Sunday, July 31

Another Red Season

This image from revolutionary democratic China is courtesy of one of the best sites on the internet, Stefan Landsberger's Chinese Propaganda Poster Pages.

One point the reader should always note when dealing with Ethiopian affairs and her revolutionary feudal rulers is that normal rules do not apply.

For example, well meaning people approach words and the concepts that underly them like democracy, elections, parliament, supreme court and election board with an assumption of sincerity or even of the presence of something vaguely recognizable as the institutions of a healthy society. When considering the pronouncements of Ethiopia's government all such assumptions must be suspended.

None of the above list of characteristics posessed of normal societies exist there but meaningless illusions of them do whose sole purpose is propaganda - totally in the service of filling government coffers and select private bank accounts with dollars, euros, pounds and yen.

It is essentially dishonest to use the words 'democracy' or 'elections' in any Ethiopian context. Truth and respect for Ethiopians, and indeed humanity, demands derision directed towards those who corrupt those words and an appropriate sense of tragedy over the fate of 70 million long suffering people.

It is a sign of gross contempt to expect Ethiopians to be satisfied with anything less than the real thing or to pretend that they want less than all other peoples on earth.

There is a definite moral element to using the concept of democracy too loosely. For any observers, native or foreign, to pretend otherwise means that they must believe one of the following:

-Democracy is just a cruel joke anyway.
-Ethiopians, alone amidst their fellow homo sapiens, don't deserve and certainly can't appreciate democracy.

The most generous label that can be ascribed to such observers is insincerity.

Ethiopia's despots are engaged in an elaborate ritual of balancing their boots on the collective national neck while grinning and dancing for foreigners whose low expectations and money keep them in power. Interested and friendly ferenjis of every stripe should make no mistake - the whole dismal performance is about getting at your tax dollars and does not help any but a few Ethiopians atop a pyramid of suffering.

Even friends of Ethiopia are often so desperate for any hint of transparency that they are forced to report releases from 'living dead' organs such as the election board as though they have any kind of meaning at all beyond serving the interests of the ruling politburo.

Thus, despite every manner of lies, damned lies and statistics out of official circles we are probably safe in assuming that this set of communist dictators won't just give up power while we aren't posting or even change their behavior in any meaningful way. Brute force, corruption and trickery are meant not only to guarantee dictatorship and its benefits for a few but also to keep Ethiopia weak and dependent on handouts so that she can't resist.

That way the only constituency of note is the club of donor nations. After all the revolutionary aristocracy has 70 million hostages and the dubious threat of mass tribal and religious anarchy to hold against the continued financial support of the West - which expects no better from Ethiopians.

If security issues drive support for the Ethiopian government while governments look the other way and hold their noses - it should be made clear that no security will result in the end. The failed state that is being created from a potentially vibrant and healthy nation by Ethiopia's rulers will guarantee future terror and catastrophe.

The guiding national ideology of revolutionary democracy is lovingly stitched together from bits of Marx, Lenin and Mao with the same horrible deficit of morality that was behind the creation of Frankenstein's monster. Embarassment at international reaction to such a dated and silly term has meant that it hasn't been officially acknowledged for some eight months now - but the ruling party is still a 'revolutionary democractic' front whose behavior certainly remains true to the revolutionary cause.

The other remaining rapacious dinosaur regimes in Cuba and North Korea have found sexual tourism and nuclear blackmail to be reliable sources of finance so they don't have to play games to please aid donors. Despite all airs and appearances, primordial totalitarianism, tribalism and the refuge of permanent beggar status remain what Ethiopia's revolutionary feudal aristocracy is all about.

Above all one should note that there is nothing - no crime nor infamy nor horror that Ethiopia's revolutionary feudal aristocracy would not gladly commit to stay in power even an extra day. Any concept or assumptions of civilized governmental behavior must be put aside when considering 21st century Ethiopia.

Not a single district where observers where present voted for the ruling party / government. Remember this whenever you are tempted to take any election results announced by the same party / government seriously.

