ABSTRACT

Since the 1965 bloodbath which ended its failed experiment with consti­ tutional democracy, Indonesia has been ruled by a highly centralized, military-dominated government which has moved unilaterally to mod­ ernize the country’s economic infrastructure and indoctrinate Indonesians into the ways and sentiments of its own version of nationalism.1 This self-named New Order has quashed all opposition to its top-down imple­ mentation of policies which have as their goal, among others, the national integration of rural communities such as those in south-central Java which I discuss here. A self-legitimizing modernist ideology has licensed the New Order’s self-assumed right to overseepembangunan (‘development’) and pembinaan (‘improvement’) of the lot of Indonesia’s vast, heteroge­ neous peasantry, and has underwritten as well the perceived superiority of state officials. “All Indonesians I have ever met,” one outspoken Indone­ sian intellectual has commented, “feel that they are the subordinates (bawahari) of the government. Moreover there are very many of our offi­ cials in the regions or outlying areas who feel confident that they really are the superiors (atasan) of the people”.