The ICG article is not really an in-depth exploration of ethnic federalism in Ethiopia, but rather a summary of recent political trends. An in-depth evaluation of ethnic federalism is needed. The TPLF has applied Soviet nationality theory to Ethiopia to create the new federation. Several problems with this are apparent:
The Soviets followed a policy of "nationalist in form, but socialist in substance." In other words, states were to be organized on an ethno-national basis, but the governance of each "nation-state" was to be based on Marxist principles. These principles focused on class struggle and the solidarity of working class people all over the world. The Marxists were expecting all states in the world to disappear within a matter of decades.Form -
The TPLF copied the definition of a nation from an essay that Stalin wrote in 1913. You can still find it on the Marxists.org website: http://www.marxists.org/reference/archi ... 913/03.htm
. Compare it to the definition in the last paragraph of Article 39 of the Ethiopian constitution.
The problem here is that our understanding of ethnicity and ethnic nations has expanded greatly since 1913. Nationalism had only emerged as a force in the mid 1800s. The notion that state boundaries should be congruent with ethnic nations began in Western Europe where populations were comparatively [deleted] (though still diverse). Attempts to apply the concept to Eastern Europe foundered as the area was ethnically heterogenous. Large-scale ethnic cleansing resulted (e.g. Greece-Turkey at the turn of the century, World War II, and the Yugoslav conflict). Applying this concept to heterogenous areas of Ethiopia where the moderating influence of cross-cultural civil society groups is repressed by the state, could set the stage for interminable ethnic conflicts.
Early scholars viewed the nation as a fixed, "primordial" group. Today most scholars take the "constructivist" view, stressing that individuals hold multiple identities, and that these identities change over time, and the nation itself changes. Yet in Article 8, the Ehiopian constitution assigns sovereignty not to the individual Ethiopian, but to these assumed ethnic nations. Thus the fate of individual Ethiopians was fixed once the TPLF drew up the list of ethnic nations and their territories in 1994. This inflexible arrangement violates the basic concept of individual sovereignty, is inconsistent with the modern world, and limits the ability of Ethiopians to adapt their society to changing circumstances.Substance -
The Soviet era ended at the same time the TPLF took power. But Meles and his group had no other basis of knowledge. They replicated the Soviet format, but what was to be the governing substance now that Marxism was obsolete? The TPLF has failed to articulate why the nations, nationalities and peoples should stick together. On the contrary, it has stressed the negative history of Ethiopia, and created mechanisms to drive the people apart.
The TPLF applied ethnic federalism in an inconsistent manner. Three of the nine federal states are officially multi-ethnic (although internally they are ethnically divided). Another state - Harar - has a population of less than 200,000 - smaller than most "nations nationalities, and peoples" that were not granted full federal status. The constitution states that every nation (as defined by TPLF/Stalin) has the right to its own state. Thus one can expect a future filled with long battles as each of Ethiopia's approx 80 "nations, nationalities, and peoples" tries to exercise its full rights. This struggle wiil not be peaceful.
The secession of Eritrea blatantly contradicts the spirit of the constitution. Why did the TPLF not assert its right to speak for Tigrinya speakers in Eritrea? Regional identity? If the TPLF recognized a regional identity in the Eritrean case why not in Ethiopia. Similarly in Somalia, the TPLF has supported a regional building blocks approach to reconstructing the Somali state. But within Ethiopia, this approach is not recognized and all Somali's are ethnically - and hence politically - pre-defined as belonging to a single nation. Finally, if regional identities that supercede ethnic identites are found in neighboring countries, presumably they exist in areas of Ethiopia too. Dont these identities have a right to recognition in the Ethiopian constitution?CONCLUSION -
We need a practical federation, not an incoherent ethnic federation. Under a practical federation, some states could be ethnic, some could be regional (multi-ethnic). They could be based on historical entites. But most importantly they should be based on the sovereign will of the individual citizen. Pragmatism should govern the constitution, not outdated grand theories of human social organization. http://www.geocities.com/~dagmawi/Zebenya/Zebenya.html