America’s First Experiment with Socialism

America’s First Move Towards Socialism?
A review of Plymouth Plantation’s experiment with socialism. A call to action to defend Liberty from today’s pending experiment with socialism. America has had socialist thoughts before, always ending in failure.
by Ken D. Berry, MD
(Libertarian)
Saturday, November 15, 2008

An outside observer without a working knowledge of true American history might think that recent events such as the taxpayer bailout of the banking industry herald the initial movements of America towards a more socialist state. Indeed, there are many in positions of influence who would like nothing better than a socialist revolution within our borders. Truth is, American history is littered with examples of the fallacious thought process of socialism and the results of its attempted implementation. One of the earliest examples of American leaders thinking they could legislate away the laws of human nature was recorded by William Bradford in his journal, Of Plymouth Plantation (1620-1647). This example should be studied and understood by all who profess to love Liberty today.

Most everyone feels in their heart that Americans today suffer from at least some degree of moral decay, lack of principle, and wavering resolve. As is human nature, we tend to project our own current state of morals and mores onto any story we hear from the past. So rather than project ourselves onto this story, let me briefly remind the reader exactly who we are talking about in this story. Plymouth Plantation was peopled by Pilgrims who had endured terrible hardship that few today could understand; and in search of religious freedom, had traveled farther that most today would dream of venturing. They were rock-solid Christians, ready to stand together against any foe, who believed that God was always watching and ready to mete out punishment for those who transgressed. They were totally and completely committed to family, church and community in ways we find difficult even to fathom today. So, if any society of like-minded, charitable people would ever be able to work together in common for the good of their society, it should have been the people of Plymouth Plantation. We will find, however, that human nature prevails even in so devout a group as this, and despite the best intentions of the learned men of Plymouth, their experiment with the socialist idea was a quick and painful failure.

One of the first things thought of by the Plymouth leadership upon founding the settlement was food procurement and storage. They settled on the entirely reasonable plan of having a common area to raise crops that would be tended by all according to their abilities and skill, the harvest of which would be shared by all in a like manner. On its surface, this sounds very Christian, equitable, and fair; everyone would work as hard as they could to raise food and then it would be used by all who needed it. For such a kindly, dutiful, and upright group, this plan should have been a success. Turns out that even in the most devout gathering, yes even among Pilgrims, the laws of human nature always apply, just as surely as the temperature will fall in winter.

For two growing seasons this plan was adhered to with rather disappointing results. It seems that many workers were frequently sick, not being able to work, and that many while working were noticed to be giving what seemed less than their all. All work done was mediocre at best, and theft of the pending harvest was common. What, Pilgrims stealing from their own group? Yes, it seems even the strict black-and-white beliefs of the Pilgrims grayed when taking (borrowing, stealing) from the collective was contemplated. In their mind, we can imagine them thinking that part of the crop was surely theirs to take as they needed without permission; we can also imagine the thoughts of the rest of the community whose feeling was that they personally had been robbed. How bad did this system of “Social Equality” perform? Here is a quote from Bradford about this situation:

“All this whille no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expecte any. So they begane to thinke how they might raise as much corne as they could, and obtaine a better crop then they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. ” (the spelling has been modernized a bit for clarity, and the underline is mine)

After the second dismal harvest and pending starvation under this plan of production, the community leaders realized their error and proposed a new plan, the results of which affirmed the laws of human nature and began to set the stage for the coming American success. Again, here is Bradford in his own words:

At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the cheifest amongest them) gave way that they should set corve every man for his owne particuler, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go on in the generall way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcell of land, according to the proportion of their number for that end, only for present use … This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corne was planted then othewise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deall of trouble, and gave farr better content. The women now wente willingly into the field, and tooke their little-ones with them to set corne, which before would alledge weakness, and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

The following point cannot be over-belabored; even the most devout group of Pilgrims willing to semi-circle the globe in search of religious self-determination was unable to retain its morality when shackled with the soft chains of socialism. Even devout Pilgrims malingered, pilfered and waivered while living under socialism. If upright Pilgrims cannot be made to toil productively for their collective community, what do we expect to happen when such ideas are fostered on this current generation raised on television and text-messages and junk food?

When Bradford and the cheifest of his leaders allowed the inhabitants to claim and farm their own land and to harvest what they themselves had sown, the colonies produce production skyrocketed and those who previously found nothing but oppression in the corn-field began to take their children with them to help to plant and tend. This beautiful lesson concerning human nature was not lost upon the founding fathers, who took their opportunity to shackle and cripple the new federal government, to prevent such social programs from oppressing the people. American history is filled with stories of the ebb and flow of new “social” programs, their unfortunate and unexpected outcomes, and their eventual demise. The truth that must awaken America today is that a federal (central) government not continually watched and repetitively re-shackled by the people will slowly become a behemoth which is essentially unstoppable. Jefferson said, “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories.”

Our current problem is the enormous size and scope of the socialist programs being proposed and implemented. It is possible that we will not be able to look back someday at the folly of our present leaders; even the unstoppable engine of good that is America can be stopped if The People continue to neglect their duty. I fear the hour comes when men and women who yet hold Liberty dear will be called upon to do more than rant and blog. Perhaps that moment is even at hand.

This article was found http://www.nolanchart.com/article5475.html>here. I saved to my site, in so I could keep track of it. I did not write it, but I think it is very important.

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