked by controversy and, ultimately, rejection.

Born in Surabaya, the son of a Javanese schoolteacher and a Balinese mother, Sukarno was educated in his father's school in Mojokerto (East lava), the Dutch elementary school at Mojofcerto, and the Dutch secondary school (HBS) in Surabaya. As a secondary student he boarded in the house of Umar Said Cokroaminoto, chairman of the mass Islamic organization Sarekat Islam, and he met many of the nationalist leaders of the time there. On graduation from HBS, Sukarno, unlike others of his generation who proceeded to tertiary education in the Netherlands, studied engineering and architecture at the Bandung Technical College.

In Bandung he became involved in nationalist activity. He was chairman of the local branch of Jong Java and one of the founders of the General Study Club in 1926. His article "Nationalism, Islam and Marxism," in the Study Club's journal, Indonesia Muda, urged the unity of the major streams of nationalist thought in the interests of the common goal of independence. He also developed the idea of the Marhaen, the 'little people" of Indonesia who were poor but who were not a proletariat.

In 1927 he assisted in the formation of the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PND and became its first chairman. Following the decline of Sarekat Islam and the destruction of the Indies Communist Party after the revolts of 1926-1927, the PNI became the main voice of Indonesian secular nationalism, and Sukarno's skills of oratory drew large crowds to its meetings. Its success led, in December 1929, to Sukarno's arrest, trial, and conviction for behavior calculated to disturb public order. His defense speech became a classic of nationalist literature. After his release from prison in December 1931, Sukarno joined Partindo (the PNI's successor) and was arrested again in 1933- In spite of his resignation from Partindo and his promise to the authorities to abstain frompolitical activity in the future, he was exiled first to Flores and then to Bengkulu.

With the Japanese invasion of the Indies in 1942, Sukarno returned to Jakarta where, within the Occupation regime, he served as chairman of its mass organizations and of a Centra] Advisory Committee, In those positions he was able to soften some Japanese demands, and through access to the radio provided in all villages he became the most widely known Indonesian leader. He claimed that his speeches, though necessarily supporting the Japanese, kept alive the idea of nationalism. In June 1945 he expounded his views in terms of the concept of Pancasila: nationalism, internationalism, democracy, social prosperity, and belief in God,

In August 1945, Sukarno was accepted as the only person who could proclaim Indonesia's independence and assume office as president. During the independence struggle that followed, he agreed to demands for a parliamentary, rather than a presidential, convention in forming governments. Giving up executive authority strengthened his independence and enabled him to be a symbol of unity against the Dutch, a mediator between rival Indonesian factions and the focus of resistance to such internal challenges to the republic as the Communist-led Madiun Affair in 1948.

In 1957, after attacking the selfishness of political parties, he called for the replacement ol "50 percent plus one" democracy by a system of Guided Democracy more suited to Indonesian methods of deliberation and consensus. In 1959, following the defeat of rebellion in Sumatra and Sulawesi, and with the support of the army, he reintroduced by decree the 1945 presidential -type constitution and assumed executive authority.

Guided Democracy depended initially on a delicate balance between Sukarno and the army but with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) becoming more visible and powerful. Sukarno's style had echoes of court politics, government by access, impulse, and display. Against a background of economic crisis and spiraling inflation, Sukarno, "President for Life," expropriated Dutch property, embarked on grand building projects, played host to the Asian Games, and pursued an adventurist foreign policy. Dividing the world ideologically into "new emerging"  and  "old  established" forces,  he campaigned successfully for the recovery of West Irian; opposed, by "confrontation," the formation of Malaysia; and withdrew from the United Nations. The frenetic character of his regime reflected, perhaps, an increasingly desperate attempt to balance opposing domestic forces, and it ended in October 1965 with an attempted coup involving PKI leaders. Swift military action under General Suharto suppressed the coup and led to the destruction of the PKI and of the balance on which Sukarno's power had depended. In 1967 Suharto became acting president, and in 1968 Sukarno was formally deposed in his favor. He died two years later.

Sukarno was a complex figure, combining elements of Javanese tradition and modernity in his leadership. Perhaps his greatest achievement was his projection of a vision of a unified Indonesian nation in an archipelago of great ethnic, religious, and geographical diversity. (Excerpted, with minor editing, from: John D. Legge, Encyclopedia of Asian History;reproduced with permission.)


Emilio Aguinaldo: 1869-1964. A Filipino nationalist and one of the leaders of the frecrct society, Katipunan, which was founded by Andres Bonifacio in 1892. Due in part to his generalship, the Katipunan forces were initially successful in driving the Spanish out of Manila in the Philippine Revolution of 1895. However, in the resulting split between ruling councils of the secret society, Aguinaldo aligned himself against the founder, Bonifacio, arrested him, and eventually arranged the trial that condemned Bonifacio to death. In 1898, the Americans enlisted Aguinaldo's aid in their war against the Spanish. In 1899, Aguinaldo became one of the guerrilla leaders of the Philippine war for independence waged against the US. After his capture in 1901, Aguinaldo retired from public life until 1942, when he threw his support behind the Japanese provisional government. Arrested by the US in 1945 as a collaborationist, Aguinaldo was eventually granted amnesty by the victorious Americans at the end of the war. He lived out his life in the Philippines as the grand old statesman of the Filipino independence movement.


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