Seumas Milne is now arguing that Mandela was indeed a terrorist?

Eh?

Airbrushed out of the Mandela media story has been the man who launched a three-decade-long armed struggle after non-violent avenues had been closed; who declared in his 1964 speech from the dock that the only social system he was tied to was socialism; who was reported by the ANC-allied South African Communist party this week to have been a member of its central committee at the time of his arrest; and whose main international supporters for 30 years were the Soviet Union and Cuba.

It has barely been mentioned in the past few days, but Mandela supported the ANC’s armed campaign of sabotage, bombings and attacks on police and military targets throughout his time in prison. Veterans of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the ANC’s armed wing, emphasise that the military campaign was always subordinate to the political struggle and that civilians were never targeted (though there were civilian casualties).

But as Ronnie Kasrils, MK’s former intelligence chief, told me on Wednesday, Mandela continued to back it after his release in 1990 when Kasrils was running arms into South Africa to defend ANC supporters against violent attacks. And there’s no doubt that under today’s US and British law, he and other ANC leaders would have been jailed as terrorists for supporting such a campaign.

And he was righteously jailed under S African law at the time on the same charges.

I also think it was right to release him and that his presidency almost certainly did the best for the place that could be done.

But it really is odd seeing Milne arguing that Mandela was a terrorist who should righteously have been jailed.

28 comments on “Seumas Milne is now arguing that Mandela was indeed a terrorist?

  1. I’ve always felt the proper response to *Mandela was a terrorist* should be ‘Yes, he was a terrorist. Fucking good job too’. But that means that we’d all have to engage in a little thinking beyond ‘terrorists bad’.

    Nelson Mandela used violence against a state which used greater violence against his people. He never renounced this: when negotiating his release from prison, he refused to commit to non-violence, quite rightly in my view.

  2. Except that attacks on military and police targets were few and far between. MK were more content to intimidate township residents.
    The AK47 aka The Soweto Chequebook.

  3. Milne is saying that when communists and socialists threaten violence or murder people for the cause, it’s ok. We shouldn’t sanitise that, we should celebrate it. You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few skulls.

    He’s annoyed at the media fiction of Saint Mandela, Mother Theresa in a funny shirt, and wants us to applaud him for being more of a throat-slitting, gun-toting, Che Guevara type. Perhaps it’s also time we rehabilitated the reputation of Winnie, his child-murdering ex wife.

  4. “we’d all have to engage in a little thinking beyond ‘terrorists bad’”

    Terrorists – as opposed to armed insurgents – ARE bad. It is the deliberate choice of those who employ terrorism to target the weak, the unprotected, and the powerless. There is no “decent” way to set off bombs in public places, or to stop a car at random and shoot the person who answers it.

  5. Hamish – but surely there’s a nice way to put a car tyre around someone’s neck, douse it in petrol, and then set them on fire?

  6. “Nelson Mandela used violence against a state which used greater violence against his people. ”
    The “Freedom Fighter’s Handbook for Dummies” is pretty clear on the aim of violence is to provoke a disproportionate response from your opponents. It’s supposed to be in the game plan.
    Although, as Henry Crun points out, they didn’t study the book particularly assiduously & stuck to the section “How to ensure the loyalty of your power base”.

  7. Life is too short to read the comments. Is he being denounced hysterically by the Guardianistas? Anyone who has even remotely suggested this has been so this week; perhaps it is different when one of their own does it.

  8. Some lefties don’t like the fiction of a kindly old man full of forgiveness etc etc – it’s a conspiracy by TPTB to ensure that the only acceptable form of resistance is peaceful resistance.

  9. ukl

    Yet those same lefties on seeing gun owners in the US who don’t want to give up their weapons have a collective breakdown.

  10. Of course. Nobody claimed he was an adherent of that overrated and banal philosophy known as “pacifism”.

  11. KJ – “Nelson Mandela used violence against a state which used greater violence against his people. He never renounced this: when negotiating his release from prison, he refused to commit to non-violence, quite rightly in my view.”

    Nelson Mandela put tyres soaked in petrol around the necks of postmen and policemen. And their families. People rumoured to be informers.

    Greater violence? The South African government killed a total of 58 members of the ANC while in their custody. The ANC ran camps dedicated to torturing members of the ANC they suspected of informing – and they hung their corpses in trees for everyone else to see.

    The overwhelming majority of violence was committed by the ANC. Not against Whites. That was not their point. Not against the South African state. But against other Blacks. They wanted a monopoly of representation – Blacks would support them if first they murdered all the other options like Steve Biko’s PAC and Inkatha. Which they did.

    The fact is that Mandela has done the near impossible. Not only has he managed to get a large number of well meaning liberals to defend lynching – the first since Reconstruction probably – but he has also got them to defend the auto de fe. Not since the Spanish Inquisition have people defended burning other people to death in public for what they believe. But KJ is fine with it.

