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Ron Radosh

We’ve known for some time that Nelson Mandela was a member of the South African Communist Party. It was hard for fawning liberals to acknowledge the meaning of his membership, so they came up with a narrative explaining it. Their story went something like this: He only briefly joined to get the benefit of their organizational talent, and his membership was rather symbolic, and hardly meaningful. What is important is his steadfast commitment to non-violence, his adherence to political democracy, and the role he played after emerging from prison in the waning days of apartheid.

But with each passing day, more has come out to put Mandela’s allegiance to communism in more perspective. Writing in the British Spectator, the courageous South African journalist Rian Malan tells the entire story. Malan tells the tale of what Professor Stephen Ellis found in the online Mandela archives.

What Ellis found is none other than the lost Mandela manuscript – the original draft of what became his 1994 autobiography (and now a movie) Long Walk to Freedom. After reading the book, Malan writes the following:

Everyone thought Mandela was a known entity, but he turns out to have led a double life, at least for a time. By day, he was or pretended to be a moderate democrat, fighting to free his people in the name of values all humans held sacred. But by night he donned the cloak and dagger and became a leader of a fanatical sect known for its attachment to the totalitarian Soviet ideal.

Malan and Professor Ellis found new insights into how Mandela’s image has been manipulated for propaganda purposes through the decades. Having decided to use Mandela as what Malan calls “the anti-apartheid movement’s official poster boy,” since he was a “tall, clean-limbed tribal prince, luminously charismatic, and…reduced by cruel circumstance to living martyrdom on a prison island,” the ANC and its supporters knew they had to “cleanse him of the communist taint.”

So they got a ghost writer for his book, a New York journalist named Rick Stengel, who of course refused to return Malan’s calls for a comment. Stengel, working from the original, left out all of Mandela’s passages that revealed the way he thought, and actually changed the meaning of much of what Mandela wrote. Here are some passages that were expunged:

I hate all forms of imperialism, and I consider the US brand to be the most loathsome and contemptible.

To a nationalist fighting oppression, dialectical materialism is like a rifle, bomb or missile. Once I understood the principle of dialectical materialism, I embraced it without hesitation.

Unquestionably, my sympathies lay with Cuba [during the 1962 missile crisis]. The ability of a small state to defend its independence demonstrates in no uncertain terms the superiority of socialism over capitalism.

Malan asks a strange question, and giving him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps it is with tongue in cheek. He writes, citing Barack Obama’s words at the Mandela memorial service that Mandela fought for “your freedom, your democracy,” that “one wonders if Barack Obama would have said that if he’d known his hero batted for the opposition during the Cold War.” Obviously, Malan is quite familiar with Mandela’s past, but knows very little about Obama’s. He does not know about Obama’s childhood mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, the Chicago/Hawaii Communist apparatchik, or about his own mother’s overt leftism and that of his acquaintances in the Chicago area who were close to the American Communist Party.

At any rate, the unauthorized complete autobiography was completely purged of the elements that Malan says are nothing more than a “pro-communist harangue.” What Stengel then did is clean up Mandela’s work in three major ways, as I’ll show on the next page.

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Top Rated Comments   
Seems to me anyone who has an ounce of worldly knowledge beyond that which they're told by the MSM knew from the jump that The Great Leader was a commie who admired Stalin. Unfortunately, anyone who has 1/209th African in his/her DNA is championed as a god in the chattering classes despite life-long beliefs and dictates. I think we've reached the point where everything black is good and everything white is bad. I call that racism.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
If he truly walked away from it, he would have made sure to actually stop his men from targeting whites, not continue the massacre. He also held more influence in the world's affairs, including denouncing us as terrorists in Iraq.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Doesn't someone who preached and practiced violence deserve a "take-down"? Shouldn't an advocate for Stalinism be "taken down"?
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (58)
All Comments   (58)
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Begin led the Irgun. Lehi (aka "the Stern gang") was a break away splinter faction of the Irgun; one of its leaders was the future Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mandela's first speech after his release from prison could have been given by Fidel Castro - it was classic Leninist cant. I heard it at the time and was very concerned. Fortunately, Mandela rose above that past, just as Menachem Begin rose above his pre-Israel leadership of the bloody terrorist Stern Gang.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
A wonderful man of Communist bent who loathes and dispises the United States. Oh well!
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
This article has the same attitude as one Dave Swindle wrote a month or 2 ago on here, which I felt very annoying. The argument seems to be that since the only organized opposition to Apartheid in South Africa was Communist, and it was violent, Mandela and others like him should have happily lived in a completely oppressed society, discriminated against, violently suppressed whenever there was a protest etc., in the happy knowledge that South Africa would (one day) become a free and egalitarian country. You quote (disapprovingly near as I can tell) Mandela saying he hated imperialism, as if a black man from South Africa should have been nuanced in his opinion towards a regime that had discriminated against him for his whole life, and his ancestors before him back to the arrival of the whites.

