By Stephen C. Webster on December 06, 2013

Appearing on Fox News Thursday night, former Senator Rick Santorum insisted that Nelson Mandela's struggle against the South African apartheid regime is similar to the Republican Party's opposition to Obamacare.

"He was a communist, this man," O'Reilly said. "He was a communist. But he was a great man. What he did for his people was stunning! He was a great man! But he was a communist."

"You're right," Santorum said. "What he was advocating for was not necessarily the right answer, but he was fighting against a great injustice. I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country, with the ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people's lives, and Obamacare is front and center in that."

To be clear, Mandela was a revolutionary and a democratic socialist. He was president of the African National Congress (ANC) and secretary-general of the non-aligned movement -- a group of mostly third world countries that included Cuba. According to Fidel Castro, that group existed to ensure "the national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and security of non-aligned countries" which belonged to no major power block, in their "struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference, or hegemony."

Despite the affiliation, as president Mandela ruled South Africa through his ANC party, which CNN pointed out on Friday is explicitly not a communist organization.

The party's movement away from democratic socialism was largely due to the pressures placed upon Mandela's government by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which undermined his dream of economic justice through redistribution and convinced Mandela's successors to embrace capitalism, privatization and corporate control of the nation's economy.

"So, instead of their policy of 'growth through redistribution,' the ANC, particularly under President Thabo Mbeki, adopted the cookie-cutter economic program of trying to 'grow' the economy by pleasing foreign investors: mass privatizations, lay-offs and wage cuts in the public sector, corporate tax cuts, and the like," author Naomi Klein wrote in 2001.

As for Santorum, comparing affordable health care administered by the private sector to the horror of apartheid is about as tone deaf as a someone can get. Then again, for a guy who clearly told an audience in 2012 that he does not want to help black people -- only to later correct himself by claiming he really said "blah people" -- his face-numbing analogy might actually be an improvement.

This video from Fox News aired Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013.

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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).


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