Ethiopia does not need either Free Capitalism or Neo Liberalism but A New Moral Economy. By Teodros Kiros

June 16th, 2014 Print Print Email Email

We Ethiopians know what we do not want, but some of us know what we do not want,as well us what we want and could want. When we ask for regime change, we do so

with a firm vision of a new Ethiopia. We have a well thought out possibility for change, ready to be converted into a new reality by our able and underused intelligencia. We have a blue print of a future Ethiopia, and we are ready to

share it with the Ethiopian public for their considered judgment. From now on
nothing is going to be practiced without the scrutiny of the Ethiopian people’s
public reason. Our role is merely to suggest what we think is viable, and our
people’s public reason judges our proposals. Together, we practice radical
democracy, the peoples’ democracy.

A sharp twitter recently observed:

But as food prices continue to rise and economic hardship tightens its grip on
the region, it is plausible to imagine Africans revolting and using means other
than the often meaningless ballot box to remove their leaders.
“What people want is the democratization of society, of production, of the
economy, and indeed all aspects of life,” says Manji. “What they are being
offered instead is the ballot box.”

But, Manji adds: “Elections don’t address the fundamenta problems that people
face. Elections on their own do nothing to enable ordinary people to be able to
determine their own destiny. “
This, according to Kisiangani, is because “the process of democratization in
many African countries seems more illusory than fundamental”.

Gabon, Zimbabwe, even Ethiopia may never have the online reach enjoyed by
Egyptians, and the scale of solidarity through linguistic and cultural symmetry
may not allow their calls to reach the same number of internet users. But this
does not mean that a similar desire for change is not brewing, nor that the
traditional media and online community are justified in ignoring it.

Screens were put up in Tahrir Square broadcasting Al Jazeera’s coverage of the
protests back to the protesters. It is difficult to qualify the role of social
media in the popular uprisings gaining momentum across the Arab world, but it
is even more difficult to quantify the effect of the perception of being
ignored, of not being watched, discussed and, well, retweeted to the throngs of
others needing to be heard.
Ignoring the developments in Africa is to miss the half the story.

“The protests have created the ‘hope’ that ordinary people can define their
political destiny,” says Kisiangani. “The uprisings … are making people on
the continent become conscious about their abilities to define their political
destinies.”
Follow @azadessa on Twitter.
What follows is an outline of a vision for the New Ethiopia that we will march
for peacefully and confidently.

The new Moral Economy, which I propose, can democratize the entire nation.
MAAT was to ancient Egypt as Wisdom was to ancient Greece. Wisdom was to Plato’s
aristocratic regime as Maat was to Egypt’s social and political life. The
concept of Maat insinuated itself with every aspect of Classical Egypt.

Pharaohs and the majestic slaves who erected the pyramids swore by Maat. Rich
and poor, men and women, slaves and free citizens worshipped the magic of Maat.
Matt was the moral organizer of everyday life in classical Egypt. Every facet of
Egyptian life was organized by the expansive principle of Matt. Maat framed
every facet of Egyptian life. Why did Matt have such a presence in Egyptian
life? What was its magical spell? I should now like to address these questions.

The human self required an organizing moral principle. Moral life cannot
function without a moral frame, a frame that furnishes the self with boundaries
and limiting conditions of social action. It is precisely this lacuna that was
lacking in Egyptian morality until the self-creating Egyptian gods originated
the expansive concept of Maat. Matt, was symbolized by the feminine principle
of “truth, balance, order and justice”. Maat was harmony, righteousness,
patience and vision, born out of the feminine principle of patient labor. For
the ancient Egyptians, the order of the universe was also the ideal order for
the human world.

Logos ordered the universe, by the rational word. It is this order that Plato
used in his Republic, when he constructed an ideal city out of Logos. This
principle was later translated into, “In the beginning was Logos”, and was with
God and the Logos was God (John1:1). Jesus himself was Logos, in marked
contrast, for the ancient Egyptians, the organizing principle of Logos was
replaced by the organizing principle of Maat. Kings who personified Maat ruled
the Egyptian city. The human heart, which was worshipped by the Egyptians, and
which was the seat of thinking, was also the seat of Maat. The pharaohs were
expected to rule with Maat, and not without it. The pharaoh’s greatness was
measured by the quality and quantity of Maat that he or she internalized. After
death, the scale of Maat, the scale of Justice, would weigh their hearts.
When famines occurred and deep inequalities became a way of life, it was the
duty of the rulers to uphold Maat and measure the depth and extent of the
suffering. Not that this ideal was perfectly upheld, particularly when nature
overwhelmed the rulers ideals, but there was at least an absolute and objective
standard by which social/ political life was judged and measured.

Maat as a moral form requires an appropriate economic form, which has yet to be
how elastic and flexible the dominant capitalist economic form, and however
generously it is stretched, the capitalist economic form is plainly speaking morally vacuous to
accommodate the greatness of Maat as a moral form. The most fitting moral form
that could work in tandem with Maat is an economic form that is anchored on a
solid moral foundation. Maat is precisely that moral foundation, which is
yearning for an economic form, particularly relevant for the African condition.

A moral form requires a supportive economic form. Classical Egypt had the right
moral form but not the right economic form. Whereas Maat singled out the self
as capable of stepping out of its ego shell and embracing other egos outside of
it, the corresponding famine and hunger situations forced the actual Egyptian
motto embrace the other, but to destroy other selves. It is these particular
moments of despair and anguish that killed the enabling moments of patience,
justice and love, Maat’s feminized principles. The Egyptian self was thus
denuded of its potential grandeur, which would make many Afrocentrists, intent
on proving the moral superiority of the African self, cry in despair. To say
that material deprivation produced moral deprivation is not to argue that at no
point, did the African self ever present itself as moral. The idealized attempts
by Egypt’s leaders that led to internalize the limiting conditions of Maat
proves the Afrocentric hypotheses that there was a particularly
Egyptianized/Africanized effort at internalizing moral greatness, but it was
not institutionalized in Egyptian life, the way that the capitalist form did in
the 17th century and beyond.

