“If we look at the latest theories in Political Science to describe Indonesia’s current situation, we will encounter the term oligarchy. This concept refers to a few people who are so powerful that they can make all the political decisions for hundreds of millions of other people. Economically, oligarchy refers to a situation in which a small number of elites control most of the nation’s wealth,” said Wijayanto, S.IP., M.Si., Ph.D, lecturer at the Department of Political and Governance Sciences, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Diponegoro University who is a graduate of the Leiden Institute for Area Studies doctoral program, Leiden University.
According to him, oligarchy gave birth to economic inequality and poverty. High economic inequality in society is a threat because it not only endangers social cohesion, but also endangers political and economic stability. In this case it is seen that economic inequality is closely related to corruption.
“Economic inequality provides a fertile breeding ground for corruption, which in turn leads to further inequality. The higher the level of corruption, the greater the inequality, which makes people trapped in what is known as the inequality trap,” explained Wijayanto.
He further said that oligarchy, economic inequality, corruption and clientelism during elections are not separate issues, but are closely related to one another. Clientelism is a reflection of the low level of public trust in politics.
According to him, money politics that occurs in elections is the root of corruption and economic inequality. The political elite commits corruption to finance expensive elections as a result of the practice of buying votes in elections. Unfortunately today money politics has become so widespread that even in the election era the practice of buying votes has increased and resulted in expensive elections. In fact, because money politics is so widespread, it has become something normal so that it is difficult for us to imagine an election without money politics. Here, according to him, it takes courage, creativity and imagination to stop the practice of money politics, both from the side of the elite, citizens and the legal system.
“As Ben Anderson said, a nation was born because there is a group of people who, although they have never met each other, imagine themselves to be part of a nation. One hundred, or two hundred years ago when the archipelago was still a separate kingdom, the idea of a nation called Indonesia was an image that looked like a utopia. However, now a nation called Indonesia is almost three-quarters of a century old. Today, the image of a nation that is just and free from oligarchy, corruption and economic inequality may seem like a utopia. But if every citizen has started imagining it together today, then the realization of that imagination is only a matter of time. Hopefully our children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy it,” he explained.
In his presentation, Wijayanto also conveyed his latest research on cyber troops and the manipulation of public opinion which is a threat to democracy in Southeast Asia, the result of a collaboration with KITLV Leiden and the University of Amsterdam. There has been manipulation of public opinion using propaganda on social media during the 2019 presidency as well as on a series of problematic policies. This manipulation is carried out by cyber mercenaries or what are commonly referred to as buzzers. In this case, he explained the dangers of manipulation of public opinion for democracy.
“Right information is like oxygen for democracy. This is because in a democracy sovereignty is in the hands of every citizen who is supposed to be rational in making political decisions, for example in choosing a presidential candidate in an election, or rejecting or supporting certain policies. The basis for making political decisions is information. Correct information will result in correct political decisions. Wrong information will certainly result in wrong political decisions. A public space that is full of misinformation is like a poison gas that can kill democracy,” he concluded. (Lin – Public Relations)