As I said to Swindle at the time, it's pretty easy at this remove for us, across the ocean and 70 years later, to judge whether Mandela's acts while resisting Apartheid were justified or not. When you're there, being chased down a street, teargassed, beaten with clubs, imprisoned, tortured, etc., I think the decisions that he made seem a lot more understandable.

Also, I echo Ed 2's comments, which I've said independently (though not as succinctly) in the past: he left a democracy with a working elected government and a capitalist economic system in place, and he walked away from power that he definitely could have held onto for much longer.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
You don't get the point about what I was arguing. Mandela obviously grew in prison and given the circumstances- the collapse of the Soviet Union- the new reality meant becoming a Communist nation was not going to happen. It might have, had the USSR stayed a nation. What I was writing about is historical truth. What the material shows has nothing to do with what happened later. It means something that the armed wing was a total CPSA operation, not that of the ANC, which it imposed on that organization. Armed struggle took place because of ideology. By Mandela's own words, those anti-apartheid activists were treated well until after they started bombing and sabotage.
I never said- never- that South African black should have lived under oppression. I supported then the anti-Communist opposition led by the great Helen Suzman- and not the ANC.
In opposing "imperialism," Mandela was using the term as a hardened Stalinist, which he obviously was at the time. Capitalism, in fact, worked against apartheid--the Afrikaaners had created a statist top-down controlled economy, the opposite of a free market.
Do not attribut to me arguments that I did not make.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
I often don't agree with you but this time I think you nailed it.

Some of the comments critical of this piece leave me baffled.

Fail Burton says: "Whatever it was that radicalized Mandela in ways you don't approve of, it wasn't Mandela himself who did it."

What is that saying? That as great a man as we're told Nelson Mandela was, he was incapable of making choices?

SemperFi80 says: "Look, I know you all need a black pinata to vent some frustration on MLK day". In the totally racist world view of those like SemperFi80 EVERYTHING is about race. It is people like this who keep racism alive and well. This piece was about, near as I could tell, Mandela's communist leanings not his race.

Mandela was by all accounts an intelligent man. Mandela had options. He had choices. When one looks at the condition of South Africa today the only honest conclusion is that Mandela chose badly.


13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Listen: when the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto picked up weapons, did they do so because they were violent? Who radicalized them - themselves? Was Mandela violent by nature? Was he a radical? If so, why? And list all the "choices" black South Africans born in 1918 had for expansive lives. At some point, it is not question of a morality tale, but survival as a man. We ourselves violently revolted against the King of England for far less reason than did Mandela. Was George Washington a radical? If so, did he do that to himself? Was he incapable of making choices to ease the conscience of some fool in 2014 who never walked in his shoes?
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Comparing Nelson Mandela to the Jews of Warsaw sets a new standard for absurdity with the possible exception of comparing him favorably to George Washington.

"And list all the "choices" black South Africans born in 1918 had for expansive lives."

Well actually, a black African born in South Africa in 1918, while having few choices for "an expansive life", probably had more choices than an African born anywhere else in black Africa.

Was Nelson Mandela during his years in prison incapable of learning the difference between capitalism and communism. I think not.

Was Nelson Mandela incapable of making choices that would have respected the rights of ALL South Africans? I think not.

Was Nelson Mandela better than Robert Mugabe? Yes he was but is that all that's required of a black leader? That he be better than a tyrant?

