Born on January 10, 1922 at Sawahlunto, West Sumatra, where his father was
a surgeon in the service of the Netherlands East Indies government, SOEDJATMOKO
MANGUNDININGRAT's life-style was very different from that of the peasants whose poverty
and powerlessness were to become the primary focus of his thinking and actions. The
meaning and maintenance of freedom were also to become central issues in his life and here
again his experiences had a direct bearing.
Both his father, Dr. Saleh Mangundiningrat, and his mother, Isnadikin,
belonged to Javanese families which enjoyed access to education and position, allowed
under Dutch colonial policy to relatively few Indonesians. SOEDJATMOKO was the eldest son
in a close-knit family consisting of an older and a younger sister, an adopted brother and
sister who were relatives taken into the family when they were small, and a younger
brother. His preschooling and first two years of primary education were taken in Amsterdam
where his father had been awarded a fellowship to study for his degree in surgery. However
on their return to Indonesia SOEDJATMOKO discovered that his family's privileged position
under the Dutch colonial system did not equate with equality with the Dutch who
administered it. Thus at an early age he realized, he says, "that without equality,
freedom could not exist, and that without freedom, equality was meaningless."
SOEDJATMOKOs father, whose breadth of approach and generosity of
spirit had a profound impact on his own intellectual and moral thinking, was committed to
the struggle for Indonesian independence but was also deeply concerned with the problem of
inner freedom. He assumed from the start that his son would participate in the nationalist
movement, but when SOEDJATMOKO was 17 his father told him, after a quarrel, that he would
not want him to join the struggle until he had learned to fight without hatred.
Although he observed rural poverty as a boywhen his father served
as director of a hospital in Menado, North Sulawesi and in East Java where he stayed with
his father's parentshe did not become intellectually engaged with the problem of
poverty until age 18 when some student friends took him to visit the slum areas of
Jakarta. "I was appalled by what I saw," he relates. "This traumatic
experience led me increasingly to ask why poverty should exist, why Indonesia should be
poor and what part social structures and human attitudes played in creating and
maintaining it." Later he came to recognize "the centrality of the cultural
dimension to all matters affecting development for people whose cultural background had
denied them any experience of freedom." Understanding this to be a root problem, his
life work has been "aimed at helping the ordinary Indonesian man and woman to free
themselves from fear, and from the culture of fear that was rooted in both the colonial
and indigenous feudal past. It is, in a sense, a simple objective but one that can only be
achieved for the ordinary Indonesianand millions more like him throughout the
worldby a deep understanding and lucid articulation of the complex interactions of
poverty, power and culture."
After the family returned to Indonesia SOEDJATMOKO had continued his
elementary education through the sixth grade in a Dutch school in Menado, North Sulawesi
and, at his father's next post in Surabaya, Java, he completed his seventh elementary
grade, again in a Dutch school. Then, at age 14, his father informed him that, in
accordance with his philosophy of life, he would ensure SOEDJATMOKO a good education, but
would leave him no inheritance. In consequence, instead of attending the usual five-year
secondary school, SOEDJATMOKO was one of nine Dutch and three Indonesians enrolled in a
new Gymnasium in Surabaya which offered a six-year program in the usual arts and sciences,
plus a four year program of Latin and Greek.
The strongest formative influence on the young SOEDJATMOKO besides his
father was probably that of Marie Francken, a Dutch teacher of language and literature at
this school who, he says, "opened my eyes to European civilization." Every
Sunday for almost four years she taught a small voluntary group of private students the
history of European art. "I had come to despise Europe in its colonial aspect,"
SOEDJATMOKO relates, but "she made me realize that there was another Europe, as well;
that there were other manifestations to human civilization than just a colonial type of
experience. I have always been grateful to her for that. Even during the period of
Japanese occupation when she was interned I kept in touch with her." And still,
whenever he travels to Europe he stops in Holland to see this now 82 year old woman who
made the extra effort to broaden young minds.
SOEDJATMOKO credits to his father's influence on his intellectual
development, the openmindedness that enabled him in his teens to appreciate Marie
Francken. In his search for truth his father brought home books on history, philosophy and
the development of science which he shared with his son as soon as the latter could read
and comprehend. He exposed the boy to the main currents of the great world religions and
himself eventually became a mystic. From daily experience with such inquiry, SOEDJATMOKO
explains, "I grew up in that direction."
There was a basic difference in thinking: between father and son,
however. "I did become familiar with the mystical aspects of religion but I can't
call myself a mystic," SOEDJATMOKO says, "because I do not have that potential.
. . .My analytical inclination stands in the way of the spiritual." His father, he
adds, "was a very strong personality and at one point I rebelled, of course, and told
him, 'Look, you are like the big banyan tree and I cannot grow under your shadow. I want
to leave.' But by then the war had broken out and I could not leave. Still, from that time
on he never really interfered with my life. We became very good friends after that."
It was at about this time that SOEDJATMOKO dropped his family name,
partly to emphasize his sense of independence from his father but also because he felt
that the name had a feudal connotation which conflicted with his growing awareness of the
deep inequalities in Indonesian life.
