New Humanism FAQ

Michael Howard (
17 Jan 1995 10:00:51 GMT

I prepared this for talk.philosophy.humanism, but figured people
here may be interested in Humanism as well. The anthropologists
in the Russian Academy of Sciences are.

Frequently Asked Questions about Humanism
Michael Howard - January, 1994

"What is this document about?"
First questions about Humanism - asked by people I meet in
everyday life, answered without excessive developments.

"What is the source of this information?"
These are my own opinions, this is what I stand up for, what
I believe in; what I have chosen to dedicate myself to, to give
meaning to my life. Is that clear enough?
However, I didn't arrive at these conclusions alone; I'm not
a philosopher. I'm part of a Humanist current known as Universal
New Humanism. There are many other currents, with many different
styles and ideas. Universal New Humanism is somewhat numerous;
it's in over 50 countries, has published several books in many
languages, and has been recognized by the Russian Academy of

"Who wrote this?"
I've been a Humanist since about October of 1988; today I
publish a small neighborhood newspaper, with a monthly
circulation of 12,000, in my own community. I'm trying to inform
and organize people in my community around Humanist ideas.
Between 1988 and today, I've done something with Humanists
at least once a week, sometimes daily, sometimes every day, all
My activities are mostly of Humanist activism; street
surveys, petitions, inviting people to meetings, giving meetings,
participating in seminars, forums, organizing everything from
parties and street fairs to forums and seminars.
"Where can I meet some New Humanists in person?"
I know there are New Humanists in most major cities in the
world. Hopefully someone will post a list. Here are some
addresses for a few New Humanists, that can direct you to others,
that can direct you to still others, that can... (me, in New York) (also in New York) (in San Francisco)

"What is 'Humanism'?"
It's a sensibility and attitude towards human beings; a way
of approaching life and people. This sensibility, expressed in words
and ideas, became Humanism, the philosophy. So Humanism is both a
person's sensibility and philosophy towards people.

"What are the main ideas of New Humanism?"
1. placement of the human being as central value and preoccupation;
2. affirmation of the equality of all human beings;
3. acknowlegement of personal and cultural diversity;
4. tendency to the development of knowledge above the accepted as absolute truth;
5. affirmation of the freedom of ideas and beliefs;
6. rejection of violence.

"Where do New Humanists lay out their ideas? Are there books and materials?"
Yes. I have some on disk; I'm looking for an FTP site to leave them. There are
also books; these are the ones New Humanists use most. I know there are many
more, but I don't know them.
You can get these from Latitude Press, (800) 528-4883.
- Letters to My Friends, On Social and Personal Crisis in Today's
World, by Silo
- Tales for Heart and Mind: The Guided Experiences, A Storybook
for Grownups, by Silo
- Silo: Obras Completas, Volumen I by Silo (in Spanish, the
original language)
- Self Liberation, by L.A. Ammann

"How is New Humanism different from Secular Humanism and
"Humanism" is an idea and a word that has been severely
abused and even distorted. Even a self-evident
contradiction such as "theocentric humanism" (Humanism that
places god above humans) was invented by the church.
So we are New Humanists. Of new, there is the participation
of all people, not only elites. A new level and intensity of
activities on all fronts, political, social, intellectual, and
cultural. A new level of growth and participation. And new
activities; the activity New Humanists most enjoy is being on the
street, making contact with people, organizing, bitching and
complaining and making accusations, agitating, shaking things up.
Mainly, New Humanists like a revolution in ideas, but want
it implemented in society, and do it themselves.
New Humanists have a newer Humanist Statement, dated April
of 1993, that they subscribe to instead of some previous Humanist

"What organizations do New Humanists have?"
The largest I know of is the political party, the Humanist
Party. Not very successful in the United States, but well known
by the public and media in many countries: that I know of, Chile,
Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Australia, France, Mexico, and
Colombia. About 60 countries have Humanists that managed to deal
with their country's bureaucracy and red tape and registered
their Humanist Party. Chile has elected a few officials. I used
to be registered to the Humanist party in California when I lived
There is also a cultural and social organization called The
There are a few hundred rather small neighborhood newspapers
and community centers worldwide, usually widely known, liked, and
respected in their communities.
There are many other organizations and institutions where
Humanists have varying levels of influence and decision-making
power, but those cannot be always counted on.

"How are you guys organized? Why are there all these small
groups? Why not one big organization?"
We don't care for big organizations. We care for big numbers
of people. Many small groups are more efficient, dynamic, free,
in short, the advantages of being small are many. We want it like
this, exactly as it is. Anyone can start a Humanist group,
affiliate themselves to other groups, and be participating with
Humanists at a neighborhood, city, national, and international
level, with very little organizational overhead.

"What do Humanists consider the human being?"
"What's the difference between animals and humans?"
The human being is a being with intentionality and
historicity. Intentionality being the ability to abstract and
postpone action, project into the future, to have objectives;
one's intentions to do things. Historicity is the idea that we
accumulate history that modifies us; we're not determined simply
by our genes, but by a historical and social context. A human
life in 1300 is not the same as one in 1994. A human being in
1300 has 99% chance of not knowing how to read, being able to
travel, take good care of his body and health.
A cat, or a tree, in 1300 and 1994 reproduce, move around, eat,
and sound exactly alike, and live identical lives.

