Indonesia’s Economic Future Based on Corruption and the American Dream
By: Michael Ambrozewicz & Fiorenzo Arcadi
There are historical perspectives we need to enlighten ourselves with as to how the future will unfold and why it unfolds in such a predictable way. Roman emperor Claudius was always referred to as a weak and disabled individual with a certain degree of humility on his side. After Caligula’s death, he hid behind a curtain fearing for his life. The Praetorian guard found him and hailed him as the new emperor.
Their conventional wisdom was to make a fool an emperor. Little did they realize that Claudius was a trained scholar, educated by the historian Livy, and author of historical literary works in Latin and Greek. In fact, they underestimated his education level. He was considered a fool, but it was indeed a quality that saved his life.
From there the story goes. He became a great emperor in terms of administration and expansion of the Roman Empire. However, it was the economic well being of the Roman Empire that staged the greatest economic benefit: increasing revenue and forging Roman economic influence to the world.
In Indonesia, Joko Widodo’s humility and presidential election is viewed as utter weakness and a flagrant stupidity of putting a furniture salesman as the leader of the country. Former President Megawati Sukarnoputri is now the leader of the Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). Megawati understands Indonesia because she is Indonesia. She chose Joko Widodo because of his timid character, lack of education, and her prowess to control him.
Indonesian democratization increased corruption with respect to localized government. In many ways the government was decentralized to a localization of corruption. Centralized corruption is more predictable and something that foreign businesses can deal with. Megawati understands the political elites in Indonesia because she understands how submissive the legislature and judiciary system is. She is keen in understanding that local authoritative capitalism is based on a diffused system of patronage, spreading corruption to numerous regions in Indonesia.
The play for Widodo’s presidential victory was based on an agenda of anti-corruption. However, it is Megawati that understand bureaucratic corruption much better than the people that elected Widodo. The anti-corruption strategy was simply a rubber stamp to hail foreign investors to come in and invest in their country. In essence, it romanticized the feeling that all companies are equal and corruption is non-existent in Indonesia.
What is self-evident is Megawati’s personality and distain towards Widodo. She indicated that if you do not tow the party line, you will be impeached. She has continually ridiculed Widodo in the legislature. Widodo’s resolve is to comply, show weakness, and to exist behind the protective veil of Megawati’s enforcements. Widodo developed no sensibility in understanding that once you attain power you must assert your authority and quickly eliminate Megawati. In a historical perspective, he did not do what Roman emperor Claudius did to get rid of his adversaries.
Widodo is simply unfit to govern because corruption in Indonesia impairs the ability of the government to equally redistribute wealth among its citizens. It is the correlation between welfare lost from corruption that is offsetting the potential welfare from economic gains. The long term corruption in Indonesia has become a significant deterrent to any economic development that bases its trust on building infrastructure in the country.
A leader that fails to vigorously address corruption in his own country cannot be taken seriously by China. Xi Jinping, president of China, knows very well as to why Indonesia is handicapped even though it is progressing as a revenue base to China’s growth. In Indonesia, the political system of corruption advances economic growth to only a certain point by slowing down political reform and not disrupting market reform. The fact that Megawati is using Widodo’s economic illusion and state policy shows why economic growth has been significantly hampered.
Widodo stated he wanted a China-Indonesia relationship to materialize into more concrete outcomes that promote more progress, trade, and investment from Chinese companies in the infrastructure of Indonesia. He also wished for the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to be based in Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta. This was refused by Jinping because of weakness, lack of education, and the fact that local authoritative capitalism has become a diffused patronage that spreads corruption to every region in Indonesia.
The American media hailed Widodo because of his lower-class background. Widodo indicated that the reason why he became president is because of an ‘American Dream’ that now correlates with Indonesia’s American Dream. Unfortunately, Indonesia’s American Dream is based on productivity and the paperwork of bureaucratic bribery. The integration of military and state bureaucracy is fuelling corruption in Indonesia.
Widodo’s only role is to illicit the virtues of Megawati’s policy and the elites that stand beside her. This American Dream is only built through American virtues that all men are created equal. Widodo lacks the knowledge and poetic sensibility that if you have no money you become inferior. Claudius became a great emperor because he took control of his destiny; Widodo has failed by basing his destiny off of Megawati.
The ultimate question is what can the American public take away from this story? It is that you can not limit foreign economic policy with respect to growing your nation to become elite. It’s not advocating that you’re elite for the sake of being elite. It is understanding relationships in the economic world that build corporate America and its economic growth. The polarization between right and left matters very little if you have the wrong man running for president.