Wednesday, September 28

The Original Gangsta

party up,
opposition down,
peasants and workers can't swim?
they're bound to drizown!

O.G. Enver Hoxha
(with apologies to Snoop Dogg)

An ‘O.G.’ or ‘Original Gangster‘ is the founder of a street gang or any older gang member. For our purposes, such gangs are considered to be in the proverbial 'game', not of street life, but that of totalitarian violence and power. Seriously, what is the difference?

O.G. used as an adjective is "a street-level mentality [of] no remorse or concessions for a person's (or group's ) behavior associated with violence [...] A way of life, of sorts, that doesn't provide explanations or apologies."

Sounds even more like the rules of the revolutionary dictatorship game doesn't it? So who are the O.G.'s of Ethiopian Revolutionary Democracy? We have certainly discussed Marx, Lenin and Mao in these pages but the real O.G. of current Ethiopian governance is Enver Hoxha

Who? Well, Hoxha was the long time absolute ruler of Albania who could have given Kim Il Sung himself, lessons in the art of isolated despotism. He is also the point of all the mentions over the years of the TPLF and its commitment to Albanian Communism .

His memory is certainly subject to much disrespect of late since his policies are being used to simulate fake capitalism and democracy ...

from a young g's perspective

... however, his spirit remains alive and well in Addis Ababa. Here is how, according to one of the founders of the TPLF who does us all the great service of examining history honestly , how a decades old ideological dilemma led to Hoxha's brain being transplanted to an Ethiopia that certainly deserved better.
The unyielding response of Zenawi’s regime to all the popular and legitimate calls of the Ethiopian people and political organisations could also be scrutinised from another dimension. In 1985 a party, officially known as the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray (MLLT) was established within the TPLF, Meles Zenawi as its chief ideologue.

In its constitution, this party declared that: MLLT, as the core of the future Ethiopian Marxist Leninist Party [the Dergue already had a Worker's Party of Ethiopia in place but that was an example of rank heresy to the MLLT], is the only correct party free from all sorts of revisionism (Trotskyism, Maoism...) that could constitute a proletarian-peasant dictatorship to liberate the Ethiopian people (Constitution of MLLT 1985:1).

Any other political organisation that does not ideologically correspond to that of MLLT’s was labelled ‘reactionary’ and ‘anti-people’, and hence should be cleansed. In an interview with The Independent, at the end of 1989, the present Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, asserted that “the Soviet Union and other Eastern-bloc countries have never been truly socialist.

The nearest any country comes to being socialist as far as we are concerned is Albania” (The Independent, 28 Nov. 1989). To him, as was clearly maintained in the same interview, only this party could lead to a “fully democratic state” (Ibid). The officially published programme and declarations of the MLLT and TPLF are no longer visible since Zenawi joined the camp of the US; he prefers not even to mention that he was a leftist.

Eclectic as it appears, Zenawi’s policies have drawn the whole country into a state of chaos and confusion, because of the incompatibility between what he thinks and what he does.
Notice the slick convenience and blessing of language, definition and of every assumption (even more evident today) for the mission of the MLLT.

When you define, far ahead of time that 'the people' and 'democracy' is whatever is good for a tiny revolutionary feudal aristocracy - it is like pre-emptively winning every discussion, argument and election way ahead of time no matter what anyone else may think.

If you aren't down with the MLLT, you are against the people by definition ... and you live on borrowed time.

Why was Hoxha and his isolated and dirt poor Albania held up as an ideal? At the time the high priests of Communism in Moscow had already laid their hands on Mengistu and proclaimed him their true disciple in Africa. Not only that, but the Soviet Union was in the midst of falling apart under its own inherent contradictions as well as turning into a hotbed of revisionism and reaction under Gorbachev.

The Soviets would normally have been happy to switch support to Meles if he fought his way into the Gibee but they clearly could not be counted on any longer. The Chinese were even worse from a young g's perspective. While the Soviets were at least trying to hang onto Lenin with the insincere N.E.P. like trick of Perestroika, Beijing had totally abandoned Mao in all but name.

China no longer had time to meet with radicals on the revolutionary convention circuit. They were too busy making money the old fashioned way - with a functional level of capitalism grafted onto China. Even today after the Ethiopian government endorsed the invasion of Taiwan and reaches out with deep yearning for an alliance or help of some sort, (for old times sake presumably because it has nothing to offer China), China will do no more than spare a line of propaganda in Xinhau every week or so and will spare no real cash at all.

