goodbye indonesia?

Prabowo's Dark Vision of the Future Got You Intrigued? Here's Some More Indonesian Dystopias

Prabowo Subianto is quoting the techno-thriller "Ghost Fleet," as a real-life "study" about Indonesia's eventual collapse. Here are some better books that say worse things about our future.
March 23, 2018, 12:58pm
Prabowo Subianto by Maks Stirlitz/Wikimedia Commons; dystopia via pixabay/lisensi creative commons 2.0.

Do you dream of one day buying a home? Marrying your partner? Finishing your thesis? Graduating college? If you answered yes to any of those, then you better get started quick because Indonesia isn't going to exist in twelve years' time. Or don't. Who cares? The country is going to be gone anyway.

How do I know this? Because Prabowo Subianto, of the Gerindra Party, is using the eventual demise of the nation as a campaign talking point, arguing that some "studies" claim that Indonesia will cease to exist by 2030. Some reports, you say. Holy shit, what kinds of secret information does Prabowo have access to? And how is the world's fourth largest country suddenly going to vanish off the face of the Earth in a little more than a decade?

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Here's a video where Prabowo lays out his dark warning about the future:

“People!" he shouts. "We can still hold ceremonies now. We can still sing our national anthem. We can still take pride in our country. We can still have pictures of our national heroes, but researchers from other countries have made studies that Indonesia will be gone by 2030."

The 66 year old former general then lays the blame on the top 1 percent, who he classifies as a shadowy cabal of elites who own "80 percent of the land," and are taking "most of the wealth," abroad. It's these people, Prabowo claimed, who are going to cause the country to collapse.

Fiery speeches about the elites who are stealing all of Indonesia's resources are pretty common for Prabowo these days. He trotted out the same populist rhetoric during his failed bid for the presidency in 2014—despite the fact that his own brother Hashim Djojohadikusumo, Indonesia's 35th richest man with a net worth of $850 million USD, is one of those elites. Hell, Prabowo himself is pretty damn "elite" too with a reported wealth in excess of $140 million USD.

But these claims that foreign experts believe Indonesia will collapse by 2030 are something new. Where is he getting these reports? Why is it so weirdly specific? What's with all this stuff about the coming US-China war? Where can I see some of these studies myself?

Oh, right they're here. That's right, Prabowo's studies, the ones predicting doomsday for Indonesia, are actually a fictional sci-fi thriller called Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War. Turns out he's been bringing copies of the book with him on the speech circuit, paraphrasing the text as if it's a real study analyzing a real future.

In the dark future of Ghost Fleet, Indonesia is a failed state after a disastrous second war with Timor and a collapse of the global oil industry. Pirates roam its waters without fear and criminals carved up huge swaths of the country. In P.W. Singer and August Cole's vision of the 2030, Indonesia is basically Southeast Asia's own Somalia, a dangerous, messed-up place trapped on the peripheries of a massive global conflict between two superpowers.

The Economist called it, "A wild book. A real page turner." OK, so maybe it's a good beach read, but it isn't exactly something to trot out as fact on the campaign trail, now is it?

Prabowo weathered the storm of embarrassment and criticism online, and then refused to walk back on his claim, adding in another speech that the authors are "strategic intelligence experts," who wrote a "scenario," that just happened to be in the form of a thriller that features a sex scene involving a woman who has cybernetic breasts.

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“This is a real phenomenon, so if you do not want to believe me, you do not want to hear that, that’s OK," Prabowo said at a recent speech in Jakarta. "It’s my obligation as a citizen, I have to speak up when I see danger.”

Fadli Zon, the deputy speaker of the house and the deputy chairman of the Gerindra Party, called Prabowo's speech a "reminder" for us to fix everything that's wrong with this country before it's too late.

It got us thinking, what other "studies" are out there that politicians can use to scare people into voting for them? And how can we prepare ourselves for these totally realistic, definitely happening realities before our entire country collapses? Read on.

This Is Not A Game, by Walter Jon Williams

In this vision of the future, the rupiah is nearly ten times weaker than it is today. Walter Jon Williams writes about a woman named Dagmar Shaw who is producing a video game called "Alternate Reality"—sick name, man—for her billionaire friend. In the novel, she heads to Bali, but has to stopover in a future version of the Indonesian capital. This is what she finds:

“…A lot of women wore headscarves or the white Islamic headdress. She went to the currency exchange to get some local currency, and found it closed. The exchange rates posted listed something like 110,000 rupiah to the dollar. Most of the shops and restaurants were also closed, even the duty-free and the chain stores in the large attached mall, where she wandered looking for a place to change her rupees for rupiah. The bank she found was closed. The ATM was out of order…” (page 6-7, First Edition, March 2009)

Oh my God, did you just read that? This study claims that in the future, the rupiah will only be worth Rp 110,000 to the US dollar. Our economy is going to fall apart, probably at the hands of the global elites and foreign powers in the West! This will seriously get any politician some votes, so I suggest running out and buying a copy of this "study" right here.

Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse, by James Wesley Rawles

In the novel Expatriates, Indonesia is actually pretty damn powerful. The country is so powerful that it invades Australia. But all of this power comes with a cost: Islamic fundamentalists rule the country. In this version of the future, Indonesia has undergone a process of "Acehnization," where liberalism and pluralism no longer exist. Here's what it looks like:

“Indonesia’s secular constitution was sharply eroded… The increasingly muzzled Indonesian press at first called this Acehinization but later more discreetly called it “moderation of morals or “return to devout values” (Chapter 11, The Missing Umbrella)

“In the new Indonesia, the radical imams had slowly been putting a theocracy in place for more than a decade” (Chapter 11, The Missing Umbrella)

“Most recently, under legislation of spearheaded by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Justice Welfare Party (PKS), kissing in public had been banned, as well as “lascivious clothing”. To some clerics, the new dress code was interpreted as head-to-toe coverage for women, even in Indonesia’s sweltering climate. All of these steps were heralded as “defense against Western decadence”. (Chapter 11, The Missing Umbrella)

Hey, want to see one dark version of the future no politician is brave enough to use as a campaign talking point? Well, there it is. And honestly, this is probably the most-realistic of the dystopias on the list, but warning of the coming fundamentalist future isn't going to win you any votes here.

You can find the full book here.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - Solid State Society

Mashamune Shirow's hit anime and manga series Ghost in the Shell was never known for its simplicity, and Indonesia's future presented in the stand-alone movie Solid State Society is pretty damn complex. In year 2034, the world has been dramatically changed by two world wars, one of them nuclear. Down in Indonesia, some people from Riau province somehow took over parts of southern Malaysia and Singapore to establish the Siak Republic—an Islamic Malay kingdom ruled by a sultan.

The plot of Solid State Society follows Section 9 as they investigate the mysterious deaths of several immigrants from the Siak Republic living in Japan—which is, in this future, a political and technological powerhouse of a nation. There are some three million "Asian refugees" living in Japan at the time, which is apparently really controversial (although it's hard to imagine a world where nuclear war only causes a mere three million people— about 1/3 of the population of Jakarta—to become refugees).

Mixed in that population are members of the Siak royal family living in exile who are being picked off by a "cyber brain hacker" named the Puppeteer who is forcing them to commit suicide. Like I said, it's really complicated, but it's also a pretty interesting idea. If Prabowo is right, and Indonesia is actually going to be destroyed by 2030, then surely some of us will become refugees right? I wonder what that speech would sound like…

Read the manga here or watch Solid State Society online.