Is Nick Clegg clairvoyant? So am I
Someone shared this article on Facebook this morning, Nick Clegg predicted the future with stunning accuracy. I thought it was a pity that his clairvoyance developed only after his disastrous coalition with the Tories.
But when I read my diary of 50 years ago, perhaps I had a bit of clairvoyance of my own. I was far from home, in London, sitting in Brixton bus garage in a break between driving buses between Croydon and the Embankment, under western eyes, and I was reading Joseph Conrad’s Under Western Eyes. And when I finished my shift at 8 pm I stopped at the “Horse and Groom” in Streatham High Street for a sandwich on my way back to my gloomy bed-sit and read this:
In real revolution, not a simple dynastic change or reform of institutions — in a real revolution the best characters do not come to the front. A violent revolution falls into the hands of narrow-minded fanatics and tyrannical hypocrites at first. Afterwards comes the turn of all the pretentious intellectual failures of the time. Such are the chiefs and the leaders. You will notice that I have left out the mere rogues. The scrupulous and the just, the noble, humane and devoted natures; the unselfish and intelligent may begin a movement, but it passes away from them. They are not the leaders of the revolution. They are its victims. The victims of disgust, of disenchantment, often of remorse. Hopes grotesquely betrayed, ideals caricatured, that is the definition of revolutionary success. There have been in every revolution hearts broken by such
And when I got home I wrote in my diary:
And I think that will be the same in the South African revolution. The great men: Albert Luthuli, Bram Fischer, J.H. Hofmeyer, Alan Paton, Nelson Mandela, Robert Sobukwe, Peter Brown and many others the champions of freedom and justice, they, like Moses, will not live to enter the promised land. And when the promised land is entered at last, the promises will be betrayed, hopes destroyed, ideals caricatured. This is almost inevitable, but we carry on just the same. The Lord will provide.
And so it has turned out.
I finished reading the book the following day and read the old man’s description of Natalia Haldin, “It is hard to think I shall never look any more into the trustful eyes of that girl, wedded to an invincible belief in the advent of loving concord, springing like a heavenly flower from the soil of men’s earth, soaked in blood, torn by struggles, watered with tears.”
And that put me in mind of the Ascension Day hymn:
He shall come down like showers upon the fruitful earth;
Love, joy, and hope, like flowers, spring in His path to birth.
Before Him, on the mountains, shall peace, the herald, go,
And righteousness, in fountains, from hill to valley flow.
And so every revolution betrays its children. While we live in this world, this secular age, we can never rest and think that because we have won our freedom we will remain free. The struggle continues. A luta continua. Die stryd duur voort.