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[image, unknown] LETTERS

[image, unknown] THE PACIFIC[image, unknown]

Benign dictatorships?

Is it just to expect people who have no written language and no recorded history, have remained hunter gatherer without a change to agriculture and industry, to enter into the main stream of our present high technology civilisation under their own steam?

These people have no idea of economics, money or business ethics. Recently under the pressure of land rights campaigns, an aboriginal group were given complete control over the group’s property. The consequence was that the elected group leader gave herself a ridiculously high salary, gathered the property rents into a private account and finally ruined the previously profitable undertaking. Unfortunately, because it was an aboriginal group all publicity has been suppressed.

Unless the Third World is going to hobble along using the developed world as a permanent crutch, the only solution seems to be the type of dictatorship which has been so successful in Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea. These regimes have overcome the problems of gross absenteeism, laziness, inefficiency, mismanagement and corruption which has bedevilled Castro and Nyerere.

Dr F Molyneux


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[image, unknown] CENTRAL AMERICA[image, unknown]

Pull and push

There are a few points in your Central America issue (N.I. No. 99, that need clarification). Wayne Ellwood fails to mention explicitly in his overview that explosive population growth in the present century and the so-called ‘revolution of rising expectations’ have had much to do in fuelling conditions to their current crisis point, particularly in El Salvador.

The clever sketch of the Domino Theory does not show many Indians pushing against the generals and the agribusinessmen. Yet, according to page 10, of Central America’s 21 million inhabitants ‘perhaps half are Indian’. The resistance of this abused yet amazingly still dignified group surely warrants depiction.

W. George Lovell
Department of Geography
Queen’s University

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[image, unknown] CULTURE[image, unknown]

Just an exhibit

Thank you for the April issue on the Politics of Culture (N.I. No. 98). It seems particularly unjust that, while many leading Western artists of the last century (Gaugin, Braque, Picasso, Derain, Vlaminck, Epstein and others) have been influenced by various Third World cultures, the work that inspired them is still labelled crude or undeveloped — and more likely to be displayed in a museum than an art gallery.

The vigour and sophistication of this art is undeniable: yet it is hard to obtain information about it from anyone other than anthropologists. Although I am an art student who grew up in Africa, I can hardly name a single African artist whilst Picasso, who was greatly influenced by African art, is a household name and died a millionaire!

Jim Endersby

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[image, unknown] DISARMAMENT[image, unknown]

Save our flowers

Just supposing we did have to live under Russian ‘terror’.

At least it would be only the human race that would suffer. But if the bomb were dropped, the rest of creation would be wiped out too.

After all,we humans have brought these horrors on ourselves.

Jeanne Kellett
UK[image, unknown]

In defence of dioxin

I refer to the ‘Orange alert’ article in June (N.I. No. 100). I have followed both sides of the debate very closely because my research includes the use of herbicides in forestry. On the basis of my study of the evidence there have been no authenticated cases of 2,4,5-T being connected with stillbirths, miscarriages, spina bifida or anacephaly. The latter two conditions are caused by lack of vitamins in the mother’s diet. There is no evidence that 2,4,5-T is a carcinogen at the rates normally used. Dioxin is a dangerous chemical, but the level of dioxin in 2,4,5-T is now very low indeed. People who were subjected to an inadvertent release of 2,4,5-T some 40 years ago continue to be just as healthy as the rest of the population.

Rev. C. G. R Chavasse
New Zealand

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Behind Brandt

Development means money and money means power, but where the majority of the population are poor, development is selectively allocated: often to urban populations or the big landowners who support the ruling elite. Yet the Brandt Report deals with the North and the South as if they were uniform blocks, making no mention of the inequalities within countries.

The Report also assumes that our western democracies have rulers who are concerned for the betterment of all. But again, a ruling party favours its supporters. This was made dramatically apparent in May, when of all the ninety-odd governments involved in the WHO’s babyfood quality control negotiations, only the Reagan administration voted against the proposed code of conduct There is no doubt that Nestles and other such transnational corporations supported the Reagan election campaign. They scratched his back. Now he’ll scratch theirs.

Brandt stresses that the issues raised are ones of mutual interest In a world where we recognise the status of some as being ‘under-privileged’, are there not those who are ‘over-privileged’? Can the North expect the South to ‘develop’ at no cost to the North, or at least to the North’s expectations for its future?

It is important to examine the ideology behind Brandt’s proposals. Under a Marxist government, all available indicators suggest that development within the nation is more even than in other nations.

Poor countries are not just impatient with the rich countries; they are impatient with a system of development that is failing to achieve sufficient results for a sufficient proportion of the population fast enough. Unlike Job, they are not willing to wait until God relieves their afflictions. They may instead change their allegiance to another system.

Chris Burn
Hatfield College

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Plea for Tanzania

Tanzania has been put up as a model of Third World development mainly because of the philosophy and leadership of Nyerere. Since the reports of rural people being forced into the ujamaa villages, there has been little good news from Tanzania — just reports of mass migration and failure of large-scale nationalism schemes. Yet Tanzania receives more foreign aid per head than any African country — hardly an encouraging statistic given Tanzania’s intention to make do with as little aid as possible.

I would love to see the New Internationalist correct this pessimistic perception. How far are Tanzanian s economic problems due to the Ugandan intervention, falling export and rising import prices — or simply to mistakes in agricultural development strategies? It is dispiriting not to be in a position to defend a country one supports.

Chris Seal

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Foetal discrimination

Abortionism is the same outlook as racism. The pro-abortionist and the racist both argue that the rights of one group of people take precedence over those of another and even that ‘they’ are not proper human beings like ‘us’.

Abortion cannot be justified as a practical need any more than racism can, because killing the innocent is not an acceptable approach to solving problems. Where injustices exist, it is the injustices that should be attacked not their victims.

Brian Collins

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To IUD or not to IUD?

What is the anti-abortionist’s attitude towards the intra-uterine device (IUD)? The IUD is a simple copper-and-plastic object inserted into the womb which prevents the implantation of a fertilised
ovum. I am fitted with one myself.

Does this mean that I have an abortion and cause the death of my unborn child every month?

Ursula Gibbons

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A basic greed

The Catholic Church has, in standing out against abortion, refused to comply with the idea of the human being as merely a unit of economic or social planning.

What your correspondents (‘Abortion — a basic need?’ N.I. No. 101) seem to overlook in their passionate intensity to set the world right is that — whether we attempt to alleviate problems caused by economic inequalities, or lighten the heavy domestic and social burdens that are laid on women in many parts of the world — our attempts to make the human condition more human must derive from the richest possible interpretation of what it means to be uniquely and totally human.

Poverty and the social problems attendant on it arise from unjust economic policies. It is at this level that they should be fought A permissive policy of abortion may enable us to prevent a new generation from competing for the world’s resources — but this is not going to stop the greed behind economic exploitation.

Vijaya John
Department of Linguistics
University of Lancaster

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New Internationalist issue 104 magazine cover This article is from the October 1981 issue of New Internationalist.
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