President Soekarno of Indonesia

Appearing at the official opening of  the JakArt@2008 General Conference

Aug 1 - 15.45 hrs, Shanghai Night, Hotel Sultan Jakarta

This twenty-first century has been a period of terrific dynamism. Perhaps the last one hundred years have seen more developments and more material progress than the previous five hundred years together. Man has learned to control many of the scourges which once threatened him. He has learned to consume distance. He has learned to project his voice and his picture across oceans and continents.

He has probed deep into the secrets of nature and learned how to make the desert bloom and the plants of the earth increase their bounty. He has learned how to release the immense forces locked in the smallest particles of matter. But have man's political skills marched hand-in-hand with his technical and scientific skills? Man can chain lightning to his command - can he control the society in which he lives? The answer is No! The political skills of man have been far outstripped by technical skills, and what lie has made he he cannot be sure of controlling.

The result of this is fear. And man gasps for safety and morality.

Perhaps now more than at any other moment in the history of the world, society, government and statesmanship need to be based upon the highest code of morality and ethics. And in political terms, what is the highest code of morality? It is the subordination of everything to the well-being of mankind. But today we are faced with a situation where the well-being of mankind is not always the primary consideration. Many who are in places of high power think, rather, of controlling the world.

Yes, we are living in a world of fear. The life of man today is corroded and made bitter by fear. Fear of the future, fear of the creativity, fear of ideologies. Perhaps this fear is a greater danger than the danger itself, because it is fear which drives men to act foolishly, to act thoughtlessly, to act dangerously. . . .

All of us, I am certain, are united by more important things than those which superficially divide us. We are united, for instance, by a common detestation of colonialism in whatever form it appears. We are united by a common detestation of racialism. We are united by a common respect for freedom of expression and human rights. And we are united by a common determination to promote and develop the arts in the world. . . .

We are often told "Colonialism is dead." Let us not be deceived or even soothed by that. I say to you, colonialism is not yet dead. And, I beg of you do not think of colonialism only in the classic form which we of Indonesia, and our brothers in different parts of Asia and Africa, knew. Colonialism has also its modern dress, in the form of economic control, intellectual control, cultural control, even actual physical control by a small but alien community. It is a skilful and determined enemy, and it appears in many guises. It does not give up its loot easily. Wherever, whenever and however it appears, colonialism is an evil thing, and one which must be eradicated from the earth. . . .

Not so very long ago we argued that developing the arts was necessary for us because an outbreak of ignorance in our part of the world would imperil our precious independence, so recently won at such great cost.

Today, the picture is more black. Ignorance and lack of real culture mean a threat to our independence, it may mean the end of civilization and even of human life. There is a force loose in the world whose potentiality for evil no man truly knows, that may well be building up into something of unknown horror.

Not so long ago it was possible to take some little comfort from the idea that the clash of civilizations, if it came, could perhaps be settled by what we called "inter-cultural dialogue”. Today that little grain of comfort is denied us for it has been made clear that weapons of ultimate horror and control will certainly be used to achieve control and subjugation, and the strategic planning of nations is on that basis. The unconventional has become the conventional, and who knows what other examples of misguided and diabolical scientific and social skills have been discovered as a plague on humanity.

And do not think that the our history and our cultural heritage will protect us. Today we have forgotten our past and forsaken our cultural heritage, yes, and contaminated by ideas originating from thousands of miles away we have forbidden ourselves the pleasures of imagination and creative thinking. And it could be that, even if we ourselves survived this cultural desert, the unborn generations of our children would bear on their distorted bodies  and  their souls the marks of our failure to control the forces which have been released on the world.

No task is more urgent than that of promoting the arts. Without culture our independence means little. The rehabilitation and building of our countries will have little meaning. Our revolutions will not be allowed to run their course. . . .

What can we do? We can do much! We can inject the voice of reason into world affairs. We can mobilize all the spiritual, all the moral, all the political strength of Asia and Africa on the side of Culture. Yes, we! We, the peoples of Asia and Africa, 3,500,000,000 strong, far more than half the human population of the world, we can mobilize what I have called the Moral Violence of Nations in favor of the Arts. We can demonstrate to the minority of the world which lives on the other continents that we, the majority are for art and culture and that whatever strength we have will always be thrown on to the side of progress.

In this struggle, some success has already been scored. I think it is generally recognized that the activity of the AAPAF, the Sponsoring Organization which invited you here, has an important role to play in promoting the importance of the arts and culture in developing the 21st century.

Look, the peoples of Asia raised their voices, and the world listened. It is no small victory and no negligible precedent! The festivals consulted together, discussed the issues, pooled their ideas, added together their individual skills and came forward with sound and reasoned suggestions which formed the basis for the long struggle for the creativity of the human race.

I have often asked myself why the AAPAF festivals were successful when others, with long records , were unsuccessful, and, in fact, had allowed a bad situation to get worse,. . . I think that the answer really lies in the fact that the AAPAF festivals brought a fresh approach to bear on the problem. They were not seeking advantage for their own countries. They had no axe of power-politics to grind. They had but one interest-how to end cultural oblivion. . . .

So, let this AAPAF Conference be a great success! Make the "Live and let live" principle and the "Unity in Diversity" motto the unifying force which brings us all together-to seek in friendly, uninhibited discussion, ways and means by which each of us can live his own life, and let others live their own lives, in their own way, in harmony, and in peace.

If we succeed in doing so, the effect of it for the freedom, independence and the welfare of man will be great on the world at large. The Light of Understanding has again been lit, the Pillar of Cooperation again erected. The likelihood of success of this Conference is proved already by the very presence of you all here today. It is for us to give it strength, to give it the power of inspiration-to spread its message all over the World.

Let us dream together. Reality begins where Fantasy ends!





JakArt secretariat: Jln. Lebak Bulus II / 20 A, Cilandak – Jakarta 12430, INDONESIA
Tel/ fax: + 62-21-75907687, Tel: + 62-21-70830742,