Britain's first book blogger (November 2000)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Viva the Bullfrog: Pilger on Mandela, Hitchens on Paine

Mark Curtis' Guardian review of Freedom Next Time, the latest book by John Pilger, features something you don't see very often in the mainstream press: the uncomfortable truth about Nelson Mandela in government:
Pilger writes that as the first liberation president, he ordered a ridiculous and bloody invasion of tiny Lesotho. He allowed South African armaments to be sold to Algeria, Colombia and Peru, which have notorious human rights records. He invited the Indonesian mass murderer General Suharto to South Africa and gave him the country's highest award . . . He recognised the brutal Burmese junta as a legitimate government.
There's also some shocking facts about the economic policies followed by the ANC.
"The unspoken deal," Pilger writes, "was that whites would retain economic control in exchange for black majority rule." Thus secret meetings were held in Britain before 1994 between the current president, Thabo Mbeki, members of the Afrikaner elite and companies with big commercial stakes in the country. Mandela told Pilger: "We do not want to challenge big business that can take fright and take away their money . . . You can call it Thatcherite but, for this country, privatisation is the fundamental policy."
This might explain Christopher Hitchens comments at a recent, poorly-attended lecture on Thomas Paine in Brighton, as described by Donald Clark. After the "lazy pen portrait" of Paine, there was a fractious question and answer session in which Hitchens appeared, to at least one person who attended, tired and emotional:
Q Who, in our own times, has taken up Paine’s causes?
A Perhaps Havel and Mandela. Certainly not that bloated bullfrog who sits astride Venezuela.
Ah yes, we know - with Pilger's help - how that bullfrog differs from those other two.

2 comments:

  1. For me, Chavez is the litmus test.

    If an individual can sneerily trash a government which has been more democratically tested than any other in the world, which has been more vilified than any other, both within and without, and yet does not resort with violence... and yet has introduced measures which have immeasurably improved lives for millions of their own citizens against all the odds? And more to the point against the toad squatting above them?

    I really do hope Hitchens is an old whiskey-soak. For the sort of vile treachery he comes out with about Chavez, its the only even quarter-way reasonable explanation of how he could do it without slitting his throat when he looks in a mirror.

    ReplyDelete
  2. He tried to slit his throat, but was so hogwhimpering he missed.

    I really think he'll be the first person to wet himself onstage at a literary festival.

    ReplyDelete

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