I remember as a young man consuming media descriptions of the kibbutz as a radical contribution to the idea of collective agriculture. However, after years of investigation I am of the opinion that the kibbutz is nothing more than an armed colony operating under the guise of socialist agriculture. With the recent Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights and the implantation of kibbutzism in ‘full swing’ once again, I would ask you to remember that the Palestinian people are not a myth. After centuries of colonial decimation their history should be acknowledged.
The Israeli military alliance with both the ex- Shah of Iran and the government of South Africa are other facts which should be analysed. The Israeli military are now advising the govemments of Guatemala and El Salvador on’ intemal security’ — intemal security being the control and liquidation of campesinos who have a history of collective agriculture descended from another history thousands of years old — that of the indigenous American people.
When the New Intemationalist is more positive it can help build the necessary confidence. Criticism has its place but the best criticism is comparison of the bad with something better — as in your issue on Successes in Community Action (NI No. 106)
Peter Mansfield and Nigel Base
You show men producers on the food production line in the factory, and women consumers at the supermarket Yet many factories — in the West and the Third World —employ women in their lowliest packing jobs. And it wasn’t so long ago that your magazine informed me that ‘women work twice as hard as men’ (I had always suspected that was the case) throughout the world — accounting for at least half of agricultural work. So why depict the ‘Third World Peasant’ as a man?
Fighting the squeeze
Political power in poor mono-crop economies like Malawi or Bangladesh often lies in the hands of a minority of urban consumers. And they want cheap food —wherever it comes from. So governments keep producer prices low and peasant farmers with poor transportation and marketing facilities cannot afford to grow crops for sale in the cities.
The urban palate is satisfied with imported goods — like grain from the US. Keeping urban consumers happy means crippling poor peasants. And some of the blame for that has to be taken by Third World.
‘Perhaps any effective support for a disadvantaged group is a threat to somebody’s political dominance.’ This was certainly the case in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Henderson also chooses to ignore the fact that, in the case of Zimbabwe, help was given, not for military, but for humanitarian needs.
Severing their membership in this way can be nothing less than a mutilation of the worldwide body of Christ — even if for different reasons: for the Salvation Army, theological ones (as given by Mr. Duke); forthe Presbyterian Church in Ireland, a failure to identify itself with the disadvantaged.
It included such patronising comments as:
‘The next day is devoted entirely to game viewing, with a good chance of seeing some Masai warriors.’
‘The difficulties of taking photographs of people unfamiliar with camera equipment can be lessened by having a westemer pose with them.’
‘The Ladakhis are an infectiously happy people...
Other parts indicated a remarkable unwillingness to see the world as anything other than a Westemer’ s playground, with little thought for the needs of the local inhabitants— for example complaints that the source of the Amazon has been spoiled by a zinc mine. There was no evidence that WEXAS would be equally upset about, say, uranium dumping in Wales and Scotland, wild places accessible to ordinary people in Britain.
I feel that they display gross bad faith in presenting themselves through the New Internationalist, with the implication that they are at least sympathetic to its aims. On the contrary, the elimination of poverty and the campaigns you document so well are likely to conflict with the interests of WEXAS in keeping the world picturesque for the pleasure of their members.
Should you accept advertising from an organisation which encourages attitudes so opposite to those the magazine promotes?
Land Rover graveyard
During two months voluntary service with a British charity in Zaire I travelled in many vehicles and became an expert at ‘pushing the Land Rover’, the prerequisite of most journeys.
A little juggling of the parts from the many ‘dead’ Land Rovers (see photograph) may have provided a serviceable starter motor, battery and generator all in one vehicle.
But it is not only vehicle maintenance that is poor. Aid agencies have sent radio transmitter-receivers into the field, some of these radios have failed after a few months and may never work again.
Why is the need for technical support underrated? Aid agencies may not allow anyone less than a Chartered Accountant to be responsible for their finances, but do they permit anyone less qualified than a Chartered Engineer to define the technical support necessary for aid programs?
If there is not sufficient work for a vehicle mechanic or a radio technician in one particular agency, then the sharing of such skill could provide the much needed support.
John R.G. Corbett
An effort should be made now, by those who have seen what these countries are like, to educate the First World about the realities of wealth and poverty.
The letter suggests that objecting to paying for massive war preparations is no more morally valid than objecting to paying for welfare, education, health services or foreign aid. Such a comparison is clearly absurd, no more than a red herring,
What the campaign seeks is the recognition that, in the same way that there is no legal difference between hiring an assassin and doing the killing oneself, so there is no difference between paying for war and actually fighting it, and that it is thus necessary to update conscientious objection to include exemption from financing the annihilation of millions of men, women and children.