English crafted writing:
1. Would people be so eager to send young men and women to war today? What would the arguments be for and against doing this? In a debate on the matter, what would your position be? Explore this…
Statement of intent:
If you were John Key and you had to defend your choice in parliament. Write his speech.
I am going to write a speech that defends the argument of not sending our young men and women into war. I want to explain how
Points to why a war isn’t big news elsewhere:
– It’s just the SNR (signal to noise ratio). When a country has a terrorist attack a week, it stops being news. When one happens somewhere it doesn’t usually, it’s a big surprise. Socioeconomic bias plays a part in it, but I’d pin this particular phenomena more readily on the simple way humans filter information. We have two categories in our minds: places where bad things happen, and places where bad things don’t. When a bad thing happens somewhere that, in our mind, they don’t, it grabs our attention (and the attention of news editors) and becomes big news.
– Once we’re set up with this state of believing third world residents as culpable for their own situation, we’re already primed to respond unsympathetically when we hear of other suffering.
– We live in a world that is simultaneously shrinking and expanding, growing closer and farther apart….National borders are increasingly irrelevant. And yet globalism is by no means triumphant. Tribalisms of all kinds flourish. Irredentism abounds (Attali, 1991: 117).
– Because of the great increase in the traffic in culture, the large-scale transfer of meaning systems and symbolic forms, the world is increasingly becoming one not only in political and economic terms…,but in terms of its cultural construction as well; a global ecumene of persistent cultural interaction and exchange. This, however, is no egalitarian global village
– The world is now so interdependent that ‘crisis networks’ evolve, as information about a crisis in one collectivity flows to others, and as its consequences ramify. By virtue of the information flows and of the interaction engendered by refugees, traders, terrorists, and other boundary-spanning individuals and groups, authority crises overlap and cascade across collectivities, forming linkages among them on an issue or regional basis (ibid, 390).
– Giddens and Rosenau describe a world in which people are more aware, and to some extent more empowered by their access to information and their increased ability to analyze the events shaping their lives. In this picture, populations have become less compliant and more demanding at precisely the time when national political institutions, as described below, are in many cases reducing their budgets and programs. The intersection of these trends sets the stage for intensified competition between groups who benefit from the state’s protection and those who seek more freedom from state intervention.
– But reflexivity, while aided and stimulated by globalized media and information technology, is also threatened by these same forces. Increasingly powerful media giants diffuse the ideology of globalization, with the effect that:
– Thus, globalization both enlightens and pacifies, both widens horizons and narrows vision. However, it does seem that the globalization narrative of the media is vulnerable to increasing cognitive dissonance as its utopian image of widening prosperity is subverted by images of deprivation and marginalization, and by a rising tide of insecurity and anxiety.
– Another paradoxical effect of intensifying globalization, is that while it seeks to homogenize, is also increases awareness of social heterogeneity. Groups whose identity and solidarity is based on race, ethnicity, religion, language have become increasingly vocal and have used the global media to make their discontent known. This contemporary “ethnic revival” was to some degree “unleashed” by the end of the Cold War. The Cold War was a conflict among states, and served to perpetuate the primacy of national identity in world society; but in the 1990’s the state, weakened by globalization, is less effective in either coercing compliance or integrating national society, and minorities are able to more effectively reassert their identity in reaction to hegemonic cultural forces. These minorities often see the state as no longer a promoter and protector of domestic interests, but rather a collaborator with outside forces (Scholte, 1997). Thus, in the 1990’s it can be argued that the primary locus of conflict may no longer be found between and among states, but between the state and subnational groups (see Gurr, 1994). The overal effect of these developments has been to increase the salience of cultural diversity issues, both within and across borders, for all the major players in world politics.
