Thursday, June 2
Lipstick on a Pig
Here is a question. Name the world government in 2005 that ...
*cherishes the social, economic, political and intrusive personal controls that accompany feudal state ownership of land,
*accepts agricultural failures and eternal famine as the price of power
*assumes that feeding millions who are not free to care for themselves is a job for foreigners,
*pretends to value liberal and free market reform to attract Western cash and loans that keep the tottering state of continuous crisis upright
*dominates the economy through party and state ownership of businesses and monopolies at every level,
*discourages native entrepreneurship and foreign investment for fear that non-state development will lead to independent sources of individual and mass wealth and strength
*accepts economic failures and eternal destitution as the price of power
*manages a structurally corrupt system of patronage and cronyism where development of civil society is discouraged and political power and wealth can’t be separated
*is supported by a highly disciplined party that is jealous of even imagined rivals, suspicious, totally non-transparent, brutal and vengeful,
*is inseparable from a rubber stamp parliament and neutered judiciary
... and it also ...
*divides millions via a tribal 'federation' of legally 'independent' vassal states (bantustans) that are held together by party discipline, manipulation and force
*values the role of language in society and the public sphere in terms of an endless propaganda and public relations campaign,
*lovingly maintains a pyramid of secret police, spies, cadres and informers over a population of millions, namely the whole country, who are all naturally suspect as potential enemies of the people
*spreads the tentacles of its illegal espionage network abroad to donor nations using its embassies and consulates to sow intimidation and threats in diaspora communities,
*prays at the altar of a guiding Marxist - Leninist - Maoist ideology
*is nostalgic for the good old days when being a “Marxist Leninist League” and aspiring to Albanian Communism was socially acceptable
*yearns for the return of a time when talk of bourgeoisie nonsense like human rights was simply counter-revolutionary and cause for the permanent cure of 'revolutionary measures'.
... you might just have a communist dictatorship in mind. Still not sure? Then check for these sure signs...
*devotion to the 'people'.
*much love for the 'workers' and the 'peasants'.
*like total respect for the ‘masses’
*an eternal need for ‘liberation’ from everyone else
*commitment to permanent ’revolution’ as the only way to get reality right
*understanding that a vanguard party has to run the revolution
*appreciation that a vanguard party has to have unquestioned leaders and discipline
*wisdom that the politburo knows best
.... definitely communists right? Well to be certain look for the following unmistakable sign ...
*the people are poor and they are not free and they are tired of it.
Well then, you are definitely talking about a Communist government - but which one is it in the year 2005?
Ethiopia's government is the right answer.
The tip-off is the ethnic divide and rule clue. Manipulating ethnicity to challenge traditional states and to cripple rivals was a hallmark of Soviet Communism - and that country no longer exists.
Ethiopia's official state ideology of Revolutionary Democracy is assembled from bits of Lenin and Mao pulled out of the trash can of history. It is about as new or non-Communist as North Korea's Juche Ideology and Cuba's own Revolutionary Democracy.
The bit about Albanian Communism also takes North Korea and Cuba out of the running. Furthermore, Pyonyang and Havana have found nuclear blackmail and sexual tourism to be reliable sources of finance so they don't have to play games to please aid donors.
Observers used to joke that when the TPLF captured towns from Mengistu's Marxist regime, they would take down the ubiquitous portraits of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Lenin in government offices, and replace them with even larger ones.What really changed? The new sect of the church of Marx and Lenin realized at the same time Mengistu did, that they would have to pretend to be ex-Communists to get Western cash.
Everyone knew Mengistu too well to buy his act but it seems to have worked for his replacements.
We don't intend to use the word communist pejoratively - it is just that every government that ever takes it seriously always seems to treat the people, the workers and the masses rather badly.
Even noticing, in the 21st century, the contemporary forms of Communism may seem odd to some. Tragically, 70 million Ethiopians still live with the residual nightmare of that ideology and its manifest failures and inhumanity.
Why is Ethiopia stuck with this resistant cancer? Everyone already knows it is a failure at delivering freedom and prosperity anywhere. The one thing it is intended to do, it does very well - it assures absolute control for and total justification of all acts by a tiny revolutionary aristocracy.
It will, of course, all fall apart eventually but it just might take Ethiopia with it. Meanwhile millions of lives and more years are being ruined and wasted.
Go through the checklist above when you encounter the hype of this government and its cadres - it will be quite clear what you are seeing and hearing.
Remember this bit of folk wisdom, "you can put lipstick and a fancy dress on a pig - but all you get is a made up, dressed up pig".