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AND I QUOTE / What Political Books Are Saying : AT CENTURY'S END: Great Minds Reflect on Our Times. Edited by Nathan P. Gardels (ALTI: $24.95; 309 pp.)

July 21, 1996|John Balzar

"We are, to use a famous phase from another transition in history, present at the creation."

South African President Nelson Mandela:

****

"More than a clash of cultures, more than a confrontation of races, the collision between the global civilization emanating from the West and Islam is a straight-out fight between two approaches to the world, two opposed philosophies. Under layers of history and the mosaic of cultures, we can simplify. . . . One is based in secular materialism, the other in faith; one has rejected belief altogether, the other has placed it at the center of its world view. . . . Pious Muslims know that the problem with the G-7 [Western] civilization is the hole where the heart should be."

Pakistani scholar Akbar S. Ahmed

****

"The pendulum has probably swung too far. . . . We are becoming what the history books tell us late Rome was like: mired in decadent self-absorption and lacking virtue."

Filmmaker Oliver Stone

****

"The cat is out of the bag and is roaming the world of instant communications. . . . The paradox is this: If economic rationality tells us that the next century will be the age of global integration of the world's national economies, cultural 'irrationality' steps in to inform us that it will also be the century of ethnic demands and revived nationalisms. . . . Both reason and imagination tell us that the name of the solution . . . is federalism."

Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes

****

"The mere fact that America still attracts millions of people is evidence that it is not in decline. . . . Los Angeles is a premonition of this new civilization. . . . This is absolutely new. There is no previous example of a civilization that is being simultaneously created by so many races, nationalities and cultures. . . . And the border between races has usually been a border of tension, of crisis. Here we see a revolution that is constructive."

Polish journalist Ryzsard Kapuscinski:

****

"The time is urgently upon us to limit our wants. It is difficult to bring ourselves to sacrifice and self-denial, because in political, public and private life we have long since dropped the golden key of self-restraint to the ocean floor. But self-limitation is the fundamental and wisest aim of a man who has obtained his freedom."

Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: ****

" . . . A hundred years from now, I'm sure Europeans, East Asians and Americans will arrive at something approximating universal values and norms."

Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew

****

"The key events of the last decade, which failed to obey the standard rules of change, are a premonition of the times to come. Classic political instruments, such as armies, parties or even superpowers, have had no role to play at all. Thus, communism collapsed in the Soviet Union without aid from the Red Army. . . . The same is true of apartheid in South Africa. Also, what happened in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is very similar. . . ."

Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres

****

Before being overwhelmed by the U.S. presidential campaign, there is time to flush some carbon from the brain and think big. Where might the world be headed, where should it go in a new millennium? Here are rocket-flights of ideas from 29 remarkable thinkers, essays and interviews collected from the magazine New Perspectives Quarterly. The virtue of this work is clearheadedness. It's sin is in entrusting nearly all the thinking to men, overlooking not just the rising influence of women but their aspirations for all of us. Still, by measures of grace, range, illumination and intellectual nourishment, this volume, already in its second printing, is as commendable as any to cross this desk so far in 1996.

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