Stop Praising Mandela! Keep Burying Apartheid!

Enough with the white-haired sage: I want more of this guy.
Enough with the white-haired sage: I want more of this guy.

Watching the Mandela coverage – obits, eulogies, reflections, quotes – pour over my Facebook feed yesterday, I had one single reflexive thought: “Fuck apartheid!”

To listen to the majority of the obits, you’d think Mandela’s greatest accomplishments were becoming president and meeting Bono (they conveniently leave out his and his successor’s role in crafting a devastating AIDS policy). Yes, the fact of his presidency was historic. Yes, the fact that South Africa did not become, say, Zimbabwe is near-miraculous, and Mandela’s work for peace and reconciliation before and during his presidency were part of that (I give most of the credit to the millions of South Africans he inspired).

Zimbabwe. While Mandela was in prison, Zimbabwe, then a brutal colonial state called Rhodesia, was torn apart in a bloody civil war for independence that resulted in three decades of violent, inept African dictatorship. This happened for one reason: apartheid. Apartheid violently oppresses until it inevitably foments violent resistance: it is good for nothing else. And apartheid is not receiving sufficient attention in the wake of Mandela’s death. Which is to say: apartheid is not the central focus of the coverage.

Apartheid is why Mandela is Mandela. Apartheid is why he spent nearly three decades in prison. (He was president for only five years, but that’s practically all we’re hearing about.) Apartheid is why a man who is now being compared to Washington and Lincoln was, for the majority of his life, compared to Castro (and why he, in turn, admired Castro).

Comparisons to Lincoln are particularly stomach-churning because they simultaneously overstate and understate Mandela’s achievements. They conflate or too easily link slavery and apartheid. Lincoln waged a horrific war to dismantle a slave economy, which was then replaced by an apartheid-style society[1]. Lincoln’s program was not wholly anti-racist. Mandela briefly fought, was jailed for, and came to symbolize the international fight against apartheid, which is in so many ways more difficult to exorcise than slavery (we’re stilling learning that in the United States). Mandela’s program was almost completely anti-racist.

The praise is doubly sickening because it pulls a curtain over the very recent past. Throughout the 1980s, most of the former colonial powers and the United States not only approved of the apartheid government, they supported it. In the U.S., one political party deserves the brunt of the blame. Sam Kleiner (linked above) writes:

Officially, the goal of the Reagan administration was to end apartheid. But its behind-the-scenes work revealed a startling degree of comfort with the South African regime – or at least ignorance of how apartheid worked. For a July 1986 speech to the World Affairs Council in Washington D.C., Reagan rejected a moderate State Department draft and instead instructed his speechwriter, Pat Buchanan, to draft a version arguing that Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) employed “terrorist tactics” and “proclaims a goal of creating a communist state.” (Buchanan later dismissed Mandela as a “train-bomber” and defended the hardline position.) Reagan himself never seemed to really understand the moral repugnance of apartheid. He described the system in a 1988 interview with ABC’s Sam Donaldson as “a tribal policy more than … a racial policy.”


Some of today’s most recognizable political operatives also played a role in pushing the apartheid government’s agenda. In 1985, following his term as national chair of College Republicans, Grover Norquist was brought to South Africa for a conservative conference, where he advised a pro-apartheid student group on how to more effectively make its case to the American public. While there, he criticized anti-apartheid activists on American college campuses: Apartheid “is the one foreign policy debate that the Left can get involved in and feel that they have the moral high ground,” he said, adding that South Africa was a “complicated situation.”

The praise for Mandela has also pulled the curtain over apartheid. Its particularities, its history, and its horrors – a truly totalitarian system that imprisoned black South Africans within their own communities – have not been mentioned in the past 36 hours nearly as much as Truth and Reconciliation or Mandela’s pleas against anti-white racism. In American terms: we’re hearing too much Dr. King, not enough Malcolm X.

Further, the whole concept of apartheid is being ignored. The word, like fascism, has an historically and politically local origin, but just as governments beyond Mussolini’s Italy can reasonably be called fascist, so governments beyond pre-1990 South Africa can reasonably described as apartheid. The United States was an apartheid nation from 1863 until…well, take your pick. England ran a global apartheid empire throughout the 19th century. There are apartheid governments in the world today.

