Here Thar Be Monsters!

From the other side of the argument to the other side of the planet, read in over 149 countries and 17 languages. We bring you news and opinion with an IndoTex® flavor. Be sure to check out Radio Far Side. Send thoughts and comments to luap.jkt at gmail, and tell all your friends. Sampai jumpa, y'all.


What Goes Around

You might want to cue up Billy Preston's big hit from the 1970s as we trundle through current events on diametrically opposed sides of the world today.

Back in 2014, a Populist reformer who goes by the nickname "Jokowi" (Joko Widodo) was elected president of Indonesia.  It was a hotly contested election against the Establishment choice, a lovely man by the name of Prabowo Sugiarto.

Prabowo figured he had it all locked up.  He was the darling of the Establishment, had spread the appropriate amounts of money in the appropriate places, and polls showed him having the edge on Jokowi.  It was a done deal.

Until it wasn't.

Prabowo lost the election by a slim margin as huge numbers of people that weren't counted in the polls showed up to vote for draining the swamp.

Enraged over losing the office that Prabowo thought was his for the taking, he mounted protests (paid warm bodies in large groups chanting prepared slogans), filed challenges in the courts (all the way up to the Supreme Court) and generally did anything to disrupt the new administration's ability to make headway in reforming and streamlining the national government.

Jokowi was elected governor of Jakarta in 2011 (Jakarta is a city, state and seat of the national government), along with his reformist ally Basuki Tjahaja (Ahok) Purnama.  When Jokowi won the presidency, Vice Governor Ahok took over the state government, becoming only the second Christian of Chinese ethnicity to hold the post (the first was 1964-5 shortly before Soeharto took over).  However, Prabowo didn't go quietly.

Prabowo moved to the background and began a campaign to get his people inserted into key positions in the Parliament, which resulted in barricade after barricade to Jokowi's reforms.  At the same time, Ahok was attacked repeatedly via his greatest weakness - saying what he thinks.  Ahok famously made a comment in September 2016, which was construed to be a slight against al-Qur'an, and Ahok was ultimately convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to 2 years in prison.  The conviction came after a hotly contested governor's election where Prabowo's chosen candidate, Anies, was elected over Ahok after a concerted effort by Prabowo's political machine to discredit the Chinese Christian based on racial and religious grounds - certainly not based on his record of cleaning up the city's operations.

Deprived of his staunchest ally, Jokowi has been left dangling in the wind.  He literally has no one watching his back now - literally or politically.  For the past two years, he could leave Jakarta to attend to the country's international interests, knowing that Ahok was keeping things under control back home.  Now, however, Ahok is well tucked away and Prabowo has installed his people in every quadrant around Jokowi.

This has led to numerous rumors flying that Prabowo will mount a coup d'etat in late July, while Jokowi attends the G20 summit in Hamburg.  True or not, it is a sign of Jokowi's weakened position that such talk can even be taken seriously.  The conditions certainly match many that existed in 1965, when another former general, Soeharto, mounted his coup.

If you are one of our thousands of North American readers, and all this sounds familiar, then you are right.

In 2016, Establishment darling Hillary Clinton thought she had the presidency of the US sewn up.  She lost by a narrow margin to a Populist reformer named Donald Trump.  After the election, a number of legal challenges were mounted against Trump, and ultimately Clinton slipped into the background where she formulated a stealth attack to block every single action and policy of the new administration.  This has led to unprecedented infighting and witch hunting in an effort to unseat the duly elected president.

The parallels are curious.  I have pointed out the many similarities between the US and Indonesia, and the fact that nearly identical political situations exist in both countries now is even more curious.  As researchers like Peter Levenda and Allan Nairn have pointed out in recent articles, the ties between the Establishment of both countries run rather deep (pun intended).  That nearly identical tactics would emerge in both places at roughly the same time seems less coincidental than intended.

This situation, combined with Macron's victory in France, Merkel's survival in Germany, and the incredibly languid foot-dragging going on over Brexit, it seems that the Establishment is engaged in a scorched-earth effort to prevent the world from escaping their iron fist.

The masses have a really bad habit of thinking elections take care of the popular agenda.  It's really not entirely their fault, since they've been indoctrinated from birth to think they live in "democracies".  They get all riled up during the election cycle, get their candidate elected, then go back to whatever it was they were doing before.  In a few years, they look up again and notice that nothing got done and they proceed to elect another reformer, who also gets nothing done.  Meantime, the Establishment runs all the way to the bank.

As George Ure likes to say, history doesn't repeat, but it rhymes.

The Establishment are obviously hurting, or they wouldn't be so blatantly obvious in their machinations.  They're spooked by their slipping grip and will risk exposing themselves in order to maintain their cushy positions of imaginary power.

How all this will unfold is anybody's guess, but it seems we can make a fairly solid prediction that the remainder of 2017 will be one for the history books - filed under "Rhymes".

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave your own view of The Far Side.