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IAFT speech of Christian Eyschen at FNLP Congress

Tuesday 5 September 2017

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IAFT speech of Christian Eyschen at the French Free Thought Congress

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear friends, Dear comrades,

Let me give you the fraternal greetings of the International Association of Free Thought and of its 9 spokespersons from all continents.

Our International Association was founded in August 2011 in Oslo, Norway, a few steps away from where tragedy took place, following a terrorist act committed by a right wing Christian, leading to the death of many people, among whom a majority of young people. That is to say that no religion can claim to have the monopoly of barbarity and reaction.

Barbaric acts often, if not always, come from economical, political and governmental sources. Peoples do not bomb and assassinate: they are plundered and killed. Jean Jaurès, end of July 1914, said in his Appeal for Serbia : “ At certain times, a misinterpretation bursts out: civilization is in peoples, barbarity in governments”.

The Free Thought is pacifist and internationalist, because it knows with Anatole France, “they believe they are dying for their country, but they only die for manufacturers” and once more with Jaurès “ capitalism carries out war just like a cloud carries out a storm”. War, all the wars mean profit for those who order them, but misery for those who suffer from them.

It is the reason why, the IAFT can only but be thankful to the fact that associations from all the countries involved in the First World War wrote the international Declaration for the rehabilitation of thousands of Shot for the example. A lot of organizations of the Free Thought have signed this Declaration which is an honor to human consciousness, the consciousness that will never give way to barbarity and horror of the war.

Our International Free Thought Association is in keeping with the continual fights of all the Internationals of the Free Thought that have existed since 1880. The Free Though, just like secularism, is national in its shape, and international in its meaning. Its life is deeply rooted in the conscience of all those who wish to live their own destiny without being submitted to a god will, which is still the mask of oppression.

Throughout History, and because of all the ups and downs of History, there has been a succession of Internationals of the Free Thought in time, which sometimes were rivals at the same time. The path of human consciousness to free itself has never been a long quiet river.

History always leads everyone to have a position as regards events and tasks that it lays down just like in a big open book in front of Humanity. And it is Humanity responsibility to fill in the pages of its destiny : the liberation of Humanity will be the work of Humanity itself. There should be no supreme savior, no god, no Caesar, no popular orator.

Facing exceptional events, the free thinkers from different countries have been able to give different answers, sometimes very different from one another, but always centered on the fully and entire freedom of conscience either to conquer or to protect.

The Free Thought international History was built up, like anybody’s life, through encounters and separations because, fortunately, we do not all think the same. But there has been a common base to all of us, at any time: the will to see the world free from clericalism, religion and oppression. In a nutshell, the free thinkers’ action is founded on the freedom that leads people on the path to their liberation.

There was a time when a radical Free Thought existed, named after the big party of the democratic bourgeoisie coming from Voltaire and Diderot’s century. Then, another one, a socialist one, was born and replaced the former one. But these two Free Thought associations managed to unite during the big fight for the vote of the Law of Separation between Churches and States on December 9th 1905. Jean Jaurès held hand towards Ferdinand Buisson and Aristide Briand to build a liberation work.

Separations have always been led by outside events to the Free Thought, but the gathering has always been brought into operation in the long run. A separation followed the Russian revolution, but in 1935, at the eve of the great dangers, a national and international reunification took place.

At the end of the Second World War, the International of the Free Thought is reborn and unified, up to the time when the cold War dictates new separations. The northern American organizations will leave as the Stalinist aggression in Hungary and Poland in 1956 is not condemned whereas the Anglo-French-Israeli expedition of the Suez canal is. It will be the English organizations’ turn to leave in 1968 when the Stalinist invasion of Prague is not condemned whereas the imperialist war in Viet-Nam is.

The lesson that can be learned from all these events: division and separation always happen when external factors are introduced within the Free Thought to divide, for reasons whose origin can be found in foreign elements to the Free Thought.

If you wander away from the general principles of the Free Thought which thinks it is “social, democratic and secular”, as the great International Congress in Rome in 1904 asserted it was, and it was the prelude to the vote of the French law of Separation of Churches and State in 1905, if you do not stand aloof from all religions, and all oppressions, then the seed of discord is introduced.

The Free Thought considers all religions, from Judaism, through Christianism on to Islam, as warmongers, reaction and barbarian troublemakers and decline of civilization. It indiscriminately refuses intolerance and dogmatism.

It is the reason why, the fact that the International Association of the Free Thought has been founded with the help of the French Free Thought, the English Free Thought and the Northern and Southern American organizations, is highly symbolical. The really artificial divisions generated by the cold War do not have to be put up with, so don’t invent a new one! Don’t walk back to Oslo the wrong way round.

The separation which lasted long decades, lead some associations of the Free Thought to become humanist or atheist associations. They don’t have to be judged: each association is free to make its own way. In this respect, the fact that our International Appeal for refusing the state funding of religions has also received signatures from about a hundred associations from all the continents, is significant. The yearning for the Separation of Churches and States is a universal yearning.

In September, this year, the 7th Congress of the International of the Free Thought will take place in Paris. It will be The great event whether for the subjects treated, Women’s rights and equality of rights, Separation of Churches and State, Right to die with dignity, or for the diversity and origin of the participants.

The fact that all the international humanist, secular, Free Thought, rationalist, skeptic, and even a-dogmatic and liberal freemasons, will be present, in one form or another, is highly significant. That will show the progress made since Oslo in 2011.

Dear friends, dear comrades,

You are invited not to miss this event and to massively take part in. All the details to register can be found here and in the bags you have been given. You need the IAFT, the IAFT needs you too.

I’d like to end with an Amerindian tale. Once upon a time, there was a huge forest fire. All the terrified and staggered animals were powerlessly observing the disaster. Apart from the tiny humming-bird which was busy going and fetching drops of water in its beak and throwing them on to the fire. After a while, this absurd activity got on to the armadillo’s nerves and it said :”Humming-bird! You are a bit daft, aren’t you? You won’t be able to put out the fire with a few drops of water, will you?”. The humming-bird answered: “I know that, but I’m just playing my part”. A drop of water does not put the fire out but it can reduce its flame.

Let us all be humming-birds and bring to silence all the armadillos that always give good reasons not to start anything, and together, each of us playing one’s part, we’ll ensure the success of the 7th Congress of the IAFT in Paris! Together, we can do everything!

Thank you very much.

Christian Eyschen, IAFT Spokesperson

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