The 'Humanist Manifesto 2000' calls for a shift from what it considers the narrow thinking of nation-states and toward global institutions, such as a World Parliament, where representatives would be elected on the basis of population rather than national identity.
'We are a global economy but have no planetary effort to cope with this,' said Paul Kurtz, principal author of the manifesto and president of the International Academy of Humanism, based in Amherst, N.Y. 'We need to develop a new consciousness that transcends the national, ethnic and parochial interests of the past.'
The manifesto is published in the Sept. 15 issue of Free Inquiry, a humanist magazine edited by Kurtz, who is a professor emeritus at the State University of New York in Buffalo.
Signers of the 14,000-word document include former U.S. senator from California Alan Cranston, entertainer Steve Allen and 10 Nobel Prize winners including chemistry Nobel laureate Herbert Hauptman.
The manifesto echoes traditional, secular humanist beliefs. It says religious doctrines developed in nomadic, agricultural societies are not useful in the information age. Instead, 'new moral principles based on modern science and reason' should guide our understanding of human behavior to solve world problems.
Providing adequate food, health care and shelter to everyone on earth is one of the provisions of a proposed Planetary Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. This could be accomplished through an international income tax on corporations and countries, the Manifesto suggests.
Acknowledging that conservative politicians may balk at the idea of lessened national sovereignty, Kurtz nevertheless endorses an end to the veto power of U.N. Security Council members, a global environmental monitoring agency 'with teeth,' and a strengthened World Court.
Whether the manifesto will resonate with ordinary people is left to be seen. Jim Haught signed it and edits the Charleston Gazette in West Virginia. He said he has espoused a similar worldview in his editorials for years -? without much obvious success.
Readers of his 52,000-circulation paper more likely embrace the rhetoric of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, he said, but he isn't dissuaded.
'I'm the crazy misfit in the Bible Belt,' said Haught. 'Humanity has got to save itself. You're not going to get any help from heaven and angels.'
Contact: Paul Kurtz, president, International Academy of Humanism, Amherst, N.Y., 716-636-7571. Jim Haught, editor, the Charleston Gazette, Charleston, W. Va., 304-348-5140.
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