by Solomon Tessema G. (semnaworeq.blogspot.com)
Great questions have the habit of reappearing in Human history. They reappear among all peoples and in all races; and since the establishments of a government in human history; people have been confronted at many periods with a tendency on the one hand to confer greater power upon the single leader, and the other to confer greater authority upon the majority. It is the larger outlines of this problem in which I am more deeply interested, because, having all my readings and studying the fundamental principles and the underlying policies of socialism. I am profoundly convinced that Ethiopia’s ruling party and the late Meles Zenawi are/were opening the door to that policy. If this act relentlessly perused, it inevitably brings a totalitarian form of government in Ethiopia.
At the time of the 1970’s students’ movements, the progressive camp was confronted with innumerable difficulties. But, unfortunately they were diverted for cheap socialist propaganda by the herculean regime. Tilahun Gizaw passionately exclaimed that the men who struggled for that change were “great men, not for that time alone, but for any time, for all time.”
However, the blind Samson and his successor (the other blind one), had not almost thorough and accurate knowledge of all the experiments in government made in the centuries gone. Without having adequate insight into human nature and human motives, they don’t understand at once the strength and weakness of all these attempts at government, and they did not seek to formulate a system that would preserve the one and eliminate the other.
They gleaned from the frightful pages of history that governments in the past had not endured because they had failed to recognize one or the other of the two fundamentals of all stable government- the rights of the individual on the one hand and the rights of the State on the other.
THE INDIVIDUAL VERSUS THE STATE
The blind Samson and his successors didn’t know that in some countries the formulated principle of the government established was individual right and individual liberty—the one dominating, overwhelming idea being that the individual was everything and the State nothing. They didn’t/do not see that the application of that theory to the affairs of the government ended in a tyranny of the one man to despotic that it could not long be tolerated, and that all such efforts resulted in an utter failure to accomplish the chief end for which government must be designed if it is the endure.
They did/do not understand, too, that in other countries that fundamental principle upon which their government were established was the right and power of the majority—the one undisputed idea being that the State was everything and the individual nothing—and that the State was but the will of the majority as expressed at any given time.
They were blind that governments thus established were unstable because the individual was entirely submerged and the minority was given no consideration whatever, and, of course, inasmuch as the man and the minority were deemed to have no rights, there was no provision made in any of these countries for protecting or defending them. Our blind leaders didn’t see that this led to tyranny of the majority as despotic and far more dangerous than the tyranny of the individual, for no matter how galling the rule of the one tyrant, the majority can finally overthrow his power and, if need be, destroy him. But who can behead the majority? No matter how intolerable their rule, what power can stay the hand of the multitude?
And, therefore, our leaders didn’t see that if they would establish a permanent government they must nicely adjust and balance the right of the individual on the one hand and the right of the State on the other, giving to each the largest possible sphere of activity consistent with the rights of the other and securing each from indiscriminate invasion by the other.
These blind Samson were ignorant to knew, as every student of history must know, that the great struggles of the past were to secure the recognition of individual liberty; and they didn’t see, as we observed, the leader mustn’t see, that all governments that failed to take this fundamental into account when establishing their institutions have failed and fallen and passed into history. Whenever they mix up the question of the individual’s right with the tricky jargons, such as ‘the proletarian’ or ‘the nations, nationalities and peoples’ or ‘the terrorist’ or ‘fundamentalist/extremist’, they pay the heavy cost dearly.
These blind Samson didn’t investigate that because of this failure monarchies were destroyed, kingdoms subverted, principalities ruined, aristocracies overthrown, and that they were all finally swept away by the ever-ascending spirit of individual liberty, which is the white-winged angel of human progress. And yet they didn’t learn from a study of the past, as we tried to do, a blind Samson who didn’t study, about any government founded upon the one overmastering principle of the liberty of the individual cannot endure. And so our leaders denied without the duty of recognizing and preserving the rights of the individual on the one hand and at the same time giving equal recognition and preservation of the rights of the State. And they didn’t/don’t wave a fabric so enduring, that from that time to this the progress of our country to challenge the wonder and the admiration of the world.
