In Defense of My Sisters and I

So, while I was working on my assignment, I encounter this interesting article about the current Indonesia’s ideology written by Paul K Gellert :

with the following abstract :

Based on ethnographic field research conducted in Jakarta, this article argues that there is a new ideology of development in Indonesia that is cosmopolitan, nostalgic and individualist. To understand the new ideology, a historical sociological perspective is taken to examine the nationalist period of anti-colonial struggle, the state developmentalist period of Soeharto’s New Order, and the neoliberal period since 1998. Two interrelated arguments are made. First, the ideology of development in Indonesia has changed from earlier nationalist understandings of Pancasila to a cosmopolitan neoliberal ideology based in a nostalgic nationalism. Second, a modernist Islamic perspective on secularism and Islam both supports and is supported by this ideological shift. These arguments are illuminated through two examples of the advance of cosmopolitan neoliberal ideology: optimism and education. Optimism is focused on individual integrity to redress Indonesia’s problems with corruption. Education is offered by optimists as the escalator to development. Empirically, the Indonesia Mengajarprogramme of sending young university graduates to teach elementary school in remote parts of the country is examined for its neo-modernisationist assumptions. The article concludes that this dominant ideology abandons earlier solidaristic forms of nationalism and holds little hope for addressing the vast structural inequalities in Indonesia.

That is an interesting argument. I could not resist myself to read the article, and I did so by telling myself that this is to add more argument in my soon-to-be-submitted essay.

This article is interesting because I happen to be involved in a similar youth movement, Forum Indonesia Muda. In which we are a bunch of youngsters, who are ready to ‘change’ Indonesia, or, something along the lines. Doing so through volunteering, entrepreneurship, sociopreneurship, serving the country (wait, at this point I just realised something. Why being ‘a good decision maker’ do not make it to the list of high quality (jomblo, mostly) Indonesian citizen, while it is an important aspect of democratic society? Hmm…..). Meanwhile my sister is Local Ambassador for Environemnt and Aluh Sisit (basically, it means Miss for Traditional Fabric), she did some social stuff that I did not tracked on, hut the bottom line is that she’s doing community/social contribution.

And Gellert claimed that we are neolib and cosmopolitan now, attempted for change in the top down manner, forgetting the gotong royong solidaristic aspect of Indonesian life that we used to have. But most important, he implied that Indonesian are currently delusional if we are hoping that education and optimism could bring Indonesia for the better.

Well,  the way I see it he wrote a lot, but not so much that he could address a more complex situation in Indonesia.

I realised that I am a privileged person as I kept defending my position and realised that I made politically incorrect responses to that.  This is the only thing that I could and should say I guess:

If seeing Indonesia as a nation, the thing that it needs now is optimism and education. To be optimistic for a better tomorrow, in which it could only exist if we got a proper education. Only after there are enough educated people who understand what is right and what is left in the world, people, as in the real current educated society, ‘not only the or founding fathers’ could understand what Pancasila is all about… Because all of the knowledge could only be attained through expensive universities with expensive books and journal subscription. Even when the materials existed for free, we need guidance for the first step on being critical, something that we could only get from a high-quality education, or free educational aid. Was not the movement for science literacy in England in the past involved the middle class who was ‘geeky’ enough to share their knowledge? And was not the working class have thier own motivation to taught themself on science knowledge. I see it the same way.

Damn this reminds me of Snowpiercer movie. You can only know the truth if you get to the front compartment. With blood and tears.

And about the elitist attitude, it is the side effect of unfinished medicinal (education) treatment or the result of ‘the right’ prescription.

Oh and by the way, I’ve seen some young Indonesians with integrity. I’ve also seen a more young Indonesian who only cares about watches, Instagram followers and acknowledgement. That’s why I said that he’s  not writing as much to be able to address Indonesian. Who? Is it the Gen X, Baby Boomers, the twenties ( yes, I refuse to call my generation as Milleni*ls, we don’t need labels like the oldies we hardly homogenous).

This is super not academic and defensive comment from me. Sooo, peace out !


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