Playing Politics in the Faculty of Politics: An Intellectual Paradox?

Social scientists are delusional people who think that they’re not part of the society and thus are justified to draw and analyze societal patterns.

The bad news is, they are part of the society that they address in their own papers, they are the subject of their own academic frameworks contended in thorough discourses, and thenceforth–most of the times–it makes their efforts in explaining social phenomena an ironic paradox.

One interesting case study for this issue would be campus’ politics, i.e. General Election of the Head of Students’ Executive Body (read: Ketua Badan Eksekutif Mahasiswa). Being a student who belongs to the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences of Universitas Indonesia means having an in-depth comprehension towards the tenets of ‘political communication’ and ‘meme inducing’ theoretically, but then having to be the subject of your own study, being part of the community that their campaigns target.


In other words, you’re like a god who knows exactly what’s going on but chooses to play in the game he creates himself.

Well, of course, I always say that social science(s) matters because it explicates what is going right or wrong with the society, but then it also has inherent sprag that retains them from being completely–in natural science’s terminology–‘scientific’, ergo, objective.

We, naive, aspiring scholars of international relations, are often disturbed by the fact that states (even as a unitary actor) still include individuals in which we’re sadly a part of it too. The way I deal with the same paradox in international relations study is through intellectual acceptance. We might be more fortunate because, in a way, our conceptual tools of analysis are set on the level that we don’t have to deal with social scientists’ common anxiety. Still, the ‘objectivity’ issue can not be entirely resolved.

Regardless how apathetic I might appear in all of this long process of ‘democracy’, I am an avid admirer of the fundamental philosophy of social contract (all hail Hobbes and Locke!), in which politics is a mean to–using my favorite verb–‘organize’ power and alleviate chaos that might be yielded by the anarchic system of the society.

So good night, and good luck for all contesting candidates!


Indonesian Education System: Liberal-Quo-Communistic?

Last week has been one of the most amazing ones in my entire life. Hosting more than 150 people from the westest to the eastest part of Indonesia as well as the Philippines was indeed a wonderful experience, and I was blessed to have an invincible team to undergo it altogether.

Ah. In case you haven’t heard, I was talking about Social Science Olympiads, a collective attempt by BEM FISIP UI to introduce highschool students to what social science really is and why it matters, as opposed to the current presumption of ‘natural science is way more appreciation-deserving’.

After having survived such pressure on a 24/7 basis, I finally had the time to sit back and engage in one of those pointless discussions I usually conduct with Johan. This time on our country’s education system. (Kindly help yourself with Google Translate for I’m preserving the conversation in its original language, although not in its exact wordings.)


Johan: “Menurutku ada yang salah sama silabusnya HIUI…”
Me: “Ohya? Apa?”
Johan: “Tapi aku udah tau Kak Afu bakal jawab apa: mestinya kan itu dipelajari sendiri…”
Me: “Emang pertanyaannya?”
Johan: “Aktor. Kita nggak belajar aktor hubungan internasional. Misalnya negara, ada negara apa aja di dunia aku belum tau.”
Me:Well, jawaban gue persis yang lo bilang tadi.”
Johan: “Tuh kan.”
Me: “Gini bukannya. Dari 12 taun SD sampai SMA, kita di-expect buat nyerep informasi yang given sebanyak-banyaknya. Tanpa boleh nge-scrutinize, tanpa boleh opinionated. Nah, barulah waktu lo kuliah, you are allowed to analyze and make your own conclusions.
Johan: “Tapi menurutku harusnya itu tetep jadi bagian dari tanggung jawab institusi. Sistem kuliah kita ini terlalu liberal, gitu loh. Kita boleh milih ilmu apa aja, bilang apa aja, tapi nggak di-equip sama informasi yang dibutuhin.”
Me: “Iya sih, apa ya bahasanya… Waktu SD sampai SMA itu kita disuruh bego, dicekokin ilmu tanpa boleh protes… Eh, tiba-tiba waktu kuliah disuruh bebas. Jadi kaget.”
Johan: “Iya, itu kayak nyuruh kita terbang padahal nggak dikasih sayap!”
Me: “Persis. Selama 12 taun sistem ilmu-nya sosialis…”
Johan: “…komunistik?”
Me: “Iya! Itu bahasanya! SD, SMP, SMA komunistik, mendadak kuliah disuruh liberal. Makanya jadi ngaco. Kalau mau liberal, ya liberal dari awal. Kalau mau komunistik, ya lanjutin terus sampai kuliah beres, sampai kerja.”
Johan: “Iya kan…”

In short, we came to a realization that Indonesian education system uses two distinct bases (namely ‘communistic’ and liberal ones), which sadly cut the continuation of our learning process. Since the inception of school–back in the elementary–we were used to indoctrination of ideas and knowledge while, all of a sudden, our universities set us free, unequipped with any skill to join value-free academic discourses, and pick the beliefs of our own. This, we argue, might disturb the acceleration to students’ information assembling process and is not the best strategy to opt at the status quo.