The moral form of life that Maat promised remained on paper, as nothing more
than an ideal. The ideals were not institutionalized as ideas, which can be
lived, which can be practiced. African thinkers did not take the time to embody
these ideals in the lifeblood of institutions. In short the moral form did not
produce a corresponding economic form, in the precise way that the capitalist
form produced a corresponding moral form, and institutionalized the latter in
far reaching institutions of the state and its civil society. That is the task
that I should like to impose on myself. The celebrated moral features of Maat
are generosity, justice, uprightness, tolerance and loving patience. Indeed,
these are demanding virtues that capitalism as the dominant economic form
cannot support, no matter how diligently it tries.

Adam Smith, the world-famous economist, but who was also a moral philosopher,
argued that unless capitalism is restrained by morality, as a limiting
condition of greed and superfluity, it would eat itself up. To that effect, he
developed an elaborate moral theory comprising of what he called “moral
sentiments” to control the excesses of the market. He proposed compassion and
sociality as two powerful moral sentiments that could regulate the excesses of
the market. The moral sentiment, he thought, could counter the purely
instrumental features of the capitalist economic form. Of course, to this day,
his warning of an inevitable doom has yet to be heeded, and capitalism itself
continues to marvel of its resiliency to create crises and immediately correct
them, thereby proving its “naturalness” and making it easy for its proponents
to present it to the world as a God- chosen economic form. Any attempt to
counter it with something like Maat is dismissed as a pipe dream. No one in his
or her right mind is expected to take Maat seriously. And the fact that the
geographical origin of Maat is an African civilization conveniently results in
dismissing Maat as irrelevant and wishful thinking.

Maat as a moral form is considerably deeper than the passing moral sentiments
that the Scottish moral philosopher, David Hume, proposed. Generosity, justice,
uprightness, tolerance, wisdom and loving patience go directly against our
natural proclivity of injustice, dishonesty, intolerance, closedmindness,
ignorance and hate. These vices seem to fit the ready-to-hand tapestry of our
makeup, which by now has become so second nature that no Maat is going to
dissemble these powerful vices, which were effectively used to build empires
and economic forms that support the visions of the rich and powerful. In
contemporary life revitalizing the features of Maat requires nothing less than
manufacturing a new human being.

We must create new Ethiopians, who have to be willing and capable of acting
generously, patiently, tolerantly and lovingly. We do not have such Ethiopians
in sufficient numbers that matter to construct an economic \form that values
justice, uprightness, wisdom, tolerance and loving patience. Taking the virtues
singly, the following picture emerges. Let us begin with generosity.

Generosity is a virtue. It is a virtue that is willing to give without
receiving, or is willing to give without the deliberate intent of receiving
anything, or that the receiving is only an accident, and not an intentional
act. The generous person then gives a particular good A to person B; and person
B does not simply receive A as a matter of course. B receives A with a profound
respect of the giver, and even plans, if she can, to one day reciprocate not in
the same way, but in someway. The reciprocity need not be of equal goods. A and
B need not be two equal goods, in which equality is measured by money. What
makes the act morally compelling is the desire to reciprocate, and not the
quantity of the reciprocity.

One of the economic forms of Maat, as illustrated above, is a vision of the self
as generous, and generosity itself does not require a calculated practice of
reciprocity but simply the desire and the commitment to give when one can, and
sometimes to give A to B, although A has to sacrifice good C for the sake of
giving A to B, even when one cannot, and perhaps should not, and yet the
generous gives nevertheless. One of the central pillars of Maat as an economic
form is the cultivation of a human self willing and capable of acting
generously in the relational moral regime of giving and receiving, or simply
giving without receiving, or receiving with a profound sense of gratitude and
respect. The celebrated moral features of Maat are generosity, justice,
uprightness, tolerance and loving patience. Indeed, these are demanding virtues
that capitalism as the dominant economic form cannot support, no matter how
diligently it tries.

Justice is one of the features of Maat and it is also a potential source of a
Moral Economy, appropriate for the African condition.
As Aristotle taught, one does not become just merely by abstractly knowing what
Justice is; rather, one becomes just by doing just things. The puzzling
question is this: if one does not know what justice is then how can she know
what just things are, so that she could choose only just things and not others?
The question is not easy to answer. But an example might give us a sense of what
Aristotle means, and then proceed to discuss the

matter at hand, justice as one of the economic forms of Maat.
It is Christmas evening and a family is gathering for a dinner and the table has
been set for ten people. Among the popular dishes are five pies, and shortly
before the guests arrive, one of the family members has been asked to cut
ambashas into exact sizes, such that no single person would feel that he has
mistakenly picked one of the smallest pies, in the event that a person picked a
piece and it turned out to be the smallest.

The task of the pie cutter is to observe that justice is served and that all the
pies are cut evenly and fairly. This is of course an exceedingly difficult task,
but justice demands it, and the just cutter must prove the worthiness of her
moral action. What must this person do? That is the moral question. Well, at
the minimum the person herself must be just in order to perform just action,
and in this instance, justice means nothing more than cutting the pieces
equally to ones best ability, and that she must do so fairly.

She must cut the pies with a moral imagination and an intuitive mathematical
precision, and must pray to the transcendent to make her see justly, and that
she is enabled to measure precisely. There is a spiritual dimension to the
science of measurement, which could have been simply done with a measuring
tape. That possibility, however convenient, is not elegant. She is not going to
stand there with to make an effort to be precise, because her intention is to be
just and (2) that her eyes are just, or that she prays that they would be. (1)
and (2) are the requirements; the rest is left to moral imagination.
She cuts the ambashas, and it turns out that all the pieces appear to be equal,
and when the guests arrived, they randomly pick the pieces, and appear to be
clearly satisfied. What we have here is a display of justice in the
Aristotelian sense, in which justice is defined as an activity that is guided
by a measure of equality, and equality itself is manifest in the attempt at
being fair to everyone, and in this example, an attempt to be fair to the
guests, without their ever knowing that they are being worked on. They judge
the event as illuminated by justice, and the event as uplifting. They eat,
drink, converse, dance and leave.

