The Limits of Social Darwinism, Eritrean Social Ethics and Your Personal Role in the Ouster of the “Bandit Regime” in Asmara – By Our Voice
The Limits of Social Darwinism, Eritrean Social Ethics and Your Personal Role in the Ouster of the “Bandit Regime” in Asmara By Our Voice “OUR DESTINY IN OUR HANDS!” TIMELINE OF
The Limits of Social Darwinism, Eritrean Social Ethics and Your
Personal Role in the Ouster of the “Bandit Regime” in Asmara
“OUR DESTINY IN OUR HANDS!”
TIMELINE OF OUR STRUGGLE: 6 months from now, conducting global elections at the grassroots level, vetting and publically announcing the results; 6 months after that, the establishment of the People’s Baito or Assembly and the Eritrean Global Leadership Council with a Sened or working document; 1 – 2 months after that, formation of an embryonic security and military wing – and anytime after that, the fall of the dictatorship in Eritrea. But, all this will be achievable according to the set timeline only when every Eritrean seeker of justice owns the struggle and makes an active contribution to its success. Our Voice cannot do it on its own.
We are satisfied that our previous article on the suggested provisional criteria for Eritrean citizenship (to be amended, changed or adopted by an elected body) stimulated a wide discussion on the subject. However, there were sadly some comments which suggested that being an Eritrean is irrelevant and, in fact, a badge of shame. We beg to differ.
Such a defeatist view is confined to very few people who are now traumatised and depressed. But, it is not their fault, and we understand! The good thing is that such feeling is only a temporary phase – and we are certain that it will disappear soon. Once we remove the dictatorship following the clear roadmap we have presented, a democratic constitutional governance will be established. This will form the basis of creating an equitable, peaceful, prosperous, advanced and forward looking society that will be a source of envy to many. In tandem with that, there will be a huge renaissance of Eritrean culture. In short, we shall all be proud of our being Eritrean, and we shall hold our heads high in the world than any time in the past. Now, we have to work for it.
There is no doubt that Eritrea at the moment is a broken society that has lost its values – where everyone is fighting for his/her own survival and trying to take advantage of any opportunity by whatever means available. The loss of faith and regression to primordial animal instinct of survival at any cost regardless of social values, standards and the needs of others is by no means characteristic of the Eritrean society we knew. It is a new phenomenon deliberately engineered by the warped sadistic narcissism of Isais Afewrki – which we have analysed in some detail in our earlier article. We say that to regain our national dignity and restore our personal pride as Eritreans, we need to remove the dictatorship at the earliest, get our country in our hands, re-design it and then build it fast. That is the only way.
The first step in this long and arduous struggle is to change our perception and abandon the destructive and crippling culture of deceit, theft, betrayal, ignorance and stupidity actively encouraged by the dictatorship – and most importantly the “everyone for himself” mentality. Underlying all this seems to be the underlying Social Darwinism which has been implicitly adopted as a dominant principle of life in present day Eritrea – where it is assumed that everyone is for himself. Social Darwinism has already created a lot of problems in other parts of the world before and has much influence even today. Its negative consequences are everywhere to see to a greater or lesser extent. This strikes at the very centre of society and human civilization – and we
must fight it. We, therefore, find it important to deal with this issue briefly and try to show why it must be rejected and replaced by social ethos.
The general outline of Darwin’s theory of evolution is well known, and we are not going to rehearse that here. We shall instead focus first on the familiar and contested phrase – “survival of the fittest”. In other words, is it true that it is the fittest individuals that always survive, or even most of the time? Secondly, do ethical considerations matter that should temper the naked struggle for survival by any means?
Darwin was a natural scientist, and much of his data came from observations of living things (especially of plants and lower animals in the Paparagus Islands of South America) and the physiological changes that took place therein as a result of ecology and the demands of survival. He observed that generally the plants and animals that were most suited to their environment were the ones that survived more successfully than others. There are three questions that arise from this in regard to higher animals. (a) Is it not true that sometimes, the fittest survive by adopting their environment to their needs rather than the other way round – as we see in the modern world? (b) Is it not true that, at least sometimes, the less fit are the ones that survive and thrive and not the fittest? (For example, all of us know many undeserving fools with money, power, influence, etc who can more than survive by cheating, stealing, killing or through family connections. More able and decent people may not even survive.) (c) Is it only survival that matters? (Human civilization is made possible mainly by those who sacrifice themselves to bring about innovation, new ideas, building new things and putting their lives on the line to defend their society and not by those whose only mission in life is physical survival.)
Darwin did not study human society closely, nor did he properly observe higher mammals, especially chimpanzees and elephants that live in colonies – and, more importantly, humans that live in complex societies. If he had done that, he would probably have modified his theory to account for the wide anomalies that are observed in the said species and some others.
