Hoya Hoye Poletika

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Published in: on April 27, 2007 at 10:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

CAN IDIOTS BE USEFUL?


HAMA TUMA 

“Meanwhile, some in the Ethiopian “opposition” express sadness about the killing of 65 Woyanne soldiers by ONLF fighters in Ogaden. Useful idiots!”   ETHIOPIAN REVIEW WEB SITE/ April 27, 2007/ 

The word needs a definition before we can conclude if idiots can be categorized as useful. Idiot was originally a Greek word /in Latin it derives from idiota say some/ used to define those people in the city states who were overly concerned with their self interest and ignored the needs of the community. More like the Hodam reference made to certain puppets and hirelings of Meles Zenawi. Idiocy also was a result of sickness, of Down syndrome, of mental retardation though the use of the word is politically incorrect these days. In several American States (Iowa, Ohio, New Mexico, Arkansas, etc…) “idiots” have no right to vote. But how can they be termed useful? 

The irreverent Devil’s Dictionary defines idiot in another way: 

“A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot’s activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but “pervades and regulates the whole.” He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.”  

According to this definition the idiot appears to be another name for Meles Zenawi. Is Meles ever useful for anything worthwhile? Much as I would like to call the pest an idiot, I would rather be speechless than call him useful. In other words, the concept of “useful idiots” continues to intrigue and confuse. The above quote indicates that the web site takes those who shed tears for the army of Meles Zenawi as “useful idiots”. Useful for Meles? For the community? For their stomach? It is not clear but the whole notion of “useful idiots” opens a Pandora Box of sorts and forces us to look closely at those we had concluded earlier to be useless through and through. Did we forget what the Greeks said about fools: from fools and children, you will learn the truth? 

According to the original Greek definition of idiot, all those who are serving Meles Zenawi are idiots as they have ignored the interest of Ethiopia and are serving their stomachs. In the Politics of the Stomach, an art that is practiced with finesse in most of Africa, the stomach is all, the stomach has no communal feeling, and selfishness is the Emperor. Each stomach is all by itself, exercising self determination, unattached to others but unto itself, cutthroat competition the norm of the day, may the devil take the rest and the country to hell. Such idiots can be termed useful if only we define useful within the realm of negative example, like the Bush misadventure in Iraq can be termed useful if only as a lesson to the Bush puppet Meles not to invade Somalia. But idiots never learn. As the Ashanti proverb puts it: by the time the idiot has learned to play the game, the players have dispersed. The idiots of today could have learnt from the idiocy of their predecessors in the former regime but once again it should be said along with the proverb from Bihar, India, that the fool thinks of his belly only. 

In the quote that provoked this article the useful idiots are those who cry foul because the soldiers of the regime have been killed by self proclaimed “liberation movement” soldiers who are, in my view, another version of the useless idiot. The useless ones are those who hail the slaughter?  This is left unsaid. For some the killers are patriots, allies, freedom fighters, for others the opposite. For every sane Ethiopian who is unaffected by idiocy the Meles regime is an enemy of the country and her people. Its soldiers kill and maim and serve the tormentors of Ethiopia. Why then should one cry if these soldiers get what they had been doling out to other people? Only “idiots” can cry foul. But then, why are they deemed useful? Because they teach by their idiocy? If we go along with this line of argument are all those  who believed in the peaceful electoral process idiots since it was clear from the outset that the Meles gang would never respect the voice of the people? What do we say to those who proclaim even today we should prepare for the next election? First class, new Millennium idiocy? Not differentiating friend from foe is folly of the highest level, like, during the Soviet era, hijacking a plane from East Berlin to Moscow.   

In the Ethiopian context, the idiot tag is unavoidably going to stick especially to the so called doctors and professors whose overly concern with self interest has gone against the interest of the community and the country. Idiocy can wear intellectual garb too. A colourful doctoral “kaba” but coarse as poor man’s bernos. Ignorance is not always an involuntary misfortune. Quite a few of our strutting doctors and professors have prostrated themselves in front of the tyrant or the big power and betrayed the country–no need to name names. In their case, knowledge has turned sourly into ignorance and foolishness. In Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s classic, The Idiot, the hero Duke Myskin, is considered an idiot not out of lack of intellect but due to his honesty and kindness. As the Burmese say the kind hearted can become a slave. In our context, the idiots are so because they are mean and selfish and have sold their country for their insatiable stomach. Fools are of all sizes and of all capacities and a traitor, be he a professor or a PhD, can never be a patriot. But then again can such idiots ever be useful? 

In the precise context of the quote that led to this article the idiots are those who shed tears for the dead soldiers of the regime. What about the hundreds killed by the soldiers all over Ethiopia? The question goes back to where we stand and with whom we stand. Every single life is valuable for someone somewhere and every dead soldier has a parent, a family and friends but this is neither here nor there. Mengistu and Meles have or had parents that loved them. So what? The battle lines are drawn, the negarit has been beaten, the tirunba heard. The war is on and one needs to stand on one side of the divide. We cannot cry for the regime and also wail for the people. Straddling the wall like a political Humpty Dumpty is a no go dead end. As our ancestors said: one cannot climb two trees at the same time just because one has two legs. This or that is a political choice. Idiocy or knowledge. The land of the political idiot is a wasteland populated by fools, cowards and traitors. Experience teaches fools but do idiots ever learn? 

I for one think there are no useful idiots at all. Political idiots are totally and thoroughly useless and should be discarded  without any pity.  
 

Published in: on April 27, 2007 at 5:47 pm  Comments (51)