Global Ideology, Humanistic Studies and the Aspen Institute
Michael Loyd Chadwick, Editor of The Freemen Digest
Many people have asked this question: Where do the leading officials of the Trilateral Commission, White House, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Exxon Corporation, the Brookings Institute, The New York Times, the Observer International, Die Zeit, IBM Corporation, Goldman Sachs and Company, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Xerox Corporation, Citibank, the U.N., Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy, World Bank, Council on Foreign Relations, the University of Chicago, the University of Rome, Coca-Cola Bottlers, Chase Manhattan Bank. etc., go for advanced seminars in global ideology and humanistic studies? The not-so-obvious answer is Aspen, Colorado. To those who travel in high circles Aspen is not just a mountain retreat - famous for its majestic mountains and exhilarating skiing - it is a place where the world's elite gather to consider the problems of governance and to set forth possible plans for the future of humanity.
The Aspen Institute: Humanistic in View and International in Scope
What is the Aspen Institute? According to Joseph E. Slater, President of the Institute. it is "humanistic in view and international in scope." It brings together "leaders in thought and action from various spheres who should spend intensive work time together. . ." The goals of the Aspen Institute vary from "a deepening and broadening of public debate on vital social issues, to specific recommendations for new national and international policies and institutions in government, academia, and private enterprise: to proposals for new educational curricula and for innovative programs in the mass media" (The Aspen Magazine, Aspen, Colorado, December 1977, p. 12)
The Development of the Institute
The Aspen Institute grew out of an international convocation held in Aspen, Colorado, in 1949, to celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The convocation was planned by the following three Chicagoans: Professor Giuseppe Antonio Borgese, Robert M. Hutchins, and Walter Paul Paepeke.
"Professor Giuseppe Antonio Borgese of the University of Chicago originated the idea for the Goethe Convocation and was supported by Robert M. Hutchins, then president of the university. Walter Paul Paepeke, Chicago businessman and philanthropist, completed the trio of founders. It was Paepeke who urged the setting of Aspen, Colorado, as a place where people could breathe freely and think clearly. Mortimer Adler, of the University of Chicago Great Books program, was also an early planner and participant in the Institute and its Executive Seminars.
"Later Robert 0. Anderson - chairman of the board of Atlantic Richfield Company, rancher, humanist, and civic leader - took over the direction of the Institute, and for more than fifteen years has guided its operations and helped shape its programs. Joseph E. Slater, formerly of the Ford Foundation and the Salk Institute, became president of the Aspen Institute in 1969, and working with Mr. Anderson, has developed the Institute into the major international institution which it is today. ("The Aspen Idea," University of Oklahoma Press. Norman. Oklahoma. 1975. cover).
Influencing Government Decisions at the National and International Level
As noted by Sidney Hyman, author of The Aspen Idea, "The Aspen Institute defines its own tasks, and proceeds with them in its own way. Yet its work as an 'early warning system' - in spotting emerging problems, in examining them from different perspectives and in formulating alternative responses to them - has been increasingly, valued by policy-makers and political executives in the United States government, in foreign governments, and in international agencies (Ibid, p. 6).
Solving Problems from a Humanistic Viewpoint
According to Joseph F. Slater, the Aspen Institute is "humanistic" in nature and approach, whatever the subject. It seeks to solve problems "from a human-centered viewpoint." Hyman elaborates on this as follows:
"The Institute takes its unity from an idea and a commitment shared by the participants in its inner life, regardless of the city, nation, or continent where they otherwise make their home. The idea is, that any salient problem of contemporary human existence now shares a common frontier or merges with every other salient problem, and that any solutions framed for a particular problem must take into account its linkages to the rest. The commitment is to all the meanings packed into the strategic word 'humanistic' - to search for ways in which man in Martin Buber's phrase. "can reach for the divine, not by reaching above the human, but by striving to become, in all that he does, more human"' (Ibid, p. 7).
Humanism - the Second American Revolution
Inasmuch as the Aspen Institute is one of the most prominent organizations in the world promoting humanistic studies, it is appropriate to discuss here the concepts and philosophy of humanism.
