by Albert Brenner
Any person sound of mind must be truly perplexed by Mandela`s lightning-fast deification… given the fact that he basically sat in a locked room for 27 years whilst, occasionally, hitting stones into smaller stones.
It is as if he was somehow `anticipated` by History – predestined, so to speak, to assume a `future` role engendered by a blooming (pun intended) Zeitgeist during his time in jail … and notbecause he was in jail. For he, as an individual, certainly did not do anything before and during his imprisonment to even remotely deserve all the god-like accolades bestowed on him.
Is this possible? I mean; is it possible that History can `anticipate` someone … Mandela in this case?
Well, according to (Husserlian) phenomenology, it is inevitable… given the right circumstances. For, according to Edmund Husserl, subjective experience can only be made objective through ideal meanings.
Meaning that the ever-subjective experiences of any individual, like you and me, are always `mediated/filtered` by ideal types/meanings engendered by the socio-cultural world we find ourselves embedded in.
For example, take the phenomenon of lightning. A typical traditional Westerner walking on the High Veld will –upon seeing a flash of lightning – give an ideal meaning to this (his/her) subjective experience via the instrumental reason inherent in Western Science. In other words, it was an electrical discharge – the ideal meaning, causality.
A typical traditional African walking on the High Veld will – upon seeing a flash of lightning – give an ideal meaning to this (his/her) subjective experience via basic social-bound strategic reasoning. In other words, the lightning struck because the (dead) forefathers are angry… and therefore need to be appeased – usually by sending the chief`s witch-doctor to kill one of the former`s opponents.
Be that as it may, where does god-Mandela fit in here? Well, it was his very absence that turned him into the `god` (the ideal meaning of, inter alia, morality) `anticipated` by History.
For whilst there, he never had to get his hands `dirty` like, for example, Thatcher, Kohl and Reagan did or, for that matter, Castro, Khrushchev and Ho Chi Min… in order to fight the Cold War.
Just imagine if Mandela had not been incarcerated in 1964 and had, instead, been democratically elected to be the President of South Africa in 1964.
Do you really think that, given his communist leanings, his great friends and backers like, Castro, Khrushchev, Joe Slovo (a KGB colonel), Ronny Kasrils et cetera, that the zealously-capitalist Americans and, especially, the Anglo-Saxon mine owners in South Africa would have sat idly by if he, Mandela, did exactly what he had written about in his only original, albeit very trite, intellectual piece called How to be a Good Communist?
I think not!
Inversely; do you really think the KGB, Chris Hani, Joe Slovo, Ronnie Kasrils, Castro et ceterawould have sat idly by if Mandela had gone all neo-liberal (as he did in 1994) on them … at the height of the Cold War in 1964?
I think not!
This just illustrates that Mandela`s absence from real life (i.e. his time in jail) was his saving grace… his path to deification. For, as mentioned before, it allowed him the space not to get his hands dirty by having had to make tough decisions during a very difficult and inherently viscous period in History, the Cold War.
Now, given the fact that Pax Americana won – and became the, hitherto, unchallenged ruling morality of planet Earth – it, the Sheeple, needed a secular-humanist `ideal meaning `, a Messiah (after a symbolic `ordeal` in the desert) – to embody (i.e. to `become the flesh` of) this new `eternal` utopia.
The exact neo-liberal utopia Francis Fukuyama tried to peddle with his rather boring book calledThe End of History and the Last man.
Be that as it may; the West – after having sighed a collective sigh of relief after they had won this very dirty war – desperately needed an ideal meaning to consolidate its moral superiority… someone `unmarked/unblemished` by the bitter war they had just won.
We can, as mentioned before, only make subjective experiences objective through ideal meanings. This includes moral phenomena, of course.
So who better to step up to the (moral) plate than South Africa`s own Rip van Winkle – theegomaniacal Xhosa goat herder from Quonu – whose hands and soul appeared ever sounstained… simply because he sat in a locked room for 27 years whilst, occasionally, hitting small stones into smaller stones.