Why the imperialists hate Mengistu

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sat Dec 25 08:31:49 MST 1999

>Whatever the progressive aspects of the Derg early actions, they were on the
>back of the demands of the people, but soon turned into another form of
>exploitation mainly under Amhara chauvinism.

I will be posting the first of a series of articles on Ethiopa in a couple
of days, which will take up the period of the Solomonic dynasties up to,
but not including, the reign of Haile Selassie.

One question has popped up, however, that I don't have an answer to. In
reading about the reign of Tewodros from 1855 to 1868, I was struck by what
Harold Marcus (A History of Ethiopia, U. of Cal. 1986) described as the
"compassion, a sense of social justice, and a commitment to improve the
life of the poor" that characterized the early years of his reign. But
after some years, his reign grew harsh. "He lost massive popular support
when he tried to institute a nationwide system of garrisons to be supplied
by already heavily taxed peasants."

So at some point I will have to address the question--which I don't really
have the answer to yet--is the extent to which Mengistu was Ethiopia's
Stalin, or instead a throwback to Tewodros, a new emperor who justified
harsh measures with Marxist jargon rather than Christian mythology.

Louis Proyect
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