Beyond the March revolution

Malaysians still await the prospect of a radical paradigm shift – a regime change.


Azly Rahman

There is a sense of euphoria in the experimentation of this idea of total shift in power arrangements, albeit the current ruling regime’s jealous guarding of power; one grabbed, kept, and hegemonized via Machiavellian means. Politics aside and the question of who should rule as being immaterial, the big picture of change can easily be constructed. The idea of genuine freedom and independence lie at the core of this prospect of change.

Independence and freedom are not slogans but an existential state of mind and a condition of ‘lived and experienced meaningful democracy’, one in which citizens are aware of how oppressive systems are cultivated. We cannot be independent until we arrive at these historical junctures, and until we do the following:

1. Free the human mind from all forms of dogmas, superstitions, mental chains, hegemonic formations, and transitional levels of totalitarianism. Our educational system at all levels must strengthen the scientific and philosophical foundation of its curriculum and practices to effect changes in the higher-order thinking skills of the next generation. We should not tolerate any forms of bigotry, racial chauvinism, and retarded form of democracy in our educational system.

2. Understand the relationship between the ‘self and the system of social relations of production’ and how the self becomes alienated and reduced to labour and appendages and cogs in the wheels of industrial system of production — a system that hides under the name of the corporatist nation and any other term that masks the real exploitation of the human self.

3. Make ourselves aware that our social systems, through the rapid development of technology and its synthesis with local and international predatory culture, have helped create classes of human beings that transform their bodies into different classes of labour (manual, secretarial, managerial, militarial, intellectual, and capital-owning) that is now shaping the nature of class antagonism locally and globally.

4. Understand how our political, economic, cultural institutions have evolved and are created out of the vestiges of newer forms of colonialism, institutions that are built upon the ideology of race-based interpretations of human and material development that benefit the few who own the means of cultural, material, and intellectual production.

5. Understand how ideologies that oppress humanity works, how prevailing political, economic, cultural ideologies help craft false consciousness and create psychological barriers to the creation of a society that puts the principles of social contract into practice.

6. Be aware of how our physical landscape creates spaces of power and knowledge and alienates us and how huge structural transformations such as the Multimedia Super Corridor or those emerging corridors that create a new form of technological city-scape (technopoles) that benefits local and international real estate profiteers more that they provide more humane living spaces for the poor and the marginalised in an increasingly cybernated society.

7. Be fully aware of the relationship between science, culture, and society and how these interplay with contemporary global challenges and how we clearly or blindly adopt these rapid changes and transform them into our newer shibboleths of developmentalism – one such policy being the National BioTechnology Program.

8. Put a halt to the systemic stupefication of academicians and students in our public universities by first incorporating Academic Freedom Clauses in their mission statements and next enculturalising intellectualism in these learning environments. The public universities must be restructured based on a new paradigm of leadership. Leaders that enable the ability of our students and faculty to think must be removed and replaced with those that pay allegiance to truth. “Veritas!” or “Truth!” as Harvard University slogan decries.

9. Design an economic system founded upon socialistic principles that meet the needs of the many and curb our enthusiasm to consume conspicuously and consequently create a society divided by classes and a postmodern caste system. Rethink the progressive dimension of nationalization instead of pursuing the excesses of privatization. What good would Malaysia do if its leaders are siphoning the nation’s wealth by the billions, stashing them in places such as Switzerland and the Cayman Island?

10. Restructure the entire education system that would not only create some variant of a classless society but also one that would evolve into a reflective one instead of being rushed to death along the path of Wall Street by those who owns the means of production.

The ten propositions above could represent a set of principles needed for this country to construct an economically, morally, culturally, and intellectually sustainable foundation of a new nation.

How do we even begin to do this? This – is the essential question for the March revolution, beyond the euphoria. Do we now have the right leaders with the right stuff to engineer such a massive change?