Nelson Mandela

Chinese and Vietnamese Communists Helped Persuade Mandela To Liberalize Markets

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Credit: South Africa The Good News/wikimedia

In the wake of the news of Nelson Mandela's death some people predictably hastened to remind us that despite his status as a symbol of peace, reconciliation, and freedom Mandela had associations with groups that were not sympathetic to capitalism and were hardly afraid of committing acts of violence. Comments criticizing Sen. Ted Cruz's Facebook post after Mandela's death in particular were widely reported.  

Over at The New York Times' DealBook, Andrew Ross Sorkin notes that while Mandela may have believed in the nationalization of industries after his release in 1990, his attitude towards markets did change, ironically thanks in part to talks with Chinese and Vietnamese communists at the 1992 meeting of the World Economic Forum:

But as the five-day conference of high-level speed-dating wore on, Mr. Mandela soon decided he needed to reconsider his long-held views: "Madiba then had some very interesting meetings with the leaders of the Communist Parties of China and Vietnam," Mr. Mboweni wrote, using Mr. Mandela's clan name. "They told him frankly as follows: 'We are currently striving to privatize state enterprises and invite private enterprise into our economies. We are Communist Party governments, and you are a leader of a national liberation movement. Why are you talking about nationalization?' "

"It was those decisive moments which made him think about the need for our movement to seriously rethink the issue," Mr. Mboweni said.

Mr. Mandela's push toward free markets opened up his country to become the fastest growing in Africa and eventually brought in billions of dollars of investment from large companies outside the country. Barclays, for example, acquired Absa, South Africa's largest consumer bank, in 2005. Iscor, the country's largest steel maker, was sold to Lakshmi Mittal's LNM in 2004. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China bought a big stake in Standard Bank, South Africa's largest financial services company, in 2008. And Massmart, a South African supermarket chain, sold a majority stake to Walmart in 2011.

After former House Speaker Newt Gingrich received hostile reactions to a personal statement he made expressing his condolences to South Africans and Mandela's family following Mandela's death he wrote a response in which he addressed Mandela's connections to communism and armed struggle. In the statement, Gingrich rightly asks those who criticize Mandela's actions before his imprisonment on Robben Island to consider not only how they would have acted in the same situation but also how some of the Founding Fathers behaved in response to British tyranny. Gingrich's response was praised by Jim Antle at The American Conservative, who wrote:

The Founders' sins are worthy topics of discussion that should not be whitewashed out of American history. But neglecting the context of the times, the specific injustices they fought, the institutions they built, and the principles they imperfectly embodied is ideologically motivated malpractice.

Similarly, it is right to point out that many fawning Mandela obituaries ignore the injustices he tolerated himself, his kind words for terrorists and dictators, the violence of the ANC toward blacks as well as whites, even the sins of post-apartheid South Africa and the virtues of the country before it was transformed. But any reference to these things that neglects or minimizes the injustices of apartheid is woefully incomplete—and unlikely to result in a meaningful dialogue about the very facts such contrarian commentary hopes to expose.

Too often prominent political figures are lazily characterized both during their lives and after their deaths, whether it is calling Obama a "socialist," Thatcher a "fascist," or Tea Partiers "anarchists." It's a shame to see Mandela, a praiseworthy as well as imperfect man, being given similar treatment.

NEXT: Author of the Patriot Act Calls Sen. Feinstein's Bill "a Joke"

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  1. Lyndon Johnson ended segregation so when will Reason start praising him?

    1. Right before the article rehabilitating Nixon, I’m guessing.

  2. Google bus blocked in San Francisco protest vs gentrification

    Back in my day, we used to call this kidnapping.

    1. The protest, organized by an advocacy group called Heart of the City, took aim at private commuter buses which whisk thousands of employees from stops around San Francisco to jobs at technology companies south of the city such as Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Google.

      This is why you can never appease these people. Yeah, I said ‘these people’.

      You actually get people in Mass Transit, but it’s not the bloated, ineffective, overpriced and underfunded Mass Transit with cushy Union Jobs and regular strikes… no, this Mass Transit is entirely paid by a private industry at no cost to taxpayers and actually takes cars off the road.

