Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Too Tall Order for Politics and Democracy

Maybe it's just me but it's hard to read Yasraf Amir Piliang, our Indonesian post-modernism guru, in Bahasa Indonesia (not that I have ever read his English pieces, too). Take his latest (seemingly Baudrillardian) op-ed here.

Basically he wrote that ideally:
#1. Political communication is to disseminate ideas, knowledge, and political enlightenment.
#2. Democratization is to build an architecture for a well-informed, ethical, and aesthetic political society.
#3. Political action is to bring virtues of goodness, nobleness, uprightness, honor, enlightenment, and authenticity.

But, he thinks, thanks to the (stupid) media, what we now in Indonesia get are:
#1. Political communication as an arena for rhetoric, parodies, and virtual political seduction.
#2. Democratization as a scheme for banality, artificiality, and electronic media virtuality based on the logic of commercial, popularity and media celebrity.
#3. Political action that brings banality, shallowness, manipulation, and mass deception.

OK, I agree that in general Indonesian media and their ill-informed press corps indeed still have to do a lot of their homework. I also could not say anything about Baudrillardian (or for that matter, any philosophical) approach on current Indonesian media practices since I know next to nothing on it. But I have to say that Yasraf Amir Piliang's ideals on political communication, democratization, and political action above are probably over the top.

I'd rather set a lower but by no mean easy metric. Political process and democratization shall hold the ruling government accountable, in a sense that they can not just make a redistributive policies go unchecked. Democracy should enable a citizen not only exit, but also voice their disapproval as well as to root for certain political affiliation (loyalty).

Yes, it's Albert O. Hirschman's insight.

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