– Several prominent political analysts have argued variations on this theme. Samuel Huntington, for instance, has put forth inter-civilizational conflict as the new “danger” to the dominant powers in world affairs, stating that “…the efforts of the West to promote its values of democracy and liberalism as universal values, to maintain its military predominance and to advance its economic interests engender countering responses from other civilizations” (Huntington, 1993: 29); and he does not hesitate to take his argument to its logical conclusion, predicting that: “The next world war, if there is one, will be a war between civilizations” (Huntington, 1993: 39)
– Western efforts to propagate such ideas produce instead a reaction against ‘human rights imperialism’ and a reaffirmation of indigenous values, as can be seen in the support for religious fundamentalism by the younger generation in non-Western cultures (Huntington, 1993: 40-41).
– Writing a few years later on a similar theme, Graham Fuller, a political scientist at the Rand Corporation, traced further the dynamics of “culture conflict,” explaining how non-Western peoples are confronted with a flood of evidence that someone else’s values are re-shaping their societies as:
– … systems of international marketing and communications create freeways for the mass import of foreign cultural materials–food, drugs, clothing, music, films, books, television programs, even values–with the concomitant loss of control over societies, symbols and myths. Such cultural anxieties are welcome fuel to more radical political groups that call for cultural authenticity, preservation of traditional and religious values, and rejection of the alien cultural antigens. Big Macs become in-your-face symbols of American power–political, economic, and military–over weak or hesitant societies and states (Fuller, 1995: 152).
– Fuller also argues that, on a shrinking planet, the West cannot escape the secondary effects of these conflicts:
– Chaos and turmoil in various regions create serious ripple effects that will not leave the rest of the globe untouched: Wars, refugees, embargoes, sanctions, weapons of mass destruction, radical ideology, and terrorism all emerge from the crucible of the failing state order…The West will not be able to quarantine less-developed states and their problems indefinitely, any more than states can indefinitely quarantine the dispossessed within their own societies–on practical as well as moral grounds (1995, 154).
– Fundamentalisms of various kinds are prominent in the conflicts of “cultural reaction.” Traditional identity groups in non-Western societies were already put on the defensive during the modernization of their societies as Western institutions and values were introduced through state-building. They feel even more threatened now as their national institutions are undermined by the international pressures described earlier . Both the pace and direction of change in these societies “…accelerates the search for a single, often mythologized truth that can reference all social mores and practices,” (Waters, 1995: 130) and fosters a kind of fundamentalist religious and ethnic movement which is “..A value-oriented, anti-modern, dedifferentiating form of collective action – a socio-cultural movement aimed at reorganizing all spheres of life in terms of a particular set of absolute values” (Lechner, 1990: 79). Globalization thus sets the stage for the confrontation between what Benjamin Barber has called “McWorld” and “Jihad.” Though covering much of the same ground in his analysis as Huntington and Fuller, Barber goes further to show how neither globalizing commercialism nor parochial solidarity bodes well for democracy, and he trenchantly critiques the role of religion as a contributing cause to the conflict, characterizing contemporary fundamentalist movements as:
– NAIROBI, 7 February 2007 (IRIN) – The increasing involvement of children and young people in many of the world’s conflict-affected regions is an important area of concern for global security and the welfare of the younger generations.
– The issue of child combatants has received much press in the last decades, but now there is a growing awareness of what drives young people to join the armed forces.
– According to the 2007 World Development Report published by the World Bank, there are 1.5 billion people worldwide aged between 12- and 24-years – 1.3 billion of whom live in developing countries. This means most young people are coming of age in societies that lack basic education and employment opportunities.
– In many parts of the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, the problem of children growing up amid conflict has seen an upsurge since the end of the Cold War. This environment makes it harder for young people to make the normal transition into adulthood.
– Conflict environments prevent children from gaining a good education and learning useful skills. This in turn makes them feel excluded from mainstream society and they (mostly young men) turn to the armed militias.
– It is generally believed that as long as young people see themselves as outcasts, they are more likely to seek immediate solutions to their survival, including warfare.
