Mandela – “Emperor Without Clothes” of A Paper Empire That Never Was


Mandela’s Empire
by Albert Brenner from Dark Matter Journal

Bearing an analogy derived from Jorge Luis Borges’ “On Exactitude in Science,” Baudrillard endeavoured to colloquialize his conceptualization of (sophist) simulacra into the language of the layman.

In this specific analogy, he explained how a great empire was created whilst, simultaneously, a map was created to cartographically plot the former/original creation. As this real-world empire grew in size and might, so did its symbolic representation—the map—until it, the map, eventually assumed the exact same dimensions as the original. Then this empire crumbled into dust . . . as do all empires.
All that was left of this once magnificent empire was the map minutely depicting its original splendour, on paper.

This is exactly what the so-called New South Africa is all about. It is not real. It is a simulacrum – a virtual MSM/popular-culture representation of a map, an abstract symbol, outlining an empire most magnificent in splendour . . . that never was.

21st century (moral) South Africa is simply an aggregate of (Western) narratives—linguistic symbols signifying an all-conflating signified that never was: Nelson Mandela, the proverbial “Emperor without Clothes.”

Mandela, like his Noble Savage Empire, the Rainbow Nation, is not real. He is simply the feel-good projection of the Oedipusian “anger, forlornness and despair” that postmodern Westerners have been experiencing ever since they slew their erstwhile Father, the Christian God.

Be that as it may; Mandela, the Wits-educated Xhosa goat-herder from Qunu, has wittingly (and hubristically) taken on the mantle of Emperor of a map-empire that was not of his making.
Let us be frank here; Mandela sat in a locked room for 27 years whilst, occasionally, hitting stones into smaller stones. Apart from that, he wrote only one original text called How to be a Good Communist.

Nothing more, nothing less.

That said; what exactly – in (the) physical reality, in/of South Africa – still remotely, inversely represents the map called Mandelatopia accurately? Slow genocide(1) of Boer farmers, endemic corruption, nepotism, cronyism, rape, murder and mayhem are what the real is in South Africa. Not the map . . . not Mandelatopia.

Yet he has attained god-like status among the feeble-minded. How? Being the integer of the (Western) narratives of de-colonialization, capitalism (neo-liberalism, now) versus communism and postmodern body/identity politics, Mandela just had to sit back (as he did in jail), bide his time letting the precession of simulacra solidify – and await the outcome of the great moral struggles of the West.

And that he did. Pax Americana won. The Berlin Wall fell. And seeing that the winner writes morality, the god-Man (conveniently) forgot “how to be a good communist” . . .  and assumed the Emperor`s neo-liberal clothes, rewarded with the Nobel Prize for Peace for all those stones he so painstakingly turned into smaller stones.

And now here we stand, in the real South Africa. It is a bloody mess. A typical post-colonial African failed-state in the making. And we only have the map—the map of an empire that never was and never will be.

But yet we persist, desperately holding onto that promise of paradise. As if this map is our only Salvation. For this map has become the new Bible. A holy script presaging and, retrospectively, validating the new Messiah—a secular-humanist God, the Noble Savage goat-herder who will lead us to La La Land.

And this will be our ultimate undoing, for forsaking the Future to placate the Present will only unleash that which had no place in History in the first place . . . for as Baudrillard also said: “. . . it is the map that engenders the territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map.“


The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth —
it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true.
– Jean Baudrillard 


(1) See for details

Enjoyed this post? Share it!