Ethiopia's Deferred Collapse

Ethiopia is an empire, formed by conquest. Like all empires formed from feudal battles, marriages and wars, it faced the crisis of modernity.

Modernity demanded of a state a basis beyond the divine right of kings. Nationalism demanded a nation-state, a single nation in a single state.

As Ethiopia was never successfully colonized, national aspirations were not held down by colonial oppression and capitalist exploitation. While the national question exists in most African countries, it's advancement is held down by western powers, who ensure through a series of western-trained military officers and regular coup d'etats that African governments are a management firm overseeing the orderly extraction of natural resources.

In nations where this pressure was successfully resisted, usually with the assistance of the Soviet Union, the boot of the colonial oppressor was lifted from the neck of the African state, but this relief lifted the boot from the neck of nationalism and the nationality question immediately manifested itself. This has happened in every state where state formation occurred outside the desires of a nationality.

Sudan in this century was the first to tear itself apart over the nationality question. Modernization arrived with oil profits and modernizing dictators like Nimiery and al-Bashir, who built up economic development and investment, destroying feudalism and in the process ushering in the question of nationality. Sudan, due to circumstances of their formation as a state, faced a civil war over the question of nationalities before they even officially gained independence.

There have been success stories of forming a nation state from a diverse populace. Indonesia invented a new national language to create a new, artificially created national unity and nation state, creating an ethnos that would exist one layer above all existing nationalities. This was the genius of Sukarno, and his legacy has created a successfully unified nation state of Indonesia.

Ethiopia, under Haile Selassie and later under the Derg, chose another path, the path Morocco chose, of national assimilation into the ruling prestige language of the country. This path, innovated by the French after the French Revolution, and the American melting pot of cultures, sought unity through destruction, there would be no minorities and national questions because there would only be one nation. All people would assimilate, and through assimilation and integration there would only be one nation.

Through this, it was hoped, Ethiopia would escape the fate of Austria-Hungary, or the Russian Empire, or the Ottoman Empire, torn apart by the national aspirations of their conquered peoples. There were however two critical missing points that those enthusiastically adopting the model of France or America missed. France was already very French, and the minorities they were looking to obliterate already spoke very similar languages and had been part of France for a thousand years. Virtually everyone assimilating into America were physically moving there voluntarily and it was entirely their choice to make. The people who were not voluntarily becoming Americans such as native Americans and Mexicans conquered militarily were not so enthusiastic.

Those empires that did collapse, their collapse was dramatically accelerated when they introduced policies of national assimilation. Austria-Hungary began imploding when German became the official language of the kingdom, displacing Latin, a more neutral language. Russia pursued Russification and the Ottomans had pursued Turkification campaigns immediately prior to their collapse. A program of national assimilation is a direct attack on the folk customs and a direct form of discrimination, as the pressures imposed to achieve nation-statehood involve active discrimination against non-standard languages.

It is for these reasons that explain why the national question was much less critical and deadly under the feudal empire of Haile Selassie, who sought to centralize his own power and imposed Shewan administrators displacing local elites. This largely left the folk ways of ordinary people alone, and attacked the rights of minority elite. The Derg in theory were much better as they went out into the country to raise literacy, sent doctors and teachers out into the country. The Derg policy lit the fire of the national question because through this process they operated and educated and ran institutions exclusively in Amharic. By this process, this modernization came with a very strong undercurrent of Amharicization.

This marks the switch in the revolutionary movements away from reactionaries, like the islamist ELF and holdouts in Tigray from the Woyane Rebellion decades earlier, to peasant movements led by nationalists who immediately displaced and replaced these movements in the late 1970s as the Derg's modernization program intensified. At the heart of the rebellion was the key issue of what nation would the nation state of Ethiopia be. In this way, the fate of Ethiopia followed the Russian, Ottoman and Habsburg empires, that collapsed on the same issues.

It is therefore noteworthy that Ethiopia remains only the second state to successfully put itself back together again after state collapse and civil war following the total opening of the national question into civil war. The first country was Yugoslavia, which had imploded amid inter-national warfare in the 1940s. However like Yugoslavia this was a short lived and largely forced unity. Yugoslavia remained united first by the charisma of Josip Broz Tito, and later by military force and tyranny, until the grasp of that force weakened and then could no longer hold on.