Justice presents itself in this event, through the presence of those delicious
pies, each of which was a duplicate of the other. Generalizing this to a higher
level, what we can say is that any economic form must be guided with justice as
an event of doing things fairly and that all the commodities that human beings
should want must be distributed with such a standard, the standard of justice
as fairness. Given justice as fairness, commodity A can be distributed between
persons B and C in such an equitable way that B and C share commodity A by
getting the same amount at any time, any place and for a good reason.

Compassion is another feature of Maat; indeed, it is one of the cardinal moral
forms for the new moral economy that I am theorizing here. Compassion is to
moral economy as greed is to capitalism. One cannot imagine capitalism without
the salient principle of greed, and similarly, one cannot imagine moral economy
without the originary principle of compassion. Class, race, gender, ethnicity
and groups divide the modern world. Out of these divisions it is class division
that is the most decisive, as it is also the one that seems

to be so natural that we cannot surmount the pain and agony that it produces. In
a class- divided world, compassion is the least present because there is no
compelling reason that persuades individuals to be compassionate if they are
not naturally compassionate, or are inclined toward it. Of course, where
compassion is not naturally present, it could be taught either by example or
directly through teaching.

An example should elucidate the place of compassion in moral economy. It’s
summer, and exhaustingly hot. People that you encounter are hot tempered too.
Everybody is on edge, including you. You happen to be a coffee lover, so there
you are standing behind a long line of people to get your fix. The heat has
made you really impatient, and you are ready to explode on anything around you.
You are also naturally generous but not this day. Soon, before you leave the
coffee shop, a homeless person smiles at you and tries to engage you in a
conversation, hoping that you will understand the purpose of the conversation.
Of course you understand, but you ignore him and walk by. But then something
bothers you, and you come back to the coffeshop and generously give the man
what he wanted. You are proud of yourself, because you have done what
generosity demands, that you control your temper and perform the morally correct action. Surely, you say
to yourself it was not easy, but you did it.

Now you wonder what all this means, and why you did it. It is obvious to you why
you did the action. Indeed, it is because you are really a compassionate human
being but also a religious person. You really have no obligation topay
attention to that person. He is not related to you, he is not an ex friend that
fortune turned against, nor did you do it so as to be a hero by the media.
Your action is morally worthy only because you have internalized compassion. To
you compassion comes quite naturally. It is part of your moral frame. Any
repeated action becomes a habit. So compassionate action comes habitually to
you. You rarely fight it. Rather, you exuberantly let it lead your way, as it
eventually did on that hot and difficult day. But even on that day you
conquered the temptation of doubt, and excessive self- love, by the moral force
of compassion. That is why you corrected yourself, when you were briefly but
powerfully tempted by forgetfulness on that hot day and returned to do the
morally right thing.

Compassion is morally compelling when it is extended to a total other, which has
nothing to do with our lives, other than the silent duty we have toward those
who await our moral attention. It is much easier to be compassionate toward a
loved one, a friend, a relative and even an acquaintance; harder is the task
when the subject is a real other, such as that homeless person by the coffee
shop. In order for any action to be morally worthy the motive must be pure, and
the purity is measured by the quality and quantity of the compassion that is
extended to any needy human being, uncontaminated by external motives, such as love, friendship,
acquaintance and relation.
It is in this particular way that I am arguing that compassion serves Maat.

Tolerance is a crucial feature of moral economy. In fact, it could easily be
argued that it is an indispensable organizing principle, which works in tandem
with loving kindness. Just as we cannot love a person without respecting her,
except delusorily, we cannot live with one another without tolerating each
other’s needs, habits, likes and dislikes.

In the economic sphere tolerance is subtly pertinent. We cannot readily sense
its inner working unless we pay attention to its musings at the work place, as
we interact with one another as bosses and employees.

Consider the following example to underscore the point. There is this employee
who does things in ways that many people find annoying. She customarily comes
late to work; she procrastinates; she spreads papers, cans and food stuffs all
around her sometimes she cannot even find herself amid the dirt, the pile and
the dust. Yet, and this is the point, whatever she does is done flawlessly, as
flawless as human products could be. Her boss has agonized over what to do with
her; he has contemplated firing her numerous times. Lulled by the elegance of
her work and his loving-kindness toward her, he decides to keep her. He has
promised himself to erase those occasional thoughts of getting rid of her. As
he told one of his friends, he has learned, and not very easily, the ways of
tolerance as a principle of management, of managing employees who will not and
cannot change their habits for the rest of their lives.

I consider this manager very wise and skilled at the art of management. He
decided, obviously because he could change himself as hard as it was, rather
than expect his employee to change. The structure of his thoughts could be put
syllogistically. Y can change his way / X cannot change easily / Therefore Y
must change for the sake of Z.

Y is the manager. X is the annoying employee. Z is the organization where Y and
X work. In this situation Z is saved precisely because the manager internalizes
tolerance and loving-kindness as the organizing principles of the organization.
Y controls his ego and chooses to advance the interests of Z over and against
his own private needs. He did not fire X because his ego demands it. Nor does
he ever insist that X must change. He has intuitively and empirically concluded
that it is not pointless to expect X to change, nor would it benefit Z to lose
X, since X is an intelligent and skilled worker.

Where tolerance is habitually practiced at workplaces it becomes an
indispensable good that could save many employers the unnecessary cost that is
incurred on hiring and firing employees and ease the distress of the families
and loved ones of employers and employees. Tolerance can easily remedy the
situation. If it is much easier for managers to change than it is for excellent
employees with annoying habits, and then it is those who can change their ways
who must change for the sake of a functional and democratic moral economy.
Patience is a feature of Maat. The ideal leader as well as the ideal citizen
must patiently wait to witness the appearance of the Transcendent. Nothing
great is accomplished without a transcendental intervention, the seal of
completeness, of Generosity and Justice, two other features of moral economy,
as I have argued in previous essays.

