Nov 17, 2018 Last Updated 12:17 PM, Nov 15, 2018

The neo-conservative agenda

Published: Jul 26, 2007


Chloe Olliver

Following the euphoria of reformasi, Indonesia has begun to slip back into some of its less reformist ways. The Megawati administration has increased military action in Aceh and Papua, and begun to limit the culture of tolerance that bloomed following Suharto’s fall. This is part of a global conservative shift. In Australia, too, critical debate has been curtailed as publicly funded and not-for-profit organisations are accused of bias for not supporting the prevailing ideological line. Leon Jones’ article ‘Neo-conservatives.com’ clearly outlines global ideological shifts to the right.

As with the neo-conservatives in the US, the Howard government assumes a moral right to impose its values on the rest of the world. These demonise already disenfranchised people in Australia, including refugees and aborigines. Overseas, multilateral diplomacy has been forsaken for coalitions of expediency that act unilaterally and pre-emptively against perceived threats to national security. Australia’s potentially neo-imperial ambitions in the Solomons and Papua New Guinea continue to subjugate local autonomy and civilian self-determination.

It is within this global and regional context that reformasi is dying. Anti-reform elements within the Indonesian elite promise to provide the stability that neo-conservatives argue will lead to global security and prosperity. As Scott Burchill notes, global obsessions with security have seen centralised, repressive, and undemocratic state rule in Indonesia supported by national and international elites.

The rolling back of hard-won freedoms of expression in Indonesia is evident in A’an Suryana’s War of Words, an insider’s view of the violence against journalists covering the conflict in Aceh. In Australia, Max Lane argues that funding for Asian Studies has been cut because a critical liberal humanities sector advocates ideas directly inimical to the prevailing ideology.

The security and prosperity of Indonesians, Australians, and all global citizens depends on open, informed, and critical dialogue, on equal terms. In this rapidly shrinking globe, there is no space for exclusive moral absolutism backed up by military might. Only self-determination and autonomy can reduce the resentment that generates terrorism. The neo-conservative agenda, inside Indonesia and abroad, is the biggest threat to peace and prosperity.

Chloe Olliver (chloeolliver@yahoo.com.au) is Guest editor of Inside Indonesia

Inside Indonesia 77: Jan - Mar 2004

Latest Articles

Essay: Contesting urban beauty in Jakarta

Nov 15, 2018 - JORGEN DOYLE & HANNAH EKIN

Source/ Doyle & Ekin  Wish images

Walking Jakarta’s northern coastline reveals communities experiencing disruptive and rapid change

Photo essay: Hope in the face of disaster

Nov 02, 2018 - MELANIE FILLER & TIM BARRETTO

Source/ Melanie Filler & Tim Barretto

Palu after the tsunami

Surviving while seeking asylum

Oct 26, 2018 - GEMIMA HARVEY

Hazara asylum seeker Shiringul first fled Afghanistan to Pakistan and then when the danger spread to Pakistan, she was forced to flee again, this time to Indonesia. She said the streets outside of Kalideres immigration detention centre were her best option. Source/ Gemima Harvey

A change in Australia’s asylum policy has denied refugees in Indonesia vital support

Review: The killing season

Oct 01, 2018 - FRANK BEYER

More than 50 years on, mis-truths about the 1965-66 killings and what motivated them prevail in Indonesia. Geoffrey Robinson's and other books and films on the issue, based on archival research...

Subscribe to Inside Indonesia

Receive Inside Indonesia's latest articles and quarterly editions in your inbox.

 


Lontar Modern Indonesia

Lontar-Logo-Ok

 

A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar