“The Pilgrims Dreamed of Socialism. Then Socialism Almost Killed Them.”
As you may know, when the Pilgrims first came to Massachusetts, they tried collective farming and almost starved to death. It wasn’t until Governor William Bradford divided up the land and gave families private parcels that they worked hard to provide for themselves.
John Stossel highlighted this lesson in a new column at Reason:
The Pilgrims Dreamed of Socialism. Then Socialism Almost Killed Them.
Thursday, if you eat a nice meal, thank the Pilgrims. They made Thanksgiving possible.
They left the Old World to escape religious persecution. They imagined a new society where everyone worked together and shared everything.
In other words, they dreamed of socialism. Socialism then almost killed them.
As I explain in my weekly video, the Pilgrims attempted collective farming. The whole community decided when and how much to plant, when to harvest, and who would do the work.
Gov. William Bradford wrote in his diary that he thought that taking away property and bringing it into a commonwealth would make the Pilgrims “happy and flourishing.”
It didn’t. Soon, there wasn’t enough food. “No supply was heard of,” wrote Bradford, “neither knew they when they might expect any.”
The problem, Bradford realized, was that no one wanted to work. Everyone relied on others to do the work. Some people pretended to be injured. Others stole food.
The communal system, Bradford wrote, “was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment.”
Young men complained they had to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.”
Strong men thought it was an “injustice” they had to do more than weaker men without more compensation.
Stossel does a great job tying this lesson to the current issue of student loan forgiveness.
Read the whole thing, and when you’re done, watch the video that Stossel made to go with it. This would even be great to share with the family at the table after dinner.
Some lessons must be relearned over and over again.
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