Saturday, March 5

respect for Jamaica & kick Chou to the curb

Fabian's Hammer has a listing of former Maoist-oriented Marxist-Leninist communist party members. The most fascinating is Yemane (Jamaica) Kidane,
former Maoist fighter against the Ethiopian military junta with the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF). His poems from the 1970s were published this year in English in "Soaring Spirits" (Commercial Information Agency). He is now a retired civil servant who believes in an evolutionary process rather than a revolutionary one.

“‘I am rather sobered by the experience of life. In hindsight, Haile Selassie’s continuation with a peaceful transition would have been much better than what we have now. Had the violent period of the Derg been avoided, we could have brought about economic development through a peaceful struggle. I was an idealist then, I am a realist now. A realist and pragmatist."
It is hard not to admire someone with such an honest view of the vagaries of life and of his generation in particular.

While it is also impossible to argue that Haile Sellassie's rule was ideal but it did have the significant virtue of not being revolutionary. Therefore, the foundations of tradition could be used as a base for reform in the same manner as dozens of successful societies worldwide. That society had a real vision of a better future without destroying everything in its way.

If the past century, actually the past centuries, have taught us anything it is that radical re-organizations of society and mantra-derived solutions are harmful and invariably lead nowhere good.

The lessons range from the palpable messianic evil of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia to the local but similiarly loathsome Afro-Socialism of Siad Barre's Somalia or Mengistu's Ethiopia and the Clerical Dictatorship that is Khomeni's legacy in Iran. All were bloody and needed someone to ritually blame based on religion, ethnicity or social class - with inhuman results.

In comparison, South Africa's ANC, India's Congress Party and even Algeria's FLN were relatively conservative and therefore delusion free even though they are remembered as radical, socialist or revolutionary. They wanted national independence and power but with no 'spiritual' vision of creating heaven on earth at the direction of party visionaries and at great cost to their own people or a targeted minority.

Their relatively firm grip on reality kept them within the more rational limits of the left-right continuum avoiding the frank evil at either end. Thus they either propelled, or at a minimum preserved, the ability of their societies to advance in the future by preserving the parts of the past that deserved it.

Those who can't look back critically can't move forward without delusions guarded so jealously that barbarism is a necessary result.

justifying radical barbarism

Chou En Lai (Zhou Enlai)was once asked for his judgement of the French Revolution. He answered, "it is too early to tell". Many come across this comment and are either impressed by his long view of history or imagine they have heard something really deep.

We aren't impressed. Chou, however blindly dedicated he was to Communism and party discipline, was well aware of the damage that he had helped do to China by the ruinous policies of Mao. His Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution cost tens of millions of lives and kept China down for decades.

Imagine an alternate Cold War history where American interests were based on keeping China radical, weak and poor instead of a secure capitalist anti-Soviet ally, Mao could easily have been an 'American Candidate' right there in the Forbidden City.

Chou, while still a lackey of Mao had some minimal moral or more likely practical compass. He managed behind the scenes to preserve what was possible and to help keep some like Deng Xiaping alive who saved China in the end.

The right answer to the question about the French revolution was that aside from some cool slogans, and maybe Napoleonic Law, the whole thing was a bloody mess and a waste of time. The French ended up with a campaign of terror directed by the first modern totalitarian state and an eventual military dictatorship far worse than the king ever could have been ... as well as a series of disastrous world wars.

Europe was damaged not just by war but because the kind of democratic reform that the English were managing to carry out gradually was discredited. Despite the shocks of 1848, absolute monarchy managed a death grip on Continental political progress until the aftermath of World War I and probably helped to cause the war. Even then liberal politics were often stillborn with the advent of the ever more rapacious revolutionary catastrophes of the 20th century.

Arguably, France did not get its act together until the late 1960s and 1970s to become a stable liberal democracy. During and after the Algerian crisis, de Gaulle was effectively a popular but unmistakably military dictator.

Chou was consciously defending himself in his answer. Having been Mao's consigliere for so long, how could he be honest and face himself?

please ... more jamaicas and no more of chous

Yemane (Jamaica) Kidane, obviously, has a cleaner conscience than Chou's could ever be, and he has the courage to have experienced a reformation that is notable for the honor it brings him and his comrades.

There are more out there ... even if they don't say so in public. Isn't it time for rational policies and enough with the pretense.

Sometimes we still can't get over actually having to consider the nasty varieties of communism worthy of discussion ... in 2005! With its land policies, ethnic manipulation, ruinous economics and 'revolutionary democracy' the Ethiopian governance is like a museum of ancient horrors for most Ethiopians while pretending for foreigners sake to be a showcase for progress.

Hellooooo, Earth to radicals, come in radicals ... revolution is like so totally last century!

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