When Freedom Falls, Famine Follows.

(Cleon Skousen, The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 766–767. 1985.)

The American food-production miracle was made possible because the farmer was left free to expand his resources, buying larger farms for more economic use of machinery and perfecting his methods of cultivation.

In contrast to this we have the approach of dictatorships, such as we find in Ethiopia. To appreciate what happened in Ethiopia, it is helpful to remember that Emperor Haile Selassie ruled Ethiopia for forty-five yeas and is considered a benevolent ruler in comparison the present regime. He tried to use education and modern methods to gradually prepare his people for a more advanced society with a greater degree of self-determination. However, radical forces used extravagant promises, which made the people impatient and stirred them into rebellion. As a result on September 12, 1974, Haile Selassie was seized by the radicals and thrown into a dungeon, where he died. The radical element then launched its “reform,” destroyed thirty thousand people to terrorize the general population into submission, and imported twenty thousand troops to “keep the peace.” Almost immediately thousands of foreign “advisors” arrived to establish the new order. This order included, among other things, the collectivization of agriculture.

Suddenly Ethiopia, which had been the breadbasket of Africa, ceased to be a breadbasket. The peasant farmers were no longer free to use the food-raising methods of the past. Traditionally, Ethiopian farmers had saved food in good years to prepare for possible bad years. The new regime outlawed this practice by calling it “hoarding.” Peasants had also traditionally followed a practice of reinvesting their surplus in their own farms so as to expand production. The new regime denounced this as “capitalist accumulation” and “private investment,” which was no longer allowed. Historically, Ethiopian tradesmen engaged in food distribution had bought products in the food-surplus areas to sell in food-deficient areas. The new regime outlawed this practice as “exploitation,” and thereupon replaced the entire free market system of Ethiopia with numerous tightly supervised government commissions.

The next step was a so-called land reform, where peasants were assigned a few acres from land appropriated from large landowners—but these were entirely too small to justify cultivation by mechanical equipment. Large commune farms were also established under the government, but these immediately suffered the same disastrous crop failures and the same drastic drop in production that have characterized commune farms all over the world.

The results were sadly predictable. Within a few years Ethiopia was suffering widespread famine, with several million people starving. In less that a decade, Ethiopia had gone from the breadbasket of Africa to a bleak land of desolation and unfulfilled promises.

The tragedy in Ethiopia is not significantly different from that which has occurred in other nations and in other times when statist dictatorships or monarchical rule has crowded our man's instinct for freedom. Historically, dictatorships and other forms of tyranny have always compounded human problems. Conversely, it has been people thriving in a climate of freedom who have somehow found the best solutions.