"What do New Humanists say of religion?"
Religion is a human belief. All people, including Humanists,
can freely believe in whatever they wish. As long as those
beliefs do not lead to violence and discrimination.
Most Humanists choose to believe in human beings, and no
gods. But some also like to believe in God, or Allah, or Buddha.
But they do not place their religion, or lack of it, above human

"What do Humanists say of Christianity?"
Humanists have been either persecuted, tortured, burned
alive, hanged, or killed by Christianity during all of
Christianity's history. Mainly for sinning against god and
the church with actions such as attempting to heal the sick, to
learn to read, speaking of scientific discoveries proving
Christian principles wrong, or just opposing Christianism.
Christianity's basic principles violate Humanist basic
principles. Obviously, we are against Christianity.
However, we are against Christianity, the institution, and
its leaders; not against Christians, human beings following
Christianism. Just as with everyone else, we keep good
communication and relations with them as much as possible, and
hope they grow and make intelligent choices as human beings.

"Why don't Humanists do more Humanitarian work, like feeding the
Humanitarians solve immediate needs (like feeding a hungry
person). Humanists focus on the root of the problem, to stop it
from occurring altogether. Our society is severely lacks in
practicing Humanism, and as a result, humanitarianism can't
handle a rapidly growing worldwide crisis; victims of hunger,
violence, insanity, disease, ignorance, wars, poverty, suicide,
unemployment, etc.
Although we respect and appreciate the work of
humanitarians, in many cases it is naive humanism; for example,
believing hunger will be solved by giving hungry people food,
without realizing, or questioning that hunger is being actively
created and profited from, by individuals placing profits and
marketing concepts above human beings.

"What do Humanists say about ecology?"
Human beings need a healthy ecology to live well; clean air,
water, healthy food. Humanists also enjoy nature!
Corporations are the ones to blame for destroying the
environment; a small group of people. Not all human beings, not
humanity in its entirety. Human beings are not "polluted", or
"infected", or "inherently destructive", ideas that would lead to
concluding that to protect the environment human beings must be
sacrificed. Some environmentalist groups have done as much. Those
are irrational, anti-humanist ideas, placing nature above
humanity, and no different from any other violent and
discriminatory idea. Saving trees or seals are no excuse for

"What do Humanists think of nature?"
Human beings are not natural. They are human. Humanity
evolved from nature, but evolved past being part of nature. The
human body is still natural; the human consciousness and
intentions are not. The human being can modify nature, including
that of his own body, to humanize it further, independently of
Unlike other species, which still depend on nature for their

"What do Humanists think of animal rights?"
Unnecessary cruelty is typical of young boys, still
discovering the ideas of life and death. Adults should be past
that. That much I agree with "animal rights".
But to say that animals are equal to human beings, and human
beings are equal to animals, is an irrational, anti-humanist
To say otherwise would be to say we must have trials of
human beings for killing any life form, and include the rights of
animals in the Constitution. Anyone serious about protecting life
will defend human beings against hunger, war, illiteracy, and
disease, before speaking of cattle, cats, dogs, and seals.

"What do Humanists say about 'free market economy'?"
It's a lie; the markets are not free, it's completely
regulated and manipulated by endless laws, policies, monopolies,
corporations, and rules.
And more importantly, if products and capital are to move
with freedom between areas, human beings must move freely as

"What do Humanists think of this wave of irrational ideas -
Neo-Nazis, Fascists, anti-immigrant and anti-poor sentiments,
Fundamentalists, future tellers, magic? "
We're facing a wave of Neo-Irrationalism. The same kind that
created Nazi Germany, the Holy Inquisition, and that the Romans
faced during their decline. It's a result of a lack of education
and ability to adapt rationally to a world that's changing at
breakneck speed in every area.

"Who do Humanists blame for the current crisis of society?"
The banks. The banks control the government, the
corporations, and individuals with their interest rates, credit
cards, loans, speculations. They control the media, the prices of
goods, and the amount of work one must do. And through
privatization, they will soon control government directly, not
needing even politicians as a front.

"What do Humanists *do* besides talking?"
Lots. Organize and inform, mostly. Organize community
centers, run newspapers to inform people, set up public meetings,
street corner speeches, demonstrations, seminars, forums,
dinners, talk to neighbors on street corners, put up posters,
organize study groups, deal with the press, run political
candidates, set up organizations.

"Why do New Humanists keep working on and organizing their movement?
Why don't you just let it flow naturally?"
Nature is just that; natural. It doesn't "care" whether
humanity goes extinct or not. Only humans "care", "want"
something for the future.
If we continue to leave our future, the future of our
society, up to a "free flow", or "nature", we'll just continue on
this path of increased ignorance, violence, disorganization,
distrust, decomposition, and destructuration of society.
We, as human beings, need to take matters into our hands and
give a direction and plan a future for our society and our lives
that is good for Humanity, a Humanist society.
We need to be organized, and we need a movement. A
very, very big movement. We need more Humanists.

That's all folks!