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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Collectivism Circa 1623

John Stossel wrote a great column about how, if the present political class had been in power four hundred years ago, we would not have Thanksgiving today.

"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.

.... What Plymouth suffered under communalism was what economists today call the tragedy of the commons. The problem has been known since ancient Greece. As Aristotle noted, 'That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it.'"

(That reminds me of something Winston Churchill once said, "The longer you can look back, the farther you can look forward.")


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  1. Rush wrote about it in greater detail than Stossel in one of his books, and referred back to it in his Thanksgiving broadcast in 2008. Stossel really should have provided proper attribution.


  2. It's the old adage that Socialism fails because you run out of other people's money. But Stossel does an outstanding job of bringing it back to life.

    Thanks for posting it!

  3. The first Thanksgiving took place in 1621, not 1623, and probably in October. I know because one of my ancestors, Moses Simonson (later changed to Simmons) arrived in Plymouth on the ship Fortune on November 9, 1621, "just a few weeks after the "First Thanksgiving"."

    It's amazing how many ships had already arrived in this new land before the Mayflower.