Intending to follow his father's profession SOEDJATMOKO entered the
Medical College in Jakarta in 1940. When the Japanese occupied the country in 1942 the
medical students organized a protest strike and "got away with it with only a
reprimand and some interrogation from the Japanese military command," SOEDJATMOKO
recalls, but when they struck a second time in 1943 they were jailed and beaten and seven
students were expelled by the Japanese authorities and forbidden to enter any school,
among them SOEDJATMOKO.
The psychic effect of the medical school expulsion "was very
deep," SOEDJATMOKO later recognized. "I had a recurring nightmare until I was
about 40 years old about going into a laboratory with an assignment and then not knowing
what to do. It was that deep trauma that made me afraid of not knowing enough."
Reflecting on the career he was to follow SOEDJATMOKO says, "I
have been shaped by the history of my time in Indonesia rather than made my own
choices." The Japanese occupation prevented him from becoming a doctor and "in a
way opened my eyes to other horizons to the point that I did not want to be a doctor
anymore when I had the opportunity." The revolution was already astir and "I was
in that even before the beginning."
After his expulsion from medical school, SOEDJATMOKO went back home to
work in his father's hospital in Solo. In the community where his parents lived were many
Dutch missionaries whose homes the Japanese encouraged the people to raid and plunder.
"In part I owe my education to those raids," he ruefully reports, "for all
the libraries ended up in the flea market and I was eager to read. That is how I became
acquainted with the European philosophers and theologians such as Kierkegaard and Karl
Jaspers and other German philosophers and existentialists. "
In 1945 SOEDJATMOKO was asked by the fledgling Revolutionary Indonesian
Republic to be Deputy Head of the Foreign Press Department of the new Ministry of
Information. Then the Prime Minister asked him to edit a Dutch-language weekly, Het
Inzicht (Insight), intended to maintain a degree of communication between the
revolution and the Dutch. SOEDJATMOKO protested that he had never written anything, did
not even know how a paper was produced and had never been inside a printing plant. The
Prime Minister's reply, "I do not care, you do it," left him no choice but to
learn on the job.
He must have learned well for two years later, with the journalist
Rosihan Anwar, hc established a weekly magazine called Siasat (Strategy). This was
inspired by the British weekly New Statesman and Nation. It is perhaps a measure of
SOEDJATMOKOs vision and determination that, only two years after a revolutionary
government had been formed, he perceived the need for an independent, criticalbut
still revolutionaryjournal of opinion for committed, socially concerned
intellectuals. Siasat, despite all the predictable difficulties, survived for 13
Although the first revolutionary clash with the Dutch in 1945 had been
settled by British mediation, a second confrontation was becoming inevitable. The Prime
Minister therefore picked SOEDJATMOKO and two other young men to find their way
independently out of the country and to go to New York to be ready to present the
Indonesian case at the United Nations and in the United States when the clash occurred.
They waited for two months in Singapore to obtain U.S. visas. Finally
on their way, they passed through Manila for one night and were met unexpectedly by
Senator Salipada Pendatun, a Muslim from the southern island of Mindanao, who took them to
meet President Manuel Roxas at the presidential residence. "I will never
forget," SOEDJATMOKO declares, "the spontaneous support given three young
people, with no status whatsoever, who had been told to represent their unrecognized
government when the time came at the Security Council." President Roxas volunteered
to instruct the Philippine representative to the U.N., General Carlos P. Romulo, to
support their cause. After the Dutch attack which came in 1947 Romulo showed the young
Indonesians the instructions from Roxas upon which he had acted in support of Indonesian
When he arrived in New York at age 25, SOEDJATMOKO says he "did
not know a thing about international politics." Again learning on the job in the
corridors of the United Nations he soon came to feel that he had a sense for this art but
realized his judgment would "not be right" unless he knew more about economics.
He must study again, he decided, as soon as independence was won.
The settlement at the Round Table Conference in the Hague in
August-September 1949 ended Indonesia's armed struggle and international recognition of an
independent Indonesia followed. That fall SOEDJATMOKO applied to Harvard's Littauer School
of Public Administration and "was surprised to be accepted and even given a
fellowship." He was ready to move to Massachusetts when word came that his
resignation as a member of the Indonesian Mission to the U.N. had not been accepted, so
throughout the next seven months he commuted by train between New York and Boston.
"It was a bad way of studying," he says, "but it was the only way."
The contrast between his position as a graduate student "where my world was just a
pile of books" and as one of his country's negotiators at the United Nations made him
realize the awful responsibility he had in the latter role and strengthened his
determination to qualify himself better by persevering with the former. But since he had
had no course in economics in the classical and medical schools he had attended, he found
himself "being taught by people with great names in the field and did not understand
what they were saying." He cabled a friend in Holland to send him a secondary school
text on economics in Dutch which he quickly read and reread; thereafter he could follow
While preparing for his second semester midterm examination he was
called to London to take over the Netherlands East Indies Section of the Dutch Embassy in
preparation for the establishment of an Indonesian embassy there. The two-month extension
given on his midterm examination expired during his stay in London as Indonesia's first
chargé d'affaires there which was prolonged to three months until the first ambassador
Next assigned on the outbreak of the Korean war to set up the political
section of the new Indonesian Embassy in Washington, and to serve concurrently as
Alternate Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the U.N. he regretfully recognized that
he could not commute between Washington, New York and Harvard and that was the end of his
attempt "at getting a regular education."
