I. Overview:

Pancasila is the guiding state philosophy of Indonesia as described in the Preamble of the Constitution of Indonesia in 1945. It is a set of guiding principles for an independent Indonesia. As its name suggests, Pancasila contains five principles, which are considered as wholly interrelated and inseparable. These are:

1. Ketuhanan – monotheism

2. Kemanusiaan – universal civilized humanity

3. Kebangsaan – nationalism

4. Kerakyatan - representative democratic government

5. Keadilan Sosial - social justice

II. Detailed explanation of each principle:

In Ketuhanan, monotheism is expressed as belief in one and only God but not necessarily exclusive of any particular religion. Thus, this is a secular kind of monotheism, which can be embraced theoretically by all religious communities of Indonesia. This theory became practice during the 1950s when the State determined sympathy to Communism based on whether one adhered to the principle of Ketuhanan.

Kemanusiaan calls for upholding human dignity and does not tolerate oppression of fellow human beings by either physical or spiritual means. This extends to both individuals in Indonesia as well as to nation-states in the international community.

Kebangsaan is nationalism expressed as the belief in the unity and integrity of the Indonesian state. It also calls for Indonesians regardless of backgrounds to treat one another equally and without condescension (or feeling of superiority over other Indonesians). An example of Kebangasaan, is the Bahasa Indonesia language which was constructed especially as a national language.

With Kerakyatan, Pancasila takes on its unique interpretation of representative democracy and government. Representative government is conducted by discussion and deliberation which leads to a consensus.

Keadilan Sosial calls for social justice based on sharing the nation's natural resources and other assets for the maximum benefit for all of the Indonesian people

III. Issues with Pancasila:

Needless to say, the philosophy of Pancasila has caused conflict with some believers in Islam, the predominant religion of Indonesia. Some Indonesian Muslims have expressed their view that the Pancasila philosophy demotes the status of Islam in Indonesian society. Moreover, the principle of Ketuhanan being a secular kind of monotheism as a opposed to Islamic monotheism or Tawhid, apparently equates Islam with other religions in Indonesia such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. Thus, there are periodical challenges to Pancasila from certain segments of Muslims in Indonesia

IV. Conclusion:

While Pancasila is very broad-based and general, it can take on different interpretations and applications. This can be seen in the differences on how Pancasila was interpreted between the Sukarno and Suharto regimes. Even today in Indonesia, various political forces seek to redefine the principles of Pancasila or overturn it entirely. However, as a basis of unity for such a diverse and vast country, Pancasila continues to have a secure future as the guiding state philosophy of Indonesia.

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