He is smiling broadly and is surrounded by jubilant South African schoolchildren. He also has his fist in the air, as do the kids. This mix of empowerment and joyousness typified the Mandela persona.

He was a hero of mine since college, when I was active in the anti-apartheid movement. I used to wear a button on my lumber jacket with his face on it and the slogan "Freedom for the People of South Africa."

I vividly remember seeing him walk out of prison on February 11, 1990. He emerged, in suit and tie, with clenched fist in the air, and said, "Amandla!" (Power!)

Back then, June Jordan, the defiant poet and essayist, wrote a column for The Progressive about how exhilarating it was to see Mandela free at last. In her piece, "Mandela and the Kingdom Come," (PDF) she wrote: "I am crying because I am overwhelmed by victory."

He wasn't perfect. As Naomi Klein has written in her indispensable "Shock Doctrine," he allowed the IMF and Washington to curtail his dreams of economic justice for the poor majority of South Africans.

But as a symbol of resistance and resoluteness and courage and forgiveness, he was part Muhammad Ali, part Aung San Suu Kyi, and part Lincoln.

We won't see his likes again.


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Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

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