In late 1951 SOEDJATMOKO began to hear reports that the initial
idealism of the Indonesian revolution was waning and that more and more Indonesian
administrators from the colonial period were holding influential posts. He decided to
return home, but felt he must first determine his own political position. He had looked
upon himself as a leftwing socialist but he was now no longer certain what the term meant.
In response to his cable of irrevocable resignation his principals in Indonesia asked what
he wanted to do. Learning that he planned to travel in Eastern and Western Europe, the
government offered to continue paying his salary if he would write a report on his
findings. "I was young enough to be very proud," SOEDJATMOKO said, "and to
say no. I wanted to travel as an independenta free intellectual."
So, using his small savings, he set out in 1951 on a tour of personal
political discovery, journeying for a period of nine months to many places in Eastern and
Western Europe. He talked with a wide variety of people from different walks of life and
political orientations, including many socialist leaders. "I thought that in some
cases the European industrialists I met had more vision than the politicians." He
returned to friends in Holland realizing that none of the European ideologies provided
ready-made solutions for Indonesia's needs. In Holland he went through a period of mental
and emotional anguish: "I had no point of reference anymore." After recovering
for two months he decided to make one more visit, this time to Yugoslavia, which had just
broken out of the Russian orbit.
In Yugoslavia SOEDJATMOKO met a man who impressed him
deeplyMilovan Djilas who was then in charge of press and propaganda for Marshal
Tito. He recalls Djilas' openness of mind and his breadth of vision: "He forecast
many of the things that were going to happen but, of course, he did not foresee what
would happen to himself." (Elected president of the National Assembly in 1953, Djilas
and Vladimir Dedijer called on the one party government to prove it was democratic and
allow a second party. Both men were arrested and accused of trying to destroy Yugoslavia's
Communist party, but, after their trial in early 1955, they were allowed to go free.)
At the end of his European visit he still did not know where he stood
politically but he had learned that there were no easy answers. He knew he was "not a
communist nor a leftwing socialist and not a rightist either; none of the political
approaches that these labels stood for seemed relevant to the kind of problems Indonesia
faced." With this knowledge, at least, he was ready to go home in a sober
Shortly after his return to Indonesia in late 1952 he had a series of
conversations with President Sukarno about national development and appealed to Sukarno to
"re-kindle" the revolution.
SOEDJATMOKO rejoined Siasat magazine as editor and also became
associate editor of Pedoman (Directions), the daily newspaper published by the same
group, and in 1954 became director of Pembangunan, a book publishing and distribution
company. Not involved in the party politics of the day, his writings gave him a measure of
influence in the moderate wing of the socialist party.
In 1955 SOEDJATMOKO served as adviser to the Indonesian delegation at
the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung which developed the concept of a Third World not
aligned with either the so-called Free World or the Communist World. From 1956 to 1959 he
was elected to the Constituent Assembly as a member of the Partai Socialis Indonesia (PSI,
Indonesian Socialist Party) but he did not join the interparty struggles then taking
place. He preferred to express his ideas from an independent standpoint and increasingly
did this through his writing.
SOEDJATMOKO was now 34 and unmarried. "I was too involved in
trying to find out what life was about and what I was about in the political and religious
sense," he explains, "and so I had roamed the world, inner and outer space until
I was 34 and beginning to know myself." At this age, in 1956, he first met Ratmini
Subranti Gandasubrata, a painter and teacher of design and, when chance brought them
together again two years later, they decided within two months to get married. Their three
daughters, Kamala Chandra-Kirana (age 17), Isna Marifa (15), and Galuh Wandita (12) have
taken their father's only name as a new family name.
When Sukarno appointed himself as the formateur of an
extraparliamentary cabinet, he had expected SOEDJATMOKOs willingness to join such a
cabinet which excluded the then major Muslim party. When SOEDJATMOKO declined, Sukarno
sent Prime Minister Soebandrio to SOEDJATMOKOs home to convey to him Sukarno's
disappointment and anger. It led to the rupture of a warm relationship which had survived
often vigorous debate and disagreement.
The launching of Sukarno's "Guided Democracy" in 1957 was
deeply disturbing to SOEDJATMORO and his associates. Dissolution of the Constituent
Assembly followed in 1959 and in 1960 the PSI was banned. From as early as March 1958 Pedoman
had been periodically banned, and with it the journal Siasat, because of editorials
critical of government policy and in 1960 it was permanently dosed and its printing press
expropriated by the government.
