Most Americans are familiar with the story of the Puritans landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620.
Few are aware of THEIR EARLY EXPERIMENT with SOCIALISM and how its FAILURE led them to EMBRACE INDIVIDUAL-DRIVEN CAPITALISM.
The Pilgrims began in England as Puritan Separatists, Christians so dissatisfied with the Church of England that they decided to separate from it. PERSECUTED by the English government, a group of about 100 fled to HOLLAND.
Their new Holland homeland did not satisfy their expectations. They feared assimilation and “disappearance” into Dutch society. They also feared another upcoming European war.
After much debate and discussion, they voted to GO to AMERICA.
The Pilgrims lacked enough funds to outfit for the journey and establish a colony. They sought investment from the Virginia Company of London and the Virginia Company of Plymouth, companies known as “ADVENTURERS,” which were organized to fund and equip colonial enterprises.
A COVENANT agreementwas signed. Two ships were outfitted for the journey, the Speedwell and the Mayflower. The Speedwell proved unseaworthy, so everyone still willing to make the journey – 102 persons – crowded aboard the Mayflower and set sail.
Landing on Dec 21, 1620, the Pilgrims SUFFERED HORRIBLY THEIR FIRST WINTER, with around HALF the COLONISTS PERISHING. Aid from the now-famous native, SQUANTO, helped them survive with new planting techniques, but the harvests of 1621 and 1622 were still small.
The contract between the Pilgrims and the Adventurers said that all colonists were to get their food, clothing, drink and provisions from the colony’s “COMMON STOCK and GOODS.”
During the first seven years, ALL PROFITSearned by colonists would go into the “COMMON STOCK” until they were DIVIDED.
Living in a SOCIALIST COMMUNE,” the Pilgrims ACCEPTED the SOCIALIST PRINCIPLE, ‘from EACH according to HIS ABILITY, to each according to HIS NEED.’
EACH PERSON was to PLACE HIS PRODUCTION INTO the COMMON WAREHOUSE and RECEIVE BACK, THROUGH the GOVERNOR, ONLY WHAT HE NEEDED FOR HIMSELF OR HIS FAMILY.
The SURPLUSafter seven years was to be DIVIDED EQUALLY, along with the houses, lands, and chattels, ‘betwixt the Adventurers and Planters.’”
The colony’s governor, William Bradford, wrote THAT ITS SOCIALIST PHILOSOPHY GREATLY HINDERED ITS GROWTH. (“Be Fruitful and Multiply”)
Young men RESENTED working for the benefit of other men’s wives and children without compensation. Healthy men who workedTHOUGHT IT UNJUST that they received no more food than weak men who could not. Wives resented doing household chores for other men, considering it a KIND of SLAVERY.
The lack of individual “accountability” and OPPORTUNITY, denial and “OPPRESSION” of private “interests”, and lack of productive results proved to be DYSFUNCTIONAL and DISASTROUS.
Governor Bradford wrote that to AVOID FAMINE in 1623, the Pilgrims ABANDONED SOCIALISM.
The Pilgrims actually WANTED TO OWN THEIR OWN LANDS and HOMES and to WORK TWO DAYS a WEEK FOR THEIR OWN GAIN, BUT the ADVENTURERS WOULD NOT ALLOW IT.
The Governor (with the advice of the leaders amongst them) established that they should SET CORN EVERY MAN FOR HIS OWN and TRUST to THEMSELVES.
In all other things to go on in the general way as before. They ASSIGNED TO EVERY FAMILY a PARCEL of LAND.
The colonists, each of whom now had to GROW THEIR OWN FOOD, SUDDENLY BECAME VERY INDUSTRIOUS,(“interests”) with WOMEN and CHILDREN who EARLIER CLAIMED WEAKNESS now going into the fields to plant corn.
THREE TIMES the amount of corn was planted that year under the new system.
When a drought threatenedthe year’s harvest, Governor Bradford called a day of fasting and prayer to “seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer in THIS GREAT DISTRESS.” God answered THAT SAME NIGHT with rain that continued in coming days, and the year brought a PLENTIFUL HARVEST. (“Providence”)
By the fall of 1624, the colonists were ABLE to EXPORT a full boat load of corn.
The Pilgrims settled the investment finances with the Adventurers.
They purchasedthe Adventurers stock in the colony and COMPLETED the TRANSITION to INDIVIDUAL PURUITS of “INTERESTS”, PRIVATE PROPERTY, FREE MARKETS and personal “PROFITS”, which led to and resulted in the “COMMON GOOD”.
The INITIAL COLONIAL “EXPERIMENT” DID NOT WORK – ENDING in near FAMINE and dysfunctional FAILURE.
Socialism is being repackaged and recycled by today’s left-leaning politicians including Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez and is being taken seriously by a new young and gullible generation, many who weren’t even alive when the historic events of the 1980s and 1990s occurred including the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
But the lessons from history about the defects, deficiencies, and failures of socialism are very clear. As we’ve learned from countless examples throughout history, including now Venezuela, the main difference between capitalism and socialism is this: CAPITALISM WORKS.