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Publication Details

Reference
Alexander, Neville  (2001) Language Policy, Symbolic power and the democratic responsibility of the post-apartheid university. D.C.S.Oosthuizen Memorial Lecture : 1-13.

Summary
We meet at an ominous moment . At the dawn of the 21st century C. E., the world is once again facing the very real danger of a world war, a war, moreover, in which the likelihood of the deployment of nuclear arms by the belligerents cannot be excluded. Like most thinking people all over the world, we have all probably spent sleepless nights wondering why this has happened. Most of us have thought about the terrifying fate awaiting our children and our grandchildren. The dream of a world in which peace and prosperity would prevail, that vision springing directly from the hearts of every new generation appears to have receded even further into the mists of fantasy. As in all wars of aggression, the responsibility of those who declare them is enormous. Besides the carnage and the insane destruction of material structures and goods, the collateral brutalisation of all who are even remotely touched by the events sends humanity back to square one every time.

At a moment such as this, enlightened South Africans should ask themselves why we should even pretend to be in favour of such a “war”, even if it is supposed to be waged against the revolutionary delusions of terrorism and against those states which knowingly harbour such desperadoes. All of us, I am sure, oppose all acts of terror directed against unsuspecting civilians, men, women and children. Ways of preventing acts of desperation such as those that were indelibly imprinted onto the memories of this generation by the incessant repetition of the televised “live” explosions and implosions, have to be found in the longer term policies of those states which have become the targets of such terrorist strategies. It is, after all, really the case that the decisive question in this event taken as a whole, is why people have been driven to such suicidal and homicidal tactics. That is the question which every adult person on the planet should be trying to find the answers to urgently, unless we are willing to allow humanity to slide into nuclear extinction by default. In the short term, however, we cannot support a war against peoples who are victims of circumstances and who, like so many other waves of refugees, are now forced to flee and to eat the bitter bread of exile. This is, to put it mildly, no solution at all. Indeed, the risk of what people have called the “third world war” turning into a war against the “third world” is not only a real possibility; for many people in the economic South of the world, this is exactly what is being planned in a scenario where life seems to be imitating sociology and Samuel Huntington’s nightmarish predictions have become our reality.


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