      Foes say the buses jam up municipal bus stops and remove potential customers from cash-strapped public transportation systems, including regional rail service, that could use their revenue.

      Yeah…

      On and this nice little gem:

      A man who screamed at protest organizer Erin McElroy, 31, was later identified as a union worker who was pretending to be a Google employee upset at being delayed by the protest.

      So the guy starting actual shit is a plant.

      1. When’s the last time it wasn’t? Seriously?

        1. I would love to be a welfare benefits administrator in that area, if only for a day.

          “What is your job again? Community organizer? You keep other people from getting to work on time? Sorry, no more food stamps, cash or section 8 for you!”

          1. “What is your job again? Community organizer? You keep other people from getting to work on time? Sorry, no more food stamps, cash or section 8 for you!”

            But we’ll give you this mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue and hover on your every word.

            At this point, what real difference is there between California progressives and Communists? I am beginning more and more to understand the utter hatred immigrants 30 years ago from the Soviet Union had for anyone advocating socialism.

      2. Bonus: Gawker thread

        Lots of lovely projection, even after they discover it’s a hoax!

        1. I can’t tell if this one is serious:

          Google should have beds under their cubes. Live where you work, you tech POS.

          1. Serious. Sadly.

      3. Here the organizer is from Google images:
        http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix…..34×376.jpg

        I don’t usually say this about women, nut what a punchable face!

      4. You actually get people in Mass Transit, but it’s not the bloated, ineffective, overpriced and underfunded Mass Transit with cushy Union Jobs and regular strikes

        But, rich people!!!1!1!

        Foes say the buses jam up municipal bus stops and remove potential customers from cash-strapped public transportation systems

        They do know that there is no convenient way to get to these “campuses”, right? Even with better service (which IS shit in SF, as I learned from experience) it’s still at least two buses and a train. I guess they should just suck it up and suffer for the purpose of making union shills feel better.

      5. Can you blame him? He was named Erin. His parents either wanted a daughter, or are too anti-Semitic to accept Aaron.

    2. Detroit was not done in by liberal politics because San Francisco, is what the proggies told me.

      This is delicious.

      1. Places like San Francisco have the advantage of being San Francisco. You can beat people up with your effed up policies, but I mean, look at the view!

        When you make it hard to make a living in a place like Detroit– people just sort of look around and ask, “Why am I living here again?” and leave.

        1. To be clear, I don’t think SF is in danger of becoming Detroit anytime soon, but I am enjoying the attacks on a big business that helps keep the region strong.

        2. IDK. The 25 days of rain in Feb 2001 made me think twice about living there.

          1. That’s Seattle’s problem. Here, they only go half-tard because the 9 months of sideways rain are juuust enough to make people run if they go full-tard.

            However, we just elected a socialist– not our term, her term– to the city council. So we’ll see just how tard they’ll go.

            1. What rain? All I’ve been seeing is sub-freezing temperatures and clear skies. Except for today. Snow?

        3. If you city/ region has other plusses going for it, namely being education, cultural, or other legacy industry hubs (not to metion a nice climate) your people will put up with more bad policies.

          But if your city has nothing really to iffer that differes from the next city down the road, then shitty policy is going to destroy that city.

          San Fran exists in large part because of the tech/ higher education hub that is around it. Same with Boston. So while much of the middle class is dirven out due to expensive housing and mid level skill jobs leaving, your city can go on pretty well living off of the wealthy people who stay their because of its hub industries.

          1. Add NY to that, if Wall St ever moves shop we’re fucked faster than Bill Deblasio can scream “social injustice”.

      2. Quoting the only reply there as of this time,

        “Andy10000 wrote:

        “what is needed in San Francisco is rent control, and possibly a city controlled bank. I don’t think blocking buses is very productive or will further the cause of helping lower income people in SF.”

        Yeah, Andy.. you do that and see what happens…

  3. the sins of post-apartheid South Africa and the virtues of the country before it was transformed.

    *Insert references to Obama and Lincoln*

  4. Warty won’t be around for awhile guys.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new…..ocialLinks

    1. Someone should’ve gone all Ehud on that guy.

      Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his palace[c] and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. Even the handle sank in after the blade, and his bowels discharged. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.

