New Humanist Winter 2013 preview

** UK readers can take up our special introductory offer and subscribe to New Humanist for just £1! (overseas readers click here) **

Our very own New Humanist, one of Britain’s oldest continually published magazines, relaunches this week as a stylish new quarterly journal of ideas, science and culture.

We've got new contributors, a new design and a new editor. Starting with our Winter 2013 issue, on sale from 21 November, New Humanist is your essential guide to the world from a sceptical, free-thinking perspective. But don't just take our word for it; here are ten reasons why you should pick up a copy.

1. Kenan Malik takes on the growing consensus that too much diversity is bad for society:

Goodhart and Collier both claim that in “liberal circles” immigration “has become a taboo subject.” “The only permissible opinion,” writes Collier, “has been to bemoan popular antipathy to it.” In reality, though, what is rarely questioned is not immigration but the idea that immigration is responsible for Europe’s social ills.

2. What next for political Islam? Award-winning journalist Rachel Shabi looks back on a turbulent year in Egypt and Tunisia:

I spoke to eL Seed, the minaret-painting artist, who told me his work was about bringing people together at a time when arguments over religion seemed to be tearing them apart. “We used to live all together,” eL Seed told me. “The problem after the revolution is how we can stick together.”

3. Mark Fisher explores the amoral world of Breaking Bad’s Walter White

Who needs religion when you have television? On soap operas, unlike in life, villainous characters almost always face their comeuppance. TV cops may now be required to have “complicated” private lives and dubious personal ethics, but we’re seldom in any serious doubt about the difference between good and evil, and on which side of the line the maverick cop ultimately falls [...] Breaking Bad escapes this impasse.

4. Suzanne Moore argues that non-believers need a little magic in their lives too:

Our ceremony had flowers and fires and Dylan, a Baptist minister and the Jabberwocky, half-Mexican siblings and symbols, a Catholic grandparent reading her prayer, a Muslim godparent and kids off their heads on helium at the party. A right old mish-mash, then, but our mish-mash.

5. We live in a totally random universe, explains Marcus Chown:

If you are into computers, you will understand that at its origins, the universe was describable by only 1,000 bits of information. I have 16GB flash memory on my key ring. That figure denotes 16 billion bits so, on it, I could store the information for 16 million universes!

6. Feminist heroes, or a publicity stunt dreamed up by a man? Agata Pyzik tries to uncover the truth about Ukrainian “sextremists” Femen

It’s unfortunate that so much attention has focused on Femen in France, because some of their most powerful actions have concerned the sexual exploitation of Eastern Europe, which in the last 20 years has become the capital of cheap sleaze.

7. Pop critic Simon Price explains why nobody knows how to blaspheme like Jarvis Cocker

Blasphemy in pop is a joyous thing. I’m not talking about the gnarly Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Sheep On Drugs, Throbbing Gristle, Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel end of my music collection, with its attention-grabbing metaphors about the infant Jesus impaled on a spike. I’m talking about the exhilaration of hearing Jarvis Cocker, at the climactic moment of a Pulp song, exclaiming “I know you won’t believe it’s true/I went with her cos she looks like you ... MY GOD!”

8. Author, philosophy lecturer and campaigner Nina Power on what secularism really means

Secularism is having the courage to question everything in such a way that no one belief system – religious or otherwise – is permitted to dominate. It is tolerant, critical and open-minded. Above all, it means keeping open the possibility that there may not be satisfactory answers to difficult questions, be they scientific, political or existential, that humanity cannot help but ask.

9. Karl Sharro, aka @karlremarks, listens in on the phone conversations of world leaders

Angela Merkel: Incredible. They have been spying on my personal mobile phone.
François Hollande: How come they didn’t do that with me?
AM: Maybe they couldn’t break into your security.
FH: A child could break into it. My password is 1234. Oops, I told you that now.
AM: Ah, er, I don’t know, maybe they didn’t want to take the risk of offending you.

10. Fatema Ahmed traces Iain Sinclair's evolution as a grand old man of English letters

As Sinclair’s own writing has moved from poetry to prose, and as his books (once self-published, now put out by Penguin’s prestige literary imprint) have become longer and more lavishly produced, it’s been harder to see the writer behind the imitators, travelling companions and cosy cult trappings.

PLUS Tom Chivers, Terri Murray and Alom Shaha debate whether it's time to move on from the New Atheism; poetry selected by Fiona Sampson; cartoons by Martin Rowson; Jonathan Rée on Theodor Adorno and the Holocaust; Juliet Jacques on Derrida and football; the cult of Ayn Rand; what Socrates could have told you about smartphones; Sally Feldman on cultural histories of the vagina; Will Self, AL Kennedy, Jim Al-Khalili, Robin Ince, Laurie Taylor, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Chris Maslanka's quiz and more.

New Humanist Winter 2013

The Winter 2013 issue of New Humanist is on sale in high street branches of WH Smith from Thursday 21 November - or take up our special introductory offer and subscribe for just £1! (New subscribers based in UK only. Overseas readers click here.)

About New Humanist:

New Humanist is the London-based magazine of the Rationalist Association, promoting reason, debate and free thought since 1885. It is one of Britain’s oldest continuously published magazines (starting life as Watts' Literary Review in 1885). During that time New Humanist has distinguished itself as a world leader in supporting and promoting humanism and rational inquiry and opposing religious dogma and irrationalism wherever it is found.

Contributors past and present include: HG Wells, Richard Dawkins, Suzanne Moore, Eric Hobsbawm, Natalie Haynes, Phillip Pullman, JBS Haldane, Polly Toynbee, Ralph Steadman, Christopher Hitchens, Eileen Barker, Kenan Malik, Amartya Sen, Robin Ince, Raymond Tallis, Peter Tatchell, Mary Midgeley, Warren Ellis, Jonathan Rée, Tzvetan Todorov, Shappi Khorsandi, Noam Chomsky and Linda Smith.