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The issue at hand.

Is there a necessary connection between Humanism and liberalism (or progressivism)? Or can a person also be a consistent Humanist while being a conservative (or neoconservative) at the same time? This issue of the Humanist attempts, both indirectly and directly, to provide an answer. And that answer is derived from the concept of democracy.

For, as I argue in the cover story, democracy is more than a way of electing officials and passing laws. It is a broad and deep ideal that, in effect, aspires toward Humanist Manifesto III's society "of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence." Democratic nations, ideally, work "to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering" as they "minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability." It is thus an expression of democracy to "support a just distribution of nature's resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life" True advocates of democracy are "concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views." Institutionally, the work of democracy is to "uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society." This expansive sense of democracy combines individuality with interdependence.

One can, of course, ask from whence such an expansive concept comes. One source is the famous funeral oration of Pericles round in the Peloponnesian War of Thucydides.

It can also be asked if one can legitimately derive such democratic ideals from the starting point of Humanist ethics: the use of reason and experience in the service of a compassion born of empathy. The answer is yes because democratic ideals are simply a logical extension of the empathic Golden Rule, of wanting for others the same empowerment you want or have achieved for yourself.

Because our exploration into democracy is continued from last issue, we provide a second installment of Ralph Nader's thoughts, this time as he reviews the impact of corporations on democracy. Ilana Boivie follows up on last issue's coverage of electronic voting machines by providing the latest developments and revelations in the scandal (or in what would be a scandal if the mainstream media could take its eyes off of Janet Jackson).

If once you've put all this together, however, you're still unclear about Humanism as it relates to liberal and conservative ideas, there is always Roy Speckhardt's straight-forward piece, "Can a Humanist Be a Political Conservative?"
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Author:Edwards, Fred
Publication:The Humanist
Date:Mar 1, 2004
Words:423
Previous Article:Humanist profile.
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