Cultural and Class Politics in New Order Indonesia 9789814377683

Examines the aliran (streams, ways of life, comprehensive patterns of social integration with a political party as organ

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Cultural and Class Politics in New Order Indonesia

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The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

Established as an autonomous organisation in May, 1968, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies is a regional research centre for scholars and other specialists concerned with modern Southeast Asia. The Institute's research interest is focused on the many-faceted problems of modernization and development, and political and social change in Southeast Asia. The Institute is governed by a twenty-four-member Board of Trustees on which are represented the University of Singapore and Nanyang University, appointees from the Government, as well as representatives from a broad range of professional and civic organizations and groups. A ten-man Executive Committee oversees day-to-day operations; it is ex officio chaired by the Director. the Institute's ~hief academic and administrative officer.

"Copyright subsists in this publication under the United Kingdom Copyright Act, 1911, and the Singapore Copyright Act (Cap. 187). No person shall reproduce a copy of this publication, or extracts therefrom, without the written permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore."

Cultural and Class Pol1tics in New Order Indonesia


R. William Liddle

Research Notes and Discussions Series No. 2 Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Price:




Professor Kernial



Sandhu (Chairman)

Dr. Corazon M. Siddayao (Co-ordinator) Mrs. C.P. Chin Dr. Huynh Kim Khanh Mrs. P. Lim Pui Huen Mr. M. Rajaretnam Mrs. Christine Tan

Cultural Pol~tics, Class Politics, and the Future cf the New Order in Indonesia is the second in the Research Notes and Discussions series published by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. R. William Liddle is Associate Professor of Political Science at The Ohio State University in Columbus, He holds a Ph.D. degree from Yale University and has been a Foreign Area Training Fellow, a Carnegie New Nations Fellow at the University of Chicago, and a Ford Foundation Southeast Asia Fellow. He has served as Visiting Lecturer at the University of Singapore and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Ohio University in Athens. Professor Liddle has conducted extensive research in Indonesia on several occasions since 1962. His publications include Ethnicity, Party, and National Integration: An Indonesian Case Study (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1970), Political Participation in Modern Indonesia (New Haven: Yale University Southeast As1a Studies, 1973), and articles on various aspects of the New Order period. From 1973-76 he was chairman of the Indonesia Studies Committee of the Association for As1an Studies and participated in the creat1on of the Indonesia Studies Summer Institute in Madison, Wisconsin. Professor L1ddle is currently Fulbright Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and is engaged in a study of political change in Indonesia and the Philippines. The responsibility for facts and opinions expressed in the work that follows rests exclusively with Professor Liddle and his interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the Institute or its supporters.




The Institute publishes books and papers from time to time in the following series: BOOKS/MONOGRAPHS: specialized studies on topics relating to Southeast Asia. SOUTHEAST ASIAN AFFAIRS: an annual review of significant political, economic and

soclal developments 1n the region, with emphasis on the ASEAN countries. Contents include analyses in depth of topics of regional concern and of specific issues on a country-by-country basis. FIELD REPORTS: studies embodying the results of, and based exclusively on, the Inst1tute's research programme; OCCASIONAL PAPERS: professional papers issued periodically on a var1ety of topics of regional interest; RESEARCH NOTES AND DISCUSSIONS: contributions which represent the tentative results of ongoing research, and of discussions, printed for the purpose of stimulating further thought on specific subjects. TRENDS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA: papers and proceedings of TPends seminars held on individual Southeast Asian countries i INTERNA'I'IONAL CONFERENCES: publications based on proceedings of International Conferences sponsored by the Institute itself or in conjunction with other organizations; CURRENT ISSUES SEMINARS: publications g.cowing out of the Institute's Curpent Issues ser1es of seminars, the objective of which is to bring together knowledgeable and interested people to discuss topics of current concern and importance to the region. SOUTHEA.ST ASIAN PERSPECTIVES: aimed at wider circulation of Southeast Asian thinking, these publications are original contrlbut1ons in Engl1sh of Southeast Asians or translations of their slgnlficant papers and monographs appearing in one of the local or national languages of the region; ORA~ HISTORY PROGRAMME: publications based on the oral memoirs of persons who have made notable contribution to, or have first-hand information to impart on, certain aspects of the development of Singapore and Malaysia; LIBRARY BULLETINS: papers on Southeast Asiar! librarianshlp and bibliography. 15 March 1977

Director Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

Incontes~ably the most influential idea in the analysis of post-Revolution Indonesian politics has been the division of the Javanese people into socio-political groupings on the basis of religio-cultural affiliation. This conception of aliran (streams, ways of life, comprehensive patterns of social integration with a political party as their organizational core) was first formulated in the early 1950s by members of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) anthropological research team, most notably Clifford Geertz and Robert Jay, who conducted their field work in a small East Java town to which they gave the name Modjokuto (Middletown) . In addition to the extensl ve publication of Modjokuto-derived analyses, a large number of articles and books by foreign and Indonesian scholars has appeared elaborating, Ixtending, or merely restating the basic aliran argument. The most recent addition to this literature is Donald K. Emmerson's lndunesia 's Elite: Pol'i-t'ical CultuY'e and Cul&uPal Politics (Ithaca, 1976). Based on field research from 1967-69 and a return Vlsit in 1974-75, Emmerson's study makes aliPantype cultural conflict a central focus. Another recent book, Rex Mortimer's lndunesian Communism Under SukaY•no: Ide ol o g y an d Po l i t i c s ~ 1 9 6 9 - 1 9 6 5 ( Ithaca , 19 7 4 ) , whi 1 e very different in topic, time period, conception, and execution from Emmerson's study, also uses the aliran idea to explain the strategy, problems, and ultimate fa1.lure of the Indonesian Communist Party in the 1959-65 period,.

