Thursday, November 22, 2012

When the Pilgrims first attempted to set up a colony in the new world, they organized themselves communally, holding all property in common and working not for themselves, but for all together.

Sounds good, exactly like the Progs want for Americans today.  If you contest this ideology, you are 'greedy," or "selfish."

However, the Pilgrims learned the hard way that socialism doesn't work at all.  Listen to the words written by their leader, William Bradford, as he contemplates the practical effects of both systems of organization, interpreted by Professor Paul Rahe, in his book Republics  Ancient and Modern:

William Bradford, Governor of the Plymouth Colony, reports that, at that time, he and his advisers considered “how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery.” And “after much debate of things,” he then adds, they chose to abandon communal property, deciding that “they should set corn every man for his own particular” and assign “to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end.”
The results, he tells us, were gratifying in the extreme, “for it made all hands very industrious” and “much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.” Even “the women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.”
Moreover, he observes, “the experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years . . . amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times . . . that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing.” In practice, America’s first socialist experiment “was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.”
In practice, “the young men, that were most able and fit for labor and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labors and victuals, clothes etc., with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it.”
Naturally enough, quarrels ensued. “If it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men,” Bradford notes, “yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them. And [it] would have been worse if they had been men of another condition” less given to the fear of God. “Let none object,” he concludes, that “this is men’s corruption, and nothing to the course itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”
The moral is perfectly clear. Self-interest cannot be expunged. Where there is private property and its possession and acquisition are protected and treated with respect, self-interest and jealousy can be deployed against laziness and the desire for that which is not one’s own, and there tends to be plenty as a consequence.
But where one takes from those who join talent with industry to provide for those lacking either or both, where the fruits of one man’s labor are appropriated to benefit another who is less productive, self-interest reinforces laziness, jealousy engenders covetousness, and these combine in a bitter stew to produce both conflict and dearth.
Clearly, lessons unlearned or forgotten must be learned again, the hard way.  It will be a tragedy that these truths of human nature will need to be painfully demonstrated again to modern Americans, many of whom apparently live to get their free Obama phone, and hopefully a leader with the vision of Bradford will be there to make plain the reason socialism can never be the answer.

1 comment:

  1. Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.

    -George Santayana