Mark Ames in Jacobin:
Although a reactionary, Naipaul was never a lackey like today’s right-wing “intellectuals”; he never shied away from describing the brutality of colonialism (unlike bootlicking scum like Dinesh D’Souza, who never missed an opportunity to glorify his white right-wing masters for colonizing India, despite the tens of millions of Indians who died of famine in the Raj).
And at last Cleaver stood up. He was tall beside the CIA man. He was paunchy now, even a little soft-bellied. His blue shirt had a white collar and his dark red tie hung down long. The touch of style was reassuring.
Somebody asked about his political ambitions. He said he wanted to get on the Berkeley city council. And then, inevitably, someone asked about his attitude to welfare. His reply was tired; he gave the impression of having spoken the words many times before. “I’m passionately opposed to the welfare system because it’s made people a parasitic dependency on the federal system. . . . I want to see black people plugged into the economic system. . . . Welfare is a stepping-stone to socialism because it teaches people the government is going to solve our problems.”
That was more or less it. It seemed to be all that was required of “Eldridge,” that statement about socialism and welfare. And soon the session was declared closed. A repeat began to be prepared. As in a fair, shows were done over and over again, and in between business was drummed up.
Naipaul is so affected by the sight of this conquered, lobotomized-Republican Eldridge Cleaver that he goes back again to Cleaver’s Black Panther days and finds himself not just empathizing but actually appreciating Cleaver’s literary and intellectual talents, something Naipaul couldn’t see back in the sixties:
. . . Away from the dark corner, Cleaver, placid, gray-haired, leaned against a wall. Two or three journalists went to him. But the very simplicity of the man on display made the journalists ask only the obvious questions, questions that had already been asked.