Thomas. Your post is so missing the point that it almost seems wasteful for me to put too much work into discussing it. Other humanists I know - humanists who “get” humanism far more than many at CFI seem to - have wondered why I bother discussing or debating these issues on these forums at all. Their point is that CFI/CSH is hardly about the sort of humanism which means anything beyond what DJ et al describe it as, and that folks at CFI will of course defend their position against mine because of their agenda (and maybe their ‘true’ beliefs.)
I tell these friends that I do not write on these forums because I seriously hope to change the minds of most (if any) CFI staff, because they would not be open to my arguments any more than religious people would be.
I also tell them that some of the folks who visit the site and participate MAY be open to a more sincere and meaningful promotion and defense of humanism than CFI will offer, and this might be good for the movement overall. (Of course my friends argue that anyone attracted to CFI won’t be interested in real humanism anyway - because they were probably attracted in the first place to CFI’s message instead - and I am wasting my time ... To this, I then respond, ‘at least it helps me to better articulate my arguments for my future activism.’
Anyway, if any of this trickles up to CFI staff, that would be exciting, but I am not expecting much. CFI is a hierarchal organization with its actions focused on making money and building “prestige,” building more buildings and renting expensive Manhattan offices, which means it’s primary concerns cannot be about real humanism but about that which they can interest a large, broad-scoped audience with. More people, more money, more buildings and ‘power.”
We all know that money brings political power in a capitalist, hierarchial society, right? We also all know that when you take radical or leftist ideas (which Humanism is), and submit it to the rigors of capitalism and hierarchy, you water down the Cause you are supposed to be promoting and defending to appease the market and “brand” the message(s). This is why there is infighting among so many leftist organizations (besides ordinary idea-competition)... What is needed is for real democracy and a non-capitalitist approach to social change which won’t muddle or dilute the movement’s message.
You’re right that getting donors is not the best indication of the importance of an organization, but its impact in the real world is. Of course, donations and other kind of support sure help to increase an organization’s impact. It is silly to make the financial success of an organization be a bad thing. You seem like such a resentful person to me
What am I resenting, Thomas? In the real world, many such organizations need money in order to achieve widespread success, but that is just because of the state of our economic system. Many groups don’t make much money because they are true to their radical positions and find it hard to get capitalists to support them. Face it, most leftists don’t have very much money (George Soro, aside). Those favored by capitalism - and willing to submit to it - will have more success financially and these folks tend to be conservatives or at least mainstream “liberals,” who already don’t have the moral/ethical codes humanism embodies, so won’t invest their money into any group which does not match their sociopolitical or economic mindset.
Atheism, secularism and scientific skepticism is broad and neutral enough (politically or economically speaking) so as to attract mainstream liberals and conservatives to their causes… And so money is easier to come by if these are your messages ...
Indeed, CSICOP and other groups within CFI are about just these things! But humanism - if properly defined - will not attract conservatives, Right-wingers, or many mainstream liberals so easily - not because of the atheistic, secularistic or scientific elements of humanism, but because of the sociopolitical and economic “base” of humanism. This limits funding for humanists to having to come from socialists, progressives, anarchists, libertarian-socialists and some liberals… Not a very rich bunch of people.
So what a “humanist” organization has to do to build an empire of buildings and hire and attract folks with lots of letters behind their names, and have lots of staff, is to play down humanism and play up atheism, secularism, and science… Just what CFI has done!
I am not “resentful” of this, I am disappointed and fearful for the future of humanism… And that is something very different!
It seems to me that if I were to invent a character on the humanist scene who would be as counterproductive to the humanist movement as possible, and as counterproductive to the Council for Secular Humanism as possible, he would largely match your description. You’ve made like a full time job out of griping about CSH and some of its employees. Let me psychologize a little and make this guess: you are a disgruntled former employee who believes he is one of the few exemplars of “true humanism,” and that nearly all those remaining in the organization that formerly employed you have been “defiled” or “deceived away” from “true humanism”—what a great explanation for how you came to be let go! It must be hard for you to see any other explanation.
Thomas, I think I already addressed your assumption concerning my motivation above in my last post. Either you have chosen to ignore me, or you think you can get me to say something damning if you just continue to repeat your wrong assumption ... like the Bushites practice? ... ‘Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth?’
I think the folks on these forums are smarter than that.
It is true that some folks on these forums (and certainly some folks working for CFI) don’t like my arguments or persistence in my defense of humanism… Some even think I am out to attack them or CFI staffers personally, and others just think I am too forceful in my assertions. This is so, no matter how many times I point out that I am addressing ideas (forcefully, I agree) and not attacking persons. This might also be so because perhaps some folks have opinions they either are not sure about and find my convictions too strong, while others have strong convictions and feel my observations and opinions undermine theirs. Some folks just put on airs of open-mindedness and fairness as if they HAVE no strong convictions, and others honestly wish to be “fair” over decisive… even when they come across arguments which blatantly defy the movement they are supposedly defending.
