While we were gone... they're letting anyone write books now?
Here are a few things you need to know about Prime Minister Meles’ new, uh, book: African Development: Dead Ends and New Beginnings. (Not to be confused with his upcoming biography, How I Dead-Ended the Beginning of Development: Making Melesocracy Work for
- Wonton lack of quotations from Tina Turner songs. (Really, how hard would it have been to work in “I’m your Private Dancer… Tony Blair” in there somewhere?)
- Unjustifiable, unforgivable not calling of even a single person or non-person a “self-appointed colonial viceroy”, even in passing.
- Ne’er, not even one, ‘academical’ series of intemperate “Why? Why? Why?”s or “Really, really, really I am a genius if you don’t think about it” articulations.
- Criminally negligent non-attempts at minting new Melesian missives. Like...? Like:
While I was expecting a huge garbage damp [sic] all I got was newly started garbage damp[sic] that was unable to bury the truth.
(Then again, how would one improve on that?)
5. Thankfully, thankfully, it is teeming with horrifically clichéd 80s obiter dictums such as… wait for it… “paradigm shift.” (Seriously, we know someone who was kicked out of B-School for uttering “paradigm shift”… as a joke.) WTF?! Paradigm shift? Bonapartism… Revolutionary Democracy… Garbage Damp. It’s like Ato Meles didn’t earn a bogus degree from something called Open University.
Listen, we know Ato Meles when he was on noxious literary rampages with titles such as “The Grapes are Sour”, okay? Let’s not waste lipstick on a pig.
As always, though, Ethiopundit does an absolutely magnificent job in tearing this dead end a new one in a brilliant piece, Hypnotize.
Our friend Gooch cogently asks, “What could possess a man in Meles' position to presume that he has something to contribute to discourse on African development?”
We say it is has something to do with the whole “psychopathic willingness to kill his own people to keep power” thing haranguing Ato Meles, but what do we know? We still think “duh!” is a respectable rejoinder.
Gooch, however, is more nuanced.
And now a few words from His Goochness:
A Special Ivory Tower for a Special Man
You may have heard that our esteemed Prime Minister is writing a book. Yes, after writing that 700-page spellbinder on Abiyotawi (Revolutionary) Democracy back in 2001, Prime Minister Meles has found the time to have another go at authorship.
It's amazing how he finds the time. Here he is, running one of the poorest countries in the world, a country of 75 million people, a country in crisis, well on the way to becoming a failed state, where demographic and environmental constraints seem almost intractable, running what is almost a police-state, having arrested and condemned opposition leaders to death or life imprisonment, and he finds the time to write a book on 'African Development'.
And a prescriptive book at that! Usually, it's people who've succeeded at something who write “how to” books, you know. The EPRDF has succeeded at maintaining poverty at 1991 levels and presided over an annual growth rate of a whopping 1.1% per capita.
Okay, perhaps it's Meles the academician writing the book. After all, EPRDF theory has always been sound - it's only the application (read, everyone except the party) that needs work. Yes, up in his ivory tower, at his detached best, armed with a (first class) Master's degree from Open University, it seems Meles feels that he knows enough to pontificate on African development!
And yes, that's African development, not just Ethiopian development, for his knowledge extends far beyond
What could possess a man in Meles' position to presume that he has something to contribute to discourse on African development?
Well, I think 'possess' says it just about right. I know all the talk about him being one of the 'new breed' of African leaders, the endless platitudes from Sachs, Stiglitz et al, the worship of the sycophants he surrounds himself with, etc., got to his head, but I would have thought that the last twelve months may have doused his delusion with some reality.
Normally, I advise people to read stuff, even if it is written by Meles. There are always things to learn, you know, and it's good to be open-minded. But, having glanced through the 51-page preliminary draft excerpts, I say, don't bother. It's nothing but a third-rate Master's thesis, with an amusing 85, yes, 85, instances of Meles' favourite word - 'rent-seeking'. Well, perhaps the psychologists among you would find it an interesting read.