The fall of Communism at the turn of the twenty-first century attracted much interest in the affairs of the Southeast Asia, which were the biggest Muslim areas in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. Since then, not only the Muslim world but also the Western world has equally been involved in this region. However, Western still remains the most influential player in the region. The Islamic revival throughout the Muslim world has become a major source of concern for the secular governments in the Muslim world as well as for those in the West.
The political activities of Islamic groups have placed these governments in a position of confrontation with the governments of Western countries. The factors that have attracted the interest of outsiders in the Southeast Asia and other Muslim regions are economic, political, cultural, and religious in nature. The re-emergence of Muslim states in Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, sparked the emergence of an ideological battle ground.
Some debate is taking place among policy makers to discuss a return to civil society, but so far no one has come up with an acceptable variant. Yet, in addition to educational and cultural programs, the Islamic groups in the region are involved in political activities as well. This paper will focus on two basic questions: a) is there any correlation between globalization, modernization and neo-imperialism? and b) can Islam play a substantial role in the politics and society of this region in Indonesia, which was so much obscured by Western thought?
At the turn of the twenty-first century, globalization became a revolutionary idea. On the eve of the new millennium, a number of events brought the world community closer together, which increasing international interdependence. Globalization is a trend that established a new world order as a process that leads to the unification of the whole world under the umbrella, producing a world that would be uniform and united.
The demise of communism and the disintegration of the Soviet Union have established the fact that world communities cannot live in isolation and remain fragmented on the basis of ideology. Yet, the unification theory has its own complexity as well. For example, the integration of European countries is leading toward the homogeneity of Europeanness. Many countries in Europe want to call this new unified Europe the United States of Europe instead of the European Union as it is now known.
Furthermore, developing countries are rapidly moving towards international economic and technological inter-dependence and regional cooperation are also increasing. What still remains are the social, cultural, political and civilization specificities of these global communities. Do these specificities reflect the contradiction between globalization and international relations? Are they a challenge to global cooperation and coexistence? The answer can be varied and diverse.
The Islamic revival throughout the Muslim world has become a major source of concern for the secular governments in the Muslim world as well as for those in the West. The political activities of Islamic groups have placed these governments in a position of confrontation with the governments of Western countries. The post-September 11th global scenario has divided the world into “us” and “them”, in other words America with its allies versus the Muslim world. What we are seeing now is the Americanization and the Westernization of international community in the name of globalization, a phenomenon that is not welcomed by all countries.
The fact that the suicide hijackers happened to be with Muslim names has led to the bracketing of all Muslims with terrorism. This statement expresses what the Muslim world views as a globalized fight against Islam. No matter how much the White House tries to prove to Muslims that America is concerned about their welfare, it does not help. As Fareed Zakaria (2002), one of the leading foreign policy experts in the United States, puts it: ‘For the next decade or so at least, the single biggest issue for American foreign policy will be its relationship with the 1.2 billion Muslims around the world.’
However, the lack of affective Muslim leadership or the lack of the a strong representative voice from among the Muslims, has made Muslim response to the actions of Western governments inadequate, and the world is led to conclude that Muslims are not integrating or taking an active part in the globalization process.
Globalization, Modernization and Transformation Values
In his book entitled “Globalization: A Critical Introduction”, Scholte (2000, p. 261) described democracy as one of the main normative concerns of social relations together with human security and social justice. Scholte observes the relations between the three normative concerns as following:
These three conditions can often (though not always) substantially reinforce each other. For example, people who enjoy security arguably have greater possibilities to participate in a working democracy, and democratic governance is likely to promote greater equity. Conversely, shortcomings in respect of human security of social justice have frequently paralleled deficits in democracy.
The interpretation of these three normative concepts is often simplified as a chain reaction phenomenon. From this understanding, we can analyze how democracy prevailed in many countries in the middle of 20th century. The linear development of globalization and democracy can also be explained using this understanding.
Scholte analyzes that even though democracy process at that is time closely related with the phenomenon of globalization, the globalization itself cannot be viewed as a single and the only contributor to democracy. The causality relation between democracy and globalization can be best viewed as an interrelated phenomenon.
In many countries, democracy emerges as a reaction to peoples demand for better condition. The need for democracy often comes from local movement. To be said, in normal circumstances, globalization does not force democracy to be installed and helps the society to improve their living standard by democratizing literacy, political knowledge and strengthen the competence among the well established democratic electorates. In many parts of the world, democracy has helped many people for getting their rights and distributing the power to the people. (Wriston, 1992, p. 174).
Kenichi Ohmae said that ‘globalism’ refers to perception and reality of the borderless world, which allows the spread of ideas from one country to another within or outside the same continent. It also speaks about goods, people, and information. Surely this occurrence affects the individual consciousness and their attitude towards cultures, values, politics and identities.