In this paper I propose to examine the aliPan theme as it is presented in each of these books from the perspective of a single question: how does it help in understanding the dynamics of the present New Order r~gime of President Suharto? More particularly, what does it tell us about the structure of power on which the New Order rests, the patterns of conflict within the r~gime and between it and its opponents, and the probability of its continuation in power? In the case of Emmerson~s study, this approach seems straightforward enough, since his data come from the New Order period


I include. in chis list my own study of ethnic politics in North Sumacra, Er;hn~cit]h Pa.:>ty., and National lnteg:t•ation: An Indonesian Case Study (New Haven, 1970). Many of the criticisms I make in this paper apply also to my own earlier wcrk,


and his analytical concerns have to do in large part with cultural conflict and regime persistence. None the less, there is a sense in which I am imposing my question on his analysis. My objective in doing so is to comment on the broader question of intellectual perspective and the kinds of conceptual frameworks that scholars bring to the study of Indonesian politics. Mortimer's book is not about the New Order at all, but ends with the defeat and destruction of the communists in 1965-66. My purpose in discussing it is to see what projections we can make about the future of the left in Indonesian politics from an analysis of its most recent past. The Concept of


One of the best discussions of a~iran is also one of the earliest - Clifford Geertz's unpublished but widely circulated 1956 manuscript, "The Social Context of Economic Change: An Indonesian Case Study" (Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, mimeographed). Geertz's immediate purpose in this work was to assess the prospects for economic development in Modjokuto through a wide-ranging analysis of Dutch colonial, Japanese occupational, and postindependence economic, social, cultural, and political characteristics and patterns of change. The aliran, which emerge in the postindependence period, are set firmly within this analytic and geographic framework. Three elements of Geertz's description of aliranin-Modjokuto seem to me essential. First, the "ways of life" on which they are based - the famous tripartite distinction among santri, abangan, and priyayi - are not simply religious categories but contain social-structural and economic dimensions as well. The basic cultural division is between the santr•1:, "who take as their main pattern of way-of-life orientation, a set of beliefs, values, and expressive symbols based primarily on Islamic doctrine," and the abangan, "who take the more Hinduistic (that is,Indian) element in Javanese tradition (along with pre-Islamic, pre-Hindu animistic elements), a pattern sometimes called "Javaneseism" (kedjawen) because of its emphasis on supposedly indigenous, pre-Islamic traditions" (p. 140). Priyayi religion is a more elaborated, more mystical version of abanganism.


In social structural terms, Geertz distlnguishes three urban ~lite groups among the abansun (a) intelllgentsia (Western-educated, more technlcallyoriented, modern bureaucrats and white-collar employees of private firms), (b) literati (old-style, more generalist and tradltionally-minded officials), and (c) priyayized abangan (lower level white-collar and blue-collar workers who take on some of the life styles and world views of the intelligentsia and literati). He contrasts these with the :::.hangcuz village elite, which is semlurban and provides the link with and leadership of the village abangan, and the kampong (urban neighbourhood) abangan, whose leadership comes directly from the urban elite, On the san tr~i side, a distinction is made between two urban elite groups - traditional santri, defenders of a syncretic but predominantly Islamic religious heritage, "mainly teachers and businessmen, plus larger peasants and Koranic scholars from the countryside," (p. 143); and priyayized santri, also traders and businessmen but more town-centred and leading a whitecollar style of life, and including also intellectuals concerned both with economic modernization and religious purification. The modernized santri in Modjokuto had a following only in the town, while their traditional counterparts had long exercised influence, through the santr~ village elite, with the village santri. A second element in Geertz's conceptlon is the relationship bet:ween the political parties, which grew out of and fastened onto these ways of life, and the specific political and economic circumstances in which ModJokuto found itself in the early 1950s. These circumstances included most prominently a Western-style Parliament and the promise of elections, which encouraged national politicians to begin to seek out leaders at the various subnational levels who could provide them with a mass base. In Modjokuto itself, according to Geertz, the partles provided organizational forms not just a political party, but a whole set of affiliated organizations for youth, women, peasants, and so on which were eagerly seized upon as vehicles for social (and to some extent economic) reconstruction. A town which had had virtually no organizational life before the war, which indeed only began to have a more or less permanent ~lite in the 1920s, now developed among that elite a "quite astounding ... intensity and degree of participation "'. in committee meetings, conventions, demonstrations, charity drives, celebrations and other


such 1 modern' activities" (p. 144). In the new clirn.ate of national independence and local freedom from Dutch and Japanese fetters, the ~lite of Modjokuto were attempting to use organization as a means of determining the1r own future and that of their community. Politically, Geertz applauds this step as one of a number of pieces of evidence that provide "the final argument in the debate as to whether the Indonesians are capable of selfgovernment," demonstrating "what a sense of being free and self-determined can mean to a people, what role the feeling of self-respect and the conviction of the existence of real possibilities for progress can play in social and cultural change" (p. 135). Economically, "the ideology-political party sort of social organization . , . obviously permits more flexible relations between the more 'developed' and 'underdeveloped' sectors of the society than the traditional, rather compartmentalized, system did - allows educated, urban Indonesians to provide more effective leadership for the peasantry and the workers" (p, 170) , The final element of the ali1•an concept is an assumption of reconcilability, a belief that although conflict among the aliran may end in the destruction of the state and/or society, it need not necessarily do so. This assumption is largely implicit in "The Social Context of Econom1c Change," which is after all looking at Indonesia only from the perspective of Modjokuto, but that the assumption is being made is clear from the two extended quotations above. The normative model which it presupposes is some form of pluralist democracy in which aliran leaders resolve conflict through bargaining and compromise. The logic of the argument is that given Indonesian soc1al and cultural complexity there are no acceptable alternatives to pluralistic politics. In other writlngs, Geertz saw the 1959-65 years as a period of stalemate and stagnation, in which the intensely ideological atmosphere created by Sukarno prevented aliran leaders in places like Modjokuto from resolving their problems. Extending Geertz's village-level analysis to the nat1on as a whole, the prominent Indonesian intellectual Soedjatmoko has proposed a normative/descriptive model of the Indonesian political process emphasizing the necessity of representation and bargaining in an aliran-dominated society. In his 1967 Dyason Lectures, Soedjatmoko wrote that


