Election season is upon us (does it ever really stop any more?). In a short while the voters in the United States are asked to choose their next despot. The Ghanese will vote in December. Several months later the Netherlands is to follow with general elections tailed shortly by the French general elections (which may turn out interesting).
In the first part of this series I discussed the political situation in Ethiopia. In the second part I dealt with the economic changes which are being forced onto the country. These changes are designed to reform Ethiopia into a capitalist state. This last part will deal with the international position of Ethiopia.
After the end of the civil war against the Derg regime, Ethiopia was split into two countries. The largest part continued to be Ethiopia, while Eritrea split off to became Ethiopia's neighbour. Towards the end of the 20th century there was a border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia in which Eritrea supported the Oromo Liberation Front. During the current protests the Ethiopian government claims that Eritrea is funding these protests in order to destabilize Ethiopia. Whether or not this is true doesn't change anything about the legitimacy of the Oromo's struggle. Moreover, no resistance can be supported without the existence of structural problems.
In the first part I discussed the complex political situation in Ethiopia. Of course, this situation is intimitely connected to the economic situation. Even the best-intentioned political experiments only succeed or, usually, fail because of economic realities. Although the Ethiopian experiment would probably have failed solely on the basis of its reliance on a one-party dictatorship, the country is also undergoing enormous economic changes. The Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the de facto ruling party of the country, calls itself Marxist but has cleary forgotten Marx' insight that class struggle is an important motor of history. One of the major causes of the current wave of protests, which already started in 2015, is the class struggle in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia, like many countries in the region, has a predominantly agricultural economy. The most important export is coffee, followed by sesame seeds. Roughly 85% of the working population works in agriculture, 10% works in services, and only about 5% in industry. In comparison, only 4% of the Dutch working population works in agriculture (Source: Ethiopia,, the Netherlands). While the Netherlands is burdened by a heavily developed form of capitalism, which implies a very technified agriculture, Ethiopia is in a very early stage of capitalism. A country, under the right circumstances, can survive for a long time without developping a later stage of capitalism but the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has decided to try and economically grow the country. Statistics show they've been hugely succesful, but statistics are also an excellent way of covering up the daily reality that people have to live with.
Even the BBC has woken up to the fact that a massive wave of protest is moving through Ethiopia. This isn't completely surprising as over a hundred people have been murdered by the Ethiopian government. The problem with the coverage by the BBC is the lack of an in-depth analysis of the causes of the problem, as is common in mainstream media. They make some superficial comments on land disputes between the Amhara and Tigray. However, the situation in Ethiopia is much more complex and worth a more in-depth analysis.
Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that was never truly colonized by Europe. Italy first tried this during the scramble for Africa but was defeated. Four decades later Mussolini tried again and this time, partly because of the use of mustard gas, the Ethiopians were conquered. It is said that Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia at the time, warned the world with the profetic words "it is us today. It will be you tomorrow."
Erdogan's reign of terror has become so open and clear that most people find it hard to deny Turkey is devolving into a totalitarian dictatorship. The citizens of the United States are asked to make a choice between an incompetent bigoted war-hawk and another incompetent bigoted wark-hawk. Terrorist attacks are now a weekly event in Europe. It's no longer possible to talk of a society or, if one really wants to continue doing so, we must admit that this society has been infected with an almost terminal cancer. After all, we have to deal with the mutual hate being forced down our throats by politicians and corporate media as well as a continuing economic depression the effects of which on the poor are disastrous - and never forget the rich continue to grow richer. The enormous problems surrounding the environment have almost been forgotten but have certainly not dissipated.
We've been born into a world where fear is the only lasting emotion. Solidarity with each other has nearly disappeared and the cancer has grown so big that some dare to claim that the government can mediate solidarity for us. Nothing is further from the truth as solidarity cannot be enforced. Solidarity can only come from ourselves. It's a form of resistance against economic and armed violence as it rejects all forms of violence and force. It's the form of resistance that has become, now more than ever, a most pressing necessity. The time to protest austerity is past as the welfare state and capitalism are dying. We can continue to ignore this simple fact and hope that politicians will magically save everything but, over the past several hundred years, they have proven themselves utterly incapable of providing us with a world of peace and safety. The dream that politicians will save us can only bring us a nightmare. Nevertheless, we do have to organise society as we cannot survive without each other. As such, the time has come to learn to trust each other again, and we can only do so by learning to trust ourselves.
Nowadays, anarchism is a movement on the fringes of society. Anarchists are repeatedly ridiculed by people who know nothing about anarchism, its history, or the constructive work that many anarchists are still working on. Even in the heydays of the movement, anarchists had to fight against almost impossible odds.
IntroductieIn Gaston Leval's words, "it succeeded in achieving, in many cases completely, the finest ideal conceived by the human mind and this will be its permanent glory." It had already been an eventful week, eighty years ago, when a radio-station had been occupied for a short time by fascists on the 11th of July. A day later, the fascists shot a socialist assault guard lieutenant which was avenged by some of his comrades who 'arrested' the leader of the parliamentary right-wing. However, they were friendly enough to deliver his corpse to the cemetary (Murray Bookchin, The Spanish Anarchists: The Heroic Years 1868-1936). The army had already, by that time, been planning a coup for several months. When the government was informed about these plans they merely replied by reiterating their faith in the military power of the government (Bookchin). A strange reaction, when that same military power was planning the coup.
On the 18th of July the generals issued a pronunciamento in which they declared they had taken power. Throughout Spain, soldiers began crawling out of their barracks and started to occupy strategic places. The CNT and FAI militants were well aware of the likely repercussions of a military take-over and had long since begun preparations to resist. In Barcelona, at the center of Spain's most important industrial region, the soldiers were greeted by the worker's bullets. The rebels were defeated in Barcelona, the North of Basque, Madrid, a significant area of the south of Spain, and one of the Balearic islands. A heroic but too often forgotten struggle that lasted more than two years ensued. However, this wasn't just a war between competing power-hungry dictators. The Spanish Civil War was also a struggle by workers who defended themselves and, in the rearguard, tried to build a new world.
Another major world event has been able to gain our attention. Some saw a shining ray of hope in the attempted coup in Turkey, the Black Rose federation quickly showed the eery similarities between Erdogan and the army. The reports we've had over the years from Turkey - filtered by a media that is alternately very negative or positive towards this country, depending on the necessities of Western politics - give us few reasons to be hopeful. After several hours the coup was reported to have failed and Erdogan - who is now likely to become a sort of folk-hero who defeated the army - was able to return to Istanbul triumphantly. Some in the Turkish government have already started talking about re-introducing the death penalty (Dutch link) and Erdogan seems to be following Stalin's example from the 1930s.
Every time some world event like this happens some immediately try to blame a multitude of different actors. Within an hour, a rumour spread that the coup was staged by Erdogan to allow him to relegitimize himself and his reign of terror. Another theory claims he already knew about the coup but allowed it to continue nonetheless. Others put the blame on the usual suspects: CIA, Mossad, Zionists, the New World Order, and so forth. This strategy of pointing fingers has become common-place and expected at every major world event from Daesh bombings, to the attack on the twin towers, to this coup. It's time to stop this behaviour and look at solutions instead.
The living anarchist movement has, since it's beginnings some two-hundred years ago, constantly tried to expand its scope.