Globalization brings modernization effects to a certain community, for example: the fast development of high-technology, the broadened modern structure such as rationalism, capitalism, and industrialism. (Scholte, 2000, p. 24)
In this globalized era, it is very easy for people to go across national borders. Visa is so easy to get, as the matter of fact, some regional and international agreement have freed visa requirement for certain countries, such as Indonesian to Egypt, Malaysia, and Europe. In the fields, it is easier to get student visa than worker visa. So many people want to go abroad, whether it is to study, work, change nationality, or to have a vacation.
Globalization has become the reason and the victim of this phenomenon. Information movement from all over the world has opened people’s eyes and minds. They acknowledge what can be found abroad which cannot be discovered in Indonesia. These people then become ‘the agents of change’ with their thoughts and information they get from studying overseas. They change other people’s minds and thus encourage them to have the same experience too, directly and indirectly. Thus, these agents of change have pushed the process of globalization.
Modernization also plays a role in this process. The agents of change who brought their thoughts and information from the world outside has allow the transfer of technology to occur, which according to Rostow will make the least developed communities become modern in short time.
At the same time when the globalization and modernization era have been reaching almost the whole parts of the world, the challenges for Muslims are increasing rapidly. An abundance of problems have attended and automatically challenged the Muslims to face and overcome the problem wisely. Neo-Imperialism has also attacked the Muslim world. Basically, it is the right hand of Conventional Imperialism.
Muslims should be careful for the neo-imperialism attacks which placed Islam to be the main concern. Attacking of Islam as a whole and finally erasing Islam from this world are the aims of Neo-Imperialism. Therefore, a good strategy should be built in order to go against the attack of neo-imperialism.
The neo-imperialism phenomenon itself could not be separated from globalization and modernization. This principle runs as long as the globalization and modernization process which has accumulated rapidly in the last several decades. Basically, the neo-imperialism has several aims; defeating Islam as a whole, enlarging the network of imperialists’ countries, and opening a new market in order to spread the industry products.
The first aim, defeating Islam as a whole basically has been conducted a long time before the Neo-imperialism came
Some strategies have been built in order to break the regulation and also the images of Islam. Basically, the imperialist countries are still afraid of defeating Islam as long as the Muslims still uphold the regulation of Islam (Shari’a) tightly. They are scared of the spirit owned by the Muslims to do Jihad. This perception is supported by William Gladston as quoted by Ishaq (2009) who states that most of European countries’ interest in Asia is still threatened as long as there are Muslims who read the Al-Qur’an and do Hajj.
Some strategies built by the Imperialist countries to defeat Islam as a whole could be explained below:
- Creating a doubt the perception of Islam, the structure of Islam, and its ability to catch the improvement of knowledge and technology which have been achieved by the Europe countries to make Islam vanish.
- Developing secularization and creating perception around Muslims countries that religion is the major barrier of improvement in knowledge and technology development.
- Creating dichotomy education between the religion education (e.g. Islamic boarding school, Islamic school) and general education (e.g. public school). This dichotomy is expected to create conflicts within families which lead to national conflict.
- Placing general education to be in the higher priority than the religion education. This strategy is followed by posting the alumni of general education in more strategic positions than the alumni of religion education. This situation will encourage the alumni of the general education to underestimate their counterparts, and in the end they will persuade them to get away from the religion education.
- Creating bad moral within societies through 5 F strategies; food (producing more imperialists’ food), football (creating football as the popular sport and conducting the matches on the prayer times), fashion (encouraging people to wear non-islamic fashion), film (uncensored film) and famous (creating an idol among the Muslims who will influence Muslims to get away from Islamic thought).
- Building social infrastructures for the poor, such as schools and hospitals. These infrastructures will spread the imperialists’ interest and break the Islamic values..
- Giving scholarships to the Muslims youth to study in the imperialist countries and implicitly influence the young Muslims to release their religion.
The second aim of neo-imperialism is expanding the network of imperialist’s countries which has been proven by the invasion of the U.S. to Iraq and Afghanistan
It could also be proven from the invasion that the U.S. failed to find the mass weapon destruction. It can be concluded that basically the U.S. only wants to expand their network and bring the weapon of mass destruction and also dictatorship behind the invasion.
The last aim of the Neo-imperialism is creating new market in order to spread their industrial products
This phenomenon has accumulated rapidly after the awakening of the industry in Europe. The imperialist countries have built some strong strategies in order to market their products in Muslim countries. The fact, a large number of imperialists’ products have entered the market in Muslim countries. These also become another indicates that neo-imperialism almost reaches all parts of the world.