Any pol1t1cal system in Indonesia is only stable in so far as there is no direct affront to the demands of the various cultural groups to maintain their influence. This points to the necessity of ensuring adequate representation and full participation of these groups in pol1tlcal decision-making as well as in the pol1tical process itself. Unless this is secured governments are bound to be seen as illegitimate and almost any decision is bound to increase political tension in society. For Soedjatmoko, authoritarianism or totalitarianism were not live options. The critical point beyond which coercive power becomes counter-productive is rather low in Indonesia. This suggests that the concentrated power requ1red to make rapid economic development possible cannot be forged by coercive means alone, that it will have to rest to a considerable extent on popular consent and voluntary participation.2 At the beginning of Lhe New Order this model was widely accepted among both Indonesian and foreign scholars (myself included) . Today, I shall argue, it appears less accurate as a picture of the political system and less sensitive as a predictor of future change. Emmerson's "Cultural Politics" and the Aliran in the New Order --~---------··--------- -··---------~

Donald Emmerson 1 s lndones'ia 's Elite is about the political consequences of cultural and institutional divisions within the Jakarta bureaucratic and legislative elite. His argument is based primarily on interviews conducted in the late 196os with twenty members of the Indonesian Parliament and twenty members of the central bureaucracy. The bureaucrats were selected from a sampling frame consisting of 651 persons in the two layers of author1ty directly below the ministerial level, that is,


"Indonesia: Problems and Opportunities," Aust1•alian Outlook, December 1967, pp 275 and 279.


1n the first level dow~ secretaries general, directors general, and inspectors general, and in the second level Two dow~ directors, inspectors, and bureau chiefs. individuals were randomly selected from each of eight of the largest and most influential departments; the remaining four were chosen from all other departments The sample was also adJUsted to ensure that combined, f1ve of the twenty individuals chosen would be military The legislators were picked from a list of officers. the Partai Nasional Indonesia (PNI, representing 369 MPs Party) 1 Nahdatul Ulama (NU 1 the Nationalist Indonesian major conservat1ve or traditional1st Musl1m party), the Development Group (a parliamentary fraction made up largely of modernizing intellectuals, including student leaders) 1 the Armed Forces, the Partai Sarekat Islam Indones1a (PSII, Indones1an Islamic Association Party, a small Islam1c party), the Partai Muslimin Indonesia (Parmusi, Indones1an Muslims' Party, the principal voice of modernist Islam), and the Catholic and Protestant Excluded from the sample were the chairman part1es. of Parliament and (for unexplained reasons) thirty-three members of the national police, other military-related Four members groups, and mewbers of two small parties. were drawn at random from each of the four maJor parl1amenta:cy groups - the l>.rmed Forces (two l\rmy, one Navy, one Air Force), the Development. Group, PNI, and NU; one member each was chosen from PSII, Parmusi, the The point of Protestant party and the Catholic party. all this fu1e tun1ng, as Emmerson says, was to achieve "a working compromise between my access and their 1nfluence," that is, to locate forty individuals suff1c1ently representative of the span of cultural cieavage, 1mportant enough to play some role in dec.ermlning polic~Les or outcomes, and yet not so important or sensit1vely placed that they would be difficult or unproductive subjects. Emmerson's purpose in conduct1ng intensive 1nterv1ews with these forty individuals, and in immers1ng himself deeply in Javanese cultural life generally, is to answer what he calls "an ultimately moral question: whether ellte political culture can foster a balance between cultural communities and polit1cal institut1ons such that the latter do not repress the former in the national interest, yet are themselves not colon1zed by By cultural the former to sectarian ends" (p. 31). communi ties, he means especially the abangan and san tr•i groups described above, although Chrlstian and Outer


Island minorities are also included. By political institutions, he means legislatures and bureaucracies. Imbalance results when cultural antagonisms are reinforced by differences in political attitude and orientation. In "an ideal political cul t.ure, upholders of the old ways would not rail against the future but would help make it less alienating by giving it indigenous meaning, just as its partisans would not forsake their origins for the individual comforts and ulcers of a merely Western model".'' The nation-state would be as solicitous of its citizens as they would be willing to co-operate to make i t work; system and subsystem would be mutually enriching" (p. 25)-. Conversely,· the worst possible Indonesian situation is one in which the bureaucratic elite is dominated by generally tolerant, empathic abangan Javanese and the legislature has a high proportion of intolerant, rigid, intensely committed non-Javanese Muslims; in other words, a pattern in which all cleavages are cumulative w1th the institutional division. In such a case, one would be justified in arguing the necessity both of secularization (to promote tolerance and empathy) and of keeping power in the hands of the bureaucracy (as a shift toward a greater role for the legislature would only lead to unresolvabJe conflict). These and other possibilitles are pursued by Emmerson through a chapter on the historical development in Indonesia of legislat1ve and bureaucratic institutions, an in-depth description of the cultural and political development of two members of the sample, the heartland Javanese abangan/pr'iyayi bureaucrat "Purwoko" and the North Coast Javanese conservative santri legislator "Usman", and two chapters on the experiences (family background, ethnic and religious affiliation, education and associational life, occupation and revolutionary experience) and orientations (perceived anomie, immutability and zero~·sum character of conflict, religious tolerance, support for empathy, support for deference to authority, support for trust in leaders, and support for central authority) of all forty meru)ers of the sample. A concluding chapter examines in detail the marriage-law controversy of 1973; a postscript describes the changes that took place in Purwoko and Usman between 1969 and 1974-75. Emmerson's findings are closer to the worst possible case than to the ideal political culture. The Indonesian bureaucracy is more powerful than the legislature.


