Lessons from the first Thanksgiving: Redux

Dear Readers,

First, I would like to wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving and thank you once again for reading the meanderings of my mind put to words. Today I will repost the observations of Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford. They are prescient of the circumstances in which America finds itself entangled today.

Roy Filly

The Democrat Party never considers the possibility that socialism, statism, collectivism, central control, and progressivism are failed concepts. It can’t possibly be that the failed notions of John Maynard Keynes should be buried alongside him.

I read a story recently that really brought this home to me. It was from the very foundations of our nation, the Plymouth Colony. It recounts why progressivism and socialism only sound nice, but do not work!

This is a simple historic recounting from the diary of Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford. From the Heritage Foundation: “The first Pilgrim winters in America were tough. The colonists failed to produce adequate food and shelter, and as a result, many did not survive. But eventually the colony rebounded. The Pilgrims did build sufficient homes and did plant enough crops to feed the entire colony. So great was their bounty that they celebrated with a harvest feast that eventually became the Thanksgiving holiday that we celebrate today. But what was the key to the colony’s turnaround? What drove them from poverty to prosperity? The answer may surprise you.

When the first Pilgrims founded the Plymouth Colony, all property was taken away from families and transferred to the “common wealth” (Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia still refer to themselves as Commonwealths, instead of States. Delaware calls itself a commonwealth in its State Constitution, and Vermont is somewhat more schizophrenic about the term, referring to itself in its State Constitution using both the terms “State” and “Commonwealth.” However, the term no longer implies communal sharing of all property as it did in the Plymouth Colony – RF). In other words, the Pilgrims tried to do away with private property. The results were disastrous. According to Bradford, the stronger and younger men resented working “for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.” And the women, forced to cook and clean for other men, saw their uncompensated servitude as “a kind of slavery.” The system as a whole bred “confusion and discontent” and “retarded much employment that would have been to [the Pilgrims’] benefit and comfort.” Unable to produce their own food, some settlers “became servants to the Indians,” cutting wood and fetching water in exchange for “a capful of corn.” Others tragically perished.

It was not until private property rights were restored and every man was allowed to “set corn for his own particular” that prosperity came to the colony. Bradford reported, “This had very good success for it made all hands very industrious…Much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. Women went willingly into the field and took their little ones with them to set corn.”

After witnessing the experiment Bradford concluded that the elimination of private property was incompatible with human nature. Columbia is the most recent experiment of this kind. The result was the same. What was Einstein’s definition of insanity? It was “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

The problems with progressivism/socialism/statism aren’t the bad breaks of the economy or the evil players arrayed against their “benevolent” goals. The problem is that it is incompatible with human nature! To my progressive friends, you are never ever going to win that one! As it turns out, you are dealing with HUMANS.

Of some interest, the foundation of Ayn Rand’s (my guru’s) concept for the true role of government, is that governments must, first and foremost, protect individual property rights.

Roy Filly


About Roy Filly

Please read my first blog in which I describe myself and my goals.
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