Learning about Indonesian language, history, society and culture

Month: March, 2012

Translation – Ki Hadjar Dewantara: What is the jiwa?

Continuing my series of translations of works by Ki Hadjar Dewantara is ‘What is the jiwa?’ Jiwa is sometimes translated as soul, spirit or psyche, but these terms have their own baggage. The article sets out to define what the jiwa is, and in doing so lays out a framework for the interface between man’s internal life and the world in which he lives, depicting a subtle interaction between cognition, emotion and action. As in other works by Ki Hadjar Dewantara, an imaginative synthesis of intellectual traditions is evident. The piece has further significance though. Ki Hadjar Dewantara thought deeply about how the individual interacted with society on many levels. Some of my previous posts have drawn attention to alternating tendencies towards ‘democracy’ and ‘leadership’ in his thinking. These cannot be fully understood separately from his thinking about the nature of the individual, the mind, the spirit – the jiwa.

What is the jiwa?

It is not easy to define words. According to the history of psychology, since ancient times people have talked about this problem. The changing of eras also brings changing understandings or beliefs about the human jiwa. Initially people believed that the jiwa was merely the life of feelings and desires (kemauan). Then came the belief that thoughts were the contents of the human batin[1] that bring about the will to act (kehendak). According to the current view, the jiwa has three fundamental parts, that is thoughts, feelings and desires. These three parts are divided to become several further parts.

Psychology (ilmu jiwa) based on knowledge was for the first time set out systematically originating from a teacher of philosophy, Aritoteles, in the Greek era, 350 BC. Before this period there were also figures that studied these problems of psychology, for example Socrates and Plato. However, this knowledge was not yet in the form of systematised knowledge, being mere beliefs. Aristotoles was the person who for the first time put forward the that the human jiwa has two fundamental forces, that is the force to enter the material world (dunia lahir) into the human batin (the centripetal force) and to bring the jiwa’s energy out to become various behaviour and energies (tenaga). This is what is named power theory (vermogenstheori) from Aristoteles. Gradually the results of the investigations of experts mounted up, including those of other experts. In these researches, they were not yet able to create experiments such as there are now. Almost all the theories that were put forward at that time occured from investigations within their own batin (introspection), or investigations into the batin of other people (extrospection). Between the aforementioned conditions, that is from the first coming to the second level or the reverse, is what is known as retrospection.

In religion, issues of the internal world (kebatinan) are extremely valued but what is most emphasised is the issue of the essential truth (hakekat) of the jiwa, particularly the existence of God, that is an unseen ruler, including the relationship between the human jiwa and the beyond (alam akhirat). Psychology based on religion is different from psychology based on knowledge. Over time this scientific (wetenschappelijk) psychology only researched the parts or work of the human jiwa that brings about various movements of the kebatinan or various features of humans’ internal life, both specially and generally (general and specialist psychology). The condition of the human jiwa after death is not included by the group of psychologists based on positive knowledge, but is grouped with psychology that is metaphysical (supernatural (gaib)) or speculative (philosophy) or religious (religion).

Perhaps the reader has already heard words that all mean jiwa, but still contain particular meanings. For example nyawa, jiwa, sukma, atma, budi, rohani, roh robbani, roh tamyis, roh hayat etc. (or geest, ziel, bewustzijn, intuitie etc.). This proves that in the word ‘jiwa’ are various dimensions of the human internal world. If we intend to search for a fundamental or general meaning, then the word ‘jiwa’ can be given the meaning of the force that becomes the mover of human life. So, if there is no jiwa, certainly the person is not alive. Meaning the human body is a mere corpse. Thus, the Javanese word ‘nyawa’ has similarities with the arab word ‘roh hayat’, which both mean the cause of life.

Apart from that, the word ‘jiwa’ or ‘roh’ also means semangat (spirited) or the jiwa of feeling, for example spirited (berjiwa), tough-minded (berjiwa keras), the jiwa of an organisation, the jiwa of a slave etc.

Then, the word ‘jiwa’ is also used to mean the assembling of various energies or capabilities in the internal life of people, for example thoughts, feelings, desires and their parts (the capability of the jiwa to be conscious that we have thoughts, feelings, and desires etc.).

The analysis above does not need, however, to make harder issues that are already hard enough to understand. Because of that, we can take the things that are important to know, that is those included in positive psychology. The word jiwa has the meaning as follows

a. the force (kekuatan) that causes the life of humans

b. also causing that people can think, feel, and have the will to act (the mind)

c. including also causing people to understand or be conscious of all movements of the jiwa.

Keluarga, May 1937

[1] Apart from jiwa, I have also tended to leave the word batin untranslated. Batin can be translated as ‘man’s inner or spiritual world or essence’ but the precise meaning and the balance between these elements depends on the context.


