The Enigma of Political Philosophies: “Unified Struggle for Democracy” and “Compromise- Give and Take”
The Enigma of Political Philosophies: “Unified Struggle for Democracy” and “Compromise- Give and Take” _____________________________________ The current hot political debate, which has recently showered assenna website, attracts a lot of citizens to throw more gentle, constructive and disciplined
The Enigma of Political Philosophies:
“Unified Struggle for Democracy” and “Compromise- Give and Take”
The current hot political debate, which has recently showered assenna website, attracts a lot of citizens to throw more gentle, constructive and disciplined comments on the flowing political philosophies generated mainly by Mr. Festum Abraham and Mr. Petros Haile. More or less both writers have brought us elegant, instructive, rational and convincing ideas that enable to understand our history and current politics from different angles. This civilized political discussion motivates such responsible and rational commentators to raise potential national questions and feedback with intention to tackle the existing problems in Eritrea though Mr. Salim usually engages in defamation. And he must be thanked because he is doing what he can do to his level at least to provoke more discussion.
In this forum I would like to concentrate specifically on Mr. Petros’ comment which has been prepared in more scholastic manner raising good historical substance to substantiate his current and previous arguments that he has raised. Thus, I am interested in throwing some light to certain particular issues brought as comments to which I have diverged to certain degree; and optimistically, it can help us for further discussion to explore the political trend of the nation.
Petros: “Today’s crisis it is a little more complicated, for one thing it is a host of issues that requires heavy emphasis with the civil rights, and how to manage diverse conflicting local interest within the confines of Eritrean sovereignty … a simplistic formula of lets love each other, would not do it … This does not mean Ato Woldeab & Shek Ibrahim were not a wise leaders, indeed they were exceptional leaders for their time , however the current dilemma requires a different strategy since it encompasses the rights of the citizens interest from all angels …and there is no forign element to blame!”
Me: Mr. Petros emphasized on how to manage the diverse conflicting local interests within the circle of sovereignty of the state. It is a good idea to entertain with such challenges, but I do not agree with you to reject the “simplistic formula of let love each other”, suggested by Mr. Festum, as unworkable approach.
In my opinion, that formula could serve a benchmark for healthy political transformation in Eritrea, because if the citizens, no matter of their differences, should respect and love each other, it will create a ground for synchronized cooperation which can pave way for mutual growth and common happiness; and such scenario can significantly consider diversities of ethnicity, interest, vision, mission, religion, culture, history and other elements as an asset, not a menace, which collectively secure the national interest. But, hatred the other face of the coin, if you do not accept or undermine the simplistic formula of love, that brings disrespect, division, intolerance, tension, mistrust, conspiracy and unhealthy competition, can be dangerous for co-existence of diversified societies. Consequently, the existing political character of the opposition forces has paralyzed the struggle for justice and democratization.
In spite of the fact that involvement or at least the impact of external forces needs deeper research studies, and cannot be used as apology to disguise the internal weaknesses, I do believe that there are foreign elements we need to blame to certain level or at least required vigilance accounting the degree of their interaction with the political affairs of Eritrea. For instance the current ethnic politics in Eritrea is more promoted, politicized and financed by Ethiopia, though it has historical roots and problems. Sometimes the Government of Ethiopia invites experts to consult and train the opposition parties to foster more sectarian politics. Other challenges that Eritrea has faced a growing tendency of “Islamic extremism” more impacted by foreign elements flowing from Sudan and other Arab countries though at this moment it seems silent or possibly get hibernated as the country is in tension with “Icon of Christianity”, Ethiopia; and in progressive diplomatic relationship with the Sudanese government. Jihad has been a serious problem in Eritrea especially in lowland until 2005; and the rhetoric and grievances are still there.
