Posts Tagged ‘Mandela’

No Reconciliation Without Better Truth

April 30, 2015

Can we have true peace without truth about the conflict it is supposed to put an end to?

No.

An excellent example is World War One. It caused World War Two, because the war did not expose the truth. Instead the lousy peace of 1919 nurtured bigger lies, and tolerance for horrendous war crimes. On the German side. The mistake was not renewed in 1945. In 1945, truth was allowed to crush a lot of (German) lies. (Lies made in the USA, or UK, were allowed to prosper, though…)

On August 1, 1914, the fascist German dictatorship headed by the so-called “Kaiser” Wilhelm II, had attacked, by surprise, the world in general, and the French Republic in particular (knowing full well Britain was going to declare war, but hoping to crush France before Britain could raise an army, and before Russia against which it had declared war to, became a problem).

In 1919, the Peace Conference in Paris brought no prosecution for the so-called “Rape of Belgium” (it was worse than rape, as it involved, well documented examples of the most atrocious crimes, such as deliberately Prussian troops killing Belgium toddlers, after an immensely costly counter-attack of the French army, which had strangely infuriated the Teutonic invaders).

After attacking France, Luxembourg and Belgium, the German empire proceeded to deploy a whole panoply of war crimes (the Allies answered in kind for gas attacks, but only for gas attacks: the first gas killed thousands of French troops and would have caused a hole in the front, had the Germans been more ready for it).

This lack of prosecution for German war crimes was not just a lack of prosecution of criminals, but also a lack of pursuit of truth.

All what German military personnel retained from the non-prosecution of their horrendous crimes, starting with war of aggression, was that the Allies did not mind war crimes. Adolf Hitler himself wrote that the Armenian genocide had been well accepted, and that the will of democracies and Christians was too weak to do anything for this sort of things.

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One of Gandhi’s Errors:

Most of the following quote is entirely correct. Yet it is poisoned with an insidious error. Contrarily to what Gandhi thought, the truth is not about “You” always. The truth is not just about “being you“. All sorts of fanatics were very much about being themselves all too much, throughout history. Sometimes, being “You” is a disease. And a contagious, lethal one.

Gandhi Was Confused: “Being You” & Being Correct Are Not The Same.  Yesterday's You Is Not Necessarily Tomorrow's Truth

Gandhi Was Confused: “Being You” & Being Correct Are Not The Same. Yesterday’s You Is Not Necessarily Tomorrow’s Truth

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Truth & Reconciliation Commission Saved South Africa:

Mandela’s stroke of genius was to enable the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. Truth & Reconciliation allowed South Africa to defuse great racial exploitation and its attending hatred, and the potential for terrible vengeance. (Contemplate Rwanda, or Shri Lanka for a different approach: terrible war and crushing victory.)

How did truth do it in South Africa? How does truth reduce aversion?

Whenever truth is revealed, and comes to rule, minds are changed. However changing brains requires energy, thus effort, pain. And any system of truth is related to a socio-economic order, a hierarchy. New and improved truth threatens existing hierarchies. They often resist, using whatever it takes. Thus the rule of new and improved truth often brings blood, sweat, and tears.

Thus we see that truth can (momentarily) augment aversion, emotion, even passion. So how can it improve matters? By changing “You”.

Some specialists have claimed that a terrible civil war such as seen in Cambodia (superficially caused by a sort of left wing fascism), was facilitated by a (Buddhist inspired) aversion to truth.

Therefore any mentality which privileges aversion to aversion above anything else, will see no reconciliation with truth. Searching for better truth is a war against one’s own past and present perception of reality.

However, if one is not reconciled with truth, one keeps strong aversions inspired by past tribalism, something antagonistic to a globalized world.

The truth is that racism, the aversion for people of different color or origin, is not just unjustified, but a source of harm.

In the case of South Africa, the USA, people had to learn that truth. Forcefully. And fast. How does one learn the truth? By being exposed to the truth. Generally people who have done something wrong, or who are wrong, have a strong aversion to truth, as it will expose them to loss of privilege, or punition.

The Truth & Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, removed the element of punishment, and thus the main reason for NOT telling the truth. So the truth blossomed.

Truth Saved Germany After 1945:

When Germany got denazified after May 1945, a similar process was engaged (this time by an exterior agent, the occupying Allies). The Germans themselves, in the following decades, learned to embrace the process of finding the truth about Nazism.

I am glad that, in an exchange in Scientia Salon, “SocratesGadfly” found me “not all wrong about Gandhi“. However he cautioned that “even if these gentlemen, Jesus, MLK, etc., weren’t perfect, they still stood out above the general crowd, and there’s still things to learn from them.”

What about things NOT to learn from them? Although I have no complaint about Martin Luther King. Jesus, though, apparently willing to teach violence for no good reason, has also things to teach us NOT to imitate.

Nowadays, at least 99% of people in the West do not think that killing people just because they are not Christian is justified, so we have got out of the Jesus trance. However, in the Middle Ages, the (“Christian”) establishment thought “heresy” (“exerting a choice”) was worthy of the death penalty.

