New Internationalist

Letters

Issue 120

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[image, unknown] LETTERS

[image, unknown] THE FAMILY [image, unknown]

Cartoon by R. K. Laxman. That loving feeling
‘On love’ by Jill Tweedie (NI 118) reflects sadly a misunderstanding of love which is widespread and destructive. Without saying what love is, she implies that love is a feeling, a pre-formed emotion which can be sought out and which should come easily. But real love is a decision — total and irrevocable, involving complete acceptance of the loved one. Real love asks no return and needs no response. Real love is difficult and must be learned.

It can he permanent and last from youth to death. It accepts its dependence and can never use the dependence of others for its own gain, for to use another is not love.

David and Louise Aldred
London, United Kingdom.

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[image, unknown] TRADE UNIONS [image, unknown]

Getting a grip
In your November issue you present a ‘guide to the equipment that every trade unionist ought to have’. Whilst going along with most of your suggestions I do not accept that the interests of trade unions can be served by political affiliations.

It is naive to propose that union funds and votes can be used to ‘ensure that political parties will legislate in the unions’ interest’ This suggestion completely overlooks the context within which such legislation is enacted: a word-encompassing capitalist system geared to production for the market and based on ownership of the means of production by a small minority.

The weakness in your argument is highlighted by your acknowledgement that, despite trade unionists having allied themselves with political parties for many years, they have been ‘let down too often by politicians’. Contrary to your claim that unions can ‘get a grip on political parties’, the opposite has been the case— as exemplified by the UK Labour government exploiting its union links to force sacrifices on them.

As Marx pointed out in an excellent but little known pamphlet: ‘Trade unions work well as centres of resistance against the encroachments of capital. They fail partially from an injudicious use of their power. They fail generally from limiting themselves to a guerilla war against the effects of the existing system, instead of simultaneously trying to change it, instead of using their organised forces as a lever for the final emancipation of the working class, that is to say, the ultimate abolition of the wages system’ (Value, Price and Profit).

Robin Cox
Guildford Branch,
Socialist Party of Great Britain.

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[image, unknown] CHANGE[image, unknown]

Closet report
This belated note is to commend your magazine on the article ‘Out of the Closet’. (NI 113). Anti-homosexual persecution is a very real problem.

It would be superfluous for me to reiterate the sad evidence of persecution and even violence that has resulted from anti-homosexual hatreds. This has been well documented elsewhere. However, I would like to draw the attention of your readers to ‘Discrimination and Homosexuality’, a 652-page report of the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board, which was released in July 1982.

This is the most detailed and comprehensive report on the subject ever published by a government authority in Australia, and perhaps in any English- speaking country.

It is available from the NSW Government Information Centre, 55 Hunter Street, Sydney, NSW. Australia 2000 and costs $20. However. those who contemplate ordering it by post should bear in mind that it weighs 1200 grams, so postage could add quite considerably to the cost

Michael Glass,
Ashfield, NSW
Australia.

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Home from home
I write concerning Albert Elder’s reaction to the article ‘Growing Up - Swastika Style’ (letters October NI) Does he honestly think that the majority of black and brown people in this country are immigrants? I suggest that possibly a half to two-thirds were born here and would be even more alien in the countries of their parents’ birth than we make them here.

And what about mixed race children? Which half do you send home?

Where would Mr Elder suggest repatriating any people living but born in Diego Garcia?

Bruce Brewer,
Leeds, United Kingdom.

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Bible thumping
The God of the Old Testament who, according to Mr Siddle (letters November NI), regards sexual relationships between human beings of the same sex ‘as an abomination,’ was far less fussy about murder and genocide, if we are to believe the accounts of his adherents from the millennia before Christ

In the Bible we find described, allegedly with Jehovah’s enthusiastic approval, the murder of rival priests. slaughter of men, women and children of rival unbelieving tribes and the killing of religious dissenters as witches. Small wonder that through the centuries the Bible has been used as a justification of crimes against humanity by self-styled Christians.

