Ethno-centric Fascism in Ethiopia

Seifu Tsegaye Demmissie — In my opinion, the presence of a fascist force and person commanding absolute political power in Ethiopia is not as adequately debated and discussed as it ought to be. The purpose of this piece is to make a modest contribution to understanding the nature and variant of fascism in Ethiopia and waging an appropriate struggle to abolish it. The emergence and rise of fascism to power in the country can be blamed on a number of factors but I opt to set them aside as they have received adequate treatments by others. Experts dealing with fascism have not been able to agree on and provide a universally accepted definition of it and M. N. Lyons ( cautions against coming up with a general definition of fascism. Instead he recommends an approach which takes into account the dynamic nature of fascism and its forms or variants. However, there are agreements on the common characteristic features of fascism which serve as a basis for defining and explaining the fascistic nature of a given movement or system of rule in any country. It is also worth noting that there are scholars who view fascism as a crude, barbaric form of nihilism and assert that it lacks any coherent ideals or ideology. Like communism, fascism has its origins in Europe and has found its way into the other parts of the world evolving into variants. Generally, because of its extreme right wing ideology and opposition to Marxism and socialism, fascism as a political ideology or system of rule is placed in the far right wing of the political spectrum. Notwithstanding this, the variant of fascism or ethno-centric fascism which has seized political power in Ethiopia, has its origins and roots in the leftist or Marxist student movements of the sixties and seventies in the country, (personal studies). It is of vital importance to have a brief review of the key common characteristic features or traits of fascism to discern and spot the fascistic nature of the tyrannical regime of Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia.

Fascists stress the revival of a mythical ethnic, racial or national past and revise conventional history to create a vision of an idealized past. When equated with, many of the arguments and untenable justifications for secession by The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and other fronts are based on or fashioned along this line. They advance these mythical histories on the basis of their claims of former national greatness whose destruction they blame on such progressive development as nation building, mixing of ethnic groups or races and the rise of a strong feeling for shared values and unity. The persistent and relentless attacks on and hostility of Meles Zenawi and other ethnical fascists towards the forces of sovereignty and unity bear and reflect these features of fascism. As a matter of fact, we have been witnessing that ethno-fascists are opposed to all scientific, economic, religious academic, cultural and leisure activities that do not promote their vision of ethnic political life.

The other key characteristic features of fascism include ethnonationalism, nihilism, the rejection of liberal ideas such as individual freedom and rights, fraudulent elections, ethnic persecution, the accentuation of ethnic supremacy, expansion of ethnic territory, ethnic cleansing with the removal of targeted ethnic groups with the objective of creating an ethnically pure territory. The economic system under fascism is typified by rampant nepotism, cronyism and corruption. According to Lyons ( fascism employs both the populist (it attempts to mobilize the people as a whole against perceived oppressors or enemies) and elitist ( it treats the peoples will as embodied in a select group or often one supreme leader who is the ultimate source of authority). Besides, fascism organizes a cadre-led mass movement in a drive to seize state power and forcibly subordinate all spheres of society to its ideological vision based on a totalitarian state. Both as a movement and a regime, fascism uses mass organizations as a system of integration and control, and uses organized violence to suppress opposition, although the scale of violence varies widely. Fascism uses force to attain and maintain power. Basically, fascism is vehemently opposed to liberal democracy but it borrows concepts and practices from it like broad popular participation in politics and may use parliamentary channels as its instruments of power. There are other common components of fascism, including an exclusionary form of ethnonationalism that narrowly defines who the real people are. Pitting religion and ethnic groups against one another in order to break down the national unity is a device of the divide and conquer technique of fascism.

Fascists employ different methods to garner support, mobilize and advance their agenda. It is worth stating here two of them which are also in common use by the ethno- fascists in Ethiopia. Demonizing and scapegoating are the common methods used by fascists to advance their causes. Demonization is portraying a person or group as totally malevolent, sinful, or evil-perhaps even in league with Satan. Demonizing involves marginalization (using propaganda and prejudice to set people outside the circle of wholesome mainstream society) and dehumanization (negatively labelling the targeted persons). Demonization is portraying a person or group as totally malevolent, sinful, or evil-perhaps even in league with Satan. Demonizing involves marginalization (using propaganda and prejudice to set people outside the circle of wholesome mainstream society) and dehumanization (negatively labelling the targeted persons so they become perceived more as objects than as real people). Scapegoating is blaming a person or group wrongfully for some problem. Scapegoating deflects people’s anger and grievances away from the real causes of a social problem onto a target group demonized as malevolent wrongdoers. The problems being reacted to may be real or imaginary, the grievances legitimate or illegitimate, and members of the targeted group may be wholly innocent or partly culpable. In all these cases the scapegoats are stereotyped as all sharing the same negative trait or are singled out for blame in an unfair and hyperbolic manner.

In this regard, special mention could be made of nihilism which is one of the common features of fascism as mentioned above. Nihilism is the most notable fascistic trait observed in the day to day business of the regime of Meles Zenawi. The utter contempt or disregard the ethno fascist Meles Zenawi and his thugs have for the moral and religious values of our communities (their nihilist way) is evident in their constant bold faced lies and denials of realities on the ground. The recent interviews of one of the gurus of ethno-centric fascism Abboy Sebhat Nega on the VOA, are illustrative of this feature of fascism. The usage of the term ethno-centric fascism is meant to point to the fact that this variant of fascism is anchored or rooted in ethnicity or ethno-nationalism. The designation ethno-fascism can also be taken as its synonym and ethno-centric and ethno-fascism can be used interchangeably. Hence the designations ethno-centric fascism characterizing the system of rule and ethno-fascist referring to the leader are appropriate and justified. In short we see these features of fascism, clearly displayed by the front of Meles Zenawi both as a movement and regime. So the presence of fascism in Ethiopia is now an irrefutable fact and the most serious crisis confronting the country.

Consequently, fascism is not a force for growth and progress, leads to tremendous destruction and human suffering through wars and persecutions and that is why it is strongly linked to racism, totalitarianism and violence. Ethno-fascism poses a grave danger to the very survival of Ethiopia as a country and can be a perennial destabilizing factor in the whole region or sub-region. The Balkanization of Ethiopia (creation of ethnic enclaves) is the imposition of ethnofascism as part of its policy of segregating and pitting the country’s communities against each other. It is well known that any political force equipped with the ideology of fascism is liable to be genocidal or well predisposed to committing genocide. The ethno-fascist regime of Meles Zenawi is being accused of inciting and fomenting the ethnic or inter-communal conflicts which are becoming persistent and more frequent in the country. These ethnic strifes are eating into the heart and soul of the country and can tear it apart. Genocide Watch has urged the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to initiate investigations into the possible genocides the ethno-fascist regime of Meles Zenawi has committed in the Gambella and Ogaden regions of Ethiopia. This is the step in the right direction and all Ethiopians should support this initiative to avert the danger of genocide which is a crime invariably linked to fascism and hovering over the country.



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Posted by on June 24, 2009. Filed under NEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.