Monday, December 30, 2013

The Dark Triad in Ethiopian Political Discourse

The dark triad psychological personalities are personalities that are characterized by a duplicitous interpersonal style associated with cynical beliefs and pragmatic morality. These personalities are Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy AND I am arguing they are abundant in Ethiopian political sphere in general and in the political discourse in particular.

1) Narcissism

"Narcissism is a term that originated with Narcissus in Greek mythology who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Currently it is used to describe the pursuit of gratification from vanity, or egotistic admiration of one's own physical or mental attributes, that derive from arrogant pride." (Wikipedia)

It is exactly this narcissism that created many resistant Ethiopian politicians who don't trust anyone else but only themselves. AND, I think this is a behavior that all dictators are made from.
Ethiopians have missed a lot of democratization opportunities because either the politicians or other stakeholders are, I am afraid to say, narcissist.

We can briefly remember the golden opportunities we had lost for the past 50 years.
In the 1960s, during the students movement and after the revolution, the different parties created with similar ideologies and also the splits within each party were all caused due to the narcissist behavior of the actors. They were quick to label and disintegrate anyone else coming with a new narrations of problems and alternatives of solving them in a different way to that of theirs. Eventually, they revolutionaries end up killing each other almost clearing a generation.

Four decades later, following the historic Ethiopian election of 2005, the ruling party as well as opposition leaders were too narcissist to make people's question for change true. First, the incumbent resisted to share power because of its ideological belief that only its way and no one else's keep Ethiopia stable. Consequently, jailed hundreds of party leaders and killed other hundreds of street unarmed protesters.

The oppositions played their role when they are released with "pardon". Each leader of the parties that formed the coalition, kinijit, had wanted to take advantage of popular acceptance opportunity and their narcissism helped them remember neither the demands nor the benefits of the people.

2) Machiavellianism

The term 'Machiavellianism' is coined after the writer of II Principe (The Prince), the Italian Niccolo Machiavelli, and is generally defined as the employment of cunning and duplicity in statecraft/general conduct or simply as an unemotional tendency to manipulate others.
Machivellianism is especially seen in Ethiopian politics when it comes to ethno-national questions. Most politicians/activists who are actually psychopathic (the third dark triad) present themselves to the public as "most concerned to the social fabric". However, they don't believe in anything except themselves, they manipulate their societies using the words of the most accepted religion in their target area.

This lack of innocence of the Ethiopian politicians has dragged the most burning questions of the country (ethno-nationals' equality and poverty  questions) backwards since they were first raised publicly 50 years ago. Through all the years for the past half of a century, the same questions are raised whenever needed to manipulate the public but only the leaders of the questions, who are Machivellianists, have changed their lives out of it.

3) Psychopathy

Psychopathy is a mental disorder to many; it is enduring dissocial or antisocial behavior, "a diminished capacity for empathy or remorse, and poor behavioral controls or fearless dominance."
It is nothing else but psychopathy that leaves many leaders of Ethiopia have no empathy when they took thousands of lives to retain their power and they argue on numbers.

They don't feel anything about how many people are living below the poverty line when they enjoy luxury spending the wealth of their society.

The policies they make consider least to the built values of the society. They only care about figures and facts and not about any emotions that can keep the society well.

Different players of the politics are suffering from either of or maybe all the three triad. There is always a healthy level of each of these three behaviors. The problem: our politicians and activists do not have limits of any kind. They are extremists.


  1. U explained nice! writing about a detailed account of the problem is not, however enough. More importantly the things that have raised could be subsumed under the Political Culture of the country which needs rigorous study and debate.All in all ,it is a nice beginning,go on....