Revisit Indonesian Nationalism at the Beginning of Independence

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Nationalism in everyday life is something fluid and dynamic. However, not a few groups limit nationalism to narrow and frozen meanings. The boundaries are usually placed on past romanticism, patriotism against the enemy, paranoia against the threat of the nation, possessive love for the country, or a passion for ideological rivalry.

These notions are valid in the context of that particular time, but not forever. However, not a few people also want these understandings to be perpetuated and preserved because there is a hidden purpose. However, are these beliefs accurate and sufficient to navigate the future?


The answer is relative, depending on the factors behind the birth and maintenance of nationalism in an era. However, before discussing this issue, it is necessary to first state how the printing press stimulates the growth of nationalism and how the pattern differs in several countries.

The moment when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1439 was a revolution. The world before Gutenberg was a solitary world in which individuals were very limited in imagining and imagining their surroundings and the conditions of those around them who might have the same fate as him.

The Gutenberg printing press allowed ideas, stories, news, events, and news to be shared with many people. Since then, the individual’s imagination about himself and his surrounding relatives who may have the same identity or fate begins to experience attachment. The availability of facilities for creativity encourages the birth of nationalism.

In his book, Imagined Communities (1995), Benedict Anderson says, “A nation is an imagined political community. It is imagined because most members of the group will never know, meet, or even hear of other family members. Even so, there is a communal image in their minds.” Imagination triggered by newspapers opens up collective awareness about the basis of collective kinship, which is confirmed socio-politically. However, the inauguration process is a steep road with different precedents in each society.

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