Humanity and the ideas of Humanism are an inseparable part of social consciousness, all institutions of a democratic society, its economy and state system, morals and law, and the system of labor relations and social guarantees.
Humanism proclaims the worth of the individual, his unique role in the Universe, his value, a priority and absolute in relation to himself, but relative and equal with respect to nature and society. Humanism is a vital position, affirming that people have the right and duty to determine the meaning and shape of their lives.
The Humanist world view includes:
- a scientific picture of the world;
- critical thinking and common sense as a safeguard against pseudoscience and paranormal beliefs;
- common human moral, civic, legal, common democratic and ecological values;
- secularism as the principle of separation of church from the state and the public schools;
- freedom of thought in its various forms: scientific skepticism, agnosticism, rationalism, indifferentism, atheism, non-theism, etc.
The fundamental features of modern Humanism are:
– the ethical nature of Humanism. It affirms the value, dignity, and autonomy of the individual, the right of each person to the maximum possible freedom compatible with the rights of other peoples. Humanists consider it their duty to concern themselves with all mankind, including future generations. Ethical nature means a quality inherent to human nature and based on an understanding of other peoples, taking their interests into consideration.
– rationality, the reasonableness of Humanism. It defends science as a form of self-affirmation of a person in the name of creation, and not of destruction. Humanists are convinced that the solution of vital problems lies in the sphere of human thought and creativity, and not in the competence of a divine will. Humanism calls for the application of methods of free scientific investigation in the solution of the issues of human welfare. Humanists think that the use of science and technology must be correlate with common human values. Science is not a goal in itself, but the most important instrument for improving the conditions of human existence.
– the democratic nature of Humanism. It supports democracy and human rights and is directed at the maximum possible development of each person. The principles of democracy and human rights are not limited to the sphere of government administration should be employed in all fields of civil society.
– the social and ecological responsibility of Humanism. It insists that personal freedom must be accompanied by social responsibility. Humanism strives to build a world on the basis of the ideas of a free personal responsibility in terms to society. Humanism recognizes our dependence on nature and our responsibility to it.
– the free thinking of Humanism. It is a response to the ever-broader request for an alternative to dogmatic religions. World religions assert that they are based on revelations true for all time, and impose their picture of the world on all humanity. Humanism recognizes that a reliable understanding of the world originates from a long process of observation, research, and a refinement of acquired knowledge. A person can be happy and live a full life without the aid of any religion or ideology.
– the openness of Humanism to the beautiful. It recognizes the value of artistic creativity and imagination. It recognizes the elevating and inspiring power of the arts. Humanism highly appreciates the importance of literature, music, and the visual and dramatic arts for personal development and realization.
– the practicality of Humanism. Humanism is directed at the maximum possible self-expression and realization of personality through a striving for a moral and creative life and the humanizing of social relations. It offers an ethical and rational means to meet the challenges of the times. Humanism can be a way of life for any person regardless of gender, age, ethnic background, social position, etc.
Many volunteer organizations of a humanitarian and educational nature have arisen in Russia in recent decades. Their activity is deeply humane and beneficial. An Interregional Public Union, The Russian Humanist Society (RHS), has existed in Russia since 1995. According to the Charter it promotes the “development, dissemination, and affirmation of the ideas of secular, civic humanism, and free thinking in Russian society”; it promotes “the study of the principles of a scientific Atheism and other forms of a non-religious world view (skepticism, agnosticism, and indifferentism toward religion)”. Members of the RHS have published a number of scientific research works about Humanism; the journal Zdravyy Smysl (Common Sense) was published from 1996 to 2013 (http://www.humanism.ru/journal/numbers.htm), and collections of articles, almanacs devoted to the theory and practice of Humanism in Russia and abroad (http://www.humanism.ru/izdatelstvo.htm). The RHS has held a number of large international symposia and conferences, summer schools, and seminars promoting the advancement of the ideas of secular humanism in the public consciousness.
Humanism is a world view, one of the ideals of which is planetary ethics and the formation of a planetary Humanist movement. The last three-quarters of a century have been marked by great achievements in the formation of a world Humanist community. The World Congress of Humanists in 1952 (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) at which the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) was created, is now the largest organization of secular humanists. As of 2011 the IHEU included 117 humanist, atheist, ethical, and skeptical organizations of 38 countries. Among the members of the IHEU are two Russian organizations: the Russian Humanist Society and the “Zdravomyslie” (Common Sense) public foundation. The RHS maintains close ties with the Humanists of Slovakia, Croatia, Norway, Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, the US, and other countries. The ties of humanists are based on a unity of understanding of the fundamental documents of the international humanist movement: “The Humanist Manifesto I” (1933), “The Humanist Manifesto II” (1973), “the Declaration of Secular Humanism” (1980), the “Declaration of Mutual Dependence: a New Global Ethic” (1988), the Humanist Manifesto 2000: a Call for a New Planetary Humanism” (2000), the “2002 Amsterdam Declaration”, the “The Humanist Manifesto III” (2003), the “the Declaration of Neohumanism” (2010), and the “The Oxford Declaration on Freedom of Thought and Expression ” (2014).
