by Alex Bekele
After reading my Borkena article of May20, 2022; titled “The Amhara Struggle at a Crossroad”; a member of my family quite younger than me expressed his wish that I delved into the nitty-gritty of organizing it. He earnestly believed some will benefit from such an article. His suggestion convinced me that what I thought was common knowledge and chose to ignore may not be so common, and hence this article. In it I will indicate helpful qualities of people who organize parties from the ground up, the need for discipline, earlier experience of their working together, and the need for party platform and party organ, and the decision whether to do it underground or out in the open.
As I mentioned in that article, we need a handful of bright pioneers with youthful energy and stable minds who will organize around the clock on a full time basis. These pioneers should be highly dedicated and know what they are getting into. They are giving their lives to the cause of their people. They no longer live for themselves and their families. The cause they are fighting for will necessarily cause them a lot of suffering, and may even cost them their lives and limbs. A struggle that was peaceful at the beginning most often turns violent and deadly in due course. Dictators have the natural ability of forcing the most peaceful change agents into the most violent defender of their cause and their people.
These founding members of the party should be well read and well informed, ideally amenable to new ideas and better ways of doing things, no matter where they come from. Egocentrism and intellectual arrogance are the Achilles’ heel of any revolutionary. They should be able to analyze situations clearly and quickly and make sound decisions. They should value the ideas of their comrades as they value their own. Time and effective communications within committees and amongst committees will become difficult as the revolution suffers from violent repression. The physical and intellectual competence of these individuals may save the movement.
These pioneers and those who follow them should be well grounded optimists. Their understanding of the dynamics of their society should clearly show them that change is possible, and they are in the process of bringing a better society. Their optimism is their fuel. This is despite the harsh and brutal repression by their dictators; in fact, sometimes, despite the harsh treatment and vilification by the people they are fighting to liberate. They should be optimist even when they are operating in an environment where every step of their way meant death, torture, or harsh imprisonment. Yet their optimism should never dull their sharp analytical mind. They should always analyze the objective reality of their country and adopt appropriate tactics and strategy. Tactics and strategies are dynamic, not static—needing changes and fine-tunings vigilantly. Optimism should never lead them to ground less adventurism.
These pioneers and their followers should be highly disciplined. They cannot be drunkards, gamblers, womanizers, inveterate liars, swindlers, and transform society for the better. They should be self-respecting, and respectful of their fellow citizens, regardless of their social status. The love, respect, and admiration they command in their neighborhood, schools, and workplaces will be that of their party too. They should have the strongest discipline in keeping organizational secrets and carrying out their organizational assignments. One’s failure to keep organizational secrets or carry out organizational assignments most often costs lives somewhere else in the organization. In fact, the party should have a discipline manual or a party code of conduct clearly educating every member on the party’s disciplinary expectation.
Having people with a good sense of humor amongst the pioneers and the party committees they form is a big plus. You need those who can crack jokes out of your misery, suffering, and injury. They not only put a smile on your face when you need it most, they also trivialize revolutionary suffering; they make it slightly more bearable. Life otherwise is stressful, tiring, trying, and at times severely intimidating.
I mentioned some of the qualities needed in the organizers. Let me say a few things about how to organize.
Organizing is done by people who have done things physically together. By those who have stayed active in mass organizations, organizing mass rallies, sit-ins, and interested group discussions. Participations in such activities together strengthen their bond, build confidence in one another, and bring out their strengths and weaknesses. It gives them some idea as to who can do what in their endeavor. If our pioneers are with such experience already so much the better. But if they lack any such experiences together or know each other very well in cyberspace only, they should start meeting together and participate in organizing and leading mass organizations, and other change-promoting activities.
The first order of things in organizing is the decision whether to do it underground or do it out in the open. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages which I have no plan to address here. Ideally, an openly organized party is preferable to the one that operates covertly, for it will be more transparent and accountable. In our kind of crudely and brutally repressive regime, however, doing it underground may be the only option. So the founding members of the party should deliberate on this exhaustively and decide one way or the other.
Their next step will be drafting their party platform or program based on the objective reality of the country. What are your grievances? Who caused them? Who are your enemies and friends? What kind of struggle are you waging? What is your tactical slogan, and what is your strategic goal? A well thought out concise document of about 30 to 50 pages will do. Take all the time to brainstorm it thoroughly, and write it well. That is going to be your guiding document to victory.
After you have drafted your program, you need a party organ that you publish periodically, weekly or biweekly. The frequency of your publication can also be determined by the demand of the time as you go. Know well that there is no substitute for this organ. Through it, you popularize your program, explain your activities, and timely analyze government policies. It is going to be the go-to reference of your followers. In today’s world, this organ may be posted on the party’s website, on Facebook, and other cyber media. Its hard copies should be, however, hand distributed to all corners of your people. You cannot imagine what this organ can do until you see it working. It should be well written and should articulate its subjects well.
The pioneering group should have a division of labor in subcommittees and be able to multitask. They may need a committee looking after organizational structures, recruitments, and indoctrinations. A second one that looks after agitation and propaganda, a third for intelligence and party security, and another one to look after your military, if you have or plan to have one to help the struggle. As your party grows and the need arises you may broaden your leadership committee and add more subcommittees as needed. As you do all this, each pioneer will recruit people into cells with the hope of making them party members, and leaders at lower levels. Cells could be comprised of three, five, maximum seven individuals. The harsher the enemy repression, the smaller cells more preferred to limit possible damages. Each cell member recruits and forms others cells, and so on and so forth. Then you decide on party structures—Party committees at different levels between the cell and the central committee, and the geographical areas they are responsible for. Finally, when you reach that critical mass, you call a party conference of all party members to discuss the direction of the party and democratically elect its leaders. If the tight security situation does not allow a general assembly of members, it can be done through representation. All efforts should be made, however, to have annual party conferences, notwithstanding tight security conditions.
A party that fails to revamp, replenish, and reinforce its leadership with younger blood is doomed to fail. If it wants to avoid such failure, it shall constantly train leaders from the best and the brightest it has and assign them in positions of high responsibility. I know it will be extremely difficult, both logistically and security wise, to do this regularly. But, you have to find a way to do it. If you don’t, your leaders will be the same year after year until they are too old to move around without canes, and become an easy prey of groupthink, impermeable to ideas different from their hackneyed ones.
For those who want to organize in this line, the time is ripe. Amharas do not need a lot of propaganda and agitation to join the struggle. Our dictators’ brutality and depravity had aroused them. Form a party, they are ready to join; start an army, millions are ready to join and fight. All they are asking is a leadership they can count on, a party they want to embrace as their own. If you already have one, declare and lead! Or, if none exists, organize one now. It is never too late. Our people cannot wait much longer without despairing though. Relative to their suffering and their readiness to fight back, they have waited far too long for a party to lead them.
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