So what was to be done when the league was being abandoned by all the old gods, comrades and increasingly left even further behind by history?

The fact that the Russians and Chinese had never really been socialists anyway, at least according to party theoritician Meles, explained why they and all of their minions were utter failures at not only creating the paradise of Communism on earth but even at feeding themselves or functioning at some bare level of subsistence.

Their cardinal sin, however, and the one that could never be forgiven was not properly maintaning the party's absolute power and the purity of its history. There could be no greater crime by anyone than that. Thus the failure of Communism in every nation it was ever tried at doing anything but giving power to a despotism could be explained by the fact that it wasn't really Communism after all!

That is where Enver and Albania came in. The MLLT, with Meles at the helm could take over the TPLF and then Ethiopia with an example st before all that was so absurd and unbelievable that no one could even argue against it. Hey, the reasoning became, it is so obscure and wierd that it must really be deep and meaningful if it is being talked about. Wrong.

creepin' while you're sleepin'

Albania broke with Stalin because he was too liberal back in the 1950s! After decades of being sustained by Chinese aid and wasting it as well , Albania broke with Deng after the death of Mao, and thus had nowhere else to turn but even more inwards. By the time the totalitarian states of Eastern Europe were all collapsing in the late 1980s, Albania was the poorest, the most isolated and least free of them all.

Albania in the late 1980s was more of a mess than it is possible to imagine.

Did that deter the decision to emulate Albania on the part of the MLLT? No it encouraged it. Having already usurped the just cause of the Tigrayan people and caught between tyrant Mengistu and an alliance of temporary convenience with the EPLF, Meles & Co. had to find some model and justification for their policies and to show how they were going to make it all work out in the end.

They needed to resurect that old revolutionary spirit. Nothing less than a religious revival was needed to keep the essential contradictions of Communism, its manifest failures worldwide, the dead end of tribalism and the fact that Tigrayans were part of the very essence of Ethiopia - all simultaneously hidden to justify MLLT rule.

Like so much out of this ruling pary output it was all smoke and mirrors - an elaborate trick until the cadres creeped up from behind any possible dissent, mainly from within, and crushed it aboslutely. The role of the future Prime Minister was interpreter of the holy texts of Communism with powers to excommunicate or carry out acts that would have made the shocked the Inquistion.

That, the mastery of revolutionary party machinations that could have left Machiavelli gasping in awe and the uncanny ability to be exactly what any given ferenji wanted so desperately to believe of an African leader, were the guarantors of power in an environment competitive beyond any understanding we may have.

Writing 700 page tomes on Revolutionary Democracy and 14,000 word letters to the editor lay far in the future. Right then what the situation demanded was something that was 'certified communist gangsta sh**' that could be put to work immediately and that needed little explanation.

Indeed, something was needed that would make anyone needing an explanation become an instant outlaw. Actually, like all of that silly totalitarian ideology it was all a meaningless mess but the air of mystery and meaning that such nonsense worked on susceptible minds was valuable nevertheless.

By choosing Hoxha and Albania they were basically sending out a message that even alone and isolated they would never turn from the revolutionary (self serving for a tiny tiny clique) path. They were also setting up a situation where 'the mother of all low expectations' ruled.

Seriously, if Albania was the aim how could the MLLT ever fail to achieve? Later when it was clear that moving on up to the Gibee was only a season or two away, Hoxha was himself abandoned in name but not in spirit.

Lenin said that "the capitalists will sell us the rope to hang them with." So what does a body do when his brand of Communism necessarily makes a country so poor that it can't buy that rope to begin with? You see, the state apparatus that guarantees power for a revolutionary feudal aristocracy also guarantees eternal poverty and popular enmity for the same group.

A revolutionary democratic party nor a marxist leninist league can ever be self supporting - even with its natural parasite - unwilling host grip on an entire nation. Therefore, extensive election and free market dramas had to be staged for money to convince the imperialist camp (donor nations whose systems actually created wealth) that what they saw is in fact an evolving free market democracy and not a real life totalitarian dictatorship that would one promised day leave them all in the dust.

The refinement of current manners relative to the Dergue is of crucial importance. Between 1974 and 1991 anyone presented with Mengistu or one of his minions would not have required much imagination to envision nails dripping with fresh blood from killings and hands stinking from the corpses of millions of victims.