Our recent posts on the right sidebar and our archives are a rich source for information and links and are organized thematically. Reccomendations for a profound understanding of Ethiopia's current plight including the following:

- The New Class by Milovan Djilas
- Ethiopia: A Post-Cold War African State by Theodore Vestal
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- The Godfather I & II by Francis Ford Coppola

the back story of Ethiopian 'democracy'

For more on the 'election' and its bloody aftermath our post 'election' analysis can be found at Revolutionary Democracy in Action, continue in Revolutionary Measures and We don't need no votes! onto Common Sense and Hatred is the Basis then Cadres 'n ze Hood as well as Criminal Minded and A Bodyguard of Lies. Later entries are Ordinary Mortals, Scorched Earth, La Lutta Continua !, The Tragedy of Low Expectations and The Historic Elections of May 2005.

An account of the recently past 'election' season connected with commentary can be found at Politburo Knows Best VII - Let A Hundred Flowers Bloom.

A pointed summary of the fertile ground for despotism and the poor prospects for democracy given current Ethiopian government is at Politburo Knows Best IX - Dictatorship. The back story of revolutionary democracy and an introduction to our detailed Politburo Knows Best series and other relevant issues can be found at just like Rasputin.

The leaders of the opposition like Hailu Shawel, Beyene Petros, Merera Gudina and Berhanu Nega carry the hopes of a proven majority of millions of every region, religion and ethnicity. They and the support they have generated are the greatest sign of hope in Ethiopian affairs in decades.

The following sites of the united coalition / opposition should be seen to appreciate what great improvements in governance await Ethiopians: UEDF, CUD, UEDP-Medhin, and AEUP. A fascinating overall analysis by an opposition leader can be found at Tiger by the Tail.

other blogs and news sources looking at this story are listed below. We generally make little effort to be timely in our posting but many of these below are both timely and/or routinely excellent.

Dagmawi sets a high standard. The gems hidden behind every title with no evident text such as Two Incompatible Objectives and The New Meles Five Point Peace Plan should be read. The latter has a breathtaking look at the politics of neuro-chemistry. Patterns of Turnout in the Ethiopian Election Part II and The Hijacked Election: Corrupted vote tabulation are absolutely required reading for appreciating the carnival of horrors that is democracy in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Review has the inside story in a tireless pursuit of salient facts and the production of exceptional analysis. The case presented for the formation of an opposition shadow cabinet is convincing and well thought out. A young heroine pays the ultimate sacrifice tells the story of ShiBire Desalegn who was the first person to be killed when Meles Zenawi unleashed his forces following a peaceful protest.

EthioMedia has a wealth of level headed commentary and up to date news as well as a series of fine essays from many sources. It is a fantastic source overall and has comprehensive coverage of worldwide protests.

Weichegud ET Politics has wit, clarity and mastery of so many levels of issues, of ideas and of the meaning of events ... one of the most talented and thoughtful writers that we have come across in some time ... who keeps getting better and better.

Meskel Square is from a Scottish journalist let loose on the roof of Africa, who is having his Year of Living Dangerously.

Satisfy My Soul very observant, intelligent and original writing from Addis with essays like who let the guns out? and the irreverent Brother can you spare two dumps?.

Friends of Ethiopia Straight out of Brooklyn with a heart in Addis.

Ethiopian Paradox Yet another example of great writing and on target critique.

Gateway Pundit is on top of the story with coverage of the election aftermath and struggles for democracy everywhere.

Publius Pundit is following events and appreciates the struggle for freedom.

The Buzz Blog follows the story.

The Head Heeb is watching

Booker Rising What would Booker T. say?

Thursday, July 7

Rule Britannia

World War IV is still being fought as events in London have shown us today. Through experience, historical memory, and without a doubt a healthy dose of cultural programming on two continents, we have acquired a profound affection and respect for the people of the UK.

