“The basis of Zemhret’s presentation was the ‘Evolution of Political Systems and Organizations Throughout History.’ In an abbreviated lecture, Mr. Zemhret gave a survey of the evolution of political organization from the hunter-gatherer period to today.”
During every YPFDJ conference, there is at least one lecture with a question and answer period given by a high-level member of the PFDJ. This year’s guest was Mr. Zemhret Yohannes, Director of the Research and Documentation Center of Eritrea. The lecture and its question-and-answer segment were eagerly anticipated by the attendees.
The basis of Zemhret’s presentation was the “Evolution of Political Systems and Organizations Throughout History.” In an abbreviated lecture, Mr. Zemhret gave a survey of the evolution of political organization from the hunter-gatherer period to today. From this broad foundation he overlaid the questions of purpose and importance which were explained by political socialization and support, aggregation of interests, mentoring leaders, and other factors.
With a basic understanding of these general (humanity-wide) concepts, the discussion moved to the Eritrean experience and its context. Addressing a question from an attendee, one of Mr. Zemhret’s first points was to mention that during the Second EPLF Congress the EPLF Political Programme was altered to include a section regarding political pluralism which was not included in the original Political Programme which had been passed at the First Congress of the EPLF a decade before.
The lecture continued to a discussion of the State, with a particular focus on the characteristics of stable states. Alluding to the Eritrean National Charter, he described meaningful pluralism as necessitating a broad political consensus, if not, political crisis and instability would ensue. And thus a characteristic of stable states is a broad political consensus where differences are marginal. Similarly, on the question of rights in their totality, encompassing social, political, economic, these are not questions of ideology or principle, no one is against the exercising of natural rights. Zemhret stated that in reality, we must make them meaningful by building the necessary institutions to ensure them. Like many other rights, political rights are exercised through democracy which is at its core, about participation – the linchpin of our organization.
At this point in the lecture Mr. Zemhret thought it would be best to take a break and have a question and answer session. The first questions directly related to the economy and the Eritrean Investment Conference that would take place shortly after the conclusion of the YPFDJ-NA Conference. Mr. Zemhret responded by referring to the 1994 Macropolicy document and repeating the Government of Eritrea’s commitment to a mixed public/private economy that would ensure social goods through a market system. The balance of questions related to engagement with other organizations and the challenges of those in the National Service.
If the leadership is tied to outside groups (corrupted), then our political struggle is for naught. This is not to suggest however, that we shun things from the outside. We have always synthesized ideas from beyond our borders with our own philosophies and factual situation. Indeed these have been amongst our greatest assets: independence, self-reliance, readiness to learn from the past, leadership through executive committee members to the lowest-level cadre, and others. We have many challenges and obstacles that are difficult to solve, but with our participation we will be a step closer to their solution.
Finally, to bring the conversation full circle, Mr. Zemhret asked a rhetorical question, “Why should we be involved in politics?” My answer is this: because as thinkers we search for the truth; as moral persons, we search for the good and beautiful; and because as political persons we engage to unify the truth with the moral and make the world better.