Even though Scientific Socialism and Revolutionary Democracy were really fighting to see who the true Communists were, Meles had public relations advanatages Mengistu had washed away in a torrent of overt blood.

The new politburo, by contrast, knew how to do its killing behind closed doors and which fork to use for the proper course at state dinners. Today, one of the ultimate political skills and recommendations for power has become mastery of a delicate dance of seduction on Ethiopia's collective neck while giving out honey tongued whispers of misdirection that get Western money flowing.

In addition, as we noted above, anyone who has risen up in a revolutionary party and guerilla army could teach Machiavelli more than a thing or two about politics.

rat a tat, rat a tat tat tat, never hesitate to put an Ethiopian on his back

When that game seemed to stop working after fourteen years of trying and when the fake 'election' game fell apart with violence and with no extra cash forthcoming, the revolutionary feudal aristocracy called once again upon the memories of heroic days past - of isolated, eternal struggle and war with a glorious return to an Albanian fortress mode.

What that all meant in turn was that revolutionary democracy and the Albanian ideal would be defendend to the last drop of blood in the last Ethiopian peasant, Oromo - Tigrayan - Amahara - Sidamo or Gurage, hostage to the politburo's will to power. Actually, if you remember, the will of the people and peasants was by definition that of the ruling class - even if the latter never planned on ever skipping a meal or a first class ticket.

So in the end the whole business is really like some dreary but bloody sub-par Medieval tale of intrigue, webs of secret loyalties, vengeful gods, bloody holy wars and dynastic claims on the holy grail of communism. And it is all played out on the backs of the same wretched, faceless masses of every history that actually part with their the blood, sweat and tears.

Remember the low expectations set by the Albanian example? The revolutionary feudal aristocracy has managed to match them and do them better (or worse as the case may be). Foreign aid and remittances alone keep the economy from collapse and the party's jealous death grip on power suffocates the entrepreneurship and talents of the Ethiopian people.

In the coming week the endgame of the power struggle between Ethiopia and thirty years of Communism will begin in earnest. The opposition is not yielding, they won the election after all, and they will not accept smiles and gentle pats on the head from the world to just keep quiet and somehow appreciate the absence of minimally decent government that it has been Ethiopia's curse to experience for so long.

The Ethiopian ruling party does not have the capacity, in its current incarnation, to feel the shame or remorse that people power can bring to bear on other governments in the world. They can't give up power or share power by definition.

Of course there was never a chance that the party would have given up rule in the election. After all tyrants have always played at the game of parliaments to justify themselves and cultivate the illusion of consent even though they rule by the gun.

However, if the party in its present form had some ability to reform there would be other options for it beyond absolute power. Sharing some ministries or power in parliament would be options in a semi-honest system.

In a dishonest system, just like less vicious dictatorships worldwide there would be attempts to bring the opposition into the game and to share the spoils of a corrupt system. This could not happen for two reasons.

First the opposition would not go along anyway because they have as their purpose the end of that dishonesty. Second, the concept of sharing, especially power, even if it prolongs dictatorship and its rewards, is anathema to this government. Indeed, they wonder every moment why they can't just bury their opponents alive and move on.

Acutely sensitive of how intensely disliked the politburo is and how any policy to keep them in office will only increase that feeling - the party is determined to never show weakness and to always be on the offensive agains everyone at all times.

The party elite seem to live in a zero sum world of absolutes. You are with them or against them. To be with them is even not enough - one can't be allowed to remain independent of mind, soul or body. Individuals and groups must be broken down in every way and trained to heel and know their master.

The very possibility that an Ethiopian may exist somewhere on planet earth that is critical of this government causes them sleepless nights and an overwhelming impulse to control and destroy.

It is almost as though they wake up every morning and expect every day to be their last. Every shadow, every free word, every noise and every free breath is to them a prelude to another revolutionary creeping up behind them as they creeped up behind their own.

The very concept that every Ethiopian is not as naturally corrupt as those in a vanguard / bolshevik/ communist party is really beyond the understanding of this government. Principles and honesty and conviction to them are just more trickery - after all, when the government says all those things it is never sincere so how can any human really be anything but equally corrupt?

That is the fatal flaw of despots. They believe their own words have power beyond their own minds and the party. That is why the election was held to begin with. Any observer knew they would lose with even a halfway fair count - but believing their own propaganda and with visions of dollars, euros and yen on their minds they went ahead with it.

