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C. E. M. Joad: A Charter for Rationalists

John Simkin

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In the 1930s C. E. M. Joad was the UK's most popular philosophers. In his book, Under the Fifth Rib (1932), he produced a Charter for Rationalists. What do members make of these ideas today.

Examples of such goods are the following. I put them in the form of a programme which twentieth-century rationalists might do well to adopt.

(1) Repeal of the divorce laws; it should be made as easy for people to get divorced as to get married.

(2) Repeal of the laws against what is called unnatural vice. I have never been able to see that sodomy does harm, or to understand why it should be persecuted with such malignant ferocity.

(3) Diffusion of birth-control knowledge, including the provision of information and advice with regard to birth-control at all Government and Local Authority clinics and of birth-control appliances at all chemists' shops.

(4) Repeal of laws penalizing abortion as a criminal offence.

(5) Sterilization of the feeble-minded.

(6) Abolition of the censorship of plays, films and books.

(7) Abolition of all restrictions on Sunday games, plays, entertainments, etc.

(8) Disendowment and Disestablishment of the Church. If people want priests and churches to put them in, I do not see why they should not be expected to pay for their upkeep.

(9) Preservation of the amenities of the countryside, including compulsory town and country planning, restriction on ribbon development, access for walkers to mountains, moorlands and wild places, and the provision of national parks.

(10) Prohibition of exhibitions of performing animals.

(11) Abolition of all licensing restrictions.

(12) Complete disarmament. Involving the abolition of the army, navy and air-force.

These are the main points in a modern rationalist's charter. If they were embodied in legislation, the general level of public health and happiness would, I am convinced, be sensibly improved. For my part at any rate, soft middle-aged man that I am, with a status to maintain and goods to lose, I am prepared to abjure revolutionary activity and to devote my energy to the task of persuading my fellow-beings of the desirability of such measures as I have enumerated.


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