Throughout this period SOEDJATMOKO used quiet reasoned arguments to
oppose Sukarno's moves toward thought control and a closed society. When a student leader
requested his help in finding financing to publish an underground paper against Sukarno,
SOEDJATMOKO refused even to discuss the subject. His insistence on being open and
aboveboard was misinterpreted by activists as a fear of discovery by the secret police and
concern for his personal safety, but he was convinced that social change could best be
effected by giving political forces free and open play. He took the risk of becoming a
co-founder and subsequently general secretary of the Democratic League which in April 1960
made a brave effort to turn the rising tide of communist influence and Sukarno domination.
When this effort failed, SOEDJATMOKO accepted the invitation from Cornell University in
New York to be Guest Lecturer in Southeast Asian History and Politics. While there during
1961-1962 he used his spare time to read and think, availing himself of the libraries and
the opportunities of discussion with learned, thoughtful people; pondering his own
political philosophy, he honed his ideas on development.
Declining an offer to stay on at Cornell, SOEDJATMOKO returned home and
immediately upon arrival went to see the Prime Minister. He asked him, in light of the
fact that a number of opposition leaders, including those of PSI, had been arrested during
his stay in the U.S., whether he wanted to arrest him as well. "No," the Prime
Minister replied: "the wave is over." With both Pedoman and Siasat
closed, SOEDJATMOKO decided it best under the circumstances not to rejoin Pembangunan and
stayed home to remain unemployed until the political changes in 1965/66.
Following the aborted communist coup in Jakarta the night of September
30-October 1, 1965, and the subsequent fall of the aging Sukarno, SOEDJATMOKO was called
to public service again. When his country rejoined the United Nations (1966) he served as
vice chairman of the Indonesian delegation and in 1967 as adviser to the delegation. From
1967 to 1977 he was personal adviser to Foreign Minister Adam Malik, serving concurrently
from 1968 to 1971 as Indonesian Ambassador to the United States.
During his U.S. tour of duty his acquaintance with people concerned
with the development processin government, learned societies, foundations and
universitiesgrew and deepened. A widely read, articulate Third World intellectual
whose parameters were global, he was frequently invited to discuss, speak and write on
various aspects of development. In recognition of his spreading reputation, honorary
doctorates were bestowed on him by Cedar Crest College, Pennsylvania (1969), and Yale
University (1970), and he was elected an International Fellow of the American Academy of
Arts and Sciences (1971).
Upon his return to Indonesia in 1971 he received the Piagam Anugerah,
Pendidikan, Pengabdian den Ilmu Pengetahuan (Meritorious Award for Education, Science and
Service to the Nation) and was appointed as Special Adviser on Social and Cultural Affairs
to the Chairman of the National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS). In 1973-1974 he
was adviser to both the National Defense College (LEMHANAS) and the National Security
Council (WANHANKAMNAS). Malik continued to seek his advice on foreign policy despite a
false accusation in 1974 that cast a long shadow.
The visit of Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka in January of that
year was the occasion of student riots which SOEDJATMOKO was accused of masterminding.
Forged documents referred to a secret meeting where he was identified as the directing
hand, but the allegations could not be proved because no such meeting took place and he
had not been involved in any way. Nevertheless he was interrogated for two and a half
weeks and was placed under virtual "country arrest" for the next two and a half
years (1974-1976). His caution and circumspection throughout those years were again
scorned by activists while calmer heads, taking the long view, lauded his integrity,
persistent stress on learning and reason and continuous encouragement of open discourse.
Internationally his country detention drew widespread protest because he was recognized as
a leading theoretician on Third World development.
He was, and remains, a member of and active participant in a number of
senior international "think tanks." In 1967 he had joined the International
Institute for Strategic Studies, the London-based independent center for study, research
and debate on the problems of international security, conflict resolution and arms
control. He served as a Board member of the International Institute for Environment and
Development also based in London (1971-1976) and has been a member of its Advisory Council
since then. The institute which monitors and analyzes international policies and
activities affecting environment, their interrelationships and consequences, is funded by
private foundations and various governments. He has also been a member of the Club of Rome
since 1971. The club, founded in 1968 by 30 scientists, educators, economists, humanists,
industrialists and national and international civil servants, seeks to foster an
understanding of the interrelationship of economics, politics and the social and natural
components that make up the global system, and bring the results of its study to the
attention of political leaders and the public. He has served from 1972 as trustee of the
Ford Foundation of New York, which assists development projects around the world, and been
a governor of the Asian Institute of Management based in Manila (1972-1973) and of the
International Development Research Center (l973 -1977) created in 1970 and financed solely
by the Canadian Parliament to support research in five sectors (agriculture, food and
nutrition sciences; health sciences; information sciences; social sciences;
communications) designed to adapt science and technology to the needs of developing
His humanistic interests have been furthered by his membership in the
Institute of Humanistic Studies (Aspen, Colorado) and his trusteeship of the Institute for
Religion and Social Change (Honolulu). He has been on the Advisory Committee of the Human
and Social Development Program of the United Nations University (Tokyo) since 1975.