Everything is a weapon in the service of the party from hunger, torture, poverty and shootings onto basic corrupting assaults on the human spirit to make a weakness that which is most decent in every Ethiopian - their love of their children, family, relatives, friends, country and God - those assaults realized through not only violence but threats, intimidation and blackmail.

There is simply nothing that can not be manipulated to serve the will to power of the revolutionary aristocracy.

Making their victims complicit in their crimes also serves the purposes of low expectations. That individual Ethiopians and the whole country can expect nor deserve better of themselves or their tormentors, as though some unique variety of original sin in the party service only inflicted Ethiopians.

There is a level of viciousness in demanding loyalty and submission that speaks more of insecurity than anything else that will prove eventually to have shortened the rule of the current regime by years. They are well aware of what they have done to Ethiopians in Tigray for thirty years and to all Ethiopians together for fourteen more years - but holding on tightly and causing more pain may hurt everyone concerned - but will fail in the end.

Take the overtures to the Oromo Liberation Front recently by the ruling party that were spurned by the OLF for the ashattir (trickery) at its core. Now we are to believe that the OLF was being offered amnesty and not being set up for use as a pawn against other Oromos and Ethiopians.

You see there is no objective reality in gangsta or cadre world beyond whatever serves the purposes of those in control. The government responded to the losses it could not hide in Addis by crippling the city government.

It dealt with the losses it did not manage to cover up in the rest of the country by killing and intimidating and fraud. Rerun elections took away what little margin the opposition had as a consolation for winning and being cheated.

Then Parliament, already a rubber stamp, was crippled with changes that assured only the government itself could even bring things up to discuss. Not that it matters but it just makes ever more clear how governance is just a matter of crude trickery..

That is the absurd structure that the opposition has rightly rejected playing a part in.

disrespect? break 'em all off some 187s

There is literally nothing that will not be done in the coming days to hang onto power for even another minute. We have no doubt that to be independent of the ferenjis financial pressures that the government would begin a slave trade selling any Ethiopian in its clutches to anyone with cash and an equal poverty of basic humanity, if they could get away with it.

Totalitarian ideology internalized decades ago and a fundamental lack of imagination or nobility of spirit will not allow them to compromise in any meaningul way.

When the opposition marches, it will do so peacefully as it will rule. The government will pick a thousand fights that day as its agents stage incidents and while its gun bearers claim victim. Either in turn or simultaneously everyone from Anna Gomez to Martian invaders to opposition terrorists to genocidal coup plotters to Eritrean agents will be blamed as responsible. It does not matter to them as long as they remain in power.

Ethiopia's poverty and weakness are necessary for the continued rule of this government and are also caused by it. A vibrant Ethiopia would reject the gangstas and cadres at every level so international beggar status is actually carefully cultivated.

When a government equates disrespect with a mortal threat to its lefe and when it treats a whole country like its turf ... when the answer to every question ends up being about who has the loudest voice and the most guns ... when it cultivates false ideological justifications about the rules of the street life game with revolutionary democratic raps ... what distinguishes it from a plain old street gang?

A large chance for justice comes from the possibilty of an internal change or upheaval within the party from those whose noble souls are tired of being part of a mechanism of poverty and suffering for a whole nation.

They, the opposition leaders and Ethiopians in general face difficult days ahead with prospects as dangerous as they may be bright. It seems that silent, almost traditional suffering is no longer an option and another generation will not voluntarily be lost to the purposes of a selfish few.

It was such a unity of spirit and fact against foreign invasion that kept Ethiopia in existence for centuries. The invasion and occupation by the tiny clique of practitioners of a despicable foreign religion like Communism deserves the same treatment.

The battle that Ethiopians are currently fighting is not only the familiar one for their shared existence and survival, but also for the unrealized promise of the 20th century earned by all men.

That bloody awful time not only challenged the good in mankind with totalitarian evil but it also showed him the promise the future could hold in human lives that were no longer nasty brutish and short for all but a few.


Next up we will finish with a look at the life and times of O.G. Enver Hoxha in his natural setting for a better sense of what lies ahead for Ethiopia if his heirs don't (or do) get what they want.

The post below, Short Term Memory, is finished and Weichegud has a great post, excellent as always called We Ask You Not to Interrupt This Suicide up. Just a few of our favorites from the sidebar include: Foreign Dispatches, Booker Rising, African Bullets & Honey and Cobb]

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