The last three decades of market oriented policies in Ethiopia have given us a society where cause and effects have become quite incongruent. Generally speaking, work, particularly creative hard work, is the necessary precondition to acquiring real wealth. This underlying assumption, which served as the corner stone of capitalist reproduction for centuries, is hardly valid in the mature market economies of the world system. In fully monetized economies, it is money creating more money (M-M) that underlies current capitalism. In the so-called developing economies, wealth should be the outcome of a taxing vocation called work, usually productive work (M-P-M). Ethiopia’s modern sector seems to have managed to leapfrog this essential phase of capitalist economic formation. Like those modern ‘feudal lords’ of the advanced industrialized economies, our primordial economy has started to create its own version of a new aristocracy (compliment of unearned income) without even creating the multitude serfs!
One can trace the anomaly of the modern sector to the shallow and unsustainable economic orientation, which decisively favored ‘rent seeking’ above all else. Despite the empty rhetoric of the state (its functionaries) and the parasitic market operators closely aligned to it, what actually obtains in today’s Ethiopia is a ‘rentier system’ par excellence! Land, capital, even labor (thanks to the ethnic configuration of the Republic) are, to a very large extent, under the control of the politicos! The federal model and the market-oriented policies of the EPRDF regime practically and effectively abrogated the land proclamation of the mid 1970s, which made all land the collective property of the nation to be administered by the incumbent state! According to the constitution, the regional states are bestowed with full rights when it comes to land and associated matters. Since the responsibility of allocating as well as administrating land (and related issues) falls under the executive branch of the various regional states, ‘rent seeking activities’ arising from thus, became the main driving force of the entrenched bureaucracies, literally speaking! Formally, there are guidelines to effect equitable distribution of land, but in actuality, it is those connected to the power that be who are conspicuously favored. Characteristically, the politicos leveraged the country’s land in ways that led to the creation of a bona fide landed aristocracy. Herein lies one of the major problems of the country!
In Ethiopia, functionaries or administrative officials (private/state) are also empowered to allocate credit, without much regard to the overall balance critically required by the economy at large. It is this imbalance that is now troubling the country’s economy. Plenty of uncollectable debts have accumulated in the banking system, mostly because of mal-investments in the manufacturing industries, commercial farming, real estate, hotels, export businesses, etc., etc. Since critical thinking is literally ‘outlawed’, common sense cannot dare intervene in such policy matters. For many capable souls going with the flaw became less taxing on the psyche. To those with more pressing conscience, the alternative was either to pack and go or avoid active engagement with the reigning narrative. In the mean time, those connected to the money spigot accrued massive benefits/wealth. When the time of reckoning comes, one can be assured that it won’t be the crooks that would be in hock. Most likely, it would be the sheeple (human mass) that would be on the hook. This is how our so-called wealthy people were/are created in the last three decades. They are created out of thin air, just like the phony money availed to them to buy out settlers from their domiciles, income generating enterprises, etc., etc. It is this grave disfranchising project that became one of the rallying points against the old guards of the EPRDF leadership. The long-term effect of these malpractices is yet to be felt. Currently, the new aristocracy is still enjoying the fruit of its corruption!
It is obvious that our modern day feudal lords will not let go of their privileged positions. At the same time, the sheeple is tired of the mostly vacuous preaching of the elite and its political leadership. The ruling party seems stuck with its old unworkable ways. Dynamic new leadership grounded on various critical thoughts (of all kinds) and endowed with analytical disposition seems unavailable, at least today. Even the hated ‘Mafiosi State’ is still largely intact and seems only to change its tack, not its criminal conviction. Once trust, hence legitimacy, is lost, it would be extremely difficult to bring it back. Gimmicks and trickery cannot go on forever and they will be exposed by the truth sooner than later. We doggedly repeat our old recommendation to EPRDF. EPRDF must accept its mistakes and go back to the drawing board, with a view to dismantling the all rounded ‘rentier system’ it enacted, probably inadvertently. To this end, an effective nation wide integrity system that will significantly involve the public at large must be put in place. The economic policies that are unrealistic and waste a lot of resources, while producing almost nothing of importance, must be seriously interrogated by capable thinkers and not only learned idiots. In short, EPRDF need to dismantle the structure of governance and rent seeking activities that have unleashed a fledging new aristocracy upon the unsuspecting sheeple. Believe it or not, this new aristocracy is effectively dismantling the country!
“I don’t think people realize how the establishment became established. It simply stole the land and property off the poor, surrounded themselves with weak minded sycophants for protection, gave themselves titles and have been wielding power ever since.” Tony Benn (British Politician; 1925-2014) Good Day!