As time passes by - making way for new history to be created - it is inconceivable to think of history ever coming to an end.
But what if there is an end of history in the political sense? What if Western liberal democracy really does signal the end point of political development and the final, everlasting form of government?
After all, can you imagine a better form of government than liberal democracy? In which citizens are free to do what they want – within certain limits – and the government is elected by the people?
And neither can most of the people living in free and democratic countries.
In the now classic End of History book, Francis Fukuyama convincingly argues that political progress takes place as contradictions in societies are inevitably resolved.
Discrimination against blacks, women or homosexuals, for example, violate society’s notions of equality and human rights, and so it is inevitable, argues Fukuyama, that such contradictions must – sooner or later – be ended.
Another point that Fukuyama makes is that history unfolds in one direction – and there is no going back. Once progress has been made, it’s been made. Slavery has ended for good. It will never return. Similarly, women’s voting rights will never be taken away either.
So what about Indonesia? What are the inherent contradictions that need to be resolved as the country takes further steps in becoming more democratic?
Well, there are many of course - and even in the country’s cconstitution which states that:
…every person shall be free to choose and to practice the religion of his/her choice.
However, in reality, the government only actually recognizes six “religions” (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism)!!!
Now in my book that’s a bit like saying you can have a car in any color you want.
As long as it’s black.
The complications soon pile up as you might imagine, with the state ideology Pancasila stating that all Indonesians must believe in ONLY one God – failing to appreciate the obvious fact that Hindus believe in MANY.
And there’s also the little oversight that Buddhism is NOT even a religion anyway:
1. There is no almighty God in Buddhism. There is no one to hand out rewards or punishments on a supposedly Judgment Day.
2. Buddhism is strictly not a religion in the context of being a faith and worship owing allegiance to a supernatural being.
3. No savoir concept in Buddhism.
Now that’s a lot of contradictions to be resolved! And that’s not even mentioning the one awkward thing that might derail Indonesia’s transformation to a full democracy:
Democracy's only real competitor in the realm of ideas today is radical Islamism. Indeed, one of the world's most dangerous nation-states today is Iran, run by extremist Shiite mullahs.
In Indonesia, Buddhism’s glory days are long gone but we still have the world’s largest Buddhist Temple (Borobudur) to marvel at.
Yes, it’s truly a wonderful temple but there is one annoying thing – why are so many of the Buddha heads missing?!!!
Some say they were taken by religious vandals before the huge temple was abandoned (later being restored thanks to Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles’ efforts when he became aware of the temple in 1814) but there is actually more evidence that a lot of the Buddha heads ended up in European museums!!!
And one of them is definitely in the British Museum, which, being located in London is an awful long way from the rice paddies and countryside of Central Java.
Here it is:
This carved head, made of volcanic stone, represents the Buddha, ‘the Enlightened One’. It comes from the great Buddhist monument of Borobudur on the island of Java.> The British Museum
So why haven’t the Indonesian government cottoned onto this and asked for the missing Buddha heads back?!!!