Saturday, March 26, 2016

A second blog!

EPRP demonstration in Ethiopia in 1976.

“What!?” you say, “He can barely keep up with this one!”

Well, it's true, I've become a very lazy blogger. While I'm extraordinarily proud of the year I wrote for this blog once a day, my contributions here have become far and few between. During the period I was writing for the Kasama Project, now ended, I hardly posted here at all. I'm finding my voice again though, so don't give up on me. Meanwhile, however, I have undertaken a new project I'm really excited about.

My new, second blog, certainly not replacing this one, is called “Abyot: The Lost Revolution” and it is documenting a research project I have undertaken on the Ethiopian revolution of the 1970s. I started this blog over a year ago and didn't really tell anybody about it; but now that I am well into the research project itself, I want to share what I'm learning, and I have begun much more regular postings.

It's a subject I have been interested in for, no lie, forty years. Here's an excerpt from my new blog's statement of intent:

In 1976 I was eighteen years old and a university student in Chicago. My brief tenure in college was marked by my increasing radicalization, as I became involved with the American revolutionary left. I became a voracious consumer of worldwide revolutionary literature along with the classics of Marxist theory. I attended protests and forums, conferences and demonstrations, and, in those long-ago days, admired the organization and fortitude of leftist students from around the world from places like Iran, Ethiopia, Eritrea and elsewhere. I went to demonstrations where police or right-wingers were menacing and threatening, and certainly saw the potential of brutality. In my years as a radical I've witnessed hundreds of arrests and atrocious acts of police violence. But my life has rarely been in direct danger as a result of my political activities....

In 1976 a revolution in Ethiopia was experiencing a crucial shift, and I watched and studied these events as they happened. Military officers were consolidating their co-optation of a mass, popular uprising. Thousands of revolutionary students my very age were out in the streets fighting for that revolution and attempting to resist the hijacking of the revolution by the military. The students, along with workers and peasants, were organized under the red banners of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP), at the time a largely clandestine Marxist-Leninist formation. Very shortly the EPRP faced a massive, genocidal government campaign of violence and extermination. Dubbed "The Red Terror" by the military government, soon thousands of student revolutionaries my age were rounded up and murdered. The commitment of these young revolutionaries was inspirational to me, and gave me great pause to consider the contrasts and contradictions.

This blog is an investigation project.

What was the EPRP at the height of its power? What were the forces it was up against? What was the dynamic of the Ethiopian Revolution? Why did the EPRP lose?

I hope to excavate, if not rehabilitate, the historical reputation of the EPRP during its Marxist-Leninist period through a process of curation, collection, research and reportage. I will post articles, artwork and photos, book excerpts, reviews, and if I find them, reminiscences, about the Ethiopian revolution, primarily in the second half of the 1970s but extending through the 1980s.

At the new blog I have also posted a more expanded series of study questions which explains some of the issues I'm trying to understand. That post is entitled “8 Study Questions on the Ethiopian Revolution.”  And I've posted — and will update, as I go — the reading list of works I'm consulting for my research. I'm posting cool artwork, photos I find, sharing bits of the research and provocative bits of the story as it unfolds, and I hope to eventually produce more substantial essays about the subject of my studies itself.

If you're interested in revolutionary history, a story that is really woefully forgotten or misunderstood, hop on over and take a look!

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