Promised Land: Between Utopia and Reality

Promised Land: Between Utopia and Reality*

by Iqra Anugrah**

Utopia, whatever its form, always bring disaster to humanity. The ideas of “perfect human being”, “chosen people” or “promised land” are merely a way to bring totalitarian tendencies into power. History has shown us tragedies of political utopia, starts from Holocaust to Jerusalem.

Hamas launches its rockets to Israel. Israel strikes back with advanced military power. Thousand of peoples dead, Jerusalem remains bloody and peace seems impossible in Middle East

The very first question of this conflict is in what way we see it. I personally believe that this longing conflict has something to do with colonialism (or post-colonialism). One thing that Israel and Western power ignore is the mentality of colonized nations. Every effort from colonized nations to defend their freedom, whether it is right or wrong, has a moral reason. Violence is wrong, but that is the best weapon of the weak to defend their rights. Therefore, what Hamas or other Palestinian militias did should be seen not only as an attack to Israel, but also as a part of struggle for recognition. Holocaust is definitely a catastrophe, but can it be a reason to wipe out a group of people that already existed? Can we call a state with hidden racism in its values and institutions ‘democratic’? Palestinian people absolutely have a right to exist, to build their own state, and this is exactly what Israel and its Western supporters forget.

Other things that make the situation worse are internal conflict of Palestine and the weak position of Islamic world. It is a fact that Fatah is too corrupted and Hamas is too fundamentalist. This condition becomes worse by the absence of a figure that can unite Palestinian people after Yasser Arafat. Islamic world, especially Middle East does not have a strong position in global politics in order to be involved in bargaining over Palestinian issues. Post-colonialism, late modernization, spreading fundamentalism and internal conflicts such as Lebanon and Iraq has led to the incompetence of Islamic world to negotiate their interests.

The solution of this problem is back to the reality. Israel and Western powers have to leave hawkish approaches to deal with Palestine. They have to start to recognize current Palestinian administration and Hamas which have legitimate authority based on popular vote. Hamas also has to leave violence and go back to diplomacy. Palestinian people have to unite and forget the differences among them, Islamic world has to leave old fashion way to deal with this issue and Jerusalem should be declared as international city. Only by mutual understanding, peace in Middle East through two-state solution can be achieved.

Back to the reality means rejecting utopia, and accepting human being in the frame of humanity. Human is not an angel. He is kicked out from the heaven, condemned to be free, as Sartre said, in order to fulfill his meanings of life. He often makes mistakes, but we have to believe that he can learn from his mistakes to achieve his humanity.

*Published by The APU Times Vol. X January 2009, an independent student newspaper of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU)

**2nd year student of College of Asia Pacific Studies (APS), Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU)

US Case and The Need for Alternative Political Economy Model

US Case and The Need for Alternative Political Economy Model*

by Iqra Anugrah**

On September 15th 2008, world witnessed the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the global financial firm which has become the backbone of US Economy for many years. This bankruptcy gave a huge damage not only for Lehman Brothers, but also for US Economy and many other countries in the rest of the world, from Iceland to Hongkong.

As the result of this crisis, Bush administration immediately injected the bailout budget for restructuring US Economy. Many non-interventionist states also did the intervention to its economy. Countries that adopt the principle of welfare state could handle this crisis better, such as European countries. Some countries could do nothing, and they just declared the bankruptcy of their economy.

I bet if Milton Friedman knows this chaotic condition, he will resurrect from his grave, and feel hundreds regrets for everything that he said. This case, for me and many other people outside there, proves one thing: we cannot rely only on market mechanism alone to run our economy. The role of state in economy is still relevant, and will be relevant in the future, especially in terms of welfare and basic needs provision and in case of emergency, which is happening in US now.

The staunch defenders (or blind followers ?) of market mechanism will say that market has its own self-correction mechanism, and state has no right whatsoever to intervene economic activies. But they forget one fundamental thing: market, and human actors within it is not perfect and clean from any mistakes. They often make mistakes. US case has proven the imperfect sides of fundamentalist market mechanism with minimal government. US experience is a momentum that showed the relevance of welfare state and social government, and now we realize that welfare provision, free healthcare and education, stable currency markets and keynesian economics are alternative ideas which are worth to be seen and implemented.

The non-interventionist era has ended. Welcome back alternative ideas, welcome back welfare state. Welcome to the club!

*published at The Mountain Times Vol. VIII November 2008, an independent student newspaper of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU)

**2nd year student of College of Asia Pacific Studies (APS), Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU)