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Monday, February 03, 2014


It took me a considerable period of time to adequately reflect on Nelson Mandela’s life following his death on Thursday, December 5th, 2013.

My breakthrough came through a circuitous route; I stumbled upon a hard copy of Jack London’s 1904 novel “The Sea Wolf” in an antique store and carefully read it while on a relaxing week long ski trip. Though it was a failure as a novel, “The Sea wolf” is a masterful description of a world ruled by supermen, heroic loners who rose above the pack to dominate it. The “sea wolf” of London’s book is Wolf Larson, the intelligent, self-educated, yet cynical and ruthless seal poaching captain of the “Ghost”, a rugged individualist who is law unto himself and rejects the idea of any world beyond. At the same time, he expresses that the beauty of the natural world, his well developed ego, his knowledge of right and wrong, and his clear & far sighted vision make him want to believe in God… while never fully arriving.

Mandela lead the “Umkhonto we Sizwe” (meaning “spear of the nation”), the military wing of the African National Congress (formed in 1912) from the spear’s inception in 1961, targeting and sabotaging government installations. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and convicted of sabotage and imprisoned in 1964, becoming the living symbol of resistance to Apartheid (an Africaans word meaning “the state of being apart”, the system of racial segregation that existed within The Republic of South Africa.

So how did the leader of the military resistance, the Che Guevara of South Africa, eventually become the first black leader of South Africa? The answer is hinted within his story, as revealed in the television documentary “The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela”. The prison library, in combination with Mandela’s thirst for knowledge and understanding, gave Mandela a clear understanding of the meaning of a democratic republic such as our own United States of America.

The education of Mandela (whether planned or accidental) was very likely the key to his leadership in bringing South Africa together decades later. Unlike Wolf Larson, who was Lucifer incarnate to the end, Mandela eventually emulated Dr. Martin Luther King’s non-violent approach to resistance of racial oppression, becoming the beloved figurehead that allowed the healing and reconciliation that was sought by both whites and blacks after decades of the horrors of guerilla warfare.


Self education will also be key to reversing the trend within our own country from protectionism to socialism so as to prevent the subsequent natural progression to communism and fascism, as predicted by Freiderick Bastiat in his 1850 classic “The Law” (three stages of “legal plunder”, protectionism, socialism, and communism) and by Frederich A. von Hayek in his 1944 classic “The Road to Serfdom” (fascism, the exaltation of nation and race through dictatorial suppression of opposition, is the fourth stage reached after communism has proved an illusion). We must learn from Mandela’s example or suffer needlessly under a totalitarian rule that is currently lapping at the shores of freedom.

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