Evolutionary scientists and anthropologists have observed that as the brain developed, some higher mammals came to realise that to give themselves the greatest change of survival, it was better to join similar creatures like themselves and live in groups – especially to defend themselves against predators. To make group life possible, they had to develop some basic implicit rules and values that had to be observed by all members. Breaking the said standards resulted in sanctions against the rule breakers, such as ostracism and physical punishment by the group. Some individuals with better perceptive ability and physical power were needed that (a) could enforce those rules and values, (b) guide/lead the group, and (c) play an important role in defending it when it came under attack. Such individuals were rewarded with more and better food and priority in mating with females – and they had a better chance to procreate and spread their genes. But, if they failed to play their role as leaders properly, rivals emerge. Ultimately, the failed leaders are defeated and torn to pieces or they are chased out of the group and escape for dear life. (Remember J. Habermas and his notion of social justice.)
After millions of years and the emergence of Homo sapiens with more developed brains, the social rules, tendencies and values became more refined and ingrained in the minds of the members of the social group and formed a part of the instinct embedded in the subconscious mind. Without the said basic rules and values, the group/society could not continue to function. It is such values that prevented people from killing their neighbours to take their belongings. That is also why sexual mores were imposed, and lying and betraying one’s friends, relatives and group members were and are still considered as serious violations against social standards – and killing and imprisoning people and enslaving them without justice seen as a criminal act.
Our argument is that Isaias Afwerki has violated the basic social contract on which the Eritrean people allowed him power. In fact, surprisingly, he has violated all conditions of public leadership. He has struck at the very heart of our society and civilization. He must, thus, be forced to go. He has no shame, and he will not leave power on his own accord – nor will the international community do it on our behalf however much we demonstrate, cry, pull our hair or roll many times over on the ground.
Any individual who usurps power from the group/society using any trick and pretext to suit himself – such as access to money, privilege, sex, control over others, adulation from a fearful and traumatised population, etc is violating the very ethos of working for the common good on which society is based. In that case, the people have the right to rebel and not only remove but severely punish such perpetrators of pain. At the moment, we cannot listen to those who advocate South African style of reconciliation. We want justice not only to be done but also seen to be done.
The history of human beings especially in the last 10,000 -50,000 years shows that human civilization: culture, science, technology, medicine and the accumulation of wealth has been made possible by division of labour and exchange mechanisms in and between societies. The foundation of civilization is, therefore, not merely the individual but more importantly, the society. Human beings have proved so successful and dominant over other species only through collective existence in society and the emergence of language that facilitated further development of the human cortex.
Otherwise, humans are weaklings: scientific experiments have proved that many times over. Civilization cannot come about without society – and individuals would not be as productive, creative and knowledgeable. Society in turn is held together by shared values and observance of rules and norms for mutual interest and survival of the members of that society. The bottom line is that selfish individuals, such as Isaias Afwerki, who have no other interest than to look after themselves even at the expense of society are a great danger to the collective good and human civilization. Therefore, they must be stopped and punished severely according to the damage they have done. We do not say this out of vindictiveness. It actually has practical value. Society should be extremely vigilant against such dangerous people who may be in high public office, in business or they may be private people of influence aspiring for power. In saying this, we are actually suggesting caution in our forthcoming grassroots elections.
Does a society get the leaders it deserves? Absolutely not! The large majority of any society are deliberately excluded from state power everywhere anyway! In large parts of the world, as in Africa, most people live in remote villages and haven’t got a clue about politics or what is going on in the centres of power. How are they then going to be blamed for the emergence of bad political leadership? In Western societies themselves, the capitalists and press barons dominate and control public opinion and decision making (cf. N. Chomsky). Even the power of one tabloid newspaper in Britain, The Sun, is well known for influencing how people vote and has become a king maker. In fact, quite often, societies get the kinds of leaders they don’t deserve. Did the Germans deserve to get Hitler as their leader after World War I? He came to power, in fact, by misrepresentation, brute force, amazing pretentions and the usurpation of power. We can also talk about how Isaias Afwerki repeatedly cheated the Eritrean people and abused their trust to establish a one-man rule which he maintains with brute force and distributing stolen money among his followers who think about nothing else but their own personal interests. Do we deserve what is happening to us? Of course not! Many other examples can be given, but this is probably enough to make the point.
Does a society make available for service the best people there are in it? This is again a very wrong assumption. Actually, sometimes, the worst people available in society are the ones who come to power, including the presidency. Look at the hapless exterminator of millions, Pol Pot of Cambodia; the buffoon President for Life Idi Amin Dada of Uganda; the primitive self-styled emperor of Central African Republic, Bedel Bokassa; the ignorant corrupt military leader of Nigeria Sani Abacha; the semi-literate butcher of Addis Ababa, the dictator Mengistu Hailemariam and our very own delusional cheating, lying and thieving usurper Isaias Afwerki – who has brought a proud nation to its knees. In fact, history is replete with examples of the worst people coming to power and taking down their people with them.
