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Letter to the Editor: The Rotting Corpse of American Capitalism

letter to the editor

Letter submitted the editor of the Bryan Times on August 18, 2020

Dear Editor,

Jerry Bergman’s latest letter to the editor about Karl Marx, Marxism, and atheism would be hilarious if it wasn’t for the fact that his distortions of history are believed by millions of Evangelical Christians. Marxism, socialism, and atheism are the new boogeymen used by preachers to foment outrage and fear among the faithful. Worse yet, many of these same preachers tell congregants that Donald Trump, a fascist, is the only thing standing between them and the socialist/Marxist horde taking over America.

Bergman takes one line from Marx, using it to paint a distorted view of 20th-century history. Here’s the rest of the quote:

“Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.”

As readers can see, Marx’s view of religion is more nuanced and complex than Bergman suggests.

Marx believed that religion provides a fantasy of sorts for the poor and disenfranchised. Economic realities prevent the poor from finding happiness in this life, so religion promises them happiness in the life to come. This Faustian bargain chains the poor to the rotting carcass of immoral American capitalism. It is only when the poor and disenfranchised see beyond the false promises of eternal life and heavenly prosperity that they see their only hope of a better tomorrow rests in casting off the chains of religion and resolutely standing against the political and social status quo.

It is clear to anyone who is paying attention that American capitalism is a failed economic system. Is Democratic Socialism the answer? Maybe. One thing is certain: capitalism is not the answer. Once Trump and his robber baron cronies are voted out of office in November, we can then begin anew to not make America great again, but to make her more fair, equitable, and just for all Americans.

Bruce Gerencser
Ney, Ohio

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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11 Comments

  1. Avatar
    BJW

    I don’t get the Bryan Times anymore. I imagine you’ll get a full-throated response…of dumbness. But once in awhile there have been others who voiced well thought out, liberal views in the letters.

  2. Avatar
    dale m

    So. U think it’s going 2 B a shoe-in during the November election? There is a lot of corruption and colluding going on internationally. There R the Democrats who have a history of shooting themselves in the footsies on a regular basis. Trumps group of bandits R like all bandits. They R opportunists. The Democrats make just 1 or 2 big mistakes, and their eyes will roll off the ball, just like the last election. I think we’re going to C a lot more of Trump. I like how people think everything’s in the bag! Well, it’s not! Just as military planners intend to bring the troops home by Christmas, the opening barrages on the battlefield usually cancels all plans for a single swift victory. And the troops come home another 4 years later. Sorry. It’s not pessimism here ….. it’s history.

    • Avatar
      BJW

      That’s funny. I don’t think anyone thinks it is in the bag. Which is why everyone who cares about our country will vote, not sit home and mope. Biden wasn’t my first, second or THIRD choice. But when I think of Trump being re-elected, I feel pretty darn motivated to crawl through glass to vote. Is he perfect? No, but I’ve never, ever had the choice to vote perfection.

  3. Avatar
    GeoffT

    There is a trait amongst ultra conservatives to conflate lots of terms, terms they’ve never properly considered and which, actually, they don’t understand. Marxism, communism, socialism, atheism, all are labels they regard as disparaging so hence must apply to ‘lefties’. I was surprised recently, however, when a group of these conservatives attacked me online over the word ‘fascist’. It’s a term they were throwing about with their usual ill-considered abandon, as though it were yet another way of insulting liberals. I pointed out that it was an extreme right wing ideology and they were making themselves look foolish by regarding it as left wing. The trouble is that fascism and communism, whilst at opposite ends of the spectrum can, in practice, share certain authoritarian traits and which is why both lead to totalitarianism. And why ultra conservatives become confused.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      Spot on, Geoff. I’ve given up trying to explain these terms to people. If I mention I’m a socialist, I’m labeled a communist. Trying to explain the difference falls on deaf ears.

  4. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Here’s another “ism” that send conservatives into a tizzy: Feminism. Tell them you are an adherent, and you’ll be tarred with the other “isms”, as they misunderstand them.

    The only ‘ism’ they understand, and respect, comes from between their legs. That’s why they’re against abortion rights.

  5. Avatar
    Yulya. Sevelova

    Ha-ha !! Really great posts here. Geoff, somehow I missed the segment where conservatives attacked you over “Fascism”. It certainly is true that Communism and Fascism are authoritarian I

  6. Avatar
    Steve Ruis

    Bruce,

    It is worse that you indicate (“Marx believed that religion provides a fantasy of sorts for the poor and disenfranchised. Economic realities prevent the poor from finding happiness in this life, so religion promises them happiness in the life to come.”) The promise of pleasure in paradise ,,, and punishment of your enemies … taking place after you die is part of a cynical control mechanism to keep people from rebelling against their circumstances. The message is “shut up, do your job, keep your place” and all will be rewarded. The reward after you die is priceless in a con, as no one can verify if it is true or not. It is not a sop to the downtrodden, it is a mechanism to keep us downtrodden.

  7. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Talking about the rottenness of American capitalism: we all know how bad the homeless crisis is, right ? Well, out here in California, our mostly Democratic state legislators shelved several housing Bill’s that helped both landlords and tenants, as well as homeless assistance. The real estate lobby is HUGE here, and they oppose both affordable housing and building enough housing to bring the rents down, easing demand. A tight market commands high rents,and they keep climbing. Quite a few of these real estate companies with their agents and brokers, are Christians. A lot of them will tell you that affordable housing or subsidies are enabling. Totally disregarding the fact that wages and benefits haven’t kept up with inflation. Making it impossible for too many, to be able to rent anymore. 1,000 people a year die from homeless circumstances here in L.A. County alone, and these people were those ones found ! Capitalism without consumer protections, is the ideal for most conservatives. Therefore, making it American by default. Laizess Faire is one of their favorite terms.

  8. Avatar
    Barbara L. Jackson

    What if I do not “believe” in any “-ism”?

    EVERYTHING has to be tested as much as to be sure it works. Maybe some parts of capitalism work, maybe some parts of socialism work. Perhaps ideas should not be shoved into an “ism”.

    On housing, different countries screw-up different ways. Rents are way to high in many parts of the US where people can get jobs. Last I heard in Stockholm Sweden there very long list to be able to rent an apartment. Maybe in both places everyone should have right to housing and we should have a way to make sure this is enforced.

    Maybe what would be best is if there are landlords (of whatever “ism”) we need a law that says renters cannot pay more that 25% of their net income on rent, and if that is not available where people can get to work with 30 minutes, then all the landlords should be required to pay fees to keep people in hotels without raising rent on others. TEST THIS and see if it works having a force pushing back against rent raising or keeping people on long lists forever.

    There are lots of possible solutions like fast commuter trains to where they can build housing etc. Make the landlords pay into a fund to get this done.

    Thank you

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Bruce Gerencser