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Okay. Let’s all take a deep cleansing breath and release the chowderheaded nonsense that the wingnuts on FOX News are spewing to get Americans into the holiday mood of fear and knee-jerk acrimony. Repeat after me, our Pilgrim fathers were not dirty commies. There. Feel better. This from Right Wing Watch:

Despite a comprehensive repudiation by historians of the belief that the original Pilgrims were socialists who only began to succeed and prosper once they turned to capitalism, on this Thanksgiving conservative leaders and writers continue to spread the urban legend that the settlers were almost doomed by their socialist-ways.

Some background: according to real historians, the Pilgrims held their land in common “in the interest of realizing a profit sooner, and was only intended for the short term; historians say the Pilgrims were more like shareholders in an early corporation than subjects of socialism.” But the settlers, who came from different part of England, “spoke different dialects and had different methods of farming, and looked upon each other with great wariness.” Because of such difficulties, the colony scrapped the land arrangements in 1623, yet the colony held the first Thanksgiving in 1621 and the original “arrangement did not produce famine.”

But that hasn’t stopped the Right from propagating the myth that the failures of “socialism” forced them to embrace capitalism. In order to make the myth seem true, Fox News commentator John Stossel simply moves the date of the first Thanksgiving from 1621 to 1623:

Had today’s political class been in power in 1623, tomorrow’s holiday would have been called “Starvation Day” instead of Thanksgiving. Of course, most of us wouldn’t be alive to celebrate it.

Every year around this time, schoolchildren are taught about that wonderful day when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the fruits of the harvest. But the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn’t happen.

Long before the failure of modern socialism, the earliest European settlers gave us a dramatic demonstration of the fatal flaws of collectivism. Unfortunately, few Americans today know it.

The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally.

That’s why they nearly all starved.

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3 Comments

  1. Maybe instead of real historians you should read the real history. From William Bradfords, History of Plimoth Plantation

    The experience that was had in this commone course and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Platos and other.ancients, applauded by some of aater times; -that the taking away of propertie, and bringing in communitie into a comone wealth, would make them happy and $orishing; as if they were wiser then God. For this comunitie (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much imployment that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For the yong-men that were most able and fitte for labour and servise did repine that they should spend their time and streingth to worke for other mens wives and children, with out any recompence. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in devission of victails and cloaths, then he that was weake and not able to doe a quarter the other could; this was thought injuestice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalised in labours, and victails, cloaths, etc., with the meaner and yonger sorte, thought it some indignite and disrespect unto them. And for mens wives to be commanded to doe servise for other men, as dresing their meate, washing their cloaths, etc., they deemd it a kind of slaverie, neither could many husbands well brooke it. Upon the poynte all being to have alike, and all to doe alike, they thought them selves in the like condition, and ove as good as another; and so, if it did not cut of those relations that God hath set amongest men, yet it did at least much diminish and take of the mutuall respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have bene worse if they had been men of another condition. Let pone objecte this is mens corruption, and nothing to the course it selfe. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in his wisdome saw another course fiter for them.

    1623

  2. Not sure that experimentation with collectives constitutes the Pilgrims being Socialists. If so I know a lot of Conservative Obamacare-hating Republicans that are using health care sharing collectives and are therefore Socialists.

  3. You are confusing the collective by coercion and the collective by voluntary association. In a market collective, I can almost always get out of it if I find it is not to your benifit.

    We have plenty of socialism. Our schools, roads, police, courts, military, parks, scientific research are paid by “socializing” their cost. We are not in a free market. We are a mixed economy. Just as the pilgrims, who socialized their economy in beginning, we as a culture are utilitarian.


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