links for 2010-01-22


2 responses to “links for 2010-01-22

  • Russell Darnley

    I had a look at the Economist article and was confronted by the statement: “So it is odd and not a little disturbing, in this last respect, to find the freely elected government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono not doing things differently at all.”

    Why odd, disturbing perhaps, but why wouldn’t the writer have sufficient historical insight to know that democracy doesn’t occur overnight?

    It seems obvious that the extent to which there hasn’t been a fearless throwing off of the shackles of paranoia about the recent past is merely because it is recent and the democracy in this case, in its infancy. The recent censorship of things like Balibo is a measure of the residual power of traditional elites.

    The comment “The president himself is a New Order general who served in East Timor” surely reflects awareness on the part of the writer. So why, ‘odd’?

  • Rachel

    good question! as though “no censorship” naturally follows from “freely elected” — it doesn’t.

    now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve also always been slightly wary of statements like “democracy doesn’t happen overnight” and “democracy in its infancy”, since I often think (and this seems especially clear in Southeast Asia) that we shouldn’t be so certain that everyone means the same thing when they talk about democracy. perhaps when the Economist writer says “democracy” he thinks of “no banned books”, whereas when President Susilo says “democracy” he thinks “lots of political parties” – and we think that one is more advanced than the other, when maybe they already departed from a different starting point.

    many thanks for your thoughts!

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