Originally proposed by Secretary-General U Thant, the university is an international
community of scholars engaged in research and postgraduate training which seeks to
disseminate knowledge and facilitate the growth of vigorous academic and scientific
communities, especially in developing nations.
He is also an honorary member of the Siam Society of Thailand, and sits
on the Board of Visitors of the Department of Economics of Boston University (1978 to
date), and on the Advisory Board of the Institute for Study of World Politics (New York)
and the Editorial Board of Alternatives, a journal of world policy.
In 1971 SOEDJATMOKO was co-convertor, together with John D. Rockefeller
3rd of New York and Saburo Okita of Japan (1971 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for International
Understanding for "sustained and forceful advocacy of genuine Japanese partnership in
the economic progress of her Asian neighbors"), of the first Williamsburg Meeting
(held in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA) on problems of Asia and the Pacific, and has acted
in this capacity for successive annual meetings.
In Indonesia his institutional associations are equally wide-ranging.
He is a member of the Jakarta Academy of leading intellectuals and artists, an adviser to
the Association for the Advancement of the Social Sciences (HIPIS), and the Foundation for
the Traditional Arts (Yayasan Seni Tradisionil), a Trustee of the Social Sciences
Foundation (Yayasan Ilmu-Ilmu Sosial), and in the 1950s was honorary secretary of the
Indonesian Institute of World Affairs and a trustee of the Indonesian Red Cross.
Enhancing his reputation at home and abroad have been the papers and
articles he has written for international symposia and conferences sponsored by these
groups and others, for university convocations and for journals. Many of these have been
translated into several European and Asian languages and published in the Philippines,
Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, Holland, Italy and the United States as well as in
Indonesia. He has also published two books, An Introduction to Indonesian
Historiography (co-ed.) in 1965 and SoutheastAsia Today and Tomorrow in 1969.
SOEDJATMOKO paraphrased a lecture he gave at Asia House in New York in
1970 in a paper prepared for the meeting of the Southeast Asia Study Group on Cultural
Relations for the Future, held in Bangkok in 1975 and which he was not permitted by his
government to attend. In it he identified the problems faced by Third World intellectuals:
"To define the problems of their societies in terms of their new sense of national
purpose, to sharpen the vision of the kind of society they want theirs to transform into,
to relate emerging value patterns to changing social realities, to illuminate the road
ahead, to identify pitfalls and constantly to search out alternative roads, to find the
significance of each new development in relation to the common goals."
The intellectual, he added, needs courage, tenacity, flexibility and an
understanding of his own society because he must maintain a continuing commitment to
"increasing rationality, widening the area of freedom and emancipation, nurturing
civility in politics, building respect for the basic civil and human rights [while]
maintaining the pressure for modernization" within his society and between his
society and others.
His commitment, of necessity, is a political one (SOEDJATMOKO admits
his hypothetical intellectual has an "Indonesian cast and personal character")
but despite his
"fascination with power and irrespective of his place and role in the power game,
an intellectual should not lose himself entirely in waging the political battles of the
day. . . .His most important, most enduring contribution lies in changing the perception
by his nation of the problems it faces, in changing the capacity of the nation to respond
to new problems, in changing the terms in which political struggle will be waged, in
defining the issues around which political forces will range themselves, in changing the
criteria for leadership performance. . . . [In essence! his basic concern and
responsibility is the modernization of politics as a prelude to the depoliticization of
modernization and development."
One other crucial function the Third World intellectual must perform,
SOEDJATMOKO emphasized, "is the linkage with a rapidly changing outside world that
itself is in crisis and bound to affect the fate of his country for better or worse."
Like his colleagues in the developed world, he will have no ready answers, a circumstance
"which emphasizes the extent to which all, rich or poor, developed or developing, are
interdependent in facing the great and urgent problems of our near future." Different
perspectives, he notes, which emerge from different life experiences "may help
sensitize us to other modes of living, other forms of social and political organization
than those presented from the perspective of one's own culture alone and may enrich the
common fund of human experience from which eventually elements may be drawn to shape new
and more tolerable life."
The Third World intellectual, as SOEDJATMOKO knew from personal
experience, is frequently exposed to risks of jail, unemployment, loss of integrity and
irrelevance"which might be the most humiliating experience"but, he
said, "he must fight for the freedom he craves to function properly and his
performance to an important extent will determine the strength of the intellectual
institutions and the standards and criteria of performance by which intellectuals should
Referring to those who may think that overweening pride or self
confidence is an affliction of intellectuals SOEDJATMOKO concluded:
"I would like to say that intellectuals in a developing society have come to
realize too vividly the strength of the irrational forces involved in the process of
nation-building for them to be able to afford the luxury of arrogance. . . .The big issues
of politics and the human condition are in truth intractable. . . . We keep throwing
stones which will disappear with scarcely a ripple much less influence the course or speed
of rushing water. Still we are bound to keep on throwing our pebbles or our rocks. . .for
it is not success or failure that is the measure of the meaning of man's life."
