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.
Older men thought that working as much as young men was “indignity and disrespect.”
Women who cooked and cleaned “deemed it a kind of slavery.”
The Pilgrims had run into the “tragedy of the commons.” No individual P
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