There is no shortage of excuses for the choices Nelson Mandela made. But as a friend of mine said his mother used to tell him when he was a kid: "an excuse is but the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie."

We have not walked in Nelson Mandela's shoes but many will one day walk in the blood stained shoes the South African farmers are now walking in because of Nelson Mandela's choices.

13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
George Washington founded an explicitly racist nation-state that condemned a comparable minority of its population to a fate much worse than that of Boer farmers in SA: slavery.

Was George Washington better than King George? Yes he was but is that all that's required of a white leader? That he be better than a tyrant?
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
This article was about how historical facts were twisted to fit a certain narrative. You missed the point.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
* whoosh *
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Earth to semperFi80: This discussion is not about George Washington.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
* whoosh *
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
I understand what you're saying. I think those ideological distinctions were lost on a man who couldn't vote in his own country, no matter how well he was treated. That's means that armed struggle did indeed take place because of ideology: whatever ideology would kick out the one that said Mandela was a second class citizen in his own land. In opposing "imperialism," Mandela wasn't being a pedantic Soviet ideologue, but opposing an actual and real event.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
"In opposing "imperialism," Mandela was using the term as a hardened Stalinist..."

Ron, at least you are consistent in judging people by their disembodied words rather than by their actions.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Interesting. The article has an attitude. Maybe the problem is your attitude.

The article points out that people are lionizing Nelson Mandela and completely ignoring the really horrible parts of his life and belief systems. Many people are incorrectly stating that Mandela "learned his lesson", but the fact is Mandela maintained his worst beliefs into his later years and he refused to reject the violent aspects of his early career.

Try reading the words that are on the page, instead of the words you want to read. You'll extract a lot more meaning and context that way.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Whatever it was that radicalized Mandela in ways you don't approve of, it wasn't Mandela himself who did it. I doubt if he cared about anyone's approval, especially if you didn't actually ever live under the regime yourself. For you it's word games; there is no consequence. For Mandela it was his life.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Great to see critical pieces on two black civil rights icons - MLK and Mandela - on MLK Day. Missing are pieces on the communists Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Desmond Tutu, and Frederick Douglass. You could have at least balanced things out with profiles of Thomas Sowell, Alan West and Alan Keyes.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ditto.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Radoshistory: Mandela, who did not institute a Communist system after attaining almost total power in South Africa, was a Communist because of a disembodied line or two from a purported first draft of a book. This is a natural consequence, of course, of that enduring conservative principle -- judge based on words not deeds.

Look, I know you all need a black pinata to vent some frustration on MLK day, but Mandela is a poor choice for that role.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hate much Semper?
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Aw, poor racialist can't find anything better to do. Wah.

http://web.archive.org/web/20130709031002/http:/www.nelsonmandela.org/images/uploads/LWOM.pdf

There's the link. Read Mandela's words in his own writing. It's not "a few disembodied words". His entire autobiography is rife with his collectivist belief system.

1. Turn on brain.
2. Shift brain from Neutral to 1st gear.
3. Enjoy the sensation of thinking.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Seems to me anyone who has an ounce of worldly knowledge beyond that which they're told by the MSM knew from the jump that The Great Leader was a commie who admired Stalin. Unfortunately, anyone who has 1/209th African in his/her DNA is championed as a god in the chattering classes despite life-long beliefs and dictates. I think we've reached the point where everything black is good and everything white is bad. I call that racism.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
There’s a You-Tube vid of Mandela singing a song in the Zulu language exhorting tribal members to kill white people in the name of revolutionary communism.

Mandela has always been a fraud and a fantasy creation of the left.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think this the video you are talking about. He says one thing in English but quite another in his native language. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKiePbTcAfY
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yep. My understanding is that video was recorded AFTER Mandela became president, or at least after he was released from prison.

If true, so much for "learning to be peaceful in his old age".
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
It was never "secret," just glossed over as an inconvenient truth that got in the way of his figurehead status. Now that he dead it's important to set the record straight before the saintly-legend polishers can carve the lie in stone.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Never thought is was a 'Secret'.
It was always out there for anyone to find. If they just bothered to look.
But I think I just answered my own question.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
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