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The Rhizome State: Democratizing Indonesia's Off-Budget Economy

Baker, J. (2015) The Rhizome State: Democratizing Indonesia's Off-Budget Economy. Critical Asian Studies, 47 (2). pp. 309-336.

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What kinds of states are financed by illicit monies? Does the source of state revenue matter for state formation? This article examines these questions in the context of democratizing Indonesia by analyzing licit and illicit sources of Indonesian police financing and the ways in which illicit practices of extraction and accumulation reshape the structure of the state. Budgetary revenues are both deficient and poorly organized by the Indonesian police (POLRI), continuing practices of fiscal maladministration and rent seeking that defined Suharto's New Order. This article demonstrates how this legacy continues within today's police by illustrating how on- and off-budget financing both resources police work and feeds centralized patron-clientalism through an ethics of “dirty-money” that ultimately sees rents flow upwards to police leadership. However, as Indonesia's neoliberal style democratization fragments centralized patronage into a shifting and unstable patron-clientalism, established patterns of rent accumulation and circulation and the moral-legal regimes that support them break down. In an uncertain environment, officers of all ranks canvass the political system, forming increasingly diverse networks that they hope will secure rents and their political future. Reworking Jean François Bayart's original use of the term, this, the author argues, is “the rhizome state.”

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: Asia Research Centre
School of Management and Governance
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Copyright: Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars
Notes: Published online: 19 May 2015
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