My own first encounter with New Internationalist was with an issue on Water in September 1981. It was a revelation to me: having always taken clean water for granted as something that flowed at the twist of a tap, here I was suddenly transported into seeing it as a precious resource that had to be borne in pots from the well or that might carry horrible diseases. From the first, the magazine seemed to me to offer something unique, a window on the real world where the majority, far from chasing the latest consumerist dream, still had to struggle for the basic necessities of life.
More than three decades later, 29 years of which I have spent here as a co-editor, there is still no other popular magazine that sees the world in quite the same way – that offers a platform for the myriad voices of people from Asia, Africa and Latin America, that celebrates their cultures and that argues consistently for global justice. Like all other magazines and newspapers, we are wrestling with a new digital age where the habit of subscribing to a paper magazine is less common and where information is routinely sought from the web. So we’re delighted to launch our new online subscriptions app digital.newint.com.au which works brilliantly on any device with a web browser. It incorporates a feature for which we’ve had many requests – easy sharing of favourite articles.
For this special 40th anniversary issue, we invited the magazine’s founding editor, Peter Adamson, to write the keynote article, which looks back at his original hopes for the publication – and surveys the progress (or in some respects the lack of it) made by humanity over the four decades since. We have revisited just a few of the key individuals who have featured in our pages over those years. And we showcase a landmark essay by the great German thinker Wolfgang Sachs on why ‘development’ has become an empty shell that should be cast off even by those of us who care most deeply about global justice.
Sad to say, notwithstanding all its technological progress, the world has actually become more rather than less unequal since the first issue of this magazine was unveiled in March 1973. Perhaps the time has finally come for globalization to be replaced by a ‘new internationalism’ that puts the needs of the poor and the planet above the idle interests of the rich.
Chris Brazier for the New Internationalist co-operative.
In 1992 New Internationalist published Wolfgang Sachs’ seminal series of essays Development: A Guide to the Ruins. Two decades on, he looks at how globalization gave the concept of ‘development’ an unexpected new lease of life – and argues that the 21st century needs to outgrow the idea for the sake of both the poor and the planet.
Some Mongolians believe their warrior-hero will return from the dead in 2027 to restore their country. Others aren’t willing to wait that long – and are taking on modern-day menaces themselves. Tina Burrett and Christopher Simons discover a nomadic people fighting for their past, and future.