13 May, 2010 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal
[The following address — the fourth Strini Moodley Annual Memorial Lecture, held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on May 13, 2010 – was delivered by renowned South African revolutionary socialist and theorist Neville Alexander. From 1964 to 1974 he was imprisoned on Robben Island. Strinivasa Rajoo “Strini” Moodley (December 22, 1945–April 27, 2006) was a founding member of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa. In 1976, he was convicted of terrorism in a trial involving members of the South African Students’ Organisation and the Black People’s Convention, and imprisoned on Robben Island. The speech is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Neville Alexander’s permission.]
In her historical novel, A Place of Greater Safety, which is played out against the backdrop of the Great French Revolution through an illuminating character analysis and synthesis of three of that revolution’s most prominent personalities, viz., Maximilien Robespierre, Georges-Jacques Danton and Camile Desmoulins, Hilary Mantel imagines the following conversation between Lucile Desmoulins and Danton:
So has the Revolution a philosophy, Lucile wanted to know, has it a future? She dared not ask Robespierre, or he would lecture her for the afternoon on the General Will: or Camile, for fear of a thoughtful and coherent two hours on the development of the Roman republic.
So she asked Danton.
“Oh, I think it has a philosophy”, he said seriously. “Grab what you can, and get out while the going’s good”