Indonesian

Caring for Indonesianness: A Brief Reflection on The Independence Day of Indonesia

As an imagined community, as said by Benedict Anderson, the Indonesian people live from the collective imagination of one and the same identity. One nation, one homeland, and one language are certainly not empty slogans without meaning. The motto describes the unity of our identity as a nation that lives from the same history even though it consists of various tribes, races, cultures, and religions. This same history is the basis for the formation of our “Indonesianness”.

Indonesia has entered the 76th year of independence. Independence Day is a golden moment to preserve the historical memory of the struggle of the heroes in seizing independence from colonial nations and to raise the collective imagination of Indonesia’s future prospects.

As an imagined community, as said by Benedict Anderson, the Indonesian people live from the collective imagination of one and the same identity. One nation, one homeland, and one language are certainly not empty slogans without meaning. The motto describes the unity of our identity as a nation that lives from the same history even though it consists of various tribes, races, cultures, and religions. This same history is the basis for the formation of our “Indonesianness”.

Remembering History

The history of nations is a history of ups and downs. Every nation before becoming a legitimate political community has a long and unique history. There was a struggle against colonial nations, there was an ups and downs of ideologies, there was debate and exchange of ideas, and so on. There is no process of forming a nation that runs smoothly. There are always clashes before being formed as a nation.

Even in realizing the ideals of being a modern state, each nation, including the Indonesian nation, objectively has its own characteristics according to the historical background, social reality, culture, ethnicity, religious life, and geographical constellation owned by the nation (H. Kaelan, 2013:1).

In England, for example, the beginning of the development of a modern democratic state began when there was a terrible political upheaval called “the Glorious Revolution” which was won by the people (H. Kaelan, 2013:1). In its journey, the struggle for the formation of a modern state in England was strongly influenced by the liberalism of John Locke (1632 – 1704). Freedom in Locke’s view means freedom from state coercion. There are limits to state power. The state has no authority to interfere in the private affairs of citizens. Instead, the state must guarantee the existence of these private rights. This concept is called “the night-watchman state” or minarchy (Negara penjaga malam).

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John Locke’s concept of a “the night-watchman state” or “minarchy” is designed to ensure order and law in the home, defense against foreign powers, and property security. Locke’s three principles can be summed up in three words: life, liberty, and property (Maurice Cranston, 1967:458).

In the United States, reaching a consensus on a democratic state was marked by civil war. This dynamic reached its climax in the declaration of the United States of America on July 4, 1776. Meanwhile in France the struggle for the formation of a modern democratic state began with J. J. Rousseau. That struggle reached its climax in the French revolution in 1789. Likewise in Russia, the struggle for the formation of a communist state reached its peak in the revolution that occurred in 1917 (H. Kaelan, 2013:2).

In contrast to the background of the development of modern countries in Britain, America, France, and Russia, the struggle for the formation of a modern state in Indonesia was marked by colonialism by foreign nations for 3.5 centuries. The bitter experience of being colonized pushed the young people of the archipelago to unite to fight for independence. They realized that the struggles and struggles carried out sporadically that put forward the ego of the region, ethnicity, race, and religion would not be able to bring Indonesia to the gates of independence. In the face of the colonizers, they spontaneously realized their one and the same identity as the colonized. After realizing their identity as colonized people, they then together face their common enemy, namely the colonial nations. The struggle paid off.

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After the colonial nations were successfully expelled, there was still a tough task to complete, namely to formulate the concept of what kind of state to build so that diversity in the archipelago was maintained. The founding fathers of the nation then began to explore local wisdom in various regions of the archipelago. These local wisdom then became the materialist cause (causa materialis) for the formation of the basis of the Indonesian state to be built.

Nevertheless, it must be honestly acknowledged that the formation of a modern democratic Indonesian state is impossible by completely rejecting state ideas originating from the West. However, the founding fathers of the nation realized that the praxis of Western liberal democracy, which adhered to the principle of individualism, brought suffering to other nations, including the Indonesian nation itself. On this basis, movement figures such as Soekarno, Hatta, Yamin, Soepomo, Tan Malaka, Syahrir, and other figures vehemently rejected the idea of ​​Liberalism-Individualism (H. Kaelan, 2013:2).

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Although the core-philosophy of liberalism-individualism is rejected, Western thought about the modern state remains the reference for the founders of the Indonesian state. According to H. Kaelan, the genius of the nation’s founders is shown here. They process their thoughts about the State of Indonesia in an “eclectic” way, that is, combining various elements of thought to produce a new concept. Notonegoro called it “incorporative eclectic”.

Related to this, Kahin (1970) and Dahm (1987) stated: “The formulation of Pancasila proposed by Soekarno, for example, is a unique conception that does not exist in the philosophical thinking of other countries in the world. Soekarno’s thought was a synthesis of Western democracy, Islamism, Marxism, Sun Yat Sen’s nationalism, and Gandhi’s humanism. However, Soekarno’s thinking was also based on the materialist cause that existed in the Indonesian nation itself, namely the value of God Almighty, human values ​​and the spirit of kinship and mutual cooperation, ethnic realities and other cultural values.” These values ​​are a strong basis for the formation of the identity or identity of the Indonesian nation.

Indonesianness as an Identity

Indonesianness is an identity. As an identity, it is not completely permanent or fixed. Each identity, to borrow Ricoeur (cf. Felix Baghi, 2012), contains elements of similarity, similarity that are permanent and dynamic elements that change from time to time. This dynamic element of identity is always in the process of becoming because it is related to the ability/capability of the individual to always be flexible with the situation and development of the times. That means the process of identification of the individual self that continues without stopping.

In this sense, our Indonesianness is not actually measured by the identity stated on the ID card/KK or by the Indonesian DNA. Our imagination has to go beyond that. The measure of our Indonesianness lies in the spirit and spirituality of Indonesianness. That spirit and spirituality lie in our ability or capability to care for diversity and respect humanity as a valuable national heritage. The narrative of one nation, one language, and one homeland and the motto Bhineka Tunggal Ika should direct us not to become atomistic and monolithic human beings who are anti-diversity. The narratives and slogans must be a glue bridge that connects us from various ethnic groups, races, cultures, and religions. Thus, there is no longer any reason for us to echo nativism and anti-foreign narratives and so on that threaten social stability and cohesion.

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Under the narrative and motto above, we reformulate our identity from time to time in the face of a common enemy that destroys our nation. That’s what we have to take care of. Because for sure, our enemies from time to time are always changing. Currently, our enemies may be manifested in radical ideologies that threaten the tolerance and integrity of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, utilitarian development models that always threaten the fate of small communities, global capitalism, oligarchy, corruption, and others.

In the war against the “common enemy” our national sense is formed. We feel united as one nation in the face of an enemy that destroys our Indonesianness. In the pre-independence period, people from various ethnic groups, races, cultures, regions, and religions in the archipelago united against colonial nations. The colonial nations were identified as their enemies. Therefore, they unite to fight against the enemy regardless of their respective backgrounds. They are united in the same chain of struggle to fight against the same enemy. Now, we are required to do the same moves with different enemies. Because the movements that destroy our Indonesianness will never completely disappear. May our spirits continue to burn. Greetings independence.

As an imagined community, as said by Benedict Anderson, the Indonesian people live from the collective imagination of one and the same identity. One nation, one homeland, and one language are certainly not empty slogans without meaning. The motto describes the unity of our identity as a nation that lives from the same history even though it consists of various tribes, races, cultures, and religions. This same history is the basis for the formation of our "Indonesianness".

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