BTW, Speaking about justice…

Tackling Social Exclusion: Revisiting Pancasila

Posted on: June 8, 2010

In preparation for my future research on social inclusion and decentralization in Indonesia, the biggest question I have to answer is about my theoretical and conceptual framework. Being an infant in political philosophy, I figured I should go back to basic: The political philosophy of the country I’m going to research for this project, Indonesia.

An alternative to anglo-saxon political philosophy, Indonesia has its own: Pancasila or The Five Pillars:

  1. Belief in the one and only God (Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa).
  2. Just and civilized humanity, (Kemanusiaan Yang Adil dan Beradab).
  3. The unity of Indonesia, (Persatuan Indonesia).
  4. Democracy guided by the inner wisdom in the unanimity arising out of deliberations amongst representatives, (Kerakyatan Yang Dipimpin oleh Hikmat Kebijaksanaan, Dalam Permusyawaratan Perwakilan)
  5. Social justice for the all of the people of Indonesia, (Keadilan Sosial bagi seluruh Rakyat Indonesia)

With the current problems of inequality and social exclusion, the pursuit of social inclusion becomes a commendable political goal. Being politically reformed for the last decade, democracy is a concept that is interpreted differently among the people of Indonesia. Executive and legislative controversies remain unsolved, for instance: more or less decentralisation? What is democracy to Indonesian politics? What is the appropriate representation pattern for an archipelago with over 17,ooo islands??

As one of my mentors (Denny Turner) tweets it,

“Pancasila was developed to solve a real problem: to define the psychosocial boundaries of a new nation. it was meant as a value system.

Pancasila encapsulates three things: anthropological & sociological understanding of nusantara, as well as the world philosophy of the day.

5 silas of Pancasila synthesizes both capitalism and socialism to something uniquely Indonesian: Gotong Royong.”

Revisiting Pancasila as a political Philosophy of a nation, thoughts spring about my reflective mind:

Although “God” is a metaphysical concept, it has practical use to set up accountability. By admitting (albeit arbitrary) that there is an entity that is bigger than man, the pursuit of justice is held accountable not to another man (as is the case with democracy where the government is held accountable to “the people”). There is a sense of authority in “God”, no matter how anyone perceive God to be.

“Just and Civilised Humanity” as a value implies mankind as a creation of “God” and therefore justice is pursued not only for and within Indonesia, but for all human beings worldwide. A very cosmopolitan justice view is adopted here. The basic reasoning for honouring cosmopolitanism and not nationalism is that justice is seen as protecting human dignity as creation of “God”, the one trait that connects all people.

Being an archipelago that is prone to separatist movements, by adhering to this value, Indonesia’s domestic and foreign policy with regard to justice seeks to secure justice even for those who are not part of the country as a political unit. Even when they are separate, there is an instilled moral responsibility of the Indonesian people to promote social justice for every one regardless of their national allegiance.

“The Unity of Indonesia” carries with it principles of inclusion. But social inclusion is not the end game. Social inclusion is not simply a matter of referring to poverty alleviation. Social exclusion can occur in the absence of poverty, and if this happens, it will not be in line with principles of “unity”. Being united in diversity acknowledges the fact that people live in different settings (geographically, socially, economically), having a spectrum of individual capability. This value doesn’t mean it condones inequality, but it does mean that everyone should be included in the pursuit of quality life. No man left behind.

Pancasila is beyond democracy. Democratic governance where representation and voting is one of the central key to decision making is insufficient when applied to Indonesia. Pancasila’s emphasis on deliberation to reach consensus and unanimity instead of majority vote also carries inclusion. The pursuit is equilibrium of interests, not zero sum or asymmetric political bargaining to secure majority vote. Majority means there is minority, therefore exclusion. Deliberation also promotes civic engagement as every voice is heard, not stopping at representation. (For readers of John Rawls, perhaps this is a close similarity with The Original Position?).

I’m not saying that democracy is then nullified. Principles of democracy and bringing power to the people is a brilliant idea, but not to be seen as the only way to go. As far as decentralisation goes, democratic governance is incomplete as it has to be preceded by a number of aspects: establishment of institutions, which needs to be preceded by capacity building, which needs to be preceded by education, which needs to be preceded by favourable economic/social conditions, and so forth. It becomes a strange logic as it implies that democracy will tackle exclusion but inclusion has to exist for democracy to work. Confusing?

Heavily cosmopolitan in value, putting global justice in the first four values, Indonesia is certainly not a realist. the meaning of social justice in Indonesia is a combination of the state pursuing to protect the weak and becoming a spring board for all others to reach for the skies. “Social Justice for the whole of the people of Indonesia” serves as a definition of political boundary between Indonesia and other countries. With Pancasila as the Indonesian ideal, the country is not a spartanic realist as the context adopted is Planet above People, People above Profit.



4 Responses to "Tackling Social Exclusion: Revisiting Pancasila"

this post is very usefull thx!

I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

Lishia, love this. allow me to share, seems that a lot of people *maybe for generations* has already forgotten the essence of pancasila, the philosophical understanding behind the ‘blah blah blah’ they hear every monday morning *do they still have this anyway*? -share ya!-

Please do share. Thanks for loving it 😛

On a more serious note… it is worrying that we have taken for granted (even forgotten) about the essence of our nation. Sad to think that something as rich as Pancasila gradually becomes words without meaning.

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Lishia Erza

Searching for answers about life, these are the ones I have found.

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  • kefirlime: Please do share. Thanks for loving it :P On a more serious note... it is worrying that we have taken for granted (even forgotten) about the essence o
  • ubz: Lishia, love this. allow me to share, seems that a lot of people *maybe for generations* has already forgotten the essence of pancasila, the philosop
  • alvan gunawan: Well said mam.. Couldn't agree more.. Love it..

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