Translation – Ki Hadjar Dewantara: Democracy and Leadership

Below is my translation of Democracy and Leadership a key work by Ki Hadjar Dewantara, published in 1959. As far as I am aware this is the first time it had been published in English translation.

Democracy and Leadership is located at a crucial point in the formulation of Indonesian political thought, and provides a connection between Javanese aristocratic political traditions and the growing authoritarianism of Sukarno’s rule in the late 1950s (and provides some ideological context for the rise of Suharto’s New Order in the mid-1960s). The work bears the marks of post-Independence Indonesian politics and the turbulence of the 1950s, as the author laments the failings of ‘Western Style Party Life’ and detects the erosion of a ‘pure’ national life under the corrosive power of foreign influences in the cities.

Democracy and Leadership is profoundly concerned with the tension between individual freedom and the necessity of maintaining an orderly social life, and between ‘peopleness’ and the need for a ‘singular leader’.  Ki Hadjar Dewantara draws from a range of sources, citing the aristocratic Sutatmo Suryokusumo, but also drawing on the social radical Mas Marco for the idea of ‘sama rata, sama rasa’, loosely translated as ‘equality and solidarity’. The Javanese concept of ‘kebijaksanaan’, a term carrying a range of meanings but translatable as ‘policy through wisdom’, plays a crucial role.[1] Yet the text is also littered with Dutch terms, and the role of European influence hangs over the text.

Overall, it is a creative synthesis of competing political traditions in an attempt to come to terms with and make sense of a tempestuous period of Indonesian history. At the core of the text are many of the conflicting and converging forces that must be understood to comprehend the violent convulsions of post-Independence politics in Indonesia.

Democracy and Leadership (Demokrasi dan Liederschap)[2]

By Ki Hajar Dewantara

The Material Basis and the Spiritual Basis

Perhaps there are readers who think that I will straight away go on to talk about the commotion regarding the issue of ‘Guided Democracy’ (Demokrasi Terpimpin), that has become a heated controversy in our society. That is not my intention. In this short work I just want to discuss a little history about the birth of the two terms ‘Guided Democracy’ and ‘Democracy and Leadership’. The two terms indeed have related meanings, however the issue of ‘Guided Democracy’ has only come to be used for political purposes in the recent phase of our people’s struggle. Conversely, ‘Democracy and Leadership’ continues to be the foundation of thought regarding the conditions of order and peace in all efforts of education and organisation, such as has been instituted as custom (diadatkan) in the world of the Taman Siswa. That is the reason I do not begin by using the words ‘Guided Democracy’ but instead wish to discuss the term ‘Democracy and Leadership’ and its meaning, which in the history of the Taman Siswa is regarded as the pivot of life (sendi hidup) and its way of life. Perhaps later at the end of this survey there will be an opportunity for me to touch on the possibility of implementing the slogans ‘Democracy and Leadership’ and ‘Guided Democracy’ for the people’s movement at the present time. Regarding the purpose and meaning of the pivot of ‘Taman Siswaness’ (ke-Tamansiswaan), at the first level this is the necessity of the relationship between the foundation of ‘peopleness’ (kerakyatan) with hopes of the civilisation of humanity, so that democracy is not ill fated (salah kedaden) or develops wrongly with the conditions of disorder or ‘chaos’. This relationship is absolute and really cannot be broken. For clarity we take an example. In every circle, for example, points that form the circle are really present and have a right to occupy their respective positions, with one free from the others. With the existence of points on the circle that exist individually, but do not deviate from the law of equality of distance from the midpoint, thus forms a circle that is perfect and certain in its size.

In this regard it must be remembered that in the image of a circle it is only the line of the circle that can be seen, whilst the central point is not visible because it is not drawn. Indeed in truth in comparing material things or non material things that have forms of similarity normally aspects of fundamental unity cannot be captured by human senses and can only be understood via the spiritual path (jalan kejiwaan). For example, the ‘world unity of humankind’ in living and way of life cannot be seen directly via the senses but from the spiritual perspective (sudut batin) cannot be denied.

The issue of ‘Democracy and Leadership’ is no different. Every member of society has the right and power to determine their respective form and place, has the right and the power to form their life and way of life freely and independently, filling their world (alam) and determine their conduct according to their nature and their individual interests. But to fulfil the conditions (syarat-syarat) of unity in a humanitarian living environment which may not deviate from the regulation of external order (tertibnya lahir) and internal peace (damainya batin) there must be a singular leader (pimpinan yang satu), a leader that maybe is not seen, but must be recognised and obeyed unconditionally.

