Tag: <span>Jewish</span>

Robert M. Hutchins Rapprochement of Cultures.

Robert M. Hutchins: Building on Earlier Foundations.

Featured Image: University of Chicago: Hyde Park, East 57th Street. Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash.

Robert M. Hutchins much of our current work for a more just and peaceful world builds on the thinking and efforts of earlier foundations.  An important foundation is the leading role of Robert M. Hutchins, long-time President of the University of Chicago  (l929 -1951).

University of Chicago.

Robert M. Hutchins’ father, William, was President of Berea, a small but important liberal arts college, so Robert M. Hutchins (1899-1977) was set to follow the family pattern.  He went to Yale Law School and stayed on to teach. He quickly became the Dean of the Law School and was spotted as a rising star of US education.  When he was 30 years old, he was asked to become President of the University of Chicago, a leading institution.  Hutchins was then the youngest president of a US university.

In the first decade in his post as president, the 1930s, his ideas concerning undergraduate education − compulsory survey courses, early admission after two years of secondary school for bright and motivated students, a concentration on “Great Books” – an examination of seminal works of philosophy in particular Plato and Aristotle − divided the University of Chicago faculty. 

There were strong and outspoken pro and anti Hutchins faculty groups.  Moreover Hutchins’ abolition of varsity football and ending the University’s  participation in the “Big Ten” university football league distressed some alumni whose link to the university was largely limited to attending football games. For Hutchins, a university was for learning and discussion, not for playing sports. As he famously said:

  “When I feel like exercising, I sit down until the feeling goes away.”

Committee to Frame a World Constitution in 1945.

It is Hutchins’ creation and leadership of the Committee to Frame a World Constitution in 1945 which makes him one of the intellectual founders of the movement for world federation and world citizenship. After the coming to power of Hitler in Germany in 1933 and his quick decision to ban Jewish professors from teaching in German universities, many Jewish scientists and professors left Germany and came to the USA.  Some of the leading natural scientists joined the University of Chicago.  Thus began the “Metallurgy Project” as the work on atomic research was officially called. The University of Chicago team did much of the theoretical research which led to the Atom Bomb.  While Hutchins was not directly involved in the atomic project, he understood quickly the nature of atomic energy and its military uses.  He saw that the world would never return to a “pre-atomic” condition and that new forms of world organization were needed.

Atomic Force: Its Meaning for Mankind .

            On 12 August 1945, a few days after the use of the atom bombs, Hutchins made a radio address “Atomic Force: Its Meaning for Mankind” in which he outlined the need for strong world institutions, stronger than the UN Charter, whose drafters earlier in the year did not know of the destructive power of atomic energy.

Several professors of the University of Chicago were already active in peace work such as Mortimer Adler, G.A. Borgese, and Richard McKeon, Dean of the undergraduate college.  The three approached Hutchins saying that as the University of Chicago had taken a lead in the development of atomic research, so likewise, the university should take the lead in research on adequate world institutions.  By November 1945, a 12-person Committee to Frame a World Constitution was created under Hutchins’ chairmanship.

Mortimer Adler By Courtesy Center for the Study of The Great Ideas, CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Committee drew largely on existing faculty of the University of Chicago − Wilber Katz, Dean of the Law School and Rexford Tugwell who taught political science but who had been a leading administrator of the Roosevelt New Deal and Governor of Puerto Rico. Two retired professors from outside Chicago were added − Charles McIlwain of Harvard, a specialist on constitutions, and Albert  Guerard of Stanford, a French refugee who was concerned about the structure of post-war Europe.

 Rexford G. Tugwell, administrator, Resettlement Administration. Public domain.

Journal Common Cause.

            From 1947 to 1951, the Committee published a monthly journal Common Cause  many of whose articles still merit reading today as fundamental questions concerning the philosophical basis of government, human rights, distribution of power, and the role of regions are discussed.  The Preliminary Draft of a World Constitution  was published in 1948 and reprinted in the Saturday Review of Literature edited by Norman Cousins and in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists some of whom were in the original “Metallurgy Project”.  The Preliminary Draft raised a good deal of discussion, reflected in the issues of Common Cause.  There was no second draft.  The Preliminary Draft was as G.A. Borgese said, quoting Dante “…of the True City at least the Tower.”

