Where Were All the Design From?

Categories Featured, Founder Column
Original article: DIMANA DESAIN SEMUA INI? By: Muhammad Mirza Ardi

Every nation has its own story that cannot be imitated by other nations. Perhaps this is the reason why no nation has the same history. “Where else can French-style politics be found except in France?” Asked Clifford Geertz. Only in France can we find a story about the collapsed Bastille prison, the Voltaire’s satire, and the Guillotine knife that killed King Louis and the consort Marie Antoniette. Meanwhile, only in the American Revolution can we find a story about The Boston Tea Party, where the inhabitants of the colony disguising as Indian tribes threw a load of tea from the British ship to the seabed. It is only in America that the state ideas of James Madison, John Jay, or Alexander Hamilton can be found in The Federalist Paper. Neither in France nor in Indonesia. Similarly, only in Indonesia can we find the concept of Pancasila, no where else.

Every nation seems to have its own ideology. France invented Descartes’ style of rationalist philosophy, Sartre’s existentialism, Derrida deconstruction, or Foucault’s genealogy. England happened to have philosophers with the traditions of empiricism of David Hume and Locke, the logical atomism of Russell and Wittgenstein, or the liberalism by John Stuart Mill and Hobbes. While only in Germany can we find Kant’s idealism, Hegel, the death of his God – Nietzsche, and the critical school of Frankfurt. This conclusion, of course, is too general, but it is undeniable that every language (English, French, German) bore a philosophy that influenced and disputed one another. In his book ‘The Social Animal‘, after explaining how human mind is actually subjected to the subconscious and emotion rather than rational thought, David Brooks compares two traditions of thought: “Neurological science had shown that Scottish philosophy that emphasized the role of emotions such as David Hume and Adam Smith has won, while the French philosophy that emphasized the role of rational as Descartes has lost. ”

Another interesting point is how an idea with the same definition is always applied differently in different areas. The most obvious example is democracy. Democracy in Indonesia is not exactly as same as Democracy in America inspite of their same presidential system. Democracy in New Zealand is not similar to democracy in Australia, and democracy in Australia is not as same as that of the United Kingdom despite equally implementing a parliamentary system. In short, there is no single country applying the same democracy. The interesting question is: If there is no similar democracy, then which country is applying democracy correctly or who is the most democratic country anyway?

The idea above is correspond with the face of religion in social reality. The religion interpretation in each place and each area is different. Only in Saudi Arabia can we find “Islam” which forbids women to drive. It is not something that can be found in Islam in Indonesia. In Indonesia it is common to see the ‘Aswaja’ cursing the ‘Wahhabi’, the ‘Wahhabi’ cursing the ‘Shiite’, and the ‘Shiite’ cursing the ‘Ahmadia’. This phenomenon cannot be found in Australia. ‘Shia’ and ‘Sunni’ can get along together. In Afghanistan, in the Islamic understanding of the Taliban version, women are not allowed to go to school. This interpretation cannot be not found in Malaysia. Preachers who wear jeans for ‘Jum’at’ praying are common to be found In the United States, but impossible to find in Aceh. The ‘doa’ of prayer and the utterance of the shahada can be the same, but the application of Islamic principles in the social sphere can be very different. Although everyone (may) feel that his opinion is the most authentic according to Islam.

Now the questions are what makes all the differences and why they can be different. What make a politic in a country goes like that and what make the economics of the other country can be like so? Clifford Geerzt who was curious about Indonesia once wrote “Since 1945, Indonesia had experienced revolutions, parliamentary democracy, civil wars, authoritarian presidents, mass killings, and military government. Where were all the designs from?

For Geertz, the reality of society (economy, politics, religion, education, etc) is a reflection of the cultural framework. The term culture here means a system of inherited meaning from generation to generation. Mark Bevir, professor at the University of California Berkeley, writes that all human activity is dictated by his understanding, and his understanding is dictated by the tradition of inherited thought and belief. Therefore, according to Bevir and his colleague Rod Rhodes, it is the job of social scientist to discover this understanding. Of course, not everyone goes with Bevir, Rhodes, and Geertz’s constructivism ideas. But at least Geerzt gives a very interesting question “Where were all the designs from?

Finding out the “design” that shaped social reality is the obsession of social scientists. Max Weber sought the design of the emersion of capitalist society and the answer was the values of Protestant ethics. Vedi Hadiz, an Indonesian professor at the University of Melbourne, found out the design that makes Islamic politics in Turkey succeed (Erdogan) and in Egypt failed (post Arab Spring), while in Indonesia it has never become the first power. The results of his research was written in a book entitled Islamic Populism in Indonesia and the Middle East which was published by Cambridge.

Now let us take a good look at the phenomenon of Donald Trump winning the Presidential election, we can ask “what makes America with the world’s oldest tradition of modern democracy, with the great Universities such as Harvard, Yale, and other Ivy League colleges elected Trump as the president of a superpower country. How was the design so that the last presidential election could come up with that kind of result? ”

Or as Acehnese, we could ask the same thing as Geertz did “Where else can we find politics as what we find in Aceh except in Aceh itself. After the war against the Dutch, there was Cumbok War, DI TII Daud Beureueh, GAM rebellion, wrangling in the mosque over the stick for prayer, unemployment and poverty in the middle of a special autonomy fund, a referendum on flags, and people are shot to dead every time the election will be held. Where were all the designs that explain all these issues? ”

As one of the column writers at Padebooks, I will review the works of social scientists trying to explain the ‘design’ behind phenomena and social reality. As it is social science so there is no right answer. I believe that social reality is so complicated, so complex, while human mind is so limited. So, there will be no final answer to the question “where were all the designs from?” Therefore, I believe that social scientists must be humble like paddy. Different research approach will produce different conclusions. Therefore, in the next columns I will also discuss the differences of epistemology and the ontology of social science scientists. As the Chinese proverb says “one painting has a thousand interpretations”. This also happens to social phenonema. Positive sides may not agree with the claims of the interpretive sides as what I have said earlier. Karl Marx would probably also quip that “the job of social scientists is not to understand social reality, but to change it!” I’m sure that there will be many readers who don’t go along with my argument or opinion. Therefore, let us exchange our ideas through writing.

Translated by : Tiara Ulfah (Ar-Raniry English Club)
Date : November, 1st 2017
Original article link : http://padebooks.com/di-mana-desain-semua-ini/

Tiara Ulfah


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