New Internationalist

Letters

Issue 122

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[image, unknown] LETTERS

[image, unknown] TELEVISION[image, unknown]

Cartoon by R. K. Laxman. Defending the Beeb
It is unusual for me to be disappointed with your magazine but in your Television issue (January NI 119) you fell into the trap of deciding that this medium was biased— and then looking for examples to support this case.

I would agree with any assessment which criticised the conventional images portrayed particularly on commercial television. But the BBC has made great efforts to present the views of various minority groups in Britain and should be given credit for this. It is notable that almost all criticism of the political content of the BBC either comes from the far left or the far right which would seem to attach bias to those factions rather than the BBC.

Peter Gould,
London, United Kingdom.

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

Compound relations
It seems strange that you should choose December to bring out your special issue on The Family (NI 118), discrediting it at a time when the Christian world would be thinking of the Holy Family round the manger. Your special editor had statistics to prove that the nuclear family was on the way out and went on to assert that there were countries in the South, citing Nigeria as an example, where there was no word for the family as such. It meant a ‘compound’. The family does exist within a single compound in separate cottages in sylvan surroundings, restricted in size, with a fence round it where the nuclear and the extended family co-exist

One could give other examples to disprove the contention that the nuclear family is a Western concept not known to the world outside and may be dispensed with.

Relationships in Nigeria, as in many other countries in The South, are bonds with social, economic and religious obligations. In urbanised Lagos it is not uncommon to see a cyclist dismount to curtsey if a senior member of the family happens

to be coming from the opposite direction, as the custom and the status adjoin just as a Swedish child is taught to curtsey when introduced to a senior person.

T Khushal
London, United Kingdom.

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Proof of the pudding
Nigel Pollard’s article (December, NI 118) gives the Impression that materialism has eroded the intrinsic values of the Kibbutz movement

Consumer goods such as television sets and washing machines are in evidence in some homes of the well-established Kibbutzim. But this should not over-shadow the important political and ideological aspects of the Kibbutz movement, which is strong part of the Israeli labour movement and opposed to the Begin government’s policy in Lebanon.

The prevalent anti-Israel attitude, coupled with the view that the Kibbutzim have become bourgeois, has meant a loss of support from the ’socialists’ of the world.

Kibbutzim are a proof of the viability of communal living and exist not as ~a unique social experiment’ but because of their will to survive as a community, for the community. This is proof enough of its validity as a model for the rest of the world.

H. Goldshaft
Sheffield,
United Kingdom.

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Selfless love
We are sad that of all your articles on the family, there was no emphasis on the beauty of family life based on selfless and unconditional love. Possibly the contributors had not been lucky enough to experience the real happiness and inner peace and security of living in such a family.

For us, our promise to love each other for life has meant the surety of knowing we are going forward together, hand in hand Our daily efforts to understand, accept and love each other bring us a freedom to be ourselves, to discover more about ourselves and the confidence to believe in ourselves, to trust and go out of ourselves to others.

We believe that every individual has a unique dignity and worth and is equally lovable, despite whatever scars of experience or behaviour may appear to hide it.

Don and Julia Harvey,
Balcombe, Sussex,
United Kingdom.

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[image, unknown] DISARMAMENT[image, unknown]

Undeterred aggression
I was saddened by Major Potts’ belief ’that the horror of nuclear weapons has deterred aggression in Europe’.

In fact Stalinism was prolonged because nuclear weapons in the hands of anti-marxists provided persuasive arguments for continued state control and economic rigidity in Eastern Europe. In West Germany, these weapons helped to support an almost childish form of anti-communism. Even worse, nuclear weapons undermined the whole political basis of the new international order laid down in the UN Charter.

These weapons helped to make the ‘State’ — in East and West — more repressive towards its own people, more neglectful of the needs of people elsewhere. And they helped to prevent the realisation of the new international order many people had fought for during the Second World War.

