Democracy in Indonesia
It seems to me that, if it is admitted that some day we may be forced to have some form of democracy in Siam, we must prepare ourselves gradually. We must learn and educate ourselves. We must learn and experiment so as to have a better idea of how a parliamentary government would work in Siam. We must try to educate people to be politically conscious, to realize their interests so they will not be misled by agitators of mere dreamers of Utopia. If we have a parliament, we must teach the people how to vote and elect representatives who will really have their interests at heart.
King Prachatipok of Siam, 1927
When the Berlin Wall fell the world thought with the assistance of a superpower that democratization could happen overnight. This has not proven true. On the contrary, what is usually prevailed is a false sense of democracy, an illiberal democracy. The road to democracy is slow and arduous. During the Dutch rule over what was later Indonesia and 22 years before its independence, King Prachatipok understood what was needed to democratize. Even so, since World War II Indonesia has not evolved into a liberal democracy and may be one of the countries furthest from democracy in of all Southeast Asia. What must happen? What has happened? Why has this happened? And what can the United States do to promote democracy and protect human rights in Indonesia?
Economic growth, which is necessary for the creation of a middle class, is the crucial first step toward democratization. For a democracy to be successful a country must have a certain economic and social structures. The consensus remains that there is no viable alternative to the market economy and that capitalist development is associated with the ascent of democracy (Dahl, p. 181). This ascent leads to two structural effects: strengthening the working class and subordinate classes and weakening landowners (Rueschemeyer, p.48). The stability of democracy depends on the loss of this disparity between classes (Singer, p. 53). Some of these structures were in place between 1974-1990 when the number of new democracies increased suddenly. However, since the early 1990s the increase has slowed considerably.
Fourteen centuries ago Aristotle in The Politics asked, "What is the best constitution and what is the best life for the majority of states and majority of men?" (Aristotle, p.265) Aristotle believed that there wasinsecurity at the extremes and that the "middle citizens in a state are the most secure..." (Aristotle, p.267) Hence a state which operates through the middle people has the best chance of having a well-run constitution. (Aristotle, p.267) The middle class (hoi mesoi translates, "those in the middle of moderate wealth") are most likely to have a free government. (Mulgan, p.108). The middle class are unlikely to have another class opposed to them as the rich and the poor are to each other, and most importantly the middle class is more likely to...