Is it the fault of society that deformed leaders such as these come to power and rule with impunity. It is well known that sociologists and psychologists want to go back into a person’s background to find explanations for the patient’s state of mind at present. Can the same be applied to society as well? We say, yes! The community or society has its own background that shapes how it behaves and what it allows or is forced to allow. That society might have passed through a traumatic experience of repression, massacres, long and costly wars, etc. It might also have suffered serious betrayal by its own brutal leaders. These terrible leaders are not chosen by the society. They come to power under false prospectus as Isaias did, or they impose themselves on society by force and then creating division and deliberate chaos as seems to be the case in Nigeria. Unfortunately, the society may not be able to effectively fight back because it is divided, traumatised and has lost its bearing. Therefore, it is not to blame – just like a sick person is not to blame for his/her illness. They both deserve sympathy and active support as the Eritreans do.
Therefore, Social Darwinism has its limits. Despite this, it has been used and abused by social and political movements like Nazism and Fascism that resulted in the deaths of over 50 million people! It has also been of great influence in corporate business and the reduction of the workforce into modern slaves, especially the low paid in America, Europe and other parts of the world. Unfortunately, there seem to be some Eritreans who in a way deflect blame from the Eritrean dictator and his terrible deeds and instead blame our society as deserving what has happened.
Hidden reference is made to Social Darwin and the misplaced notion of “survival of the fittest”. Thus, Isaias and his associates who have amassed so much political power and personal wealth are seen as “seb’ut be’alti sire” who have emerged successful in the struggle for power and survival. For such people, what Isaias did to achieve his diabolical purpose does not matter. The Eritrean people are dismissed with contempt as stupid fools who have to obey in silence because they are weak. In the eyes of many, Isaias Afwerki has emerged as the superman in Friedrich Nietzsche parlance. There is no morality or ethical standard to appeal to in Social Darwinism where only power counts – and the dictator has it in abundance at the moment. But, we hope not for much longer.
The theory of Social Darwinism was popular especially in the 19th Century and has influenced many schools of thought – including the German philosopher, Fredrick Nietzsche, the British psychologist Herbert Spencer and even Sigmund Freud to some extent. But, it has lost credibility now. Some Eritreans need to know this. The world has moved on. That is why Isaias Afwerki is now out of place, isolated and looks like a dictator either from the 19th century or at most from the first part of the 20rth century. He now stands on sand. When the tidal waves of our popular movement are unleashed and properly directed, he will be swiftly washed away for good. The only question now is how to unleash the people’s power and direct it properly to bring about the ouster of the dictator and set the Eritrean people free. The dictator is weak, and Eritrea is ready for change. The roadmap for change is also on the table. The only missing link now is our unity for our collective good.
To consolidate our unity, we need to understand that we have the duty to each other. The dictum “There are no permanent friends, only permanent interests” is manifestly wrong and reflects 19th century mentality. The world has changed; and now, we understand that there is an ethical dimension to our existence even if we do not believe in religion. If we try to reject this, we make ourselves liable to suffer from cognitive dissonance and myriads of psychological problems. Let us maintain our sanity and do the right thing.
Thus, we join the four bishops of the Catholic Church is Eritrea and say: “Where is your brother?” (“Hawka abbey alo?” In other words, you should ask where your brother/sister is? Please watch a DVD production available via www.youtube.com entitled “Between the Desert and the Fire” by Yasser Aswhour, Al Jazeera, 8th October 2014. Or will you still say is it “Ne’ay yit’ameni dea i’mber kali’isi bailu yifelit!!” Gidefu’ ba? Ayfal!!
The best part of Eritrean culture is essentially based on morality, social cohesion, solidarity, defence of the weak and outrage with singular courage against oppression, injustice and unfairness. Where has that all gone now?
Let us reclaim our culture of courage, hard work, solidarity and unity against injustice and cruelty against citizens who have done nothing wrong. We should fight against the one-man bandit regime in Asmara that has caught in its vortex millions of sacred Eritrean lives dying everywhere in disgrace.
Our request is simple. To put an end to all our suffering and disgrace and restore our pride as Eritreans, please help us to organise and carry out the planned grassroots elections all over the world where Eritreans live. We want to create a national assembly or Baito of your own elected representatives and nothing else. That Baito will in turn elect an Eritrean Global Leadership Council that will speak on behalf of all Eritreans and will act as the provisional Eritrean Government. Its main task will, however, be to remove the dictatorship in Asmara and establish a democratic constitutional governance.
Be ready! As you have seen above, we have now set the timeline for our collective struggle – and we need your help. Please take an active part in organising and taking part in the forthcoming grassroots elections. Use your ballot to elect your representatives in the locality where you live. Your destiny is in your hands now. The dictator will be gone soon, and you will set yourselves free with your own efforts.
Indeed, “Our destiny is in our hands!” – and it will henceforth always remain so.