The present century is being proclaimed by many as the "humanist century." In fact, John D. Rockefeller III, the late elder brother of David Rockefeller, has termed the transformation period we are now experiencing in the United States "the second American Revolution." In a recent book he states:
"In my attempts to understand the realities of today. I have come more and more to accept the view that in the United States we are in the early stages of a revolution - that the currents of change are so profound it is not an exaggeration to regard them as revolutionary in nature.
America - Center of a 20th Century World Revolution
"This view, of course, did not originate with me. So many solid and responsible observers share it that it must be taken seriously even if one does not agree. It came perhaps most prominently into the public consciousness in two books published since 1970. In one, Without Marx or Jesus, the French writer Jean-Francois Revel held that 'the revolution of the twentieth century will take place in the United States. It is only there that it can happen. And it has already begun. Whether or not it succeeds in the rest of the world depends on whether or not it succeeds first in America."
"And. in the other, The Greening of America, Charles Reich wrote that 'there is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past . . . It is now spreading with amazing rapidity, and already our laws, institutions, and social structure are changing in consequence."
Two Broad Sources of Revolutionary Change
"At the risk of oversimplifying, let me say that I see two very broad sources of revolutionary change in our society. One is people, individually and in groups, who are concerned about justice and freedom and receiving a fair share of the fruits of our society. The other is impersonal and materialistic, stemming from economic growth, new knowledge and technological innovations, international rivalries. "
The Second American Revolution
I have chosen to call the revolution I see emerging the "Second American Revolution," for that anchors it in terms of time and place - here and now.
Desire of People for a Person-Centered Society
"As for the content of this movement, it seems to me most expressive and accurate to refer to it as a humanistic revolution, for it springs from the first source of change mentioned above - the wants and needs and aspirations of people. It embodies a desire to create a person-centered society, to harness the forces of economic and technological change in the service of humanistic values. Its mission is that the ideals and purposes that give life its higher meaning may now finally be within our grasp."
The Nature of the Coming Revolution
"To use the dictionary definition of humanism, this revolution is characterized by a 'devotion to human welfare, interest in or concern for man.' It is a search for 'a doctrine, set of attitudes, or way of life centered upon human interests or values.' I believe this is very much in the directions perceived by Revel and Reich. A true revolution, Revel wrote, is a 'social, cultural, moral and even artistic transformation, where the values of the old world are rejected, where relations between social classes are reconsidered, where relations among individuals are modifed, where the concept of the family changes, where the value of work, the very goals of existence are reconsidered."
"Reich wrote that the revolution 'promises a higher reason, a more human community, and a new and liberated individual. Its ultimate creation will be a new and enduring wholeness and beauty - a renewed relationship of man to himself, to other men, to society, to nature, and to the land."
"The word 'revolution' is overworked, particularly in the advertising world, but it is important to realize that what is being considered here is revolution in the real sense" (The Second American Revolution, Harper and Row, New York, 1973. pp. 4-6).
Phasing Out Old-Fashioned Nationalism
Concerning the interdependence of man. Rockefeller stated:
"Men are seen as having the same basic needs and desires everywhere despite differences in customs, ethnic backgrounds, and beliefs. There is a growing recognition of the mutual dependence of people of all nations on a fragile environment, and their dependence on one another for sustenance and support. Therefore people are seen as fundamentally interdependent. This value emphasizes cooperation and mutual respect among peoples, and de-emphasizes the competitiveness, insularity, and chauvinism which have characterjzed much old-fashioned nationalism."
The Philosophy of Humanism
The humanistic approach to the solution of problems has a long history. One of the most prominent humanist philosophers was Corliss Lamont, a graduate of Harvard and Colombia Universities and later an instructor at Cornell, at Harvard and Colombia Universities, and at the New School for Social Change. In 1965 he published a revised and enlarged version of The Philosophy of Humanism which traces the development of the growing humanist movement in America. Lamont outlined the philosophy of humanism as follows:
"Humanism has had a long and notable career, with roots reaching far back into the past and deep into the life of civilizations supreme in their day. It has had eminent representatives in all the great nations of the world. As the American historian Professor Edward P. Cheyney says, Humanism has meant many things: 'It may be the reasonable balance of life that the early Humanists discovered in the Greeks: it may be merely the study of the humanities or polite letters: it may be the freedom from religiosity and the vivid interest in all sides of life of a Queen Elizabeth. . .; it may be the responsiveness to all human passions of a Shakespeare or a Goethe: or it may be a philosophy of which man is the center and sanction. It is in the last sense, elusive as it is, that Humanism has had perhaps its greatest significance since the sixteenth century."'