In pursuit of his calling as a Third World intellectual, to which
"the history of his time" has led him, SOEDJATMOKO has analyzed the basic
aspects of the development challenge in Indonesia and has taken a lead in analyzing the
discrepancy between development plans and goals in the Third World and actual
accomplishments. In a memo for discussion entitled "Technology, Development and
Culture," prepared for a meeting of the Institute for Religion and Social Change in
1972, he points out that contrary to expectation industrialization in the more populous
nations of the Third World has not resulted in decreasing unemployment, in part because of
the explosive rise in population. The same phenomenon is observed in the field of
education and for the same reason. In fact the educational system itself may have
increased the problems of urban unemployment by creating a "brain drain" from
the villages to the towns. What is needed, he suggested, is a "relevant development
strategy aimed at growth, employment and social justice, local initiative, creativity and
Again in other writings he recognized that between the end of World War
II and the mid-1960s development was perceived both by the developed and the developing
worlds as a simple process of applying capital and skills where necessary. But this has
not proved successful. On the contrary, under this simple approach to development the gap
between the rich and poor nations as well as between the rich and poor within each nation
state, seems to have grown. Social technology, he points out, "has not found the
answers to such key problems as how to energize or set development in motion and how to
harmonize the process of development."
Furthermore the industrialization patterns practiced by the developed
states (found mostly in the northern hemisphere) are now recognized as ecologically
wasteful and destructive. "The Third World [developing states primarily of the
southern hemisphere] cannot afford to replicate this model," he says, especially with
the staggering populations the Third World is faced with by the year 2000.
"The pressure of population increase and the need of creating employment for the
rapidly growing labor force have important cultural implications ignored at peril to the
developing society. The increasing social tensions of the coming decade stemming from the
discrepancy between the slowness of the development process and the heightened
expectations of the general public is one dimension of this cultural crisis. This
discrepancy stems partly from the sluggishness of the political system in adjusting to the
legitimate demands for social justice and human rights.
"A second dimension is the need to develop capabilities that will enable the Third
World to maintain cultural identity and autonomy in the face of the powerful impact of
modern mass communications. The Third World must guard against becoming vulnerable to the
disintegrative impact of the cultural crisis in industrial countries. Developing countries
need a future perspective and value pattern that will enable them to shape a different
kind of society and culture than what are called the industrial . . . mass communication
"While rich industrial nations will have to adjust to a world of increasing
scarcities, developing countries must find alternative societal models, alternative growth
paths more within their own resources, ecologically less destructive and wasteful and more
capable of providing a meaningful life at what for a rather long time will have to be low
levels of per capita income.
"The third dimension must be to work out regional cooperation taking into account
the cultural pluralism of the region. The articulation of future expectations within the
horizon of feasibility requires non-materialistic developmental drives and motivations and
emphasis on sharing and cooperation in pursuit of development goals that are not
imitations of advanced industrial societies but autonomous. Such an articulation very much
depends on the way a nation perceives its purposes and meaning of life on an individual
level . . . and on finding continued enjoyment and fulfillment in its own culture."
Writing on "Nationalism and Internationalism, a Third World
View," in 1975 SOEDJATMOKO noted three fundamental changes that had occurred in the
past 25 years: 1) the new technology of weapons and communications, 2) increasing
interpenetration in relations between nation states and 3) the growing awareness of the
finiteness of physical resources. Two other processes were taking place which had been
less noticed and studied: 1) movement of industry from the industrialized northern
hemisphere to the less developed southern hemisphere in order to take advantage of the
closeness to raw materials cheap and plentiful labor and 2) the massive migration of
population across national boundaries. These changes present political and social
problems, particularly to the Third World.
The gross imbalance of economic and political power between
industrialized world and the Third World has led to a sense on the of the latter of
"dependency and vulnerability." A further destabilizing factor is that foreign
investment tends to develop its own ties with power structure in the country of investment
and also shows up weakness and ineffectiveness of the domestic sector of its economy.
These factors have caused the countries of the South to feel that as
long as the international economy is dominated by the North, they are not able to develop
freely. This has led to a sense of "new development nationalism" on the part of
the Third World and a call for a global redistribution of power and industrial capacity.
SOEDJATMOKO himself calls for new arrangements and institutions which link producers and
consumers together in a relationship of equality and a more rational and equitable
management of resources, trade, markets and global monetary stability. He points out that
none of the producer/consumer problems concerning raw materials can be solved in
isolation. "The moral legitimacy and persuasive power of any concept formulated by
the North and South," however, will depend, he notes, on where the poorest sector of
the world, the resource-poor Fourth World "fits into t scheme." He concludes by
"What is needed is an international order capable of facilitate the major
structural changes that will be necessary to insure the survival of freedom, justice and
civility in a world of scarcity without doing violence to the pluralism that is an
essential precondition for the viability of any international systemnot a single
ideology but a new set of perspectives shared by all of whatever ideology or social or
Cultural development has concerned SOEDJATMOKO as much economic
development and he has written searching treatises on the soul and society, religions and
the development process, art and modernization, creativity as an essential element in
development, and the university and the global community. He has posited cultural and
traditional values in the relationships of the future and has examined cultural values
from the point of view of economic development as motivations to progress and as obstacles
to development research. He has also looked at cultural values in relation to Southeast
Asian regional cooperation and to the identity of Third World countries.