With regard to the conditions of ‘Democracy and Leadership’ as is meant in the Taman Siswa slogan, what is meant by the term ‘Leadership’ is none other than leadership via ‘policy through wisdom’ (kebidjaksanaan), that is internal values (nilai kebatinan) in human life that according to the tenets of civility are regarded as the centre of movements of the life force (kejiwaan) that contains the elements of truth and justice.

Democracy under the wisdom (hikmah) of kebijaksanaan

The issue of ‘Democracy and leadership’ really originates from Ki Ageng Sutatmo Suryokusumo, the first chairman of elders from the Taman Siswa society. He was a member of the executive board of ‘Budi Utomo[3] who as a representative of is organisation sat in the ‘Volksraad’.[4] As a leader B.O. Sutatmo was included in the group that can be called ‘radical’, meant in spiritual terms. In passing it may here be understood that Sutatmo Suryokusumo was fired by the government of the Netherlands Indies from his position as supervisor because he deliberately rejected the orders of public works department to replace the material of verandas made of bamboo with wood. His purpose was to maintain bamboo as a cheap material for common people’s housing.

Apart from nationalistic and radical Sutatmo Suryokusumo also had a Buddhist religious sensibility and because of this showed a philosophical character. In accordance with these aspects of his spirit he became a leader of the ‘Selasa-Kliwon Association’[5] or shortened as ‘Sa-Ka’ together with prince Suryomataram who is now known as an elder of the ‘Ilmu Begjo’ movement.[6] The Selasa Kliwon Association each Selasa Kliwon night held meetings to discuss various problems which all revolved around the core of their hopes, that is to ‘mangaju-aju salira, mangaju-aju bangsa dan mangaju-aju manungsa’ (bring happiness to the self, bring happiness to the nation, and bring hapiness to humanity).[7] As a historical fact it is fitting to make clear that after the establishment of the Taman Siswa Educational Institute founded on national culture in 1922, the Selasa Kliwon Association decided to dissolve itself for the reason tha ‘the hopes of the Selasa Kliwon Association have already materialised’. It is well  to recount the names of several members of ‘Sa-Ka’ who had the task of closely assisting the efforts of the Taman Siswa, that at the time had already undergone a year’s preparations under the leadership of Suwardi Suryaninngrat and his wife. Subsequently the leadership of the Taman Siswa confirmed Sutatmo Suryokusumo as first chairman, Ki Ageng Suyoputro as second chairman, and Suwardi Suryaningrat, who had already been preparing the kindergarten and teacher training school for a year, as ‘General Leader’ (Pimpinan Umum) with a ‘vrij mandaat’ or ‘free mandate’. Besides these the late B. R. M. Subono, Sutopo Wonoboyo, Pronowidigdo, Cokrodirjo, along with Nyi Suwardi Suryaningrat were raised as elders of the Taman Siswa Insitiute.

Strength in Numbers

Let us return to the birth of the slogan ‘Democracy and Leadership’. In one of the meetings of the Selasa Kliwon Association, Sutatmo Suryokusumo raised the issue of ‘democracy’, as at the time around the year 1919 began do be discussed by groups from the people’s movement. According to the understanding of Sutatmo Suryokusumo the development of aspirations for democracy increasingly followed solely a western state of mind. Not ‘peopleness’ in the true meaning that emphasises ideology or ideals, but rather according to the western understanding that stresses the importance of the number of votes of those who agree with an opinion. In this regard those regarded as ‘right’ are a half of the number of votes plus one, which in Dutch is known by the words ‘de helft plus één’. According to Sutatmo Suryokusumo this is what is known as ‘macht van de sterkste’, ‘the power of those that are strongest’, although here it is only in the form of votes. So it is the same as the tradition in ancient times that only recognised the power of those that were ‘physically the strongest’ or ‘biggest’. So it is not the righteous or the just who were acknowledged as powerful.

It is fitting to be known that Sutatmo Suryokusumo, who at that time published the magazine ‘Weder-Opbouw’, contained on the jacket of this publication the motto:

‘Beauty that limits power,
Power that adores love,
Wisdom (kebijaksanaan) that brings justice.’

(Schoonheid die Macht regeert;
Macht die Liefde looft;
Wijsheid die Recht doet wedervaren.)

It is clear from this motto, that according to S. Suryokusumo, power must rely on beauty, or the order of the material conditions (tertibnya lahir) with love or inner purity (kesucian batin). In this regard wisdom (kebidjaksanaan) bears within it truth and justice.

