Pilgrims Tried Socialism. It Failed.
Socialism has never worked in the past. Socialism does not work in the present. Socialism will never work in the future.
The reason is simple: socialism is predicated on a violation of two of the 10 commandments of God.
The 8th Commandment says, “Thou shalt not steal.” The 10th Commandment says, “Thou shalt not covet.” And yet socialism is driven by covetousness – the greedy, grasping hunger of some for other people’s money – and built on theft – the use of government power to coercively lift money from the wallets of some in order to give it to others. Just because a mugging is done under color of law does not make it right.
Any system that is founded and predicated on a violation of 20% of God’s moral code for humanity cannot be right and cannot work.
Most supporters of socialism argue that it can work, it just hasn’t been in the hands of the right people. And of course, they believe that they are the right people. That’s why liberals placed so much giddy hope in Barack Obama – at last someone with the shining intellect and charisma to make our theory work!
But it hasn’t. Income inequality is worse under Obama than it was under Bush, and record numbers of Americans are addicted to taxpayer handouts and food stamps.
Now if ever there was a group who could have made socialism work, it was the Pilgrims. Honest, earnest, God-fearing, and steeped in Scripture, they were the best candidates in history for the task.
But socialism under the Pilgrims was a total, abject failure and was abandoned after a few short years in the pure interest of survival.
When the Pilgrims set up their Plymouth Colony, the bylaws required that anything anybody made was to go into a “common stock.” Then at the end of seven years, everything that everybody had contributed would be split evenly, the same shares for everybody.
It was a liberal’s dream. Everybody contributes equally, everybody benefits equally. What’s not to like?
The problem, of course, is human nature, which is uncorrectable by any government program. Many Pilgrims began to resent the fact that they were working harder than others, and yet would see no reward for their labors. Those who were total slackers would reap the same rewards as they. And the slackers said to themselves, what’s the point in breaking my back when I can make just as much showing up late for work and leaving early?
Wives and mothers resented being forced to cook and do laundry for the single men in the community, and their husbands weren’t crazy about it either. In short order, everybody was miserable, nobody was happy, everybody was still poor, and Governor Bradford spent his whole time trying to pacify ticked off and bickering Pilgrims.
The Pilgrims soon realized that their fundamental problem was that they thought they were “wiser than God.” They wised up, abandoned socialism, and turned to capitalism and the free market.
Here’s how Governor Bradford described what happened (emphasis mine):
The failure of that experiment of communal service, which was tried for several years, and by good and honest men, proves the emptiness of the theory of Plato and other ancients, applauded by some of later times,- that the taking away of private property, and the possession of it in community, by a commonwealth, would make a state happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God…
For in this instance, community of property was found to breed much confusion and discontent; and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit…
For the young men who were most able and fit for service objected to being forced to spend their time and strength in working for other men’s wives and children, without any recompense…”
The strong man or the resourceful man had no more share of food, clothes, etc., than the weak man who was not able to do a quarter the other could. This was thought injustice.
The aged and graver men, who were ranked and equalized in labor, food, clothes, etc., with the humbler and younger ones, thought it some indignity and disrespect to them.
As for men’s wives who were obliged to do service for other men, such as cooking, washing their clothes, etc., they considered it a kind of slavery, and many husbands would not brook it…
If all were to share alike, and all were to do alike, then all were on an equality throughout, and one was as good as another; and so, if it did not actually abolish those very relations which God himself has set among men, it did at least greatly diminish the mutual respect that is so important should be preserved amongst them.
Let none argue that this is due to human failing, rather than to this communistic plan of life in itself…
I answer, seeing that all men have this failing in them, that God in His wisdom saw that another plan of life was fitter for them…
So they began to consider how to raise more corn, and obtain a better crop than they had done, so that they might not continue to endure the misery of want…
At length after much debate, the Governor, with the advice of the chief among them, allowed each man to plant corn for his own household…
So every family was assigned a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number…
This was very successful. It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could devise, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better satisfaction.
The women now went willing into the field, and took their little ones with them to plant corn, while before they would allege weakness and inability, and to have compelled them would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.
Free enterprise encourages and rewards industry, hard work, and innovation. It creates economic opportunity and stimulates economic growth. It creates opportunities for the voluntary redistribution of wealth inspired by compassion and generosity rather than the soulless, bureaucratic and involuntary redistribution that occurs under big government welfare.
Bottom line: It’s time to send socialism to the scrap heap of failed ideas and bury it there for good. And so this thanksgiving we have another reason to be grateful for our Pilgrim forefathers: they taught us the folly of thinking that we are “wiser than God” in anything, including the economy.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)
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