“Addisitu” Ethiopia Facing Double Crisis: A Reminder By Fisseha Tadesse Feleke

August 14th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

This is not urgent, especially for active players in the field of realpolitik. Maybe it is. What I want to say in this piece is in fact not urgent in the sense that it doesn’t ask, let alone propose, as to what ought to be done about what could currently be perceived as a burning issue. But I think it is extremely important in that it tries to evoke thinking about what needs to be thought, in order once for all to encounter our (burning) Present face-to-face, even before posing the aforementioned question: What needs to be done with respect to this or that specific problem.

Understanding the nature of the overall crisis we find ourselves in is the necessary condition to propose the type of diagnosis to any of our specific problems. My intention here is therefore to call for a direction of our attention toward developing a particular perspective from which we may gain a proper understanding of the overall crisis that has befallen us ever since we are said to have belonged “to the bloc of our [the Western] modern world.”

Let me first state the obvious: we are in crisis—in a self-decentering crisis.

No doubt, we are not alone in this. Since modernity in itself generates crisis, the modern world as a whole has all along been in crisis. One German sociologist identifies the crisis in the loss of rationality of the early 20th Century that gave food for Freud’s and Weber’s thought as “difficult modernity,” and the situation between the two great world wars with which such radical thinkers as, inter alia, Junger and Bloch, Lukacs and Schmit, Reich and Gehlen were engaged as “un-beloved modernity.” He goes on to describe modernity—at the center of which lie The Gulag Archipelago, Auschwitz and Hiroshima—as “catastrophic.” Who can deny this? It indeed is catastrophic! For which reason, some notable scholars have been in pursuit of what they call a second or reflexive modernization: modernizing the modernized.

Let me now try to express what may seem to be unobvious: ours is a double crisis.
That “Ethiopian modernity,” if this phrase makes any sense at all, is not in the slightest degree on the way to become “reflexive,” and was not even neatly “simple” from the beginning, but has for the most part been problematically “imported” modernity, doubles the crisis for us. What is more, one could even add other factors and redouble the whole thing so as to speak of a “triple” or “quadruple” crisis. But I don’t want to engage in duplicating problems. We have more than enough of them!

Let me ask rather: why is it that modernity “is inherently crisis generating”? This is a very interesting question and it has taken the unswerving devotion and relentless effort of a whole bunch of “crisis thinkers” from diverse schools of thought to analyze it. However, I do not want to dwell on this but to simply mention that there are certain natural consequences of modernity’s crisis that trouble us at all levels (personal and societal; national, sub-national and supra-national) especially when we buy its ideas in toto.

Here is a similar question worth asking: why do we still rely on importing ideas? Indeed modernity involves emulation and borrowing. And this only confirms the wisdom contained in our own traditional sources long before the birth of modernity: ምንት ብከ ዘኢነሣእከ እምካልእከ? (what hast thou that thou didst not receive? [the Geez version specifies and says:]… እምካልእከ = from your “other”/your “friend” [Look: in Geez Mind, the other is primarily conceived as a friend!]). This doesn’t mean, however, a passive reception of whatever comes from those who are deemed to be ahead of us.

Even when we emulate or borrow, I think we should nonetheless try to go beyond oscillating between old “ism-tricks” and new “neo-retro-games” so as to creatively appropriate whatever is good for us without having to leave our own standpoint. What makes a certain system “German” or a certain theory “French” etc.? (German Idealism, French Theory, for instance) Can’t there similarly be something “Ethiopian”? You may want to reply: indeed there can be! Or you may even say: we had had our own ሥራት/ሥርዐት! Do you see that even a positive rejoinder remains somehow short of satisfying us in that you will be forced to put it either in (an undeterminable) future or in (a dead) past tense? A mere wishful thinking about the future and an equally mere pride about the past expose the actual nature of our present: a present that is disconnected from the past out of which it emerged and from the future towards which it is supposed to be oriented. Beware thus: the issue comes down to this: do we still have a characteristically Ethiopian standpoint intimately connected both to our past and future, however wanting it may be in transformation?

A 19th Century Russian writer once said: “for the most part, I curse, praise and describe that which is Russian.” Either to curse or praise or describe, or to go beyond curse, praise and description toward an engagement in genuine transformation, I think we need to honestly recognize the richness, and strongly will the continuity, of that which is Ethiopian.

  1. aha!
    | #1

    There is no “genuine transformation” to think of upon the prevalent ethnic and secessionist politics and or policies with underlying totalirianism with monopoly of land holdings and telecomunication services. The only thing left is to engage in a non-violent uprising to freedom to initiate a democratic government of the people by the people and for the people free of ethnic and secessionist agenda and demarcation of the land mass by nine ethnic regions of self rule and separate but unequal developments, to develop the land accross ecological regions, in which the roginal provinces within the ecological region participate in humanitarian, economic and infrastuctural and cultural developments.

  2. Tulu
    | #2

    first i would like to say it is an excellent piece of academic article. However, it lacks an Ethiopian flavor. In other words, it is so much western centric and I am tired of this bookish approach to the very brute facts on the ground.

