Tonan ajia kenkyu
Managing Social Divisions in Indonesia
Whether authoritarian or democratic, the Indonesian state, which administers a population with different languages, ethnicities, religions, cultures, and histories, is continually confronted with the task and challenge of managing problems arising from divisions embedded in Indonesian society. This paper identifies four such major divisionsῐcenterperiphery, ethnic, religious, and classῐand examines how these social divisions are being managed under the current decentralized democratic regime in
... emocratic regime in comparison with Soeharto's centralized authoritarian regime. The paper argues that Soeharto fashioned his New Order regime with the state as his power base and the army as its backbone. Military officers occupied strategic positions in the civilian arm of the state as district chiefs, mayors, provincial governors, secretaries general, and ministers in the name of dual functions. Soeharto imposed his "national consensus" of Panca Sila Democracy on the Indonesian populace and banned all public discourses on religion, ethnicity, and class, while addressing the question of class divisions through a politics of stability and economic development that sought to transform political issues into problems of output and to neutralize class conflict in favor of a consensus on growth in an authoritarian manner; all of these were premised on the "virtue" of political stability leading to economic development leading in turn to rising living standards and further political stability. Under the current regime, these divisions can no longer be contained and are managed in an open, decentralized way. Social divisions, above all religious, now constitute a cornerstone of local as well as national party politics. Ethnic politics are a crucial factor in the distribution of resources and positions in decentralized Indonesia. And in class terms, state powers and resources that have been devolved from the central government to the districts and cities are being captured by "local" men of middle-class backgrounds. In this sense democratic politics has worked to the advantage of Indonesia's middle classes, although they are divided amongst themselves along religious and ethnic lines. The long-term hegemony of the middle classes, however, depends on sustained economic growth, particularly the state's ability to create employment for millions of new entrants into the labor market.