Lessons From The First Thanksgiving
Richard Ebeling’s Thanksgiving article titled: Thanksgiving Was A Triumph Of Capitalism Over Collectivism, tells the real lesson of the first thanksgiving. The basic idea of government central planning whether it is called collectivism, socialism, communism, et al, has been around forever. The evidence that collectivism doesn’t produce results that match the rhetoric has also been around forever. But somehow the lure of collectivist ideology still remains strong in spite of the evidence.
Here are some excerpts from the article.
“The English Puritans, who left Great Britain and sailed across the Atlantic on the Mayflower in 1620,……. wanted to erect a New Jerusalem that would not only be religiously devout, but be built on a new foundation of communal sharing and social altruism. Their goal was the communism of Plato’s Republic, in which all would work and share in common, knowing neither private property nor self-interested acquisitiveness……..Two years of communism in practice had left alive only a fraction of the original number of the Plymouth colonists.”
“What resulted is recorded in the journal of Governor William Bradford, the head of the colony. The colonists collectively cleared and worked land, but they brought forth neither the bountiful harvest they hoped for, nor did it create a spirit of shared and cheerful brotherhood.”
“The less industrious members of the colony came late to their work in the fields, and were slow and easy in their labors. Knowing that they and their families were to receive an equal share of whatever the group produced, they saw little reason to be more diligent their efforts. The harder working among the colonists became resentful that their efforts would be redistributed to the more malingering members of the colony. Soon they, too, were coming late to work and were less energetic in the fields.”
“Because of the disincentives and resentments that spread among the population, crops were sparse and the rationed equal shares from the collective harvest were not enough to ward off starvation and death.”
“Realizing that another season like those that had just passed would mean the extinction of the entire community, the elders of the colony decided to try something radically different: the introduction of private property rights and the right of the individual families to keep the fruits of their own labor.”
“The Plymouth Colony experienced a great bounty of food. Private ownership meant that there was now a close link between work and reward……..When the harvest time came, not only did many families produce enough for their own needs, but they had surpluses that they could freely exchange with their neighbors for mutual benefit and improvement.”
“Hard experience had taught the Plymouth colonists the fallacy and error in the ideas of that since the time of the ancient Greeks had promised paradise through collectivism rather than individualism.”
“Was this realization that communism was incompatible with human nature and the prosperity of humanity to be despaired or be a cause for guilt? Not in Governor Bradford’s eyes. It was simply a matter of accepting that altruism and collectivism were inconsistent with the nature of man, and that human institutions should reflect the reality of man’s nature if he is to prosper.”
If these sparsely populated settlements couldn’t make socialism work, how could our present day leaders think that trying to implement socialist policies (like Obamacare), incrementally to a population of 330 million possibly work? Politicians and bureaucrats are heavily invested in the ideology of centrally planning an economy. They will never give up this vision of how the world works, even though the lessons of history are their for all to see.
Related Article – The Real Thanksgiving Story, at austrianaddict.com.
Related Article – Thanksgiving Proclamations, at austrianaddict.com.
What I wrote last year seems even more appropriate this year.
“Even though it seems we are in conflict about everything. Each of us should be thankful that we live in a country that protects our right to complain. We should be thankful our founding principles have led to the creation of a standard of living that other countries could only dream of.”
“We take our individual freedom and our countries wealth for granted, even though they are rare indeed when compared to other countries throughout the history of the world. Be Thankful!”