Bureaucrats are predominantly priyayi/abangan in cultural orientation, and thus more homogeneous than the legislators, who include a substantial number of santr·i. and other minority representatives_ Bureaucrats view the social and political world more positively than do the legislators, partly because there are so many (negative) san tr'i aTiong the latter. (See the summary argument on page 115.) These imbalances threaten the goal of democratization. The dilemma is this: to shift the center of political gravity from the bureaucracy to Parliament is to risk the divisions and instability of policy-making without consensuso But to allow the bureaucracy to continue to pre-empt the representative function is to risk a different kind of fragility: that of an artificial, imposed consensus (p. 222). In a thoughtful concluding chapter, Emmerson shifts from attitudes and orientations to cultural politlCS in action, discussing in detail the conflict over the marriage bill in 1973, when irate Muslims won concessions from an initially reluctant government. He argues that this conflict illustrates three of his princlpal themes: "the Islamic factor, the bridging role of the m1litary, and the weakness of the Parliament" (p, 235). Indeed the Muslims did demonstrate that when their backs were to the wall on an issue of fundamental .:cel1gious impor-tance they were prepared to fight; and 1t was the military which intervened, putting itself above the differing Muslims, Christians, and secularists and making the final settlement with the Muslims over the head of Parliament. Emmerson traces the military's role in the conflict to h1s attitudinal f1ndings - military officers are less likely to have experienced poverty in childhood, more likely to be nominal Muslims, more cosmopolitan than the legislators but less parochial than the bureaucrats; their primary loyalties are to the army itselfi they trust leaders; and they are deferential toward authority. These attitudinal attributes had in the particular circumstances of 1973 four behavioural consequences: (1) the military saw 1tself as initially neutral, since its officers do not really identify with the militarysponsored but largely civilian parliaTientary group which sponsored the bill; (2) the army is diverse enough internally so that it quickly became aware of the nature and seriousness of the problemi (3) institutional loyalty


to the army and weak identification with the legislature encouraged the officers to short-cut the Parliamentary process; and (4) the abangan character of the military played a role in the insertion of a provision in the bill helping to legitimize abangan "beliefs" as equivalent to religion, The outcome of the conflict wa.s then an executive-imposed compromise, on the whole the kind of outcome Emmerson appears to favour in a multicultural polity such as Indonesia. In the final pages of the book Emmerson becomes more critical, suggesting that some policies - deficiencies ~n economic development planning and implementation, suppression of dissenting opinions, manipulating the political parties, and too much favouritism toward the abangan - have resulted in a new pattern of conflict between classes which might produce still more cumulative cleavages, further unbalancing the system. He concludes by tentatively urging a greater devolution of responsibility to Parliament,. and proposes that Parliament cievote less of its time to culturally explosive issues and more to Because of a long-standing pragmatic development problems. military view of politics as basically conspiratorial, general elite opposition to territorial decentralization of authority and the leadership's failure to see the need for structures of interest articulation and resolution, he is not optimistic that such changes will come about ln the near future. How is one to evaluate these complex and finely-shaded arguments, and the chapters of attitudinal data supporting them, in terms of what thej tell us about the political One tack would be to examine dynamics of the New Order?


In his introductory chapter~ Emmerson asserts that his focus is on "enduring patterns of conflict and adaptation that are more likely to matter for the larger system in the longer run" and not on "who 1 really counts 1 in decision-making (which is in ar.y case short-term, personality-centered, and hard for an outsider to answer)." My point in centring my criticisms on how useful Emmerson is as a guide to the New Order is not that he should be studying who "really counts" as he has defined that phrase above, but that his particular conception of "enduring patterns" and their relation to institutions is inadequate or insufficient as a picture of New Order reality and will therefore not give us an accurate projection of the long-term development of the systemc


closely the a ttl tudina.l da."ca, informal interviews plus questionnaires, as Emmerson relates theme to theme and as he moves from this base to l1nk attitudes with behaviour. There is, particularly in the latter effort, a good deal But arguments of somewhat dubious inferential leaping. over method quickly reach a point of diminish1ng returns, for all political science techniques, haphazard and "systematic", are seriously deficient in one way or another. "' I see in l.t -che As I read _}_ nd~~nes'ia ';:, ELite, compiete Modjokuto, of world conceptual and normative cultural of with the assumption of reconcilability cleavages, the context of political democLacy, and the religion-cum-social structure quality of abangan and I want therefore to sarrt.r,-i ways of life and a~iran. approach the book not in terms of any particular argument or explanation Emmerson offers but rather in its total1ty as a model of the Indones1an political system. My position will be that the scheme can not usefully be transferred from Modjokuto to Jakarta and from 1954 to 1974. The scale and the political context have changed, and so have the place of a!iran and institutions (particularly legislatures) in Indonesian political life.

To begin, the assumption of :ceconcllability - which underlies Emme.rsorr's value commitment to democratization (and therefore his selection of the legislature as an institution) and hls sensitive tr·ea tmen t of conservative Islam - has always been more plausible at the local than at the nat1onal level (where potencial gains and losses to political actors are much greater) and in the mid-l950s there was sti 11 a rough power equality among \~ 1C: four maJor national-level ai~ran - nationalist, communist, By the modernist Muslim and conservat1ve Muslim. mid-1970s the naLicmalist, communist, and moderni.s-c Muslim ali~an had either been destroyed or weakened to the po1nt of insignificance as actors on the national stage, leaving only the conservative Muslims as a reasonably coherent .. well-organized force with a substantial mass base. The communists and modern1st Muslims were destroyed precisely because they were not (or were perceived by their opponents not to be) reconcilable" The conservative Muslims (of whom Usman is a well-drawn example) have hung on largely because they make so few demands which need to be reconciled, but act rathe£ only to defend their right to maintain their way of life. The nationalists have had the 1


greater pa:.ct cf thei.:r leadership taken away f:rom them, carrot~and-stick fashion, by those who hold power. My point, then, is that when there is so little to reconcile, the styles of cultural pol]. tics - compromise, 'oargai.ning, "bridging" ·- have much less meaning or central.i.ty in the political system. Secondly, unlike the 19 50s 1 11hen the Cabinet and Parliament were the central decision-making institutions of the polity, the New Order legislature and the parties represented in it are marginal political actors" Power today is not located in the legislature or even (except by delegation) in the bureaucracy, but lies rather in the hands of a small number of military men - and their institutions (for example, the Presidency, the Ministry of Defence and Security, the Intelligence Coordinating Body, the Command for the Restoration of Order and Secu.r i ty) - who have managed dur:ing the last decade t.o monopolize state power by claiming special status as guardians of national unity and through co-opting, manipulatlng, and coercing i.':hose .inside and outside tt1e military who have resisted the1r embrace. The decisicn-making process is thus heavily weighted in favour of those at or near the very top vlho have the decisive command of ideological, financial, and coercive resources, or are cl1ents of those who do. Although some of Emmerson's bureaucrats may be in this group, few if any of t~he .Legislator'S d.:te. Arguments about. leg is J.a ti ve·-bu.reauc.rati.c balances and imba1 ances consequently have l1ttle force, as the real game is F~ayed elsewhere. Third, the cnmpL:::x comb1.naL1ons of r-eligion and social structure in the Modjokuto ali~an, with their patterns of leader-follower relations about v.1hich Geertz could be so hopeful in terms both of democratization and economic progress, are not a part of the Jakarta political world today. Since the election of 1971 only Nahdatul Ulama can properly be desczibed - both nationally and locally as an active aZiPan. The military ~lite, while thoroughly abangan/priyayi in religion, has no political links with a mass constituency. The most important nonadministrative org·anization J. t has created, Go Zka.t' (for Golongan Karya or Functional Groups), was designed to depoliticize the society first by persuading and coercing civil servants into joining, and second by using the leverage military and civilian bureaucrats can exert to produce a Golkar electoral majority and


