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Why Humanists Forgot the Future

Liberalism is an ahistorical ideology. At its core it does not recognise time and place- concepts which are very fundamental to the human experience. Liberalism does not recognise the sacrifices of previous generations nor does it give room for the idea of collective sacrifice for a better future.

So why are today’s Humanists just liberals? Today’s SPES inhabits a building that was brought about by mutual sacrifice. Those original founders of this building pooled money together and left this building in trust to the future. Why go to so much effort? Because those founders and their congregation believed it was important to create a shared space to further and protect their joint aims. This action was not just about ideas of liberalism – freedom, choice and individualism. It was much more than this. It was also about creating a better, more ethical community, without God. In some part – perhaps the most important part – this project was about mutualism.

So why hasn’t this generation of inheritors left a similar legacy? In economic terms, you could argue that this generation has leeched off the sacrifices of another, adding very little for the young humanists of today to inherit. The answer is that a purely liberal construct allows for nothing more. Because this society cannot agree on aims larger than letting each member live his own conception and attacking organised religion, it has in effect emptied the grain store and watched the barn rot. It does not have to be like this. I believe this society will lead the way to a new mutualism- devoid of god, grounded in real experience and yet filled with hope and a sense of fulfilled obligations.

Shiv Malik started his career in investigative journalism working for the New Statesman. Reporting from Afghanistan and Pakistan, he has since gone on to write for The Observer, The Sunday Times, Prospect, The Independent on Sunday and The Washington Post amongst many others. In broadcast he has worked extensively for the BBC and Channel 4 News. He is a contributor on radio shows; The World at One, PM, Today, The Asian Network, and The Moral Maze. In 2008 he was involved in a High Court battle with the Manchester Police to protect his sources, and has just published a book about intergenerational conflict called Jilted Generation: How Britain Bankrupted Its Youth. The Evening Standard listed him as one of the most influential Londoners of 2008. He is a strict atheist.



Shiv Malik | talks


Date and Time:

16 January 2011 at 11:00 am


2 hours



Conway Hall
Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
0207 242 8034

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