Delivery of basic services to meet basic needs is not enough, he has
written, "a whole society must be dynamized," including the most backward sector
which in Asia is the rural sector. Noting that farmers are "not dumb," and that
their conservatism, skepticism and passivity are a reaction to exploitation by central
governments "to support the bureaucracy, the economic elite and even the urban middle
class and poor," he states that "better food, housing, services and education
will not in themselves revitalize the rural areas." Rural people must "regain
confidence in themselves." This cannot be programed, it must be done by each nation
and in its own way. Cuba has done it through sports and the easiest way for people of
Southeast Asiain particular Indonesians and Filipinosto express themselves, he
believes, is through religion and the arts. He suggests:
"We can only remain human beings if we learn to develop within ourselves some sort
of inner life. A much greater realization of self then is possible. Art and religion must
be fostered. Otherwise in a crowded world of twice as many people we will live in a
jungle. . . .
"The constant and continuing challenge religion faces in a period of social
transformation, with its passionate absolutisms and inclinations toward violent action, is
to provide a structure of meaning reaching beyond politics, to relate to the course of
human events and man's response and action to moral purpose, remind him of man's inherent
inadequacy and teach him the humility of mind needed in dealing with history, massive
processes of change and the constructs of one's own thought."
He sees religion as a compassionate motivating force for social change
which must be rediscovered and understood in its pluralistic manifestations. Societies are
pluralistic and thus man's understanding of God is also non-monolithic. The individual, as
he seeks to redefine his relationship to his natural and social environment, SOEDJATMOKO
declares, needs to rediscover his awareness "of the transcendental dimension to human
life and human destiny, to society and the unfolding of human events we call history. For
it is only in God that man becomes himself."
His personal quest for spiritual understanding has led him back to
Islam as his father hoped. At one point SOEDJATMOKO remembers, his father said to him,
"I am quite happy to see the way you have grown although you have not gotten a degree
or finished your study. There is only one thing that I see lackingyou do not know
anything about Islam and you should know that God, as it says in the Koran, is closer to
you than your jugular vein." He expressed surprise that his father, having given him
the kind of education he had, was now telling him this, but his father replied that he had
returned to Islam and thought it was time for his son to do so also. "Much later, on
my own and for different reasons, I came back," SOEDJATMOKO relates; "now I am
prepared to say I am a Muslim although not necessarily a good one, but I am a Muslim.
SOEDJATMOKOs tours of duty and conference visits to the United
States have prompted analytical articles on American stereotypes and realities from a
foreign visitor's view. One such article questioned whether America was listening to Asia,
pointing out that the "main characteristic of our time will be not application of
power to resolve international misunderstanding, but diplomatic negotiations based on
clearer perceptions of each other's interests [and a] greater capacity to convey and
articulate one's own interest in a dialogue of interests, aspirations and fears."
At the Fifth Williamsburg Meeting which took place in October 1975
SOEDJATMOKO set up an agenda for discussion of the national and international implications
in non-communist Southeast Asia of the successful communist political/military takeover in
Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. In connection with this agenda he suggested that the
development policiespolitical, social and economicof the non-communist nations
must be rethought to enable them to compete successfully with communism and suggested that
some new forum may be necessary to allow both communist and non-communist Southeast Asian
powers "to clarify to each other their views, fears, expectations and intentions and
to state their perceptions of their own national interests before some degree of mutual
understanding can grow on which a set of viable balances can be reached."
His wide-ranging interests have also prompted SOEDJATMOKO to write on
specific subjects such as U.S. development aid to Southeast Asia; the scope and
limitations of China's external policies; Japan as an architect of a post-nuclear world
order, and the Japanese contribution to the economic development of the area of Southeast
Asia. He has also analyzed the new multipolarity of the 1970s, the direction of the
women's movement, the role of political parties, and more esoteric subjects such as the
Malay language as a case study in cultural contacts and systems analysis in the
sociocultural setting of Indonesia.
SOEDJATMOKOs manner reflects the contradiction in his life of
being both doer and thinker. At ease in any company and an engaging conversationalist, he
is outgoing and at the same time remote. Offsetting his typically relaxed, benign
expression are his direct eyes magnified by black-framed thick lenses. Trimly built, of
medium height, with thinning black hair, he customarily wears either a neat safari jacket
or a Western style suit and for formal occasions dons the Indonesian petje
(round-crowned, brimless black velvet cap).
He has taken seriously his clan responsibilities as well as his role as
an intellectual thinker and prodder and enjoyed what he considers his "greatest
diplomatic achievement" when he persuaded members of his large paternal family to
stop quarreling over the division of lands and instead put all their holdings into a
foundation to provide income to care for elderly members.