Equality and Solidarity (Sama Rata, Sama Rasa)[8]

Here should be mentioned the name of another leader of the people’s movement (pergerakan rakyat) who also analysed and rejected the meaning of the word ‘democracy’ according to the western understanding. This leader is the late Mas Marco, the Sarekat Islam leader who then became a communist, then was exiled and died in his place of exile in Boven Digul. According to Marco democracy according to the western method meant only ‘equality’. In this understanding of ‘equality’ is not contained ‘shared contentment’ (kebahagiaan yang sama). What is seen as important is the equality of material divided so it is not the people who have to accept the distribution. So it is clear that in reality the ‘same’ shares are distributed, but for those that receive the shares there is not the same ‘feeling’ or ‘happiness’. So what prevails is democracy that is not just. Because of this Mas Marco used the term ‘Equality and Solidarity’. Indeed it is true that Mas Marco’s interpretation really contained elements of ‘peopleness’ and social justice.

[About Mas Marco:] Mas Marco was an able journalist, who although began with Islamic convictions gradually moved towards nationalist and communist ideologies. Whilst active, he always worked together with Ki Hajar Dewantara. He also in two to three successive days managed to gain sufficient donations from various parties to supply the wives of Dr. Cipto, Suwardi Suryaningrat and Douwes Dekker as well as their children, who all wanted to come to their place of exile in the Netherlands. Then Marco himself came to the Netherlands, to check up on his friends in exile and study the culture and morality in Dutch society. Thus finally he held the firm conviction that the Dutch people could not give guidance that was sufficiently responsible toward the morality and culture of the Indonesian people.

Tut Wuri Andayani

For me myself, who wishes for the implementation of ‘Democracy under the Leadership of kebijaksanaan’ à la Sutatmo Suryokusumo along with Mas Marco’s understanding of ‘Equality and Solidarity’ , I am obligated to bring into accordance the aforementioned mottos with the aspirations of education and its organisational aspects, that has to satisfy our national identity. As is known, Taman Siswa’s education aspires to support the development of children in body and soul in a way that is free (bebas) and in the direction of humane civilisation (adab-perikemanusiaan). To reach the aspirations of this education we use a slogan that is very short but has a very clear meaning. That slogan is ‘Tut Wuri Andayani’. Tut Wuri means following from behind but not freeing the pupil from supervision. ‘Going along behind’ means giving the freedom to children to practice searching for their own path, whilst as educators we are obligated to give correction where it is needed, for example if the child faces danger that cannot be avoided by their own thoughts and energies.  It is this freedom that truly is democracy, whilst ‘leadership’ that is obligated to continue supervising is none other than the kebijaksanaan of the guardian (pamong). In other words in the development of childrens’ lives there must be ‘democracy and leadership’ or ‘Guided Democracy’.


The second problem that we must solve related to the slogan ‘Democracy and Leadership’ is that regarding the life and means of livelihood of Taman Siswa as an ‘institution’ which must take the form of an ordered body, an ‘organisation’. Regarding this issue we can read in Taman Siswa’s essential regulations that the Taman Siswa organisation is an organisation characterised by ‘familiness’ (kekeluargaan). The meaning of this delimitation is that all regulations must be supported by family life. Subsequently it is explained that all these regulations must not just be organisational but also organic. So as we can see in family life. This means that the Taman Siswa must be an ordered body, but do not let the regulations take the form of ‘machines’ that work without thoughts (machinaal or mechanical), but rather they must ‘live’. The essential regulations and special regulations are merely to clarify the broad outlines and must be changed or replaced if it turns out that they are in opposition to reality or realiteit. So we have to give priority to reality, not written words.

From the analyses above it is apparent that Taman Siswa as an ‘institution’ and as a ‘unified body’ has the form of a family both in its spiritual aspects (sifat batinya)  as well as its material form. There are also contents and their rhythms that must be brought into accordance with the times we inhabit and we move in accordance with the spirit of the present society.

The Meaning of the Word ‘Family’

To complete the analysis and viewpoint above, we should ponder what is really the meaning of the word ‘keluarga’ (family). Keluarga really originates from the words ‘kawula’ and ‘warga’. ‘Kawula’ means ‘servant’ who is obligated to put themselves to service and surrender all their energies to those regarded as their ‘master’ (tuan). Conversely, warga means a ‘member’ who is responsible, who has the authority to manage, to lead and to determine everything that needs to be done. Here it is clear, that as a ‘kawula’ or ‘servant’ he is truly in a position of ‘master’ as well. These two kinds of position (which in the philosophy of nationalism we regard as important and serious) are quite well known with the existence of the term ‘Kawula-Gusti’ that is the unity of humans and their God.

Who must we serve? It is no different to the aforementioned Kawula-Gusti unity. And this means serving the safety and happiness of the family as comprehensively as possible. ‘I’ and ‘we’ unite firmly here, assimilated to become one. This unification is made possible and becomes reality to the fullest possible extent because of the spiritual ties (pertalian batin) within the family based on pure love. It is this love that brings forth loyalty to sacrifice.