            In 1951, Hutchins retired from the presidency of the University of Chicago for the Ford Foundation and then created the Ford Foundation-funded Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions where he gathered together some of his co-workers from the University of Chicago.

Norman Cousins Picture: Apurva Madia, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

You might interest to read Norman Cousins: A Pioneer of Track II Diplomacy.

The Preliminary Draft.

            Two ideas from The Preliminary Draft are still part of intellectual and political life for those concerned with a stronger UN.  The first is the strong role of regional organizations.  When The Preliminary Draft was written the European Union was still just an idea and most of the States now part of the African Union were European colonies.  The Preliminary Draft saw that regional groups were institutions of the future and should be integrated as such in the world institution.  Today, the representatives of States belonging to regional groupings meet together at the UN to try to reach a common position, but regional groups are not part of the official UN structure. However, they may be in the future.

            The other lasting aspect of The Preliminary Draft is the crucial role that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should play.  The then recently drafted UN Charter had created a “consultative status” for NGOs, but few of the UN Charter drafters foresaw the important role that NGOs would play  as the UN developed.  The Preliminary Draft had envisaged a Syndical Senate to represent occupational associations on the lines of the International Labour Organization where trade unions and employer associations have equal standing with government delegates.  In 1946, few people saw the important role that the NGOs would later play in UN activities.  While there is no “Syndical Senate”, today NGOs represent an important part of the UN process.

Reflections.   

   Robert M. Hutchins, however, was also a reflection of his time.  There were no women as members of the Committee to Frame a World Constitution, and when he created the Center for the Study of Democratic  Institutions with a large number of “fellows”, consultants, and staff, women are also largely absent.

            The effort to envisage the structures and processes among the different structures was an innovative contribution to global institution building at the time, and many of the debates and reflections are still crucial for today. Looking at back issues of  Common Cause, the journal of the World Constitution Drafting Committee, if they are available in a university library, still has discussions of  important questions on the structures of governance.

Notes.

For an understanding of the thinking of those involved in writing The Preliminary Draft see:

Mortimor Adler. How to think about War and Peace (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944)

Rexford Tugwell. Chronicle of Jeopardy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)

G.A. Borgese. Foundations of the World Republic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,1953)

Scott Buchanan. Essay in Politics (New York: Philosophical Library, 1953)

For a life of Hutchens written by a co-worker in the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions:

Harry Ashmore. Unreasonable Truths: the Life of Robert Maynard Hutchens (Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 1989)

By Rene Wadlow, President Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Religious Appeals

Religious Liberty: Continuing Efforts by NGOs Needed.

Image By S. Hermann & F. Richter in Pixabay

by Rene Wadlow.

22 August has been set by the United Nations General Assembly as the

“International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief”.

Due to Nazi and Japanese militarist persecution of religious groups during the Second World War;   freedom of religion and belief was on the U.N. agenda from the start of the organization. The issue is at the heart of article 18  of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;  proclaimed in 1948.

Religious non-governmental organizations (NGOs);  were active during the San Francisco conference;  at which the drafting of the U.N. Charter was completed. It was due in part to their active efforts  that an article creating a consultative status for NGOs;  was included into the U.N. Charter. NGOs in consultative status with the U.N;  can make U.N. bodies aware of issues by providing timely;  factual information. Often NGOs will address matters to U.N. agencies;  when governmental delegations keep silence. The duty of NGOs is not to speak against States;  but for the interests of humanity and human rights.

Spiritual But not Religious.

Although religious NGOs have had a wide range of interests to stress at U.N;  meetings and conferences;  such as the status of women, ecology, food policies;  liberty of religion and belief;  has always been a concern. The concern of religious liberty is not limited to religious NGOs;  but is also championed by secular NGOs;  such as Amnesty International and the Association of World Citizens.

Over time;  there has developed a fairly large number of people;  who consider themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” There has been the development of a growing number of associations devoted to practices;  which have their roots in religious traditions;  but can also be independent such as yoga, meditation, Chi Quong. Such associations often fall outside the usual governmental protection of religions – their tax status or other facilities concerning their buildings and properties.

