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Pilgrims Canned Communism
11/26/03 | bobjam

Posted on 11/26/2003 9:50:07 AM PST by bobjam

I've commented about this before, but in the spirt of Thanksgiving, here's the full version:

Many have credited Karl Marx with inventing what we now know as communism in the middle of the 19th century. The concept of communal living and dependence, however, came long before The Communist Manifesto. Over the centuries, the concept has been applied by different people in different places. While the reasons for applying the communal approach varied as widely as the people who attempted it, one thing did remain constant: failure. From Roman latifundiae to the Soviet Union, communism time and again proved the failure inherent in its concept. Americans do not need to look to distant lands and little known peoples for evidence of the failure of communism. They simply need to look back at one of the most celebrated groups of people in their history: the Pilgrims.

As most educated Americans know, Puritan Separatists, or Pilgrims, landed in Massachusetts in 1620. What many don’t realize is that the original economic system of their colony, Plymouth Plantation, was a form of communism. There was neither private property nor division of labor. Food was grown for the town and distributed equally amongst all. The women who washed clothes and dressed meat did so for everyone and not just for their own families. This sounds like the perfect agrarian utopia envisioned by Marx and Lenin. What happened to it? To find the answer to that question, one must turn to Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford. Bradford served as Governor of Plymouth Colony from 1620 to 1647 and chronicled in great detail everything that happened in the colony.

By 1623, it was obvious the colony was barely producing enough corn to keep everyone alive. Fresh supplies from England were few and far between. Without some major change, the colony would face famine again. In his chronicle, Bradford described what was going wrong and how it was solved (pardon the King James English):

"All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think 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. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advise of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of the number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. 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."

With weak crops and little hope of supply, the Pilgrims divided the parcels among the families and told them to grow their own food. They found that those who would pretend they couldn’t work due to infirmity, weakness or inability (sound familiar?) gladly went to work in the fields. Corn production increased dramatically and famine was averted because communism was eliminated. Bradford’s account doesn’t end here; he goes on to describe why he believed the communal system failed. Understanding the reasons for the failure is just as important, if not more important, than learning about the failure itself. Governor Bradford wrote:

"The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that 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; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour 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 division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter than the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labours, 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."

The communal system failed because it treated the older and wiser the same way as the young and brash. It failed because it rewarded the less productive as much as the more productive. It failed because members of the community found that they could do less and still get the same benefit. All of these problems arose in a very religious community in which gluttony and laziness were considered sins and drunkenness was rare. How much more would communism fail in a larger society where such problems are rampant! By returning to a system in which the older and wiser are respected, and by reorganizing so that one’s benefit was directly tied to his production, the Pilgrims ensured the survival of their colony. Governor Bradford, however, ultimately attributes the failure of the “common cause” to something much deeper:

"Upon the point all being to have alike and to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have been worse if they had been men of another condition. Let none object 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."

Governor Bradford is basically saying that communism failed because of the corrupt nature of humans. People are imperfect and sinful. The utopia Marx and Lenin dreamed of could only work if it were filled with perfect people- and no such infallible people can be found in this world. Furthermore, the communal system undermines the relations God instituted among men- marriage and family. With husbands growing food for other people’s children, wives washing other men’s clothes, and children doing chores for other families, the basic foundational social unit of society is undermined. Without that, no society can hope to survive.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; Miscellaneous; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: communism; pilgrims; propertyrights; thanksgiving

1 posted on 11/26/2003 9:50:08 AM PST by bobjam
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To: bobjam
EXCELLENT!

This is my favorite Thanksgiving story and when I get home tonight I'm going give it the old Rush ping!

I first learned of this story through Rush's book.
2 posted on 11/26/2003 9:51:14 AM PST by ConservativeMan55 (The left always "feels your pain" unless of course they caused it.)
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To: bobjam
"Governor Bradford is basically saying that communism failed because of the corrupt nature of humans. People are imperfect and sinful. The utopia Marx and Lenin dreamed of could only work if it were filled with perfect people- and no such infallible people can be found in this world..........."

This is false. Communism, socialism, etc. is nothing more than envy in its political form. Communism was designed by envious people who hate those who succeed. In the Gospel, these communist people are the ones who were only given 150 talents, but the fools simply buried what they were given, rather than make the best of it. They will lose what little they have and it will be given to people..........LIKE ME!!!!!

