Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

MORE ON MANDELA

There has been a great deal of finger-pointing and tut-tutting in the blovosphere [if I may so label the world of opinion-offerers] about the refusal of some on the right to honor the memory of Nelson Mandeal.  Dick Cheney remains unrepentant about his opposition to Mandela.  A South Carolina sheriff refuses to lower the flag in honor of Mandela.  Ted Cruz issues a bland message about Mandela and is slammed by his fervent supporters for saying anything nice about a communist and terrorist.  And so forth.

I am actually rather pleased by this reaction on  the right.  Mandela was not Father Christmas, nor was he the Tooth Fairy.  He was for his entire life a fighter against apartheid who took up arms and formed a lasting alliance with the South African Communist Party.  He was not himself a communist -- that claim is just an expression of the ignorance of those who make it.  The SACP and the ANC were allies.  But he was everything that his detractors say he was -- that is why I honor him now.

There is a long-standing tendency in the White American community to pick one Black man or woman at any given time and celebrate him or her, while condemning all the others.  When W. E. B. Du Bois was condemned as a dangerous radical, Booker T. Washington was embraced by America's racists as our "Good Negro."  Eventually, Du Bois, safely dead, was resurrected and accepted by polite White society as a Good Negro.  Martin Luther King was an enemy of the people, so far as J. Edgar Hoover and his ilk were concerned, condemned for inciting Black men and women to resistance, until he too died, whereupon America declared his birthday a public holiday.  Even Malcolm X has been sanitized, purified, and sanctified in some circles, played in the movies by our most beloved Black actor.

I much prefer to remember them all as Enemies of the State, as revolutionaries who inspired fear and loathing in the entrenched powers.  Dick Cheney is right to hate Mandela.  Mandela fought against everything Cheney stands for.  A strong progressive movement needs at all times to remember its enemies as well as its heroes.

4 comments:

Rosa said...

what about this?
http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/06/mandelas-socialist-failure/
ends with "his very political triumph and his elevation into a universal hero was the mask of a bitter defeat. His universal glory is also a sign that he really didn’t disturb the global order of power."

Jerry Fresia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jerry Fresia said...

Hi Rosa, If I may...I think his "elevation" is in direct proportion not just to the "disturbance" his life created but to the disturbance his life might further create if his memory is allowed to inspire "fear and loathing in the entrenched powers." Imagine if instead of all the quotes "making us better men" (as one headline announced), the corporate media kept trumpeting his solidarity with Cuba and Palestine and reported quotes about US foreign policy such as this: “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care for human beings.” Looks to me as if the NYT's bolivator is one of many trying very hard to make Mandela safe, now that he is dead.

Rosa said...

Jerry - Zizek may be a bloviator (though I thought this article uncharacteristically clear and serious), but he is hardly the NYTimes' creature. I thought Z's point was to point out something that Prof. Wolff also mentioned in his earlier post - that Mandela traded the socialist project (land reform, etc.) in exchange for political power - which was then *not* used to further economic justice. To the extent that Mandela compromised with the business elite, he failed to disturb the global order of power, and many of his followers simply traded racial subjugation for economic subjugation. Of course his other achievements are significant, improved many lives etc, but they were not fundamentally transformative - and if they had been, then he could not be so universally lauded now.