NEW HUMANIST VOLUME 123 No 2 Tel 0207 436 1151 Fax 0207 079 3588 Email email@example.com Editorial Offices 1 Gower Street, London WC1E 6HD
Editor Caspar Melville Commissioning Editor Laurie Taylor Associate Editor Sally Feldman Editorial Assistant Paul Sims Designer Nick McKay Cover Martin Rowson Business Manager Judith Walker Subscriptions Jillian Gibbins Subscriptions enquiries firstname.lastname@example.org Tel 0207 436 1171 Advertising email@example.com Website www.newhumanist.org.uk ISSN 0306-512X
Published by the Rationalist Association RA President Jonathan Miller Vice presidents Baroness Susan Greenfield, Paul Kurtz, Laurie Taylor Honorary associates David Aaronovitch, Peter Atkins, Lord Birt, Harold Blackham, Colin Blakemore, Alan Brownjohn, Colin Campbell, Philip Campbell, Noam Chomsky, Bernard Crick, Helena Cronin, Richard Dawkins, Sanal Edamaruku, Paul Edwards, Ekow Eshun, Winston Fletcher, Michael Foot, AC Grayling, Stuart Hall, Tony Harrison, Simon Heffer, Christopher Hitchens, Eric Hobsbawm, Richard Hoggart, Ted Honderich, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Sir Ludovic Kennedy, Richard Leakey, Sir Michael Levey, Sir John Maddox, Haydn Mason, Edwin Mullins, Conor Cruise O’Brien, John Postgate, Claire Rayner, Amartya Sen, David Starkey, Ralph Steadman, DJ Stewart, Ian Stewart, Claire Tomalin, David Tribe, Baroness Turner of Camden, Arnold Wesker, Francis Wheen, Lewis Wolpert
4 New Humanist
RegulaRs 3] Editorial Toxic mix 6] Parish news 8 ] Yours sceptically Readers’ letters 49] Howzat? Chris Maslanka’s quiz 50] Endgame Laurie Taylor can’t hear it through the grapevine
featuRes 10] Russian roulette Putin’s grip on power is great for the Orthodox Church, says Michael Binyon 12] True confessions What can we learn from extremist memoirs? asks Stephen Howe
16] Rush hour of the gods India’s middle classes are becoming increasingly pious, says Meera Nanda 21] Tea and empathy Martin Rowson on how the imagination helps us make the world in our own image 24] Interview: Craft works Richard Sennett tells Laurie Taylor why he believes in a job well done 28] Forced to be free The French ban on headscarves is no victory for secularism, says Joan W Scott 32] A Tsar is born Sally Feldman celebrates Catherine the Great 36] Spongers Why shouldn’t people have to work for their council houses? asks Julian Baggini
10 march & april 2008
38] Malls and mausoleums Iran refuses to conform to our expectations, finds Nina Power when she travels to Tehran
42] Argod catalogue Comedian Christina Martin’s roundup of the best in religious tat
columNs 7] Diary Peyvand Khorsandi visits India’s hugging saint 15] Opinion Bill Cooke celebrates humanism’s 200th birthday 20] Thinker Simone de Beauvoir was dedicated to freedom for all, says Toril Moi
book Reviews 44] Natalie Haynes endorses an attack on alternative medicine 45] Shirley Dent believes Rushdie is the ultimate humanist story teller 46] Andrew Mueller travels back in time to acid House 47] Bill Thompson finds Michio Kaku’s science impossibly bad 48] Philip Womack has something to tell you about Hanif Kureishi’s latest 49] Peter Wayne serves up the supernatural
Peyvand Khorsandi is the son of the exiled Iranian satirist Hadi Khorsandi. He has written for the Financial Times, Big Issue and Iranian.com. In his diary on page 7 he describes his trip to see amma, the Indian hugging saint.
Michael Binyon was Moscow correspondent for The Times from 1979 to 1982. He is a member of the Valdai Discussion Club, an international group of journalists and academics that meets the Russian president each year at the end of a seminar on Russian policy. On page 10 he asks what Vladimir Putin’s continued influence means for the Orthodox Church.
Joan W Scott is Professor of Social Science at the Institute for advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey. Her many books include Only Paradoxes to Offer: French Feminists and the Rights of Man; Paritéé: Sexual Equality and The Crisis of French Universalism. Her latest book The Politics of the Veil (Princeton University Press) was published in 2007. She writes about the French ban on the headscarf on page 28.
Nina Power describes her experiences on her third visit to Iran on page 38. She lectures in philosophy at Roehampton University and is a regular contributor to New Humanist. Her PhD was on humanism and anti-humanism in postwar French philosophy.
MaRCH aPRIL 2008 New Humanist 5