Petros: “Brother Fistum, please don’t forget we were given a highly conditional deal, when our constitution was drafted by U.N representative; to accommodate the diverse cultural setting of Eritrea, and the heavy emphasis of the Tigringna, christian , and highlanders of Ethiopia, in which they found sympathetic ear from the Eritrean highlanders as well … our flag was given by the U.N, and our official language was considered to include both Tigringna and Arabic , The federal arrangement was a go between Ethiopia’s and Eritrea’s wishes and demands, including the U.S strategic interest , not to mention the Eritrean assembly, it was a compromised and conditional offer after carefully studied the interest of the various factions … by the way the independece blocks were composed of many parties, and the liberal party, led by Ato Woldeab, and the Islamic league by Ibrahim Sultan were among the five or six that constitute the block …. here the process was conditional, the application was a give and take, and the composition were very diverse … as you assume it was not a sham and unconditional unity…1940′s and 50′s … it has the art of inclusion, and process of coalition making on all fronts … Imagine if there was an armed insurgents movement exists at that time, it would have complicated the whole process….”
Me: Mr. Petros, frankly speaking your argument is meaningful, bold and convincing through which our politicians can get some essential lessons. But, it is very important to investigate the particularities of time, space and context whenever we want to apply or at least to enshrine the past experiences or tactics into current political developments. Those elements in Independence Block had their own challenges or possibly circumstances to involve in compromise; and successfully appeared as pillars of independence. Some of the conditions that speeded up the compromise were the ideas of partition as you mentioned, violent action of those Unionists group against pro-independence group, consistent involvement of Ethiopia in the internal affairs of Eritrea, strong impact of the Orthodox Church with unionism agenda, the image of Ethiopia as black independent country, the ethnic, historical and cultural linkage of Ethiopia with those Highlanders etc. Having those challenging equations, the Muslim and Christian had to do a fundamental compromise to exist as roots of independence.
Mr. Pertros, obviously, now, we are in different stage with different political realities and scenario possessing an independent sovereign state, but failed to achieve its dream. The basic national question is: what do we do to build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous state? Compromise with tactics of give and take? Unconditional union forming a transitional government or a unified struggle for democracy as Mr. Festum voiced?
Even though there is a dilemma of reaching in best decision to involve in compromise before or post autocratic government either. In my opinion, if the opposition parties are capable and mature enough to hold a constructive compromise, it can be a turning point in political development of Eritrea, but what we can do if the political elites fail to engage in. There are a lot of catalyst factors or elements that motivate and determine Eritreans to establish at least to stand up for unconditional unity to get rid of autocracy that could bear a fertile environment to saw a civilized seeds of compromise in the near future:
- i. Wanting to respect for freedom of worship for both Christians and Muslims;
- ii. Confronting linear oppression affecting all classes of citizens;
- iii. Having acknowledged oppositions coming from all sides- intellectuals, farmers, soldiers, business community and any other ordinary citizen as it remains violent for each segment or class of the society;
- iv. gaining growing support from both young and old generation though there is a gradual change in the political perception of elders;
- v. aspiration to bring both economic and political transformation which affects each household;
- vi. desiring to combat a militant, hostile, oppressive and aggressive to everyone no matter the origin, ethnicity, religion or region of the person;
- vii. endorsing all the fundamental rights such as right to live independently; right for free movement; right for free worship; right for further education; right to speak freely; right to have assemblage or association, right to participate in the political affairs of the country etc;
- wishing to establish a peaceful coexistence with all neighboring countries which destroys our economy and throws our brothers and sister into meaningless war; and
- ix. strong aspiration to form a peaceful, united, prosperous and democratic state.