reduce the other part1es to the1r present marginal status. Since the election, Golkar affiliation at the province, regency, subdistrict, and village level has defined not membership in an alir,an but t.he outer limits of militaryplus-bureaucratic control. What are the consequences for cultural politics of th1s break between those who hold power on the one hand and the various aliran on the other? One answer is that the aZiran are a latent force which may emerge in the f1..1ture with rene\ved st:rength. On the sanr:ri side, conservat.ive Islam - it.s ambitions always muted by 1.ts desire for self-preservation - has moved on and off the national stage in this fashion several times in recent years, as Emmerson points out~" Modernist Is lam, once a militant, ideologically all-embracing creed fighting for an Islamic state, with an organizational base in Masyumi (the second largest party in the 1955 election with about 21% of the vote, but banned since 1960), has not been an important political force in recent years and is not discussed in much detail by Emmerson. But its schools, publishing houses, and social organizations are bus1e.r than ever, and the long-term goal of the Islamizat1on of Indonesia - in some still unspec1f1ed sense - remains intact and surely will reappear in some form as an important 1nfluence in political life perhaps not as an ali r'm< but as a number of autonomous religious, social, and economic organizations representing specific interests of their constituents and at t.he same t1me espousing a ·t.::nified modernist Isla.nuc view of politics and society. What of abang~niam? It 1s poss1ble that the most critical soclo-cultural and political consequences of the New Order have been the cutting adrift of the abangan masses by ~he Jakarta and regional Javanese priyayi (that 1s, the m1litary officers and civllian bureaucrats at the top of the gove.r:nmental hierarchies in the cent~b, the provinces, and the regencies) and the concomitant degeneration of abangan ideology. In Modjokuto in the early 1950s, Gee:rtz saw the development of ideologies -that is, reasonably coherent pictures of present and hoped-for social orders, conceptions of one's own place in orders and plans of action fur moving from p:r.esent to future - as part of a larger process of f:r:ee Indonesians gaining central over the1r lives as individuals and their future as a community, Aban0an ldeology divided into two: a nationalist variant,


st.ccmgly na.ti vist and antiforeign, hierarchical and paternalistic in its conception and assignment of leadership and followership roles, bureaucratic and statist in its institutional preferences; and a communist variant, also antiforeign but more universal in spirit, relatively egalitarian in leader-follower relations, concerned with the poorest rather than the middle and upper classes, emphasizing the role of the party more than the state as an instrument of social change. For at least the past decade the power holders in Indonesia have been abangan/priyayi, nationalist variant. Unlike the nationalist abangan leaders in Modjokuto, however, these men neither face competition for power and office from outside their cultural group nor enjoy any organizational links with the abangan urban and rural masses, that is to say, they no longer constitute an aliran in the Geertzian sense. The effect of these two changes - taking power and losing roots - has been substantially to weaken nationalist abanganism as an ideological force and indeed as an instrument of cultural group cohesion. Instead of a tool to explain the present and light the v.1ay to the future 1 Nevv Order ideology has become in great part a rhetorical weapon, a defensive wall erected to protect the leaders from the consequences of their policy mistakes and their drives toward self-enrichment. Ancient ,Javanese moral codes prescribing the proper behaviour for leaders, but conveniently not containinq any p:covision for calling those leaders to account, have been sentimentalized and reduced to a cover for a politics of personal ambition. In Benedict Anderson's terms, abangan nationalism has become doctrine rather than ideology, an empty shell of slogans which masks the absence of any real visio~ of \'/hat Indonesia might become or hov7 it might get there. lr. is, I think, symptomatic that Purwoko, the high-rankinq Javanese bureaucrat, who appears t:o Emmerson in 1969 to be nearing the end of his career and preparing to "close the circle" of his life by returning to his abangan roots, has become by 1975 an international civil servant, stationed in Europe and free of all links to or responsibility for his putative aZiran.


Notes on Indonesian PoZitloaZ Commun-ication (Center for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1974).


At t.he highest governmental levels, then, abanganism is no longer the ideology of a cultural group which can, in the conceptualization of cultural politics, be counterposed to Islam as the ideology of the san tr// cultural group. While the latter (more properly its conservative wing) is still an aZiran, the former is only a cultural label describing some of the beliefs, attitudes and orientations of (among others who also subscribe to these beliefs) a small group of men at the top of a steeply ascending power pyramid. The behaviour of these men is predictable not from their position as aZiran leaders or from attitudes learned while being successful bureaucrats belonging to the cultural majority - for example, trust in leaders, relative cosmopolitanism, deference to authority, loyalty to the army, etc. -but by their position in the power hierarchy, their ambition to greater power, and their fears of those who might displace them. These are the motivations, I think, which best explain military behaviour in late 1973, when Muslim demonstrations and student-sparked riots fed the fires of an already-in-progress power struggle at the top. The pro-Muslim resolution of the marriage law controversy was thus not so much a victory for cultural politics and the special place of the military as a bridger as it was a by-product of the events of one stage of the intramilit~ary contest. This is not to deny that Muslims can be influential, but rather to place that influence in proper perspective in relation to the real power centre of the political system.