It is certainly a well deserved regard in every aspect from humanity's lessons in the Magna Carta onto the Royal Navy ending the Atlantic slave trade and the lonely years of fighting Nazi Germany alone onto the road to Basra just two years ago. Certainly from the Boston Massacre to the bloody suppression of the Mau Mau rebellion there are stains on that record... but at this point other, at times painful, truths emerge.

Britain's existence has to an astonishing degree been a boon for mankind.

The British will always be counted among the principal and most practical interpreters and authors of the very best the modern world has to offer ... the rights of common man, classical liberalism, capitalism, liberal democracy and a tenacious resistance to successive forms of totalitarianism.

As off the mark as Tony Blair and Bob Geldof have been about the EPRDF's cargo cult approach to government and the utitlity of money without reform, they and countless other Britons have long been friends of Ethiopia. It is clear today that the UK cares far more about the human and economic rights of Ethiopians than Ethiopia's dictators do.

The lives taken today are part of a wider struggle in a conflict between civilization and barbarism as profound as the wars against slavery, fascism and communism. Winning requires realizing there is a war on and knowing it must be won. Many take comfort that others are the targets today and mouth platitudes while others spend lives and coin in the common defense.

From the scene of a suicide bombing in England, Iraq or Israel, to massacres in North Korea, Zimbabwe or Ethiopia, battles against the modern slavery or serfdom of perverted religion and damned ideology all over the world are being waged ... against human EVIL.

Civilization will win if only we recognize she is at risk. Londoners and friends of the British all over the world understand ... the colors above can't run. And lastly ...

Rule Britannia

a poem by James Thompson

When Britain first, at heaven's command,
Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian Angels sung this strain:

Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
Britons never will be slaves.

The nations, not so blest as thee,
Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall:
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.

Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
More dreadful, from each foreign stroke:
As the loud blast that tears the skies,
Serves but to root thy native oak.

Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame:
All their attempts to bend thee down,
Will but arouse thy generous flame;
But work their woe, and thy renown.

To thee belongs the rural reign;
Thy cities shall with commerce shine:
All thine shall be the subject main,
And every shore it circles thine.

The Muses, still with freedom found,
Shall to thy happy coast repair:
Blest isle! with matchless beauty crowned,
And manly hearts to guard the fair.

Monday, July 4

Happy Birthday USA

Happy Belated Birthday America. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought about this time 142 years ago. We have visited the battlefield several times but the last time was during a re-enactment when we felt a living, visceral hatred towards the Confederates. That day many years ago they were led by Picket and afterwards cruelly romanticized by millions. They were mowed down by the thousands as they approached the Union lines and were beaten back.

That victory defeated the second Rebel invasion of the North and along with a series of other Union wins such as the simultaneous capture of Vicksburg, it heralded the death of a slave society as plainly deserving damnation as its totalitarian heirs spawned during the Twentieth Century. Instead of pursuing Lee, the Union side turned north towards New York to put down the Draft Riots there, whose major targets were 'free' African Americans.

What hard times those were. Later men like Grant and Sherman completed Napoleon's invention of total warfare and brought it home, so deservedly, to the South. Thus it was assured that "government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

Indeed without the battles won during the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, World War II and the Cold War it is clear that there would not be a single corner of this planet right now where men would be free of despotism or dream of better.

Plainly, we harbor no ill feelings towards the South now but no excuses can be made for the blood shed in defense of slavery. What is remarkable about that history is man's capacity for healing and for improvement once wrong is defeated and put soundly in its place. That is the inverse lesson of Versailes after 1918 and the direct lesson of German and Japanese national health since 1945.

It took the US a century after Gettysburg to begin to get its act together on the issue of race that started the war to begin with. Whatever you may hear about state's rights and economics the war was about the belief of some men that others, also made in the image of God, were not human.

We react now with the same visceral hostility to any ideology or sets of belief that excuse dictatorship or serfdom ... as Ethiopia's revolutionary democracy does today. The world is an impatient place now and it should be so. The concepts that can give all men freedom and prosperity do not have to be invented anymore ... they just need to be honestly applied.