Do I see my arguments as “too rough” or “over the top?” Not really. I could state everything I believe or think as a question or add all kinds of softeners like “I think that” or it “is my opinion that” or “perhaps we should think about” - and I DO use such words at times - but we all KNOW these forums are about our opinions, so why not just discuss our opinions and debate our ideas straight forward-like?
And as for comments about CFI staffers, let me remind you again Thomas, that I am not attacking them! When I say DJ is not a humanist in my opinion, that is not like saying DJ is a “real jerk.” If I said DJ was not an anarchist, would he be offended? Clearly he is NOT an anarchist. So when I say he is not a humanist, he might get upset because he “thinks” he’s a humanist (but even here, I am only refuting the name DJ gives to his philosophy and not his person)... So… if DJ said he was an anarchist, but also said he was a capitalist, then unless he is that rare breed of anarcho-capitalist, he simply is misusing the word anarchist. Ditto with humanism!
So anyway, you could quit your pseudo psychoanalysis (I already refuted your “conclusions” in my last posting), and understand this ... I was good at what I did for CFI in NJ, though I never bragged about it (though folks said I should :shock: )
NJ members had lots of fun, learned much, and enjoyed themselves. I NEVER got any complaints from anyone in NJ or from most CFI staffers about my work from 1999-2003 (later years were marred with the wrong-headed closing of the Montclair office by Dacey and other problems caused by CFI staff).
What I did hear from Amherst that was negative about me were two things:
1) I was not pulling in enough DUES-paying members or BIG DONORS, and…
2) I was daring to promote and defend real humanism rather than ‘CFI humanism’...
In other words, I was fired for reasons of profit and ideology.
Sorry if you think that makes be a “true believer,” but I would not toss those words about trying to belittle my conviction in humanism as if I am a dogmatic, blind faith prophet (I know some atheists like to tarnish the character of folks they don’t agree with in this way), because my beliefs are open-ended, well thought out and researched, and cover very many areas which anyone can check out for themselves if they only wanted to.
And so I’ll now respectfully bow out of this conversation, since it benefits no one for us to have an incessant back and forth on the many things you say which I think are patently false and over the top.
Of course you would think this. You are attracted to CFI’s brand of humanism, no? Now who’s maybe being dogmatic?
Again, I don’t believe that you need to agree on politics to be a secular humanist, or to be a progressive or liberal on economic issues (even though I am, personally). You have to agree on, minimally, a skepticism about the supernatural and a certain commitment to ethics that has humanity as central.
1) You’re right, your definition of humanism is minimalistic. Skepticism about the supernatural is what is atheism or half of naturalism, but only one part of humanism… And not anymore or less important than other parts.
2) You seem to be repeating the “commitment to ethics” line without responding to what I wrote about that in the preceding post. For instance, again, HOW is one gonna create a society which “emphasizes human values and compassion, and the need for tolerance and cooperation?” What IS the “way of thinking and living” which aims to bring out the best in people so they can have the best in life? Certainly we cannot do any of this without creating a sociopolitical and economic life which will ALLOW these things to be. What ethical perspective are you talking about and how do you think it should be promoted and made workable in the world?
As relatively new to humanism, I find all this in-fighting amazingly counter productive. That must be why most people at CFI just don’t respond to you.
I hardly think debating the definition etc., of the main “ism” CFI is supposed to be promoting and defending (humanism), is counterproductive. And if the debaters themselves come off as fighting, that may be perceived as such, but I think it is really better understood as passionate debate. This includes my challenges to DJ via his role in promoting humanism.. A challenge to his idea of what it is he is fighting for.. For the good of humanism and CSH.
If I am wrong, and DJ is right (I do not know how one can objectively measure this since we are talking about philosophy here and not science), so be it… But let’s see if DJ’s arguments really do lead to a humanistic society. THAT will be the final test of all of this. But since neither DJ nor I have all the answers - or can see into the future - it’s best for us (and others) to continually debate, wrangle with, discuss, and challenge each other and ourselves to get closer to what kind of humanism we want.
Those CFI persons who won’t respond to me are not afraid of debate or discussion so as long as they can conduct such on their terms from the drivers seat (at CFI), where they can make ‘policy’ (or attach definitions to humanism) for all humanists in our name. Any real challenges to these won’t be responded to, not seriously, and not without attacking (or firing) those who challenge them while affording to look professional about it because of their status and the backing of CFI itself.
Also, they don’t mind “softball” challenges from folks who will, in the end, yield to them to keep the peace, or because there are not many other CFI’s out there (though AHA seems to understand humanism better), but that is not Freethought, that is bowing down to hierarchy! As Hall and Oates sang in the 80’s, “I can’t go for that; oh no, no can do.”