Islam and Democracy in Indonesia: Tolerance without Liberalism (Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics) Kindle Edition
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Robert Hefner, Director of the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs, Boston University
"At a time when calls for tolerance usually impugn religion and imply the secular, political scientist Jeremy Menchik proposes an original vision of democracy that includes and is even grounded in religion - godly nationalism, he calls it. To make his case, he turns to Indonesia, the world's largest Islamic democracy, where he conducted tireless research that he presents here with assertive vivacity and intellectual versatility. Ranging across political theory, sociology, religious studies, and political science, the product is a major contribution to scholarship on religion and politics."
Daniel Philpott, Director, Center for Civil and Human Rights, University of Notre Dame, Indiana
"Jeremy Menchik's thought-provoking and carefully crafted study examines the complex and politically productive role of Islamic organizations in the world's largest Muslim-majority democracy. He challenges the notion that liberal modes of tolerance are a sine qua non of democratization. This book opens new possibilities for the study of religion, governance, politics, and power in a world than can be neither dominated nor defined by Euro-American history and experience."
Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Northwestern University, Illinois
"Brilliant! This is by far the best book on the complex relationships between the state and the three major Islamic civil-society organizations in Indonesia. It is a conceptual and empirical tour de force, integrating political science, anthropology and history."
Alfred Stepan, Wallace Sayre Professor of Political Science, Columbia University, New York
'Menchik's illumination of an alternative to the Rawlsian vision of secular-liberal democracy operating in Indonesia challenges long held assumptions that place religion on the fringes of political science. He provides a different way of conceptualizing religion and politics that is productive for not only the field of political science, but also religious studies, area studies, Islamic studies, and Indonesian studies. His notions of godly nationalism and communal tolerance deserve further analysis and inclusion in other contexts outside of Indonesia.' James Edmonds, Reading Religion
'Jeremy Menchik's wonderful new book takes the challenges of doing constructivist political science theory seriously. That is no simple task, since even the best works in the constructivist tradition often avoid the difficult work of actually defining the approach and its implications. What Menchik achieves is not a replacement for the grand theoretical traditions of religion and politics that he criticizes but something more useful. He provides a careful research design that produces a handful of empirically consequential mechanisms explaining why leading Indonesian Islamic organizations are sometimes more or less tolerant of non-Muslim minorities, a credible account of how these mechanisms might generalize to other times and places, and a clear examination of their normative consequences. ... [t]his is a book that deserves to be widely read and debated not only by Indonesia scholars but also by all who study religion and democratic politics.' Brandon Kendhammer, Perspectives on Politics
'His revealing research into local history shows how the diverse experiences of different Muslim organizations have produced a wide range of beliefs about religious tolerance and even about what a belief system has to look like in order to be counted as a religion.' Andrew Nathan, Foreign Affairs
'This line of argumentation is invigorating, but what makes it convincing - and a joy to read - is the richness of the data Menchik draws from and the unique structure in which the book is arranged. Each chapter describes a new point upon which he builds his main argument, highlighting attitudes towards a different segment of Indonesian society during a given time period by each of the three Islamic organisations he has selected as a case study. ... the book provides a significant contribution not only for those concerned with Islam in Indonesia but for political theorists more broadly.' Chris Chaplin, South East Asia Research
'Islam and democracy in Indonesia was a co-winner of the International Studies Association Religion and International Relations Best Book award in February 2017 and it is easy to see why. ... Menchik has some real insights into the Islamization of Indonesia, and the concept of Godly nationalism offers opportunities to generalize and rethink our understanding of the ways in which religion can operate in the public sphere. His argument is supported by a weight of material and detail, and a careful exposition of the book's methodology.' Katherine Brown, International Affairs
'Jeremy Menchik's data rich and insightful book, Islam and Democracy in Indonesia: Tolerance without Liberalism, is a valuable contribution to the political science scholarship on Indonesia's particular brand of democracy and religious pluralism.' Zeynep Atalay, American Journal of Sociology --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
About the Author
- Publication Date : January 11, 2016
- File Size : 2094 KB
- Print Length : 222 pages
- Publisher : Cambridge University Press (January 11, 2016)
- Word Wise : Not Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Language: : English
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- ASIN : B017205IU2
- Simultaneous Device Usage : Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,746,331 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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Indonesia’s text books and government literature are extremely proud of Indonesia’s claim to democracy without liberalism. Published in 2016, the book for Higher Education Instruction on Pancasila (Pendidikan Pancasila untuk Perguruan Tinggi) carefully describes the Indonesian world view (wawasan) as the compromise between Capitalism and Communism; a perfect balance between pragmatism and determinism. This balance is possible, as the government education curriculum argues, through Indonesia’s unique cultural brand of religious tolerance and nationalism. Jeremy Menchik calls this political cocktail, “Godly nationalism”.
Islam and Democracy in Indonesia takes a very valid and informative approach to exploring the possibility of tolerance without the western concept of liberalism. Menchik completed a number of years in Indonesia gathering samples and surveys from Indonesia’s (and the world’s) largest Muslim organizations: Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiya. Menchik determined through his surveys, the Muslim organization magazine archives and in-depth interviews that Indonesia’s brand of religious tolerance is not necessarily pragmatic nor stemming from a rational actor political persuasion. Even Indonesia’s more hardline organization, Persatuan Islam (Persis), which is also included in Menchik’s data, leaves room for religious tolerance if not nearly as much as the most tolerant of the three, NU.