We Russian Humanists, desiring a moral and economic revival of Russia, its progress and prosperity, and advocating for the dignity and freedom of its citizens, declare.
We are adherents of a scientific world view in which there is no place for either religious dogmas and myths or paranormal beliefs.
We are for broad cooperation with religious Humanists and Secularists when they favor a secular state, oppose clericalization, pseudoscience, authoritarianism, nationalism, chauvinism, and xenophobia, and favor the conservation of nature. We condemn the repression pursued in the USSR against the church and believers of all faiths.
We are supporters of common human moral standards. We oppose total permissiveness, arrogance, cynicism, nihilism, extremism, and terrorism. We stand for peace and international security.
We think that morality does not require a religious basis, inasmuch it is the result of the synthesis of humanity’s own experience, a consolidation of ethnic norms in the traditions of communal living which facilitate the survival and prosperity of people.
We favor tolerance, but oppose indulgence of authoritarian societies, repressive religions, and ideologies.
We practice critical thinking, common sense, and a rational attitude toward reality. We consider astrology, magic, witchcraft, occultism, and other paranormal beliefs to be manifestations of human weakness, ignorance, or fraud.
We support political and civil actions with general democratic requirements and welcome the participation of Humanists in political parties, the activity of which does not contradict the Constitution of the Russian Federation and this Manifesto. Humanism is open to all political parties, but not one of them has the right to monopolize the Humanist idea.
We repudiate and condemn all forms of authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, including the totalitarianism in the USSR.
We are supporters of freedom of speech. We oppose the restriction of the constitutional rights and freedoms by references to the feelings of believers, to extremism, or to the incitement of ethnic, religious, and social discord. We oppose the interference of religious organizations in the affairs of state, favor the separation of church from all state institutions: the public schools, the army, governmental bodies, etc.
We favor a secular education and oppose the teaching of religious disciplines in civil educational institutions, including creationism in schools as a discipline which is an alternative to evolutionary theory.
We condemn all forms of nationalism. We reject the ideas of God’ chosen and messianic nation, a special path for some people, including the idea of a “special Russian path”.
We are for uniting all peoples and countries into a single, common human family and for increasing the role of international organizations and overcoming the barriers between peoples and cultures.
We are supporters of a rational management of nature, the preservation of the ecological balance and biological diversity on the planet Earth.
We oppose norms and traditions justifying male dominance and a subordinate position of women. We are in favor of gender equality. We think that the problem of abortion should be transferred from the sphere of government regulation to the sphere of morality and the personal responsibility of people.
We oppose discrimination against representatives of the LGBT community and the state’s interference in the sphere of intimate life.
We are against the death penalty. We favor the right to euthanasia with sufficient scientific information to the individual about the state of his health and the likelihood of recovery.
Those who sign their names to the Manifesto of the Russian Humanists do not necessarily agree with all its ideas. However, we accept its basic principles and welcome the publication of this document in order to promote a general constructive dialogue about the most important values of contemporary Russia. We call upon men and women representing other cultural traditions to join us and to work together on the creation of a humane Russia, a Russia of a better future.
