18 May 2009

Revolution vs. Reformasi

I was chatting to someone recently about the pros and cons of revolution and reform (or in the Indonesian context - reformasi). The point of this musing is in fact it is not a regurgitation of the substance of that discussion, but rather to leave this quote:

Revolutions have never lightened the burden of tyranny: they have only shifted it to another shoulder.

-- George Bernard Shaw

10 comments:

treespotter said...

ha! the other night, TV One had a documentary on the May riot and we were watching it and went at some stupid hours on the same subject. Someone mentioned Shaw and now i read it here.

Very good line indeed.

Rob Baiton said...

Tree...

It must be a case of "great minds think alike" or maybe a case of "fools never differ".

I gotta say, since I left the fine shores of Indonesia I have not been paying all that much attention to TVOne :D

Shaw has said plenty of great things worthy of quoting (irrespective of whether one agrees or not with the substance of the quotes).

lawwheat said...

The agrarian revolution?

Rob Baiton said...

Lawwheat...

No.

A much broader and wider revolution, perhaps a little more bloody. It might include some agrarian reforms but the discussion was more along the lines of breaking and stripping down all the institutions of state and rebuilding them.

This would be in contrast to a much longer term view of something like reformasi.

lawgulp said...

i am a bit lost. Your view of revolution viz. strip/rebuild must requite new shoulders - but I cant see why this makes revolution "bad". I am also amazed the R'asi is broader than Rev in your view??

Rob Baiton said...

Lawgulp...

Revolutions are normally based on the idea of out with the old and in with the new, right?

Alternatively, the view might be a simple power grab where the tyranny of one is replaced by the tyranny of another (same old, same old, but new shoulders or victims).

Reformasi is a much longer-term process in my view. Reformasi is a period of transition where there is not necessarily immediacy in the "re-making" of the state institution.

For example, judicial reform. Let's say a revolution was a sweeping out of all the judges, good and bad, and the appointment of a completely new set of judicial officers.

Reformasi in comparison would be replacing certain key individuals and then providing the new people sufficient support to foster a culture of change. This would take much longer than a revolution.

Hopefully, that makes sense.

lawg said...

ok. but I have a feeling we are missing something. I guess I dont like GBS too much,,thanks.

Rob Baiton said...

Lawg...

If we are missing something, any idea what that "something" is?

I s'pose that GBS is not everyone's cuppa tea :D

treespotter said...

i tend to agree with the Irish and he does some really great stuff. I tend to agree with them, too, me thinks.

The problem with a 'revolution' is most tend to think of it in simplistic, romanticized notion of an ideal struggle - a Che in Warhol colours - but few never really got to actually work out what they really want out of it.

It's easier to dislike something and want to change them, it's harder to actually figure out what you then want after removing the old ones.

Rob Baiton said...

Tree...

Yes!

I have a couple of Che t-shirts myself.