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Editor’s Welcome


Our main theme this month is democracy which has always been a key feature of the humanist worldview. It’s particularly prominent in 2024 as half of the world’s population head to the polls. Will genuine democracy advance or decline?


Guest writer Megan Manson from the National Secular Society explains why secularism is a necessary feature of democracy while Anthony Lewis explores the spectrum of political systems from closed autocracies to liberal democracies. Maggie Hall continues the analysis with references to full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and direct democracy. The UK is ranked as a full democracy by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index but I’ve come to the rather gloomy conclusion that we live in a post-democracy.


We can get democracy back if we re-imagine ourselves as active citizens rather than passive spectators of the Westminster and Washington soap operas. But beware if you decide to stand for election – you may well have to de-activate your social media accounts to avoid political enemies trawling through your tweets to find material by which to smear you, as Guy Otten found in the Rochdale by-election.


Dorset Humanists’ Practical Progressives group offers a mini-manifesto on a range of policies from PR to abolition of the House of Lords, and John Coss explores whether Citizens’ Assemblies have the potential to help reverse the decline in public trust of key institutions. Mike Flood warns us about the threat to democracy by the flood of misinformation but we also ask in this issue, “Who decides what is misinformation?”


As usual, Humanistically Speaking is packed with thought-provoking articles and we hope you will share them on social media. You’re also free to republish them in your own humanist newsletters and elsewhere, as long as you credit the author and provide a link to Humanistically Speaking. For more details, refer to our Creative Commons licence by following the links at the bottom of this and every other page.


Humanistically Speaking is a volunteer-produced, passion-fuelled, grassroots humanist magazine and we'd love to reach as many people around the world as possible. Thank you for your encouragement and support.


David Warden

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