Small is sensible
I was disturbed to see no mention of E F Schumacher and the limits to economic growth in Peter Stalker’s otherwise excellent economic expose (NI 134). Limitless growth assumes limitless resources - and all New Internationalist readers must by now be aware that the Earth’s resources are far from limitless.
Brazil could be said to be expanding its economy by opening up’ the Amazon, but the ecological consequences of this policy will be disastrous. Economic growth as a doctrine has become a neat way for governments to dodge the issue of how that wealth is distributed. By encouraging landless peasants to move to the Amazon, the Brazilian government has managed to avoid the issue of land reform in the East.
Economic growth makes everybody richer including the rich - in the short term. In the not-so-long term, however, it is a recipe for ecological suicide.
‘Socialism’, according to Peter Stalker, means ‘the state should centrally plan the production and distribution of goods’ (NI 134). Whilst accepting this is probably what most people understand by the term, I should point out that it once used to mean something very different to the stale old shibboleth of nationalisation it usually represents today. It used to mean a fundamental transformation in the way people relate to one another in economic terms. Far from entailing that the state should centrally plan the production and distribution of goods, it was held that the state as a coercive institution in property relationships, would disappear.
On reading the March issue (NI 133) I find I seem to be a member of the New Right! I certainly condemn the things they condemn such as abortion, homosexuality, porn etc. I also regard atheistic communism as evil, but that is not to say I condemn the whole of USSR. There are thousands of Christians in the USSR, many of them better and braver Christians than we are. Certainly the expansion of this atheism should be stopped - but NOT by war. What is needed is a global effort on the part of Christians to convert the Kremlin.
E M Allen
I used to think of myself as very left wing until I did your test and scored 26. I certainly didn’t think I was the sort of person who accepts things without questioning - in fact I question nearly everything. Sometimes I think I’d be happier, and life would be much simpler, if in fact I was the sort of person my score seems to indicate. So I have doubts about the value of this test, since at least in my own case the score seems to indicate that I’m the sort of person I know I’m not.
LIFE says ‘no’
This organisation strongly objects to your recent attempt to link LIFE (Save the Unborn Child) with the policies of the New Right. Your use of our name to spearhead an article (NI 133, ‘Nice girls say no’) which mentioned abortion only once, was misleading.
We are an anti-abortion group. We are also non-party-political. We are only concerned, as an organisation, with those issues which have a direct bearing upon the saving of human life (unborn and newly born) and the attendant problems surrounding the welfare of the mother. We are an independent voluntary organisation. We believe that it is abortion which enslaves women1 not pregnancy.
Your magazine, to which I subscribe, prides itself on caring for the weak and downtrodden throughout the world. Is it not time you devoted an issue to the world - wide massacre of human life in the womb? Despots of Banana Republics attract almost universal condemnation for flagrant breaches of human rights, yet many of your readers, I suspect, actively support a law which kills 160,000 Unborn Children each year in the UK.
Admissions of failure
You are right in your opinion that medical science has not yet understood the phenomenon miscalled ‘mental illness’, for it never will. The phenomenon is one of enthusiasm or intense inspiration. Mental patients are superior spirits in inferior conditions and inferior spirits such as ordinary men and scientists cannot understand such superior spirits.
After more than half a century as a mental patient, I have definitely come to the conclusion that the medical profession sins in presuming that it can understand or cure what it calls ‘mental illness’.
The status of mental patients is essentially legal, not scientific. And the community is under no obligation to continue to have them treated scientifically when a favourable religious or philosophical treatment would be better. Drastic treatments of mental patients are a crying crime against human rights and the right of free thought. Psychologically the medical profession is an association of cruel bigots and ought to be debarred from treating mental patients in hospitals.
When a medical practitioner certifies a patient ‘mentally ill’ he has admitted that material science can do no more for the patient.
Keith Ramsay MacKenzie
Spread the word
I was very interested in your issue about the treatment of mental illness. I sincerely hope copies have been sent to the leaders of all mental institutions in this country.
I am sorry you have made such a mess of mental illness in February’s issue. It displayed obvious ignorance and lack of logic. I hope it does not lead people to take less notice of you when you deal with subjects properly.
We read your article ‘Madness and Badness’ in the February New Internationalist and would like to say that it flies in the face of the experience of a very large number of our members and other sufferers. Basically, it is critical of the use of drugs in the treatment of schizophrenia when, for so many such sufferers, medication offers the only chance of their being able to lead a stable life. This does not mean to say that such drugs are the only answer. We know that infinitely better standards of community care are necessary in order to make life tolerable for sick people.
J Meirion Thomas
Wendy Hollway’s article (‘What do hospitals know about witches?’, NI 132) should have been printed alongside Phil Richardson’s (‘A shot in the arm’). I do not mean that I think both witchcraft and the administering of placebos are con tricks. But both practices do have much in common, especially in the regard with which the dispenser, whether of witchcraft or placebo, is held.
But where the witch doctor represents the social, ethical and - most importantly - spiritual attitudes and beliefs of his or her society, the minister of the placebo represents, at best, general social attitudes which need not be related either to the spirit, or to ethics, at worst divisive profiteering. Although both systems are, of course, open to abuse, I think I lean rather towards the holistic approach of the witch-doctor.
Eva Fleg Lambert
I was interested to read John Madeley’s article (Update, NI 132) about Nestle’s offers of financial support to Save the Children Fund, the Institute of Child Health in London, and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Recently, while on a field trip to rural Zimbabwe, I came across some health education wall posters. Within one of the glossy pictures was the message: ‘Baby must have his own bed in a quiet corner’. In rural Third World countries, where mothers are working during the day, night-suckling by an infant is essential to stimulate adequate milk supply. Thus the infant must sleep with the mother and any advice to the contrary is potentially hazardous.
Hidden in the lower left hand corner of the poster was the fact that it was produced by Nestle. This is a most insidious marketing ploy by Nestle, as the health personnel using the posters are not always aware of the dangers of the message and, being impressed by the quality of reproduction of the posters and the undoubted good advice in other pictures on the poster, may unintentionally concur with the message.
Dr Ruth Hope