Socialism, Communism, Private Property and the Real Story of Thanksgiving - Please Spread the Word

Do textbooks today purposefully miss the real story of Thanksgiving?

In most history books and textbooks we read that the story of Thanksgiving was due to a great harvest and even because the Indians helped.  While this may be true, the real story of Thanksgiving leaves out the 'Why?'

Why did they have such a great harvest?  

To miss asking this question, and to miss hearing the real reason, is to miss one of the greatest lessons of all.

The contract the pilgrims on the Mayflower were under required them to share equally in the harvest of the crops and to hold all land as "communal property."  Since no one was personally responsible for the land, but everyone shared equally in the harvest, laziness set in.  

"What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again; 
there is nothing new under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 1:9

When we fail to learn, teach and appreciate history, we tend to repeat it.  When we fail to heed the warnings of the repeated failures of "communal living," Marxism, Communism, or whatever -ism you call it, where outcomes are "guaranteed" without regard to who actually does the work while eliminating all genuine positive incentives, history will repeat itself.


The following are several excerpts from a post by the Hoover Institution on January 30, 1999 titled, How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims, which was adapted from The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity through the Ages, by Tom Bethell.

There are three configurations of property rights: state, communal, and private property. Within a family, many goods are in effect communally owned. But when the number of communal members exceeds normal family size, as happens in tribes and communes, serious and intractable problems arise. It becomes costly to police the activities of the members, all of whom are entitled to their share of the total product of the community, whether they work or not. This is the free-rider problem, and it is the most important institutional reason tribes and communes cannot rise above subsistence level (except in special circumstances, such as monasteries).

State ownership, as we saw in the Soviet Union, has its own problems. For these reasons, private property is the only institutional arrangement that will permit a society to be productive, peaceful, free, and just. The free-rider problem was plainly demonstrated at Plymouth Colony in 1620, when the Mayflower arrived in the New World.

Contrary to the Pilgrims’ wishes, their initial ownership arrangement was communal property.

Desiring to practice their religion as they wished, the Pilgrims emigrated in 1609 from England to Holland, then the only country in Europe that permitted freedom of worship.

They longed to start afresh in “those vast and unpeopled countries of America,” as William Bradford would later write in his history, Of Plymouth Plantation. There, they could look forward to propagating and advancing “the gospel of the kingdom of Christ.”

Thirty years old when he arrived in the New World, Bradford became the second governor of Plymouth (the first died within weeks of the Mayflower’s arrival) and the most important figure in the early years of the colony. He recorded in his history the key passage on property relations in Plymouth and the way in which they were changed.

Eventually, however, Carver and Cushman did accept terms stipulating that at the end of seven years everything would be divided equally between investors and colonists.

The colonists hoped that the houses they built would be exempt from the division of wealth at the end of seven years; in addition, they sought two days a week in which to work on their own “particular” plots (much as collective farmers later had their own private plots in the Soviet Union). The Pilgrims would thereby avoid servitude. But the investors refused to allow these loopholes, undoubtedly worried that if the Pilgrims—three thousand miles away and beyond the reach of supervision—owned their own houses and plots, the investors would find it difficult to collect their due.

How could they be sure that the faraway colonists would spend their days working for the company if they were allowed to become private owners? With such an arrangement, rational colonists would work little on “company time,” reserving their best efforts for their own gardens and houses. Such private wealth would be exempt when the shareholders were paid off. Only by insisting that all accumulated wealth was to be “common wealth,” or placed in a common pool, could the investors feel reassured that the colonists would be working to benefit everyone, including themselves.

The investors unquestionably had profit in mind when they insisted on common property. The Pilgrims went along because they had little choice.

The Mayflower arrived at Cape Cod in November 1620 with 101 people on board. About half of them died within the first few months, probably of scurvy, pneumonia, or malnutrition.

By the spring of 1623, the population of Plymouth can have been no larger than 150. But the colony was still barely able to feed itself,

Having tried what Bradford called the “common course and condition”—the communal stewardship of the land demanded of them by their investors—Bradford reports that the community was afflicted by an unwillingness to work, by confusion and discontent, by a loss of mutual respect, and by a prevailing sense of slavery and injustice. And this among “godly and sober men.”

In short, the experiment was a failure that was endangering the health of the colony.

It is as though they felt that they were being “taxed” too highly by their investors—at a 50 percent rate, in fact.

But there was another problem, separate from the “tax” burden.

Bradford’s comments make it clear that common ownership demoralized the community far more than the tax.

The industrious (in Plymouth) were forced to subsidize the slackers (in Plymouth). The strong “had no more in division of victuals and clothes” than the weak. The older men felt it disrespectful to be “equalized in labours” with the younger men.

This suggests that a form of communism was practiced at Plymouth in 1621 and 1622.

If everyone were to end up with an equal share of the property at the end of seven years, everyone should presumably do the same work throughout those seven years.

The problem that inevitably arose was the formidable one of policing this division of labor: How to deal with those who did not pull their weight?

The Pilgrims had encountered the free-rider problem.

As we shall see, it is difficult to solve this problem without dividing property into individual or family-sized units. And this was the course of action that William Bradford wisely took.

Bradford’s history of the colony records the decision:

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; 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 their number.

So the land they worked was converted into private property, which brought “very good success.”

The colonists immediately became responsible for their own actions (and those of their immediate families), not for the actions of the whole community. Bradford also suggests in his history that more than land was privatized.

The system became self-policing. Knowing that the fruits of his labor would benefit his own family and dependents, the head of each household was given an incentive to work harder.

Under communal land stewardship, Bradford reports, the community was afflicted by an unwillingness to work, by confusion and discontent, by a loss of mutual respect, and by a prevailing sense of slavery and injustice.

William Bradford died in 1657, having been reelected governor nearly every year. Among his books, according to the inventory of his estate, was Jean Bodin’s Six Books of a Commonweale, a work that criticized the utopianism of Plato’s Republic. In Plato’s ideal realm, private property would be abolished or curtailed and most inhabitants reduced to slavery, supervised by high-minded, ascetic guardians. Bodin said that communal property was “the mother of contention and discord” and that a commonwealth based on it would perish because “nothing can be public where nothing is private.”

Bradford felt that, in retrospect, his real-life experience of building a new society at Plymouth had confirmed Bodin’s judgment. Property in Plymouth was further privatized in the years ahead. The housing and later the cattle were assigned to separate families, and provision was made for the inheritance of wealth. The colony flourished. Plymouth Colony was absorbed into the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and in the prosperous years that lay ahead, nothing more was heard of “the common course and condition.”

Ben Shapiro takes a look at the true story of Thanksgiving - not the multiculturalism and socialism pushed by leftists every November.

John Stossel discusses the Tragedy of the Commons and the real story of Thanksgiving.

Rush Limbaugh, on November 25, 2009, explains the Real Story of Thanksgiving as from his book, See I Told You So.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever."
- Psalm 107