Mandela was not Gandhi. Mandela did not shy away from the option of armed revolt. Mandela believed in African autonomy. Mandela fought against apartheid, colonialism, and white supremacy, and he was jailed because the South African government feared (rightly) that he’d make good on his word. Almost the entire Western world was against him; he was against it. But to read the obituaries and eulogies, you’d think he was an activist without an enemy in the world. Enough! Mandela had enemies in 1955. He had enemies in 1962. He had enemies in 1985, 1990, and 1994. And he still has enemies today. Let’s name names.


[/1] History has weighed against the word “segregation,” but I don’t take a totally dim view of all segregated systems, at least not in theory. Throughout the 20th century, many black activists advocated segregated institutions to help form a separate, thriving black society, a “nation within a nation.” Jewish society was frequently cited as a model. But Southern governments would not allow such institutions to thrive, and integration became the best option in the minds of most black leaders. But even today, many scholars and students of black history believe the separatists may have been right.

24 thoughts on “Stop Praising Mandela! Keep Burying Apartheid!”

  1. I wouldn’t and don’t defend African colonialism or apartheid, but the intuition here is usually that before colonists showed up, everyone was running around Africa getting along like peas and carrots, which is terrifically incorrect. Tribal warfare and conquest were the norm in Africa shortly before colonization, and down through its history — just like the rest of the world.

    When our historical memory is only a couple hundred years old, and the intuition is that a Garden of Eden existed all over except for Europe where there was strife and dominion, which eventually just transmuted into Bourgeois Capitalism and was simultaneously exported to oppress the gleeful natives, we’ve really gone off the deep end of a social story that’s empirically or ethically sound.


  2. Also, for all that he (thank the Lord) did to encourage peace in South Africa, socialist revolutionaries created a documented history of terror and vigilantist justice and witch hunts (google “Necklacing tires”). A similar situation obtained during Mao’s cultural revolution. The history of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist revolt gets told with a convenient lack of attention to the brutal and insane anarchy socialist revolutionaries (and Fascist revolutionaries too) have created. All because we’d like to believe there are good guys and there are bad guys and that white imperialists of the last 200 years are the clear bad guys in an otherwise spotless world history.


    1. I take your point, in both posts.

      Most anti-colonialist scholars (in the humanities, anyway) actively fight against the “Garden of Eden” narrative, which is just a regurgitation of the romantic view that early European colonists took of, say, indigenous Americans.

      I certainly would not endorse a history of European colonialism that portrays the colonized people as Edenic natives or romanticizes the violence of anti-colonialism. I’m completely against that. Part of what bothers me in the Mandela coverage is that there whitewashing his accomplishments and downplaying the violence of his movement in the 50s, and of the anti-apartheid movement in general. That’s why I mentioned Zimbabwe. Very few peaceful guys on either side.

      One thing about anti-revolutionary violence, especially in South Africa: it tends to be pretty chaotic (Mao is an exception, maybe). The Western power being opposed, meanwhile, typically has an efficient and difficult-to-sabatoge system of survival in place. The resource gap between the two sides is vast. It’s an underdog scenario. The intuition you describe is the product of an emotional reflex. In these cases, I think of Murakami’s statement about his feelings about Israel–Palestine: the situation is fantastically complex, byzantine, but when a wall and then egg are about to collide, you take the side of the egg.

      The West has been better at violence than the rest of the world for basically four centuries (the major Asian empires and Arab states adjacent to the West we’re pretty good too). The rest of the world was already obviously extremely violent on its own. The West wasn’t extra violent because it is especially evil per se, but because mercantile capitalism and the Industrial Revolution and a thousand other techno-economic developments gave the West an edge in almost EVERY arena of geopolitics, good and bad, at this particular point in history. So after the crimes of colonialism, there’s a natural reflex (among some) to take whatever side is AGAINST the West, even if that means implicitly supporting the North Vietnamese or Saddam. There’s a sense that an enormous resource/power gap exists whenever the West fights a non-Western power. This is frequently untrue, but that’s the sense.

      I’m dictating this into my iPhone, so it’s all kind of rambling, so let me state my response in a sentence or two: the narrative of the innocent native nobly defending himself against colonialism is bullshit, and should not be perpetuated, I agree. Almost every independence movement that involved arms involved some extremely ugly tactics and even crimes committed by revolutionaries. And almost every revolution is co-opted by authoritarians, which is why I typically prefer systematic reform over revolution. BUT: it’s completely possible to acknowledge and oppose the ugliness of an anticolonial independence movement and still support it completely without hypocrisy, because certain political types of violence are preferable over other types of political violence. That’s part of what I’m trying to say in this post: the obituaries are taking all the violence and ugliness out of a very important man’s life (which of course they always do).

