More Than Thirty Thousand Soldiers trained by TPLF Ethiopia’s ethnic-federalism, as per EPRDF’s discourse, is basically guided by the principle of ‘democratic-ethnocentrism’. Yet, a sober assessment of the concept reveals a measure of theoretical, experimental and moral fallacies.
Theoretically, whereas democracy denotes inclusion, tolerance and compassion, among others, ethnocentrism with its emphasis on privileging one’s ethnic members implies exclusion, discrimination or ‘partial justice’. Thus, the notion of ‘democratic- ethnocentrism’ is inherently fallacious born out of a forced-marriage of entirely contradictory views of ‘democracy’ and ‘ethnocentrism’.
The experimental fallacy appears evident with the granting of an exclusive-right to rule to a single ethnic group in a rather ethnically mixed and demographically ever changing country. Crowning one ethnic group over others would give way to ridiculous form of ‘reverse injustice’–righting ‘old injustice’ with ‘new injustices’. Whereas the moral fallacy is quite evident when one is faced with choosing one worthy identity from among many equally competing identities.
Such form of governance is bound to be caught up in what I call the ‘dilemma of ethnic democracy’: “All ethnic entities in a given administrative unit are equal, but one is more equal than others!” Definitely, this can be nothing but a form of political ploy.
In general, Ethiopia’s ethnic-federalism sets forth ‘ethnic enclosures’ guarded by ‘ethnic-extremism’ where ethnic-differences frame the basic organizing principle of social and political life. It thrives on political opportunism, ethnic entrepreneurship, loyalty and favoritism; so, no wonder that it becomes the source of many administrative malfeasances.
At this time of ever integrating world what Ethiopia needs is not divisive and potentially explosive governance but an integrative and democratic one that both acknowledges and respects cultural differences–cultural pluralism–and also promotes a spirit of brotherhood, solidarity and unity among its diverse social entities.
Prof. Steve Fenton, author of a famous book “Ethnicity” said, “The narcotic of self-pity and the whine of victimhood become the elevator music of ethnocentrism and the mainstay of ethnic-entrepreneurs