The observation that the abangan masses have been set adrift by the priyayi military ~lite brings us to Mortimer's treatment of Indonesian communism. In analyses of New Order politics, one of the great unanswered - indeed, largely unexplored - questions is that of the future role of the Indonesian Communist Party, once the chief proponent of the interests of the urban and rural abangan poor. By many accounts, Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI) was the most dynamic, aggressive, mass-oriented, and successful of Indonesian parties. Nearly destroyed by its defeat at the hands of its opponents within the nationalist movement at Madiun in 1948, the party reemerged under the youthful leadership of D.N. Aidit, M.H. Lukman, Njoto, Sudisman and others in the early 1950s to claim 16% of the popular vote in the 1955 parliamentary elections. In the 1957


provincial elect1cns lL did even better, increasing lLS popular support in Java so much that noncommunist politicians looked with growing favour on Sukarno's antiparliamentarism as the only way of preventing an Though deprived during elected commun1st government. Guided Democracy of its ability to demonstrate increasing mass support through periodic elections, PKI none the less Throughout appeared to continue to improve its position. the Guided Democracy period it was widely bel1eved to be the aLiran with the largest and best-organized mass base. It was one of three major actors - the others being the President and the armed forces - capable of determining the outcome of important political disputes. After 1963, many observers have argued, the party became the principal source of innovation in the political system as a whole, leading the President 1t1here PKI wanted him to go and By August forcing the military on to the defensive. 19 65 the party claimed a membership of 3. 5 million r wi·th an additional 23 million members of its youth, labour, peasants, women,. artists, and scholars' affil1ates (Mortimer; p. 366). This g-ene:r:ally up:.vard trend 1n the party • s fortunes was of course sharply reversed by the armed forces' move against PKI in late 1965 following the murder - with a still undeterm1ned degree of PKI compl1city - of several Since 1966, when it became clear that key army leaders. the Aidit PKI had been destroyed, most students of Indonesian politics have turned the1r attention to other matters, particularly the new r~gime's economic development pol1cies (which differed so sharply from those of Guided Democracy and created new hope for Indonesia's future in the minds of liberal economists and political scientists). Other observers, more cynical toward the Suharto Government from the outset or less certain that PKI was as dead as it looked; have groped for some new perspective, approach, or concept that would enable them to assess the probabilities of another comrnunist emergence. W. F. Wertheim, for example, has looked to an increasing radicalization of lower class santri as the rich-poor gap increases under the weight of domest1c and 1nternational capitalist growth.S Herbert Feith, Rex Mortimer, and others also accept the longrun


"From Aliran tor..;rards Class Struggle in the Countryside of Ja-va," Wertheim's most recent views about social revolution in the Third World are elaborated in Evolut'Zon and Revolution (London: Penguin~ 1974).

Pacific Viewpoint, Vol. 10, No. 2 (1969).


sharpen1ng of class ~ensions as the major source of New Orde:r:: destabil1zation, but none of these author:s - as they themselves readily admit - has been able to spell out how the economic variables may be expected to interact. with 6 the political ones or what kind of time frame is involved. In lndonesio..n Commz-;n.-ism Und(;;Y' Sukarno, Mort1mer 1 s objective is "to analyze the manner in which an indigenous Communist movement arrives at an accommodation between its doctrinal heritage and its environment, and translates that accommodation into practical policies and act. ions, ... " Doctrinal her1tage, that is, Marxism-Leninismlp. 15). Maoism plus the contemporaneous views of communist leaders outside Indones1a, receives only summary treatment. While these ingredients were important determinants of the overall PKI vision of the party's purpose and the society's futu:r:e, the policies and pr.·ogrammes of the Guided Democracy period were in Mortimer's view shaped much more by the specif1c character1stics of the Indonesian environment. In assessing these characteListics, Mortimer makes a (largely 1mplicit) distinct1on between two highly interdependent strategic targets, ~lite and mass, and I will organize my comments in these terms. The first point to be made about the ~lite is that the communists we:re themselves par-t of it, \Jilhil.e 1 as Mort:imer and many others have poin"Ced out, the con1nmn1st leadership had some dist1nctive qualities ·- youth, lower class/status backgrou~ds, relative lack of embouPgeoisement, commitment t.o egali taria;:"!ism, organizational d1scipl ine in contrast to other members of the ~lite, it was also a part of the revolutionary generation and had absorbed much of the sp1rit of radical nationalism and the romance of In describing Aidit's experiences violent revolution, Mortimer lists the occupation, during the Japanese "adherence from 1943 to Marxism and the illegal following: PKI; exposure to concentrated doses of Japanese culture; training in Japanese-style political activism; close relations with some of the most 'radical' and fervent


Rex Mortimer, "Indones~a: Grm>~th or Development, 11 in Mortimer, ed., Showcase State (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1973); Herbert Feith, "Political Control, Class Formation and Legitimacy in Suharto's Indonesia," paper presented to the Melbourne Conference of the Asian Studies Association of Australia, 16 Hay 19'16.



[revolu~ionary youth] leaders; lessons in nationalism from its most prestigious ideologists, including Sukarno and [Muhammad] Yamin whose myth-making and spellbinding capacities were legendary; and fairly intimate association with Suka:rno., .. " Mortimer concludes that an "expressive nationalism and a c:citical appreciation of Sukarno's qualities remained motifs of his career, at least from 1952 onward" (pp. 36-37).

In both the parliamentary and Guided DeMocracy periods, influences constituted a cultural predisposition or psychological support for a carefully calculated ~lite strategy of alliance, first with PNI and then with Sukarno. In March 1954, at PKI's Fifth Congress, party leaders envisaged a United National Front strategy in which communists would play the leading role. This policy could not be implemented, however, because of the party's organizational weakness and the hostility of much of the nonco~nunist national elite. PKI thus entered into an alliance with PNI which, while placing it in a subordinate rather than leading position, provided it with protection from its enemies and some room to manoeuvre. When the parliamentary system collapsed, the party was astute enough to sw1tch its support to President Sukarno, who needed the mass organizational base which PKI could by that time provide and whose radical nationalism bore some resemblance to communist ideology. At the ~lite level PKI policy during Guided Democracy consisted of a series of attempts including participation in the struggle for West Irian, active support for ·the pol1cy of confrord::.ati.on with Malaysia, opposition to economic liberalism and support tor statist economic policies - to encourage Sukarno's populist initiatives, to oppose the growing influence of the military, and whenever possible to redefine government policy commitments in ways which made the communists the spearhead of national progress. t~hese