Ethiopia appears to be following that fate. The evil genius of Meles Zenawi held the country together through a combination of co-optation, precisely applied brutality, and totalitarianism. As soon as he was gone, before he was even cold in the ground, the national question was again threatening the state. In a way, the 2018 EPRDF leadership conference was trying to find their Tito, someone who by their own personal charisma and personal story, could be everything to everyone.

On paper, Abiy Ahmed is Tito, his parents are the two dominant ethnic groups, he has charm and is a persuasive figure. He is good looking and young. He is even a Christian with a Muslim name. For the first few months it even seemed like it would work.

The first sign that the national question would not be banished so easily was the 2019 coup d'etat in Amhara state. Clearly not all Amhara nationalists were satisfied with Abiy Ahmed as an avatar for their national ambitions, and sought to overturn the choices of the EPRDF. The coup and counter-coup then wiped out the entire leadership of Amhara people, all the old guard.

The war with Tigray proceeded to undermine the position of the the TPLF in Tigray. The TPLF reached out to their old enemies, the nationalists, the extremists, to fight for Tigray, not for TPLF. The nationalists accepted and have become a powerful force in Tigray, and due to this Tigray cannot turn against the nationalist ambitions. Amhara, decapitated of their old leaders, saw new leaders emerge as the newly formed Tigray Defense Forces marched into Amhara state, Ezema the extreme nationalists became themselves the most powerful force. As the Ethiopian National Defense Force dissolved in the Tembien Mountains and whittled down to nothing in Wollo, FANO became the main fighting force representing Ethiopia.

In Oromia, the nationalists who refused to accept the limited Oromo national aspirations of the orthodox OLF leadership broke away to pursue maximalist demands, the Oromo Liberation Army, and have gained strength over strength and have conquered much of Oromia. Now in Ethiopia we see everyone on all sides is a nationalist.

Who among this crowd of extreme nationalists, pursuing maximalist demands, will foster a united Ethiopia? How can Ethiopia continue to exist? Who will make the compromises and give away their maximalist national aspirations? No one, they would rather die.
 
Yes of course James, Meles was a genius and Abiy is incompetent.

It has nothing to do with western powers propping up, shielding, and arming one and fighting and trying their best to destabilize and depose the other.
 
Ethiopia is an empire, formed by conquest. Like all empires formed from feudal battles, marriages and wars, it faced the crisis of modernity.

Modernity demanded of a state a basis beyond the divine right of kings. Nationalism demanded a nation-state, a single nation in a single state.

As Ethiopia was never successfully colonized, national aspirations were not held down by colonial oppression and capitalist exploitation. While the national question exists in most African countries, it's advancement is held down by western powers, who ensure through a series of western-trained military officers and regular coup d'etats that African governments are a management firm overseeing the orderly extraction of natural resources.

In nations where this pressure was successfully resisted, usually with the assistance of the Soviet Union, the boot of the colonial oppressor was lifted from the neck of the African state, but this relief lifted the boot from the neck of nationalism and the nationality question immediately manifested itself. This has happened in every state where state formation occurred outside the desires of a nationality.

Sudan in this century was the first to tear itself apart over the nationality question. Modernization arrived with oil profits and modernizing dictators like Nimiery and al-Bashir, who built up economic development and investment, destroying feudalism and in the process ushering in the question of nationality. Sudan, due to circumstances of their formation as a state, faced a civil war over the question of nationalities before they even officially gained independence.

There have been success stories of forming a nation state from a diverse populace. Indonesia invented a new national language to create a new, artificially created national unity and nation state, creating an ethnos that would exist one layer above all existing nationalities. This was the genius of Sukarno, and his legacy has created a successfully unified nation state of Indonesia.

Ethiopia, under Haile Selassie and later under the Derg, chose another path, the path Morocco chose, of national assimilation into the ruling prestige language of the country. This path, innovated by the French after the French Revolution, and the American melting pot of cultures, sought unity through destruction, there would be no minorities and national questions because there would only be one nation. All people would assimilate, and through assimilation and integration there would only be one nation.

Through this, it was hoped, Ethiopia would escape the fate of Austria-Hungary, or the Russian Empire, or the Ottoman Empire, torn apart by the national aspirations of their conquered peoples. There were however two critical missing points that those enthusiastically adopting the model of France or America missed. France was already very French, and the minorities they were looking to obliterate already spoke very similar languages and had been part of France for a thousand years. Virtually everyone assimilating into America were physically moving there voluntarily and it was entirely their choice to make. The people who were not voluntarily becoming Americans such as native Americans and Mexicans conquered militarily were not so enthusiastic.

