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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lessons from the Pilgrims for 21st Century America

Thanksgiving is a great day for the retelling of the abysmal failure of the notion that would be popularized by Karl Marx.

We usually think of Marxism and its slightly more benevolent brother socialism as being relatively new, and that is true on a world scale. But the idea that human nature can be denied and Utopian sentiments will lead everyone to gleefully share their resources--no matter how hard or how little they have worked for their share--has been around a long time.

The Roman Empire flirted with it, and it contributed to their decline.

But some Americans flirted with socialism long before Karl Marx was ever born. And like everyone who has tried it and had the intellectual honesty to give it an objective appraisal, they found it to be the usual pathetic failure.

Joseph Farah at WorldNetDaily tells of how the Pilgrims played with socialism... and it almost cost them their lives.

To say that social experiment was a total failure would be an understatement. The first winter spelled death and disease and hunger for the colony because the Pilgrims had arrived too late in the season to plant crops and build adequate shelters. Half of them died. The following spring, however, they planted and hunted and fished to get by – just barely. They did invite some of the friendly Indians to join them in their first "Thanksgiving" celebration. But they were not thanking the Indians. They were thanking God for pulling them through.

As William Bradford wrote in his journal: "And thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to bless their outgoings and incomings, for which let His holy name have the praise forever, to all posterity."

Nevertheless, Bradford remained troubled by the colony's inability to prosper. He found the answer by studying the Bible and revisiting the notion of private property and incentized hard work.

He wrote about it in 1623: "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 advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. ... This had very good success, for it made all hands very 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. 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 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 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. … 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 brook it. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all 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 diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them."

In other words, the introduction of the idea of private property saved the Pilgrims – made their experiment successful.

America obviously needs to read and heed this lesson, and it needs the lesson BADLY, since just earlier this month we elected a transparently socialist president.

Despite the idealistic notions of Marxists, socialists and liberals, human nature does not change and has never changed since the Garden of Eden.

Socialism never works better, either. While throwing more money at it can stave off the inevitable results, those end results remain inevitable for the civilization that doggedly insists on riding that horse to the bitter end--over a cliff of disappointment, decay and destruction.

It's not too late to turn around, America. Let's return to our historic roots of freedom, personal responsibility and limited government before it's too late to stop the horse.


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