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Drawing back the curtain
How can you call yourselves ‘internationalists’ when you ignore the existence of the Eastern bloc and see everything through Western eyes? The leaders in the East are in a morally stronger position than are the imperialistic governments of the West. And yet you use the derogatory words ‘Behind the Iron Curtain’. Just because Churchill coined the phrase, there is no need for us, who are seeking to foster better relationships, to keep on repeating it. There is no ‘Iron Curtain’. People are free to travel to the USSR for holidays and the residents of the Eastern European countries are free to come to the West for holidays. Last year nearly seven million people took their holidays in Eastern Europe and approximately the same number travelled to the West for holidays.

M M Julian,
Torquay, United Kingdom.

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War on War on Want
I had believed until recently that it was part of the policy of War on Want to help the poor in this country as well as in the Third World.

But now it appears that Terry Lacey has other ideas and wants to sell off and close the shops belonging to War on Want to get the capital.

Besides losing a regular source of income and staff who have given many years service, mainly voluntarily, I know from working voluntarily in one of the shops that they have been of great help especially to parents with young children, the elderly and the unemployed, who are already a deprived section of our present society.

It seems that, as with this government, those with headquarters in London have little knowledge of or contact with the grass roots.

P.K. Purnell,
Bristol, United Kingdom.

War on Want is a membership organisation welcoming open debate. We understand the concern and sadness felt by shop staff where, unfortunately, properties are having to be sold.

However, this is to secure a loan to enable War on Want to pay for redundancies, internal restructuring and to maintain a flow of resources to projects in the Third World and in the United Kingdom.

Sad though it is for shops which are closing, War on Want’s main concern must be to try and help change the rules of the economic game so that those in far greater need than ourselves may have a chance to change the laws of economics for themselves.

Terry Lacey,
General Secretary.

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Graceless philosophy
It is unfortunate that Mr. Beech (Letters February, NI 120) holds such a jaundiced view of Christianity, particularly at a time when so many Christians are finally waking up to what the Gospels have to teach us about war and poverty. There is, of course, truth in what he says about the use of the Bible as ‘a justification of crimes against humanity by self-styled Christians’, hut surely the same criticism can be levelled at all those who pervert a basically well-intentioned philosophy, be it Marxist or Muslim. In the same way, his apparent optimism for the future of ’humanistic philosophy’ is bound to meet with disappointment, especially as it is a philosophy based on an essentially selfish and greedy human nature with none of the necessary grace from God on which Christians can rely.

Ian Hayter,
London, United Kingdom.

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Expensive breakthrough
Having recently completed a course on Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) we were interested in Dorothy and Alastair McIntosh’s (December, NI 118) expressions of optimism for the control of this disease.

Their account was very useful but failed to mention a key problem in the WHO control strategy: dapsone costs about $2.50 per year; rifampicin costs about $1.20 per day. Standard recommended treatment (not necessarily a total cure) for most cases six month’s of daily dapsone and rifampicin, total cost around $200 per case.

Since the prevalence rate of leprosy in some developing countries such as India is estimated at around 10 per 1,000 persons, the cost of full control of leprosy may exceed the entire health budget for the nation. The control of Hansen’s Disease in developing countries would appear to continue to depend more on the improvement of living conditions than merely on new drug regimes.

Peggy L. Henderson and Robin J. Biellik,
School of Public Health,
University of Texas,
Huston, Texas 77025,
USA.

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Soak the poor
Evidence is emerging (albeit slowly) of a massive outflow of funds from Zimbabwe ($l50,000,000 in 1980) due to the over or under invoicing of goods by multinationals (transfer pricing) and by a mechanism known in financial circles as ‘Reinsurance’ which enables the 19 British based and 20 South African based Insurance companies in Zimbabwe to repatriate funds to their parent companies.

This topic seems to me to be eminently suitable for publication in New Internationalist.

Peter Clarke,
Salisbury, Zimbabwe.

Ed. This topic was covered in March 1980.

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