Basic Principles of Humanism
"Humanism is a many-faced philosophy, congenial to this modern age, yet fully aware of the lessons of history and the richness of the philosophic tradition. Its task is to organize into a consistent and intelligible whole the chief elements of philosophic truth and to make that synthesis a powerful force and reality in the minds and actions of living men. What, then, are the basic principles of Humanism that define its position and distinguish it from other philosophic viewpoints? There are, as I see it, ten central propositions in the Humanist philosophy."
"First, Humanism believes in a naturalistic metaphysics or attitude toward the universe that considers all forms of the supernatural as myth; and that regards Nature as the totalitv of being and as a constantly changing system of matter and energy which exists independently of any mind or consciousness."
Man is an Evolutionary Product
"Second, Humanism, drawing especially upon the laws and facts of science, believes that man is an evolutionary product of the Nature of which he is part, that his mind is indivisibly conjoined with the functioning of his brain: and that as an inseparable unity of body and personality he can have no conscious survival after death."
Ultimate Faith in Man
"Third, Humanism, having its ultimate faith in man, believes that human beings possess the power or potentiality of solving their own problems, through reliance primarily upon reason and scientific method applied with courage and vision."
Human Beings Possess Genuine Freedom of Choice
"Fourth, Humanism, in opposition to all theories of universal determinism, fatalism, or predestination, believes that human beings, while conditioned by the past, possess genuine freedom of creative choice and action, and are, within certain objective limits, the masters of their own destiny."
All Human Values Grounded in this Earthly Experience
"Fifth, Humanism believes in an ethics or morality that grounds all human values in this earthly experiences and relationships and that holds as its highest goal the this-worldly happiness, freedom, and progress-economic, cultural, and ethical - of all mankind, irrespective of nation, race, or religion."
"Sixth, Humanism believes that the individual attains the good life by harmoniously combining personal satisfactions and continuous self-development with significant work and other activities that contribute to the welfare of the community."
Development of Art and Beauty
"Seventh, Humanism believes in the widest possible development of art and the awareness of beauty, including the appreciation of Nature's loveliness and splendor, so that the aesthetic experience may become a pervasive reality in the life of men."
Far-Reaching Social Programs
"Eighth, Humanism believes in a far-reaching social program that stands for the establishment throughout the world of democracy, peace, and a high standard of living on the foundations of a flourishing economic order, both national and international."
Complete Social Implementation of Reason and Scientific Method
"Ninth, Humanism believes in the complete social implementation of reason and scientific method; and thereby in the use of democratic procedures, including full freedom of expression and civil liberties, throughout all areas of economic, political, and cultural life."
Unending Questioning of Basic Assumptions
"Tenth, Humanism, in accordance with scientific method, believes in the unending questioning of basic assumptions and convictions. including its own. Humanism is not a new dogma, but is a developing philosophy ever open to experimental testing, newly discovered facts, and more rigorous reasoning" (The Philosophy of Humanism, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., New York, 1965, pp. 11-14).
A Humanist Civilization
Lamont in the latter part of his book gives the reader a view of the emerging humanist civilization. Although rather lengthy, it provides an excellent summary of the direction in which the humanist movement is traveling in America and throughout the world. Lamont states:
"A Humanist civilization is one in which the principles of the Humanist philosophy are dominant and find practical embodiment in laws, institutions, economics, culture, and indeed all the more significant aspects of individual and social life. This requires, as the eighth proposition of Humanism phrases it, 'a far-reaching social program that stands for the establishment throughout the world of democracy and peace on the foundations of a flourishing and cooperative economic order, both national and international."
Democratization of Education and Culture
"Humanism's thorough democratization of education and culture will result, I am convinced, in a cultural flowering comparable in achievement to the outstanding epochs of the past and going far beyond them in breadth of impact. A Humanist society will invest in education and general cultural activity sums proportionate to what present-day governments allocate to armaments and war. Particularly will schools and colleges, universities, and research institutes, with their perennial budget difficulties, benefit from vastly enlarged financial resources. At long last educational institutions will be able to construct adequate physical plants and employ full teaching staffs at generous salaries. Thus current overcrowding will be done away with and the advantages of individual attention for all types of students realized to the full. It is generally recognized that the current crisis in American education is principally due to a tidal wave of students, the result of an all-time high birth rate, inundating already inadequate schools, colleges, and universities."
