I recently stumbled across an article in the (God-awful) Guardian from a few years ago, which offered the ’10 best revolutionaries’ in history:
The author appears to have completely over-looked one such fellow however:
With his people suffering under a corrupt racist and extremist government, and their attempts at finding a peaceful solution mockingly dismissed, one man decided it was time for action. Blessed with steely determination, dynamism and the ability to inspire undying loyalty in others, he risked all to take on the ghastly, authoritarian regime. Giving up his comfortable life, and though by no means a trained soldier, he personally led a few hundred revolutionaries in a romantic, but ultimately doomed, attempt to topple the oppressors.
Outnumbered, surrounded, and abandoned by their friends, the insurgents surrendered. Their charismatic leader was dragged away, tried and thrown into jail. Though his attempts at reform were unsuccessful, the oppressive regime was so rotten and inherently unfair that it collapsed within a few years, though not before its leaders embarked on an unsuccessful war in a last-ditch attempt to cement their ’Chosen People’ in power. The odious regime defeated, the revolutionary’s people gained the right to vote that they desired, and he, his jail sentence over by then, was subsequently democratically elected to high political office.
But who could this heroic revolutionary be?
Who is it that risked his life, and suffered such punishment, in a fight for democracy?
Mandela? Che Guevara? Zapata? Castro? Gandhi? Garibaldi[i]?
Whoever he was, this was a champion of freedom – not just an armchair revolutionary, but one who risked his life in a struggle against oppression, racism and authoritarianism.
Such a man can only possibly be a darling of the modern-day Left? Surely he must be the poster-boy for all student radicals and red-rimmed-glasses-wearing Islington liberals?
Or so you would think.
In fact, the man in question was Dr Leander Starr Jameson, thorn in the side of Kruger’s ghastly Transvaal republic in the late 1890s. Even though Kruger’s corrupt regime was, in every possible way, even more repellent than the later Apartheid government, the reason why ‘The Doctor’ (or ‘Dr Jim’) didn’t make the Guardian list – and why he is not venerated by today’s woke Brigade – is that he was not a republican or a Communist. But worse still (in the eyes of such people), is that he struggled and fought (and was sent to jail) in an attempt to gain a fair franchise / human rights / liberty for… wait for it: English-speaking people of British extraction – which is presumably some sort of unpardonable sin.
In the 1890s, Johannesburg’s English-speaking Uitlanders were in a remarkably similar position to the non-whites of South Africa a couple of generations later: persecuted, discriminated against, denied the vote, and hammered down by a minority, Afrikaans-dominated Government. But for some reason, history has not been kind to Dr Jim, the man who risked it all for the Uitlanders – though I don’t imagine he’d have been too pleased to have ended up on a list of people admired by the Guardian in any case.
[i] Interestingly, Garibaldi’s grandson, Brigadier-General Giuseppe ‘Peppino’ Garibaldi II (1879 – 1950), volunteered for service with the British army in the Boer War, and fought with distinction in that conflict. He went on to become a Brigadier in the French Foreign Legion during the Great War.