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.

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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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Train’s Logic

(Disclaimer: don’t hate me if this post sounds extremely cynical and not giving solutions. I’m just one of those desperately disappointed customers–or simply observer–who would like to give a wake up call.)

My hypothesis: it possesses none. And by train, I refer to the people behind their desks who decide policies that affect the whole commuting society in Jakarta, Depok, Bogor, and their surroundings.

Assuming they do have it, my experiences conclude that it can never be publicly accepted for its different nature. The logic, I mean. Let’s take a look to several points below; according to the train:

  • Our society is divided into three classes: a) the have–who can pay Rp 9.000 for a Pakuan ride, b) the semi-have–who are charged by Rp 5.500 one way, and c) the poor–God knows if they really pay the budget ticket that costs them Rp 2.000. Instead of being a ‘one for all’ public transportation, the train feels it safe enough to let the economic gap stay that way. Genius.
  • The have have the absolute right to do whatever they want to the poor just because their train takes more money from their pocket. This includes forcing them to wait at Stasiun Depok or Stasiun Manggarai for ‘a while’ after their mighty Pakuan gets ahead.
  • The poor can’t sit on the top of their train on their own risk because it’s dangerous, but the have can violate the rule of ‘no sitting on the floor’ and ‘no extra seats’ inside the coach (which is evidently annoying throughout hectic hours)–because they pay those little seats themselves?
  • Female have should enjoy full protection from those mashers with a gerbong khusus wanita but the same rights don’t go to the female poor. (What? They pay us Rp 2.000 a ride and expect us to protect them? Don’t be silly!)

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The scariest gap in our society is that several feet from express train to the budget one. Indonesia needs a change, young minds.

Of course. Really, I just don’t get it.

One day, just a moment in the future, this saddening system should change. Either I take the power myself and enhance better performance in every level of service in public transportation i.e. commuter trains, or I’ll persuade my future students to do so. Someone with vision should take the lead, yo.