Amnesty International
Amnesty International at the Bologna Pride 2012, in Bologna, Italy. Picture by Giovanni Dall’Orto, June 9 2012. By G.dallorto, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The U.N. holds that the religious liberty provisions of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration;  are not limited in their applications to traditional religions;  or to religions and beliefs;  with institutional characteristics or practices  similar to those of traditional religions. Thus;  newly established movements and religious minorities should be protected.

Article 18 of the Univesal Declaration of Human Rights is developed in detail by the: 

“Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance nd Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief”.

Adopted by the General Assembly on 25 November 1981. The Declaration recognizes that every individual has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, expression, and religion. The importance of inter-religious dilogue; is stresssed as is the need for intensified efforts to protect the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief and to eliminate all forms of hatred, intolerance and discrimination;  based on religion or belief.

There is a hope that tolerance and pluralism will strengthen democracy;  facilitate the full enjoyment of all human rights; and thereby constitute a sound foundation for civil society;  social harmony and peace. Yet we are fully aware that forces of aggressive nationalism;  absence of religious tolerance;  religious and ethnic extremism continue to produce fresh challenges.

the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt holding poster of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in English), Lake Success, New York. November 1949. By FDR Presidential Library & Museum, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Islamic State (ISIS).

A tragic current example of victims of acts of violence based on religion or belief;  is that of the Yazidis of Iraq at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS). The Yazidi world view is Zoroastrian;  a faith born in Persia proclaiming that two great cosmic forces;  that of light and good;  and that of darkness and evil are in constant battle. Humans are called upon to help light overcome evil.

However;  the strict dualistic thinking of Zoroastrianism was modified by another Persian prophet: Mani of Ctesiphon in the third century CE.  Mani tried to create a synthesis of religious;  teachings that were increasingly coming into contact through travel and trade:  Buddhim and Hinduism from India;  Jewish and Christian thought;  Helenistic Gnostic philosophy from Egypt and Greece as well as many smaller;  traditional and “animist” beliefs.

Islamic State

Variant of the jihadist black flag. This particular version is used by the “Islamic State of Iraq” and by al-Shabaab in Somalia. By Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.


Demon Worshipers.

He kept the Zoroastrian dualism as the most easily understood intellectual framework though;  giving it a somewhat more Taoist (yin-yang) flexibility. Mani had  lived in China. He developed the idea of the progression of the soul;  by individual effort through separate lives through reincarnation – a main feature of Indian thought. He combined the idea of spiritual progress through different lives;  with ethical insights of Gnostic and Christian thought. Unfortunately;  only the dualistic Zoroastrian framework is still attached to Mani’s nme: Manichaeism. This is somewhat ironic as it was the Zoroastrian Magi;  who had Mani put to death as a dangerous rival.

Within the Mani-Zoroastrian framework;  the Yazidi added the presence of angels;  who are to help humans in the constant battle for light and good. The Yazidi place great emphasis on Melek Tauis;  the peacock angel. Although there are angels in Islam;  angels that one does not know could well be demons;  and so the Yazidis are regularly accused of being “demon worshipers”.

Collateral Damage.

There are probably some 500,000 Kurdish-speaking Yazidis in Iraq. Iraq demographic statistics are not fully reliable. Yazidi leaders may give larger estimates by counting Kurds;  who had been Yazidis;  but had been converted to Islam. There had been some 200,000 Yazidis among the Kurds of Turkey;  but now nearly all have migrated to Western Europe, Australia and Canada. There are smaller groups of Yazidis in Syria, Armenia and Georgia. (1)

The Yazidis have often been persecuted for their beliefs;  and as part of the Kurdish-speaking community. This was true during the period of the Ottoman Empire;  as well as during the Arab Ba’th Socialist Party rule of Iraq. However;  the most recent and dramatic form of persecution came at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS).

The Association of World Citizens stressed that the policy of the ISIS leadership was genocide – the destruction in whole or in part of a group. The killing of the Yazidis is a policy and not “collateral damage” from fighting. While ISIS has lost much of the territory in Iraq and Syria that it once held;  the trauma  continues. The Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief call upon NGOs for continued speedy and effective action.

Note:

1) See Nelida Fuccaro. The Other Kurds in Colonial Iraq (London: I.B. Tauris, 1999)

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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