3 posted on 11/26/2003 9:57:46 AM PST by You Gotta Be Kidding Me
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To: bobjam
Somebody needs to tell the current Senator from those parts, known as "The Swimmer", about this little history lesson. Most of the other policritters from what was once the "Plymouth Colonies" could also profit from the lesson.
4 posted on 11/26/2003 10:00:47 AM PST by El Gato (Federal Judges can twist the Constitution into anything.. Or so they think.)
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To: bobjam
I prefer fresh communism to the canned variety.
5 posted on 11/26/2003 10:02:59 AM PST by Conspiracy Guy (Ignorance can be corrected with knowledge. Stupid is permanent.)
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To: You Gotta Be Kidding Me
That may have been the approach Marx took (hence his preoccupation with the concepts of proletariat and aristocracy), but I think Bradford was being more practical in his analysis. Sinful humans will always look for ways to cheat the system, and communism supplies too many ways to cheat the system. If too many people cheat the system, nothing gets done.
6 posted on 11/26/2003 10:04:58 AM PST by bobjam
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To: Angelus Errare
Ping
7 posted on 11/26/2003 10:07:59 AM PST by Green Knight (Looking forward to seeing Jeb stepping over Hillary's rotting political corpse in 2008.)
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To: PatrickHenry; longshadow; Junior; RadioAstronomer
A new spin on an old point that we're all familiar with ;)
8 posted on 11/26/2003 10:09:15 AM PST by general_re (Take away the elements in order of apparent non-importance.)
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To: bobjam
Common course and condition almost left us with no pilgrims.
9 posted on 11/26/2003 10:11:17 AM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: bobjam
I would like to see Hillary! go into the fields for a little work.

Judging by her current weight gain, she could use the exercise.

10 posted on 11/26/2003 10:12:10 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: SkyPilot
I hear she's going to Afghanistan and Iraq over the holidays - going by broom. Perhaps she can try dieting over there.
11 posted on 11/26/2003 10:15:18 AM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: bobjam
Thank you for posting this. It needs to be repeated every year, year after year, to keep remindin people of the failure of communism.
12 posted on 11/26/2003 10:24:09 AM PST by EggsAckley (..................."Dean's got Tom McClintock Eyes".........................)
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To: bobjam
Beware of anyone who says "come let us all be of one purse"
13 posted on 11/26/2003 10:24:18 AM PST by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: bobjam
Come on, this was hundreds of years ago! They didn't even have the Internet. I'm sure we're a whole lot smarter now than they were then. We just have to give it a try because we're so much smarter than they ever were. We know we can change human nature to make it work. /end sarcasm
14 posted on 11/26/2003 10:26:35 AM PST by MichiganConservative (Repeal the welfare state and the 14th, 16th, and 17th Amendments.)
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To: SkyPilot
And a little work is probably all she would do.
15 posted on 11/26/2003 10:43:06 AM PST by Blood of Tyrants (Even if the government took all your earnings, you wouldn’t be, in its eyes, a slave.)
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To: bobjam
Yes, the Pilgrims canned communism, but unfortunately one Teddy Kennedy (a/k/a the High Anus from Hyannis) who lives in Pilgrim country read the Mayflower Compact and ended his learning there. That's why communism is alive and well in the Commune-weal of Massachusetts.
16 posted on 11/26/2003 10:43:45 AM PST by MIchaelTArchangel
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To: bobjam
"That may have been the approach Marx took (hence his preoccupation with the concepts of proletariat and aristocracy), but I think Bradford was being more practical in his analysis. Sinful humans will always look for ways to cheat the system, and communism supplies too many ways to cheat the system. If too many people cheat the system, nothing gets done."

"Sinful humans will always look for ways to cheat the system,...."

The point is: it is not "sinful" to cheat the system, when the system is, itself, sinful. Envy is a sin and I have no moral problems with cheating those who try to cheat me because of their envy. "Cheating" a cheat is not a sin. In fact it is a virtue. "Cheating" marxism, socialism, communism, etc....is like stealing your property back from a burglar. It is no accident that 20% of the Ten Commandments are devoted to the concept of respecting the private property of others. Sending government goons to steal my property (as is done in all "communal" systems) is still stealing and it is still motivated by envy.

17 posted on 11/26/2003 10:58:25 AM PST by You Gotta Be Kidding Me
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To: ConservativeMan55
Rush is going to do this story in the third hour today. Have a great Thanksgiving and God Bless you and your family. I am listening to Rush as I type.
18 posted on 11/26/2003 11:00:05 AM PST by Patriotic Bostonian
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To: Patriotic Bostonian
I'll go back and listen to the show tonight. I absolutely LOVE this story. With the whole William Bradford thing.
19 posted on 11/26/2003 11:01:16 AM PST by ConservativeMan55 (The left always "feels your pain" unless of course they caused it.)
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To: bobjam
I have taught this story in Sunday School to my highschool kids almost every year for the past 5 years. It's a great lesson to remember, and to impart to others.
20 posted on 11/26/2003 11:12:37 AM PST by DeweyCA
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To: bobjam
For further details on the Pilgrim and Puritan experiments, see:

http://www.freebooks.com/docs/21b2_47e.htm
Puritan Economic Experiments

Why The Puritans Abandoned Big Government

When the Puritans got off the Arabella and waded ashore to Massachusetts in 1630, they carried a heavy burden with them: five hundred years of accumulated unsound economic doctrines. This system of thought is today called scholastic economics. Actually, the later Spanish scholastic economists who were contemporaries of the Puritans had adopted free market views, but the Puritans had never heard of them. So, a series of disastrous economic experiments began in New England.

