Re: Government: Who Needs It?
gmgauth said: I think the Center for Inquiry has been sorely lacking in it’s examination of the superstition of the State. So, I’d like to ask anyone here, including representatives of the Center, some questions about the following irrational and logically contradictory beliefs:
I am afraid you are not gonna get anyone at CFI (including Doug and the bloggers here) to give you a fulfilling response to your questions because the most progressive of all the CFI folks (or at least, 99% of them) are social democrats and New Dealers. Unlike anthropologist Harold Barclay, they’ve never asked if the state (or any centralized government) is NOT inevitable or necessary… and when they have, they’ve laughed off the anarchist ideology.
I think this is for many reasons, not the least of which is that CFI itself is not a democratic organization, but an authoritarian oligarchy.
Also, CFI is invested in making money (even as a “non-profit”), not so that it can build a grassroots humanist or atheist or rationalist movement, never mind be a part of the solution of making the world a better place, but so it can build more centers, and attract more media and donors and magazine buyers so that in the end, it can, well, build more centers!
Ask yourself, what is CFI passionate about and how do they plan to see that passion come to fruition? They are passionate about science, but so are many scientists, science advocacy groups, universities, etc. They are passionate about critical thinking, but is that a front job for an organization? It is something you can build a movement on? They are passionate about atheism, but that is just the negation of theism and supernaturalism and also not something to base a movement on. If anyone thinks an atheist movement is a good thing, I’d have to believe they were pretty misanthropic people.
Try to look deep into CFI and ask yourself, what is it doing to make society better? See, THAT is what a movement seeks to do ... Present ideas and actions which can get people out of bad lives! Teaching them that God does not exist is, well, just silly in comparison.
See, CFI asks questions like, Does God Exist? or Does ESP exist? or Why do people believe stupid things like aromatherapy or angels? or Why do so many Americans hate atheists? or What can we do to eliminate religion from the planet?
The questions that SHOULD be asked are, Why is there religion in the first place and how can believers and non believers work together toward a better world? or What is Human Nature and how can we build societies based on what we know of what kind of creatures we are? or Why do so many people think human nature is Hobbesian? or Why are there so many wars and poor people, and what can we do about it? or What needs to be done to save the environment? or Why naturalism is what we should be advocating for and not atheism? or What sort of economy would lead to a humanistic society? or What form of governance is the most humanistic?
Or questions like yours.
Two of the most non-humanistic ideas we humans ever had are the State and Capitalism (along with Feudalism and Stalinism/Maoism of the past), and yet not only does CFI not see this as a KEY obstacle to a future humanistic society, they think it is mad to even talk about such things AS part of the central meaning of humanists!
Humanism, to CFI, is about science vs. religion ... It all boils down to that. But humanism is REALLY about using science and reason to create a more egalitarian, socially just world ... A world where poverty, war, most violence, racism, fear and undemocratic means come to a definitive end.
Without dealing with the elephant(s) in the room, the real obstacles in the way of creating a planetary humanism (as Kurtz says he is in favor of) - war, capitalism, dominance hierarchies, and the lack of a real inclusive democracy ANYWHERE (what we have in America is a hierarchal, elitist democracy), CFI instead focuses on the sideshows of religion and pseudoscience, and hides behind the methodology of science without ever appling naturalism to the real world. Hell, CFI won’t even admit that you can’t be a naturalist and accept counter-causal free will!
Good luck, Greg, looking for CFI to pull their scientific, atheistic, semi-naturalistic, skeptic-minded ingredients together to bake a humanist cake.. the kind which would really be relevant to the world we live in and which can begin to move us in the right direction” there simply is no money, power or prestige in doing real humanist work.
CFI would rather pretend they are radical (because they are atheists?), and pretend they are radicalizing the world. But CFI is really traditional. It is supportive of all the things (except supernaturalism) which fit the conservative (or sometimes New Deal Liberal) country we live in. Even the solo self-identifying anarchist at CFI thinks humanism has nothing to do with politics, economics or society… just critical thinking and atheism.
Humanism was radical during the Enlightenment, but that was over 125 years ago. Humanism needs to be radical again! Who will take that challenge?
Thanks for this response Barry. I have to admit, I was a bit “skeptical” of the kind of reception I’d get, but I still think it’s worth making an effort, if only to get people thinking about these questions.
Some of your comments fascinated me, though, and left me with a few questions for you: What do you define as “Capitalism”, and why do you consider it anti-humanistic? Also, why don’t you include religion/superstition in that list?