  3. Samuel
    | #3

    The question you raised

    “Beware thus: the issue comes down to this: do we still have a characteristically Ethiopian standpoint intimately connected both to our past and future, however wanting it may be in transformation?”

    If you truly want to answer the question you raised without emotional attachment I would like to raise a similar question
    “How many characteristically Ethiopian standpoint intimately connected both to our past and future

  4. Samuel
    | #4

    Please correct the above statement:

    The question you raised

    “Beware thus: the issue comes down to this: do we still have a characteristically Ethiopian standpoint intimately connected both to our past and future, however wanting it may be in transformation?”

    If you truly want to answer the question you raised without emotional attachment I would like to raise a similar question
    “How many characteristically Ethiopian standpoints intimately connected both to our past and future”. The problem is not recognizing the multitude of what we call ours in the past that we need to look at. I remember Donald Levine at one time pointing to the rich traditions of Ethiopia that should be taken seriously if we are to rely on ourself.

  5. Sheger
    | #5

    A future a present that was ditached from us in the name of a white mans face is to be correct. Not to say all white
    People are opressors in the name of their skin color. But how ever I have never read an article that made me feel
    Some how or indefinitely proud and reason full, committed to live committed to life to serve or live the good or God.

    I always tried to make sence of my life and the world around me. And it always did made sence but some time when you are tald some thing els it goes away. I am a christian. I believe and I will live. I was meant to because he meant it
    That we live and he lives but even on is pain and death we live. But he lives and so do we. Thanks to God our creater.

    Their is no as such thing as equality but respect
    For we know little about each other in inspect
    We can inspect each other all we wish
    But there is one that cherish


    Should I say that is God?????? Well it is or he is.

  6. Sheger
    | #6

    Loves and cars for all of us. May be all of us good people. I don’t see him liking bad people.

  7. Sheger
    | #7

    We so should be so forgiving for our own sake to begin with and for all.

  8. Sheger
    | #8

    God even told us if some body do some thing bad to you seven times and if he asked for forgiveness seven times
    Forgive him seven times or I am not sure but he even might said ” forgive him seven thousand times”.

    COMPRENDO? No matter the case.

  9. Sheger
    | #9

    What could be the case though? Except love and peace on earth? Hope that is the reason and so be it.

  10. Anonymous
    | #10

    u people make me seek, u r not any better than the guy u criticize. first of all instead of talking about how bad the disaster is or instead of pointing finger, u should form some type of program to collocate some money for them victims like u wear doing to support Andenat!!!

  11. love
    | #11

    Well thought,

    The issue of Ethiopian innovation and idea should start now this minute, this is where we start by forming our own community towards unity and generating ideas and innovations. It is true, we are all tricked by modernity that we are forgetting our values. What is modern buidling going to do if the basic needs of people are not met, that is, if we agree to iradicate poverty. The Western modernity is NOT for developing nations. In fact watch the documentary called “End of poverty?” and you will understand. Modernity only applied to the West and those who are lucky to be “modern” are the dictators because they preserve the status quo of Western and Eastern domination. Let us include by the way the rising up of East.

  12. The truth
    | #12

    Tulu, I agree with you that this article is not written in a way where every average Ethiopian to understand it clearly. No matter who said it and how it is said, it is a fact that Ethiopia is in dire situation under the brutal TPLF regime that needs immediate attention to save her and her children from the hell hole of Melese, period!

  13. Sheger
    | #13

    Well said LOVE, we can live and share together. We can learn and we can teach just like any day or regular.

    No body said we cant live together or teach each other. Unless give me the world? What is it? May be some thing I don’t know. But is it? NO I don’t think so and it is not so.

  14. Tadewos
    | #14

    I have said this many times before and I am going to say it again until you all listen. Open up your eyes and your God given mind!!!!

    I can tell you what the root of the problem that has been eating away the fiber of our society. EPLF, TPLF, OLF, ONLF, G7, EPRP (We are told that there two monkeys by the same name) and others that came of the molds of the same press. They parade themselves in front of us telling that one is better than the other. TPLF this EPRP that, OLF this ONLF that, G7 this and Forum that. They fight like rabid dogs among themselves. That is what leftist thugs do to each other. First they send thousands of not-questioning youths on reckless missions and not thoroughly thought out demonstrations just to die fruitlessly. Then they turn on each other. I wish they were not even born. They crawled out of misguided (self)student movement of the 60’s who espoused the dreadful Lenin, Stalin, Moa, Ho Chi and Castro. These thugs before them had habits of sending 20-30 million of their own innocent citizen to their deaths just at one sitting. This midget back home was one of them and/or the product of such deranged 60’s student movement. Now they are telling us that one of them is better than the other ones. TPLF, OLF, ONLF, EPRP, EPLF and their likes have been the scourge of our country and I hope God Almighty would let them succumb to their own medicine. How can you choose a beauty among all these ugly monkeys? I wish they were not even born. They had raised the name of the Almighty in vain and God in return had turned away from them. They are still fighting each other and they will continue to do so until their ultimate doomsday. And it is my daily prayer for the speeding up of that day. There will be no lasting unity until that day. Amen!!!!

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