    2. You obviously don’t know Warty very well. He doesn’t have so much as a molecule of fat on his body.

      The only morbidly obese commenter on this blog is Episiarch, and he can’t get it up without the aid of an episode of Duck Dynasty and a cattle prod to the rectum.

      1. Duck Dynasty?!?

        1. Pretty sure Honey Boo Boo is off the air.

  5. Shorter Article:

    PEOPLE SAY MEAN THINGS THAT AREN’T COMPLETELY TRUE BUT ONLY KINDA AND THATS NOT FAIR.

  6. In honor of Nelson Mandela, and to ease this black studies major’s psychological issues, it’s time to stop depicting Santa as an old white guy

    Two decades later, America is less and less white, but a melanin-deficient Santa remains the default in commercials, mall casting calls, and movies. Isn’t it time that our image of Santa better serve all the children he delights each Christmas?

    Yes, it is. And so I propose that America abandon Santa-as-fat-old-white-man and create a new symbol of Christmas cheer. From here on out, Santa Claus should be a penguin.

    That’s right: a penguin.

    Why, you ask? For one thing, making Santa Claus an animal rather than an old white male could spare millions of nonwhite kids the insecurity and shame that I remember from childhood. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, Santa is one of the first iconic figures foisted upon you: He exists as an incredibly powerful image in the imaginations of children across the country (and beyond, of course). That this genial, jolly man can only be seen as white?and consequently, that a Santa of any other hue is merely a “joke” or a chance to trudge out racist stereotypes?helps perpetuate the whole “white-as-default” notion endemic to American culture (and, of course, not just American culture).

    Plus, people love penguins.

    1. Penguins don’t live in the arctic, what a dumbass.

    2. …I know this might come as a shock to some people, but Santa’s not American.

      Also he’s not real.

    3. Maybe we could just get some diversity into Christmas by bringing in Sinterklaus’s companion Zwarte Piet

      Like Santa Claus, Zwarte Piet is a hybrid stock character of pagan origin. In its modern form, the character is commonly depicted as a blackamoor, with blackface make-up, and dressed in stylized colourful Renaissance attire

      1. But that would also be racist. Because the black dude is only a comedy sidekick.

        1. Also because blackface. Too many connotations with old timey minstrel shows.

        1. He fills the same role as a black sidekick for Santa, but he’s a different syncretization, no?

          1. To be sure, I’m no expert on Krampus. I believe Warty’s related to him, however.

            1. Long tongue, coarse hair and puts children in an apple barrel to drop them into Hell?

              This is my favorite Krampus Card. I keep meaning to have an artist friend of mine redo it so I can send it out for Christmas.

    4. So, no more Jesus, either, right? Because he was a Jew and, you know, a white guy.

      That’s so incredibly racist and shows how fucked up thinking is these days.

      1. Also, it’s not as if there was never any imagery of Jesus as a black guy.

        Or Santa, either: Black Santa, apparently from 1948.

        Plus, people love penguins.

        Is Aisha coming on to me?

      2. Are you sure Jesus was white? I mean he lived in the Middle East.

        1. Middle Easterners look white to me.

    5. could spare millions of nonwhite kids the insecurity and shame that I remember from childhood

      Something tells me that Santa wasn’t the cause of that, Poindexter.

      1. Clearly, you know nothing of Santa’s racist history. Ever notice how poor black kids get fewer gifts from Santa than rich white kids? It’s a proven fact.

    6. “Stop depicting a character who’s based on the Caucasian St. Nicholas as a Caucasian!”

      1. He’s also based on the Norse god Odin.

        1. Well if Idris Elba could be in Thor…

          1. Idris Elba

            Swoon.

    7. Hmmm, so now people are getting all pissy over a fictional character’s skin color? Plus, isn’t Santa Klaus based on an amalgamation of various northern European and Germanic characters, some dating back to pagan times? Not surprising then that he would be white, since northern Europeans and Germans tend to be, you know, white.

    8. Correction, Dec. 10, 2013: This article originally misidentified penguins as mammals. They are birds.

      I’m in tears.

      1. Editors? Who needs ’em?

    9. And Shakespeare was a black woman.

      I say it’s overdue for Frederick Douglass to have been Caucasian.

