New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


The Moment Is Now!

January 15, 2015 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Matt Meyer, Politics

African Civil Resistance in 2015

by Matt Meyer

“I am younger than I was YEARS AGO!” proclaimed South African activist Zenzile Khoisan, known to many around the world as the exiled freedom fighter who spent many years in New York City as an intrepid reporter for Pacifica panpen2radio. A skilled journalist, he returned to his homeland as a lead investigator for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Khoisan’s optimistic outlook in the face of increasingly bleak domestic conditions is not only a grand way to start the new year, or – as it were – to start the first morning plenary of the War Resisters’ International (WRI) conference held at Cape Town’s historic City Hall. It is also symptomatic of the hope still evident in the country with the current highest per capita rate of mass mobilizations, civil society protests, labor strikes, and general unrest. It is a fitting cry of exuberance and excitement from a continent bubbling over with grassroots initiatives and actions in every corner of its vast land mass, built by diverse people who are coming together with growing enthusiasm and a unified perspective that the power of the people – greater than any government or even transnational corporate giant – will be the determining factor in the years to come. (more…)

Becoming Mandela

December 31, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Matt Meyer, Politics

Media and the Making of Future Madibas

by Matt Meyer

Reading through well over one hundred portrayals of Nelson Mandela, and through the extensive comments made on my own “don’t mourn a myth” perspective which urged that we better understand the contradictions inherent in the man, it is hard not to conclude that few are worth a second look. If we are working towards assembling a collection of remembrances which might further the causes Mandela once championed, this month of memorials makes little contributions. Despite a fairly shallow overview in the New York Times Magazine, author Bill Keller was at least correct that Madiba was no saint, and that – in fact – it was his all-too-common human attributes of anger, aging, inconsistency and such that should make it possible for people to “aspire to his example.” (more…)

Memories of Mandela

December 10, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Matt Meyer, Politics

Let’s Not Mourn a Myth

by Matt Meyer

As the world joins together in celebrating the life of Nelson R. Mandela, South Africa’s “Madiba” who symbolizes freedom and dignity in every corner of the planet, let us not make the too-easy mistake of constructing an icon rather than honoring a man. He was, after all, a rather heroic although complicated man — with almost one-third of his life spent as a political prisoner who refused to bend on his most basic beliefs and strategies yet lived to lead a mass movement of international dimensions which put a number of those beliefs into practice.

The mythology comes when we forget about the complications, smooth over the rough edges which actually make his story most meaningful for those looking to continue building movements for lasting and radical social change. (more…)

Remembering Mandela

December 06, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, David Swanson, Politics

What Didn’t Kill Him Made Him Stronger

by David Swanson

Nelson Mandela’s story, if told as a novel, would not be deemed possible in real life.  Worse, we don’t tell such stories in many of our novels.

A violent young rebel is imprisoned for decades but turns that imprisonment into the training he needs.  He turns to negotiation, diplomacy, reconciliation.  He negotiates free elections, and then wins them. He forestalls any counter-revolution by including former enemies in his victory.  He becomes a symbol of the possibility for the sort of radical, lasting change of which violence has proved incapable.  He credits the widespread movement in his country and around the world that changed cultures for the better while he was locked away.  But millions of people look to the example of his personal interactions and decisions as having prevented a blood bath.

Mandela was a rebel before he had a cause.  He was a fighter and a boxer.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu says that South Africa benefited greatly from the fact that Mandela did not emerge from prison earlier: “Had he come out earlier, we would have had the angry, aggressive Madiba. As a result of the experience that he had there, he mellowed. … Suffering either embitters you or, mercifully, ennobles you.  And with Madiba, thankfully for us, the latter happened.” (more…)

BRICS and Sticks

October 02, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Matt Meyer, Politics

Deadly Diamonds, Violence, and the Future of South Africa’s Democracy

by Matt Meyer

As the World Economic Forum summit took place in Cape Town in early May 2013, the question of South Africa’s role on the continent and around the globe came into sharp focus. Though the remarks of Zambian Vice President Guy Scott — that South Africa is disliked among Africans for “the same reason that Latin Americans dislike the United States” — were uncharacteristically undiplomatic, many South Africans were forced to admit that Scott’s impression is increasingly on the mark. With South African National Defense Force (SANDF) troops deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the Central African Republic, in Liberia, Ethiopia, Mozambique, the Sudan, Burundi and elsewhere, it is not surprising that some analysts — such as University KwaZulu-Natal’s Patrick Bond — call South Africa’s current position nothing short of “sub-imperialist.”

A year after the headline-making “Marikana massacre” of 34 striking mineworkers, and the publication of anti-arms trade whistleblower Terry Crawford-Browne’s damning book Eye on the Diamonds (Penguin, 2012) — which asserts that South Africa has been complicit in the marketing of “conflict” or “blood diamonds” — the question emerges: on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the end of apartheid and next year’s South African Presidential elections, what does the future hold for this symbol of continental resistance and revolution? (more…)

Roots to Fruits

September 24, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Matt Meyer, Politics

Gandhi, Luthuli, and Contemporary South African Nonviolence

by Matt Meyer

An historic gathering of South African activists, U.S.-based civil rights veterans, Indians involved in various constructive programs, and assorted other internationalists convened in Durban last August for a conference on Roots to Fruits: Nonviolence in ActionSponsored by the Gandhi Development Trust and Satyagraha newspaper, and organized by Ela Gandhi — a lifelong African National Congress (ANC) leader, former Parliamentarian, and grand-daughter of Mohandas K. Gandhi — the three-day event brought together over one hundred educators, students, community leaders, politicians, and religious figures to discuss the future of nonviolence on a global scale. With a wide diversity of viewpoints on the meaning and contemporary significance of nonviolence — from a tactic for militant resistance to a philosophy which sometimes helps adherents tacitly adjust to the status quo — the best part of the gathering was the networking possibilities amongst a strong and energetic grouping of participants.

One poignant moment which spotlighted the occasionally divergent viewpoints began with a talk from Kirti Menon, Registrar of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Speaking as an administrator about the difficulties of balancing individual rights with the need to maintain a calm space for building higher education, Menon — a great-granddaughter of the Mahatma — noted that often “the room for negotiating is so tight that it is like walking through a tunnel.” (more…)

AFRICOM 2012

April 13, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Matt Meyer, Politics

Resisting All Armies, Not Just Kony’s

by Matt Meyer

We can come to quick consensus that Uganda’s Joseph Kony is a bad man. And while we’re not looking to separate the world into friends and enemies, we can probably get just about everyone to agree that Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has been doing some pretty heinous things — crimes against humanity, in international legal terms. The question, then, in this interconnected, faster-than-the-speed-of-Internet world, is what to do about him and the conditions which enable him to continue?

In the viral video “KONY 2012” by the US-based non-governmental group Invisible Children, filmmaker Jason tells his young son Gavin — and the audience of over 100 million who have now viewed his slickly-produced half hour infomercial — that our electronic, Facebook-age “greatest desire” is to belong and connect… to share the love.” I am also a US-based father with a son only slightly older than Gavin, I too have traveled to and long worked for peace and justice in Africa, and I agree strongly with Jason that the only appropriate answer to the every-person question “Who are you to end a war?” is: “Who are you not to?” We are, as Jason suggests, every last one of us shaping human history nearly every day. What, then, will be the world’s new shape? (more…)