Feudal Ways & Culture

Aug 28th, 2008, in News, by

Soetrisno BachirWhat Indonesia needs is to dump its old feudal ways and culture, says Soetrisno Bachir.

At a seminar discussing Indonesian culture in modern times Partai Amanat Nasional (PAN) politician Soetrisno Bachir attempted to answer the question:

Can Indonesia become a first rank country, able to compete with the world and provide prosperity for its people?

Bachir said this was unlikely while old ways and habits of a feudal nature still had an influence over the life of the people and their characters.

Sutrisno called for a new culture, given that traditional ways were not up to the task today, and given that the world was converging, cultures were gradually flowing into one another and uniting.

But for now, he suggested, Indonesians were still far from being ready to explore new ways of thinking about things. republika

10 Comments on “Feudal Ways & Culture”

  1. Peter says:

    A culture of political corruption is Indonesia’s biggest problem at this point. When politicians actually start giving a damn about orang2 desa/kampung instead of their own business and political interests, Indonesia’s real problems can start to be addressed (i.e. creating affordable public education, giving Indonesians better job opportunities, expanding Indonesia’s transportation/technology infrastructure, rooting out pockets of Islamic extremism/banditry, developing new sources of energy, and so on). Instead of arguing about feudal habits, these people should get to work and educate their people. An educated public will be far less feudal than an illiterate one.

    It’s too bad no concrete examples of “old ways and habits of a feudal nature” are presented (in the original article).

  2. Purba Negoro says:

    But of course, Soetrisno Bachir suggests an Islamic way and culture to replace it.

    Nonsense. Feudal culture is Panca Sila, it is social responsibility- it is current political structure as organised by academics, Pemuda and Sukarno and friends.

    The problem is- like many cultural traits- it has been warped grotesquely by the few to suit their ends.

    Make no mistake- all Islamic Parties are Darul Islaamiyah in sheep’s clothing.

    Not one opposed the ridiculous Porno Aksi Law. Not even darling of the bleeding heart brigades- Gus Dur.
    All talk- no action as usual

    In fact- Porno Aksi most likely was created to divert attention and cover the (bare) behind of embarassed Muslim politicians caught exposing themselves, their debauchery and their multiple mistresses on 3gp video multi-media messages on “gifted” handphones.

    Raffles then Daendels never bothered to understand how completely fundamentally different Javanese feudalism was to the worst European model (serfdom) before destroying it.

    The Javanese peasantry were never serfs- free to go as they pleased. Leaving meant facing the consequence of no money, no Lord’s protection and an empty belly.
    They never paid rent nor enslaved to the land or lord.

    Agriculture was the basis of feudal economies- their stipend, basic necessities and foods paid from the Keraton (Palace) derived from the sales of surplus harvests. Like in parts of Europe- part of the harvest was always retained for the granery and available to the peasantry.
    With no rent- they could build a hut, house or warung.

    Upeti- incorrectly transliterated as “tribute”- (auctally means agrarian tax- peti is the root) was a % levied from rice-sales sent up the ladder to the land Lord- which then got passed downward to the lowest rungs.

    For the times. liberal was Javanese feudalism, records exist for the trading and sale of Hindu temples (well prior to Islam). Wouldn’t Martin Luther love to have seen that?

    Promising peasantry were drafted to the muster and trained for Keraton military ambition- economically motivated (like all wars)- primarily to gain strategic routes for levy/taxation or resources.

    Javanese feudalism was similar to Japanese feudalism in Shogun eras- with the exception peasants were serfs. Serfdom was a totally foreign concept.
    Sadly, slavery was not and keenly exploited by the Dutch to beyond the wildest imaginations of the average 100 ha laned lord’s evil dreams.

    The Adopati’s position was always precarious- if satisfying peasants’ expectations were not met- they’d would simply walk away- probably burning fields in spite- depriving him of labour, a military muster and obviously upeti- money- required for everything- including the necessities like moustache preening wax as per kiddies’ idol “Pak Raden”- as so many whites amusingly believe all bangsawan- nobles- to be.

    A benevolent and just ruler meant a loyal-to-death peasnatry- we see this still in Sri Gusti Sultan’s Jogja keraton and Kingdom.

    Adopati so coerced into noblesse oblige- created the Javanese- Gotong Royong- mutual help: a pillar of Pancasila.

    This “patronising” paternal/maternal attitude of the wealthier to the Rakyay/wong cilik classes- as “parents”- to the children in need of our wise supervision, direction, financing and protection.

    And thus our current Indonesian system- lurahan, desa, Kepala Bupaten (from Bupati- see the relation to Adopati)
    All fuedal derived.

    Thusly Pak Bachir is not only a blatant sharia snake-oil salesman- but completely makes a fool of himself by discrediting himself.

    Perhaps he should keep his cobra oil demonstrations to himself.