Speaking of himself and others like him who seek new ways to energize
development he says:
"We are all part of what one may call a brotherhood composed of many brotherhoods
whose paths cross in a commitment to trying to do something about the majority of people
in the world who are entrapped in conditions of poverty, inequality and injustice. More
and more one develops a sense of not being alone, of being a part of a fraternity, and
also a sense that when we speak about development we do not speak about economics but
about conditions of human growth that have to do with the realization of the human
potential all over the world. We share essential values we all will need while the world
is transforming itself into something much better than it is today."
Asia's Who's Who. Hong Kong: Pan-Asia Newspaper Alliance. 1958.
Erb, G.F. and V. Kallab. Beyond Dependency. Washington, D.C.: Overseas
Development Council. 1975.
Jones, H.P. Indonesia: The Possible Dream. Stanford, California: Stanford
University Press. 1971.
Soedjatmoko. "Art and Modernization." Public lecture at the Southeast Asian
Institute, Saint Joseph College, Emmitsburg, Maryland, November 23, 1968.
______. "Communication Problems in Development." Paper prepared for a seminar
organized by the Yayasan Tenaga Kerja and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, January 17-23,
______. "Cultural Motivations to Progress: The 'Exterior' and the 'Interior'
Views," in Religion and Progress in Modern Asia, edited by R.N. Bellah. Now
York: The Free Press. 1965.
______."Cultural Obstacles in Southeast Asia to Developmental Research," Asia.
New York: The Asia Society. 1968.
______. "The Cultural Situation in Southeast Asia," in Questioning
Development in Southeast Asia, edited by Nancy Ching. Singapore: Select Books, Ltd. 1977.
______. Economic Development as a Cultural Problem. Ithaca, New York: Cornell
University Press. 1958.
______. "Essential Human Dimensions of Development." Presentation made to
Group Discussion. Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, Manila. September 1, 1978.
______. "Foreign Private Investment Abroad: An Indonesian Perspective," in Private
Investors Abroad-Problems and Solutions in International Business in 1969. Dallas,
Texas: International and Comparative Law Center.
______. "Imperatives for International Development." Paper prepared for the
Institute on Man and Science: Conference on the Second Development Decade, a Blueprint for
Action by Rich and Poor Countries, Rensselaerville, N.Y., May 10, 1969.
______. "Indonesia: Problems and Opportunities." Australian Outlook.
Melbourne. December, 1972.
______. "The Intellectual in a Developing Nation." Address at a Meeting of
the Asia Society, New York, January 15, 1970.
______. "National Development and Regional Cooperation." Address at a
Conference of Southeast Asian Students, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, March
______. "Nationalism and Internationalism: a Third World View," World View.
New York. Vol. 18, no. 6, June 1975.
______. "Peace, Security and Human Dignity in Asia." Background Paper
prepared for the Asian Conference on Religion and Peace, Singapore, November 25, 1976.
______. "Perceptions of Social Justice in South East Asia." Paper prepared
for a meeting of the South East Asia Study Group on Cultural Relations for the Future,
Bangkok, September 22-25, 1975.
______. "Problems and Prospects for Development in Indonesia," Asia.
New York: The Asia Society. Autumn 1970.
______. Reconstituting the Human Community. New Haven, Connecticut: Hazen
______. "The Re-Emergence of Southeast Asia: An Indonesian Perspective" and
"Southeast Asia in World Politics." Papers prepared for the Dillingham
Distinguished Lecture Series, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, May 12-14, 1969.
______. "The Role of the Major Powers in the East Asia-Pacific Region," Solidarity.
Manila: Solidaridad Publishing House. Vol. 7, no. 3, March 1972.
______. "The Role of the Major Powers in the New Asia," Survival Journal.
London: International Institute for Strategic Studies. January-February 1972.
______. "The Role of the Medium and Small Nations in the New Asia-Pacific
Setting." A Lecture prepared for the Summer School of the Australian Institute of
Political Science, Canberra, Australia, January 27, 1973.
______. "Southeast Asia in the Seventies." Solidarity. Manila:
Solidaridad Publishing House. Vol. 7, no. 1, January 1972.
______. "Stereotypes and Realities: Foreign Visitor's View of the United
States." Address at the Second National Conference of the National Council for
Community Services to International Visitors, Washington, D.C., March 27, 1969.
______. "Technology Development and Culture." Paper prepared for a Colloquium
organized by the Institute for Religion and Social Change, Santa Barbara, California,
April 10-12, 1972.
______. "Traditional Values and the Development Process." Development
Digest. Washington, D.C. Vol. 9, no. 1, January 1971.
______. "Understanding a Developing Nation: Interior View." Papa read at the
Far East American Council of Commerce and Industry Conference, New York, October 7-8,
Soedjatmoko and K.W. Thompson. "Cultural Diplomacy," and "Values and
International Politics," in World Politics, an Introduction, by James N.
Rosenau et al. New York: Free Press. 1976.
Soedjatmoko et al. An Introduction to Indonesian Historiography. Ithaca,
New York: Cornell University. 1965.
A personal interview with Soedjatmoko and letters from and interviews
with those knowledgeable about his work.