«SOUTH PLACE ETHICAL,SOCIETY OFFICERS: General Secretary: Peter Cadogan Lettings Secretary/ Hall Manager; Margaret Pearce Hon. Registrar: H. ...»
SOUTH PLACE ETHICAL,SOCIETY
General Secretary: Peter Cadogan
Lettings Secretary/ Hall Manager; Margaret Pearce
Hon. Registrar: H. 0.•Knight
Hon. Treasurer: Jeremy, Thompson
Acting Editor, "The Ethical Record": J. Stewart Cook
Associate Editor: Martin Page
Address: Conway Hall Humanist Centre, Red Lion Square. London, W.C.1
(Tel;:, 01-242 8032)
SUNDAY MORNING LECTURESLibrary —11.0 a.m. — Admission free November 8—LORD SORENSEN: The House of Lords Bass solos: G. C. Dowman, 'November 15—GEOFFREY ASHE: The Apocalyptic Humanism of Wm: Blake Contralto solos: Irene Clements November 22—H. J. BLACKHAM: Conscience Cello and Piano: Margot MacGibbon and Frederic Jackson November 29—Dr. HELEN ROSENAU: Interaction: Ethics and Aesthetics Tenor solos: David Waters December 6—LORD BROCKWAY: 1914/18 and War Refusal Cello and Piano: Lynden Cranham and Jane Hawkins December 13—ROBERT MORRELL:' The Resurgence of Thomas Paine (Secretary of the Thomas Paine Society) Contralto solos: Anne Kiernan HUMANIST FORUMS —SUNDAYS at 3.0 p.m.
Admission free — Tea, Two Shillings November 8—How Jewish is Zionism?: Mark Braham and Moshe Davis November 22—Humanists Look at Humanism: Christopher Macy, Michael Lines, Maurice Hill, Peter Cadogan. Chairman: Robert Goodsman December 6—Community Development and Community Action: George Clark and Ben Whitaker
CONWAY DISCUSSIONS— TUESDAY EVENINGSLibrary at 7.0 p.m.—Admission 2/- (incl. refreshments) —S.P.E.S. Members free Theme for the Month— New Frontiers in the Arts November 10—Prof. FREDERICK JACKSON, F.R.A.M.: Twentieth Century Changes in Music November 17—JEAN STRAKER: The Humanist Nude November 24—ROGER MANVELL. New Frontiers in Film Theme of the Month: The English Revolution of the Seventeenth Century December 1—PETER CADOGAN: The English Revolution of 1647/48 December 8—Special Meeting—see "Coming at Conway Hall" December 15—CONRAD RUSSELL: 1640/42 Origins of the English Revolution December 22—NIGEL SINNOTT: England and Ireland —Then and Now (to be followed by a party) December 29—Dr. J. R. RAVETZ: The Scientific Revolution in the 17th Century
SOUTH PLACE SUNDAY CONCERTSConcerts 6.30 p.m.—Doors open 6 p.m.—Admission 4/November 8—HAFFNER STRING QUARTET November 15—TONONI PIANO TRIO • November 22—ENGLISH STRING QUARTET November 29—AMARYLLIS FLEMING and PETER WALLFISCH December 6—DARTINGTON STRING QUARTET and KENNETH HEATH December 13—MUSIC GROUP OF LONDON and MARISA ROBLES December 20—GABRIELI STRING QUARTET The Objects of the Society are the study and dissemination of ethical principles and the cultivation of a rational religious sentiment.
Any person in sympathy with these objects is cordially invited to become a member (minimum annual subscription 12s. 6d.). A membership application form will be found on the back cover.
THE ETHICAL RECORD(Formerly 'The Monthly Record')
NOVEMBER/DECEMBERVol. 75, No. 10
The views expressed in this journal are not necessarily those of the Society
EDITORIAL Have We Won?
IT IS almost a commonplace among humanists today to hear the view expressed that it is no longer necessary to attack the Churches or the Christian religion because this is a battle we have now won. Religious belief, according to this view, is dead or dying. Even Bishops avow atheism. The case variously argued by Bradlaugh and Foote, Huxley and Darwin, Fox and Conway, has been conceded — we can now proceed to more constructive things... but can we?
