On the Necessity To Recreate And Construct the Humanist Party of Russia
The speech presented at the conference of humanistically-oriented intellectuals
Pskov, 14 December 2003
The chairman has already presented me but as I am scarcely known in your city I shall try to give you an idea of who I am. For the last 6-7 years I haven't been involved in any prominent social activity so that nowadays even in St. Petersburg I am known mostly as a psychotherapist, narcologist, and the author of several patented methods of medical treatment. A comparatively small number of readers know me for my books mainly devoted to the problems of organization of healthy life-style. The other, lesser, part of my books is constituted by publicistic, philosophical and political works. In the most of Russia's regions I am known exclusively as the author of a popular method of medical treatment effective in curing alcoholism, tobacco addiction and a number of other diseases based on psychologic dependence. That's how it all looks like at the actual moment.
However, 10-15 years ago the situation was different. At that time I took an active part in the political process initiating and guiding the activity of a number of public organizations, one of them being the Humanist Party of Russia or the HPR. This was one of the first alternatives to the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union).
The constituting gathering of the HPR took place in July, 1990 and at its first gathering in December of the same year the program of the party was accepted. You can have a look at the several copies of this rarity of a brochure. Scanning it through it's easy to notice that the bulk of its contents is still up to date. Creating the organization we understood very well it was the party of a fairly remote future incapable of affecting the socio-political process for the time being. Still, we couldn't fail to bring it to life for at the time of unanimous euphoria among ruins and irresistible appeal of the capitalistic perspective the very indication at the necessity and fundamental inevitability of the humanist transformation of society was a spiritual imperative. We have been acting in accordance with it ever since.
Soon after the creation of the HPR a larger scale organization was constructed on its basis, the so-called International Coalition "For Humanism!". Its coming into being was caused already by the fact that after the split of the USSR the members of the initial organization of the HPR turned out to be citizens of different countries. Throughout the following years the Coalition conferences and the HPR gatherings coincided. It's not surprising that neither of the organizations succeeded in acquiring more or less mass character. That's why we failed to obtain the registration of the HPR in as much as a political party representing the whole of Russia notwithstanding the fact that all the necessary formalities were carried out. The Humanist Party ceased to exist as an official interregional organization due to the respective law. To sum it all up it can be said that formally there's no such party in Russia now.
Nevertheless it does exist because of its fairly long history and a number of people all over the country ready to go on, and sooner or later it will gain the necessary status. We organize the gatherings of the kind we are having right now in order to accelerate the process of legalization of the HPR. Today the need for such an organization at the state level is very acute for a number of reasons.
The main problem is the progressive deepening of the system crisis of human civilization marked by rapid growth of crisis phenomena in our country as well as abroad.
In Russia their real origin is hidden: here at first sight the majority of problems seem to be caused by the notorious perestroika due to the incomplete character of the reformation process. But from a somewhat closer look, lots of them turn out to be symptoms common for the human civilization as a whole. Thus, in the course of the reformation process they never lose their weight but, on the contrary, swell in importance.
For example, let's have a look at such calamities as the AIDS, epidemics of drug addiction, alcoholism, the constantly growing criminalization of society, terrorism, non-stop proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, environmental pollution, etc. The successful prevention and resolution of these and similar problems is hardly possible without knowing their real origin. I shall put it straight: we believe it to be rooted in the fact that the existing type of economic activity of mankind has become outdated and invalid. A total humanist reorganization of the social organism is required. The difficulty is, however, that for such revolutionary transformation to come true there must be the right understanding in the public consciousness which is hardly to be found anywhere as far as yet. In most cases even the members of the so called "humanist" movements of various kinds seem to lack such understanding. So, providing people with adequate information is by far the most urgent of tasks which can only be realized by a humanist political organization on the national scale. The same should be done at the international level for the benefit of the humanist future.
Later on I will come back to discussing the reasons that make us try to legalize the HPR but before that I should like to focus on what we mean by the system crisis of civilization. This notion on the one hand makes our position soundly different from the empty-worded position of the so-called Humanist International possessed by siloism, on the other hand bringing it close to antiglobalism.
In the HPR program which has not been revised since 1990 there is no such term as the system crisis of civilization. The corresponding problems are presented there in the part devoted to the Global Crisis. Later on (in my written works and speeches) the two notions came to be differentiated the following way.