Abilov, Il’ya, founder and chief executive officer of NGO “Osnovanie”, Moscow, Aleksandrov, Yevgeny academician, chairman of the Commission against Pseudoscience, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Alekseytsev, Vladimir, historian, journalist, blogger, human rights activist, Tomsk, Aref’yev, Ivan, PhD in pedagogical sciences, Professor, Shuya State Pedagogical University, Shuya, Ivanovo Oblast’, Arkhipov, Mikhail, PhD in Physics, St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Atayev, Renat, blogger, journalist, Omsk, Bayanov, Dmitriy, researcher and author, coordinator at the State Darwin Museum, Moscow, Vasil’yevsky, A. A., NGO Citizens of the 21st Century for Secularism and Humanism, Vostrikov, Igor’, Chairman of the Astrakhan’ regional branch of RHS, PhD in Philosophy, Astrakhan State University, Vaysfel’d, Larisa, senior researcher, Institute of Biochemical Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences. Moscow, Golovin, Yaroslav, President of RHS, PhD in Philosophy, Moscow State Open University, Grishin, Vadim, PhD in Philosophy, Koz’ma Minin Nizhnyy Novgorod State Pedagogical University, Don’shin, Anatoliy, designer, poet, and publicist, member of the RHS, Yefremov, Yuriy, member of the Commission against Pseudoscience, Russian Academy of Sciences, PhD in Physics, Moscow State University, Zakharov, Il’ya, pharmacist, member of the RHS, Syzran’, Ivaneyev, Sergey, PhD in Law, Professor of the Academy of Military Sciences, and President of NGO Citizens of the 21st Century for Secularism and Humanism, Kaganov, Vladimir, PhD in Philosophy, member of the Russian Writer’s Union, Kalinin, Sergey, blogger, Republic of Latvia, Kafyrin, Yevgeny, Ph D in Philosophy, Moscow, Kinzhuvayev, Rinat, PhD student, Institute of Philosophy of Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Komaricheva, A. A., PhD student, Moscow Industrial Finance University “Sinergiya”, Kondrashin, Igor’ Ivanovich, PhD in Philosophy, Vice-President of the World Philosophical Forum, Krashkina, Larisa, PhD in Philosophy, Moscow, Krylov, Dmitriy, Chairman of Chita Branch of the RHS, PhD in Philosophy, Professor, Department of Humanities of the Transbaykal Institute of Rail Transport, Kuvakin, Valery, founder and Honorary President of the Russian Humanist Society, PhD in Philosophy, Distinguished Professor of Moscow State University,Kuznetsova, Sof’ya student, the A. P. Chekhov Taganrog Institute, Kutateladze, Semen, PhD in Physics, Professor, S. L. Sobolev Institute of Mathematics, Kuchta, Veronika, PhD student, University of Surrey, Guilford, England, member of the British Humanist Association, Lodygin, A. N. NGO Citizens of the 21st Century for Secularism and Humanism, Loktev, Aleksandr, PhD in Technical Sciences, member of the RHS, Lutoshkina, Svetlana, PhD student, M. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University,Mikhaylov, Dmitriy, Director of the Learning Center for Moral Development, Moscow, Mitaleva, Marina, Chief Librarian of the N. P. Krupskaya Astrakhan’ Oblast’ Science Library, member of the RHS, Morozov, Denis, philologist, system administrator, Ufa,Neklyudov, Andrey, PhD in Geological and Mineral sciences, St. Petersburg, Neugodova, Svetlana, specialist in occupational safety, Kuskovsky Factory of Lubricating Greases, Oshchepkov, Mikhail, PhD in Technical Sciences, Director of “Politermo” (Moscow), Polishchuk, Rostislav, PhD in Physics, Professor, Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences, member of the Commission against pseudoscience of Russian Academy of Sciences, Rodoman, Boris, PhD in Geography, Senior researcher of the D. S. Likhachev Russian Institute of Cultural and Natural Heritage, Rybnikov, V. Z, Lawyer, State Duma, Sablina, Galina, school laboratory worker, Bedford, Great Britain, Savin, Yaroslav, PhD in Philosophy, Astrakhan’ State Medical University, member of the RHS, Samodurov, Yuriy, PhD in Geography, human rights activist, former Director of the A. D. Sakharov Museum and Social Center, Moscow, Senchikhina, Yuliya, Ph D in Philosophy, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Deputy General Director of the “Chelovechnost'” Foundation, Uvarova, Svetlana, PhD in Physics of the St. Petersburg State University, Finogentov, Valery,PhD in Philosophy, professor, Chief of the Department of philosophy of Orel State Agricultural University, Orel, Chairman of the Orel Regional Branch of RHS, Fikhtner, instructor of the Tomsk State Architectural and Construction University, Fragell, Levi, former General Secretary of the Norwegian Humanist Association, ex-President of the World Humanist and Ethical Union, Khokhlov, Aleksandr Viktorovich, design engineer, Central Scientific Research Institute of Robotics and Technical Cybernetics, St. Petersburg, Tsoglin, Arkady, journalist, Saratov, Shilovskaya, Natal’ya, PhD in Philosophy of the Department of philosophy and social sciences of Koz’ma Minin Nizhniy Novgorod State Pedagogical University, Shpekulyak, Mato, President of the Russian Language and Culture Society, Zagreb, Croatia, Mamontov, Sergey, PhD in Medical sciences, Professor, Moscow, Pushkansky, Boris, Chairman of the St. Petersburg Regional Branch of the Russian Humanist Society, PhD in Philosophy, professor, “Gornyy” Technical University, Skoblo, Yury PhD in Physics of Department physic of St. Petersburg State University.
Draft of the Manifesto by Valerii Kuvakin
Translation from Russian by Gary Goldberg