The Pilgrims had been compelled by prior contract to set up a basically socialist system in 1620 - the common storehouse - and had come very close to starving as a result. They dropped this practice within two years, long before the arrival of their neighbors, the Puritans. The Puritans did not make the same mistake. But they made others: extensive publicly owned lands for grazing, controls on who was allowed to buy and sell land, price and wage controls, quality controls, public guilds and monopolies, and controls on people's fashions. They learned first-hand what government controls produce: conflict and shortages.

For almost half a century, the Puritans ran the experiment. They served as willing guinea pigs. Eventually, they learned. Anyway, their children learned. In 1675, the great Indian war broke out - King Philip's War. The politicians tightened controls on the economy, and it began to break down. By the time the war was over a year later, the Puritans had learned their lesson. They abolished economic controls for good, and the economy boomed.

This is a story of nearly half a century of Puritan experiments with government controls, all in the name of Christian ethics, and why those experiments were finally abandoned as a failure. The Puritans learned from experience. Not until the American Revolution broke out a century later did American colonists again attempt to impose a comparable system of economic controls, and the result of those controls was the near-starvation of Washington's army at Valley Forge in 1777. Similar experiment - similar result.

Catalog Description

This is the story of nearly half a century of Puritan experiments with government controls, all in the name of Christian ethics, and why those experiments were finally abandoned as a failure. The Puritans learned from experience. This book contains three studies, extracted from North's Ph.D. dissertation, on the Puritan experiments with common ownership of property, price controls, and sumptuary legislation.

Note: The free text requires installing an Adobe-like reader:
http://www.freebooks.com/pagetwo.htm
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21 posted on 11/26/2003 11:46:22 AM PST by Blue_Ridge_Mtn_Geek
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To: general_re
A new spin on an old point that we're all familiar with

Yup. Thanks for the ping. (Shocking, isn't it, that even before Darwin there were commies! Something we've been telling the creos for years.)

22 posted on 11/26/2003 11:49:31 AM PST by PatrickHenry (Hic amor, haec patria est.)
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To: ConservativeMan55
BUMP
23 posted on 11/26/2003 12:10:48 PM PST by Centurion2000 (Resolve to perform what you ought, perform without fail what you resolve.)
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To: bobjam
Furthermore, the communal system undermines the relations God instituted among men- marriage and family. With husbands growing food for other people’s children, wives washing other men’s clothes, and children doing chores for other families, the basic foundational social unit of society is undermined. Without that, no society can hope to survive.

Well, the Shakers certainly attempted to address that problem in a somewhat flawed manner. But I'm not going to use that to discredit the many other fine qualities that communal, utopian society practiced.

Yes, a belief in God and family values are a keystone of our society.

Let us thankfully remember that, along with the fact that Ayn Rand was an atheist.

24 posted on 11/26/2003 12:25:08 PM PST by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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To: You Gotta Be Kidding Me
Communism, socialism, etc. is nothing more than envy in its political form.

Well put! I think envy is the root of all evil impulses: hate, theft, murder, etc. Communism is Socialism holding a gun to your head.

25 posted on 11/26/2003 12:36:01 PM PST by TexasRepublic (Liberal = Socialist = Communist)
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To: TexasRepublic
"Well put! I think envy is the root of all evil impulses: hate, theft, murder, etc. Communism is Socialism holding a gun to your head."

I get so sick of some Christians claiming that "socialism is a more just system, if only we made it nice and not naughty like that atheistic communism." As a disgruntled Roman Catholic (I attend Mass, but cringe at the sermons), I'm ashamed to say that if Karl Marx had dropped Rosary Beads into his pocket, when he was writing his damned manifesto, the Catholic Church would have Canonized him as the Patron Saint of Economics.

Boy, could I tell stories about the crap I've heard off the altar in the name of Christ...........

The sad thing is that the Roman Catholic Church seems to be leading Latin America down the garden path to socialism. When Gulogs start appearing, the Vatican will be surprized ("Who woulda thunk it? Socialism leading to murder? How can this be?"). I swear, some Bishops are sooooooooooo naive.

26 posted on 11/26/2003 1:12:45 PM PST by You Gotta Be Kidding Me
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To: bobjam
marking.
27 posted on 11/26/2003 10:19:01 PM PST by gaijin
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To: bobjam; ConservativeMan55; You Gotta Be Kidding Me; El Gato; Flurry; Green Knight; ...
Another article along VERY similar lines that you all might be interested in reading:

Pilgrims' Progress, or the Story of Thanksgiving: Caroline Baum (Capitalist Roots of Thanksgiving)

Happy Thanksgiving all!
28 posted on 11/26/2003 10:53:04 PM PST by Timesink (I'm not a big fan of electronic stuff, you know? Beeps ... beeps freak me out. They're bad.)
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To: bobjam
From each according to his abilities,
To each according to his needs

A formula for gross injustice.

29 posted on 11/27/2003 8:58:26 AM PST by beckett
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