      In even shorter terms: I would much much much rather have Richard Nixon as my president than Ho Chi Minh. But if you asked me in 1969 whether I wanted the United States to be pulled (or pushed) out of Vietnam, my position would be much more closer to Ho’s than Nixon’s. Everyone was better off when it ended than they would have been had it continued.


      1. Also, when it comes to colonialism, I’m always haunted by Orwell’s comment that if the British had not taken India, Russia would have, and Russia would have been far worse for India. In these situations, you’re always picking between bad options, and I’d rather pick than not pick at all. (Mandela offered a rare good option.)


      2. Bro, “The West” has not gotten more violent as a result of industrialization. Industrialization has existed concomitant to, and was likely a causal factor in, the independence movements and decolonization of the 20th century. In fact, the world has been trading in zero-sum wealth getting (violent oppression and conquering) for positive sum wealth getting (peaceful trade) steadily over the last two hundred years. A two hundred years that has seen a mind-blowing reduction in violence — political, informal, sexual, domestic. It’s all gone down.

        And no, it’s not the case that socialist revolutionaries have been some form of under-resourced people attacking their oppressors. The extraordinary violence of socialism in Germany, China, and Russia were propagated by batshit insane Western-educated intellectuals who believed, despite their glaring position at the top of hierarchies, that they were sticking up for the little guy. Socialism didn’t come about as product of the little guys realizing they were little and rising up — it came as the product of Western-educated intellectuals with a severe White Knight moralistic complex trying to save the world.

        Modern American leftism continues in this vein. And so does its fantastic re-telling of not only the history of industrial socialism in China, Russia, and Germany, but preindustrial copycat socialist uprisings in smaller states like South Africa, which were ultimately just the recapitulation of thousands-years old blood feud and tribalism.

        I think it’s great that you’re wiling to discuss the history of violence and oppression that existed pre-Western industrialization, but if you’re going to do so, you can’t keep telling this David and Goliath story where the Goliath is Western Industrial nations and pre-19th century colonial powers. The magnitudes of violence are quite clear — historical bloodshed was orders of magnitude worse before the rising of Industrial states.

        People sobbing to HR about how their bosses don’t give them enough respect and going home to blog about how big corporations are keeping the little guy down enjoy a mind-bending freedom from oppression that the world has never before seen.


      3. The Industrial Revolution (and all other technological progress in Europe during the colonial period – let’s say 1450-1950) didn’t make Europeans more violent. They simply made violence more efficient during a critical moment in Europe’s growth. They decreased magnitudes of violence overall, absolutely; I can love my company and love my boss and still complain about a localized, disastrous company policy, can’t I?

        If I’m violent dictator in 1450, there’s a list of ways I can kill you. If it’s 1950, the list is much longer and much, much more fun (for me). Technology didn’t make Europe bad; it simply gave Europe an edge at critical moments (the Americas in the 16th century, Africa in the 19th century), before the nations and peoples they wanted to exploit (and you’ve got to agree with me that colonialism involved exploitation) had industrialized. And although industrial-era technology spread throughout the world, Europe had enormous political and economic control during these critical moments. The colonized peoples had more cards than “American leftists” give them credit for, but Europe still owned the casino.

        Another way to put this: say I blame Europe + the Industrial Revolution for some terrible crime against colonized people. Okay. But I also believe that, if you reverse the roles and gave the colonized people the Industrial Revolution, they’d have done something similarly horrible to us. And again: the Industrial Revolution obviously effected incalculable good.

        I didn’t bring up socialism (you did), but to clarify: when I say “the West,” I’m not using Cold War lingo (“America, western Europe, and their allies” vs. “post-colonial socialist revolutionaries, the USSR, the Eastern Bloc, and China”). When I say “the West,” I mostly mean one-time colonial powers (incl. Russia). Apartheid (obviously evil) is a byproduct of colonialism (more complicated). Although resistance to apartheid needn’t go hand-in-hand with anti-colonialism, in the ’70s and ’80s, it typically did. And although American leftists are typically stupid (what’s new?), I can forgive them for conflating the two and imagining a David vs. Goliath scenario.

