Capitalist Lesson from First Thanksgiving; Collectivism Was Nearly the Undoing of the Pilgrims

By Wolf, Milton R. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 24, 2011 | Go to article overview

Capitalist Lesson from First Thanksgiving; Collectivism Was Nearly the Undoing of the Pilgrims


Wolf, Milton R., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Byline: Dr. Milton R. Wolf, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Despite our current perilous times, Americans still have boundless reasons for giving thanks. True, our economy continues to falter, we face yet another national credit downgrade, and families suffer with high unemployment. The nation teeters precariously between free-market capitalism and European-style socialism. But fortunately, we have guidance from those brave Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower who, nearly four centuries ago, faced a choice similar to ours.

Our modern Thanksgiving celebration and, in fact, the very prosperity that engenders it, are a testament to the difficult lessons those beleaguered Pilgrims learned. Today, we peddle sanitized, cartoonish versions of Thanksgiving to our children as we focus on feasts and football, Christmas purchases and parades. We may be genuinely thankful for the fruits before us, but do we really understand the labors that produced them? As we look around an impoverished globe, we should ask ourselves what exactly it was that those prior generations did that made America the most prosperous nation in history. What lessons can we learn from those Pilgrims?

Among the 102 settlers on the Mayflower were the 40 Pilgrims led by James Carver, the first governor of Plymouth. Those English separatists were ill-prepared for the hideous and desolate wilderness, as William Bradford would later describe it. Carver died within a month of arriving, leaving Bradford in charge. Bradford's own wife died before even disembarking from the ship, some believe by suicide, given their despair. Fully half the Pilgrims died in the first harsh winter, sometimes two or three a day.

We teach our children that the American Indians, mercifully, came to the Pilgrims' rescue, which formed the basis for our holiday. That's indeed true, noble and worthy of celebration. But Bradford himself later wrote in his retrospective journal, Of Plymouth Plantation, of another crisis that was just as threatening as that first deadly winter.

Unfortunately, the full accounting of Thanksgiving's origin is rarely told, with only a few notable exceptions - chief among them, radio powerhouse Rush Limbaugh.

Here it is:

The Plymouth colonists were socialists before socialism was cool. They entered into a contract with one another and a finance company called Merchant Adventurers to create an egalitarian commune in which their wealth, food in particular, would be collectively stored and redistributed equally among members. This was the forebear of the modern-day American counterculture collectivist commune or even Israel's more mainstream kibbutz, which survive on government subsidies. Equality is put before freedom or even productivity.

To his dismay, Bradford quickly discovered the fundamental flaw of collectivism: its perverse incentive to be less productive. The strong, young men of their commune, he noted, should have been their most productive members, but they resented being assigned extra work that benefited another man's family, so they refused. The less productive members, believing someone else would provide for them, had little incentive to improve their ways, so they didn't. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Capitalist Lesson from First Thanksgiving; Collectivism Was Nearly the Undoing of the Pilgrims
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.