    10. He’s a guy living in the North Pole. He should be the whitest person in the world.

      And as pointed out, penguins don’t live in the North Pole.

  7. A sad reminder that Chinese and Vietnamese communists are more sane than the average liberal American.

    1. Not sure about ‘Nam but I imagine the Chinese Communist attitude is due to realizing how much of a disaster Mao was, seeing the end of Communism and a desire to increase wealth to forstall revolution.

      So I guess the US needs a few decades of a genocidal Communist dictatorship to lead to a corporatist dictatorship? Future looks so bright…

      1. VietNam largely gave up on Communism in practice years ago. Started exporting wheat to Russia, if I recall.

    2. One of these countries maintains some respect for property rights. Guess which one.

      1. Actually, that should be “one of these countries respects property rights, and another hasn’t entirely voided them.”

  8. You Know Who Else supported nationalization of Industries but changed his mind after meeting with Communists?

    1. No – who?

      1. I guess I was thinking of Mussolini?

        1. Hah, he does was the contemporary american liberal wants, nominally keeping companies private but then telling them exactly what they can and can not do.

  9. Mandela’s dead? When did that happen?

    1. Last week, but one article pretended that news was hidden for weeks. http://guardianlv.com/2013/12/151154/

  10. Nation of Islam Receives Farm Subsidies

    Over $100,000 in farm subsidies between 2008 and 2011 went a charity arm of the Nation of Islam, according to a new report from a watchdog group.

    The group, Open the Books, traces the money to the Three Year Economic Savings Program, a NOI charity whose headquarters are listed at Louis Farrakhan’s home address. According to the NOI website, contributions from the charity were used to purchase farmland in Georgia now known as Muhammad Farms. “In 1995 we planted and harvested 76.3 acres of land, including watermelons, cantaloupes, sweet corn, snap beans, okra, yellow squash, zucchini, butternut squash, peas and greens,” the site says.

    1. If they are actually using it for a farm I’m not really any more outraged than I already am about farm subsidies in general.

      1. Come on, PEG that outrage meter.

  11. I like how ABC uses a comment from Ted Cruz’s facebook as a headline. Not a statement by the Senator himself, but a comment some random person made.

    Smear machine is in full gear I guess.

    1. I went to Cruz’s website posting and went – uh… yeah? What are they getting at here?

      1. The second link,

        …particular were widely reported.

  12. It does not say good things about Mandela that he had to be persuaded by members in good standing of some of the most murderous regimes in the world before he would abandon his attacks on markets. For all the criticism of the Pope’s ignorant statements on capitalism, they are in no way as bad as Mandela’s rhetoric (and actual record) of hostility towards capitalism and sympathy towards communism. FFS, he was still spouting the good Marxist word after the Derg, Mugabe, and Angolan communists had murdered millions.

    It is accurate to note that Mandela’s view of government was deeply immoral. (It is also accurate to note that his admirable restraint when in power was far better than was expected by his opponents at the time.)

    1. Is “not as bad as Mugabe” really all it takes to be a hero of freedom? So does that mean Obama will be a hero of freedom soon?

      1. Or Lyndon Johnson? I mean he ended segregation, wasn’t a Communist and Vietnam didn’t kill as many people as WWII so isn’t he a hero of freedom?

      2. I think “not as bad as Mugabe” is a bit of an understatement. Context matters. Had Mandela lived his life in modern America (and still held the same views he did), he wouldn’t be a hero of freedom. But he didn’t. For all his flaws, I think he clearly was a net positive force for freedom. He wouldn’t have been in all contexts, and as the Serious Man and Immaculate Trouser have said, it’s important to acknowledge his shortcomings, but summing up his accomplishments as “not as bad as Mugabe” is selling him a bit short.

        1. Um as far as I can tell the context is that Mandela could have ended like Mugabe but he didn’t so that is why he in the end did more good than bad. So “not as bad as Mugabe” is a good summation.

    2. He really demonstrated poor leadership in addressing corruption and fighting the spread of AIDS.

      Other than that he had the unenviable task of helping millions of people left behind under the apartheid system adjust.