Me: “Kalau gue nanti jadi rektor, gue ubah semua sistem kuliahnya jadi lanjut komunistik aja.”
Johan: “Lah, nggak yang SD aja dijadiin liberal?”
Me: “Itu kalo gue jadi Menteri Pendidikan, which is less likely to happen.

Well, this afternoon I suggested this piece of thought to Kiki and she argued that highschool was therefore the transitional phase where the students could have their choice on natural or social science as their focus of study. Yet again, such ‘freedom’ was served under the constructed superiority of natural science, which leave these students clueless about what they’re ought to opt for. Dear young social scientists, let’s meet up and find a way to promote this beautiful branch of study, shall we?

P.S.1: As you might have recognized, I–like Plato–am a supporter of dialogue-based posts/books. I believe that the best knowledge is produced through the Socratic method of inquiry and debates between individuals, and thus the process, i.e. dialogues, is too valuable to be abandoned and unrecorded. Plato himself had worked on as many as 36 dialogues, most of which depicted Socrates’ philosophical conversations.

P.S.2: It is very interesting that Sundanese, the language of the tribe to which I belong to, happens to not possess a word for ‘hungry’. This might show their humbleness–or better yet, how rich their land is.

P.S.3: My friend Tama has a beautiful concept of scientists’ social responsibility in comparison to corporate’s social responsibility. The idea is, simply put, you owe the society a contribution in return of the knowledge you gain or the intelligence you develop. Because, you see, those complex sets of information attached in your formerly empty brain is a result of intergenerational endeavors. Ergo, you can’t just have them all without giving back to the society.

Good night!

Roosevelt and Meyer Might Have Shared the Same Childhood

By ‘Roosevelt’ I mean the great president of United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt and by ‘Meyer’ I refer to that lady who wrote Twilight Saga, Stephenie Meyer. Let me commence a series of tweets I posted yesterday:


  1. Today over a lunch, @aswinprasetyo enlightened me on Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights which was exactly what I’ve been suggesting to @rizkiyuniarini:
  2. Instead of giving the ‘right to create, freedom of speech, etc.’ under the spirit of liberalist capitalism, the government needs to take the responsibility…
  3. …to let their people have the ‘right to employment with a living wage, freedom from unfair competition and monopolies, housing, medical care, education, and social security.’ In other words, it echoes the spirit of socialism.
  4. Kiki believes that socialism isn’t the answer for you’ll only turn people counter-productive and ‘not happy at all’. But then…
  5. One thing liberalism doesn’t realize is that not everyone stands on the same starting line and thus has limited access to sources of wealth.
  6. Seeing the ‘Bapak-Tukang-Bakpau-Yang-Jam-9-Dagangannya-Masih-Sisa’ or ‘Adek-Jam-7-Koran-Masih-Segepok’, I’d rather be unhappy in unison :(
  7. If Roosevelt was still alive by now, I would definitely be his Second Bill of Rights’ biggest supporter. Change should start from the U.S.
  8. I’m not a fan of Stephenie Meyer’s, but ‘The Host really has an interesting concept of a ‘mature society’. A utopianic idea, really.
  9. 1) Get the concept of ‘money’ and ‘wealth’ completely erased from the society. 2) Let everyone take a job they please and produce goods.
  10. 3) Now that everyone’s assigned to a certain role, take things you need and leave those you don’t. 4) Voila, peaceful equality for everyone.
  11. Still hard to imagine? Visualize yourself getting into a store after 8 normal hours of work and take a roll of tissue, don’t pay, get home.
  12. Why can’t people stop being so pretentiously obsessed with money and wealth? Why do we create gaps we don’t want?
  13. And yet here I am, one powerless girl giving up to what the society offers me. Guess I’m no Karl Marx or Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Will be beyond glad to have this discussed with you over a glass of blended green tea with cream. Until then, have a great day.