Petros: “Dear Fistum … Who opposes democracy or for that matter Unity, I am just saying the unconditional part is misplaced, and it seems you are using it for a very populist propaganda to woo the unenlightened segment, and for the purpose of public consumptions, normally a public speaker uses such a language to impress upon its constituents, hoping to vote for him/her … but when it comes to the real deal, it requires a great deal of compromising and give and takes, even a coalition makings …. I am having a very difficult time distinguishing the slogan’s you guys often use from that of PFDJ, in fact I can go further , as DERG used to declare “Enat Hager woy Mot”, or the Emperor ‘s “Ethiopia woy Mot”, and yours as well “Unity or Fragmentation”, I sincerely believe we should see things beyond the untimely and superficially designed catchy slogans…”
Me: Mr. Petros, I am not pretty sure how you conceptualize the idea of unconditional unity or the senses of struggling with “Unity or Fragmentation”. You stated that it was done for the purpose of public consumption. I do not think so this is a right political analysis that you came with. Since inception of independence, whether it is well or less organized, we have opposition groups opposed EPLF and later PFDJ. Currently, because of bad political chemistry and brutality of PFDJ, the number of opposition groups gets skyrocketed, but sick, for the last the last 10 years.
The process of incubation is still continuous and quickly reached more than 30 political parties, but remained ineffective and unproductive while our people are getting harassed, tortured, detained and murdered. No practical force has emerged within the consistent process of incubation and fragmented struggle to bring either political transformation or significant mass mobilization to heal pain of Eritrans. Rather the process of incubation has brought hatred, power struggle, mistrust, and despair among the public which fail to involve in compromise as Mr. Petros argues.
The human dignity of Eritreans is totally crushed; and our fellow citizens get auctioned in the hands of criminal human traffickers either for ransom or body organ harvest. The disastrous political journey of the opposition, failed to compromise, motivates Mr. Festum to develop the idea of “unconditional unity” to remove the autocracy and save the life our citizens during this national emergency. It is time for salvation, not for compromise. Therefore, Mr. Petros has taken the wrong truck to compare Mr. Festums’s approach with that of hypocrite PFDJ and the deceased military junta, Derg.
Petros: “This Black and White approach can easily slide into rigidity, and eventually to a highly antagonistic conflicts, not to mention, it is too simplistic, even for scholarly debate … Just like you painted a rosy picture towards democratic concepts, the same is with “Unity”, in fact the favorite slogan for pfdj til recently was “One Nation, One heart & One destiny”, isn’t this the same as “unconditional unity”, and look where it takes our beloved nation, unless you come up with a clearly distinguished definition and characterization of these over used and demagogic sound bites, no one would take you seriously, just like I mentioned it above , in the name of Unity many crimes were committed, specially as you are proposing “the unconditional Unity”, which is vague in theory, very scary in applications … God save us from the advocates of the unknown!!! …is the language diplomats use to put their conditions out of the unconditional talk offers … but your preoccupation with unconditional unity is unheard off …. Please direct me which science is addressing this issue … its not even valid for romance fiction!”
Me: One of the greatest failures of social media is very hard to identify someone’s identity, background, expertise, personal interest or ego, political position, philosophy and approach, and the forces behind the bar. Now, it is very hard for me to reach in such reasonable conclusion. Previously, I have asked certain questions to Mr. Petros that enable me to digest the discussion more deeply, but he could not answer them. I should raise some potential questions that enable us to understand the issue from different dimension.
If I am not wrong, I usually find your comment that significantly advocates more about Ethnic or possibly sectarian politics. I solemnly request an answer for the following questions:
- Does Eritrea have a serious ethnic, religious or regional discrimination or segregation in Eritrea?
- Do you think it is a national problem or more provoked by political elites?
- Who are the oppressed people?
- Who are the oppressors?
- If you believe that there is a discrimination, who is discriminated?
- Who are the discriminators?
- Have you done any independent and objective research on these matters?
- If not, can you bring us a well documented statistical figure from any credible and well researched sources which can substantiate the above stated problems?
- How do you see the trend of social justice in Eritrea (specifically, the tendency of distribution of infrastructure, school, clinics, electricity, and water supplies to meet the physiological needs of the society)?
- Do you think that Eritrea has an ethnic, religious or region based system or government?