    Well done laddie.

  12. bloke in france – “Struggling to think of a Nobel Peace Prize winner who’s not an ex terrorist, me.”

    Obama.

    Proving the award is useless.

  13. Mandela’s statement from the dock at the Rivonia Trial. Could you hear that, then look him in the eye and tell him he was wrong?

    Note that he was charged with, and admitted to, acts of sabotage, not terrorism.

    It’s ridiculous to hold Mandela responsible for acts by ANC members during the long years when he was deprived of operational control by being locked up by the apartheid state.

  14. PaulB – “Mandela’s statement from the dock at the Rivonia Trial. Could you hear that, then look him in the eye and tell him he was wrong?”

    Yes. Easily. Whatever the wrongs of Apartheid – and they were trivial – the solutions Mandela wanted were worse. The regimes he not only supported but defended were worse. The Blacks of South Africa were better off in every way to the people of Cuba. Which he described as the best defender of human rights in the world. Or the people of the Soviet Union. Or even the people of Iraq.

    “Note that he was charged with, and admitted to, acts of sabotage, not terrorism.”

    Was terrorism a crime at the time? He was charged with (look on page 4, under Count 2):

    a) the preparation, manufacture and use of explosives—for the purpose of committing acts of violence and destruction in the aforesaid Republic,
    ..
    b) the art of warfare, including guerilla warfare, and military training generally for the purpose in the aforesaid Republic;

    (ii) Further acts of violence and destruction, (this includes 193 counts of terrorism committed between 1961 and 1963);
    (iii) Acts of guerilla warfare in the aforesaid Republic;
    (iv) Acts of assistance to military units of foreign countries when involving the aforesaid Republic;

    So terrorism by another name. The TV had pictures of him training with explosives the other day. They did not comment on it, but they were building and laying home-made land mines.

    It’s ridiculous to hold Mandela responsible for acts by ANC members during the long years when he was deprived of operational control by being locked up by the apartheid state.

    He was not deprived of a damn thing. He remained in charge. They did what he told them. He could have told them to stop. He did not. He could have denounced the lynchings and burnings. He did not. He did not in prison. He did not when he came out of prison. In fact one of the things he did when he was out of prison was defend the perpetrators of the Shell House massacre – and refuse to hand them or their guns over.

    It is interesting to see how far liberals will go to defend their pathetic world view and their need to see themselves as special, unique, little flowers – sensitive in the way that other people are not. But this is what PaulB and KJ are defending either openly or tacitly:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sf39waktLVQ

    I expect that from Seamus. Remember it the next time they claim any special moral authority at all.

  15. He was not deprived of a damn thing. He remained in charge

    For the first 18 years Mandela was on Robben Island, breaking rocks. He was allowed one visit and one censored letter every six months. Then in 1982 he was moved to Pollsmoor, where he was allowed one censored letter a week.

    So terrorism by another name.

    It depends on your definition of terrorism. To me, terrorism means violence aimed at terrorizing the population. Umkhonto we Sizwe was at that time conducting a campaign of sabotage. There’s an appendix to the indictment giving a list of acts alleged to have been committed by them.
    __

    If you run an inhuman regime which provokes reasonable men to armed insurrection, and respond by locking up the reasonable men, you won’t get peace, you’ll get armed insurrection led by unreasonable men.

  16. “f you run an inhuman regime which provokes reasonable men to armed insurrection, and respond by locking up the reasonable men, you won’t get peace, you’ll get armed insurrection led by unreasonable men.”

    It is a bit hard to see the justification for said unreasonable men to direct the vast majority of their violence against the supposed victims of the inhumane regime. But the intricate rules of victim poker have always confused.

  17. “It is a bit hard to see the justification for said unreasonable men to direct the vast majority of their violence against the supposed victims”

    Isn’t that dealt with by them being unreasonable?

  18. PaulB – “For the first 18 years Mandela was on Robben Island, breaking rocks. He was allowed one visit and one censored letter every six months. Then in 1982 he was moved to Pollsmoor, where he was allowed one censored letter a week.”

    So I suppose there are no drugs in British prisons. Coz there is rules and all innit?

    Doesn’t matter either way. He did not speak out about it. Not once. Not in prison. Not out of prison. The South African government offered to let him out if he rejected violence in 1985. He refused.

    “It depends on your definition of terrorism.”

    And so we see PaulB defending the public burning of human beings to death. Just because. So much for the elevated moral standards of the Left. Self regard and self righteousness.

    “To me, terrorism means violence aimed at terrorizing the population.”

    Which is why the ANC spent virtually all its efforts burning their Black political opponents to death. Their aim was not to defeat the White government directly, but to win a total monopoly of Black support by killing any other Black who supported any other party.

