More than a decade after the fall of Suharto, Indonesia’s democracy continues to flourish. However as it struggles with ethnic violence and Islamic fundamentalism, is there a possibility that it will return to authoritarianism? Has it been able shake off its anti-democratic past, exorcising its authoritarian ‘ghosts’?
My paper is an investigation into the historical development of the many ideologies that have dotted the Indonesian landscape. I posit that despite Indonesia’s recent ascent into the pantheon of democratic nations, many of its past intellectual and ideological streams continue to inhabit public life. Therefore my paper will involve a discursive analysis of concepts, investigating the role played by the state ideology of pancasila and negara integralis from the birth of the republic til the 1999 referendum which paved the way for East Timor’s independence. I will also analyse the role played by Indonesian academics and intellectuals as the keepers and framers of an Indonesian ‘nation’ throughout the New Order years.
Using Hannah Arendt’s concept of the ‘social’, I will show how the Indonesian state attempted to manipulate the populace into becoming ‘a floating mass’ thus allowing instances of human rights violations throughout the Indonesian archipelago.
However, despite the organic nature of the New Order regime, Indonesia’s nascent democracy has given space for narratives to arise out of a space, which was heretofore banished, to a ‘silenced’ realm. What are the dynamics behind the rise of these voices? What connection do these narratives have with literature, film and the plight of those whom had suffered from human rights violations in the past? This research also aims to show the struggle which these voices have undergone in order to mold and shape a ‘different’ kind of space/realm in asserting their existence under the glare of the New Order’s control.
This research aims understand the historical and ideological underpinnings of Indonesia’s authoritarian past and to analyse how resistance is engendered through the narratives which are gaining strength in the archipelagic nation. Though looking specifically at Indonesia, there are lessons to be learnt here for all nation within the Southeast Asian region as each attempts to come to terms with their past.