Reflections on the Political Economy of Transition in Eritrea: Lessons from Asia’s Newly-Industrializing Countries
Recently, I heard Thomas Keneally reiterate themes he had developed in his novel, To Asmara, one of which is his genuine belief that the Eritrean national revolution has all the possibilities of creating a good society. This general sentiment is shared by many observers who know the Eritreans and their struggle. At this juncture, it is clear that the economic system chosen by the Eritrean leadership is the market economy. But choosing a system in the abstract is not the same as identifying and strategizing the means by which it is to be structured. Here care must be taken not to confuse ends with means. Such a confusion was, in fact, the hallmark of almost all developing countries in the past. Blaming the system for their failure in prioritizing their national developmental goals and in strategizing the means by which these goals were to be attained, political elites continuously sought refuge in their conversion and reconversion to convoluted forms of either capitalism or socialism. Thus, as Eritrea’s economic transition presumably will take on a rough meandering in coming years, the Eritrean leadership must begin a learning process that requires them to make a thoroughgoing assessment of failures and successes of states that have taken the capitalist road of development.
KeywordsPolitical Economy Capital Accumulation International Capital Democratic Capitalism Active State Intervention
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