ALGERIA’S DISASTER, SOUTH AFRICA’S SURVIVAL:
I wrote an essay celebrating Mandela using truth as hammer with which to pulverize hatred. This was Mandela’ s primary mission, and it succeeded.
That was not obvious. Look at Algeria. In 1960, Algeria was richer per capita than South Africa, and enjoyed (on paper) more freedom (apartheid, although practically observed in Algeria, was not imposed with the force and arrogance it was in South Africa; the first universal suffrage vote happened in (French administered) Algeria a third of a century earlier than in South Africa.
At first sight, it should have been easier to make Algeria into a democratic commonwealth in 1951 than to achieve this in South Africa in 1991 (the year Mandela was released from detention). However:
The weight of the past can be overwhelmed, though. Mandela showed that. So why did it not happen in Algeria? Intellectual failure. All over.
The situation in Algeria turned out catastrophic, because no man, no leader, spiritual or political, in France, or Algeria had the philosophical, and political stature of Mandela (Camus did not reach Mandela’s philosophical understanding). As I pointed out, Mandela understood something that was not understood, or proclaimed, before: the Will to Truth can overwhelm the Will To Power.
The problem with the Franco-Algerian civil war, was not just that there was no Mandela. But that the whole political and intellectuals landscape was full of short sighted hateful dwarves, full of racism, on the left or the right, on one side of the sea, as on the other (yes, I include De Gaulle, the OAS, the FNL, and all Franco-Algerian intellectuals, Camus excepted, in this global condemnation).
The vicious Franco-Algerian war had hardened hearts, and left only draconian mentalities in power (Draco gloated that most offenses were worthy of the death penalty, 2,615 years ago in Athens).
Mandela avoided this. He avoided vicious war, the type that feeds mostly hatred. As Mandela talked, in his jail cell, with South Africa’s top (white) general, he told him:“General, in this war, you and me are both generals. Whatever happens, at the end of this, we will have to meet, and negotiate. How we treat each other then, depends upon how we treat each other, now.”
In the early 1990s, 19% of South Africa was “white”. Nowadays it’s 9% (the poor tend to reproduce like rabbits, everywhere).
In Algeria, upon so called “independence” 15% of the population fled (including lots of Jews, whose ancestors had arrived in the area 2,100 years before, 8 centuries before Arabs and Muslims invaded by the sword). Many of the Jews ended in Israel, as the French Republic had been, naturally enough, Israel’s main sponsor.
It was independence from Paris, but not from hatred and other vicious habits many of them learned there (such as the pseudo-leftism clamored by hypocrites such as Jean-Paul Sartre, the pseudo-philosopher, and his ilk of ill disguised collaborators).
In the full light of history, one may wonder if Africa and Numidia (in the Roman geographical sense) will ever recover from democratic Carthage’s monstrous demise, and the just as monstrous Arab-Muslim conquest of the Maghreb (647-709 CE)
I mentioned that, ideally, Mandela would have told a few truths that needed to be told, and, first of all, that wisdom pays, and only wisdom does. Long term.
Second, that wisdom arises from a wealth of knowledge, and only from that: Mandela, a king, was also a lawyer, a boxer, and someone who learned Afrikaner as an adult.
The average salary of an employed black man is eight times less than that of a white employee. But Mandela would have shrugged:”Do you have anything better to propose?” Zizek thinks so, but he is just posing:
Slavoj Zizek, the famous European (Slovenian) philosopher, psychoanalyst and social theorist at the Birkbeck School of Law, University of London, wrote an incisive essay for the New York times”Mandela’s Socialist Failure“. The essay is transverse to my “Mandela, Truth Philosopher”. I do not disagree with its spirit. Just the details, where the most pernicious devils lurk.
Zizek says: “South Africa in this respect is just one version of the recurrent story of the contemporary left. A leader or party is elected with universal enthusiasm, promising a “new world” — but, then, sooner or later, they stumble upon the key dilemma: does one dare to touch the capitalist mechanisms, or does one decide to “play the game”? If one disturbs these mechanisms, one is very swiftly “punished”…If we want to remain faithful to Mandela’s legacy, we should thus forget about celebratory crocodile tears and focus on the unfulfilled promises his leadership gave rise to. We can safely surmise that, on account of his doubtless moral and political greatness, he was at the end of his life also a bitter, old man, well aware how 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.”
Amen to this. Zizek ought to realize though that Franklin D. Roosevelt (from plutocratic background) and Eisenhower (Republican president) were conducting policies way left than anything proposed by the democratic party of the USA, or any “left”, “socialist’, or “labor” party in the West in the last 40 years.
Those who are serious about debt reduction ought to follow Republican president Eisenhower’s drastic remedy: bring up the highest margin tax rate to 93%.
In general, most of today’s economic and social ills would disappear if one returned to the conservative fiscal methods of the 1950s. Those would allow to keep in good functioning order the welfare state established in the period 1933-1965.
Roosevelt and Eisenhower would have certainly presented themselves as free market liberals, pro-capitalists. And they were. So, Zizek, it’s not about “capitalist mechanisms”.
It’s about having forgotten the wisdom of the past. And it’s about intellectuals who, like Zizek, do not go inside the machinery enough to make a cogent critique of what went wrong.
Mandela did not do such a mistake: he had the Algerian disaster in full view, and tried to avoid it. This, Zizek does not see.
And it’s going wrong all over, in newer ways: witness the suicidal rise of fossil fuel companies’ influence, in the last 15 years. Something never seen before, and that no socialists of the past could have envisioned, in their worst nightmares.
Note: 1) Millions died or fled from the Algerian War. Nearly all the population of Algeria suffered, and the suffering extends to this day.
2) The accusation of racism against De Gaulle is amply documented. Through many statements. On 5 Mars 1959, he confessed the following to Alain Peyrefitte : « Si nous faisions l’intégration, si tous les Arabes et Berbères d’Algérie étaient considérés comme Français, comment les empêcher de venir s’installer en métropole, alors que le niveau de vie y est tellement plus élevé ? Mon village ne s’appellerait plus Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, mais Colombey-les-Deux-Mosquées ! »
Translation: France is so rich, all Algerians want to come here. So we will not do integration. Down with Mosques.