– These trends were observed in the UN Secretary-General’s 2001 Report on the Prevention of Armed Conflict, which stated that: “Young people with limited education and few employment opportunities often provide fertile recruiting ground for parties to a conflict. Their lack of hope for the future can fuel disaffection with society and make them susceptible to the blandishments of those who advocate armed conflict.”
– These thoughts were echoed by anthropologist Paul Richards who explained massive youth militarisation in West Africa as being symptomatic of a general “crisis of youth” amid state corruption, resentment and unfulfilled expectations in the post-independence context.
– Today, while many young people consider globalisation as an opportunity, many others (especially in developing countries) feel they are missing out, and are unable to migrate to take advantage of better opportunities.
Although Soweto was undoubtedly the epicentre of the 1976 uprising, the brutal
response by the police to the students’ peaceful march ignited a general revolt across the
country. After 16 June one township after another engaged in open revolt. It took only
one day for students from Alexandra to organise solidarity action with their comrades in
Soweto and for the uprising to engulf other townships in the vicinity of Soweto.
Initially the revolt took the form of solidarity marches with the students of Soweto
but quickly transformed into more generalised struggles against Bantu education and
apartheid. There were many similarities in the form and political content of the uprising
in different townships: they were mainly student-led; symbols of apartheid, especially
beer halls, became the primary targets; police repression was severe, which resulted
in large numbers of casualties; and Black Consciousness emerged as the unifying
ideology of the student movement. In addition, the introduction of Afrikaans was a
common immediate cause of student discontent. The effects of the structural crisis
of Bantu education were in evidence everywhere. Overcrowding, lack of resources,
unqualified teachers and the poor quality of education characterised township schools
and were among the principal underlying causes of student discontent everywhere.
Although the struggles in other townships generally copied the template established
by the Soweto uprising, there were also local variations that were shaped by local
actors and circumstances. Possibly the main difference between Soweto and other
townships was that the struggles in these other places neither reached the same levels
of intensity nor were as protracted as in Soweto. The level of organisation, the role of
workers and hostel dwellers and the role of the police also varied significantly across
As we came out from hiding, I was scared and I said: ‘It seems this is going
to go on and on. So what can one do?’ I was thinking very hard and I forgot
about Hector … We came on foot. That’s another problem. Even if you want
to go home, how are you going to go home? So I was thinking about that
… I looked around … thinking maybe he’s still hiding. He’s small. Maybe
he’s still hiding, he’s still frightened … I told myself that I’m not going to
move from that place. He might come looking for me. Let me stay here.
While I was there, thinking about that, I could see a group of boys, about
three or four, at a distance … They were struggling and other students who
were hanging around on the pavement were going to that scene … I want
to go there but I don’t know how because I’m thinking of Hector that he
might look for me and not find me … I was very scared. It’s almost about
seven minutes and Hector hasn’t come out. My heart was beating so fast but
I tried to get hold of myself. As they came closer, the gentleman … whom
I knew later [as] Mbuyisa Makhubo … lifted … a body and, as he lifted it
higher, the first thing that I saw was the front part of Hector’s shoe. Then
I said: ‘Those shoes belong to Hector!’ I just said that and I just went to
the scene. Mbuyisa was already running. And on the way when we were
running I asked him: ‘Who are you?This is my brother, I’ve been looking
for him.’ I didn’t know how to explain myself.
To explain the Soweto uprising different authors place emphasis on various factors.
Some highlight structural changes in the economy and society, including political
changes brought about by apartheid; some stress the emergence of youth subcultures
in Soweto’s secondary schools in the 1970s; some emphasise the transformative role
of Black Consciousness and its associated organisations; others give prominence to
revolutionary theory and stress the role of the various liberation movements; some
underline the ideological role of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction at selected
schools; and others insist on educational, epistemological and pedagogical factors
that fostered resistance through the ‘autonomous’ actions of parents and students.
All these important causal factors need to be taken into account when analysing the
historical origins of the Soweto uprising.