Rarely is patience, however, associated with economic forms. Economic forms are
founded on seizing the opportunity before it vanishes. The activity is
everything but patient. Patience and quick money making are the virtues of
capitalism. In that worldview, success is measured by shrewdness, quickness,
impatience and opportunism. Whereas patience is undermined by capitalism, the
economic form for Maat reveres it. The economic form for the African condition
demands it. Without this virtue the disadvantaged citizen of the African
continent is doomed, fated to starve and die.

A moral economy, in contrast, when founded on Maat, shares with Maat an ardent
belief in-patient waiting, and this is particularly true during times of
famine, poverty and loss. Patient waiting is the much-needed virtue that both
generosity and justice demand. An example might illuminate the abstraction.
African Economy in country A has been blooming, and the Western world has been
hailing it as a model for the future. Country A gets spoiled and its
inhabitants shop madly. No commodity is beyond their reach, so they think.
Suddenly, all things, with the exception of the Transcendent change, since no
condition is permanent. The oil fields drain. The spoils of the economy are
distributed unevenly.

The citizens become impatient with country A, which had introduced them to the
pangs of luxury, which have now become the pangs of hunger. Friends turn
against friends. The shopping frenzy slows down. Their lovers do not love the
men anymore. The rate of divorce increases, since the men’s ability to maintain
expensive lifestyles are no more.

Patient waiting for better days is not a norm. Loves and friendships founded on
comfort, wealth and excessive wealth are not permanent. They flounder as easily
as they initially sprawled. Things that last must be built slowly, in the
furnace of time, and be sculpted in accordance with the laws of beauty.

Country A is no longer a model of hope, but a model of despair. Uneconomic form
that does not institutionalize patient waiting as a way of life digs its grave
when conditions change. That is why patient waiting also must be systematically
insinuated in the African citizen’s psyche, as an ethics of living, and a
stylistics of what I have previously called- existential seriousness. A
responsible economic form must inculcate the virtue of patience among its
citizens, from early on. This complicated and demanding virtue must be taught
at all levels of school. It must be part of economic principles, and be taught
as such, and not be pushed to the sidelines, as part of religion and theology,
which does not have much to do with morals, and has nothing to do with
economics. It is this dogma of capitalist economics that must change.

My argument here is a modest contribution to challenge one of the foundational
dogmas of bourgeois economics. The morals must guide economics and a new moral
economy that works in concert with moral philosophy and religion is precisely
what the African condition requires. More morality, with a distinct religious
voice, such as the notion of patient waiting, will strengthen and expand our
horizons as we struggle with poverty,

famine and other sorrows of modern life.

We need more people who can patiently wait as everything changes, hopeful that
no condition is permanent, including the conditions of nations, when their
economies get distorted and the citizens are hardened and become cruel towards
one another, and that the notion of helping your fellow citizens sounds indeed
very strange, to those who are comfortable. Instead, during trying times, citizens do
not patiently wait for things to change; instead, they give up altogether, or
become irreligious and immoral. It is in this way that patient waiting, I
argue, becomes one of the pillars of moral economy, one of the features of
Maat, along with generosity and justice, which I examined in previous essays.
Justice is one of the features of Maat and it is also a potential source of a
Moral Economy, appropriate for the African condition. As Aristotle taught, one
does not become just merely by abstractly knowing what Justice is; rather, one
becomes just by doing just things. The puzzling question is this: if one does
not know what justice is then how can she know what just things are, so that
she could choose only just things and not others? The question is not easy to
answer. But an example might give us a sense of what Aristotle means, and then
proceed to discuss the matter at hand, justice as one of the economic forms of
Maat.

It is Christmas evening and a family is gathering for a dinner and the table had
been set for ten people. Among the popular dishes are five ambashas, and shortly
before the guests arrive, one of the family members has been asked to cut the
Ambashas (bread) into exact sizes, such that no single person would feel that
he has mistakenly picked one of the smallest pies, in the event that a person
picked a piece and it turned out to be the smallest.

The task of the ambasha cutter was to observe that justice is served and that
all the ambashas are cut evenly and fairly. This is of course an exceedingly
difficult task, but justice demands it, and the just cutter must prove the
worthiness of her moral action. What must this person do? That is the moral
question. Well, at the minimum the person herself must be just in order to
perform just action, and in this instance, justice means nothing more than
cutting the pieces equally to ones best ability.

She must cut the pies with a moral imagination and an intuitive mathematical
precision, and must pray to the transcendent to make her see justly, and that
she is enabled to measure precisely. There is a spiritual dimension to the
science of measurement, which could have been simply done with a measuring
rope. That possibility, however, convenient, is not elegant. She is not going
to stand there with a ruler to cut pies. Rather, the expectations are two, that
(1) She is going to make an effort to be precise, because her intention is to be
just and (2) that her eyes are just, or that she prays that they would be. (1)
and (2) are the
requirements; the rest is left to moral imagination.

She cut the pies, and it turned out that, all the pieces appeared to be equal,
and when the guests arrived, they randomly picked the pieces, and appeared to
be clearly satisfied.

What we have here is a display of justice in the Aristotelian sense, in which
justice is defined as an activity that is guided by a measure of equality, and
equality itself is manifest in the attempt at being fair to everyone, and in
this example, an attempt to be fair to the guests, without they ever knowing
that they are being worked on. They judge the event as illuminated by justice,
and the event as uplifting. They ate, drunk, conversed, danced and left.
Justice presented itself in this event, through the presence of those delicious
pies, each of which was a duplicate of the other.

Generalizing this to a higher level, what we can say is that any economic form
must be guided with justice as an event of doing things fairly and that all the
commodities that human beings should want must be distributed with such a
standard, the standard of justice as fairness. Given justice as fairness,
commodity A can be distributed between persons B and C, in such an equitable
way, that B and C share commodity A by getting the same amount at any time, any
place and for a good reason.