Apart from that there is also an element of unity that is no less important, that is the existence of democracy and joint prosperity. ‘Democracy’ in the family does not only mean ‘equality’ but also ‘solidarity’. The phrase ‘Equality and Solidarity’ really contains an understanding: democracy and social justice. Since 3 July 1922 (the founding of Taman Siswa) we have called democracy that bears social justice ‘Democracy and Leadership’, or ‘Guided Democracy’. That is democracy that does not overflow and bring about ‘anarchy’ but rather democracy that is guided by ‘kebijaksanaan’ in the meaning of an understanding for the existence of mutual prosperity.

We are reminded once again of the late Sutatmo Suryokusumo, who in the Volksraad once pronounced ‘Demokrasi zonder wijsheid is oen ramp voor ons volk!’. Meaning that democracy without kebijaksanaan would certainly bring disaster for our people.

There are also elements in family life that that may not be forgotten, for example the ever presence of an attitude of tolerance. ‘Tolerance’ means none other than a humble attitude; that is allowing other people to live according to their own will. It is this attitude that becomes the fertiliser for the development of a feeling of freedom and independence along with a feeling of responsibility.

There are still other aspects of the internal feelings (rasa batin), for example the absence of the urge to enrich oneself whilst harming other members; there is also no desire to form authority over the other members.

Thus and so forth are many things that can bring about external order (ketertiban lahir) and internal peace in family life. All of these we do not need to combine here and we can consider each separately.  However, it is also clear from all the elements put forward above, that the family truly forms life together or a ‘society’ on the smallest scale but containing the essence of welfare and happiness in human life at its completest and… may be taken as an example by wider society.

In this regard it is clear for us, the Taman Siswa, from what is contained above that the characteristics and form, as well as the content and rhythms of family life are really needed to maintain our welfare and happiness together with our organisational unity as the great Taman Siswa family.

Implementation for Family Organisations

After understanding the meaning and intention of both slogans as analysed above, it is now necessary that we understand more fully, how we can implement these aspirations. Democracy and Leadership and also Guided Democracy necessitate that there is a wise leader (pimpinan yang bijaksana) as a guarantee of the peace and order of ‘individual rights’, issues that here constitute fundamentals. It is not our wish for individual freedom to overflow, bringing about anarchy, as I have already said above. For this it is necessary that there is the conviction that ‘self-interest’ of an individual must submit to the ‘public interest’ of society. And because of this it is necessary that there is a third group who can be accepted as ‘judges’ who on a foundation of truth and justice can determine where the position of truth and justice are. As we know according to the understanding of Democracy and Leadership it is only kebijaksanaan that can be accepted as the Bringer of justice. Who might be the person or body who, according to these convictions, can become the judges? In the body of an organisation normally it is the decisions of the ‘board’ that are regarded as legitimate and valid to be implemented. However, because those board decisions are normally taken based on superiority of votes, for the Taman Siswa which has the characteristics and form of a ‘family organisation’, in special issues that cannot be solved based on existing regulations, another way is sought. That is the board passes over the solution of the problem to a person or body, that according to the ‘belief’ of the board may be regarded as a ‘wise’ (bijaksana) person or agency, or at the least more wise than others. Thus the Taman Siswa maintain that those appointed to become ‘general leaders’ are also given additional rights to decide on all the difficulties that in an organisational manner, that is according to existing regulations , cannot be resolved by its central body, that is the Supreme Council (Majelis Luhur).  Then the unity of Taman Siswa itself in one of its congresses additionally gave official sanction that the general leadership have these ‘unlimited rights’ (hak leluasa) for the whole of the association.

Although these rights, rightly or wrongly, are called ‘unlimited rights’, these are not at all rights without limitations. There are limitations, among others that a general meeting, that is a Taman Siswa Congress, must be informed as quickly as possible of every decision from the General Leadership that is not based on these written regulations. Apart from that these decisions must be in accordance with, or not in opposition to, the Taman Siswa spirit. This General Congress as the highest institution has the right to alter, indeed to cancel these special decisions of the General Leadership.

These extraordinary decisions are not just taken by the General Leadership upon the request of the Supreme Council, but can also be determined by the General leadership themselves, on their own initiative, with the note that the Supreme Council should be informed first.

An example is the General Leadership’s decision regarding the rejections of the Wild Schools Ordinance (Wilder Scholen Ordonnantie).  It should be known that these laws as ‘ontwerp’ or draft laws had really already been rejected by the ‘Volksraad’. However, in a dictatorial fashion these plans that had been rejected were still ratified by the government of the Netherlands Indies as an ordinance (in 1932).

