This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, see our privacy statement

New Left Review I/235, May-June 1999


Benedict Anderson

Indonesian Nationalism Today and in the Future

In my experience, nationalism is frequently misunderstood. For that reason, I will begin my remarks by discussing briefly two common kinds of misunderstanding, using Indonesia as an example of a phenomenon almost universal in this century which is now crawling to its end. [*] This text was delivered as a public lecture in Jakarta, 4 March 1999, shortly after I was permitted to enter Indonesia for the first time in 26 years. The first is that nationalism is something very old and is inherited from, of course, ‘absolutely splendid ancestors’. Thus it is something that arises ‘naturally’ in the blood and flesh of each of us. In fact, nationalism is something rather new, and today is little more than two centuries old. The first Declaration of Independence, proclaimed in Philadelphia in 1776, said not a word about ‘ancestors’, indeed made no mention of Americans. Sukarno’s and Hatta’s Declaration of Independence on 17 August 1945, was essentially similar. By contrast, the mania for seeking ‘absolutely splendid ancestors’ typically gives rise to nonsense, and often very dangerous nonsense.



Subscribe for just £36 and get free access to the archive
Please login on the left to read more or buy the article for £3

Username:

Benedict Anderson, ‘Indonesian Nationalism Today and in the Future’, NLR I/235: £3
Password:
 



If you want to create a new NLR account please register here

’My institution subscribes to NLR, why can't I access this article?’

Download a PDF file


See the contents of NLR I/235


Buy a copy of NLR I/235


Subscriptions