Sink or Float Most all cultures in the Southeast Asian region have a very deep and interesting history, with people that have a burning love for their country and the many traditions and beliefs that have been passed down through generations. This has been the case since the existence of these cultures and civilizations as they are still intact in our present day and age. However, many people from these cultures have a strange fascination with the western world, and the many intricacies of its culture that seem so different from their own. What is so fascinating about the western world that has caused so many emotions, both negative and positive to arise, and why has this term provided much change in many of these ancient civilizations? Obsessiveness for western culture has arisen from the pure human interest of wanting what one currently does not have as well as the unavoidable thirst for competition. It is this thirst for competition that causes change throughout the world and has both created and destroyed civilizations in the process.
People are constantly looking around, judging and examining others. This stays true when looking at how countries and civilizations view and compete with each other. If they see another country having success in many areas it is most likely that they will try to mimic or even build upon what they see to better themselves, or in this case their country. Competition is what has driven the world to what it has become today. “Taking for granted an essentialized dichotomy between East and West, Takdir looked to Western civilization as an example of progress, modernity, and individual freedom” (Takdir 283). Takdir represents Indonesian society and believed the west was completely different from the east and that the west was moving forward in the new age of civilization a lot faster than the east. The east did not necessarily hate or dislike their way of living. In fact if the west did not exist, they would most likely have kept on with how they were progressing through the ages. The west was just having more success as a nation and in order to compete with that success it was necessary to mimic traits of western society that would put them on a similar path towards advancement. Takdir puts heavy emphasis on the fact that “[…] individual freedom constitutes the only salvation for our society in its survival of the modern age” (Takdir 284).In order for a civilization to remain relevant in the world, they must compete with the other countries that are finding great success in the new age and mimic what they are doing.
Many see the differences of western society and the cultures of the east to be as different as black and white. With two such varying ideals within such a relatively small space it is almost as if they are at war with each other; “The victory of the Western world over our country is to a large extent the victory of Western Individualism over Indonesian collectivism” (Takdir 283). As Takdir examines the two ideologies, he comes up with the associations of individualism to represent Western culture and collectivism to represent Indonesian culture. He believes that Western society has won over collectivism. When putting the two societies against each other in such a plain and simple but yet violent matter it seems as if Takdir has come to term with this new reality and understands why it has come to be but yet seems to have a slight hint of resentment. Earlier he had stated
“[t]he old society, which is founded on customs, full of beliefs in magic, oriented toward unity as communalism, has been shaken to its roots by the onslaught of the west. In fact, it suffers considerable damage; grievances and tears will not be able to help us in any way. We must reflect deeply on what has happened and try to learn as much from it as we can” (Takdir 283).
This shows he has appreciation and great pride for his culture as it was before but acts as