Anderson’s ‘pre-modern’ position is supported by other scholars, includingEmmerson. However, despite his agreement on the significance of the past,Emmerson was more direct in rejecting the existence of Indonesian pre-Independence nationalism by stating “
Indonesia was state before it became anation. In consequence, rather than the nation straightforwardly growing astate through which to organize itself, the Indonesian nation has been called into being by—and substantially for—a pre-existing state
” (Emmerson, 2005,p.8-9).In addition, another perspective about this issue is worthy of inclusion. OnAugust 1945, a few days after the declaration of defeat by the Japaneseduring the Pacific War, Sukarno and others declared the birth of theIndonesian state - historically marking their action with a document containinga brief statement later known as
Naskah Proklamasi 1945
Kami, Bangsa Indonesia, dengan ini menyatakan kemerdekaan Indonesia.Hal-hal yang mengenai pemindahan kekuasaan, d.l.l. diselenggarakandengan cara seksama dan dalam tempo yang sesingkat-singkatnya.Jakarta, 17-8-1945 Atas nama bangsa Indonesia(Signed) Sukarno-Hatta----------------
“We, the Indonesian people
herebydeclare the independence of Indonesia. Matters concerning the transfer of power, etc., will be carried out in a conscientious manner and as speedily aspossible.Jakarta, 17 August 1945.In the name of the people of Indonesia,[signed] Sukarno-Hatta” (Ricklefs, 1981, p.198).
Observing this text from a literal perspective, at least two important pointsstand out:
is that the new state called Indonesia was declared by anation named “
”---the Indonesian Nation;
is thatSukarno, Hatta, or whoever were involved in this milestone (those most likelyconsidered as the “project-makers”) were declaring themselves to be actingon behalf of that nation. At least for Sukarno and his circle, Indonesiannationalism pre-existed the state and not vice-versa.
The text was collectively drafted by Sukarno, Hatta, and Ahmad Subarjo. Other individualssuch as Sayuti Melik. BM Diah, Sukarni, and Sudiro were present but admittedly didn’t contribute onthe drafting of the text. See: HATTA, M. (1969)
Sekitar Proklamasi 17 Agustus 1945,
Ricklefs translates the Indonesian word “Bangsa” into English as ”People”, whereas in thiscontext Indonesians would rather use the word “Nation” instead of “People”. This needs to be clarifiedas in certain circumstance, especially for an analytical objective, “People” is not parallel with “Nation”.