The celebrated moral features of Maat are generosity, justice, uprightness,
tolerance and loving patience. Indeed, these are demanding virtues that
capitalism , as the dominant economic form cannot support, no matter how
diligently it tries. Adam Smith, the world famous economist, but who was also a
moral philosopher, did argue that unless capitalism is restrained by morality,
as a limiting condition of greed and superfluity, it would eat itself up. To
that effect, he developed an elaborate moral theory comprising of what he
called “moral sentiments” to control the excesses of the market. He proposed
compassion and sociality as two powerful moral sentiments that could regulate
the excesses of the market. The moral sentiment, he thought, could counter the
purely instrumental features of the capitalist economic form. Of course, to
this day, his warning of an inevitable doom has yet to be heeded, and
capitalism itself continues to marvel its resiliency to create crises and
immediately correct them, thereby proving its “naturalness” and making it easy
for its proponents to present it to the world as a God chosen economic form.
Any attempt to counter it with something like Maat is dismissed as a pipe
dream. No body in her right mind is expected to take Maat seriously. And the
fact the geographical origin of Maat is an African civilization, conveniently
results in dismissing Maat as irrelevant and wishful thinking.

Maat as a moral form is considerably deeper than the passing moral sentiments
that the Scottish moral philosopher proposed. Generosity, justice, uprightness,
tolerance, wisdom and loving patience go directly against our natural proclivity
of injustice, dishonesty, intolerance, closedmindness, ignorance and hate. These
vices seem to fit the ready to hand tapestry of our makeup, which by now has
become, so second nature that no Maat is going to dissemble these powerful
vices which were effectively used to build empires and economic forms that
support the visions of the rich and powerful. In contemporary life revitalizing
the features of Maat requires nothing less than manufacturing a new human being.

We must create new human beings, human beings who have to be willing and capable
of acting generously, patiently, tolerantly and lovingly. We do not have such
human beings in sufficient numbers that matter to construct an economic form
that values justice, uprightness, wisdom, tolerance and loving patience.
Taking the virtues singly, the following picture emerges. Let us begin with
generosity. Generosity is a virtue. It is a virtue that is willing to give
without receiving, or is willing to give without the deliberate intent of receiving
anything, or that the receiving is only an accident, and not an intentional
act. The generous person then gives a particular good A to person B; and person
B does not simply receive A as a matter of course. B receives A with a profound
respec to of the giver, and even plans, if she can, to one day reciprocate not
in the same way, but in some way. The reciprocity need not be of equal goods. A
and B need not be two equal goods, in which equality is measured by money. What
makes the act morally compelling is the desire to reciprocate, and not the
quantity of the reciprocity.

One of the economic forms of Maat, as illustrated above, is a vision of the self
as generous, and generosity itself does not require a calculated practice of
reciprocity but simply the desire and the commitment to give when one can, and
sometimes, to give A to B, although A has to sacrifice good C for the sake of
giving A to B, even when one cannot, and perhaps should not, and yet the
generous gives nevertheless. One of the central pillars of Maat as an economic
form is the cultivation of a human self willing and capable of acting
generously in the relational moral regime of giving and receiving, or simply
giving without receiving, or receiving with a profound sense of gratitude and
respect .

Individuals who embody maat’s principles must lead the new Ethiopia. All our
infrastructures must be infused by these principles. Our schools and work
places must nurture Ethiopians who can practice the above features. While we
are fighting for regime change , we must in our private lives and public spaces
embark on this foundational cultural transformation, as I have repeatedly argued
in the pages of all our websites.

I am calling for again, an act of the practice of the self and the activation of
the collective Ethiopian soul. Nothing short of the originary change can give us
the radical democratic change, which we are yearning.

Regime change must correspond to cultural change, otherwise the New Ethiopia
will not be any different from the one, which we are despairing to change.
The new regime has to be a cultural transformer and system builder. Every facet
of Ethiopian life has to be guided by matt, a cultural transformer and vision
giver. We have to make maat our very own and appropriate her principles of
justice.
11


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

  1. Teodros Kiros
    | #1

    I challenge Alem, Dawit and Helina, aassuming that that these are real human beings bearing these names, as well as Professors Messay, Demelash, Almariam and all those who publish in Ethiodmedia to respond to the blue print I am outlining here without name calling heart to heart and brain to brain.

  2. sam
    | #2

    I agree with Teodros that “regime change must correspond to cultural change, otherwise the new Ethiopia will not be different from the one, which we are despairing to change.” But I disagree with his belief “moral philosophy and religion is precisely what African countries need.” Religion should not be a guide of any economic principle Africans choose to implement. True, as the writer noted free market economy has its own flaws. Especially now free market economy seems to serve the interest of a few more than ever. But the remedy for the free market going wild is not religion, but the visionaries political guide. Whether we have those visionaries or not in Ethiopian politics is another issue altogether.

  3. tezera feyisa
    | #3

    I say to the ones Kiros mentioned and all genuine ethiopians not to respond to this tplf cadre.
    I can say understand english language very well as well as general ideas of science, philosophy etc..a little bit as a general public. What this cadre is saying is nothing, nothing.. understandable. May be this tplf cadre is writing only for you guys only, not for the public!!
    I feel sorry for his students if he is a teacher.

  4. Tecola W. Hagos
    | #4

    Dear Professor Teodros Kiros, I salute you with great admiration for this well written and very thoughtful essay focusing our attention on the foundational base for all political and or economic super structure in any society. Of course, I have a much enhanced understanding of your article because I have read earlier in time your master piece and award winning book, SELF-CONSTRUCTION AND THE FORMATION OF HUMAN VALUES: TRUTH, LANGUAGE, AND DESIRE, (Praeger), 1998, which lays out the more fundamental aspect of the structure (“construction” in your perception) of the human person. In light of such profoundly illuminating work, the idea of an organizing principle (since the fact of the human reality consists of multiple entities) that you identified as “Maat” not only is expedient but also a logical necessity.

