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‘Only one man in a large army’

It seems like just yesterday.

Of course, in all the celebrations, no-one will raise the rather embarrassing fact that, throughout the Apartheid era, most Western governments entirely supported the racist regime’s assessment of the ANC leader as a dangerous criminal. Indeed, it was only in 2008 that the US removed Mandela from its terrorist watch list.

Certainly, here in Australia, John Howard and most of the Liberal Party always opposed the ANC call for a cultural and economic boycott of South Africa, while desperately promoting all kinds of dubious collaborators as alternatives to Mandela. The victory over apartheid was, in other words, the result of mass action, not only in South Africa but here in Australia, too. This clip from NZ gives a taste of what that struggle involved.

Which brings us to another Specials track. This one’s particularly relevant to Melbourne, where, in response to Ted Ballieu’s (!) acknowledgement of racial violence in the city, Education Minister Bronwyn Pike had this to say:

Ted Baillieu has called Victorians racist, I’d like to ask Ted Baillieu to name those racist people, maybe it’s my next door neighbour, maybe it’s someone’s mum and dad, maybe it’s somebody’s friends.

Yes, indeed. Maybe it is.


Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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Jeff Sparrow is the former editor of Overland. He is the co-author (with Jill Sparrow) of Radical Melbourne: A Secret History and Radical Melbourne 2: The Enemy Within, the editor (with Antony Loewenstein) of Left Turn: Essays for the New Left and the author of Communism: a love story, Killing: Misadventures in violence, and Money Shot: A Journey into Censorship and Porn.  On Twitter, he's @Jeff_Sparrow.

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  1. ‘The victory over apartheid was, in other words, the result of mass action, not only in South Africa but here in Australia, too.’ Yes! How do we build that again?

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