Amish do not live ‘communally’ as letter suggested

To the Editor:

Reading the letter from James Bobreski (Dec. 2, “A brief lesson in world history”), one could be forgiven for concluding that neither socialism nor communism has ever really existed in the real world. The exception would, of course, be the ivory towers of academia, where Utopian fantasies bloom wild and unchecked.

But the real zinger is the claim that the Amish “practice a true form of communism right here in the USA!” This is blatantly false. For the record, the Amish may live in localized communities, but they do not live communally. The church and its elders neither manage nor dictate any aspect of their economic activities. They are tax-paying citizens of the USA, and their properties are owned individually, not by the church. They are a Bible-based, freedom-loving culture that is committed to personal integrity, a strong work ethic, and personal responsibility. When they encounter true community needs, they are willing to help, but it will not be with much fanfare and at their own discretion, rather than by political edict. They generally resent the rapacious, stifling fiscal policies of the unaccountable politicians and petty bureaucrats.

One of the better examples of a type of communism within a religious order in the U.S. would be the Hutterite colonies of the American northwest and Canada. These are truly egalitarian communities where everything is held in common, and all members are of the same net worth. These are Bible-based communes, totally unlike any form of politically corrupted communism, which still has two classes: the rich and dangerous-to-criticize dictators, and their poor and abused subjects.

It is telling that communists build fences to keep “their” people in, and America builds fences to keep illegals out. Both of these cultural groups, and many other Americans, are repulsed by government “handouts” and the wealth re-distribution schemes of socialism and communism or American Liberalism for that matter. To minimize the philosophical differences between these religious orders and their political counterparts is nothing less than historical revisionism.

Indeed, it seems the online economics and world history classes that were suggested still have a few bugs to work out.


Penn Yan

Mike Cutillo is the Times executive editor. He can be reached at (315) 789-3333 Ext 264 or

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