    I consider this essay as serious effort to help us erect a point of view properly anchored on solid philosophical ground and not the shifting sandy base of illusionary fantasies of some Diaspora politicians perception of executive/political power. The principles of Maat are not new to our Ethiopian ethos, after all we are as ancient as the Pharaohnic Egypt if not older. You have encapsulated for us in simple form the meaning of this ancient word: “The celebrated moral features of Maat are generosity, justice, uprightness, tolerance and loving patience.” I may emphasize that for Ethiopians it is “equality of treatment by a leader” rather than the many freedoms that seem to be paramount. By the same token, we lack a basic or foundational principle why we have to respect the rights of Ethiopians. It is not enough to say “because they are “Ethiopians” or even weaker in saying because they are “ Amhara” or “Oromo” or Tygrea” or “Afar” et cetera. In logical terms such statements have no greater validity than saying because they are “mollusks.”

    I shall certainly pursue this discourse with follow-up essays. Thank you very much, indeed, for focusing us on the torchlight of wisdom.
    Tecola W. Hagos

  5. Tewdros Menelik
    | #5

    Please add to Ma’at, Ubuntu, Ethiopianism Philosophy, Pan-Africanism and the African REnaissance.. together they can provide both the foundation and the future- for the philosophy that will save the world orginated in Africa by African thnikers that combine spirtuality with materality in a unique way

    Now Africans copy others and ignore their rich ontological density and continue to suffer from epistemological vice! Trust they will go deeper and allow the re birth of epistemological virtue by goin to their rich values and principles to build an Africa united and rich in every way!

  6. Helina E.
    | #6

    tezera feyisa, # 3 says
    ‘I say to the ones Kiros mentioned and all genuine ethiopians not to respond to this tplf cadre.’
    ….I respectfully disagree with you Tezera. Teodros is not a tplf cadre. By tagging people such names simply because they are from northern part of our country is disturbing and unacceptable. He is one of the best Ethiopians who fight against tyranny. He is well-mannered educated person when you compare him with those opportunists’ tecola and Gelawdios. Yet, what remains puzzling to me is how a person with Teodros’s caliber is befriended and exchanging a pat at the back with the ill-tempered, unrefined and disgruntled old man like tecola?. As a concerned countryman, I advise teodros to distance himself from tecola because tecola is good for nothing sold out tplf who thinks he could get away with spewing hate against targeted ethnicities, distorting Ethiopian history, insulting and belittling Ethiopian heroes Theodros and Menilik and does many harm to the fabric of Ethiopian harmony while he was working for Tplf and he still keeps working as a secret agent for woyane, promoting every propaganda that helps the continuation of the status quo. So if your core principle is against such an idea, which I believe it is, get out of that pact soon or people will put you in the same basket as we have been seeing in many frustrated opposition opinions. Guilt by association.
    Let us have a fun and play with words for a little while here. Why are Teodros, Hagos and Gelawdios are working like a group of tecolas ? Was it because those three guys name ends with OS? ha, ha. Ha!!(Hagos, teodros Gelawdios) like an OS operating system? It is like a pact of some sort that was agreed among these three guys that says:
    1) Whenever one of us write an article, we all have to prop-up the writer and shower with admiration and thank him by mentioning how best the article was written no matter what its contents are.
    2) An attack to one is an attack to all of us. So if anyone is suffering an opposition blow we have to do our best to defend him at any cost. Et al kind of treaties among these three OS s.
    Where I would like to direct Tezera Feyisa’s comment of a call of not responding is: to Dawi the hired gun of tplf. If we stop responding to him we will shut him out. As he is paid by number of article and response he put on a web we could suck the oxygen out of him by not responding to him. For the rest we have to engage them although Tecola and his likes intention is to distract and distort the diaspora opposition outlook or even worse, by intentionally creating very controversial issues to gauge the temperature of opponents from their reaction and response. Woyane takes that reading and adjust its strategy accordingly. Beware!! It is a double edged sword.

  7. Alem
    | #7

    Dear Professor Teodros,
    I applaud your efforts to understand such a deep and intractable problem plaguing Ethiopian/African societies. But I won’t let you or Tecola set the agenda. We need to focus on how to create political and economic space for all Ethiopians. We need to bring to an end Tigrayan minority rule masquerading as multi-party/Eprdf. You know the facts; Tecola fully understands what is going on because he was one of the architects. We need to get Eskinder, Zone 9 Bloggers out. We need to bring Tplf robbers [Bereket, Army generals, Azeb, Meles [posthumously], etc to face justice. EFFORT operates as a government within a government. Should it not be forced to account for its activities? Should Seye be walking around free having been part of all this? Why should Tigrayan run business every where in the country and the rest be chained to their respective “kill-ills?” Why should only token students from other regions be assigned to better organized universities in Tigray but students from Tigray choose where they want to study? And so on. What you, Tecola, and Ghelawdewos need to do is to accept that not every one reading your essays takes it at face value; in other words, intellectual honesty is necessary in our line of trade. Enough of this.

    Having said that, I like to pick on your Hambasha parable. I observe the parable as reflective of your habitat and [pardon my bluntness] cultural limitations. You tried to attach justice/equality to dividing up Hambasha [by corollary, to Tigrayan sensibility]. You assumed equal portions as being of primary importance; on the other hand, every Ethiopian household would tell you that traditional bread needs to be divided up RIGHT, not necessarily equal. There is a difference. While I am at it let me go ahead and suggest that your parable falls on its face in two respects. 1/ The present Tigrayan rulers [and Tecola] do not seem to comprehend equality or justice, only violence, greed, and lies; so your essay ought to be translated into Tigrigna and distributed to Tplf leaders 2/ Insisting on “equal” portions of Hambasha would disproportionately advantage minority groups [and in your parable little children who should not be given equal portions so they are not brought balagge]; Tigrayans comprise less than 6% of total population and considering budget apportionment and international aid the share is certainly bigger and better [this is not hearsay but reality on the ground]. Ghelawdewos had remarked why this should surprise anyone as Tigray is also Ethiopia. Sure, Tigray is Ethiopia but so is Gamu Gofa. Do you see now what I am trying to bring to your attention? You need not respond to this so we don’t get distracted from more important issues. Take care.

