To: The Editorial Collective, Radical Philosophy:
David Cunningham, Department of English, University of Westminster
Howard Feather, Sociology, London Metropolitan University
Peter Hallward, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Esther Leslie, Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London
Stewart Martin, Visual Culture, Middlesex University
Mark Neocleous, Politics, Brunel University
Peter Osborne, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Stella Sandford, Philosophy, Middlesex University
Kaye Mitchell, English, University of Manchester
Claudia Aradau, Politics and International Relations, Open University
From: Anthony Brink, per email
6 October 2008
Mesdames and Gentlemen
I write regarding your contributor Ronald Suresh Roberts, whose piece ‘Beware electocrats: Naomi Klein on South Africa’ in the July/August 2008 issue of Radical Philosophy, has just been brought to my attention.
Roberts recommends that for an explication of the ‘logic [of] Mbeki’s … AIDS polic[y]’, you should ‘See my book, written with Mbeki’s cooperation, Fit to Govern: The Native Intelligence of Thabo Mbeki, STE, Johannesburg, 2007.’ Apart from being untrue in the middle, you may have some practical difficulty with following this suggestion. But even if you don’t, Mbeki would prefer you didn’t.
In the opening line of his first AIDS chapter, Roberts stated the nut of his argument: ‘Thabo Mbeki is not now, nor has he ever been, an AIDS dissident.’ In this connection I refer you to a letter I wrote (PDF, 170 kB) to Professor Allan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School in June (which Noam Chomsky thought a ‘Fine letter, and very appropriate’, as did Norman Finkelstein: ‘A thumbs up from Chomsky is the best way to start the day’). You’ll learn from it that after reading my extensive critical analysis, Lying and Thieving: The fraudulent scholarship of Ronald Suresh Roberts (free online at www.lyingandthieving.com), showing how Roberts had fabricated and falsified the history of Mbeki’s intellectual and political engagement with AIDS, and also massively plagiarized my own work, STE Publishers cancelled the second impression of his best-selling book, then about to go to print, and its editor, the English historian and author Dr James Sanders, judged it ‘the most serious case of plagiarism and literary fraud in South African literary history’. Fit to Govern is consequently probably out of print by now (only a couple of hundred copies were still unsold in November when his embarrassed publisher killed it), and this is why it might be hard to ‘See’.
Concerning Roberts’s claim that he wrote his book ‘with Mbeki’s cooperation’, implying that he received his ongoing input, this lie is examined and debunked in Lying and Thieving, relevant excerpts of which (PDF, 162 kB) I’ve filleted and spliced for easy reference. To the extent that Roberts intended to imply that Mbeki authorized his published book, and that he approved his representation of his stance on AIDS in particular, my letter to Dershowitz mentions how, contrariwise, Mbeki forthrightly rejected it. This is detailed in ‘Mbeki’s “Castro Hlongwane” bombshell’ in the Addendum to Lying and Thieving and further in the book’s new Endnote, both of which can be read as stand-alone excerpts on the book’s website.
In the month that Roberts’s piece appeared in your journal, the Press Ombudsman’s Panel was upholding my plagiarism charges reported by The Weekender on its front page as the week’s lead story on 17 November. Although Roberts responded by announcing that he would appeal, he hasn’t done so, and for obvious reasons. In view of the clear evidence that he’s a profligate intellectual thief laid out in cold print for all to see, he can’t afford further confirmation of this by the Press Appeals Panel, chaired by Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Ralph Zulman.
Roberts writes in your journal:
On AIDS policy, in particular, Mbeki has steadfastly resisted the Big Pharma disaster capitalist logic, peddled by Jeffrey Sachs himself, who advocates a medical form of shock therapy in the form of massive drug-buying binges – a strategy criticized by William Easterley in The White Man’s Burden. And yet, despite her generally unremitting criticisms of Sachs, Klein gives Mbeki no credit here, scared away as she is by the propaganda that has caricatured his position as an ill-defined ‘AIDS denialism’.
Although I’m sure this is terribly brilliant academic writing, showing how erudite the author is too, one really strains to find its meaning. Anyway, we see Roberts persisting with his fake theses at the core of his now junked book that at the start of his Presidency all Mbeki sought to do was moderate government spending on ARV drugs a bit, when in truth he rejected them absolutely and unambiguously as dangerously toxic and therapeutically useless; and furthermore he’s not actually a dissident on AIDS, as everyone has misunderstood him to be – everyone except Roberts. Only, as noted above, Mbeki himself has moved to refute these lies, and Roberts knows it full well.
Lying and Thieving provides numerous examples of how Roberts habitually projects his personal and professional shortcomings on those he’s criticizing, and his demeaning suggestion that Klein was ‘scared away … by the propaganda that has caricatured [Mbeki’s] position as an ill-defined “AIDS denialism”’ is the latest instance of this. In truth it was Roberts who shied away from telling it like it is concerning Mbeki’s thinking on AIDS and ARVs for fear of being branded with that ultimately foul epithet in contemporary trendy political discourse: ‘AIDS denialist’. In contradistinction, though he’s with Roberts on the side of the believers (in ARVs, and that Africans are riddled with a sex-virus they originally got from monkeys and which they have caught because they have too much sex with far too many lovers and don’t care to rubberize their members), Mark Gevisser honestly stated in his biography Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred that Mbeki ‘wished the record to reflect that … he was now, as he had been since 1999, an AIDS dissident’ – which statement Mbeki wrote to Gevisser specifically to confirm shortly after the book came out.
In the premises, it would seem sensible that when accepting contributions from this fellow in future, you be especially vigilant against publishing more untruthful claims of fact made by him in his writing, such as you have already published, for he’s an incorrigible liar, lest he reduce the reputation of your journal for honest, informative, reliable discourse to par with his own in South Africa these days.
And believe me, you don’t want to sink that low.