        When I look back at that period (let’s say 1950 – 1990), I do see a David vs. Goliath scenario: small nations, independence and/or resistance movements in places like Vietnam, Algeria, and Afghanistan vs. incredibly powerful nations (the USA, Russia, China, western Europe). Obviously the former would barter with the latter, but for their own purposes and because the West (and China, who did the least bartering) was industrialized. I.e., the West had all the good weapons. So you had Vietnamese rebels (back when they had a lot of popular support in Vietnam) turning to Russia against France, and you had Afghanistan turning to the U.S. against Russia. In exchange for funds, guns, and training, the small revolutionary movements adopted the ideology of their patrons. But Vietnam would have welcomed American guns if it had been Russia propping up the South Vietnamese government. What they wanted, and what the majority of anti-colonial revolutionaries in Africa wanted, was independence from industrialized nations (so they could go back to being violence re: centuries-old conflicts in their own nations).

        That’s my David v. Goliath scenario. I’m not talking about socialism. I know the Cold War and the failure of socialist post-colonial regimes is an enormous part of the post-colonial story. But I’m just not talking about that here (I do note, in the post, that responsibility for the horrors of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe fall on both European and African shoulders – I’m hardly endorsing Mugabe). I’m talking about apartheid, a specific and self-evidently wicked form of government that emerged from colonialism a term that, I think, should be applied beyond the South African context, just as fascism is applied beyond the Italian context or genocide beyond the Jewish context (to the chagrin of some Holocaust scholars). I believe many southern U.S. states had apartheid governments in the 20th century. I believe Stalin implemented apartheid governments in the Caucuses and other regions of the USSR. I believe China has a number of apartheid systems operating right now.

        Many post-colonial African governments were more violent than the colonial governments they usurped. I didn’t say that because I was talking about apartheid.

        And I love the Industrial Revolution, I promise.


      4. What does “industrialization made violence more efficient,” mean. And if you concede that per-capita violence has dropped dramatically since industrialization (also concomitant to the freeing of the world’s slaves for the first times in history – not a small detail), then how do you suppose oppression increased as a result of technological progress?


      5. Two things can be true simultaneously: a machine gun is a more efficient instrument of violence than a broadsword AND on a per capita basis people tended to use machine guns less in 1950 than people tended to use broadswords in 1500.

        That’s not complicated.

        Of course, from the perspective of 1950 or whenever it wasn’t clear that per capita violence *would* fall. The trend from WWI-> Nagasaki was for more efficient means of killing to lead to more killing.


      6. Graham: I can’t seem to reply to your last reply so I’m replying here.

        >>What does “industrialization made violence more efficient,” mean.<>And if you concede that per-capita violence has dropped dramatically since industrialization (also concomitant to the freeing of the world’s slaves for the first times in history – not a small detail), then how do you suppose oppression increased as a result of technological progress?<<

        I don't think oppression increased; it probably decreased, especially recently. If I said anything to the contrary above, I was expressing myself very poorly (don't drink and dictate!). I do think European colonialism post-Columbus is a unique form of oppression (not necessarily a worse form, just a unique one) that could not have existed without the technological boom between the 15th and 20th centuries. And for a critical period of time, Europe controlled those technologies. But after a while (not so long in South America, actually), the colonized peoples – good guys and bad guys alike – broke the monopoly.


      7. Per capita rates of violence represent, for contemporaries of whatever period measured, the conditional probability of dying violently. That’s the important number when we’re talking about the social world that existed then, and exists now.

        It may be true that the absolute incidence of violence is what matters ex post to our historical memory, but that’s precisely the issue Pinker is trying to call to question, and it’s a good point. Precisely because people have come strangely to believe that the world just keeps getting more and more violent simply because killing is now more mechanically efficient, among a number of other Sky is Falling social narratives. If what we’re worried about is the impact of violence for real people, the per capita rate is what counts.


      8. “If what we’re worried about is the impact of violence for real people, the per capita rate is what counts.”

        This is only one thing among many that we might care about. Another thing is that the opportunity cost of a death now may be much higher, since average lifespans are 70+ years rather than 35 years… maybe deaths in oldentimes, when the persistence of civilizations was tenuous, should count double or triple. Or maybe we’d rather compare S. Africa in 1980 to the rest of the non-communist world in 1980 rather than the Mongol conquests in the 13th century.

        Keep in mind… this discussion began by you replying to an argument that apartheid was a major social evil — and an underrated one, fully deserving of violent resistance — with “yeah but things other than colonialism are bad too and are sometimes even worse”. Fine, sure, okay. But that’s a non sequitur. It’s not what the post is discussing.