  8. aha!
    | #8

    In terms of morality, the silent majority of Ethiopians are wondering by saying “min aynet maat afelabin”, in terms of TPLF/eprdf regime, when EPLF and TPLF, when EPLF were expelled from Ethiopia, soon after independence, to which Ethiopians in “Wuyiit taxi” talking accross from each other, were quoted as saying in ironical relief “ahun benzih behuletu mehakel indihaynet chiger yifetral bilo man ysib neber”, as ironical sigh of relief from exploitation by EPLF/TPLF. The issues apparent in this article are philosophical in nature in the realm of Philosophy in Political Science in relation to the mode of governance and the constitution as the supreme law of the land, where individual freedom, liberty and equality gave way to ethnic and secessionist right, in the same it has been accorded to the Eritrean Province. At the same time, in this constitution the flag, Ethiopian Nationalism and the sovereignty were put into jeopardy under ethnic federalism and/or ethnic secessionism/nationalism, which denies individual freedom, liberty, equality to ethnic and secessionist rights, which also serves as a prelude to ethnic secessionism, future boundary conflicts and an ongoing ethnic cleansing followed by genocide of certain ethnic groups. While these incidences support humanitarian crises of greater magnitude it is political and/or philosophical in nature reflecting the think of Philosophers cited were dealing with political issues were applying I presume may have used inductive and deductive reasoning applicable in political and other sciences and mathematics but not morality.

    I believe that these logics need to apply in the narratives of this article to identify the political models of TPLF/eprdf regime, OPDM/Medrek/EFDF/fdre as its mirror image, Ginbot -7/ALJE +OlF with their ethnic agenda platform and objectives to those of national agenda for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, where the last item has to do with individual freedom and equality to be at the fore front in the constitution to establish a liberal and/or social democracy, a rule by the people, for the people and of the people and a democratic government that rules by the consent of the governed, which are in the realm of Philosophical and Political Science but not religion. Consequential the confrontation in Ethiopia is between Ethiopian Nationalism and Ethnic Federalism and/or Ethnic secessionism as is the case in Egypt being between Secularism and Islamism, I presume as those the concrete issues demanding logical approach to understanding the dichotomy the silent majority of Ethiopians
    are facing between these two ideologies and align oneself to the national agenda to save Ethiopia from disintegration based on ones own reflective thinking process of thinking of oneself as Ethiopian first and ones ethnicity second and by being loyal to the tax payers that ones party affiliations, while bring forth our narratives grounded in in inductive and deductive logics as well as looking at the prevailing parties from point of flow system modeling, and examining the governing party from organizational charting for its governance and/administrative functions, lack of free and fail election and ratification of the constitution as well as lack of independent branches of government an attribute of a democratic government.

  9. Tecola vs hagos
    | #9

    Dear professor Kiros,
    it seems to me your writing is more real and sincere than the wooly meanderings of your friend professor Tecola Hagos. My suggestion to both of you is that please leave what is for the classroom in the classroom. Abugidainfo is not exactly the philosophical quarterly either. The last time I checked Dr. T started some philosopy, and your responded with your philosophy of “ideas”. That was a disaster. Now this. Don’t you think it is a little bit out of place. There is a huge body of knowledge concerning economics, morality and stuff, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Meritocracy: In California wher you live the air is thick with it.

    Moral economy ? excuse me! Maat, and twitter quotes. Just for the record professor do you have woyane handlers ? I believe you are more honest than Dr. T. Are you quoting the guy who is signing the check. To be honest I’m not sure about you if you are a sell out or not. I’m convinced about your friend though, he is working for woyanie. He told us about his patriotic family and Ethiopiawinet. In Meles’s eye if you come from a patriotic family/you say you love Ethiopia it is a kiss of death for your career, much less get into the family circle. It is clear to me Professor T feels he missed the great gold rush of the Meles era. Where in the holy of holies of Meles’s family circle the gold flows directly from the ethiopian treasury, take what you want, sell what you don’t and burn the rest era. I believe it is Meles who rejected Dr. T not Dr. T who rejected Meles. So Dr. T has gone further than any one was ever called by Woyane to make up for this lost time and fortune. If I don’t believe he is out to benifit himself I had to believe the other explanation: clueless and professor idiot. I don’t believe that he is so clueless, though he fails short in clearly explaining the subject at hand. Please also advice him if you can to save us from the next article it will be the same mdiocraty and dull sleep, and infantile mischief wrapped in Ethiopian flag and Ethiopiawinet.

    why I’m talking all these stuff. You said engage my ideas. Neither you or the professor has new ideas. all these ideas you write about is old ideas in economics and philosophy. “Moral economics” is discarded even for agrarian/peasant economics. I don’t even want to touch it. Maat as you know is part of our lingua franca. “maat atmtabin” which means judgement day in amharic. It is out of place and time, and completely out of place and catagorically rejected as economic and moral compass for our country.

    however, I’ve to explain why I talk so much about Dr. T the person instead of engaing “the merits and flows of his ideas.” The answer is simple. I’m asking for intelectual honesty. An honest exchange of ideas, public debates in good faith. His mundane wanderings make you wonder what is this guy trying to do. motive, intent of the authors become apparently more important than what is expressed.

    I have trouble respecting Dr. T intellectually or his ability to express that idea effectively. Professor T has vandalized his family grave by going on to Woyane’s side. Woyanie has no precedence in the history of africa much less in the long history our country. Not Idi Amin, Bokassa, Mengistu, or Saddam of Iraq. All these are ordinary Dictators. What separate them from Woyanie is that they did not work day and night to destroy their respective countries from the face of the earth.

