The power of Non-Violence and the Force of Tyranny By Teodros Kiros

June 3rd, 2011 Print Print Email Email

Power is the ability to overcome obstacles by the use of reason, and there are two forms of power; external power, a power that aims at achieving ends by using power as a form of domination, and internal power, a power that first attends to a dispassionate examination of its condition before it interacts with others.

Force is the capacity is use physical strength to overcome obstacles.

Internal Power is the essential quality of non-violence and force is the essential quality of tyranny. The organizing principle of non-violent resistance is internal power and the organizing principle of tyranny is force, and these principles are diametrically opposed and cannot be reconciled. That is why tyranny can be overcome only by internal power, inspite of tyranny’s overt arrogance in seeking to intimidate democratic force which resist it by a
patient, organized and trained collectivities which refuse to leave streets once they resolve to fight tyranny.

Whereas tyrannies use force to achieve their aims, those who resist them do not use force, even when they are forced into it, as was done in Egypt’s uprising to a limited degree, and now in Syria in a full fledged way, the classical modality of uprising, true to its nature, does use force to achieve its aims.

Classical non-violence takes great pride it training its followers to train themselves to overcome their oppressors by taking beatings, jails and abuses as was done in the practices of the civil rights moments in the American south in the struggle against segregation.
The Ethiopian condition that is maturing now as the tyrannical apparatus continues to discourage and intimidate any potential uprising infact can be resisted only by the internal power on non-violence.

The current Ethiopian condition is the ripe ground where non-violent resistance can be staged in the yearning for regime change. The Ethiopian youth could have easily flooded the streets of Addis to resist tyranny. But they know better, and they decided to stay home and resist tyranny. Non-participation, when the time is not ripe, is also a form of non-resistance as I argued in my recent article, “ Our Moral struggle continues”.

It is this subtle form of resistance, which I celebrated recently. This form of silent resistance is the first stage of explicit resistance, which will come in the form of time, and when the objective and subjective conditions of the Ethiopian condition permit.

Organizing a non-violent form of resistance requires vigilance to Fortuna and virtu, Fortuna must bless the venture and virtu must be willing and capable of accommodating the moods of Fortuna. I advise my readers to visit my article the “The People’s Machiavelli”, in, for my usage of the concepts of Fortuna and Virtu.

Teodros Kiros
Professor of Philosophy and English (Liberal Arts)
Berklee College of Music

  1. aha!
    | #1

    The authors form of reasoning follows the syntheis approach using philosophical and theological approach in his narratives to resolve Ethiopian political, economic and humanitarian crises. To my understanding both those approaches fall short of inductive approach to resoving the above mentioned crises by way of adopting a clear cut goals for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians with strategies to achive those goals, while the approaches stipulated do not lend themselves to inductive logic approach.

    The synthesis/modular approach in these article lends itself to inductive logic approach as long as ethnic and secessionist politics and/or policies are incorporated in the equation, using the laws of physics to deliniate these two forces, which designates as external and internal forces and I designate as positve forces of integration and negative forces of disintegration, where the latter uses ethnic and secessionist politics and /or policies as the operating system with its tools and utilities, inscribed in the constituion, which directly supported by the teltafi parties and implicitely supported by the loyalist opposition paties, now Medrek/fdd/fdre, with ethnic agenda and the liberation movements of secession upto self determination. If the author also channels his Ethiopianity/Ethiopiawinet concepts into to a concept of thininking of Ethiopiawinet before ethnicity and thinkining in terms of Ethiopian Nationalism and Ethiopian National Intersts rather ethnic nationalism and ethnic national intersts, in order to incite a non-violent uprising/raction to freedom not democracy, where democracy is a product of free individuals electing a party that rules by the consent of the governed, to remove autocratic rule, ethnocratic rule/ethnic dictorship (majority/minorty) to pure democratic government
    devoid of ethnic fereralism and secessionism, resorting to the original provinces (Article 46) and freedom and liberty of the individual is at the fore front of the agenda for the uprising by the opposition forces coalescing around the clear cut goals for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, not in any other forms of association as being contemplated by the author in the form of fdd, or in form of alliance, AFD, “enemy of my enemy is my friend”, to arrive an inductive logic approach to resolving the political, economic, humanitarian crises befalling the silent majority of Ethiopians, who silenced but not actually silent.

