Western Leftists and Third World Sadists

This is a guest post by Paul Bogdanor

Andy Newman is a member of Respect Renewal. He is on the National Steering Committee of the Stop the War Coalition. Recently he paid tribute to a pair of “great socialist heros” [sic].

One of them was a military dictator who banned trade unions and opposition parties. And here is the other:

Samora Machel was a former nurse and the son of a peasant, who became a guerilla leader in the Frelimo army to defeat the brutal Portuguese colonialist rule over Mozambique. He was then elected to became Mozambique’s first president.

Newman’s Machel comes across as a saintly figure:

He was determined to prevent a new elite forming… Machel used to say, there are no small or big people, all people are equal.

All this is nonsense. Machel left no doubt as to his political proclivities. He championed the “wise leadership” of Maoist China, celebrated the “glorious tradition” of Stalinist Vietnam and Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and promised to establish the “dictatorship of the proletariat” under his Frelimo “vanguard” in Mozambique. [1]

Machel was not “elected to became Mozambique’s first president.” He came to power by murdering his rivals:

The accused were given anything between 15 and 80 lashes… Executions were carried out by strangulation, blows with the butt of a rifle, stabbing, or even burning with firebrands. [2]

Machel was not interested in preventing a “new elite.” He was interested in forming a totalitarian elite. His secret police force quickly became notorious for its savagery:

Some 100,000 people are thought to be held in nearly 30 camps on suspicion of opposing Frelimo’s policies. The inmates, including many women and children, are made to work 12 hours a day. The effects of fever, exhaustion and disease are exacerbated by brutal treatment. Beatings and rape by the guards are commonplace in the camps, say the escapers. [3]

A foreign detainee met the victims of Machel’s concentration camps:

Some had owned small businesses or farms; two had owned taxis. The government had simply taken these from them and thrown the owners into prison.

Most had been transferred from Machava Prison, where they had been tortured. They held up swollen and scarred hands to show where knives had been inserted between tied fingers and twisted, so that the knuckles were cut and prized apart. Some had been thrown into chin-deep water in a squatting position and had weights piled on their heads. Others had their faces held over spikes while guards danced on their shoulders – all this to find if they owned more property, or if and where they might have some money hidden. [4]

Witnesses reported seeing inmates reduced to “walking skeletons.” Kept underground, “Many prisoners suffocated to death.” Beatings occurred “invariably twice a day, with whips and sticks.” Under interrogation, a condemned prisoner “was willing to confess anything. All he wanted was to avoid an agonizing death.” Forced labour was “unbearable as we had nothing to eat.” [5]

Any minority that incurred Machel’s displeasure was a target. After Machel personally ordered the imprisonment of Mozambique’s 7,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses – men, women and children – the state media disclosed that many would be “crippled for life” as a result of torture. [6] Even children who refused compulsory “training” in Castro’s Cuba were not spared. “We sent them to re-education camps, for forced labour,” boasted Machel. “Some of them have vanished from schools.” [7]

According to a high-ranking official, “Frelimo had in 12 months of governance proportionally tortured and executed more people than the Portugese in 500 years of colonial rule.” Such criticisms could not go unanswered, so the official was put to death as well. [8]

Needless to say, Machel’s state terrorism had nothing to do with helping the impoverished masses. Quite the contrary: within months of his takeover, Frelimo cadres were “active along the Tanzanian frontier trying to prevent thousands of Mozambiquans escaping from famine.” [9]

Why do Western far leftists admire Third World sadists such as Samora Machel? Why would they make a hero out of a dictator who inflicted systematic torture and murder, concentration camps, religious apartheid, slavery and famine on one of the world’s poorest societies? I can think of two possibilities:

1. They want to impose the same tyranny and commit the same atrocities here.
2. They can’t stomach that kind of regime in Britain but they consider it appropriate for the population of an African country.

If the first explanation is true, they are totalitarian psychopaths. If the second is true, they are obnoxious racists. Which one fits Socialist Unity?

 Perhaps Andy Newman will tell us?


[1] Xinhua General News Service, May 26, 1978.
[2] Joao Cabrita, Mozambique: The Tortuous Road to Democracy (Palgrave, 2000), p50.
[3] Economist, April 23, 1977.
[4] Washington Post, August 14, 1977.
[5] Cabrita, pp98-9.
[6] Ibid., p122.
[7] Ibid., pp93-4.
[8] Ibid., p104.
[9] Economist, March 20, 1976.