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The End of the Prosperity Party and Dr. Abiy’s Politics of Fear

Tesfa ZeMichael, B.Phil.

This article is dedicated to Taye Dendea Aredo and Gedu Andargachew

The Prosperity Party is coming to an end. There is no PP in Tigray. The PP is mortally wounded in Amhara and survives propped up by Dr. Abiy’s army and security forces. In Oromia, the PP has split into rival twins, devouring each other. In Southern Ethiopia, the PP has degenerated into feuding caciquismos. As was for the EPRDF, so will it be for the PP. It also will fall.

Ideology is critical for the long-term viability of a regime. But the PP does not have a functional ideology. What it proposes as its guiding ideology is nothing more than a bricolage of ethnic nepotism, ethnic hatred and violence. Understandably, the majority of Ethiopians are becoming wary of it and rejecting it. Having lost its legitimacy and political relevance, it is now reduced to a coterie of power-hungry and money-hugging ethnic elites circling the wagons to defend their ill-gotten wealth.

What a debacle! Dr. Abiy came to power under auspicious signs. Ethiopians adulated him when he became the PM. And for good reasons. He swore to eradicate the lawless practices of the TPLF. He promised to abolish arbitrary arrests, torture, the repression of freedom of association, speech and the press, and to abide by the rule of law and promote democracy. He pledged to transcend ethnic divisions and ensure that every Ethiopian will feel at home anywhere in Ethiopia.

Within two years, he broke all his promises. He betrayed himself and Ethiopians. Not surprisingly, Ethiopians in Oromia, Tigray, Amhara, and many in the Southern regions rose against him. And the rank and file of the Prosperity Party, being part of the downtrodden Ethiopians, lost faith in him. Hence the defection of many PP rank-and-file members to resistance movements. All of a sudden the prospect of Dr. Abiy losing power loomed over the horizon.

The Noble Peace Laureate Ung San Suu Kyi, persecuted by Burma’s dictators, says, “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it.”

Fear of losing power has corrupted Dr. Abiy politically, morally, intellectually, and affectively. The fear of losing power has transmogrified hm from the PM of Ethiopia to a fear-filled ogre chief of scared and corrupt ethnic elites among whom he chooses his ministers and appointees.

Dr. Abiy is trapped in an omnicrisis of his own making. He is gripped by a neurotic fear of Ethiopians not because of what they have done to him but because of what he has done to them and is fearful of what they might do in retaliation. Frightened to face their questions and demands, he has barricaded himself behind a phalange of yes-men. But in vain. Fear of Ethiopians continues to throb in his heart and head, as one could see from his frustrated long and accusatory monologues in parliament (06/02/2024).

It is said that a wounded beast is pervaded by fear and is very dangerous. Dr. Abiy is now like a wounded beast. He no longer behaves rationally. Like all frightened tyrants, he resorts to magical thinking and builds palaces and parks, hoping they will soothe the anger of Ethiopians whom he betrayed. Seeing that his magical thinking is not working, his fear of losing power has driven him to adopt a politics of fear whose two main pillars are:  wanton violence and unbridled lies.

He has made wanton violence his defense against the fear that simmers in him and has made it his main tool of governance—witness the Merawi massacre, which is only one of many. Amhara, Oromia, Tigray, and Southern Ethiopia are drenched with the blood of innocent children, women, young and old people massacred by Dr. Abey’s forces. The goal of his wanton violence: to create an ecology of fear that he hopes will keep Ethiopians subdued and prevent them from stripping him of power. His effort to rule Ethiopians through fear is however backfiring.

His second subterfuge to placate his fear is telling unbridled lies. While national and international organizations are reporting that many in Northern Ethiopia are dying of famine, he claims, with a straight face, that there is not a single case of famine in Ethiopia. While economists describe the dire financial and economic situation of Ethiopia, he paints a rosy picture of economic progress. Indeed, he even claimed in parliament (06/02/2024) that other countries are envious of the economic progress Ethiopia is making and ask him: how did you do it?

I think to characterize Dr. Abiy’s claims as lies is giving an unwarranted bad reputation to liars. Rather, his “lies” are what the philosopher Harry Frankfurt called “bullshit.” To paraphrase Frankfurt, a liar knows that there is a truth; he is just dissimulating it. A bullshitter denies the existence of truth. He “just wants a story.” He makes facts out of thin air and constructs a fictional reality “to suit his purpose.” Dr. Abiy fits the philosophical definition of a “bullshitter.” To call him a liar is to make a “category mistake.”

Fear and “bullshitting” are, however, depreciating assets. As economists would say, they cannot escape the law of diminishing marginal utility. Dr. Abiy’s politics of fear and his “bullshitting” are less and less effective. Ethiopians neither fear him nor believe his “bullshits.”  The Ethiopian resistance movements to Dr. Abiy’s tyranny are gaining the upper hand morally, ideologically, intellectually, and politically. They are increasingly depleting his power and intensifying his fear.

Thus the anger and frustration that furrows his face whenever he addresses the crisis in Amhara.  Frightened to face real questions, he imprisons parliamentarians (Christian Tadele, Dessalegn Chane) that he is afraid will raise questions that expose his failures and betrayals and the sufferings of Ethiopians. He formulates and answers his own questions, shamelessly congratulates himself by making fictional claims of progress, and harangues parliamentarians as if they were his vassals.

