From John Ray's shorter notes

12 December, 2013

Mandela's motives

If you read conservative blogs, you will be aware by now that the idolatry of Nelson Mandela that you see in the mainstream media is far from universally shared. The fact is that Mandela was always a Communist and was a very active terrorist in his youth -- which is why the Boer regime imprisoned him in a high security prison for 27 years. A relatively mild "alternative" account of Mandela is here. And even after he became President, he maintained cordial relations with such charmers as Yasser Arafat and Fidel Castro.

So how come he managed the transition from white rule to black rule so peacefully? Why did he not act out the hostility which he expressed for all his life? Nobody seems to answer that. They just see the years of his Presidency as the manifestation of a "great soul", which he clearly was not. A great hater, maybe.

I think the answer is obvious and I am a little bemused that it once again seems to fall to me to identify the elephant in the room. The answer is that he knew what a tough lot the Boers are and was afraid of them. After what the Boers did to the British Empire, a rabble of blacks would have been a snack for them. After all in the Apartheid years the South African police force was quite small relative to population. The Boers did not need much to suppress back discontent.

And Mandela was right to fear the Boers. They still held all the levers of power in South Africa -- police, army, bureaucracy, media etc. Had they been energized to act in response to extensive violence encouraged by the new black regime, there can be no doubt that the violence would have been decisively crushed and only a semblance of black rule would have continued.

The peaceful Mandela was a coward, not a great soul. But cowardice was probably wise in the circumstances

Another factor that probably aided his "wisdom": Mandela was a Communist and a terrorist in his youth but was aged 72 at the time of his release from prison, by which time the normal mellowing with age should have set in. So what he is credited for may derive in part from his being old and grandfatherly at the time of his re-entry into public life.

Other comments on the "real" Mandela may be found here and here for example.

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