During the past year or so, I have been visited three times by young people seeking to gain converts. None of them were humanists. Two were Jehovah's Witnesses and one a Mormon. They were polite, persuasive and very pleasant people.
The Witnesses and Mormons are, beyond doubt, gaining tens of thousands of converts by such visits. They are peddling absurd and even dangerous superstitions. Indeed, in the case of the Mormons, they are peddling what is a downright religious fraud — though the missionaries themselves have becn defrauded completely and believe implicitly what they seek to persuade us to accept. The adherents of these, and other fundamentalist, sects in this country probably outnumber organised humanists by at least ten to one.
The common factor in these atavistic cults is the basic tenet that the Bible is "the word of God" and literally true in all respects. Is it not time we, as humanists, sought to rescue our fellow citizens from such degrading, irrational and crude superstitions? Ought we not to get together to mount a campaign to enlighten the public about the Bible, about the facts which modern Biblical criticism has made abundantly clear?
For, let us face it, we haven't won this battle. For every freethinking Bishop gracing the benches of the House of Lords, there are thousands of earnest, active people who are impelled by almost fanatical beliefs into propagating fundamentalist creeds. The need for public education to counteract this is real and urgent. Every child of a fundamentalist who dies for want of a blood transfusion forbidden by "the word of God" must be seen as a tragic reproach to our own inactivity in this •
LORD SORENSENIF MY appearance has changed subtly this is due to my transference from one side of the House of Lords to the other owing to about 13,000,000 British electors voting for Conservative candidates at the General Election, about 12,000,000 for Labour and about 2,000,000 for Liberal. In this non-Party gathering I refrain from declaring whether I think this indicates the Left was right or the Right was wrong, although there were certainly moral and ethical elements in the contest. Thus some will consider it right that we are now to have commercial radio advertisements and some that this is deplorable—one more illustration of moral variability.
Political advocacy involves advertisement and both main Parties were assisted in this by Public Relations specialist agencies. Advertisement is one means of communication such as not only human beings require, but also other creatures. By sound or symbols they and we communicate fear, anger.
desire, delight, prudence, affection, domination or servility. Cats and dogs utter different mieows or barks, wave or wag their tails and adopt various postures as means of communication. Birds have their repertoire of singing or twittering, fish emit sounds and insects also gregariously communicate, possibly possessing a form of radar. Bees have impressive means of indicating where floral nectar is to be found.
Sex and Communication Sex has its own variant forms of communication in all creatures, from distinctive sounds, movements and displays to human feminine cosmetics, powders, perfumes, coiffures, garments, poses and optical manoeuvres and masculine brawny arrogance, muscular exhibitionism, vocal intonations and cunning blandishments, both not always entirely uncommercial. These are forms of advertisement, and so are official proclamations and public notices •by governmental authorities, including warnings of dire penalties if rate demands are not speedily met. Town Criers were once familiar media for oral advertisements.
The Queen opened Parliament with a regal carriage drive escorted by sworded, metal-breasted Life or Horse Guards (I can never tell the difference), trumpet fan-fares, medieval functionaries and crimson-robed Peers, not including myself. That pageantry was an elaborate advertisement of Royalty, commercial to the extent that its cost was a State investment, justified or not according to diverse ethical evaluations.
Before the advent of printing and then newspapers, advertisement was mainly by means of symbols, as with feudal shields and banners, still extensively employed, a hanging bunch of twigs or leaves to indicate an inn ("Good wine needs no bush"), a pole swathed in red and white imitation bandages to represent a barber-surgeon and three brass balls have denoted where the impecunious could pledge a watch, ring or the old man's best trousers—happily in these days less frequently. Bankers, pawnbrokers and old lumber men have an affinity, but Bank of England Governors are more reticent in remembering this than Steptoe and Son.
Early Newspaper Advertising With print came occasional "new-books" recording events and rumours, and circulated leaflets announced, as at St. Bartholomews Fair in the earlier Elizabethan times, monstrosities in side-shows. The first newspapers appeared in 1622 with "Weekly Newes" and "Newes from Most Parts of Christendom", but the first advertisement was in the "Mercurius Brittanicus" of 1625. Since then many local newspapers have been "The Mercury". From thence onward newspaper advertisements came in full spate.