The rest of our thoughts on the Civil War, the American experience and modernity is taken from the post Remembering M.L.K. which continues below ...

It is tragic how seldom we can count on men to do the right thing and value the freedom of others. The eventual practice of a 'national morality', beyond rhetoric, in political life is an inescapable part of human development.

It is therefore reassuring that economic necessity and the institutions needed for mass prosperity require respect for human rights. Ultimately, it is only a self interested and deceptive ruling class that can make mass failure seem somehow desirable to all of its victims.

One view of the ante-bellum South holds that the origins of the Civil War were economic. Northern traders and industry certainly profited from slavery after the invention of the cotton gin. However, the North had long before abandoned slavery and quickly determined that the long term interests of the Union were harmed by it.

To see why let us imagine the South of that time. Blacks obviously led daily lives dominated by the very distilled essence of evil in the form of slavery and its racial justifications. Whites by their millions were willing to fight to the death to defend that evil but only a few benefitted from it.

The Southern elite lived lives of faux European pretension. They had the money to imitate the most unproductive nobles (of which none had ever been part anyway) that Americans had fought to be free from just a few generations before. They crafted a martial world of ready violence, held at bay for their own class anyway, by ritualistic old world manners.

Southern Whites in general did not have it good at all. Compared to their Northern counterparts they were poorer in every imaginable aspect of human productivity and development except for a surfeit of pride. Compensation for their status and their poverty was found in the consolation of racism that allowed them to feel better about themselves and to have someone to hate and fear besides the elite authors of their misery.

Slavery impoverished most whites as did single crop agriculture - either cotton or tobacco it drained the soil of life. The Southern system gave them little of the benefits of the Industrial Revolution convulsing and enriching the North so all they really had to offer was muscle power. Slaves had that for free - mainly in the service of the elite.

Slaves were actually not cheap - each represented a significant investment. One of the principal structural faults of the Southern economy was that so much investment was tied up in slavery that there was little left over to build the infrastructure and enterprises that the North had in abundance.

Indeed, slavery encompassed many trades such as blacksmithing further limiting the options of poor whites. The burgeoning capitalism of the North clearly recognized that slavery was not only unprofitable but ultimately a historical and economic dead end.

The North's relatively more representative elite did not want slavery to spread West into the rest of the continent. The Southern elite did want to spread out but couldn't compete in any way beyond politics. Their influence was disproportionate in Washington because they had managed to get Slaves partially counted as human beings so that the numbers of their own Congressmen could be inflated.

Southerners were also belligerent and constantly threatening a North preoccupied by prosperity with war and seccession. The South, having set itself apart and lost in its complex and layered but always fantastic self image, was losing a race for the survival of the fittest so it started the bloodiest war in American history to cling to slavery and illusions.

It is often sad that the Civil War was started because of slavery but was fought to preserve the Union or to preserve States' Rights. Yeah sure, but it was about slavery anyway. The Abolitionist impulses that ended slavery in the North and that stopped the African slave trade with the might of the British Fleet may have all manner of economic interpretations but its moral arguments can not be ignored.

Actually, before the modern era only the Union and the British Empire considered it an issue at all. From an essay by Thomas Sowell
To me the most staggering thing about the long history of slavery -- which encompassed the entire world and every race in it -- is that nowhere before the 18th century was there any serious question raised about whether slavery was right or wrong.

In the late 18th century, that question arose in Western civilization, but nowhere else.

It seems so obvious today that, as Lincoln said, if slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong. But no country anywhere believed that three centuries ago.
This moral development that heralded good for all of mankind did not occur in a vaccuum. That was also the Age of Enlightenment, an intellectual movement
which is described as being the use of rationality to establish an authoritative ethics, aesthetics, and knowledge. This movement's leaders viewed themselves as a courageous, elite body of intellectuals who were leading the world toward progress, out of a long period of irrationality, superstition, and tyranny which began during a historical period they called the Dark Ages.
The Enlightenment revealed to us modern science, liberalism, capitalism and the enshrinement of the rights of man. There is no coincidence that all of these factors are observed together repeatedly in successful societies across history and the globe. It is always good to know that morality has loyal friends like freedom and prosperity.