  2. Sam
    | #2

    I see no silent resistance in Ethiopia as Teodros seemed to have seen. Are there burning issues which the populace sought to be addressed that called upon an uprising? Of course, there are. But Ethiopians are not willing to take a chance. For good reason. The Ethiopian government is trigger-happy. The government is hell-bent to kill, send to prison anyone who strived to be part of an insurgency. The government rational for clamping down any dissent is EPDRF had won an election. Are the majority of Ethiopians wish EPDRF to go? Of course. Only the very few who ride the regime to make the most out of the destitues’ misery argue otherwise. There are, however, no silent resistence. But Teodros sees nothing but silent resistence in Ethiopia. Here is how he put it: “The Ethiopian youth could have easily flooded the streets of Addis to resist tyranny. But they know better, and they decided to stay home and resist tyranny. Non-participation, when the time is not ripe, is also a form of non-resistance.” Non-participation from what? This is a strange concept. If the youth just go keep doing personal business, shutting out what is happening in the country, is it non-participation resistance? Then could anyone enlighten me at what time we could say there is no non-participation resistance? I do not see any time frame for that. I think it is a fact and convincing to say the 2005 massacre scared the youth out of anything political. It is also true to say that after 2005, the government purposely tried to divide the loyalitty of the youth. Geeting job, making it in Ethiopia reqiures the EPDRF membership passport. In order to make a living, some believed it was necessary to answer for the EPDRF’s calling. I do not blame them. So it is misguided to believe the whole youth will rise as one for the demise of the EPDRF’s regime. Yes, the majority would because there are no that many jobs to promise around. But floating the promise around, as the government has kept doing, has drained out what every unity the youth had before 2005. Ethiopia is changing. Teodros, I personally believe, should accept the new reality in Ethiopia: the government has the right to micromanage any Ethiopians life now. The promise of the future is a selling card any EPDRF cadre sells to any youth who is willing to compromise his conscience with his/her “promised future.” Maybe that is why there is no uprising in Ethiopia. It is not a bad idea to have it as an alternative theory. Give it a thought, Teodros.

  3. teodros kiros
    | #3

    Thanks Sam. This is an intelligent and courteous response. I am so used to perpetual abuse that I was genuinely shocked to be treated to such a well thought out response.
    You made my day, Sam, for which I am greatefull.

  4. Lakew
    | #4

    Teodros and Sam, the Ethiopian youth is way smarter than you give them credit. In your hypothesis of the current predicament of the youth, you failed to mention the biggest elephant in the room. It’s not that the youth has all of the sudden learned a newly found fear of authorities after the crack down in 2005, no; it’s just what happened to their “cause” and alleged “leaders” then after what made the difference to their current approach. While the youth was forced to a barrage of assault in the name of justice and idealism, its so-called leaders exhibited the worst kind of treason of trust of unbelievable proportions. When a cowardly bunch try to lead courageous men, when clueless few try to take the clever to the promise land or the disorganized and incompetent pretends to be the chosen one, its only a matter of time before the house of cards collapse and shed light on the participating actors. How do you expect the youth to put up a good fight if their leaders choose to flee the country in droves than to take the heat and be counted? How else do you expect the youth to be inspired while you exhibit an utter discontent of your own “principles” like the well documented squabbling between its leaders. A cracked and fractured opposition cannot be the GPS for a weekend outing let alone a long and hard voyage. That’s the lesson the youth learnt from that revolution. The conclusion it drew is not to be “silent”, rather to be active participant of the current endeavor and build upon it – not try to destroy it to start from scratch. The youth is not silent as you alleged – it’s just you having this eerie feeling because you are not hearing the noises of devastation as loud you wish them to be. Sam, trust me, you don’t have to be an active EPRDF member to make a difference or to make it big in today’s Ethiopia. As reasonable as you seem to appear, I feel like you are trapped with the distorted picture being painted by the misguided few Diasporas. I know we have long ways to go to get where we need to get – but the baby steps being taken by this government are the better alternative to the youth than the hot balloon formulas offered by the dysfunctional “opposition”. Those are lessons learned the hard way – not the choice to be silent.

  5. kentu
    | #5

    so many people need reform in ethiopia but how some through none violence some coup some fir by f ire firfirst start by none violence for the last 20 years it doesn’t work go to next coup so who are in military the same weyane go next go through violence it is like somalia it is true there is too many groups so which one none because we have only one choice አዝማሪ እንደ ሰሎሙን ተካሊን we have no moral at all, periodic goshu was right we need cultural revolution

  6. Sam
    | #6

    Lakew: You have a point that I agree with. The fleeing of the Kinijit leaders to North America after they were “pardoned” –pay attention it is under quotation– had immense psycological impact, especially for the youth. But there is a big leap from your pointing out of the fact the leaders being spinless to your recommendation of me embracing EPDRF’ politics. Lakew, ” I am not as reasonable as [I] seem to appear.” I am downright reasonable. Maybe you only understand Ethiopian politics if you have a camp to name in the political discourse which you belong. No, I do not need a camp. I support political ideas, opinions, beliefs from which ever political sectors it came from, as long as it reflects what I held dear. And furthermore, I felt insulted when you wrote “I feel like you are trapped with the distorted picture being painted by the misguided few diasporas.” You simply just wrote I am somebody who is not able to have his own political beliefs but who can easily be brainwashed “by the few misguided diaspora.” That is something new, Lakew, because I always believe I form my own beliefs with my own learning. I regard myself way above from being brainwashed by few diaspora slogans. Lakew, I think when somebody tries to see issues independent of the dogma political parties attach to their beliefs, that person’s wish to see politics outside “mob mentality”

  7. rezene kadissaba
    | #7

    Lakew – I salute you. The oppositions are not getting the point. When we voted for them in 1997; they over interpreted it. They thought we meant ‘get rid of EPRDF’. No. Voting only has one message. I want you to work for me. No interpretation needed. But the opposition were looking for the ‘power’ to eradicate EPRDF and start from scratch. Lemisa Yasebunin Lekurs Aregnatchew – happened.
    When Americans vote the Democrates over the Republican – do they want the Republicans be disolved? No. Why is so different in Ethiopia?

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