Promoting Social rather thin Individualistic Aims
"Humanist education naturally accents social rather than individualistic aims. This implies both more attention to social studies, such as economics, politics (including civil liberties), and sociology, and inclusion in the curriculum of courses on ethics in order to train the youth of a nation in the broad Humanist attitudes of loyalty to the social group and to humanity. Humanism would also greatly extend the teaching of science and scientific method, putting emphasis on the student's learning to think straight but not neglecting the inculcation of basic facts. There need be no opposition between science and the Humanities, from both of which the Humanist draws inspiration, and no concentration upon one of them to the exclusion of the other."
Spreading an Awareness of Literature and Art
"The Humanist educational program will be a large factor in spreading a fundamental awareness of literature and art among all of the people. This does not mean any letdown in standards; on the contrary the effects will be just the opposite, by raising to unprecedented levels the average cultural understanding and by widening to an unprecedented extent the range of true artistic accomplishment on the part of both amateurs and professionals."
Complete Freedom of Expression
"The Humanist stress on complete cultural democracy and freedom of expression means that artists and writers should have the widest latitude in what they produce and say. A free art and a free literature are absolute essentials for a free culture. A Humanist civilization will contain many different and contradictory currents of thought, including non-Humanist and anti-Humanist tendencies. It certainly will not bring pressure on art and literature to conform to any official philosophy; or seek to force the novel, the theatre, and the motion picture to deal with Humanist themes. Those who so wish will criticize and satirize to their heart's content; and will be at entire liberty to present unconventional ideas that shock and stir the Humanist orthodox."
Removing Moralistic Restraints on Artists and Writers
"Narrowly moralistic restraints on artists and writers have ever been a bane in the history of the West; and those restraints have frequently stemmed from the supernaturalist's suspicion of earthly pleasures. As Professor Irwin Edman explains: 'The traditional quarrel between the artist and the puritan has been the quarrel between those who were frankly interested in the sensuous appearances and surfaces of things and those to whom any involvement or excitement of the senses was a corruption of the spirit of a deflection of some ordered harmony of reason. The history of censorship in the fine arts, if it could be told in full, would be found to revolve in no small measure around the assumed peril of corruption of the spirit by the incitements of the flesh through beautiful things."
Embodying the Humanistic Viewpoint in Artistic and Literary Work
One of the challenges to Humanist writers and artists will be to embody in artistic and literary work the general point of view for which Humanism stands: to express that sense of the beauty and glory of life which Michelangelo, for instance, so superbly portrayed in the Sistine Chapel through the medium of a subject matter centered upon the supernatural. There is nothing in the nature of art, literature, or poetry that makes treatment of the Christian myth lead to great creative accomplishment and that prevents a similar result in the representation of the humanistic and naturalistic world-view. Genius is not confined to the delineation of any one philosophic position concerning the universe and man.
"Santayana enlarges upon our point. 'The naturalistic poet,' he writes, 'abandons fairy land, because he has discovered nature, history, the actual passions of man. His imagination has reached maturity. Throw open to the young poet the infinity of nature; let him feel the precariousness of life, the variety of purposes, civilizations, and religions even upon this little planet: let him trace the triumphs and follies of art and philosophy, and their perpetual resurrections - like that of the downcast Faust. If, under the stimulus of such a scene, he does not some day compose a natural comedy as much surpassing Dante's divine comedy - in sublimity and richness as it will surpass it in truth, the fault will not lie with the subject, which is inviting and magnificent, but the halting genius that cannot render that subject worthily.'"
Poets should Verse the Basic Themes of Humanism
"Great poets in the past have given expression to some particular philosophy or religion. In a general sense we can call Homer the poet of Paganism, Lucretius the poet of Materialism, Dante the poet of Catholicism, Milton the poet of Protestantism, Goethe the poet of Romanticism and Wordsworth the poet of Pantheism. As yet, however, no poet equal in rank to these just mentioned has put into enduring verse the basic themes of Humanism as a philosophy."
