This chapter offers a different perspective from mainstream scholarship regarding the mass violence of 1965–66. It emphasizes the historical forces, actors, and contingencies that were most important in facilitating and shaping the violence of 1965–66. The chapter begins with a brief look at Indonesia's colonial history, before tracing the emergence of leftist and nationalist movements in the early twentieth century, the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945, the struggle against Dutch rule that culminated in independence in 1949, and the first tumultuous decade and a half of independence. It then examines in more detail each of the principal political actors that emerged in the postindependence period and the tensions that developed among them. Finally, the chapter provides a description of the final year before the alleged coup when these tensions came to a head, and shows how a number of key decisions and events helped to create the preconditions for the events of October 1, 1965, and the violence that followed.
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