Monday, April 9

Caligula & Incitatus

In a scene from the movie Caligula, Rome's newest Consul (the horse by the way) takes his place in the Senate.

The third ruler of Rome after the fall of the Republic carried on the tradition of tyrants in all places and of all times. Caligula was "known for his extreme extravagance, eccentricity, depravity and cruelty, he is remembered as a despot". He "named his horse, Incitatus, as a priest and gave it a house to reside in, complete with a marble stable, golden manger, and jeweled necklaces; and he later spoke of appointing it Consul to the Senate".

Many historians insist that the horse Incitatus was so appointed. It hardly matters one way or the other given the ruinous tenor of the rest of Caligua's rule. Of course, in exactly the same way the show trial in Addis is supposedly deciding the fate of Ethiopia's elected leaders. The decisions are all made by Meles alone with an eye on foreign donors to see how much he can get away with.

Ethiomedia makes these observation about the 'election' of 2005 and the ridiculous but lethal charges of genocide and treason against the entire line of democratic Kinijit notables, human rights leaders and journalists on trial
the first clear question about Mr. Maker and Breaker [Meles] is: "Why did he declare war on Kinijit? Not the one he declared yesterday when he ordered the court in Addis Ababa to try Kinijit leaders on fabricated charges of 'treason' and 'attempted genocide'...but right a day after the elecion in May 2005? Why did he declare a state of emergency like the sky had come crushing down on him on the election day?"

Indeed, the sky had come crushing down on him when he saw the end of his rule without a single shot being fired from the side of Kinijit.


All his moves have been crystal clear to anyone who has grasped the nature of Mr. Meles, who is now seeking death sentences to the cherished leaders of the Ethiopian people. He would - in the next court drama - turn the capital punishment into a bargaining chip for the benevolent 'donor groups' whose 'plea' for Mr Zenawi would be to commute the death sentences to at least life terms. His OK would then make him a rising democrat who responds to the worries and concerns of the West.
Meles through Meles Inc. (also known as the government / ruling revolutionary party) runs one of the most brutal and corrupt regimes on earth, owns all of the land in Ethiopia, owns the entire economy through government monopolies, party financial empires, crony businesses and controls all allowed opinion and speech.

Above all with an iron fist he directs a vicious secret police apparatus instituted down to the household level and personal tribal militias masquerading as a national army.

Ethiopia's civil contract thus excludes Ethiopians themselves so that the only constituents of the regime are to be found among the donor governments where rule is not designed to produce mass poverty and misery to attract aid. When observers picture the workings of the Ethiopian government they should realize that it is not a government in the normal sense that reasonable folks expect upon hearing terms like 'court' or 'judge' or 'parliament' or 'prime minister'.

Rather, Ethiopian government exists to enforce the will of one man who has in the long tradition of other tyrants tricked himself out with the trimmings and symbols of civilized government and who takes them about as seriously as Caligula did. The enforcers of Ethiopia's tyrant take their places amidst the pageantry of simulated civilized government much like Incitatus did in the Roman Senate.

Those who have submitted to Meles play along with the game and are rewarded with appointments, promises of property, relative luxury, and a chance to scrounge about for crumbs of Ethiopian and donor wealth that manage to slip through the hands of the politburo. Their main reward is the right to fear and cause suffering instead of fearing and actually suffering like most Ethiopians.

Those who have resisted Meles simply 'disappear', are sent to prison camps like a hundred thousand others since 2005, are brutally intimidated or in the case of those personally known to donor governments - they are given show trials.

What holds Meles Inc. together is fear, greed and the perverse belief that Ethiopians can do no better than live as serfs and subjects rather than citizens. What holds the opposition and 70 million Ethiopians together is knowing that everything that Meles Inc. has ever told them about themselves and each other is a lie.

The next part of this absurdist drama will have Meles Inc. wavering between degrees of stern forgiveness or harshness - all for the benefit of the foreign press and foreign donors. Later on observers will hear from human rights organizations sponsored and run by the regime while future 'elections' will have no foreign observers present.

Actual accountable government is to dictators a necessary pretense, the stuff of nightmares, or a delusion of idiots who don't realize that power only comes from the barrel of a gun (paid for from the pockets of donors).

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