Collectivism? Please

November 05, 2012

Anyone who studies science, especially biology, is going to come to the very messy discovery that everything is connected to everything else.

There’s no such thing as one cow. A cow exists as a member of a herd. It exists as a process for converting grass to manure which fertilizes more grass. It exists as a micro-ecology in which vast hordes of microorganisms thrive and interact. It exists as a product, a commodity, a source of milk and meat. It exists as an economic entity. And it has a thousand other existences that are as hidden from us as the other nine-tenths of the iceberg.

In the same way, no man is an island, not even a peninsula. A human being consumes food—where does it come from? It comes from other human beings growing and harvesting and trucking and marketing. A human being wears clothes, lives in a house, drives a car, watches television. Who makes those clothes, who built that house, who delivers the electricity, who built that television, who provides the fuel for that car?

A human being exists as a member of a community, exists as a process, exists as a micro-ecology of microorganisms, exists as a unit within a macro-ecology of other human beings. A human being exists as an economic entity and an economic process. A human being exists as a member of a family and a member of a community. A human being draws sustenance from the Earth and produces waste of all kinds that either sustains or soils the Earth.

Everything is connected to everything else. We are all part of a gigantic interconnected web of processes and relationships and interactions.

If we take care of each other, we all benefit. If we cheat each other, we are pissing in the water we swim in. If we soil our relationships and make it harder for others to survive, we make it harder for ourselves.

The right wing has made a bogeyman out of “collectivism”, arguing that government is the enemy and any attempt to use public funds for the public good is socialism.


The founding fathers knew better. A simple reading of the preamble shows that: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” The Constitution is a foundation, a definition of the mechanisms by which we will create a society that works for all of us. Not some of us. All of us.

Lincoln said it: “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Accountable to the people as well. This isn’t collectivism, it’s how a representative government is supposed to work.

Our government is not the enemy. Our government is us and we get the government we deserve because we get the government we create.

It is our job to be well-informed. A representative government works best when the population is well-educated and well-informed. Anyone trying to subvert either education or information is the real enemy. Because history demonstrates that when the American people are given honest information about the choices in front of them, they will choose wisely.

That we choose to take care of each other will drive the selfish minority crazy, yes. But anyone with real life experience has learned the lesson that cooperation works better than isolation.

That’s not collectivism. It’s common sense. (by David Gerrold)

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