Humanist Manifesto III

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In 1996, members of the Humanist Association of Massachusetts discussed a possible updated Humanist Manifesto. The previous two manifestos were out of date, they suggested, citing the fall of communism, the prominence of the women’s movement, the emergence of the gay movement, the re-appearance of internecine tribal-religious warfare, the penetration of outer space, the resurgence of religious fundamentalism, the evolution of the one-parent family, the "taming" of nuclear energy, the depletion of the fishing stocks, the denudation of the rain forest, the wonder of genetics with all its ethical dilemmas, and the internet and its new communities.

The Humanist (March-April 1998) announced an American Humanist Association (AHA) project of creating a third manifesto. On the 25th anniversary of the second manifesto, The Humanist (September-October 1998) had a symposium about the need for such an updated manifesto. The symposium included varying views by Khoren Arisian, Bette Chambers, Albert Ellis, Thomas Ferrick, Paul Kurtz, Lester Mondale, Mary and Lloyd Morain, Henry Morgentaler, James W. Prescott, Howard B. Radest, and Herbert A. Tonne. At some point, Dr. Kurtz - who had declined to chair that symposium about Humanist Manifesto III - and the Council for Secular Humanism, which he headed, decided to come up with a manifesto that would follow the previous manifesto. In mid-1999 a draft of “Humanist Manifest III: A Call for a New Planetary Humanism” was distributed for comments and signatures. The draft was made by Paul Kurtz, Roy W. Brown, Diana Brown, Joseph Edward Barnhart, Vern L. Bullough, James Haught, Valerii Kuvakin, Jean-Claude Pecker, Svetozar Stojanovic, Norm Allen, Matthew Cherry, Thomas W. Flynn, Ranjit Sandhu, and Lewis Vaughn. The manifesto urged all members of the human family to

• embrace science and technology as tools to help solve the great social problems of the century;
• leave behind the magical thinking and mythmaking that are substitutes for reliable knowledge and impede human progress;
• recognize that moral principles should serve humanity and should not be based on inherited prescientific concepts that do not apply to a global, transformed future.

It set forth a new Planetary Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, recognizing that people everywhere have duties not only to their own society but to all citizens of Earth. It recommended that we “strive to end poverty and malnutrition and provide adequate health care and shelter for everyone on the planet.” In addition, the document called for a new planetary system of government that would include

• the formation of a World Parliament—a stronger and more effective version of the United Nations whose representatives would be elected on the basis of global population rather than national identity;
• a new transnational system of taxation, including a tax on the gross national product of all nations, to assist the underdeveloped areas to stabilize population growth and assist economic development; • procedures for the regulation of multinational corporations and state monopolies;
• a more powerful World Court with real teeth to enforce its rulings;
• an end to the veto in the United Nations Security Council.

Once the draft was approved toward the end of 1999, copies were circulated and signatories were contacted. The finished document, with final editing by Paul Kurtz, was entitled Humanist Manifesto 2000. As to why the document was not called Humanist Manifesto III, an explanation was printed in the Council for Secular Humanism’s Free Inquiry (Fall, 1999). The reasoning, in small print, was that the AHA held the copyrights to the first two manifestos, the implication being that the AHA would sue if the Council for Secular Humanism were to entitle the document as if it were the third of a continuing series. Those who signed Humanist Manifesto 2000, were named in the fall 1999 issue of Free Inquiry as follows:

Abelev, Garry I. Adams
Phillip Admiraal
Pieter V. Allen
Steve Allen
Norm Allen Jr.
Araujo, Derek
Ardila, Ruben
Arisian, Khoren
Azm Sadik al Babic
Jovan Babic
Joseph E. Baulieu
Etienne Benaceraff
Baruj Bhargava
Pushpa Mittra
Birx. H. James
Blakemore, Colin
Bonnet, R. M.
Bouveresse, Jacques
Boydston, Jo Ann Boyer
Paul D. Brown
Diana Brown
Roy Buckman
Robert Bullough
Vern L. Changeux
Jean-Pierre Cherry
Matt Clarke
Arthur C. Cooke
Bill Cosic
Dobrica Cranston
Alan Crick
Bernard Datta
Amlan Dawkins
Richard Delgado
José Dennett
Daniel C. Dommanget
Jean Edamaruku
Samal Edwards
Paul Efremov
Yuri Nikolaevich Eisler
Jan Loeb Elvin
Lionel Estrella
Hugo Daniel Faulkner
Charles W. Firth
Raymond Flynn
Thomas Fragell
Levi Fussman
Gérard Ginzburg
Vitali Gogineni
Babu Hagtvet
Bernt Hare
Peter Haught
James Hauptman
Herbert A. Herrick
Jim Honderich
Ted Johnson
Reid Klein
George Kostelanetz
Richard Kroto
Harold W. Kurtz
Paul Kuvakin
Valerii Larue
Gerald A. Lavine
Thelma Z. Leakey
Richard LeGoff
Jacques Lehn
Jean-Marie Li
Youzheng Lopes
Leite José MacCready
Paul Madigan
Timothy J. Martin
Michael Matsumura
Molleen Millholland
Jean C. Molina
Mario Mondale
R. Lester Morgentaler
Henry Murad
Ferid Narasimhaiah
Narisetti, Innaiah
Nasrin, Taslima
Nickell, Joe
Parikh, Indumati
Passmore, John Arthur
Pecker, Jean-Claude
Pedersen, Tove Beate
Pinn, Anthony B.
Radest, Howard
Rao, Avula Sambasiva
Ray, Sibnarayan Razin
Alexander V. Razis
Dennis V. Rood
Max Saginian
Armen A. Saramago
José Schafer
David Schatzman
Evry Schick
Theodore Jr. Shaikh
Anwar Skou
Jens C. Smart
J.J.C. Smith
Warren Allen Smith
Stanosz, Barbara
Stenger, Victor J.
Stojanovic, Svetozar
Stopes-Roe, Harry
Subedi, Ganga Prasad
Tapp, Robert B.
Tarkunde, V. M.
Tarter, Jill
Taylor, Richard
Teimourian, Hazhir
Terzian, Yervant
Tielman, Rob A. P.
Tiger, Lionel
Tuñon, Alberto Hidalgo
Vaughn, Lewis
Venkatadri, Ravipudi
Vukadinovic Radovan
Wahba, Mourad
Warraq, Ibn
Wilson, Edward O.
Wolpert, Lewis
Willson, Jane Wynne
Zayed, Marvin

However, as AHA officials were quick to point out, “our” manifesto was issued by the AHA, not the IAH. Kurtz’s having a manifesto copyrighted by the International Academy of Humanism (IAH) bordered upon being “unethical,” in their view.

Fred Edwords, in a Humanist (November-December 1999) review of Humanist Manifesto 2000, complained that

  • the IAH cover letter sent this past June to sought-after signers, along with the confidential draft document, may have proved misleading. It referred to Humanist Manifesto II as “our previous Manifesto,” as if it had been issued by the IAH instead of the AHA.

First, Edwords went on record that the AHA would eventually publish a Humanist Manifesto III. He also wrote that he had refused to sign the “2000” manifesto, saying that although he was given the chance he had found it “gorged to repletion with an ungodly excess of good ideas,” it “runs far too long,” and instead of being a manifesto and despite its many prominent signers it is “a learned essay so impractically wordy it needs a table of contents.” Thus, at the end of the century it was obvious to observers that the two major humanist organizations - the American Humanist Association (AHA) and the Council for Secular Humanism (CSH) - were not about to cooperate nor, as predicted by some, merge.