    “Umkhonto we Sizwe was at that time conducting a campaign of sabotage. There’s an appendix to the indictment giving a list of acts alleged to have been committed by them.”

    Semantic quibbling. Mandela was just starting. UwS went on to blow up cafes as well as necklacing with glee and abandon.

    “If you run an inhuman regime which provokes reasonable men to armed insurrection, and respond by locking up the reasonable men, you won’t get peace, you’ll get armed insurrection led by unreasonable men.”

    Communists are not reasonable. Apartheid was not inhumane – at least not compared to the systems that Mandela admired and wanted to impose on South Africa. And there was plenty of room for reasonable people to make reasonable statements in opposition to Apartheid and aimed at changing the system. The Democratic Party for instance did so for decades.

    But if you want to enslave the rural population, murder anyone richer than a Kulak and destroy all civil society from the Churches down to the small bird watching club, as Mandela did, then you have to be prepared for massive violence. Which he was.

  19. I’ll answer the one honest point you make:

    The South African government offered to let him out if he rejected violence in 1985. He refused.

    Yes, Mandela declined release from prison conditional on his renouncing the use of violence to overthrow apartheid. He declared that he was not a violent man, but that only free men can negotiate. He made the counterproposal that P W Botha should renounce the use of violence to maintain apartheid. The use of violence is much easier to justify in the cause of democracy than in the cause of oppression.

    Here‘s Newt Gingrich making the point to American conservatives.

  20. PaulB – “I’ll answer the one honest point you make:”

    It is nice to see you have some shame. But I doubt anyone will forget that when it comes down to it, you support the burning of political opponents to death.

    “Yes, Mandela declined release from prison conditional on his renouncing the use of violence to overthrow apartheid. He declared that he was not a violent man, but that only free men can negotiate.”

    He was not asked to negotiate. Just renounce violence. As his entire career had been built on violence, obviously he could not do that. And he didn’t.

    “He made the counterproposal that P W Botha should renounce the use of violence to maintain apartheid.”

    P. W. Botha wasn’t burning people to death. Indeed I wonder how many liberals would still be supporting Apartheid if they had dragged Mandela out of his home, placed a burning tyre around his neck and cooked him slowly. Quite a few I expect.

    “The use of violence is much easier to justify in the cause of democracy than in the cause of oppression.”

    Indeed. But Mandela was not in the democracy business. That is why he was burning so many Black opponents to death. Why he defended the Shell House massacre. He was a Marxist and so was in the oppression business.

  21. SMFS: you are a liar. You know perfectly well that Nelson Mandela never burnt anyone to death, and I never defended burning anyone.

    Your lies about Mandela are comprehensively disproved by his record as President of South Africa.

  22. PaulB – “SMFS: you are a liar. You know perfectly well that Nelson Mandela never burnt anyone to death, and I never defended burning anyone.”

    In exactly the same way you know Pinochet never tortured anyone and Hitler never killed a single Jew. You are now quibbling with words. All three had Command Responsibility and so are guilty of what their followers did. Mandela is at the absolute minimum guilty of the Shell House massacre – utterly unprovoked, against peaceful Black demonstrators, at a time when Apartheid was no longer an issue.

    “Your lies about Mandela are comprehensively disproved by his record as President of South Africa.”

    As I have said before, South Africa kept him in prison long enough for the Soviet Union to have collapsed. So he became another Turkmenbashi rather than another Stalin. Big freakin’ deal. His record does not disprove anything. After all, he was making speeches as President asserting a vast international conspiracy of Western newspapers, NGOs and South African political parties aimed at overthrowing the ANC. He, as President, showed what he really thought by praising Cuba, Gaddhafi and Saddam. Like Mugabe, he was moderate as long as he won elections. He was too old for us to see what he would have been like once he started to lose them.

    I have not lied. As you have tacitly conceded. You just refuse to give up your worship of Big Brother.

  23. …In exactly the same way you know Pinochet never tortured anyone and Hitler never killed a single Jew…All three had Command Responsibility and so are guilty of what their followers did.

    Pinochet and Hitler were running their murderous regimes. Mandela was in prison, with heavily restricted and censored communication with the outside world. He did not have Command Responsibility. Not even you can believe this ridiculous argument.

    Mandela is at the absolute minimum guilty of the Shell House massacre

    This ‘absolute minimum’ is all you’ve got. It was a crime, and Mandela was ultimately responsible.

    For me, it’s a serious matter. But for you? It was similar in setting to the Sharpeville Massacre, one of the many crimes of the apartheid regime, but on a much smaller scale. And you describe the crimes of apartheid as “trivial”. So for you, the Shell House massacre must be less than trivial.

    The truth is that your animus against Mandela has got nothing to do with the crimes you accuse him of. The animus comes first. You can’t stand seeing a black man, who replaced a white supremacist government, admired and respected by the world for his achievements, his wisdom, and his forgiveness.

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