Working Out Rituals and Ceremonies that are Consistent with the Central Tenets of Humanism
"An essential function for artists and writers in a Humanist society will be to work out rituals and ceremonies that are consistent with the central tenets of Humanism. Such ceremonies should appeal to the emotions as well as the minds of the people, capturing their imagination and giving an outlet to their delight in pomp and pageantry. Present-day Humanists regard a festival like Christmas, which has already become secularized to a large extent in the United States, as a folk day symbolizing the joy of existence, the feeling of human brotherhood, and the ideal of democratic sharing. However, during the year's most intensive holiday season, many Humanists prefer to put their stress on New Year's Day rather than Christmas. Easter can be humanisticallv utilized to celebrate the rebirth of the vital forces of Nature and the renewal of man's own energies. In fact, according to the anthropologists, Easter probably originated in just such a way. Humanism will likewise naturally make much of the birthdays of outstanding leaders of the human race, and of other important anniversaries."
Changes Needed in Wedding and Funeral Services
"The average familv in a Humanist civilization will also need wedding and funeral services based on a nonsupernatural philosophy of life. It seems reasonable to suppose that even today millions of families in America and throughout the world would like to have available definitely Humanist rituals for the occasions of marriage and death. Since such families are not usually acquainted with services of dignity and beauty that are in harmony with their ideas regarding life and destiny, they tend to fall back on the traditional supernaturalist ceremonies. One result of this has been that again and again rationalists, freethinkers, and Humanists are adjudged finally in the public eye as faithful supernaturalists because their funeral services are orthodox. A number of Humanist wedding and funeral services are already in use, such as those prepared by Ethical Culture and Humanist groups."
The Social Origin and Function of Art
"In general, Humanism believes in the social origin and function of art. Categorically asserting that art is for man's sake, it repudiates the superficial slogan of art for art's sake, which represented a natural reaction against the dreariness and ugliness of nineteenth-century industrialism. At the same time Humanism eschews the artificial distinction between the fine arts and the useful arts. This is another of the old, out-worn dualisms and tends in the direction of an aristocratic, spectator view of art as residing in private mansions and public museums rather than as a pervasive complement of human work and play. So far the products of labor are concerned, the Humanist theory is that they should embody a constant fusion of utility and grace. so that the quality of beauty will enter universally into the common objects of daily use."
"The mass production of industrial goods by machinery does not necessarily prevent the fulfillment of this aim. An excellent case can be made for claiming that the best designed American automobile is of as high a standard aesthetically as the ancient Greek chariot, modern china as the ancient Greek vase, and the twentieth-century skyscraper as the ancient Greek temple. The finest works of art in any case have always been socially functional in some sense. Where modern economic systems have held back and hampered the development of good art is particularly in their emphasis on the profit motive. The quality of artistic and literary creations cannot be justly assessed in terms of the money that they earn: and the general spirit prevalent in a predominantly money civilization is not conducive to the highest type of culture."
"All the great periods of cultural upsurge in the past have sprung from a definite material foundation, usually coinciding with or immediately following relative economic prosperity on the part of the particular people concerned. Greece of the Periclean Age, the European Renaissance, the flowering of New England in the nineteenth century, are cases in point. The lesson of history is, then, that for a dynamic and creative cultural life, a nation must have an adequate material base in the form of a healthily functioning economic system."
Human Rights Must Prevail over Property Rights
"It is not the purpose of this book to go into the details of economics. But it is necessary to state that Humanism, whatever the prevailing economic system may be, stands behind Abraham Lincoln's statement: 'Whenever there is a conflict between human rights and property rights. human rights must prevail.' Here we also return once more for guidance to what the Founding Fathers said in the Declaration of Independence. Instead of listing life, liberty, and property as the inalienable rights of men, as had John Locke, the English philosopher who so strongly influenced Jefferson and other early American statesmen, the signers of the Declaration substituted 'the pursuit of happiness' for 'property.' This was a most significant departure."
Humanism Stands for Comprehensive Social Planning
"Humanism also brings to the fore the concept of planning as a key to the establishment of a sound economic order, though individual Humanists vary as to how far they favor pushing the techniques of planning. Effective thinking is in essence a form of planning and the final solution adopted for any problem constitutes a plan of action. The first level of planning is, then, problem-solving thought. The second level is a person's general planning for himself and his future, his conscious attempt to foresee and control relevant circumstances. The wise individual who looks ahead will draw up an annual budget for himself. The preparation of a budget by individuals, families, businesses, colleges, governments, or any organization whatever is always an example of planning."
