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The Derg in Ethiopia

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Post 28 Dec 2009, 07:33
So, from a communist perspective, who were the Derg of Ethiopia? Were they thugs or good communists?
Post 28 Dec 2009, 15:49
In my view, basically thugs. They were only marginally better than the Khmer Rouge, and their rule collapsed for similar reasons and in a similar way. It's worth noting that one of the main groups which overthrew the Derg cited Albania's Enver Hoxha as their chief ideological influence.
Post 28 Dec 2009, 16:04
how come they were marginally better than khmer rouge? did they commit genocide or something? also,who were the ons who overthrew them. so far i was under impression that they werent that corrupt.
Post 28 Dec 2009, 19:13
Perhaps the Derg were overly radical in their approach to governance, which worked to reduce their appeal among the population, but given the circumstances they were under it's difficult to judge. They did proclaim their ideology as Marxism-Leninism, and succeeded in fulfilling their promises for land reform. The villagization initiative (which sought to bring farming communities into village communities) was also necessary, though it was carried out under difficult circumstances with few resources and a lack of organization.

The Derg did violently dismantle the imperial political system in Ethiopia by executing and imprisoning members of the old government, but that does not make them thugs. They did engage in a struggle for control with rival groups (some of them leftist) but that is the nature of politics. A White Terror initiated by conservative opponents was met with a Red Terror, which probably resulted in a lot of personal, non-ideological violence (similar to the kind seen in China during the Cultural Revolution), but what was the alternative? The Derg were certainly not as crazy as the Khmer Rouge, nor were the circumstances surrounding their rule or collapse similar enough to make a direct comparison.

In addition to the internal difficulties, the Derg faced Eritrean and Tigrayan nationalist separatists, a Somali invasion which sought to annex eastern Ethiopia, and a drought which caused mass famine. That the military junta-style governance was abandoned in 1987, with a new government and constitution proclaimed, says something about the nature of the Derg (i.e. that they were genuinely committed to the well-being of Ethiopians, and not just trying to hold on to their power, which was reduced as a result of the new constitution). The collapse of Soviet and Eastern Bloc economic and military aid in the late 1980s was the nail in the coffin for the leadership, which had faced one disaster after another during its tenure, most of them outside its own ability to control.

Also, Potemkin, the EPRDF, which was a coalition of anti-PDRE groups, contained way more pragmatists than Hoxhites. This group has managed to survive and rule Ethiopia in the post-Soviet era precicely because they were willing to abandon socialism, despite retaining some of the rhetoric and symbology.
Post 28 Dec 2009, 21:42
I've heard that they used the money from LiveAid to purchase "new" MIG's-21 and other weaponry.They basically just caused hunger and devastation.
Post 28 Dec 2009, 22:33
Actually the conventional criticism is that the regime used some of the money for their forced resettlement and villagization programs, which were seen as erroneous and harmful by Western observers (partially because the villigization programs were often based on the collectivized model of agriculture). The people that talk about the money going to the army are mostly anti-communist crusaders who will make accusations which no one will bother to verify.
Post 29 Dec 2009, 15:52
Who knows,because there hardly is some info(on the net) on them and Etiopia during their rule
Post 03 Jan 2010, 07:45
I hear these Derg oppressed the Eritreans. If not, then why were the latter in armed resistance to them? Furthermore, is it true the Derg's influence was Enver Hoxha?
Post 03 Jan 2010, 16:12
Eritrea became a problem for the Derg for the same reason Ethiopian Ogaden was invaded by Somalia: it was not historically part of the Ethiopian Empire. Italy conquered the territory in the late 1800s, and in 1936 conquered Ethiopia (having taken Somalia in the late 1920s). After the Second World War King Selassie was reinstalled by the British and given territories formerly owned by Italy, including Eritrea and Western Ogaden. It's important to note that both the Somalis and the Eritrean separatists were leftist in political orientation, so it was the historical injustice and ethnic nationalism that brought these parties to fight.

Re: Hoxha, I doubt it. Ethiopia had strong political and economic connections with the Eastern Bloc, including the Soviet Union. They couldn't maintain a Hoxhite outlook and simultaneously collaborate with the 'revisionist' Soviets.
Post 03 Jan 2010, 16:58
Furthermore, is it true the Derg's influence was Enver Hoxha?

No. As I said, Enver Hoxha was cited as a central ideological inspiration by one of the groups which fought against the Derg, and which eventually overthrew them.
Post 20 May 2016, 02:06
one of the worst communist regimes in africa. Military thugs that claimed to be marxist in one day just to achieve weapons from USSR. One factors that saved Mengistu's regime was Biarre's nationalistic policy to capture old somali land of Ogaden and Soviet Union's denial to support him. Biarre attacked Ethiopia and expelled soviets who then moved in Ethiopia to support his enemy Mengistu
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