        Then you defend the record of capitalism — and both Seth and I agree with you on this point, esp in context of the longue duree; hell, even Marx accepts it — but in this case capitalists accepted apartheid rather than resisting it.

        Lastly, capitalism has only thrived for sustained periods of time only where it has been accompanied by liberal political institutions and open social orders. Where it has not been the results have been regrettable. Historically, capitalism has been compatible with social democracy, fascism, apartheid, and all kinds of authoritarianism. Thus, it doesn’t seem fair to declare a simple rule that “capitalism” has been associated with good outcomes while “non-capitalism” has been associated with bad.


      9. If we’re talking past each other a bit, it’s because you’re emphasizing likelihood while I’m weighing likelihood and capacity. Dangerous (i.e., efficient and violent) weapons don’t produce violent societies, but they do dramatically raise the stakes of violence in the statistically unlikely event that those weapons are used. It would have been easy for the 20th century to top the list of violent centuries per-capita. In the 11th century, a lot of people worked really hard to get the kind of per-capita homicide toll that we could have accrued in just a few months. Apocalyptic destruction was impossible in the 11th century, but the 11th century was a deadly violent place. Apocalyptic destruction was possible in the 20th century, but did not occur. And the experience of that possibility (which was a real, measurable experience for those who lived through the Cold War) surely adds to the society’s “danger quotient.” Surely the fact that apocalyptic weapons existed made the 20th century a uniquely dangerous century, even if actual violence was historically low? Even if the answer is “no,” I understand completely why people feel that it was.

        But beyond all that, I’m curious: the “society” we’ve been discussing here is “the world,” which as you know isn’t really a society (just the mother of all data pools). What about proportional violence in specific regions? I’ve seen this kind of work on cities. Do places exist that were more violent in the 20th century than in previous centuries? If a specific, high-profile region is going through a particularly violent period relative to its history of violence, that would certainly feed the perception that we’re living in an especially violent age.

        And frankly, that perception is 5,000 years old: everyone thinks they’re living in an especially violent age. Eras of peace and prosperity are only identified after the fact.


      10. Yeah I dunno. I haven’t thought much on nuclear proliferation and mass armament generally, nor especially its social impact. You raise a potentially important issue.

        It seems like we both want to eatablish to what degree both the incidence of violence AND its potential incidence enter into some function of people’s fears. I think Pinker’s work here is massively important, but inly a start.

        Lemme raise another concern that neither of us have data to answer to and maybe we can start to wrap up. We’ve got a function of people’s fears of violence re: their personal experiences of it, and moreover a social narrative about it. I think no matter how much violvence has or will diminish in relative magnitude and incidence, the paradox of rising expectations willdictate that it’s never enough. Rape for instance has decreased by something like 80% in the last few decades. Yet after Stibenville, everyone went nuts talking about “rape culture.”

        My interest here is in why we’re so tempted to tell sky is falling social stories when we’re making so much progress. I’m afraid that it’s the logic of progressivism and social and technological innovation itself which both creates these positive developments and at te same time washes them out of public attention.

        I’d like to see some version of cautious optimism emerge instead of this constant bashing of development that’s inherent in social criticism


      11. Graham, you cannot argue against all of “social criticism” via Seth and I (or just Seth). You cannot ascribe to people views that they do not hold. And, as has been pointed out numerous times, your key argument has not been in dispute. We’re all pretty Whiggy around here, I think.

        I’d also strongly caution you not to rely too much on Pinker. His book has been called into serious question for both its methodology and conclusion — e.g. the below by Taleb, which is characteristically brutal and only one of many.

        Click to access longpeace.pdf


      12. When I wrote “anti-revolutionary violence” in one of the overlong posts above, I meant to write “anti-colonial revolution.” Hope that was clear. And I’ve decided I wouldn’t include Mao in the category of “anti-colonial revolutionary.” He fought England and Japan, but those were sideshows in a civil war.


      13. “Potential incidence” above includes not jut the conditional probability argument I was making but also concedes your point about the real fear of violence at a scale of catastophic significance.

        I swer I’m stone soer and jut typing on a phone.


  3. It wasn’t just Reagan and Buchanan and undergraduates. The leading intellectual figures of conservatism were parroting the line (or, more likely, Reagan was parroting them) as late as Reagan’s second term and probably later. (I recall hearing the line quips in the 1990s, probably from Limbaugh, but don’t have time to dig up the quotes at the moment.)