Aside from ethnic and regional differences between the highly influential Islamic organizations, which do have a noticeable influence on the level and brand of tolerance, Jeremy Menchik argues that historical events, colonial policies and to a great extent the respective leaders of each organization have shaped their various interpretations of religious tolerance over time. Indonesia is as fiercely non-secular as it is adamantly opposed to theocracy. But by law, only faith systems that recognize a One High God (Tuhan yang Maha Esa), have a written scripture and prophet are accepted as religions. All other faiths are considered only as beliefs (kepercayaan) or worse, errant faiths, like the Islamic Ahmadiyya sect, which is tolerated less than non-Islamic faiths. Established and recognized religions, according to law, are “protected” from proselytizing.
So, what exactly is the motive for Indonesia’s brand of tolerance? Menchik speaks counter to Indonesia’s national indoctrination curriculum when he states that, “Whether the state celebrates pluralism or persecutes minorities may have more to do with processes of state-building and less to do with values (Kindel loc 947).” Tolerance is instrumental to the development of a peaceful state; one that supports progress. Indeed, Indonesia’s opinion columns and political personalities often openly bash the failed strategy of Middle East Islam to attract not only non-Muslims to the faith but ensure a prosperous and stable community of diverse beliefs, languages and cultures.
Once again, Indonesia is the test bed for political and social theory. Indonesia’s evolution from hundreds of languages and cultures into a single nationalism was used by Benedict Anderson to showcase how communities are “imagined” and created. I am a personal fan of R.E. Elson’s works on how 17,000 islands and dozens of competing histories and geographies were carefully interpreted to create the Archipelagic national identity of Indonesia (The Idea of Indonesia). Clifford Geertz compared Morocco to Indonesia in order to explain the differences between Islamic observance across the Muslim world where the latter developed a mystical Islam not based on counter-crusades but instead was “adaptive, absorbent and pragmatic.” Indonesia, perhaps, would prefer to call it tolerance as opposed to pragmatism. In Jeremy Menchik’s excellent book, Indonesia is the quintessential case study to put forward an alternative definition to western liberalism that resonates with cultures across Asia and Africa.
Godly nationalism is not without its sticking points. Indonesia, as Menchik argues, showcases a truncated form of pluralism with the “privileging of religious orthodoxy”. But Indonesia is not secular Europe, which has a few of its own political experiments in religious tolerance. Indonesia is roughly 88 percent Sunni Islam. In the 1960s it was said that roughly 2 million abangan (syncretic) Muslims converted to Christianity after being unjustly targeted as Communist sympathizers. Conflict context aside, Christian organizations are accused of extending their social welfare and church activities into areas that are predominantly if not exclusively Muslim. Tolerance, in a way, has its limits. Godly nationalism may not be able to stomach the possibility of voluntary conversion; at least not out of the religious majority.
A good character of tolerance is also repentance, with forgiveness when necessary. During the previous tenure of General Gatot, Indonesia’s chief of military (Panglima), as a means to galvanize a national identity, the threat of Communism was again introduced in force into social media, spurred on by the Panglima. Instead of a 2017 red scare, many in NU leadership were willing to admit and repent of complicity in the killing and torture of millions during the 1960’s Communist hunt. The culture and context of events continues to shape Indonesia’s nation-building tolerance.
My own skeptical streak springs from John Esposito and John Voll’s excellent research on “Islam and Democracy”. How important is it that a majority believe in democracy if the minority detractors are still a significant if not large percentage themselves? Menchik is not blind to the fact that while a majority of Indonesia’s Muslim elite will tolerate a Christian or Hindu holding political office in areas with respective Christian and Hindu majorities, there is still significant reservation to non-Muslims living next to Muslims or holding office in heterogeneous areas, and overwhelming concern for the same in Muslim majority areas. Indonesia’s tolerance project still needs work, especially where only six religions are officially recognized; meaning only six religions receive government assistance, oversight and to a certain extent, protection.
My own skepticism is balanced, as is Menchik’s, in considering the tolerance data of liberal democracies like the United States. Needless to say, a Muslim running for political office or even the presence of a Muslim neighbor in a predominantly non-Muslim neighborhood is still going through growing pains in a society of liberal tolerance. I am reminded that a nation’s laws, be they Indonesia’s or America’s, while necessary, do not predict the behavior of the community. The law cannot change hearts.
As much as Indonesia’s Pancasila philosophy remains the basis of law and national identity, it is not free from threats. Lembaga Ketahanan Nasional (National Defense/Resilience Institute) measures the strength/resilience of the nation each year, by province, according to a number of social and political indicators. The latest report (2017) reveals that Indonesia’s core concepts of kerukunan (harmony), pluralism and mutual respect of cultural diversity are the most at threat.
The above institute’s data jives with a recent (24 April 2018) survey published in the New Mandala where despite the variety of political parties, the one main platform difference between them all is what each believes to be the proper/healthy influence of religion in politics. What makes Indonesia positively unique, also the example of Menchik’s Godly nationalism, is also the axis on which political party divergence spins. The source of national identity is at the same time the subject of the nation’s hottest debates. One could say the same for many countries, not just Indonesia.
Other than the influence on national unity and character, what part does Godly nationalism in Indonesia have to play in its foreign relations? Unlike other national ideologies like Liberalism, Communism and Marxism, Indonesia claims that its Pancasila world view is not up for export. If Indonesia’s concept of tolerance stands the test of time, in what way can/does it apply to a strategy of soft-power in its foreign policy? Indonesia is an up-and-coming world economic and political power. How will its national identity influence that power?