Official Marxism and Socialist Development in Ethiopia: rhetoric and reality

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In the aftermath of the 1974 Ethiopian revolution, the government came to adopt an official strand of Marxism that featured a number of
characteristics inherited from the late Soviet interpretation of its own experience, and a number of instrumentalist contortions corresponding to the interest
of the emergent dominant strata. Tis generated contradictions between the
emancipatory ideational categories employed and the social-material characteristics of the actual process of attempted development. Nowhere were these
contradictions greater than in the manufacturing sector, where exhortations
and demands for sacrifice on the part of the working class were only matched
by the – increasingly farcical – rhetorical place of prominence of that class. By
focussing on the rhetorical aims, the practical means, and the achievements
recorded in this sector, this article aims to analyse the concrete manner in which these contradictions manifested themselves. Te findings indicate that the effort to construct and develop a socialist economy – narrowly defined as such in terms of the judicial form of ownership – failed on a number of levels. This failure is traced back to the nature of power relations in ‘Socialist Ethiopia’, and draws attention to the manner in which the ideology of ‘state socialism’, which shifts attention from the aim of revolutionising productive relations to the development of productive forces under state ownership, has generally been used to legitimise the rule of bureaucratic categories and to conceal exploitative relations prevailing under such rule. In this, the article draws on Marxist theorisation and critique of that ideology
Originele taal-2Engels
Pagina's (van-tot)49
Aantal pagina's68
TijdschriftJournal für Entwicklungspolitik
Nummer van het tijdschrift3
StatusGepubliceerd - 2017


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