Those empires that did collapse, their collapse was dramatically accelerated when they introduced policies of national assimilation. Austria-Hungary began imploding when German became the official language of the kingdom, displacing Latin, a more neutral language. Russia pursued Russification and the Ottomans had pursued Turkification campaigns immediately prior to their collapse. A program of national assimilation is a direct attack on the folk customs and a direct form of discrimination, as the pressures imposed to achieve nation-statehood involve active discrimination against non-standard languages.

It is for these reasons that explain why the national question was much less critical and deadly under the feudal empire of Haile Selassie, who sought to centralize his own power and imposed Shewan administrators displacing local elites. This largely left the folk ways of ordinary people alone, and attacked the rights of minority elite. The Derg in theory were much better as they went out into the country to raise literacy, sent doctors and teachers out into the country. The Derg policy lit the fire of the national question because through this process they operated and educated and ran institutions exclusively in Amharic. By this process, this modernization came with a very strong undercurrent of Amharicization.

This marks the switch in the revolutionary movements away from reactionaries, like the islamist ELF and holdouts in Tigray from the Woyane Rebellion decades earlier, to peasant movements led by nationalists who immediately displaced and replaced these movements in the late 1970s as the Derg's modernization program intensified. At the heart of the rebellion was the key issue of what nation would the nation state of Ethiopia be. In this way, the fate of Ethiopia followed the Russian, Ottoman and Habsburg empires, that collapsed on the same issues.

It is therefore noteworthy that Ethiopia remains only the second state to successfully put itself back together again after state collapse and civil war following the total opening of the national question into civil war. The first country was Yugoslavia, which had imploded amid inter-national warfare in the 1940s. However like Yugoslavia this was a short lived and largely forced unity. Yugoslavia remained united first by the charisma of Josip Broz Tito, and later by military force and tyranny, until the grasp of that force weakened and then could no longer hold on.

Ethiopia appears to be following that fate. The evil genius of Meles Zenawi held the country together through a combination of co-optation, precisely applied brutality, and totalitarianism. As soon as he was gone, before he was even cold in the ground, the national question was again threatening the state. In a way, the 2018 EPRDF leadership conference was trying to find their Tito, someone who by their own personal charisma and personal story, could be everything to everyone.

On paper, Abiy Ahmed is Tito, his parents are the two dominant ethnic groups, he has charm and is a persuasive figure. He is good looking and young. He is even a Christian with a Muslim name. For the first few months it even seemed like it would work.

The first sign that the national question would not be banished so easily was the 2019 coup d'etat in Amhara state. Clearly not all Amhara nationalists were satisfied with Abiy Ahmed as an avatar for their national ambitions, and sought to overturn the choices of the EPRDF. The coup and counter-coup then wiped out the entire leadership of Amhara people, all the old guard.

The war with Tigray proceeded to undermine the position of the the TPLF in Tigray. The TPLF reached out to their old enemies, the nationalists, the extremists, to fight for Tigray, not for TPLF. The nationalists accepted and have become a powerful force in Tigray, and due to this Tigray cannot turn against the nationalist ambitions. Amhara, decapitated of their old leaders, saw new leaders emerge as the newly formed Tigray Defense Forces marched into Amhara state, Ezema the extreme nationalists became themselves the most powerful force. As the Ethiopian National Defense Force dissolved in the Tembien Mountains and whittled down to nothing in Wollo, FANO became the main fighting force representing Ethiopia.

In Oromia, the nationalists who refused to accept the limited Oromo national aspirations of the orthodox OLF leadership broke away to pursue maximalist demands, the Oromo Liberation Army, and have gained strength over strength and have conquered much of Oromia. Now in Ethiopia we see everyone on all sides is a nationalist.

Who among this crowd of extreme nationalists, pursuing maximalist demands, will foster a united Ethiopia? How can Ethiopia continue to exist? Who will make the compromises and give away their maximalist national aspirations? No one, they would rather die.
ELF was never a islamists movement it was the first movement that resisted the Ethiopian annexation of Eritrea before Tigrinya Christian Highlander joined the struggle. Eritrea owes to Muslim community who fought tooth and nail for an independent Eritrea.
 

Sheikh Kulkuli

Staff Member
ELF was never a islamists movement it was the first movement that resisted the Ethiopian annexation of Eritrea before Tigrinya Christian Highlander joined the struggle. Eritrea owes to Muslim community who fought tooth and nail for an independent Eritrea.
But they were betrayed.
 
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