THE FOUR PILARS OF ENDURING GOVERNMENT
In my judgement we are confronted with a condition that in the first place will add to the autocratic authority of one man, and on the other hand will give increasing power to the majority. These institutions of ours are based upon four fundamentals. They are, first, individual rights and to preserve these individual rights a government threefold in character—legislative, executive, and judicial. The four pillars of enduring representative government, founded upon a constitution and preserved by its provision, are, therefore, individual rights—the power of the legislature, the power of the executive, and the power of the courts. If either one of these pillars be pulled down by any blind Samson, the whole edifice will crumble and fall to ruin. Therefore, when we consider the result of giving increased power either to the leader of Ethiopia, we threaten the invasion of the sphere of representative government from both sides, which, if persisted in, must inevitably bring the whole fabric to destruction.
What do I mean by that prepositions? We all know that for many years in this country the inevitable, aye, the well-nigh irresistible tendency has been to augment the authority of the leader. This has resulted, first, because of the general demand of the people, who almost universally believe in the leader and insist on his sole leadership; and , second, because of his being the titular head of the party in power, and the general desire of members of the parliament to follow his leadership for political reasons. This policy has been pursued the leader to wield a power that is blindfolded.
But how was it all wielded? By the one man at the head of it all, the blind Samson (tyrant) who governed it all and controlled it all, and who wielded that immense organization because this socialized state enabled him to do it.
THE DANGER IN “GOVERNMENT” OWNERSHIP
If it be stated this predictions is only an ideal dream, I answer that this use of these forces has already begun in this country and will become more and more dangerous as the number of industries under Government control is increased. There is no enough room in Ethiopia for the Command Economy’s flag and for Free Market’s flag, thus we must fly the free market’s flag over the other. How could we allow the two flags to fly high? But the blind Samson tried to so for the last two decades maliciously.
The blind Samson often says, “You are all my boys and girls, and I don’t intend to let anyone kick you around, for I will defend you to the limit when you are loyal to me and my party, and you won’t go wrong against my will…. I am sure.” Here comes the significant statement, which points the moral to my argument. Samson’s idea is as straight a bid for control as was ever made anywhere in this country. Suppose there were 5,000,000 of them, cannot anyone see the power, cannot anyone apprehend the danger? And what was the inevitable result? Scarcely has his words ceased to echo throughout the county until there was a perceptible letting down in efficiency among the unemployed. This is but human nature, and nothing less was to be expected, for if the men who are employed are told by the man who employed them that, in substance, they can do as they please, and that nobody shall be permitted to interfere, as a matter of course that will result in a greater laxity in the performance of duty.
Everybody knows that this is the situation with the unemployed nowadays, and everybody must know, too, that the governmental control of the lines will mean a greater degree of inefficiency in their operation, just as it does wherever the Government controls. And this movement for government ownership, like a ball of snow, gathers force as it is pushed along.
There was too much of a tendency here and now and always to accentuate class existence in Ethiopia since the military regime. Some want legislation for labouring men. Some want legislation for the manufacturers. Others want legislation for the men engaged in some particular calling or vocation. I object to that sort of class legislation. What kind of class existence the ruling party cadres talk controlling the land ownership by the hands of the government? What kind of labour right form any side they want to legislate, after they control all the industries, factories, buildings, and businesses; even the bigger cafes at the hands of their officials and affiliates? We ought to have Laws passed for the benefit of the whole Ethiopia people, knowing that what inures to the benefit of one would, if it be a just policy of government, inure to the benefit of all, and that what helps all would, with the proper exercise of industry, help each individual unit of society.
If the loyalty or patriotism of any one is suspected, let him/her be investigated, let him be placed under surveillance, let his communications be censured, but don’t on order to catch the guilty few inaugurate a universal system of espionage in the country that will prove expensive and oppressive and achieve no results comparable to the mischief it will produce.
I believe that it opens up a highway which, if we tread it, will lead finally to the overthrow of this country. Our children, when they grow up, should grow up with patriotism and open-minded. They must grow up to a nation which believes in liberty, in equality and in fraternity. However, the blind Samson pulled down the pillars of freedom, equality, fraternity, tolerance, co-existence and he worked to crumble the whole edifice and fall to ruin.
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