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!


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