"The third level of planning is that which a family does for the well-being of its members, including planned parenthood through some form of birth control. Next we come to the planning of individual private businesses, whether small or large, with the central coordination of different departments and the itemized control of finances. Then there are various types of government planning, whether Federal, State, or municipal. A further and crucial stage is that of continuous national planning for the benefit of all the people and through the means of coordinating the entire industrial and agricultural life of a country with transportation, finance, and distribution. Contrary to a widespread impression, socio-economic planning fully compatible with democratic procedures and can be utilized as a major instrument in furthering the goals of democracy."
World Planning for the Welfare of All Mankind
"World planning for the welfare of all mankind is the highest and broadest level of all. It becomes possible only with a tremendous extension of international organization. A successfully functioning United Nations, with its many specialized agencies. such as the Economic and Social Council. the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, and UNESCO, obviously entails some degree of global planning and could lay the foundation for an integrated world economy and political federation."
An Eventual Community of Nations Embracing all Peoples
"Manifestly any practicable and constructive scheme of world planning depends on the elimination of international war, the most terrible and destructive malady that has ever afflicted the human race. Modern philosophers have been perennially concerned with the scourge of war. Kant's succinct essay Perpetual Peace, written in 1795, was among the best philosophic studies of the subject. Kant included among his prerequisites for international peace that every nation should have a republican constitution, that each people should possess national self-determination that there should be general disarmament, and that there should be a federation of free states agreeing to abolish war forever. He also suggested an eventual 'State of nations,' or world-republic, embracing all peoples. The Humanist, while disagreeing with the supernaturalistic aspects of Kant's philosophy, can certainly agree with his program for peace so far as it goes."
The Principle of Collective Security
"In the twentieth century the idea of a federation of free states became embodied in the League of Nations, which collapsed with the outbreak of World War II, and in the United Nations, which was created at the war's end. Both these organizations were founded upon the principle of collective security, namely that the peace-loving countries of the earth should band together against any aggressor or potential aggressor and speedily put an end, by means of collective action and mutual assistance, to war or the threat of war. For Humanism the principle of collective securitv is a vital one in international affairs."
The Realistic Humanist Believes in at Least a Limited Economic Interpretation of History
"The realistic Humanist, however, believing in at least a limited economic interpretation of history, will look beyond fine-sounding peace pronouncements and formal peace organizations to those fundamental economic forces and relationships that make for war. We can find an economic interpretation of war as far back as Plato when he said, 'Wars are occasioned by the love of money.' Without contending that economics constitutes the whole story behind war, we can state that unless and until the different peoples of the world solve their basic economic problems centering around poverty, unemployment, inflation, depression, business monopoly, and the proper control of natural resources, there will be no lasting international peace."
All Nations are Economically, Politically and Culturally Interdependent
"Clearly, too, the various nations, now some 120 in number, will not be able to work out their economic problems independently. All countries in this modern age are economically, politically, and culturally interrelated and interdependent. The time is past when any national unit can be sufficient unto itself and function prosperously and securely in isolation from the rest of mankind. A long time ago Plato stressed in his Dialogues the theme of the good individual in the good society, showing how difficult it is for a person to achieve virtue in a bad environment. Today it is relevant to talk about the good nation in the good world. No one country, however wealthy, populous, and powerful, can fulfill its finest potentialities until it can live in a decent international environment quite dissimilar from that of the present. A truly Humanist civilization must be a world civilization."
All Men Are Fellow Citizens of One World
"For the Humanist it follows that beyond all questions of national self-interest, every people has a moral obligation to humanity as a whole,' a duty which is also an opportunity, to make common cause with the other peoples of the earth in man's eternal quest for peace. plenty, and freedom. All individuals of all countries are together fellow citizens of our one world and fellow members of our one human family."
The Americans, the Russians, the English, the Indians,. the Chinese, the Germans, the Africans, and the rest are all part of the same perplexed, proud, and aspiring human race.