    Like you, Seth, I tend to shy away from revolution. But in the immediate anti-colonial era, particularly when it became clear that “self-determination” was not going to be a passive, egalitarian process, I can totally see why it was appealing. And if the only groups who averred your right to political equality were Marxists then I can see why you’d accept comfort or assistance from Marxists. The supposedly freedom-loving democrats certainly weren’t going to help you out. The former colonists and their allies never to have to pay for things like this:

    The American political economy relationship with South Africa is somewhat interesting, however. In a nutshell, South Africa has one of the world’s largest supply of lithium. Lithium is very useful in the production of electronics, which the U.S. was pursuing as its new comparative advantage. (It was clear in the 1970-80s that dominating global manufacturing wasn’t going to happen anymore, so becoming proficient in tech was essential.)

    So… Reagan viciously opposed sanctions because he knew (or his advisors were telling him) that it would eliminate the capacity for U.S. businesses to access the S. African lithium that they needed for tech production. He used terrible language and atrocious arguments to dress this up in terms of values — Mandela is a terrorist Marxist, sanctions hurt the common people not the regime, etc. — but the real political cleavage was about access to resources.

    You can see why some referred to the apartheid S. African government as viceroys for neo-imperialists, can’t you?


    1. Fine. But, as I said before, that’s a non sequitur. It’s also the wrong forum and preaching to the choir. It’s batting down a straw man. In short, it’s completely irrelevant and a non-contribution.

      Look: apartheid in S Africa was an actual, tangible thing. It was supported and/or tolerated by Western “pro-liberty” governments. None of this was made up by pomo navel-gazers. Even Gingrich understands this:

      Thus, by failing to deal with the issue at hand in favor of attacking general concepts and imaginary interlocutors — if you didn’t ascribe social criticism to Seth or I then who the hell are you arguing with? — your comments in this thread have yet to meaningfully engage with anything in the post. If you want to bash folks who blame All Evil on capitalism and ascribe No Evil to anti-capitalism there are plenty of places on the internet where those folks can be found. But none of them are here.

      So what are you going on about?


      1. You seem extremely upset. My effort here nor anywhere else is to demonstrate that any instance of the construction of a social narrative is a fairy tale. The effort is to construct better social narratives. I didn’t claim apartheid didn’t happen, and I’m not sure what idiot would. I’ve been respectfully engaging you and Seth. I’m not sure why you feel the need to make sweeping indictments of everything I’ve said as a “completely irrelevant non-contribution.”


  4. I’m not at all upset. I am a touch exasperated. Mostly I am perplexed. And if you cannot tell why I would make such a “sweeping indictment” then you have not read, because I made it quite clear. To repeat:

    “that’s a non sequitur. It’s also the wrong forum and preaching to the choir. It’s batting down a straw man.”

    And here:

    “Thus, by failing to deal with the issue at hand in favor of attacking general concepts and imaginary interlocutors — if you didn’t ascribe social criticism to Seth or I then who the hell are you arguing with? — your comments in this thread have yet to meaningfully engage with anything in the post. If you want to bash folks who blame All Evil on capitalism and ascribe No Evil to anti-capitalism there are plenty of places on the internet where those folks can be found. But none of them are here.”

    See? I’ve been quite clear in what I think: you’re shadowboxing. You are arguing a brief that does not belong in this particular court.

    Your only response — “y u mad bro?” — is a non-response. You do not address any of the things I’ve written anywhere in this thread. You similarly elide most of what Seth’s written, and essentially everything in the original post. So your responses haven’t actually been respectful, because you’re not engaging with the arguments that have actually been made. Instead you’ve repeatedly tried to change the subject to *your preferred narrative*, really more of a sermon, which is at best tangentially related to Seth’s post or the subsequent comments.

    I *know* you’re trying to construct better narratives. So is Seth! That’s the whole point of this post, as I read it. The thing is, his narrative is nuanced enough to allow the “West” or “capitalists” to not always and everywhere be a hero (even if they are in many cases). In this case, tho certainly not always, yours does not appear to be.


  5. I’ve responded to several thigs you’ve written and my OPs were a direct response to Seth’s post and the Mandela coverage generaly, what I thought had been left out, and why. I made similar comments to Andrew Perrin at scatterplot and he didn’t seem to think what I was was a complete nonstarter. Seth and I got on a tangent, sure. It was mutual.

    Also lol@ the characterization of my argument that I think apartheird racists, or even the American GOP, are heros. For someone who’s not upset, you still sound extremely upset.


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