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Indonesian democracy in-spite of poor cultural pre-conditions Olle Törnquist Presentation to Panel 1 “Cultural Preconditions for Democracy” at the Conference.

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Presentation on theme: "Indonesian democracy in-spite of poor cultural pre-conditions Olle Törnquist Presentation to Panel 1 “Cultural Preconditions for Democracy” at the Conference."— Presentation transcript:

1 Indonesian democracy in-spite of poor cultural pre-conditions Olle Törnquist Presentation to Panel 1 “Cultural Preconditions for Democracy” at the Conference on “Democracy as Idea and Practice”, January 2010, University of Oslo. 1

2 The Puzzle Indonesia is now the world’s third largest democracy, after India and the United States. Given that the aim of democracy is defined as popular control of public affairs on the basis of political equality – which calls for the construction of the ‘demos’ and ‘public affairs’, and a number of basic means (related to freedoms, rights, participation, governance) to foster ‘control’ and ‘political equality’ –, several challenges stand out, of course. Studies of the democracy movement and national UiO guided surveys testify in particular to basic problems of representation, participation and accountability. Yet, Indonesia at this point of time is among the better of the ‘new democracies’, and the best in SE-Asia. Especially in terms of freedoms, human rights and elections. This is a puzzle. 2

3 This is a puzzle, because how was this sudden rise of a comparatively thriving democracy is possible only 11 years after the fall of the Suharto dictatorship, which grew out of mass killings, suppressed all independent popular organising and lasted for more than 30 years? How was this democracy possible, given that most scholars deemed it almost unimaginable, until the final days of Suharto? And how come that this democracy is possible, given that the political culture was and is quite undemocratic? As the puzzle is about both the rise and the survival of democracy, let us separate the arguments about (I) the basis for anti-authoritarianism towards democracy, and (II) the basis for democratic governance. 3

4 I Major arguments about the basis for anti-authoritarianism towardsdemocracy 1.Forceful processes for a citizen based community (demos). Thesis (a): bourgeois rights for all (e.g. GBR, US) Thesis (b): state facilitated egalitarianism for all (e.g. Scandinavia) Indonesia under Suharto: No, neither of these! (i)few citizens, many denizens; (ii)state fostered ‘communal-based-community’ (with reference to ‘Asian values’) But against Suharto’s regime: anti-state based ‘communal-based-communities’, fostering pluralism and multi culturalism, plus ‘son-of-the soil’ and ethnic driven localism and calls for decentralisation did undermine the centralised & despotic clientelism 4

5 2.Forceful processes towards de-monopolisation of the political economy Thesis (a): early society-based capitalism; liberal bourgeoisie and middle classes (Barrington-Moore) Thesis (b): capitalist development in general: conflicts between capital and labour – the key role of the working class ( Rueschemeyer&Stephens) Thesis (b): late state promoted capitalism with alliance of supportive classes (Germany, Scandinavia & new developmental states) Indonesia under Suharto: No, neither of these. Primitive accumulation in patrimonial, centralistic and coercive form with frequent predatory practices. Middle classes benefit. But against Suharto’s regime: Broad (though undisciplined) critique against monopolisation, corruption, collusion, nepotism and expropriation. (I was right ) But democracy was not seen as a viable mean. (I was wrong.)The main demands were for broader access and liberalisation, through privatisation, market mechanisms and meritocracy (not democratic regulations etc). And popular protests were subordinated and fragmented. 5

6 3. Democracy oriented culture (habitus, and interpretation of the same, and of society) Thesis (a): liberal market-promoted rational individualism with support for the poor and civil society charity (‘liberal western culture’) Thesis (b): state promoted rational individualism and basic social security within the framework of family and religious communities Thesis (c) : state promoted egalitarianism and rational individualism with individual social security (Scandinavia) Indonesia under Suharto: Next to nothing of this. Authoritarian and state driven socio-economic patron- clientelism, (incl. communal organisations as clients), with supplementary rational individualism within science, technology and modern business. But against Suharto’s regime: Limited intellectuals’& students’ demands for liberalisation, not so much democracy. Primarily communal-community based anti-state policies, for pluralism, community service, decentralisation. 6