Related to the ‘coolness’ of the atmosphere in the Volksraad, with the absence of one vote from the Indonesian members’ side in this ‘Representative body’ that protested the fascistic actions of the Netherlands Indies government, a feeling of disappointment and anxiety filled the spirit of the General Leadership at that time. In a spontaneous manner, without consultations being held with the Supreme Council first, because there was no more time, the Central Leadership sent a cable to the Governor General, in which cable the ordinance was firmly rejected, precisely on the day the ordinance was to be implemented. It may here be added that this rejection was accompanied with a threat that the Taman Siswa Association would carry out ‘lijdelijk verzet’ (passive resistance).

Immediately after the cable had been sent, the Supreme Council invited the Taman Siswa Association to hold a meeting of the complete Supreme Council in Tosari (15 – 16 October 1932) and a Leadership Conference in Yogyakarta (29 – 30 October 1932). After the meeting of the complete Supreme Council and the Leadership Conference agreed with the position of the General Leadership, that is the sole issue that was discussed, thus the Supreme Council declared ‘lijdelijk verzet’ (passive resistance). Certainly we all remember everything that was done by the Netherlands Indies government toward the Taman Siswa teachers in every branch, who with full loyalty toward the Supreme Council still entered their respective schools and did their work as if there was no Wild Schools Ordinance. They were all sanctioned with teaching bans by the local governments and there were also those who were arrested and jailed. We all still remember that at that time all political parties and other social groups gave assistance, both moral and financial, to the Taman Siswa. It was with a feeling of pride and satisfaction that we recount here that then on the urging of the Indonesian members in the Volksraad, the wild School Ordinance that had already been ratified, indeed already implemented, was withdrawn by the Netherlands Indies Government.

It is proved by the analysis above, that the unity of the masses (massa) with their leaders, the sincerity of leaders to pass over their decisions to the parties that are guided to receive correction if necessary, is further added to by the orderliness of all the family members who all fulfil unconditional discipline, truly giving extraordinary material and spiritual strength to bring a glorious victory.

Eastern Democracy for Our People

Whether or not Democracy and Leadership or Guided Democracy is used for the needs of society at large is a problem, the solving of which depends on various factors. There are small societies that are not far in their characteristics and forms from a big family such as ‘racial group’, in Java ‘lineage’ (trah), clan, neighbourhood etc. There there normally lives (or life is deliberately given to) various customs or traditions. ‘Gotong royong[9] or a communal life and way of living, is still clearly visible. Although here and there there can sometimes be found the symptoms that are the violations of proper order (tata-tertib), fundamentally there is still visible the unity of spirit of people still within the bounds of ‘peopleness’ and upholding with reverence  traditional and customary ‘leaders’. The good order of life in the environment of these small societies is well known. Although this is the case the instruments and agencies of state must be present and prepared to still nurture the continuation of life and means of living in peace and order.

In cities it normally begins to be visible that the people’s life and ways of living and behaving are different in form and content to the situation in villages. Here is proved the truth of the law of nature that determines that a change in the environment or situation and era or society is always followed by changes in the way of life and living. Accompanied with the loss and regression of life and the progress of other parts of society. To ensure that the law of evolution will not be obstructed it is necessary that the state’s laws and its branches relating to the progress of the economy, morality, culture and government are ordered as well as possible, in accordance with the demands of nature and the times. It is not necessary to explain here that the foundation of all these efforts is the welfare and contentedness of life of the people and the continuing life of the national identity.

With regard to the conditions in big cities it needs to be known that apart from the changing life and ways of life because of the changing environment and times in general, there are special issues. These elements have not a little influence that originates from the civilisation and culture from abroad. After centuries of interacting with China and Arabia in general it may be said that they gave more than a little benefit in the cultural field, then in the most recent centuries came traders from Europe, that is Spain, England, France and Holland, who all in essence came in search of treasure.  In such circumstances certainly the progress of our people never received the attention that it should have. The Dutch Trading Board that is known by the name ‘Oost – Indische Compagnie[10] was changed to become ‘The Netherlands Indies Government’. Thus by itself our motherland (tanah tumpah-darah) became a Dutch colony. We have never held power over our own country. Rather our spiritual life was continually oppressed and filled solely with the Dutch spirit. Thus followed aspects of our spirit: ‘individualism’ accompanied by ‘materialism’ and ‘intellectualism’ filled the internal life of our people. As time went on the aspirations of ‘gotong royong’ became increasingly insubstantial in the people’s spirit.

