Humanists, Rationalists, Secularists are getting more concerned with the rise of the religious right, their determination to take over our Parliament and Schools,  our weakness to make an adequate response, has suggested the following proposals: 



The recent attempt by Zelda Bailey of the Queensland Humanist Society to bring reasonable education to the children of free thinking parents initially very successful as the Queensland Government agreed, has failed due to the threats of the religious right and the Federal Education Minister. Zelda will fight on, but has been taken to task by a small group of Humanists claiming that she should have moved for the abolition of RI in Queensland. But this seems to be a most impracticable alternative.

While Zelda can easily produce excellent curricula this leaves the problem of finding good humanist teachers. Our membership is so low that we do not have the numbers. The thought that professional teachers could teach a humanistic curricula in the same way that they can teach Shakespeare as English literature has not caught on.

While we wish Zelda every success it seems that we have little hope of making changes for many years. We should therefore turn our attention to other ways of combatting the religious right. One such way is to produce new versions of the Thinkers Library using modern processes, new formats and good artwork. There are good writers within the Free Thought organisations, some are concentrated in Melbourne but we should scour the world for top writers. Several of the organisations in Eastern States are well endowed and could find these proposals a worth while way of promoting our ideals.

The original Thinkers Library was published by the Rationalist Press Association between 1929 and 1950. (The few that I have seen did rather remind me of an 19th century novel.) It contains at least 140 titles and has sold millions world wide. The RPA is making these books available on line. Other publishers have also brought out books on a similar theme such as The New Thinkers Library.

New Formats

It is suggested that two formats be used, the first would be colourful, more like a magazine which could be sold at a newsagent to be attractive to holiday makers. The second would be more like a novel with depth of detail but with reasonable size print. All books would advertise the series in the back pages.

Attitude to Future World Problems

The content of the library should be realistic, show the reasons why we have problems, that there are solutions, that supernatural solutions make no sense. Problems include:

Over Population: Recent scientific statements say that the world is eating more grain than we produce, catching more fish than the oceans can sustain, using more water when supplies are getting scarce. It is said the maximum sustainable population for the earth is 2 billion, but we are now over 6 billion expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050. Prof. Albert Bartlett has shown that population growth is unsustainable. The result in time, will be mass starvation. Current wars and even AIDS in Africa has had little effect. The solution has been known for many years. Back in 1935 it was realised that family size was going down in the UK, today Australia and many westernised countries show reduced birthrates even in Italy in spite of the Vatican attitude. The remedy is to insist on a good standard of living and a good education especially for women. The present economic system is designed to make a profit, not to distribute food fairly. It must be reformed.

Climate Change: will make the food situation referred to above even worse. It is clearly due to high consumption of oil and coal. The CO2 levels are higher now than they have been for the last 400,000 years. Recent figures show that the rate of increase of CO2 pa. is going up. Humanity is behaving like the lemmings. Kyoto is not working. Business is booming, more houses are being built, more vehicles are consuming oil. A few more catastrophes like Katrina, and we may realise that fossil fuel must be cut. Its overall use must be capped. Nuclear Power may be necessary in some countries but in Australia Hot Rocks at Innamincka should be the answer.

Peak Oil: refers to the idea that the world has reached maximum oil production now (or in the next 5 years) and can only go down and the price can only increase. Recent price increases show that the financial world agrees with this concept. This will have a disastrous effect on employment causing a recession worse than 1930. It means that we must convert almost all our transport to alternate sustainable energy sources not in 30 or more years time but in the next 5 to 10 years time in order to insure that there is some oil left for priority purposes.

Finance: to avoid a financial crash, to create the huge amount of infrastructure involved in constructing new transport systems, will require reform of our financial system so as to provide capitol for infrastructure at zero rate of interest as was done by the Island of Guernsey for 150 years, very successfully, insuring full employment and prosperity for all.

Some will disagree with such proposals (especially Humanists from NSW!) fearing that this is a proposal to reinstate Socialism. It should be realised that the present global system is about to fail because long distance transport will become expensive. Economic Rationalism is a reversion to 19th century Laissez Faire as shown by Mr Howard’s recent legislation. The current system is what drives us to excessive consumption. The new watchword will be "local production for local consumption". We need a system without either extreme - but how do we convince economists that this is so?

Conclusions: There are many other subjects that should be covered by Thinkers Library, these would include the whole question of Immigration and a world review of Education which should be designed to teach people how to look after themselves in catastrophic conditions including growing their own food and providing their own entertainment. Health would be a priority problem, The present policies in Africa are a disgrace to civilisation. Again the problem is how to organise finance. Schools and Hospitals are the basic infrastructures required by society and as such should be built with interest free capitol. Of course limits have to be set but the result would be a fairer distribution of moneys between private and public enterprise and do much to restore a true democracy.

War: The world can no longer afford war. The cost in oil wasted is tremendous, the cost of the destruction is horrific. The new weapons produced by the USA are indeed weapons of mass destruction. The menace of land mines that kills children long after the war has finished is well known. The amount of money spent on armaments when there is so much else that needs doing disgraces all humanity. The likelihood of war over oil shortage seems to be very great. The Thinkers Library needs a very powerful book on this subject with actions that ordinary citizens can do to reduce the risk.

I am 81 years old, and I am not a writer of anything larger than a pamphlet, but I will distribute this leaflet to various organisations and ask you to see that your organisation supports a new Thinkers Library that will take a realistic view of our problems.

Dick Clifford, Vice President Humanist Society of South Australia.
June 2006

120 Goodman Road,
Elizabeth South,
South Australia,

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