The Global Crisis is the complex of all the crisis phenomena on Earth and its close periphery in outer space caused by human economic activity which are hazardous not only to humanity but to the whole of biosphere. A few examples of such dangerous anthropogenic phenomena are: the continuously increasing environmental pollution, greenhouse effect, depletion of the ozone layer, the risk of a sudden nuclear catastrophe accompanying the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The majority of our colleagues abroad are inclined to associate these and the like problems with inability to organize things properly which makes them believe the situation can be improved by operating more efficiently. We are somehow less optimistic in this respect since the Global Crisis is caused by the Crisis of Civilization which is sure to produce new global problems if things stay as they are. What sort of crisis are we talking about?
The followers of Marx keep saying for 150 years already that the capitalistic form of production relations has for long ceased to comply with the actual state of productive forces and restrains them. We share their opinion though tend to see the consequences differently and make other conclusions. Besides, everything looks much easier if we consider it to be a fact that the present-day civilization is based on the "profitability" principle according to which the production is aimed not at satisfying human needs but at selling products and making profit. And it is this principle which is in sharp and constantly growing conflict with the actual stage of development of human civilization.
Due to my profession and the lack of time I am only going to touch upon the medical aspect of the problem - related to the crisis of human nature… Competing with each other the producers of goods and services always had to search for new ways of interaction with their customers. However, one should keep it in mind that both the number of natural needs of a human being and their extent are limited. Therefore along with the development of civilization and growth of markets the producers of goods are obliged to go further and further beyond the natural restrictions of human nature. Unfortunately, such violation of human nature is possible and is happening in a variety of ways.
One of them is the production of goods whose new qualities (attracting a buyer) are due to different kinds of denaturation. The consummation of such highly denaturated goods, foods especially, is likely to provoke health problems as they are in sharp dissonance with natural human abilities, which have been forming for millions of years in natural environment. In order to see with one's own eyes that the bulk of modern goods are like this, that is denaturated to a great extent, one should just enter any supermarket and pay special attention to the ingredients of goods.
Another unhealthy trend of market broadening is the production of goods and services aimed at satisfying abnormal, that is initially unhealthy needs. Such are, for example, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, psychodelic music… The ever growing consummation of such products results in a pandemic of the respective diseases.
An especially morbid feature of competition is the pathogenic consumer deformation of the very man. It becomes possible due to the fact that unlikely those of all other species human needs can be formed as they are not inborn. This possibility having been detected long time ago, the competition made it clear that as soon as you form a need in a certain product this becomes not only competitive but beyond comparison with other products, that is the only bought. Due to this nowadays all the producers invest huge sums of money in forming the consumer demand for their own benefit. Since, as has already been mentioned, the market long ago crossed the borderline of human norm, this money is mostly spent to form abnormal needs... Owing to the mass character of this phenomenon the up-bringing of the younger generation has actually turned into the formation of increasingly abnormal consumers, that is ill people. This problem seems to be central in the worsening human nature crisis.
There is one more reason for sorrow: the production of harmful things along with causing psychological deformation in others supposes the degradation of humanity in those involved in this activity. No wonder that, the further the more, only dehumanized creatures turn out to prosper in our civilization…
Undoubtedly we are facing a deep and fatally dangerous humanity crisis, so that there is no time to lose. The HPR has been created to make people with acute sense of responsibility both in our country and abroad concentrate on the humanist alternative to the existing state of things.
I'd like to draw your attention to the political aspect of the matter. I mean the political situation making the task of legalization of the HPR a necessity.
First of all, there is obvious dehumanization of the left-wing political forces: if some 5-6 years ago there remained hope of "humanization" of some of the CPSU pieces, there are no more grounds for such hope now. All these "pieces" stay firm on the platform of materialistic atomism and, consequently, have no chances to look into the spiritual-psychological perspective of the coming humanist transformation of society.
If one of these parties comes to power, nothing else can be awaited but a comeback to totalitarianism, which outcome is very likely in the conditions of the system crisis of civilization. It can be proved by the recent governmental elections where the majority was taken by various pieces of the former CPSU. That's why, notwithstanding the proximity of our position to the communist idea, we have to oppose the communists.
One more danger was made prominent by the same Duma elections: the growing popularity of national-socialistic ideas. The LDPR, the mainstream national-socialistic party, got the 3d place there.
Our insight into the historical perspective makes it clear for us that both of the trends, the communist and the national socialistic one, are doomed to extinction. The humanist transformation is only possible in free society and on the basis of universal human kinship. Our party is aimed at unifying the politically active part of population having special concern about the ideas of human dignity and freedom…
To sum it all up I'll deal with the questions which ought to have appeared in the course of my speech.