What I reproach to Gandhi was to view the minor problem (getting the British exploitation of India to stop) to be major, whereas obviously the major problem was the 1,000 war, inside India, with Islam.

Confusing a major problem, and hiding it behind, a minor one, is a primordial cause of aversion. That Gandhi and his followers may only understand when nukes start exploding over South Asia.

In general, as the quote from Gandhi above shows, Gandhi failed to realize that truth starts, first as an effort against oneself. Finding new truth is never about protecting one’s old self.

Patrice Ayme’

Mandela, Algeria, Zizek, Truth

December 9, 2013

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:

War Slashes Souls

War Slashes Souls

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)

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SILLY ZIZEK:

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.

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Patrice Ayme

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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.

Mandela, Truth Philosopher

December 6, 2013

Mandela IS An Example to All. He will live on as a shining beacon forever. Not less because he brought to the fore, and showed that both the Dark Side, in combination with Truth, was how to make wisdom triumph. This is a lesson that had escaped Socrates himself.

In his entire life, Mandela did only one thing really wrong: he served a single five year presidential term, instead of two. He could have used the second one to say a few uncomfortable truths he had the stature to present, defend and implement the remedies they called for.

Human Rights: True, Thus Strong

Human Rights: True, Thus Strong

Told, when president, that some youth protested about the absence of enough social change, Mandela lashed out that they should go to school instead. Mandela had a temper. But he knew how to use it for the best. As a ram to tell the truth.

It’s because Mandela could call onto the Dark Side, as needed, that he was able to do all he did. Mandela was a master, not a slave. He preferred to take a chance and die fighting than thrive on his knees.

From kingly lineage, he became a lawyer, and struggled against the racial terror system in South Africa. Then the Apartheid plutocrats resorted to extermination, Mandela responded to the escalation in the only way, the only appropriate way. He brought a bigger  mob to handle the guys with the bigger guns. Mandela switched to physical violence and high explosives.

That, dear pacifists of the morbid type, is how one handles Nazi-like characters. Not by turning the other cheek, but by turning to violence that wins them over. As nothing else will.

That was the inescapable power logic of France’s attack against Hitler, and of the nuclear bombings over Japan: confronted to ultimate violence, only a fiercer violence can dominate… for the better.

Mandela’s armed struggle was the one and only correct decision: only confrontation can beat infamy, submission is collaboration.

Arrested, Mandela risked the death penalty. But the satanic servants of horrors opted for a wiser course, and that’s why 9% of the population of South Africa is still “white”.

It was a tentative des-escalation on their part. And a very wise one: as it turned out, Mandela was the one and only who could reconcile all. And that’s why 9% of the population of South Africa is still “white”.

(Although there was more mixing than generally admitted: the eyes of the otherwise very “black” Desmond Tutu, another Nobel Peace prize who deserved his prize, are… blue. Winnie Mandela’s skin looks also rather white these days, to the point I could not recognize her…)

Things could have still evolved for the worst, as they did, say, in Algeria. But Mandela, once again found the perfect dosage of Enlightenment and Dark Side to knead and transform his jailers’ previously rigid minds.

Mandela refused to call his jailers “boss”. But he learned their language, Afrikaner. He refused to be freed, until his conditions were met.

Mandela knew how much he owed to the Dark Side. He insisted he was not a good man, but real tough and mean. To prove this, he rolled out, a few years ago, that he had beaten his first wife. He insisted, too, that he was no Gandhi.

Gandhi was a pacifist, Mandela was not. Gandhi played saint, Mandela was one. Gandhi played the saint so much, he came down to believe in his all encompassing goodness. He could do not wrong, he thought.

Just as a pilot who thinks he cannot do wrong, and he had just to fly straight ahead, Gandhi crashed into a mountain. A mountain that he had erected himself, by being too much of an Hindu nationalist: the division of the subcontinent along religious lines, in a blood bath that killed millions, several times, and could cause a nuclear war. Relative to this, what he fought against was nothing. Gandhi turned something that was easy to do, and was going to happen anyway, into a disaster.

Mandela did the opposite: he turned something that was nearly impossible to do, into a total success.

Mandela knew people could cause mass mayhem, just by making mistakes, and thus that, in the situation he and De Klerk were, it was crucial to avoid the smallest mistake. And he said so, pointing out De Klerk’s “mistakes”, strenuously, firmly, but, deep down, kindly.

Mandela set-up the Truth & Reconciliation Commission: in exchange for the truth, the worst of the worst were forgiven, and reconciled. This stays a model, a new solution for political situations of this type, where either both sides have been very wrong, or when plutocrats give up power and are forgiven in exchange for explaining how their satanic powers were exerted (the latter revelation automatically disarms them, not just tactically, politically, but also, and most importantly, philosophically).

This is indeed exactly what Socrates failed to implement; big time philosophy in action, for the better, in a war, and racist context.

The Truth and Reconciliation strategy was a gigantic progress, philosophically speaking. Mandela’s contribution to philosophy may have been greater than any made by, say, Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle.

Mandela implemented the highest and most important principle: truth is more important than anything else. Horror, first of all, is enabled by lies.

Truth as the ultimate exercise of power: something for all to meditate, and implement.

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Patrice Ayme