New Internationalist

My Dear Friend

November 1980

Dudley Seers shows us a letter from a development freeloader.

The Director
Institute of North-South Studies 335 Olympian Way
London WC1

My dear friend,

Thank you so much for inviting me to your conference on ‘The Social Aspects of Development’. I am most happy to accept. However, instead of the title you assigned to me, ‘Practical Policies of Social Progress’, I would much prefer to present a slightly refurbished version of my earlier paper ‘The Roots of Inequality’ - or perhaps that little piece on elitish life-styles I did for the Third World Forum.

Please don’t hold me too strictly to the deadline for the paper - I can, of course, if need be, speak ex tempore. I have several most important engagements in the next two months, in various parts of the world, including the World Symposium of the Plight of Man, actually in the Sahel (which, between ourselves, may be attended by Henry K). And the Cubans must have forgiven my criticising them in Le Monde (or perhaps they don’t read French) for ignoring the advice of friends, because they’ve invited me to their annual shindig.

Your dates don’t exactly fit my timetable. I shall certainly have to miss the opening ceremony and the summing-up session (frankly, I always do). In fact, I’ll probably only be there for my own ‘paper’, though I hope I can stay for its discussion.

Please cable me the fare itself (and I presume there’s a fee), not just.a travel authorisation. I might well be able your conference with another close by and use your fare (especially if I can get concession tickets) to bring,my family for. a much-deserved holiday in Europe. It is a year or so since they had a chance to shop in Oxford Street.

Speaking of Oxford., I’m also thinking of taking advantage of this trip to arrange an interview for my son there with the V-C about his taking a doctorate (and my sister-in-law might see if she can get her hernia fixed up at the Radcliffe Infirmary on the NHS). I don’t want to give you any trouble, so I’ll ask the embassy to make the appointments.

If I’m not coming at all, I’ll try to telex you at least 12 hours beforehand - there is always the possibility that the Minister will summon me for a tete-a-tete. From bitter experience, I know I can’t in the.end fulfil half the conference invitations I accept.

At a pinch my research assistant could’read something from one of my recent books - I take it that anyway you’re inviting her too. If I can’t come for this conference I’m sure you’ll want me to bank the fare so that I can visit you later - I have an idea for an exciting seminar for your graduate students.

I look forward, as always, to seeing you personally, my dear friend, if not at this conference then later, and being able to discuss with you once more the world’s social problems.

I would particularly appreciate your views on my latest book,’Exploitation Past and Present’,and to know if you find this suitable for the reading list of your development course. (Julias told me confidentially he thinks very highly of it). By the way, if you can get it reviewed in the TLS I’d be most grateful.

Would you be interested in a Visiting Fellowship here if I can fix it up?

Yours sincerely,
Solomon Lazarus

PS: I notice from the conference brochure that participants are being put up in a student hostel. I hope you won’t think I’m being greedy if I say how much I’d appreciate a room at a comfortable hotel, should I be able to come - I really need a good night’s sleep between flights.

This feature was published in the November 1980 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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This article was originally published in issue 093

New Internationalist Magazine issue 093
Issue 093

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