Humanism is a Supranational, Panhuman Philosophy
"Humanism is not only a philosophy with a world ideal, but is an ideal philosophy for the world. It is quite conceivable that a majority of this planet's population could come to see the truth of its underlying principles. The Humanist viewpoint, surmounting all national and sectional provincialisms, provides a concrete opportunity for overcoming the age-long cleavage between East and West. Even those who cling to some form of supernaturalism can unite with Humanists, as they did during World War II, on a program of democracy and progress that reaches to the farthest corners of the earth. Humanism is a supranational, panhuman philosophy of universal relevance: it is the philosophic counterpart of world patriotism."
"In mv endeavor to present a compact, minimum prospectus of the Humanist philosophy, I have naturally had to deal very briefly with certain large topics. . . I have tried to make explicit Humanism's clear and uncompromising answer on the major philosophic issues. In an era in which multitudes of people have lost the faith of their forebears and waver uncertainly in a no man's land of doubt concerning the ultimate problems of existence, Humanism takes an unequivocal position and offers an integrated and affirmative way of life. It provides modern man with a stable and meaningful frame of reference. The Humanist synthesis, while of course gathering strength from other philosophies, has a unity and a viability of its own. And it represents a viewpoint, still in process of evolution, that can never be restricted to any final formulation. Naturalistic Humanism is a comprehensive idea system, but it is an open system."
"Despite the appalling world wars and other ordeals through which humanity has passed during the twentieth century, despite the unprecedented menace of nuclear annihilation, Humanism takes the long view and remains hopeful of the decades to come. This philosophy, with its faith in man and in his ability to solve his problems through human intelligence and scientific techniques, holds to what might be called a reasoned optimism. It rejects the dead ends of despair as well as the daydreams of Utopia. I believe firmly that man, who has shown himself to be a very tough animal has the best part of his career still before him. And there is at least the possibility; that by the close of this century 'the Humanist break-through,' in Sir Julian Huxley's phrase, will spread throughout the globe to create a higher civilization of world dimensions."
Humanism Assigns to Man the Task of Being His Own Savior and Redeemer
"In the meaningful perspectives of the Humanist philosophy man, although no longer the darling of the universe or even of this earth, stands out as a far more heroic figure than in any of the supernaturalist creeds, old or new. He has become truly a Prometheus Unbound with almost infinite powers and potentialities. For his great achievements, man, utilizing the resources and the laws of Nature, yet without Divine aid, can take full credit. Similarly, for his shortcomings' he must take full responsibility. Humanism assigns to man nothing less than the task of being his own savior and redeemer (Ibid, pp.273-283).
Becoming Accustomed to Thinking in Global Terms
Along with being humanistic in view," the Aspen Institute is "international in scope." Harlan Cleveland. former ambassador to NATO, State Department official and author of The Third Try at World Order, is head of the Institute's International Division. One of the Institute's programs which is relatively new is titled "Global Perspectives in Education." Concerning this program Cleveland has noted that:
"We must introduce children much earlier in life to the nature of world politics and economics. . . Children must come to understand how global systems of communications work. Also they must be aware of the dangers of the spread of nuclear systems and weapons. . . Every citizen of the U.S. must become accustomed to thinking globally."
The Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies
A recent pamphlet describes the philosophy, purpose, concerns, programs and mode of operation of the Aspen Institute as follows:
"The Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies is a continuing effort to help shape a world in which there is individual freedom, creativity and fulfillment as well as social justice."
"This goal is difficult in an increasingly complex society. The Aspen Institute approaches it by bringing together some of the ablest people from all sectors of society, worldwide, to look for solutions to the most critical issues of our time. The Institute gives them a unique means to debate their convictions, reflect on the fate of their fellows and define policies needed to enhance the human condition - while there is still time to make choices."
"From such interaction can emerge a surprising consensus and programs for action. Thinking is modified and in this process mankind takes a step forward. The Institute becomes a catalyst by which people who make or influence decisions can convert ideas and values into action. It encourages individuals and institutions to reach beyond their self-interest and try to form a more humane future."
Concerns and Programs
"The Institute is independent. international, non-partisan and non-profit. It considers contemporary issues from a human-centered viewpoint. Ideas are not examined in the abstract; technologies are not dissected as scientific puzzles. At the Aspen Institute, the weight given to ideas depends on their humanistic value to individuals and society. Ideas are seen as weapons in the constant struggle to improve the qualitv of life and to reinforce the always threatened underpinnings of freedom."