The first question to come is why call the party humanist, if its ideology evidently has little in common with that of the Humanist International and the majority of other humanist parties? It's easy: we consider our ideology to be really humanistic and do not feel bound to stick to any false political patterns.
There are enough grounds for us to do so. The predominant one is historical: at the time when our party was created the situation in Russia was very similar to that in Europe of Early Renaissance. This was actually the time when humanism was born. It's well known that this new world-view appeared as the result of the new understanding of the human nature closely connected with the so-called studia humanitatis that marked the revival of interest of progressive people in the ancient and Greek cultures. They focused upon a person capable of building his/her own future. The new ideology put forward the greatness of human being, the power of its mind and will, high destination in this world. It challenged the stratification of society according to the class principle showing that a man should be valued according to his personal qualities, not his place in society. In fact, the humanism of Renaissance was an antithesis to the medieval scholasticism…
Our conception was formed very much alike. The group of people who initiated the HPR appeared in the beginning of the 1980s. Our deep interest in human nature and abilities brought us together. At first it was Psychic Culture School (analogous to the studia humanitatis) which later became the Leningrad Psychic Culture Club. At the time it was known as the LKPK (abbreviation for the Russian name of the organization). On investigating the human nature one couldn't help noticing it was in sharp conflict with the mainstream ideology and the political system of the time, as the latter two violated the basic human virtues - humanitas. Consequently, as soon as we were given a chance to demonstrate our political will, we came to oppose the communist ideological scholasticism and the CPSU nothing else but this very humanitas. And the party was respectively called humanist. That's the answer to the first part of the question.
In addition to it I would like to underline the following: as nowadays the word humanism is widely used with reference to the ideology incongruent with ours (I mean the secular humanism), having no desire to get involved in unnecessary discussions on every occasion, we prefer to call ourselves authentists and our humanist world-view - authentism.
This term has a long history as we started to use it long before the HPR was founded. This term has the following origin: on investigating the human nature we came to the conclusion that harmonious development presupposes the realization of the principle of being in accordance with one's own self - the authenticity principle. Later on, dealing with socio-political problems, we found out that this principle should be extrapolated to any social communities. So we may say that the world-view based on the principle of authenticity is authentism. According to this principle, the harmonious development of civilization supposes that its organization should correspond to the stage of development of the productive forces (which is quite in Marx's line), and the harmonious development of any country supposes agreement with its unique character...
As to our controversy with the Humintern, it is a matter of principle. The borderline here is the spiritual nature of man. We consider spirituality to be by far one of the most important qualities of the human nature while our Humintern opponents deny it. What sort of humanists are they, then? The "humanists" having curtailed the human nature...
Fortunately, our looks are shared by others: first there exist spiritually-oriented humanist organizations, secondly the antiglobalist movement is gaining strength with many of its participants aware of the fact that the way out of the civilization crisis can be only spiritual. In general we are open for cooperation with all those ready to put into life the ideal of human harmony and to construct the appropriate society which we call humanist.
One more inevitable question: how do we see the humanist way of social transformation?
As it doesn't seem the right time and place to dwell upon it, I shall only say that in accordance with our viewpoint the humanist transformation presupposes the unity of civilization … In this respect we are for multi-lateral integration of mankind in conformity with the humanist perspective. And the main threat to the humanist perspective is the purposeful destruction of national cultures and inculcation of the ugly ill-natured American-style mass culture. Its spread should be stopped by all means. And what means can be used in this case as well as in all the others? The answer will be: those that are considered to be legal…
Answers to the questions of the audience
- As humanism was brought to life as an antithesis to the Christian scholasticism, should it be regarded as an atheist ideology?
- We can't agree with it: the majority of humanists of the Renaissance were Christians. Being such they tended to look at the studia humanitatis, human-centered sciences, not as opposed to the studia divinitatis (the sciences on the divine) but as an addition to them. Their world outlook presented a harmonious synthesis of Christian religious beliefs, the wisdom of ancient times and secular approaches to various branches of knowledge. Yes, the feature of Renaissance culture was anthropocentrism but man was believed to be a spiritual being. The humanism of atheistic kind appeared much later as a result of increasing struggle between secular sciences and church, and it is nothing else but a radical version where the essential characteristics were forgotten for the benefit of form. The true humanism - I'd like to stress it - is a paradigm centered upon a human being in the totality of all its features, of which the most important is spirit. It is thanks to his spiritual nature that man is free and capable of understanding the universe in all its complexity. And this is what makes him different from all other creatures.