Reclaiming the Enlightenment

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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.

NEXT: More Meth Madness

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  1. Hmm. Slightly less touchy-feely than the last Humanist Manifesto.
    It would be nice to see at least one public speaker denounce anti-enlightenement forces as monsters. Just one, that’s all I ask.

  2. More British than French Enlightenment, if you don’t mind. Well, maybe a little French is okay.

  3. Pro Lib: Surely you meant “Scottish Englightenment”? 🙂

  4. Translation:

    Post-Modernism can suck it.

  5. Can I smoke in the meetings, debates and conference?

  6. Ron: there’s some other enlightenment other than Scottish? Pshaw!

  7. Jeff P.: Nope.

  8. Ahh, that Bailey article from July 2001 really took me back. Can it have been only 5 years ago where the greatest threat to our way of life came from anti-globalisation protestors and luddites?

  9. These folks are about to be drummed out of the “left-leaning” club if they mean what they say, that’s for dang sure.

    The words above are indivdualist, not collectivist, and universalist, not multi-cultural.

    The academics among them will be lucky to still have jobs a year from now.

  10. Truss up vile Whigs !

  11. “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.“[emphasis mine]

    One test of their commitment, individually & collectively, to the above statements will be their opinions/statements/reactions to personal, indivdually self-determined , self-defense.

    I’m betting on more Left-Liberal than Individualist/Universalist, but I can always hope for change, can’t I?

  12. Fuck the Manifesto Club.
    Did anyone else see the picture of the annual Beltane Fire Society wingding in Edinburgh, in the latest National Geographic?
    http://www.beltane.org/
    It’s not too late to be there.

    Thanks to that picture, subscriptions to the National Geographic have no doubt risen dramatically from pubescents in Africa.

  13. This is a positive direction for the Left. I don’t support everything, but it’s better than the stew of post-modernist/multiculti claptrap…I wish them all a huge helping of luck.

    And Ruthless, once I saw the puppets and drummer crewes, Beltane means lots of hippies…dirty, squalid, smelly hippies, and that sucks.
    Make sure you don’t talk about capitalism or they will tear you to pieces, and watch out for the Green Man’s schlong…ugh.

  14. http://www.beltane.org/bestiary/mayqueen.html

    Ah, that would explain the bustle in my hedgerow. I am no longer alarmed.

  15. Pro Libertate,

    Hume, Smith, Hutcheson, Ferguson, Millar, etc, were all Scots, and they were heavily influenced by the French and vice versa (because of the traditional and long-term relationship between France and Scotland). The Scots left the English in the dust from an intellectual perspective.

  16. Nice find, Ron! Howja get hep to this?

    I’m in total agreement with principles 1,2,3,4, and 6.

    On #3, they could elaborate and add: “Therefore we support capitalism”, and maintain perfect fidelity to the principle.

    If the “universalist orientation” in principle #5 is limited to a universal application of principle #3, then I’m on board for that one too.

  17. Did anyone read that article in the National Geographic about the Celts?

    What a bunch of whiny losers!

    And women running around with their boobies out! OOooooohhh scary!! I’m glad the English screwed them. Reap capitalism you dumbass cavemen.

    I love stuff like this Manifesto Club. How SERIOUSLY can one group of people take themselves? Good luck numbnuts!

    My Manifesto – more guns, more video games.

    Enjoy.

  18. Ron and Hakluyt,

    I was just being nice. Since my cognomen hereabouts reveals my Scottish heritage to the cunning eye?, it would hardly do for me to get all pro-Scottish in my assertions. Though, now that I think about it, Newton and Locke were arguably Enlightenment figures, and they were English.

    ?”Pro libertate” is the motto of the Wallace clan. I always have liked the fact that my political values are so neatly wrapped up in the slogan of one of my family lines. Although the other clan from which I am descended uses “pro rege”, which is not so apropos. On the other hand, that clan is one of the Siol Alpin, so maybe I can claim the crown of Scotland someday 🙂 At least then I will be free.

  19. RC Dean,
    your idea of what constitutes the left is simply ridiculous.

  20. theCoach,

    With the exception of reproductive rights, just where does the left favor individual self-determination? Doesn’t the left favor government coercion rather than capitalism?

  21. 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.

    In between LARPing sessions, I assume.

    Gods, it’s wonderful to be old, cranky and cynical.

  22. theCoach,

    Are you joking?? Or do you really not know anything about the Left?

  23. Rick Barton,
    That is even more ridiculous. On the plus side, if you create complete strawmen to argue against you can win everytime.

    wellfellow,
    What the hell are you talking about?

    You are either defining “The Left” to be an inconsequential tiny subset of the population, or you are completely distorting the Liberal views.

    Let’s go back to the tape:

    These folks are about to be drummed out of the “left-leaning” club if they mean what they say, that’s for dang sure.”

    There is nothing even slightly controversial about these statements to the liberal point of view, and in fact it is “left-leaning” academics that are the authors. That RC DEan thinks differently shows a complete detachment from reality — perhaps a reality where Sadaam Huseein had nuclear weapons.

    The words above are indivdualist, not collectivist, and universalist, not multi-cultural.

    Although these are false dichotomies, the implication that liberals are against individualism and universality is absurd.

    The academics among them will be lucky to still have jobs a year from now.

    …and here is where the rubber meets the road. This a prediction that can be empirically tested. My bets are on these professors not bing fired because of these non-controversial positions. Is anyone willing the stake their credibility on a time period in which I can expect them to have lost their jobs?

  24. Coach,

    My questions were to the point. Calling them “ridiculous” are not answers. I’ll try once again: With the exception of reproductive rights, just where does the left favor individual self-determination? Doesn’t the left favor government coercion rather than capitalism?

    Even if these professors are not fired, (I don’t think that they will be) that would not invalidate RC’s characterization of the Left. And even more, it would not lend credence to your calling that it “ridiculous”.

    About RC’s characterization: “Collectivist” and not “individualist”, is on target for sure.

  25. Coach,

    …the implication that liberals are against individualism…is absurd.

    I don’t think so. So try to prove me wrong and answer my questions.

  26. I’ll take that one Ricky B:

    Let’s agree that the Green Party is liberal. The first line of the platform:

    “Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect his or her life and should not be subject to the will of another.

    One of their main planks is decentralized decision making:

    “Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.”

    Support for life style choices, decriminalization of drugs, etc…

    I think absurd is pretty on target.

  27. I’ll take that one Ricky B:

    Let’s agree that the Green Party is liberal. The first line of the platform:

    “Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect his or her life and should not be subject to the will of another.

    One of their main planks is decentralized decision making:

    “Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.”

    Support for life style choices, decriminalization of drugs, most of the campaigns against policy over-reach have been liberal, the opposition to the NSA wire tapping program, etc…

    I think absurd is pretty on target.

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