There is a theme I'm seeing over and over in the coverage of Mandela's funeral - in everything from mainstream press, to "expert" commentators both inside and outside the press, and essays on the left. People note how brilliant, effective, humane, democratic, strategic, etc. Mandela was when leading the resistance movement. Then they note that he was less effective, less strategic, less brilliant, less democratic as president. (Those on the left add that he began collaborating with international corporations, imperialist or otherwise disreputable states, etc.) And then they move onto how much this negative trend has continued and in some cases wonder whether there is a leader who can bring South Africa back to the excitement and progress of the revolution.
What is striking is that everyone takes this history to reflect on Mandela, on Mandela's legacy as a person. It is if the main observation is that this guy was great for a time and only good later, to be followed by people who were massively worse. And so we are led to take from this the lesson that we need to find someone who is as he was earlier but able to maintain this disciplined humanity as president.
No one that I have seen has so much as entertained the possibility that this difference might imply not changes in Mandela, but the difference between democratic voluntary movement coalitions and institutionalized states, even ones with marvelous constitutions like that of South Africa. If we did consider seriously this other possibility - that it is the structures that were the independent variable in this experiment - might we possibly be led to the thought that the way such revolutions are organized is a better model for society than the way states are?