"For nearly 30 years the Institute has conducted its Executive Seminar Program. In it leaders from business and labor and the academic and public sectors discuss the relevance of the great ideas of mankind to the unsettled and unsettling issues of today. The Executive Seminar Program, now on a year-round basis for the first time, is adding seminars dealing with various cultures, the corporation and society, and special themes."
"The Institute has ongoing programs that concentrate on five of the most critical areas of contemporary concern:
*Communications and Society seeks to improve the standards, content, diversity and outreach of the mass media.
*Justice, Society and the Individual strives to clarify concepts of justice; search for better means of delivering justice; advance dispute resolution; define the limits to dissent, and strengthen the effectiveness of the distribution of justice.
*Science, Technology and Humanism examines how science can work as a humanitarian as well as a utilitarian force in society. It attempts to optimize the role of science and technology in improving global well being; increase scientific literacy; and, mindful of the balance between needs and risks, nurture innovation and creativity in science.
*International Affairs covers a range of concerns from arms control to concepts of basic human needs and fulfillment and the impact of the interrelationship between the industrialized countries and the developing nations. It attempts to identify the essential elements of a new world order and the management of our interdependent world.
*Education for a Changing Society explores the adequacy of formal education, the possibilities for life-long learning and the evolution of new expressions of the drive for knowledge.
"As an emerging theme of overarching importance, the Institute is undertaking a sustained examination of a series of crucial issues of Governance: how societies and their governments and institutions, public and private, national and international, can better respond to the often conflicting pressures for social justice, fairness, efficiency and individual freedom. Under this general title of Governance, the Institute focuses on such subjects as the Energy Crisis, Financing the Future, Human Rights, The Corporation and Society, Cultures and Modernization, and Policies and Structures of Peace. The preeminent setting for dealing with Governance issues is the Institute's newly-acquired Wye Plantation outside of Washington, D.C."
The Aspen Institute: A Worldwide Organization
"The Aspen Institute is directed by an international, 36-person Board of Trustees, representing all sectors of society and buttressed by a global network of Special Advisors. The Institute is managed by a leadership determined to perpetuate the integrity of the Aspen Institute idea; and it is supported by diverse foundations, tuition, individuals, corporations and. to a smaller extent, by grants from national and international public organizations.
"Its central office is in New York City and it has major centers of activity in Maryland outside Washington. D.C., and in Aspen, Colorado (where it all began nearly 30 years ago). Its programs and projects are based in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Princeton, New Jersey; Washington, D.C., Boulder, Colorado, and Palo Alto, California."
"Recognizing that the world is a global community, the Institute has become increasingly international. In Berlin, it has a major center, fully staffed and integrated into all the Institute's programs. It also maintains centers in Tokyo and Hawaii. It has added a multi-year project on the Middle East, conducts seminars on Asian thought and has begun a Latin American program."
Past Results and Future Goals
"The results of Institute activities take many forms, including among others; the creation of new communities of common interest, nationally and internationally, despite the growing compartmentalization of society; the broadening and deepening of public debate and understanding; the encouragement of more responsive institutions; the capability for giving more informed testimony; the evolution of new curricula and research; the stimulation of the growth and training of talented young people; the dissemination of ideas through a variety of publications, and improved decision making with more effective citizen participation."
"The experiment that is the Aspen Institute is constantly changing and flexible to meet the new and shifting problems for which mankind must find answers.'
"The Institute believes that people of talent and good will can make a difference. It is rooted in the conviction that, in today's world, society must be mindful of its past, engaged in the challenges of the present, and help to serve as trustees for the future" (Official Pamphlet, Aspen Institute of Humanistic Studies, New York, no date).
Freemen Digest Visits World Headquarters of the Aspen Institute
Inasmuch as the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies is one of the major worldwide organizations having a major influence in shaping national and international policies, the Freemen Digest felt that a complete issue should be devoted to the Institute's long-range goals and plans. Therefore the editor of the Digest traveled to their New York City office. He also visited their seminar facilities in Aspen, Colorado, and conducted an interview with Joseph E. Slater. The material in this issue is drawn exclusively from the files of the Aspen Institute.