Ethiopian Modernization: Opportunities and Derailments



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In distinction to the tendency of imputing the delay of Ethiopian modernization to the lack of social peace, which was used as a pretext to institute and justify imperial absolutism, the radicalization of students, in line with the unadulterated principle “modernity versus tradition, blamed the presence of traditional features, notably the impeding role of the “feudal” class, the anachronism of the imperial state, and the obscurantist influence of the church, for the general failure of Ethiopian modernization. The students’ standpoint assumed the ideological leadership of the social protests and spread the conviction that Marxist-Leninist socialism is the only remedy to put Ethiopia back on the track of rapid modernization. The equation of modernization with socialism became all the more compelling as the theory consistently denounced the stifling and economically crippling impact of imperialism on developing countries. The choice of socialism as the only solution, in addition to underpinning the opposition between modernity and tradition, shifted the model to follow from the West to socialist countries, in particular to the then Soviet Union.

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Dayton, OH


Africana Studies | Philosophy


This book is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) License. Copyright © 2023, Messay Kebede.

Chapter VII — The Overthrow of the Imperial Regime