7 II Major arguments about the basis for democratic governance 1.Solid institutions and pre-conditions ahead of popular sovereignty. State-building, modernisation, economic foundation, thus rooted cleavages as basis for popular organisations and parties and supplementary media and citizen organisations for critique and self- management. (Liberal and Marxist modernisation theory plus Huntington’s ‘politics of order’, and ‘new’ thesis of ‘solid institutions first’) Indonesia before and under Suharto: In the mid 50’s: The thesis became widely accepted. Hence: from : ‘Guided democracy’; from 1965: ‘Politics of Order’ towards Asian values democracy Against Suharto’s regime: Most actors (rightists and leftists) continued to say that democracy was ‘too early’ and ‘idealistic’. 7

8 2. Elitist pact of moderate dissident and incumbent elite, marginalising dictators and popular rooted radicals. For elitist institution building of core political/public institutions. Rule of law, human rights, elections, ‘good governance’, free media, civil society. Indonesia under Suharto: Almost no attempts in this direction, in-spite of the efforts in Latin America and Africa and E. Europe. Partial Muslim attempts (ICMI) at institutional change as in Malaysia/Anwar Ibrahim, with ‘Asian Values. Against Suharto’s regime: Only directly after the fall of Suharto. Then relatively successful as such but entirely dominated by the powerful elite-alliance (which was now the basis of democracy) and its broad privatisation, money politics, political clientelism and communalisation plus the poor state capacity Adding popular capacity, to thus focus on better state capacity and policies towards better strategic conditions. Under Suharto and against the Suharto regime: Nothing! 8

9 Conclusion 1.The world’s 3 rd largest democracy is in-spite of poor pre-conditions. 2.There was struggle (among middle classes and sections of lower classes) against monopolisation, corruption, collusion, nepotism and expropriation, but democracy was not seen as a viable mean. 3.Yet: this plus the poor preconditions in terms of privatisation, blurred definitions of the demos, localisation, political clientelism, pluralism and communal multi-culturalism -- proved forceful weapons to undermine the autocratic state project. 4.Ironically however, by now these weapons prevent the development of less shallow and more genuine and functional popular sovereignty. 9

10 5. Given that one does not wish to give up the democratic advances – but wishes to explore the options of using them to foster better conditions – four possible options related to political culture calls for further studies: (a) the possible combination of certain communal rights (e.g. re. environment) and democratic political equality re. other public affairs; (b) the possibility that subordinated groups focus on demands for the same rights in society as others, not special favours or private- liberal rights; (c) the possible option of democratic regulation & delegation rather than privatisation & communalisation on the one hand & unrealistic ‘nationalisation’ on the other; (d) the possible designing of institutions for democratic participation in addition to elections – to thus also foster broader interest based movements and civic action, beyond fragmented lobbying and special interest-pressure groups. 10

11 Key references (and for more references) Aspinall, Edward, Opposing Suharto: Compromise, Resistance, and Regime Change in Indonesia Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2005 Marco Bünte and Andreas Ufen (eds). Democratization in Post-Suharto Indonesia, London and New York: Routledge, Davidson, Jamie S. and Henley, David, Indonesia :The revival of tradition in Indonesian politics: The deployment of adat from colonialism to indigenism, New York and London: Routledge, 2007 Nordholt, Henk, Schulte and van Klinken, Gerry, (eds) Renegotiating Boundaries. Local Politics in Post- Soeharto Indonesia. Leiden. KITLV Press, van Klinken, Gerry, Communal Violence and Democratisation in Indonesia. London and New York: Routledge, Samadhi, Willy Purna and Warouw, Nicolaas (eds.) Building Democracy on the Sand. Advances and Setbacks in Indonesia. Jakarta and Jogjakarta; Demos and PCD Press. 1 st edition : December 2008; 2 nd edition (The full report from the 2 nd UiO guided national democracy survey) Törnquist, O. Dynamics of the Indonesian Democratisation, Third World Quarterly, Vol. 21,No. 3, 2000; also in Economic and Political Weekly; April 29, (Ed.) (with Adi Prasetyo, Stanley and Priyono, A.E.) Indonesia’s Post-Soeharto Democracy Movement Jakarta: Demos, (Ed.) (with Priyono, A.E, Samadhi W.P and the Demos team) Making Democracy Meaningful. Problems and Options in Indonesia (2005 and revised edition 2007: Jakarta, Jogjakarta and Singapore: Demos, PCD Press, ISEAS publishing house. (The full report from the 1 st UiO guided national democracy survey) --- (Ed.) (with Adi Prasetyo, Stanley and Birkes, Teresa) Aceh: The role of democracy for peace and reconstruction. Jogjakarta: PCD Press, (2 ed. 2010). PCD Journal. 11


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