[Reprinted from the Georgist Journal, No.73,
One of the noticeable developments in this fast moving world is
the agitation for autonomy by groups within nations. We have seen
the East European countries reclaim their independence, followed by
similar moves by the various Soviet republics. Croatia is struggling
for separation from Yugoslavia -- a "Balkan" situation we
thought was over with World War I (which started with Balkan
troubles). We were barely aware of the Kurds of Iraq and we find
they've joined the clamor. Eritrea fought for separation from
Ethiopia and toppled its regime. The classic cases continue:
Northern Ireland, the Palestinians, the Basques, etc.
We cannot but sympathize with those who feel that they are being
put upon by the larger entities of which they are a part. Yet,
caution is in order. Expectations of a better life are raised, but a
breakaway is not always a success in that respect. Matters are not
helped when new rascals replace old rascals. Or when bad practices
and privileges are carried on.
Agitation, disorder, rebellion usually arise when injustices are
perpetrated. The injustices must be set to rights. At bottom is the
economic problem, and at the bottom of the economic problem is the
land. Whatever new order comes about must tackle this; otherwise the
stage is set for new troubles (Zaire, Romania, etc.).
One interesting development, reported In the New York Times of
September 22, is in Ethiopia, where Meles Zenawi became President
with the help of the Eritrean rebellion:
"A draft economic policy now
circulating among members of the newly formed national legislature
says that buildings and businesses seized by the Mengistu regime are
to be returned to their prior owners. But on the question of the
ownership of land where more than 80 percent of the people are poor
peasants -- Menes and his colleagues remain firm. Land can be leased
and "inherited," but it cannot be privately owned. This
steadfastness on the land issue stems from inherent fears by the
peasant-based E.P.R.D.P. of a return of a landlord class."
A hopeful sign from Ethiopia, which has suffered so many
atrocities in recent years. May other rebellions learn from this.