The evil of slavery tried to hide from the Englightenment and lost. Simply put capitalism won the Civil War but more accurately the future did. The Enlightenment also gave us its 'bastard children' in the form of messianic totalitarianism of various stripes. Some still cling to life and others live on in the roots of the more modern perversions of religion.

History may not be over just yet but inherent systems and qualities make the good guys stronger not just in the past but also for the battles being fought all over the world. Given the darker side of human nature there will be more battles to come in every arena.

Friday, July 1

one year and counting ...

We will be back sometime after the 4th of July with a post called Constructive Engagement about the relevance for revolutionary democratic Ethiopia, of the 1980s corporate Sullivan Principles applied to apartheid South Africa. Recent European Union and American (link opens document, partial HTML update here) sanctions particularly targeted towards the dictatorship of Mugabe & Co in Zimbabwe will also be examined.

The argument that cutting or sanctioning Ethiopia would only hurt poor Ethiopians conveniently serves the interests of those who imprison them and keep them poor to begin with. Ethiopians thus become hostages to the supportive 'good behavior' of donors to a tiny revolutionary feudal elite.

Certainly food aid would never be cut but the EU / US plan with Mugabe & Co is to target particular elements of government, its inseperable ruling party and their associated enterprises who cooperate in violating human rights by freezing financial and business dealings with them. In addition, military sales and aid that are used for internal suppression and not for legitimate defense would be frozen.

Along with a version of the Sullivan Principles, codes of behaviour to make aid and business activities from abroad meet certain conditions in terms of not facilitating or rewarding those who violate human rights would be of value. The original Sullivan Principles were caused by security considerations regarding the Soviet Union that made America unlikely to impose outright sanctions on the whole of South Africa.

What the Principles tried to do was to reward good behaviour by companies while penalizing bad behavior regarding human rights. Interestingly enough when sanctions against South Africa were at issue, few ever brought up the fact that the poor would suffer and used it in defense of apartheid because the sacrifice was seen as worthy.

The EU / US /Sullivan approach neutralizes this argument either way and creates an effective alliance between friends of Ethiopia and Ethiopians that is not simply about who their rulers happen to be. The carefully engineered excuse of the Ethiopian government that instability will gain and the war on terror will suffer if it has to treat its own people decently for a change will also be neutralized by this approach.


The long planned post American Kebele about the threats to American sovereignity and security from Ethiopian government networks of agents, cadres and informers engaged in organized acts of intimidation and harassment on US soil is still in the works. This has to do with actions in the US and threats against family members of Americans in Ethiopia to ensure 'good behavior'.

Extendend consultations in some unexpected places have turned it into a growing shared project which will be published as an American magazine article. RICO laws apply if there is financial gain made thereby and it is all obviously against every sort of international and domestic law - diplomatic or otherwise. The loathsome notion is alive that the Ethiopian government has authority over the opinions of American citizens and American residents of Ethiopian ancestry and American aid helps to pay for this behavior.


Other posts about history, culture and particularly the history of the Ethiopian Air Force and Navy will continue. Our ongoing obsession with the inexorable linkage between human happiness, prosperity, economic and political freedom will go on. The only planned post of any size not written is one about hostitlity to investment and private enterprise that has made Ethiopia one of the lowest per capita destinations for foreign investment in the world.

We will fill out our index of subjects at ethio-info with the many sources not used in posts and will eventually include non-internet sources such as books (remember those?). We have really finished writing most of what we set out to do last year so in the future posts will be a whole lot shorter. We wanted to create a one stop shop for informed opinion about Ethiopia's current circumstances.

Essentially, for the past three decades, everything that it is possible to do wrong has been done wrong by successive Ethiopian governments whose commitment to Marxism and eternal rule has taken a terrible human toll. At Harvest 3,000 years and counting Ethiopians have certainly earned better.


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