Some brief reflections on Nelson Mandela, his politics, and legacy.
I must admit to having a lump in my throat when I found out that Nelson Mandela had died (although not sure why) Whatever my thoughts are on him as a person, the ANC, or his legacy, the passing of such a towering international figure deserves honest reflection.
As a man he was loved and respected by millions around the world, as evidenced by the outpouring of grief today – some of it phoney, some genuine. As expected there is the - ‘Mandela was a terrorist’ accusations from the right wing media, - and the - Mandela was a great statesman, peacemaker, and inspiration to millions, - from pretty much everyone else.
I am no authority on Mandela’s politics or legacy so please feel free to add your own thoughts or information to this post.
How anyone with any kind of analysis can label Mandela as a terrorist is beyond me. What should the victims of one of the most despicable regimes in history have done to fight back against their oppressors, start a petition? Yes, I am sure his rap sheet has some unpleasant sounding convictions, but consideration of time, place, and context, is required.
Those who immediately use the ‘terrorist’ label are no different to those who heap huge praise on Mandela, two of whom I have spoken to today, neither of them could actually offer me any explanation as to why he was a great man, other than to say “He just was!” It seems that ‘brand Mandela’ has done its job.
As far as Mandela’s politics goes, I believe he has changed his position on things several times since the 1930’s, from ardent Stalinist to democratic socialist. As an anarchist I am not going to criticise Mandela’s early political radicalisation and views because they should be viewed in time, place, and context. However, if he defined himself as a ‘socialist’ since leaving prison, then he has failed miserably.
Again, I don’t claim any expertise on Mandela or apartheid, but to laud him as the man who ended apartheid (as many seem to be doing) seems a bit disingenuous. Surely there are many other factors and individuals that led to that change.
Mandela should be seen as the poster boy for the failure of political parties and for reformism. The ANC – whatever they consider their achievements, are nothing more than a party of gangsters, careerists, and anti-working class scumbags. Apartheid ended over twenty years ago, so what has changed? The black working class of South Africa has a new set of spivs, bosses, and politicians to oppress them.
You only have to look back on the various mine massacres by the security forces last year to see that not a lot has changed – I am given to understand that Mandela’s grandson is a part owner in one of those mines. Thirty years ago it would have been just white police officers shooting unarmed black miners in the back, now it is a mixture of white and black police officers doing the killing. Truly a massacre fit for apartheid.
Apart from an end to apartheid/segregation, has the lot of working class black South Africans improved? Not at all, unemployment, homelessness, and poverty are rife. However, there are a group in South African society who have benefited since the collapse of apartheid. They are of course the Mandela family:
“Company information showed the Mandela children and grandchildren had, over the past two decades, been involved in about 200 companies extending over a wide range of sectors, including real estate, investments, railway engineering, minerals, medical firms, fashion, and entertainment. Mandela's eldest daughter, was an active director in 16 companies, including the South African subsidiary of the Swiss multinational food giant Nestle, a shopping centre in Kimberley, two railway engineering companies, and four companies apparently engaged in mineral exploration.”
Nelson Mandela himself – who left prison penniless – has a fortune that his family are now fighting over like vultures. Clearly a far cry from the lives of the average South African who generally do not have a pot to piss in!
Anyway, Nelson Mandela has died, and these are my brief reflections.