New Internationalist

Letters

Issue 123

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[image, unknown] LETTERS

[image, unknown] PEACE[image, unknown]

Cartoon by R. K. Laxman. Back to the drawing board
The idea of peace preserved by nuclear weapons (or any other weapons of mass destruction) is a dangerous delusion. Obviously Glen Williams doesn’t share it, but a small part of his exposition might seem to encourage it, particularly ‘his remark that nuclear arms ‘cannot be disinvented’.

This is a shibboleth of the nuclear apologists and, as an excuse for not genuinely seeking disarmament, must be exposed for the moral non-sequitur that it is. No weapon — indeed probably no human device of any kind — can be ‘disinvented’, i.e. rendered incapable of reconstruction and revived use. We can’t disinvent the thumbscrew and rack. But we can renounce their use and manufacture. And until we do so — even while we say how regrettable it is we shall be ready to use them.

Christopher Small
Glasgow, United Kingdom

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Note of thanks
Just to say ‘thank you’ for such an excellent issue. Each article is informative and inspiring!

Sister Mary Philys Rendall
Shotton, United Kingdom

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Unfit species
How painful to read and reread last month’s article ‘Cain Testifies’ and to realise every word of it is true, and to feel that since it is true, the task in front of us is so enormous we can never create the world we dream of or even extricate ourselves from our present frightful situation.

But since one must try and hang on to some sort of vision of a future, perhaps we should remember that we are merely animals and take some example. from animal society, which is as caring and sharing a society as possible within the limits of their capabilities. Perhaps then we can confront our failure as a species to take part in nature. When we recognise that there ought to be a limit to our achievements, then we might be fit to take our place among the other species on our planet

I fear it is too late, the task too large, but we do have the right to try. And perhaps the peace movement is a small beginning?

Deirdre Trotulan Abergavenny,
Wales, United Kingdom

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[image, unknown] Message for Reagan
I have just read your article ‘The Suicide Pact: how to break it’ in your March number. It is so good I can’t find adequate words!

It should be distributed to everyone. How could you get one to Mr Reagan? And Mrs Thatcher!

Doreen Evered
Goathursl, United Kingdom

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Materialist material
We were delighted to receive the new issue of New Internationalist on Peace. Your magazine is invaluable and informative.

However, we found it incongruous to have in the same envelope a New Internationalist offer of three months complementary membership of the Consumers Association. It seems an anomaly that you should be a part of a promotion campaign for fostering consumer expenditure and western materialism.

Sally Garforth
Reading, United Kingdom

We are very selective about the advertising we accept and we feel that the Consumers Association is as much concerned with consumers’ rights as with consumerism per se. We are all consumers, after all.

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

Self and others
Being true to oneself is not the same thing as being self-indulgent If I drink Nescafé for its taste, buy expensive perfume, and spend my time languishing in bed, I am denying the values I hold as most central and important, and so being untrue to myself.

Shakespeare writes in Hamlet:

‘This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.'

When we act with integrity, or truth to self, we give more to others; and, paradoxically, we may find that the way to be truest to ourselves is to be unselfish.

Amanda Jeffries
Southport, United Kingdom

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Scope for loving
I can’t let Joy Loveley’s pessimistic view of human nature (Letters, March ’83) go without comment.

In her opinion, if we were all true to ourselves, as suggested by Jill Tweedie in the December issue we couldn’t be bothered to engage ourselves in changing the world, and would be quite happy to sit back colluding with the world’s oppression.

I can’t think of anything that would make me less happy. Once aware of injustice, the natural human response must be to want to correct it, for which there is unfortunately plenty of scope.

Jo Somerset
Liverpool, United Kingdom

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[image, unknown] CAMPAIGN COFFEE[image, unknown]

A pinch of salt
Re Joy Loveley’s letter in the March issue: How right she is about ‘being true to oneself'. I’ve never understood the expression, and when they say ‘be true to your higher self’ it’s worse still! But may I make a suggestion? Put a pinch of salt in the Campaign Coffee when you make it. It’s a great improvement!

EM Allen
Malvern, United Kingdom

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[image, unknown] The declining bean
It is true that coffee growers have always been one of the most affluent groups within the peasant community. Coffee is still one of the most profitable crops that they could grow in terms of the return per day of work devoted to it

But growers have seen their payments decline substantially during the last ten years. The grower is paid the auction price minus the expenses of the Coffee Authority. An export tax which also used to be deducted was removed altogether in 1981 in order to encourage coffee production. Thus the government is not ‘extracting a surplus from the peasantry’ not because it does not want to, but because it desperately needs the foreign exchange from coffee sales.

And although expenses of the Coffee Authority have been increasing— from six per cent ten years ago to 18 per cent in 1980 — its activities have greatly expanded: it is responsible for all research, processing and marketing, administers the Coffee Berry Disease Programme and a Coffee Development Programme.

I agree with Brian Cooksey that one should not buy Tanzanian coffee in a complacent desire to ’help’, although I believe it does do this, if in a very minimal way. One should use it as a tool of development education to raise some of the issues of world trade and explain in some degree the complexity of the problems that face any developing country and, above all, point out what it has to do with us here.

A variety of educational materials are available from Traidcraft the leaflet ‘Black and White Facts’, the booklet ‘The World in Your Coffee Cup’, a poster exhibition ‘Poverty and the Coffee Trade’, and a tape-slide show ‘Coffee Break’. I hope Brian Cooksey will find them useful.

Ann MacGarry,
London, United Kingdom.

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Fair trading
R A. Moorhouse will be pleased to learn that Oxfam operates a trading scheme similar to the kind mentioned in Letters, March NI.

Buying from producing co-operatives and community enterprises, some of which Oxfam has helped to establish in developing countries, enables Oxfam to run a Mail Order Catalogue and House-party scheme selling a collection of over 300 products from around the world. Many items can also be bought from Oxfam shops, including tea, coffee and basic toiletries which involve no animal research. Prices are surprisingly low.

Producers benefit from a fair return and profits are used to carry out urgent and essential work as part of Oxfam’s commitment to a process of peaceful development, aiming to help poor and underprivileged people throughout the world.

Jacqueline Gough
Cleveland, United Kingdom

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[image, unknown] Adjustable specs
Recently the question of stores being allowed to sell spectacles over the counter has been raised here in Ghana Indeed this had the approval of the Board of Trade who based their approval on sound ophthalmic advice.

The price of spectacles has greatly increased in recent years, so placing ophthalmic care out of the reach of many.

Now a number of non-religious missions have sent us over one and a half million pairs of discarded but good spectacles since 1946, which have mostly been dispensed through paramedics. In many of our spheres of work it’s that or nothing. And after nearly forty years we are well pleased with our achievements.

No one considers use of a magnifying glass harmful. Glasses can be used in the same way to give you the required perspective. It’s as simple as that.

Albert Fremlin-Bailey
British and Overseas Optical Missions,
Accra, Ghana

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