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Ducking the question

Daniel Macmillen Voskoboynik’s lyrical essay (The Long Read, NI 517) is brilliantly written so I was disappointed that it ended in bland optimism and the fluffiness of the ‘we’. This ducks the key political question of who are ‘we’ and who are ‘they’. People are doing all sorts of good things, yes, but a clearer account is needed of the goals to be achieved and the ways to achieve them. Some of this is in Hazel Healy’s excellent endpiece, (What if…) but I look forward to reading more in future issues of NI.

Peter Somerville Manchester, England


The Big Story (NI 516) on waste could not have come at a better time for me. For some time I have been trying to decide if I will carry on with the charade of recycling, since really it is just a feel-good measure to hide the fact that almost nothing is recycled. The latest in this game of ‘let’s pretend’ was an advertisement endorsed by our Prime Minister and fronted by the well-known urging us to pick up litter. This ad was sponsored by many of the companies that produce this crap which has nowhere to go but to landfills or be stockpiled or sent to whichever country will take it to pollute their air and waterways.

While I will continue to reduce my own waste I will refuse to be complicit in the pretence of the recycling myth, until our country does actually recycle. It will only be forced into this when the mountain of waste becomes our problem – our crap, our problem. All of us, of course, must play our part in our own lives. It will take government regulation – so far timid – to make industries that create waste be responsible for it.

Nina Mariette Raumati South, New Zealand/Aotearoa

The best and the worst

The dirt on waste issue (NI 516) is simultaneously the best and the worst I can remember reading. The worst because I find out I have repeatedly been duped, and the best because it is so important and full of information we all need to know. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Jeanne Caswell

Required reading

In his otherwise excellent, incisive, timely and extremely valuable analysis of our ‘apocalyptic’ consumer culture, ‘The personality crisis’, John F Schumaker writes (in NI 516): ‘It was once assumed that, if the democratic process could be perfected, the “will of the people” would blossom forth in the service of the greater good. But democracy is proving worthless, and even counterproductive, as a solution to the ecological crisis and other side-effects of our obsolete cultural system.’

Because he seems to believe that countries such as mine, the US, actually are democracies, I suggest he read the following books: Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty by Alex Carey; They Rule: The 1% vs Democracy by Paul Street; and Democracy in America? What Has Gone Wrong and What We Can Do About It by Benjamin I Page and Martin Gilens.

Street shows how the US, by design, has never been a true democracy, since its Constitution was written by white, wealthy, mostly slave-owning men. Page and Gilens show that the US is an oligarchy, far from a democracy.

Other than that lapse into a rarely questioned acceptance of ‘democracies’ being present in the West, Schumaker’s article is a must-read for every caring person. 

Ed Ciaccio Douglaston, US

Not asking for it

Your article on the murder of women in NI 516 shows a worldwide pattern that cries out for change.

However, it should not be forgotten that in Canada, in 2015, the homicide rate for aboriginal men was seven times that for non-aboriginal men, which was three times that for non-aboriginal women (according to Statistics Canada). So aboriginal men are killed at 21 times the frequency of non-aboriginal women.

This is horrifying to me, but most Canadians would dismiss it, as if men were ‘asking for it’, ‘probably drunk and fighting’, etc, etc.

Their lives matter, too.

Tom Needham Haliburton, Canada