The Western materialistic spirit (jiwa kebendaan) continually oppresed the motto of our national identity, that is known with the slogan ‘sepi ing pamrih, ramé ing gawé’.[11] Finally all the aspirations of nobility and purity of spirit were truly obstructed by spiritual impulses that were individualistic, intellectualistic, and materialistic. It was all of this that gave life to the spirit of democracy that was not guided by ‘kebijaksanaan’, or did not bring ‘social justice’. And really it was everything that is analysed above that led to the thriving and overflowing of unguided democracy, democracy of ‘equality’ but not of ‘solidarity’. There was also individualism as depicted earlier that increasing developed over time, and caused the increasing growth of ‘group egotism’ (egoisme golongan) in general, and especially ‘party egotism’ (egoisme kepartaian) with its ‘democracy’ that always demonstrated the behaviour of trying to ‘win’ and not cooperating and showing as much tolerance as possible.

For Cities with International Characteristics

In every country there are big cities, between them are those with ‘international’ characteristics, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and in our country there may be included the city of Jakarta. These international characteristics are normally brought by foreigners who come to reside and because of that greatly influence the life and way of living of the people. Economic developments in general, especially trade, culture, indeed issues of state are continually influenced by outside influences, until it is no longer possible there for pure traditional national forms to endure. In the capital Jakarta, for example we can see the development of various problems that follow in international footsteps, both economic and social, political or cultural, because of the continuous entry of influences from outside the country.  In relation to the presence of representative from other countries, our government is forced to pay attention to all these influences both those of an eastern or western nature. Foreign capital is very strong there compared with domestic capital, so it is as if external influences can control the Jakarta’s life and way of living. All the more so for our capital city, Jakarta, aspects, or better termed forms of internationalism are clearly visible, because from the past up to the present Jakarta has become a centre of life for other peoples. In our other big cities it is usually easier for people to maintain their self-identity by taking as a guide the ‘tri-con principle’ (asas tri-kon), that is maintaining their original characteristics in a ‘continuous’ manner, approaching other ‘streams’ (aliran-aliran) via ‘convergence’, but still having one’s own circles of life in a ‘concentric’ fashion. It is well to remember here that the difference in conditions mentioned earlier sometimes brings about an opposition of thinking between the centre and the regions, and also reinforces the belief in the great need for the principles of ‘decentralisation’ or ‘autonomy’.

The Influence of Western Style Party Life

This difference of disposition and behaviour between the centre and the regions really does not need to bring about dissension. What a shame that that these disputes are often sharpened because of the existence of Western style party life. Since 1945 it has been proved that party principles and tactics divide the unity of our people and this also greatly harms the political life of our country. Party life that presently breaks out in the political life of our country is in truth not an international tradition, or a western tradition, but is solely a tradition of Holland, which, as is known in the Netherlands, has many parties. In England, in America, in Australia, and other countries who implement ‘liberal democracy’ there are only two or three or four parties, that is democratic, liberal, socialist and religious parties, but in the Netherlands there are many parties, among them many small parties.

That our people merely imitate this Dutch tradition of parties is the result of the decision of our first cabinet on 3 November 1945. Before that Bung Karno[12] as president had stirred the spirit of the people to form a ‘National People’s Movement’ (Gerakan Rakyat Nasional) with the intention for all the people to be united as one in facing the troubles of the time. These troubles came, amongst others, from the Allied Generals, [and] the Dutch Commissioner R. Abdulkadir Wijoyokusumo as representative of Van Mook and Van der Plas. There was evident pressure from the Allies to take power over Indonesia as a Dutch possession. The allies put forward to the Indonesian Government to establish political parties to bring democracy under state authority.

At that time, apart from R. Abdulkadir suddenly came a new figure, that is Sutan Syahrir, who previously was known by the people from the duumvirate, accompanying Mohammad Hatta. The role of Sutan Syahrir was clearly evident as a mediator between the Allies, including Holland, and Indonesia. The members of the cabinet quietly became aware and conscious of the existence of extraordinary things.

On 3 November 1945 the Cabinet was ready to begin session, but Bung Karno did not appear. Rather, Bung Hatta, as Vice President opened the session. The first matter that was put forward was the withdrawal of President Sukarno’s proposal to create a National People’s Movement. And as his replacement Vice President Bung Hatta obligated the Government to propose the establishment of political parties with the intention of avoiding the development of a ‘dictator’.

When one of the Ministers asked the cause of the sudden change and whether the change was in accordance with the views of President Sukarno, Bung Hatta as chairman of the session firmly gave a short but clear answer: ‘Yes, I can only explain that this decision must be made and I am not prepared to give an explanation’.

Now after thirteen years we have undergone party life, and it seems that we understand that the origins of our party life resemble the party life of Western Europe in general, the Netherlands in particular, that is after Vice President Bung Hatta’s ‘decree’ (decreet).