1. School systems (secondary):
In 1953 the Apartheid Government enacted The Bantu Education Act, which established a Black Education Department in the Department of Native Affairs. The role of this department was to compile a curriculum that suited the “nature and requirements of the black people.” The author of the legislation, Dr Hendrik Verwoerd (then Minister of Native Affairs, later Prime Minister), stated: “Natives [blacks] must be taught from an early age that equality with Europeans [whites] is not for them.” Black people were not to receive an education that would lead them to aspire to positions they wouldn’t be allowed to hold in society. Instead they were to receive education designed to provide them with skills to serve their own people in the homelands or to work in laboring jobs under whites.
2. Making secondary schools teach 50/50 in both Afrikaans and English (secondary):
The main cause of the protests that started in African schools in the Transvaal at the beginning of 1975 was a directive from the Bantu Education Department that Afrikaans had to be used on an equal basis with English as one of the languages of instruction in the department’s secondary schools.
It was not a new rule. Verwoerd had thought of it more than 20 years earlier – in 1953 – when he devised his Bantu Education package. But in the context of bausskap, even Verwoerd was capable of errors of judgment; and when the language clause proved to be unworkable due to a shortage of teachers, a lack of Afrikaans textbooks and a grudging acceptance that pupils would have immense difficulty in coping with three languages as mediums of instruction, it was quietly forgotten by the white bureaucrats who ran African education.
The catalyst of the unrest was the Southern Transvaal Bantu Education Department’s decision in 1974 that junior secondary black students be taught in English and Afrikaans in a 50/50 ratio. (See 4th link)
3. Inequalities in South African education (secondary):
Twelve years after the fall of white minority rule, a new class apartheid characterises South Africa. The country is blighted by 40 per cent unemployment, more than 50 per cent of the population living in poverty, and the highest HIV/Aids infection rate in the world. Apart from entrenching the economic dictatorship of the white capitalist class, the ANC’s reign has benefited only a tiny black elite which has become obscenely wealthy overnight as the still-predominantly white capitalist class assimilates the black capitalists into their ranks. The youth bear the brunt of the government’s capitalist policies. Less than 50 per cent of those who start school reach the final year. Inequalities in education live on as an insult to the memory of the 1976 generation. Unaffordable tuition fees result in thousands being excluded from tertiary education institutions and protests are now an annual event.
4. Lack of facilities and resources of education for black children (secondary):
The major cause of the Soweto uprising were the changes in black education introduced by the Nationalist party government after the 1948 general elections. The Bantu Education Act became a reality in 1953. Before the Act, the large majority of black children went to mission schools that received some financial support from the state. This changed with the creation of the Bantu Education Department, when mission schools lost this state assistance and had to close. Finance for black schools now came from the taxes paid by black people, the majority of whom were poor. This resulted in a very unequal quantity and quality of education for black and white children.
5. The proposal of a United front brought oppressed South Africans together (primary):
(Source: Images of defiance, SAHA Wits University, Historical papers)
Poster produced during the launch of the UDF (see photos)
The idea to form an organisation that would unite Indian, Coloured, and African people began in the late 1970s and grew in the 1980s. This organisation would be independent from the banned African National Congress. During late 1970s and early 1980s hundreds of political resistance organisations emerged across all sectors of society. Organisations such as the Release Nelson Mandela Committee and the End Conscription Committee dealt with specific political issues. Others such as trade unions, church, student and womens organisations mobilised members around the specific impact of apartheid on them such as labour and gender issues. An umbrella body was needed for uniting and optimising the impact of these different efforts to challenge apartheid. At the Congress of the Transvaal Anti-South African Indian Council (TASC) held in January 1983, Popo Molefe and Cas Saloojee raised the idea of a united front. Some activists within TASC, like Ismail Momoniat and Valli Moosa had to be persuaded to accept the proposal. Saloojee announced the formation of a United Front during a press conference.
Next points of research:
The black consciousness movement (Cillie:601);
Political and military events in South Africa
The homelands policy
Actions of the Administration Boards
Lack of citizenship related to the homelands policy