The elite strategy of alliance, necessitated by the circumstances of the environment in v1hich PKI found itself 1 had both positive and negative effects on the party's attempt to build a mass base. Alliance with PNI and Sukarno, together with the PKI leaders' own cultural background and the nonreligious nature of communist ideology, provided PKI with easy access to the rural and urban abangan who constitute more than half of the Javanese population. Populist nationalism, in a country which had just freed itself from colonial rule, was an ideology that found a


wide :.cesponse, "pa.rticularly among the ex-revolutionaries of little education and the urban lower strata who represented the party's most immediate hope of further growth and influence" (p. 53). At the same time, the constant necessity to operate within a Sukarnoist ideological consensus made it difficult to turn populism and culturallybased abm,gan support 1 which viewed PKI along with PNI as defenders of Java against the Islamic forces of Masyumi and Nahdatul Ulama, into a class-consciousness opposing PKI as the voice of the masses to the locally dominant elites - bureaucratic, commercial, and entrepreneurial of PNI 1 Masyumi, and NU. Alliance with the socially conservative PNI reduced the party's capacity to put together and apply evenly a coherent policy of opposit1on to the PNI-afflliated bureaucrats, v1llage officials, landlords and others who were in class terms the enemies of Indeed, because PKI policies the workers and peasants. stressed progranunes of self-help and improvement in village welfare, and avoided allocating blame to social classes within the village~ the party itself was often led at the local level by "those who had the most prestige and could command the greatest patronage in trad1tional terms - men of substance 1 either in land or in political author i t.y, and frequently in both" (p. 279). On only one occasion was a serious and sustained the attempt made to turn cultural into class support: aksi sepihak (unilateral action) campaign against large landowners in Central and East Java in 1964. This was, according to Mortimer. a "full-scale offensive," based on the land reform laws of 1959 and 1960, to mobil1ze the poorest peasants against their class enemies in the villages. Its objectives were to create a more militant party and peasants' organization and to demonstrate PKI mass power In the waves of violence that to the Jakarta elite. followed PKI land seizures, party leaders discovered both how little militancy there was wi·thin their own organizational structures and the extent of culturally-based Mortimer's antagonism that could be mobilized against them. conclusions are carefully balanced: To account for the setbacks suffered by the PKI in the campaigni one must look first at what appears to have been a considerable overestimation of the party's own strength in the villages and an underestimation of its opponents' ability to The organize in opposition to the offensive, ...


PKl had come to view the peasantry as the [But] revolutionary force par excellence .. ,. the crucial source of the mistake lay in the fact that, while Communist village support was overt and demonstrable, the strength of Moslem allegiances was latent and unverifiable until the die was cast .... The traditional sociocultural cleavages among the population, which had been an important factor in dictating the PKI's strategic avoidance of class agitation in past years, could net be overcome in the short period in which they cult1vated a class approach in the villages (pp. 326-327). Conclusions Is it poss1ble to come to any conclus1cns concerning the actual and potential influence of class and cultural factors in New Order Indonesia on the basis of this reading of Mortimer and Emmerson? W1th regard to class, the 1mplications of Mortimer's analysis are essentially negative. Much of PKI's support was based not on class but on abangan culture and the social structure associated with that culture; class conflict was at best incipient in the late Guided Democracy period and would very likely have required many years under optimal organizational and In the New Order programmatic conditions t.o develop At the nat:.1onal level · t.hose condi. t1ons are not met.. are no longer any structural divisions - santri atiran vs abangan a liPan, Sukarno vs army - of the sort. which enabled PKI to operate as effectively as it did during Guided In the villages of Java, poor peasants are Democracy. once again (or still) attached - and on increasingly unequcil But even those te.tms ·- t.o landowners or office-holders.. who are conscious of their oppression and exploitation have no alternative leade~ship to which to turn and little prospect of f1nding any in a society deeply penetrated by military and civilian officials seemingly unit:ed in their The probably growing pursuit of material self-interest. numbers of landless peasants who barely survive in the rural areas or migrate to the cities in search of very low-paying employment are equally incapable of political action except as anomie r1oters in times of intra~lite conflict such as January 1974. While there is little doubt of the existence of severe inequalities in the countryside, and of the willingness of many peasants to join organizations


that would \lf given the opportunity) speak for the1r interests, Mortimer's study demonstrates persuasively how ideal the overall political conditions were in the late 1950s and early 1960s for PKI expansion and how fragile and threatened, even under ideal conditions, was the party's mass base. On the basis of this internal evidence from the recent past (which is, of course, not the only evidence wor~h considering), the hope of a new movement from below, with mass support large and cohesive enough even to begin to loosen the grip of the present regime, is thin indeed. Culture, for both Mortimer and Emmerson, i.s a more powerful explanation of the dynamics of political stability and change in Indonesia than is social class. Both books thus alert us to look for the continuing significance of culturally derived political orientations and cleavages. To some extent, they tell us to look in the same places, particularly with regard to conservative Is lam, \•Thich both in the aksi sepihak campaign and during the marriage bill controversy played a critical role as defender of aZiran interests. But it is important to note, too, that in both authors' accounts there is little expectation that conservative Islam can playanything more than a defensive role, that it can be a creative force in the cultural politics of the future. Mortimer's emphasis on Javanese populism and radical nat1onalism as a major factor in PKI's rapid growth directs our attention to a likely source of mass agitational support in future struggles within the elite. His characterization of noncommunist nationalism and populism as "pure" ideology - that is; 2.bstract values without any conceptual linkage to practical implementation - suggests, probably correctly, that these values are unlikely t.o be effective instruments of mass mobilization or social. transformation. At a more fundamental level, ne1ther author offers a satisfactory model of the New Order pol1tical system which we can use to gain a new perspective on the role and importance of culture. In Mortimer's case, this is because the parallels between Guided Democracy as he describes it a competitive alliance at the top which allowed at least some a Ziran to manoeuvre belmv - and the much more structurally monolithic, encapsulated New Order are so few. In Emmerson's case, it is because cultural cleavages and orientations have been given centre stage when they belong someplace else. The problem is to determine what that place is - the audience, as those who see the end of cultural


politics would have us believei the wings, from which they enter and exit periodically (always with alarums and excursions and occasionally with decisive impact on the development of the drama and/or its leading players); or perhaps the orchestra, whose conductor and musicians may determine the tempo but not the course of events. Ten years into the New Order, it is hard to accept the 1967 assurances of Soed]atmoko that cultural divisions are the central feature of national politics and that political stability requires some form of democracy or low-coercion reconciliation system, but it is equally hard to determine where they do fit and what may be expected of them in the future.