  3. perseus says:

    I would agree with Purba (god help me) that feudalism has many worthwhile components. However, as is the case with old ideologies the good is mixed up with the bad to the detriment of the whole. Thus the way forward is to take what is good and disentangle it from what is bad and put it on a scientific, empirical basis. (That would not be Islamic just to be clear…)

    The notion of mutual help in the West – which used to be performed by neighbours and local lords in a haphazard way – has these days been largely but not entirely replaced by the welfare state which provides the “safety net” that is standard in the advanced OECD economies.

    The extent and form of the welfare provided by the state varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It is fairly minimal in America, very generous in Scandinavia and merely “adequate” in Australia. As far as I know it is next to non-existent in Indonesia. No doubt this is because of the parlous state of Indonesian tax collection and revenue.

    Like it or lump it, tax is what builds civilization.

    I read somewhere that only 13% of Indonesians pay income tax. Is this true? If so, no wonder the country is in a state…

  4. Purba Negoro says:

    But we have sliding tax rates for PAYE.
    Much tax

    and like US- roughly 85% of all tax is from top 100 companies- not he individual (hence explains state corporatist imperialism and preferential treatment for billionaires).

    Perseus opens a pandora’s box with very clever observations.

    Tax CAN build civilization- in terms of infrastructure etc- but there is also much evidence Welfare Statism breed generational problems and Beveridge-type universal health coverage is utopian and unsustainable.

    Private infrastructure and health also have advantages= but
    the destitute are indeed better off in welfare state.

    Many westerners may be unaware- the poor have many subsidies- fuel, rice, medical, school etc.
    IMF force us to cut these as condition of loans (capital we desperately need and cannot raise internally)- perhaps the reader can remember the kerosene riots?
    The Rakyat now long for the days of Suharto- total paternal patronage- their life measurable by all indices far better than now

    The problem is complex and manifold:
    how to force non compliant corporate taxpayer into line
    how to split inadequate tax revenue
    how to reduce to negligible levels constant corruption/theft of tax windfall (constant nibbling of the state biscuit down chain of bureaucracy until state is only left with crumbs)

    State is trying to change and modernise- (see all the Fauzi Bowo Tax posters? Computerisation of Pajak?) but one imagine the immense problems and resistance it faces.

    Also- I should point out.
    one of SBY’s most stupid yet appealing to idiotic sycophant fan base- all bureaucrat and politicians salary cut.

    Hardly a disincentive to corruption. Indonesia should mimic British efforts to minimise governmental corruption/crime as per pre-handover Hong Kong.
    Singapore offers good model for minimization of Police corruption.

  5. sputjam says:

    Break indonesia up into smaller independent/autonomous region and we will see the effect of giving powers to the locals and end to feudalism.

  6. Purba Negoro says:

    we have seen the rise of something worse due to decentralistaion and now businesses are calling for return of central governance:
    Raja Kecil.

    If you actually lived in Indonesia you would know what this is.

  7. sputjam says:

    you mean “little napoleans”- raja kecil.

    I meant total freedom from central government. The dispute occurs because central govenrment isn’t giving enough money to the provincial areas and thus they are forced to think of ways to raise taxes. But assuming businesses are not required to pay taxes to central govenrment, then these provincial raja kecil’s can micro manage the economy by themselvs without central interference.

    Its just like some major corporation, that got so big that the total value of their smaller subsidiaries if sold off seperately, is actually worth more and gives better returns.

    Indonesia is such a body. java should be by itself. Similarly, sumatra, kalimantan, riau islands etc. If there is a requirement for a central govenrment, it should be in a neutral territory and free from any influence from large distinct groups. maybe natuna or anambas should be an attractive site for a new central parliament and central offices. And since the parliament is elected by a one person-one vote policy, the central govenrment would collect revenue based on the number of people living in the province i.e. maybe collect USD10/head as tax for provinical govenrment to pay central authority for the maintenance of defence department and foreign policy etc. If the parlaiment is based on other criteria, i.e. each large province having equal number of votes irrespective of population, then the taxes will be charged equally for the province to pay.

  8. Purba Negoro says:

    that’s not the reality.
    Very little money gets passed up from Provincial level to Central government.
    Instead the Rajal Kecil are squeezing the foreign investors dry- then when they pack up and leave- or don’t pay up- somehow the Central Government is to blame?

    Irian Jaya should be by now more advanced than Java island- there are billions of USd flowing through their autonomous government.

    The Central Government had to borrow 2 billion to pay its’ pegawai negeri.

  9. dimple123 says:

    It would be best if we (citizen) participate in politic rather than critic about the government. if you feel that there is need to change than being part of the member would be good thing. You could joint member foundations. or organization that deal with proverty. help someone with your heart and your hand.

  10. Tato Sugiarto says:

    Assalamu ‘alaikum Wr. Wb..

    Javanese Culture is not feudalistic, the fundamentals were laid by the Wali Songo and based on Philosophia Perennis (Tasawuf Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah).
    Javanese Culture cannot be understood by Dajjal which has only one eye, it should be read properly by utilizing physical eyes, mind eyes, and spiritual eyes as well.
    Javanese Culture belongs to the Third Millenium Civilization, “Te Road Map” for Tomorrow.

    Sincerely yours,
    Tato Sugiarto.

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