Returning to the issue of international discourse, where Eastern Democracy no longer has a fair place, whilst we are unable to keep on forcing the issue, now arises the question, what route should we take. As a State with a modern form, we must use all the conditions and tools of welfare and happiness, that are indeed aimed toward the life of the people. This means that to make good [our] deficiencies, we must activate all the instruments of the state apparatus, that is the civil service police, the courts, the military, the People’s Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat), the tax collection agencies and their inspectors, and so on. Everything must be brought into accordance with the constitutional law called ‘trias politica’. In this regard it must be remembered that, according to the principle of familyness, as far as possible all laws and sanctions must be aimed towards the improvement of the criminal, and should not have sentencing merely to carry out punishment (siksaan) with regard to preventative efforts, but also for repressive actions. It is well to be known, that according to ancient traditions, ‘families’ have their own ordering discipline (disiplin ‘tata-tertib’), ‘familiy discipline’ that is not inconsequential (èntèng). At this time this serious discipline is almost never apparent, but national history contains sufficient evidence, for example about a king who tortured (menyiksa) his daughter, expelled her (mengusirnya), and ultimately sentenced her to death. So nurture the order and peace of the people’s life, our State should not hesitate (ragu-ragu) in undergoing all efforts, both those in teaching character and those with the in judging. These are the necessary conditions to prevent the occurrence of ‘anarchy’.

Demands of the spirit of kebijaksanaan

In accordance with my analysis above ‘Democracy and Leadership’ means Democracy that meets the demands from the spirit or disposition of kebijaksanaan, so here it needs to be set forth, what may now be regarded as ‘kebijaksanaan’. I have already asserted above that kebijaksanaan is filled with two elements, ‘truth’ and ‘justice’. In this regard we do not need to keep looking, because really since our people through the path of the revolution reached independence, there is a demand confirmed in law by the people, that is Panca Sila.[13] On the basis of God, nationalism, humanitarianism, ‘peopleness’, and social justice, our people do not need another guide. Panca Sila is the spirit of bijaksana.


For the clarity of the issues that are extensively or at length printed above, it is necessary in my view for us to briefly take conclusions as follows:

1. If Democracy and Leadership, or Guided Democracy, in and for family life by themselves naturally occur or are implemented, society wider than the family requires changes or the replacement of the regulations of behaviour that are not in conflict with the family spirit and are in accordance with all these various conditions.

2. In truth the central principals of Guided Democracy are none other than awareness and consciousness, that the violation of tradition or regulations that are directed towards the order of material or spiritual life absolutely must endanger individual or social life. By themselves every member of society that is ware and conscious must distance themselves from or avoid everything that would threaten the tranquillity of this material and spiritual life.

3. For all those that are insufficiently aware and conscious there need to be regulations to change these consequences that do not come by themselves or naturally.

4. In relation to this, for society that is wider than the family, there are needed regulations that are directed toward the order and peace of the material and spiritual life of all inhabitants and maintained as well as possible and implemented consistently.

5. For this all agencies of the government in particular, or the state in general, tasked with maintaining the peace and order of social life, must under no circumstances be inattentive or indifferent so that it does not lose its authority. Every violation must straight away be prosecuted and brought to justice as necessary.

6. If every member of wider society truly feels there is a threat of legal punishment that cannot be bargained away, this in itself will be democracy that does not overflow to become anarchy, and this is the form for Guided Democracy for wider society.

7. There are guides to kebijaksanaan such as I have touched on above, such as the principles of ‘trias politika’ with the peak of ‘Panca Sila’.

[1] For more on the key concept of kebijaksanaan see Tsuchiya, Democracy and Leadership.

[2] Democracy and Leadership, By Ki Hajar Dewantara, published by the Majelis Luhur Taman Siswa,  Yogyakarta, 1959.

[3] One of a new wave of associations in the early twentieth century that encouraged a rapidly changing political and cultural consciousness in the Netherlands Indies.

[4] The (highly limited) representative assembly for the colonial Netherlands Indies.

[5] Selasa Kliwon is when Kliwon, one of the days of the Javanese five day week falls on a Tuesday (Selasa) of the seven day week.

[6] A mystical group founded by Gusti Suryo Mataram, ‘Ilmu begjo’ can be translated as knowledge of inner happiness.

[7] Ki Hajar Dewantara quotes the Javanese and translates into Indonesian.

[8] A more literal translation could be ‘Of the same degree, of the same sensibility’

[9] A Malay/Indonesian phrase meaning mutual aid.

[10] The Dutch East Indies Company.

[11] A Javanese saying meaning to strive without seeking reward.

[12] Bung is an affectionate term used for a limited number of popular figures, mainly of the independence generation.

[13] A five-fold formulation of President Sukarno outlining broad principles for the government of Indonesia.