The day is Friday 29th January 2010. Tony Blair, ex prime minister of United Kingdom, has been interrogated by the Iraq War Commission in London, England. For six hours, Blair has to testify in hearing concerning the British military support to attack Iraq in 2003.
On 2003, most of the people in England were against his war policy. However, Blair insisted to attack Iraq by giving military support for US army at that time. And now, he has to take responsible for his controversial political decision. (Kompas, 30th January 2010)
We can learn at least two things from this event. First, law is for all, especially for the political elites. Law is the main measure to make a political decision. When someone broke it, he has to face legal charges. This also applies for president and other political leaders.
The society at large has a sacred duty to uphold this notion, namely that every people are a subject to the same just law, no matter what status he or she has. There will be many challenges. However, like the old saying, even though the world destroys, justice has to be upheld. This is the eternal and the most important principle in life.
Second, the true political authority in democratic society is the people. The people choose the parliament as the representation of the people’s interest. The parliament then assemble together to legislate law for the sake of people’s interest. The relation between the people and parliament is a sacred political relationship, and play role as the essence of democracy itself.
Contradiction of political power will happen, when parliament and the government take different path from their reason of existence, namely to represent the people. If this political contradiction happens, then the political stability will shake. Therefore, the political elites, the government and parliament, have to control their political decision in line with the general public interest.
In Indonesia, the people have the evil assumption that the political elites don’t have to obey the laws. The real political authority is not the people, is never the people, but the political and economic elites who make decisions in their cozy chair and table. It’s hard to imagine that this thing happens to a country who proclaimed itself as democratic nation. In this sense, the essence of democracy in Indonesia is contradiction. It means that democracy in Indonesia is destroying its own basic principles.
The Essence of Power
When lost, a person needs to find the reason of his existence. He or she needs to start from scratch. If the essence of democracy in Indonesia is contradiction, namely the democratic practices that destroy its basic principles, then we need to start from the scratch in our effort to create democratic society. Furthermore, we need to ask the very fundamental question in politics, namely what is the essence of power?
The political philosophers have tried to answer that question. In totalitarian society, the essence of power is the fulfillment of the leader’s needs and personal ambitions. In return, the political leader will try to make its citizens prosperous. The people’s welfare is not the main purpose of government, but only its side effect.
In theocratic society, the essence of power is the effort to worship God that refers to a certain religious tradition. The state is ruled with constant control based on religious doctrines. In theocratic society, the prosperity of the people also not the main purpose of government. It is only the side effect, nothing more, nothing less.
These two forms of political power already been left by many countries. Powerful critics against those two forms of power give rise to the new form of political power, namely the democratic power. In democratic society, power is in the hand of the people. They will choose parliament as their political representation.
The parliament will legislate law that in parallel with the interest of the people. At this point, the highest authority is in the law which is the embodiment of the people’s interest. In Indonesia, this ideal is still far from reality. Democracy destroys its own principles.
Political elites in Indonesia stand above the law. As a consequence, when they act not in according to law, they can walk away without any legal sanction. They forget about their reason of existence as the representation of the people. Democracy in Indonesia has its full self-contradiction.
When we’re lost, we have to find the way to track our main and starting purpose. We have to this in the context of Indonesia. The democratic contradiction cannot develop to some kind of anarchy or social revolution which will have monstrous cost, socially and politically. On the contrary, as in the dialectic logic, democratic contradiction has to be change to democratic synthesis.
And maybe one day, we can have enough courage to deal with our corrupt political leader in front of just and legitimate law, as the British society stand up to their former prime minister.***
Picture is taken from the various sources in the Google Pictures
Writer is lecturer from Faculty of Philosophy, Widya Mandala Catholic University, Surabaya, Indonesia