The "Mercurius Politicus" in 1958 proclaimed that an "excellent, and by all physicians, approved China drink called by the Chineans.Tcha, by other nations Tay alias Eec" could be purchased near the Royal Exchange.
The slang for tea is still called "char" by sundry plebeians, and this received elaborite eulogies as a remedy for "consumption, dropsy, gout, scurvy, the Kings Evil and hypochondriac winds", but I doubt if contemporary tea drinkers will confirm this.
Advertisement embraced much else including King Charles II's lost dog, "silver stuffs, Sattains, Tammies- and other obscure fabrics, apprentices and servants required, beautifying fluids, cures for lost memory, bullbaiting, Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man" and• tobacco guaranteed to cure stomache ailments, bad eyesight and wheezing. Taxes on newspapers encouraged advertisers to adopt flyposting, even over-night onhousehold doors. With the reduction in newspaper taxation and later abolition newspaper publication expanded so that in 1855 Britain had 640 and by the century's end 3,000.
In the early part of our present century Thomas Holloway advertised amazing pills and ointments that were bought by the million, but a rival, James Morrison, advertised a "Universal Pill" so effectively that a grateful public subscribed to make a stone lion to adorn his "College of Health".
That leonine moument today stands in the forecourt of a building facing Kings Cross Station to remind us of human credulity. Many prevalent commodities such as Pears Soap, Bovril, Nestles, and Hovis were first advertised over sixty years ago and now share with innumerable others the application of more subtly-psychological inducements to customers.
Industry Advertisement The The advertisement industry employs about 200,000 persons directly and many more indirectly. A local weekly newspaper may have 40 pages of which 30 cover advertisements, which means its staff and printers are for much of their time devoting skill and energy to advertisements. In Britain nearly £500,000,000 is spent in advertising, approximately 2.1% of the national product. Of this 46% is for Prcss advertising, 17.2 for television and 36% for other methods. My authority for this is derived from "The Advertising Man" by Jeremy Tunstall but there are other sources that indicate how vast is the advertising world. To some this may seem social waste, but there are substantial arguments in defence of advertising as an essential
means of social communication. Thus it is claimed:
I. It informs the public of pleasurable or beneficial objects or services that otherwise might be unknown or unavailable.
By creating mass demand it enables mass production to provide goods and services at prices within the compass of the multitude.
By stimulating competition it results in keen efforts and enterprise that issue in inventiveness and improvements in our economy.
It is a concomitant of human freedom and liberty.
Even if the motives of advertisers are pecuniary rather than altruistic it cannot be denied that mass demand and consequently mass production has made available to the masses what otherwise would be financially prohibitive. Only tycoons could afford to purchase a refrigerator, television set, car or washing machine made individually. It is also true that many drugs and medical or surgical supplies, of which every medical practitioner receives a flood of advertising matter, have been a boom because extensive research by commercial companies has led to therapeutic discoveries notwithstanding allegations of unwarrantable charges to purchasers.
Advertising and Mass Production Certainly mass production of necessities can operate without mass advertising, as is so in communist countries. It is possible to assess popular needs and mass produce accordingly and also to determine the replacement of obsolescent goods by new inventions. In some measure this operates within non-communist countries at times of crisis or urgent need. War drives governments to devise means of mass producing armaments and to ensure some priority for basic human necessities. This involves severe restriction and control by central government, but whether in peace-time centralised determination of what people can have is more efficient than existing methods or would be compatible with freedom and liberty depends both on our political philosophy and on flexible adjustments.
It appears equally certain that competitive advertising can be excessive and socially wasteful or injurious. Millions of pounds spent simply on inducing customers to switch from one product to another of virtually identical worth is an economic waste. Encouragement to spend purchasing power in employing labour and skill for what is of less social importance than an alternative is surely deplorable. When Vernons or Littlewoods advertise that someone has won £200,000 this can intensify the ardour of that half of our country's adults who regularly become absorbed in calculations and computations of football pools and thus employ an army of women at a time when there is urgent need for more nurses and teachers.
Brewers advertise lavishly. "Guinness is good for you" avoids particularising on how it is good, for if this means in nourishment some dieticians have asserted that there is more nourishment in slices of wholemeal bread.