Article from ROAPE Volume 7 Number 19
Revolutionary Crisis and Revolutionary Vanguard: EPLF

Revolutionary Crisis and Revolutionary Vanguard: The EPLF (Eritrean People's Liberation Front)
Vol.7 No.19 (Winter 1980), pp33-47
While many commentators on the splits in the Eritrean liberation movements fall back on factors of tribalism, sectarianism or regionalism, Pool argues that a more accurate explanation must look to material factors. Regions and classes in Eritrea suffered differing experiences under colonization and were incorporated in varying degrees into a wage-labour economy. The ELF was grounded upon one specific experience, having as its base the pastoralists of the western region. Pool contends that this social base influenced the development of a military strategy which functioned well within a pastoral society with peasant societies at its periphery but was unable to promote an effective national struggle. The structure of the ELF, moreover, proved incapable of incorporating other groups and organizations incapable of developing a political reaction to the limitations of the ELF and was based on the urban centres of the highlands and the east, the more advanced peasantry, the urban working class and the intelligentsia. This social base has been a factor in its evolving a very different form of organization, political orientation and military strategy from those of the ELF.