Occasional Papers 1

Harry LT. Benda, Research in Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, 1970. lOpp. Gratis (Out bf print)


P. Lim Pui Huen, Newspapers published in the Malaysian Area: With a union list of loaal holdings, 1970. 42pp. Gratis (Out of print)


Chan Heng Chee, Nation-Building in Southeast Asia: The Singapare Case, 1971. 19pp. S$2.00 (Out of print)


Eva Horakova, Problems of Filipino Settler$,1971. S$2.00 (Out of print)


Causes and Effects of Mochtar Nairn, Merantau: Minangkabau Voluntary Migration, 1971. 19pp. S$2.00 (Out of print)


Paul Pedersen, comp., Youth in Southeast Asia: A Bibliography. Modified and expanded by Joseph B. Tamney and others, 1971. 69pp. S$4.00 (Out of print)


J.L.S. Girling, Cambodia and the Sihanouk Myths, 1971. 26pp. S$2.00 (Out of print)


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Michael Stenson, The 1948 Communist Revolt in Malaya: A Note of Historiaal Souraes and Interpretation and A Reply by Gerald de Cruz, 1971. 30pp. S$3.00 (Out of print)


Riaz Hassan, SoaiaZ Status and Bureauaratia Contacts Among the Publia Housing Tenants in Singapore, 1971. 16pp. S$2.00 (Out of print)


Youth in Southeast Asia: Edited Proceedings of the Seminar of 5th - ?th Marah 19?1. Edited by Joseph B. Tamney, 1972. 75pp. S$4.00 (Out of print)


A.W. Stargardt, Problems of Neutrality in South East Asia: The Relevanae of the European Experience, ~out of print) 1972. 2nrr- f11.00


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Kunia Yoshihara, Japanese Direct Investments in Southeast Asia, 1973. 18pp. S$4.00


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2~d PoZiric~~




llOpp. 4


c ,






Asia Today: S$10.00

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The Future Pattern of Japanese Economic and Political ReZaticns with Southea~t Asia, 1975. 82pp. S$6.00 (Out of print)

O:r:al Histcr;:t




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Mamoru Shinozaki, My Wartime Experiences in Singapore, 1973. 124pp. S$6.00 (Out of print)




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Po Z-iti c;a l and Social 'Ul SingapcY·e, by Wu Teh-yao. 1975. 205pp. S$10.00


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in Southeast Asia. Edited by HansDieter Evers (Oxford University Press), 1973. 249pp. S$18, 00


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Rosalind Quah, Library Resources in Singapore on llpp. S$2.00 Contemporary Mainland China, 1971.


Quah Swee Lan, cornpo, Oil Discovery and Technical Change in Southeast Asia: A Preliminary Bibliography, 1971. 23pp. S$2.00 (Out of print)




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Quah Swee Lan, camp., 01: l Discovery and Technical Change in Southeast Asia: A Bibliography, 1973. 32pp. (Out of print)


P. Lim Pui Huen, camp., Directory of Microfilm Facilities 2d Editlon. 1973. 32pp. S$4.00 in Southeast Asia .


Ng Shui Meng, camp., Demogr•aph'ic Materials on the Khmer• Republic$ Laos and Vietnam, 1974. 54pp. S$5.00


Saengthong M. Ismail, L~brary Resources on Thailand Singapore, 1974. 130pp. S$7.00


P. Lim Pui Huen, camp., News Resources for Southeast Asian Research, 1976. 65pp. S$6.00


Tan Sok Jaap camp., ASEAN: ll6pp. S$9 .00

Lim Pui Huen, camp., Directory of Microfilm Facilities (Out of print) in Southeast Asia, 1972. 24pp.

A Bibliography, 1976.


Trends in Southeast Asia l

Trends in Indonesia: Proceedings and Background Paper, 1971. 58pp. S$3.00 (Out of print)


Trends in Malaysia: Proceedings and Background Paper, Edited by Patrick Low, 1971. l20pp. S$5.00 (Out of print)


Trends in the Philippines. Edited by Lim Yoon Lin. (Singapore University Press), 1972. 140pp. S$5.00 (Out of print)


Trends in Indonesia II. Edited by Yang Mun Cheong. (Singapore University Press), 1972. l40pp. S$5.00


Trends in Thailand. Edited by M. Rajaretnam and Lim So Jean. (Singapore University Press), 1973. l42pp. S$7.00


Trends in Malaysia II. Edited by Yang Mun Cheon~. (Siw:apnre University Press), 1974. 154pp. S$7.00


Trends in Singapol'e, Edited by Seah Chee Meow. (Singapore University Press), 1975. 15lpp. S$10.00


Trends in Thailand .I.I. Edited by Somporn Sangchai and Lim Joo-Jock. (Singapore University Press), 1976. 184pp. S$12.50

Annual Reviews 1

Sou-r;heast Asian Affairs 19?4. S$15.00 (Out of print)


Southeast Asian Affairs 19?5. (FEP International Ltd.) I 1975. 256pp. S$30.00


Sou-r;heast Asian Affa~~s 19?6. (FEP International Ltd.), 1976. 486pp. S$30.00


(FEP International Southeast; Asian Affairs 19?7. Ltd.), 1977. Forthcoming. S$30.00



Ad Hoc Publication 1

Leo Suryadinata, Peranakan Chinese Politics in Java 191?-1942, 1976. 184pp. S$12.00


M. Mainguy, Economic Problems Related to Oil and Gas Exploration, 1977. 39pp. S$6.00


R. William Liddle, Cultural

Politics~ Class Pol-itics~ and the Future of the New Order in Indonesia,






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