It is in fact only with the growth of a genuinely humanistic philosophy, which Mr Siddle apparently deplores, that we have come to regard war, murder and torture of human beings in the name of religion as true abominations, rather than homosexuality.

John Beech,
Thame, United Kingdom.

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[image, unknown] CHILD SPONSORSHIPS[image, unknown]

A special case
I work as a volunteer teacher for the Deaf, Dornakal, Andhra Pradesh.

My first reaction to your article ‘Please do not sponsor this child’ (May NI) was a strong one in spite of your caveat: ‘There are better ways to help’. Our school would not exist without the aid of sponsorship by KNH in West Germany.

In the case of schools for the handicapped (blind, deaf and polio children) some of the disadvantages for the recipients of aid do not exist Helping a deaf child to communicate with his family is a move towards equality in the family. As one helps a deaf child to speak and lip-read in his own language one is helping him to gain more independence.

I do not think you should condemn the whole system of fostering when clearly there are many cases when it is a ‘good thing’.

Joyce Ross,
Andrha Pradesh, India.

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No hand-outs
As a field director for Foster Parents Plan in Upper Volta I feel that your conclusion that financial assistance to all sponsorships organisations (May NI) is misguided was wholly unwarranted.

In Upper Volta our programme is completely devoted to community projects and these are initiated by the villagers themselves through the representation of their elected committees. These projects are most definitely not imposed upon the people, nor do

they follow any dictated government line. PLAN’s assistance to villagers is the result of discussion and planning with village leaders —women as well as men. Community work involves the full participation of the village: there is no so-called ‘handout’,

It is true that a portion of the PLAN budget goes towards maintaining correspondence between donors and village people. Yet messages to donors are sent not just from the families but at regular intervals from such individuals as a village chief, a member of a committee or a first-aid worker or midwife. And all such messages explain the work that goes on in the village.

On the other side village people genuinely appreciate receiving letters and pictures from those who live in another part of the world. Such an exchange of information and friendship at an individual ‘grass-roots’ level is I believe an important part of the North- South dialogue.

Richard Maclure,
Foster Parents Plan,
Boulsa, Upper Volta

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[image, unknown] INDONESIA[image, unknown]

The invasion of Timor
Thank you for the excellent coverage you gave dissent in Indonesia (October NI). However, Bob Hawkins’ article Genocide in the Colonies could mislead your readers.

He writes that it is not surprising that Indonesia invaded East Timor after ‘socialist’ Fretilin took control in November 1975. But this statement overlooks the extent of earlier Indonesian interference. While it is true that the full scale invasion of Timor occurred in December, the Indonesian army had invaded before that time. Five Australian journalists were murdered by Indonesian military personnel during an incursion into Balibo earlier that year. And prior to this and other incursions Indonesian authorities had beamed threatening radio broadcasts into East Timor in an attempt to frighten people intending to

support Fretilin. They had also aided and abetted the attempted coup by the Union of Democratic Timorese in August

Secondly, labelling Fretilin as ‘socialist’ blurs the reality of the situation. Fretilin mostly comprised people wanting independence: some were socialists, but most were nationalists.

Andrew Alcock,
Former Information Officer
Campaign for an Independent East Timor,
Australia

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Correction
In my review of Philippines: Repression and Resistance (Books, NI 113), the Democratic Front submission to the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal session on the Philippines is mistakenly attributed to ‘procommunists’. I did not use the term ‘procommunists’. What I should have stressed more carefully is that the Front is, in fact, a coalition of diverse groups representing a broad spectrum of Filipinos committed to building a more just society, including the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Dennis Shoesmith,
Asia Bureau,
Melbourne, Australia

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Far sighted
I wish to renew my subscription for the New Internationalist. At 85 I still find it as interesting and stimulating as I have done the last ten years - in spite of having to use a magnifying glass for the small print!

Mrs M M. Darlington,
London, United Kingdom.

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