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Friday, 6 December 2013

Mendacious (Men[da]sch[ious]?) Tory Moron of the Week

Obviously there are a lot to choose from today, from David Cameron, claiming Mandela as a personal inspiration when he went on a "fact finding" jolly funded by a pro-Apartheid South Africa anti-sanctions campaign while Mandela was in jail, all the way down through the ranks.  But the award, for me, has to go to Louise Mensch (no prizes for guessing which university she attended) for this tweet (if you can stomach it, you'll have to scroll down the page and wade through an awful lot of disingenuous shit):

"Nelson Mandela was neither left nor right, but a humanitarian hero - and we all mourn him tonight."

Neither left nor right?  Must be a different Nelson Mandela from the one who died yesterday, then.  That one was a socialist, indeed one who frequently worked closely with the South African Communist party.  All you have to do, Louise, is take enough time off from tweeting bullshit, to read the Wikipedia biography.

Oh, and this - lest we forget:

To his credit, David Cameron seems to have had nothing to do with this, but lots of his friends in the Conservative Party's student wing did (not to mention many Tory MPs at the time, and of course their glorious leader, Thatcher, who called Mandela 'a grubby little terrorist').  Here is a very good article to jog your memories.

It is (as this - barring the [now-deleted-anyway] reference to 'postmodern history'* - typically excellent piece from the Vole makes very clear) easy to misrepresent Mandela and make him in to a cuddly unthreatening 'man of peace' (as Hope not Hate call him today).  You can quibble about the difference between sabotage and terrorism (and at the end of the day there is a difference worth quibbling about) but let's not forget that Mandela was willing to take direct action against an oppressive regime and to risk everything in doing so.  As a well-born and educated young man, he could have lived - for a black South African under apartheid - a fairly comfortable life had he chosen to.  That's a part of his memory that is worth paying tribute to today, and as much of a salutary example worth pondering (especially by people like me who are unlikely ever to have the guts to live up to it), as much as anything else.  Indeed I think that it is this Mandela who is really the one we have to mourn, but also commemorate and celebrate.  Without that Mandela, the later Mandela who had to do deals to ensure a peaceful transition and whose party certainly didn't in the end do as much for the poor black South African as one might have hoped and so who only served one term - the Mandela the Right might want to remember - would not have existed.  Without that Mandela there would have been no generous, forgiving, peace-making Mandela.

Here are some more links that you might want to look at:

*Just to (characteristically) go off at a tangent, I don't know what postmodern means and nor - in my experience - do most people who use the word.  Most of the thinkers usually lumped under the heading actually denied that they were postmodernists.  I've been accused of being postmodern.  If I am, then, speaking as a postmodernist, 'we postmodernists' have an issue with unilinear grand narratives and dominant 'truths', but none of us quibbles with 'facts' or denies that a valid reading or interpretation has to have some sort of rigorous, factually-reliable basis.  Postmodernists are often thought of as relativists, but very few of the philosophers associated (in woolly fashion) with the category (and certainly not Derrida) were anything of the sort.  It's a category error that confuses an attitude to truth at the level of proposition (that is, in historical terms, the very low-level issue of whether this did or did not happen) with an attitude to truth at ontological or existential level (i.e. what the fact that this did or did not happen 'means').