- Do you believe that individual rights in particular or rights of minority at large can be managed and guaranteed by “overnight compromises” with principle of give and take while the country sinks in emergency situation?
Mr. Petros in your comment, you said, “‘the unconditional Unity’… is vague in theory, very scary in applications … God save us from the advocates of the unknown!!!” I do not agree with such kind of conceptualization or political analaysis without understanding the scientific procedure of problem solving approach. Previously, Mr. Festum has defined unconditional unity in simple, plane and objective way if you read it with open mind:
“Unconditional unity is only to form the transitional government not the elected Eritrean government through democracy. They unite today with all their differences intact only and work under a united front that would be the transitional or temporary government in post Afwerki Eritrea and then they separate to their individual parties during the transitional period (2-4 years) and then they compete for power through election period.”
Equally, I do not accept your analysis to equate “unconditional unity” with that of PFDJ’s political rhetoric claiming “One Nation, One heart & One destiny”. The difference is visibly between white and black, because “unconditional unity” respects political differences and civil rights designed temporarily to get rid of autocracy whereas “One Nation, One heart & One destiny” does not totally allow political pluralism, diversity and civil rights instilled permanently and coercively with intention of power grip and oppression. The idea of “unified struggle for democracy” seems a workable and reasonable political strategy to address our problems if the opposition forces are incapable to compromise with each other.
In fact I found Mr. Petros’ philosophy/approach/strategy/principle, “Compromising Through Give and Take”, more ambiguous, confusing and impractical accounting the realistic situation in Eritrea. Because, have we done an objective and extensive research on ethnic politics? Have we discovered our problems? If your answer is yes, what kind of compromise we need to do? On what basis? What gives or takes? How to do? Where to do? Who decides? The mass or political elites? Are there established institutions, organizational charter, legal framework, efficient human power and material resources etc to implement in this critical time? Brother Petros, if you are capable to answer all these questions, your political strategy may be perfect which can bring sustainable peace and healthy democracy in Eritrea?
I need to summarize the whole forum by stating a very instructive analogy that can clearly describe the situation of our county.
One a resilient pregnant mother has an irresponsible husband, and fails to be a good model and successful head of family. The mother has nine children who have different background, identity, attitude, interest and vision. Their father is very arrogant, aggressive and coercive; and never accounts the differences of his children, because he conceives himself as perfect and always right in unifying them by any means. Consequently, the children become rebellious, but have failed to establish a collective struggle or at least common understanding or harmmony to liberate their home. The tolerant pregnant mother is still suffering from malnutrition, despair, stress and domestic violence which increasingly complicate her pregnancy. She goes to hospital, and admits to emergency room. The doctors warn that the mother reaches in serious condition as she has continuous pain and bleeding. She could not get any external support from her relatives or friends as her naughty husband has isolated her for long time. The medical doctors are in intensive discussion to decide which type of surgery is best to save the life of the mother and child, but the emergency room needs quick blood transfusion, and moral support for her as her husband is not a kind, caring, loving and sympathetic type of person. The mother is crying; the children get divided into two sections claiming:
- “Unconditional unity” to donate al necessary blood and hope to their suffering mother primarily and swiftly turn to remove the rude father who has devastated the harmony of the family. Then after saving the life of their mother, and controlling their home, they will discuss deeply on how to address their differences, setting legal frameworks, and sharing the power tightly controlled by their autocratic father, and
- “compromise through give and take” sitting seriously on table to settle and mange their conflicting interests what time it takes or what risks their mother face to avoid any future disorder or misunderstanding before they do collective efforts to save the bleeding pregnant mother, and to remove the nasty husband regardless the emergency needs.
Therefore, I can say that it is the choice of the Eritrean people to pursue the right strategy to determine the destiny of their country though I give priority to salvation of my people and my nation.
I would like to acknowledge both Mr. Petros and Mr. Festum for your commitment to enlighten our people!
May God Bless our Country!!
May 25, 2013