Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

October 25, 2012

Ronnie Kasrils book party

Filed under: South Africa — louisproyect @ 7:34 pm

As is the case with just about everything I do except computer programming, videography is but an avocation. As a highly motivated amateur, I hope that I make up for what I lack technically with a good sense of what people would find interesting.

Given that criterion, I was extremely pleased to discover that a NY Times article on Golden Dawn in Astoria linked to a video I made of a rally against the neo-Nazi group on October 9th. In the paragraph below from the Times article, the “teach-in” link is to my video report on the event.

Because it was not possible to speak in detail about Golden Dawn New York, the gathering became a kind of teach-in, with academics lecturing on Greek history in the post-Nazi era, what was called the failure of European immigration policy and the symbiotic relationship between Golden Dawn in Greece and the Greek power structure.

Just as the prospects of a rally in Astoria against Golden Dawn suggested to me that something newsworthy was afoot, I was fortunate enough to follow my instincts and go to a book party for Ronnie Kasril’s “The Unlikely Secret Agent” last Monday night armed with my trusty JVC GY-HM150U camcorder that can best be described as a mixture of the professional and the amateur—just like me, come to think of it.

I was really looking forward to meeting Ronnie since “The Unlikely Secret Agent” that deals with his wife’s escape from a South African mental hospital in 1963 was about as great a read as I’ve had this year. So great in fact that I wasted no time and followed it up with Ronnie’s memoir “Armed and Dangerous”. I reviewed both books here.

I was not disappointed. Ronnie Kasrils is not only an important veteran of one of the greatest freedom struggles of the past 50 years but gifted with an ability to write and speak about his experiences in a completely riveting manner. And even more importantly, he is one of the highest profile veterans of the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party to have mounted a critique of governmental abuse of the very people who were instrumental in bringing it to power.

While I am sure that Ronnie would have been compelling in his own right, the evening benefited by his interaction with interviewer Danny Schechter who has known and worked with Ronnie ever since the days he was a student at the London School of Economics. Ronnie’s role there was as an “outside agitator”, reminding me of my own interventions at Harvard in the early 1970s.

Schechter is a masterful interviewer, a craft developed over the years in both television and radio. In the 1980s he produced South Africa Now, a weekly show on WABC TV that ran just after Gil Noble’s show. It was some of the best TV that could be seen at the time and a crucial aid in the fight against apartheid.

For those puzzling over the crisis in South Africa today, I can think of no better introduction to its origins than this conversation between two seasoned activists. Send a link to this report far and wide since it deserves the widest attention. Hear that, NY Times?


  1. […] •Video: Ronnie Kasrils of South Africa Speaks at Riverside Church […]

    Pingback by Mega Storm Warning, The Obama Kill Unit, Making A Film About DeWitt Clinton HS And Public Education — October 26, 2012 @ 11:26 am

  2. […] •Louis Proyect writes about my conversation last week with ANC leader and former Minister Ronnie Kasrils. He also did this video: […]

    Pingback by Hurricane Bohemoth (new Sandy) Threatens Armageddon, Land Of Hope and Dreams — October 28, 2012 @ 10:19 am

  3. Hello, Mr. Proyect. I happened upon your site as I was trying to get hold of a reasonably priced copy of Ronnie Kasril’s Armed and Dangerous. A SAfrican friend of mine lent it to me with a stern warning for its return and then my husband got engrossed and lost it. It seems to be out of print and only used for between 30 and 50 euros. Is there any European bookstore where it might be found. Thank you, Donna Carrere. PS incidentally, we live on and island in Greece with daily contamination by Golden Dawn.

    Comment by Donna Carrere — December 28, 2012 @ 10:13 am

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