Christmas is the birthday celebration of one of history’s greatest collectivists. So I found it funny that in your Dec. 16 issue there was a letter from a man condemning collectivists as atheists.


I’m sure he understands the dictionary definition of an atheist. He just thinks collectivists are by definition Godless. This is not true. Also, many of those he calls collectivists did a lot to make this country a better place for people like him and me. They did it by promoting individual freedom and collective responsibility. The last thing anybody who isn’t a multi-billionaire should want is to roll the clock back 100 years.

Christmas is the birthday celebration of one of history’s greatest collectivists. So I found it funny that in your Dec. 16 issue there was a letter from a man condemning collectivists as atheists.


I’m sure he understands the dictionary definition of an atheist. He just thinks collectivists are by definition Godless. This is not true. Also, many of those he calls collectivists did a lot to make this country a better place for people like him and me. They did it by promoting individual freedom and collective responsibility. The last thing anybody who isn’t a multi-billionaire should want is to roll the clock back 100 years.


Some prominent liberals and collectivists have been atheists, but more have been religious. Baptist preacher Martin Luther King Jr. supported unions, protested the Vietnam War and called for economic and social justice for the poor. One of the more religious presidents of the 20th century was Franklin Roosevelt, a liberal who saved and humanized capitalism. Two of the most prominent American socialists of the 20th century were clergymen: Norman Thomas and A.J. Muste.


Jesus of Nazareth’s original followers were collectivists. According to Acts 2:45 they: “sold their possessions and shared out the proceeds among them according to what each one needed.” Jesus said: “if a man asks for your shirt give him your coat as well,” “no man can serve God and money” and “pay Caesar what is due Caesar”. Sounds like a left-winger to me.


Many of these collectivists didn’t always use the legal means championed in the letter. They were forced by the evils of the time to defy amoral laws. Some, like Jesus, were killed. But they made things better for us all in the long run.


One hundred years ago there was segregation and a lot more discrimination. There was no vote for women, no labor laws, no health insurance, no retirement pensions, and no middle-class: just the haves and have-nots. Like recent decades, most of the money and resources were concentrated in the hands of the very few and the most basic needs of the poor were all but ignored.


Things did change for a while. Left wing policies, followed by Democratic and Republican governments alike, from the 1930s into the 1970s created the golden age of the middle class. It also didn’t hurt that union membership was almost 40 percent of the work force instead of the 9 percent we have now. This created an era when families only needed one breadwinner, folks were guaranteed a good retirement, people were less selfish and we bought what we needed with cash. Unfortunately, those policies have been slowly repealed over the last 35 years by every single government we’ve had in power.


I’m not sure what the letter means by “special interests.” Those typically referred to as special interests want the same things we all want- fairness, justice and compassion. The real problem lies with a powerful “clique” of unregulated, selfish bankers, financiers and multi-national corporations who control our government and the public discourse (and who have most people playing right into their hands). This elite has been conspiring to turn the clock back 100 years for some time. Back to when bankers and giant corporations controlled everything and average folks had a hard life. Just as Jesus said of the Pharisees and Sadducees, these people would “make heavy packs and pile them on men’s shoulders and not raise a finger to lift the load themselves.”


No past era was perfect, and not all past policies will work in today’s world, but if we’re talking about going backward I’d choose 40 years ago. Look at how far we’ve fallen since 1970. In 2010 we have a Wall Street-controlled president whose policies are no more liberal than Richard Nixon’s but people are up in arms claiming he’s a socialist.


We are all dependent on others, on the collective. As the saying goes: “No man is an island.” This can be a source of comfort as well as a source of anxiety. I don’t know any right-winger who doesn’t believe in neighborliness and community. So why do they see collectivism as only a source of fear when it is also a source of protection and support?


Collective community is not evil. The evil is when human insecurity and selfishness makes people judgmental, creates the need to control others and causes a desire to make everybody the same. As Jesus said, “judge not.”


You can hate it all you want but collectivism is an inalterable, natural and undeniable necessity of human existence. It often makes life better on a personal level and it’s what made the country better in the middle of the 20th century. Others can go back to 1910. I say let’s move forward and collectively create a better world for all.



— Chris Norton, Hunt