|Let’s explore the
| When the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth
Plantation – the Pilgrims were charged by its sponsors to live communally-
they had a common storage place to which all contributed all of the fruit
their labor and from which they took according to need. In 1621 and 1622 it
was a bountiful land but the economy failed and starvation and disease
resulted in deaths of over half the people. The Thanksgiving legend we are
accustomed to does not reflect this very unhappy beginning. In his “History
of Plymouth Plantation”, the governor of the colony, William Bradford,
reported that the colonists went hungry because they refused to work in the
fields. They preferred instead to steal food. The colony was riddled with
"corruption," and with "confusion and discontent." The
crops were small because "much was stolen both by night and day, before
it became scarce eatable.” This lack
of industrious sentiment,
motivation, and expectation
that ‘someone else should provide’ resulted from a collectivist economy and
| But the harvest of 1623 was different.
Suddenly, Bradford writes "instead of famine now God gave them
plenty," he continued "and
the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for
which they blessed God." In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced
that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.
| This "from each according to his
ability, to each according to his need“ community was an early form of
socialism in which all priority was placed at the level of the higher order-
the commune, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that
"young men that are most able and fit for labor and service"
complained about being forced to "spend their time and strength to work
for other men's wives and children.“
| To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford
abolished socialism. He gave each a parcel of land and told them they could
keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. He replaced
socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.
| He offered the solution at the most basic
level consistent with the principle of Subsidiarity and empowered the
individual with private property- a Western concept rejected by socialism.
The success reflected the Productive Forces of Personal Freedom coupled with
responsibility, appropriate self-interest, and stewardship – concepts often
rejected on college campuses and by