1990s >> 1991 >> no-1043-july-1991

Independence for Eritrea?

A few weeks ago I had a discussion with an Eritrean friend about national liberation and socialism.

What is socialism without a country? People should have their national home before they become socialists.

Socialists stand for a united world society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the resources of the Earth by all the people who live in it.

But the aim of the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front [EPLF] is to liberate Eritrea from the colonial power of the Ethiopian government and to set up a free independent state.

Eritrea is an artificial creation of the imperialist powers—even the name “Eritrea” was given by the Italians— and is a by-product of world capitalism. Once world socialism is established the Eritreans will be free to live together.

Why aren’t you in favour of Eritrean independence and separation from Ethiopian rule?

Socialists aim to create a united world free from all national divisions. As a socialist I’d like to end nations, not to create new ones.

If you oppose Eritrea as a separate nation-state, you must be on the side of the Ethiopian ruling body.

No, I oppose all imperial or colonial aims by all capitalists including the Ethiopian government.

As an ex-member of the EPLF in London, what’s your attitude towards the Eritrean freedom lighters?

I think it’s the same old story. It is an illusion to think you can get freedom and liberate people by “the barrel of the gun”. My attitude towards the EPLF and the Ethiopian rulers is the same and simple—stop the unnecessary killing between the two sides and do something about the millions dying of starvation. There can be no relief for the oppressed Eritreans in changing an Ethiopian dictator to an Eritrean dictator. National divisions are a hindrance to working class unity. National differences are fostered by the capitalists for their own ends. The military conflict between the EPLF and the Ethiopian government forces has made the situation for the population there even worse, and is a product of the international power struggles of the capitalist world order, based ultimately on the pursuit of profit and power by the minority capitalist class.

(Our discussion ended without any agreement).

Michael Ghebre