Reclaiming the Enlightenment


A group of mostly British left-leaning intellectuals have come up with a worthy and sorely needed project in these dark times of Leftist, Rightist and Islamofascist obscurantism. The Manifesto Club aims to reclaim the "questioning and creative spirit of the Enlightenment." Their opening salvo reads:

As the twenty-first century unfolds, humanity appears to be experiencing a profound crisis of nerve. Despite the significant achievements of the past two centuries, Western societies are gripped by a powerful mood of cultural pessimism, suspicion towards science and technology, and a disturbing sense of misanthropy. Across the world there are new forms of prejudice and irrationalism; a growing attachment to identity politics and victim culture; and the loss of belief in progress and fear for the future.

The Manifesto Club invites all those who are concerned about these retrograde developments to collaborate in formulating a positive alternative. We seek to reclaim the questioning and creative spirit of the Enlightenment, particularly the idea that human beings can make their own history.

The Manifesto Club is being initiated by Frank Furedi, Josie Appleton, Brendan O'Neill, Bill Durodie, Dolan Cummings, James Panton, Munira Mirza and Sandy Starr. Our objective over the next few months is to gain agreement on a series of basic humanist principles, and to draw up a manifesto for our times. Debates will occur online and at evening events, culminating in a conference in central London on 6 May 2006.

As a starting point, we offer the following principles:

1. We are committed to the pursuit of freedom, free speech and genuine tolerance.

2. We support experimentation in all its forms—scientific, social and personal.

3. We support the development of the human potential and individual self-determination.

4. We uphold a human-centred perspective, which recognises the ability of people to confront the challenges they face through reason and subjectivity.

5. We uphold a universalist orientation to the problems facing the world.

6. We seek to reclaim the Enlightenment and the legacy of the Enlightenment.

I'll keep you posted on the Manifesto Club's progress.