It is so difficult to get an unambiguous feeling for the way that the majority of Indonesians feel and what the trends really are. While living here in Depok, associating myself mostly with people from the University or that make their lives in the city of Jakarta (which is definitely not synonomous with the rest of Indonesia), it’s easy to think that Indonesia is going through a thoughtful process of negotiating modernity and democracy in its complex social construction. However, it’s also not all that hard to get the impression that there is a rising anger and fundamentalism, even extremism, that is threatening to swallow everything up into tension and sparks of violence, along with the downfall of whatever harmony I may wish to imagine exists within the world.
This is a pretty interesting article that was in Newsweek recently: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15898227/site/newsweek/. you ought to check it out.
I see what could be called an inbalance in the relations of Indonesia and the United States. There is the all too obvious and all too one-sided, from the perspective of any Indonesian that pays enough enough attention to notice, inbalance in the economic relationship. Although it has lost ground recently, America is still the number one trading partner of Indonesia. A great deal of the investment in Indonesia’s infrastructure, especially the extraction of natural resources which provides so much of the country’s income, is owned by American companies. This also indicates the amount of influence these foreign companies have on the lives of Indonesians, and, as observed by many here (perhaps not incorrectly), the power to exploit Indonesia, its resources and its people.
There is also a great inbalance in the social flows between Indonesia and the United States. While Indonesia often seems to do all it can to gain the attention of the U.S., such as the massive protests and demonstrations for a whole week straight in reaction to President Bush’s arrival here, a majority of my friends back in Minnesota could not have pointed Indonesia out on a map or said what language is spoken here.