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Viewpoints of Prominent PKS Parliamentarians on the Future Development of PKS in Indonesia
May 19, 2012 by Dr. Farish A. Noor
Q. And you (PKS) are not worried about the image of a militant and violent Islam they create?
FH: When they end up making all Muslims look bad, intolerant and violent, then yes we are upset. But on their own they are just a nuisance. And why should we worry if they look like extremists? Its even better for us because that makes PKS look even more moderate in the eyes of outsiders! (laughs)
Q. And how does the PKS deal with the possibility that some of its members might be attracted to the sort of violent, uncompromising rhetoric of groups like HTI, FPI, MMI, etc? It is well known by now that PKS is a cadre-based party where membership and promotion within its ranks is linked to a cadre-training system that is strict and regimental. Has this saved PKS from losing its members to the more radical groups?
FH: Of course we as a party cannot be responsible for each and every one of our members, and even I have to admit that there is no total control over everyone in PKS. But our cadre-training system is focused on the individual, so that it ends up creating independent-minded Muslims who know why they support PKS, and want to support PKS.
The main idea that we inculcate in our cadre training is the concept of universalism and the value of rationalism. We tell our new members from the outset: “Even anarchy is better than authoritarianism” (“Kebebasan yang anarkis jauh lebih baik dari autoritarianisme”) Why? Because our cadres need to be thinking cadres, who think and know and want to support our cause. It has to be part of them, it has to come naturally from them, and not out of force or fear.
Our training sessions do not just include the works of the thinkers of the Ikhwan or the Jama’at-e Islami, but also philosophical texts that force them to think outside the box. We need them to be thinking cadres, and it is this that emboldens them as well.
That’s the difference between our cadre training and that of groups like FPI, HTI or whatever: They just spread fear among their members, fear of punishment, fear of hell. (Anti-dosa, anti–kiamat). But we on the other hand want our members to act out of conviction and that can only come about when they have been tried and tested intellectually.
While the state is the goal of our party, we point out to all our members that the state is just part of our social obligation as Muslims. But remember, as believing Muslims we are tested and judged in the hereafter not on the basis of collective action, but private, individual action. On the day of judgement God will not question humanity as a collective, but rather each and every believer as an individual – hence the focus of our cadre training is to the building of the individual member.
Q. But it is state capture that you teach as the primary objective of political struggle isn’t it?
FH: Not solely. For the state is just part of the struggle. True it is the main goal and the main prize so to speak. But we also remind our cadres that there is also the civil society, the media, the market, etc.
Some political movements almost come to see the state as something magical, like Hobbes’ Leviathan. It is as if they think that once you win the state then you have everything in your hands to control. But today the state is just the overarching superstructure. There is the media, the market, civil society movements, the education system, etc. which have to be won over as well.
So while we do want political power and we have never hidden that fact, we also tell our cadres that they can change society by operating at all levels, such as controlling the media or setting the agenda in the domain of public intellectual discourse.