The Prosperity Party is in its death throes and Dr. Abiy knows it. He now counts on violence and “bullshit” and on the ecology of fear he has created to stay in power. But, as history shows, violence, “bullshits”, and fear have weakened rather than strengthened dictators. Dr. Abiy’s regime awaits the same fate.

The big question Ethiopians face then is not whether he is going to fall or not but when. And an even bigger question confronts them: When the PP regime collapses, as it will surely do, are Ethiopians ready to replace Dr. Abiy’s tyranny with a democratic regime or will they be caught once more, as in 2018, with their political pants down?

Fano and others are engaged in armed struggles to bring democracy to Ethiopia. The Ethiopian intellectual and political classes must also do their part to make the passage to democracy possible and durable. They have a historical responsibility to ensure that the kind of political transition  that took place in 2018, which turned out to be a passage from the TPLF frying pan into the Prosperity Party fire, will not take place when Dr. Abiy takes the exit door.

 

 


 

4 thoughts on “The End of the Prosperity Party and Dr. Abiy’s Politics of Fear”

  1. Revolutionary Democracy is the guiding principle of EPRDF, the ruling party now christened as Prosperity Party. Of course PP in turn saw the need to christen the outmoded Revolutionary Democracy with a new name. Thus it chose to call its ideology Revolutionary Prosperity. Finally the Revolutionary part was dropped and just ‘Prosperity’ was retained.
    Revolutionary Democracy is a euphemism for ethno-fascism. In the Revolutionary Democracy ideology and politics, society is divided into two camps: enemies and friends. The revolution is carried out against those deemed enemies while the holy water of democracy is sprinkled upon those deemed friends.
    Revolutionary Prosperity similarly entails brandishing the revolutionary sword against foes while reserving the fruits of prosperity for friends. Now the Amhara as a people are categorical enemies according to the manifesto of the EPRDF founding party, the TPLF. So the only thing the Amhara can expect from Revolutionary Democracy (aka Revolutionary Prosperity) is to be consumed by the fire of the revolution.
    In conclusion, a genocidal system has been creatively and cleverly disguised in leftist terminology: Revolutionary Prosperity or just Prosperity.

  2. Subject: “The End of the Prosperity Party and Dr. Abiy’s Politics of Fear ANALYSIS,
    OPINION & MORE”. February 15, 2024

    Humble Commentary, 15 Feb 2023
    Subject: “The End of the Prosperity Party and Dr. Abiy’s Politics of Fear ANALYSIS, OPINION & MORE / February 15, 2024 So, who would take over the post of the new one.”
    ha) It does not matter, anyone can be the leader

    le). And the new leader will be pushed out

    ha). So goes on. the modern history of Ethiopia.

    me). And we will keep on reading beautiful articles from supremely educated.
    Ethiopians, wherever they may be leading extraordinary life far, far, far away. from
    Ethiopia >>> as I intend of doing so.

    se). Yes, I am not embarrassed. After all who said saving life is an act of fear.

    re). On the contrary, saving your life is the ultimate bravery that only the Good Lord
    up in Heaven knows, for sure.

    se). No wonder, HE (or SHE) ( or IT). secures a permanent. post way, way, way up in
    Heaven, safely watching for the obvious possibility of empty. space of authority.

    chie. SMILE the WORLD is Not going to evaporate. It is only Ethiopia that disappears
    to oblivion. And don’t speculate that you will. be back to Ethiopia from your
    warm sanctuary. After all, Ethiopia is a sure goner to pieces and evaporate.

    —————- THE END ——————-

  3. Good Job, Tesfa ZeMichael ! That is a perfect explanation regarding the communication style of individuals characterized as “bullshitters,” which often involves the use of deceitful rhetoric. However, it may be too simplistic to merely label them as liars. Unlike a liar, who knowingly acknowledges the truth and then chooses to deceive, a bullshitter, like Abiy, often denies the existence of truth altogether. This distinction is crucial in understanding the communication approach of someone like the “shenanigan’s boy king-Abiy.” The bullshitter’s reasoning is a propaganda gimmick, which insults the intelligence of all the ineffective, do-nothing members of parliament. It’s important for the Amhara, Tigray, Oromo, and other groups to unite and not be manipulated by the bullshitter (don’t be a pawn of the bullshitter), but instead to send him back to hell where he came from and build a democratic Ethiopia that treats everyone equally.

  4. Revolutionary Prosperity

    Revolutionary Democracy is the guiding principle of EPRDF, the ruling party now christened as Prosperity Party (PP). Of course PP in turn saw the need to christen the outmoded Revolutionary Democracy with a new name. Thus it chose to call its ideology Revolutionary Prosperity. Finally the “Revolutionary” part of the name was dropped (for the sake of ‘confuse and convince’) and only ‘Prosperity’ was retained.
    Revolutionary Democracy is a euphemism for ethno-fascism. In the Revolutionary Democracy ideology and politics, society is divided into two camps: enemies and friends. The revolution is carried out against those deemed enemies while the holy water of democracy is sprinkled upon those deemed friends.
    Revolutionary Prosperity similarly entails brandishing the revolutionary sword against foes while reserving the fruits of prosperity for friends. Now the Amhara as a people are categorical enemies according to the manifesto of the EPRDF founding party, the TPLF. So the only thing the Amhara can expect from Revolutionary Democracy (aka Revolutionary Prosperity) is to be consumed by the fire of the revolution.
    In conclusion, a genocidal system has been creatively and cleverly disguised in leftist terminology: Revolutionary Prosperity or just Prosperity.

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