The Daily Diary of a Demonstrator

After reading the Handbook for Bloggers, my mind wandered to an earlier version of blogs.

In the 50s and 60s, there were obviously no blogs nor the internet. But writers could still write. One medium of writing which is quite close to blogging is the diary. Of course, writing in paper diaries are not the same as writing the internet blog. When you write an entry in your diary, other people don’t get to read it. You have to wait until you get a publisher to print your diaries and get it sold in bookstores! And then you have to endure the terrible process of editing. Many of original entries and wordings will definitely be butchered by those editors who think they know better about your story than you. In contrast, blogs provide an avenue where you have the luxury to publish raw and uncensored thoughts.

Soe Hok Gie wrote his diaries during the turbulent times in Indonesia – when he was a teenager, until his premature death. His diary has been published a number of times – with the title Catatan Harian Seorang Demonstran. This diary is an alternative platform for Gie to voice out his opinions.

Soe Hok Gie is a nobody. He is not a great leader. He is a not a literary figure. But he had a critical mind and he dared to ask difficult questions. Such traits are almost similar to bloggers of today. Most bloggers are nobody, most of them are not great leaders; however some bloggers have critical minds and some dare to pose difficult questions in their blogs.

Today, bloggers have their blogs that serve as diaries. Blogs are a vast improvement from the old diaries. With blogs, one can instantly spread his or her opinions without waiting for a publisher!

Soe Hok Gie fits nicely into the ‘dissident category’ (which is described in the handbook). He rebelled against Sukarno’s Guided Democracy. He participated in many demonstrations that precede Sukarno’s downfall. And he is also critical of the New Order regime. In fact he was too critical to the New Order; the news papers which used to published his earlier articles refuse to let him publish anymore.

In the same manner, many of those ‘independent’ bloggers who claim to blog about society and politics are” also cyber-dissidents”. Bloggers as cyber-dissidents also face threats of censorship in many forms.

If Gie is alive today, I am sure he would have an online diary. Sometimes I wonder if there is any blogger out there who has the same traits and characteristics as Gie.

And so, I would recommend to those bloggers who aspire to be agents of (social) change and those aspire to be democracy activist that reading Catatan Harian Seorang Demonstran is worth your time.

As has been told by one Indonesian friend, Gie’s Catatan Harian Seorang Demonstran is a major handbook for many Indonesian democracy activists. Perhaps aspiring democracy activists out there might learn some things from Soe Hok Gie’s diary.

Soe Hok Gie’s diary is in Bahasa Indonesia. There are also other publications about him – see this entry Soe Hok Gie by Djaman Doeloe. This entry also provide some background information on Gie.


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