Indonesia’s sustained economic growth since the mid-1970s has unwittingly helped to revitalise two urban-based oppositional forces. They are the industrial workers and the middle-class professionals and activists (students, lawyers, non-government organisation (NGO) activists, journalists, artists, and religious leaders). Notwithstanding their dynamism, such oppositions encounter obstacles that constrain them as movements for far-reaching social change. Having been born out of, and having to operate within, the social structure they try to challenge, these oppositional groups find themselves in a position full of dilemmas and contradictions. What follows is a brief account of these new oppositional forces in the 1990s, and the difficulties they have to overcome before any radical transformation of the existing social order can be imagined.
The main thrust of this chapter can be outlined as follows. The New Order regime achieved a hegemonic status on the basis of the extra-ordinary political violence in 1965-6, and the continued reproduction of widespread fear in its protracted aftermath. The 1965-6 massacre took the lives of around one million people and jeopardised the lives of millions of survivors. 1 That massive violence and subsequent terrorism provided the fundamental basis for sustained ‘political stability’ and successful economic development. However, the same events have generated new phenomena that increasingly undermine that basis. A new generation of middle classes and industrial workers has emerged. World capitalism incorporated Indonesia further into its structural relationships politically and economically, as well as culturally.
Despite its continued success in keeping the economy of the nation growing, the New Order regime has been in steady political decline since the mid-1980s and more obviously in the 1990s. There is no certainty what this will lead to. It may well be a transitory period for the regime to strengthen itself again and to renew its old hegemonic
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Publication information: Book title: Political Oppositions in Industrialising Asia. Contributors: Garry Rodan - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 241.
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