      All in all I’d say his good works outweighed the bad, but it is important for South Africa moving forward to understand and acknowledge the bad.

      1. Mandela sucked as a leader, but that’s far better than being a frighteningly effective commie. I finished reading a history of S Africa hardly a month before Mandela’s death; he really didn’t seem to do much as either President or leader of his organization. TBH, Mandela’s actions as it were are far less important than his lack of action. IMO the most important facts about the man are that he 1) brought attention to his cause through his stay in prison, and 2) that he did not take the familiar Mugabe path to regime stabilization.

        1. the familiar Mugabe path to regime stabilization.

          Interesting that thanks to that his campaign against Ian Smith has been pretty much forgotten.

      2. At least his leadership on AIDS was better than Thabo “AIDS is a syndrome, how could it be caused by one virus” Mbeki.

        While other African countries were implementing ABC (Abstinence, Be faithful, use a Condom) to great success, Mbeki was informing people that AIDS sprung magically from poverty. FUCK. THAT. GUY.

        1. Was he the one that was also claiming that a steady diet of Garlic could cure AIDS?

          1. I don’t know if Mbeki did himself (although I know he had crazy ideas) but I know his health minister said that.

  13. ATTENTION: LOU REED HAS DIED

    Wanted to ensure everyone’s aware that the Lou Reed Mourning Period is still in effect. Don’t want Man-whatshisname’s demise to overshadow the death of at truly GREAT man, who had such a huge impact on society.

    Lou Reed – RIP

    1. What the Hell? Why didn’t somebody tell me?

  14. Also way to be contrarian and controversial on the coverage of Mandela!

  15. This is nothing new, Lenin also advised it when he said “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”

  16. …whether it is calling Obama a “socialist,” Thatcher a “fascist,” or Tea Partiers “anarchists.”

    Why do the Tea Partiers get the good label?

    1. Isn’t Chomsky an “anarchist” as well?

      1. He says he is, but also claims that an anarchy would implode into violence in a second if ever attempted.

        I think he is an intellectual contrarian who has picked a field where noone can ever call him on his oppositional defiance disorder driven “research”.

  17. Is it too early to start taking bets on who will write this years If I Had A Hammer sermon for MLK day? Welch? Gillespie? Maybe this year they’ll give Feeney a crack at it?

    If I could stick my pen in my heart
    Spill it out all over the page

    –Jagger/Richard

    1. If I were Gillespie and Welch I’d keep an eye on new kid. He’s got inside track moves positioning like we haven’t seen in years. Since Weigel, even. Hey, what happened to that guy? Oh, yeah . . .

  18. Correction, Dec. 10, 2013: This article originally misidentified penguins as mammals. They are birds.

    “The Penguin is a mammal, standing as tall as twelve feet in height when fully erect. It lives a generally solitary existence and is a highly efficient nomadic predator, killing and eating seals and other animals. The penguin is a remorseless killing machine, and will unhesitatingly attack, kill, and devour humans… hold on a minute. What? Are you certain? well, really, I wish somebody had told me sooner. I feel ridiculous. That’s it, I’m done. No, you tell them. I’m out.”

  19. often prominent political figures are lazily characterized both during their lives and after their deaths, whether it is calling Obama a “socialist,”

    I trust the classics over a modern media pimp:

    “Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.”
    ? Fr?d?ric Bastiat, The Law

  20. …Mandela had associations with groups that were not sympathetic to capitalism

    Nearly certain that was supposed to be “sympathetic to communism”.

  21. If then, as this article implies, the end in fact does justify the means, will we see a “rewrite all-nighter” party at Reason to do some major Stalinesque ‘corrections’ to previously published articles?

  22. The essence of free mkts is to accept the criticism of others whom you are serving. You cannot have free intercourse without it. But this requires humility, and that Mr Mandela seems to have learned in prison. It should also be mentioned that he was just one of a large number of left-leaning anti-colonialists of his generation, if perhaps the last.

  23. Quoting the only reply there as of this time,

    “Andy10000 wrote:

    “what is needed in San Francisco is rent control, and possibly a city controlled bank. I don’t think blocking buses is very productive or will further the cause of helping lower income people in SF.”

    Yeah, Andy.. you do that and see what happens…

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