    Dear professor, sorry if I sound disrespectful to you. Great people usually have a way of explaining complexe ideas in simple terms and ways. Though I appreciated your attempt, you didn’t deliver. Next time Dr. T disrespect the diaspora, he will be reprimended with that granite and “impenetrable” rock he called us, for it is sign of the time that a timeless value has changed hands and passed on intact. It was the bed rock of our country in the past and will be in the future. Dr. T, you have gone to the pits and operating at the MENDER level. you are intellectual kossasa, and MENDER professor who could only fool dedebit graduates.

  10. Anonymous
    | #10

    FkrDear Helena;

    I I would like to thank you for your loving kindness but I also hope that you give my good friend, Professor Tecola, a brilliant thinker with all his human flaws a chance to meet your standards of human goodness. I will cPlcounsel him to work on his flaws, so that his pure inner core could emerge.

  11. Helina E.
    | #11

    I applaud Professor Teodros for his time and dedication on his field. however, It is too much of philosophical analysis and technical jargons dated back to Aristotle Plato and Egypt’s pyramid which has been written by the same writer 3 years ago on Ethiopian Review. Now re- written to make it look like a new road map or blue print. It is out of touch rather creates full of confusion. It failed to be a blue print. There is nothing in it except distracting to take our eyes off the ball. And let is read the following satire as a break room reading. No offense!! it is just a satire.

    Teodros : “We must create new Ethiopians, who have to be willing and capable of acting generously, patiently, tolerantly and lovingly.” We do not have such Ethiopians in sufficient numbers.”

    Tecola : That is exactly what I was thinking when I suggest baby step, court and compromise. You see my friend, when they try to create a new Ethiopians it will take a generation and the one that existed currently will perish through time, we can buy time to our friends in power.
    The silent majority: Why N.B. ? (Northern Brothers/ Nota Bene)? Why we need to create a new Ethiopians? Ethiopians of every generation has the same trait since time memorial. We are generous, extremely patient, shy, humble, tolerant, and loving people that can slice our qitta, humbasha and injera equally and justly at all times. We do not want that is not ours and if someone tries to take ours we will protect and defend and punishes the aggressor, the thief and the liar.
    Meles syas: ha ha! I broke that trait of inclusive Ethiopiawinet sentiment. I broke the back bone of ethiopiawinet by demeaning humiliating and breaking the spirits of two giants Amara and Oromo. Fanned hostility between them . Instead I created a new breed in a sufficient number who are willing and capable of acting wickedly, selling themselves at a dirt cheap price works in unison greedily, harshly, and tensely to their demise. And I proudly announce that Oromo and Amara are at each other’s throat today thanks to our tplf’s decisive leadership and other tegadalayit cadres and desalegns who works tirelessly here at home front and in the foreign ambasedertat. ”
    Teodros: I need to raise this timely suggestion although it is in the days of ancient era pharaoh kbur teqlay
    Meles: qetsil ambassador! Waay antaa !! tekola gar yaleh neh tegagezu ajuha ajuha bel qetsl!!
    Tecola : kibur u used me and trashed me like a garbage. Anyways I am still working against the mehal safari amharas and dergue remnants but the diaspora is not willing to lend me their ears. I always get a curse no matter what I say even if I told them that I am half woloye and half tigre and still they keep on insulting me. So can you please take me there and give me some post so I can harshly punish those mehal safari amharas. I like to work for desalegn.
    Meles says ketsil Teodros :
    Kibur ! The moral form of life that መዓት (matt) promised remained on paper, as nothing more than an ideal. The ideals were not institutionalized as ideas, which can belived, which can be practiced. Africans did not take the time to embody these ideals in the lifeblood of institutions.”
    Meles: Bemejemerta It is an insult to my legacy. If I were not where I am today, I would have sent you to kality. When we struggled against dergue, we used to have a donkey called “desalegn” we erected a statue in mekele for this tagay donkey which transported our goods and ammunition during our struggle against dergue/ today, I worked day and night with the best qat that can be produced here in tplf controlled nation and nationalities to institutionalize these ideas of መዓት (matt) for the last 21 years. But the amharas and oromos are not easy to divide we tried in many different places like arbagugu and beadle. We continue this vision through desalegn. Minilik made atrocity against oromo famales kem zeyebelna we create a statue that is showing female breast at Anole and we announced to celebrate the 100th year memorial of Minilik at the same town we erected that statue. That was oromo majority and amahra minority expecting to create genocidal mass slaughter like tutsi and hutu but they do not even care the Ethiopian mask they are wearing till this date cloaks them. They say we are intermarried gelemele they recall Italy’s aggression heresy story and mention aba dachew gobena minilk Kemeziybahlu waay!! But the good thing is we stayed on top of this issue by calling desalegn from wolayita, ene bereket ena sbhat nega from Eritrea shimels Kemal desalegn of limatawi mengst.

  12. Selamta
    | #12

    The Pagan faiths of Egypt are long gone, get over it.

  13. Dula
    | #13

    Dr. Tedros- just tell me what New or for that matter what moral economy means? Are you creating your onw concept of economy?

  14. aye tee
    | #14

    ….Your comment is awaiting moderation. Noting that Woyannes, Shabias and Hatemongers are infecting our forum, we have decided to moderate every comment. Sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused you!
    ‘Agugida!!
    If you see the above comment from Abugida that stays forever before your comment sees the day of the light, then you could say either one of these three things.
    at the a name of protecting their forum from shabiya and woyane , they became worse than shabia by muzzling our comments that they fear to protect us from, they opened this website at one time for the sake of clean journalism and now they do not want it anymore because the turnover is so low it can not even pay for day today expenses and they took a full time job somewhere else. In any case, it is their right to take any measure which seems necessary for them. but if you leave your forum unattended for more than a week, it is better to shut it down like any other websites. your website was one of the best to air our frustration and learn from each other but the so called glare effect made you to stop and sleep on the switch and they seem on grinding halt.

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