As we roll into the holiday season this week, I’m reminded of America’s first commie experiment — the Pilgrims that landed at Plymouth Rock.
Now, removing all incentive in exchange for a master, central plan of productivity wasn’t the pilgrim’s idea. It was forced on them by the principal investors in the colony.
Yes, many of the first European settlers were backed by corporate interests. Call it a proto fascist/corporatist experiment if you will.
The plan abolished private ownership for the most part and dictated that property, including farmland, food, and lodgings be held in common.
This arrangement was to last seven years. It worked for two.
So abundant were the resources — once Squanto showed them the ropes — that incentive and work ethic didn’t matter much. But once game got scarce and corn yields proved insufficient (because no one wanted to work as hard as was required) they said to heck with this commie crap.
And here’s what the Governor of the colony, William Bradford, had to say about the Pilgrim’s flight from voluntary slavery…
From “Not My Job” to “What Else Can I Do”
“The failure of this experiment of communal service, which was tried for several years, and by good and honest men proves the emptiness of the theory of Plato and other ancients, applauded by some of later times — that the taking away of private property, by a commonwealth, would make a state happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.”
Empty theories of Plato indeed.
And here’s how Bradford recalls the situation once they restored private property:
“This was very successful. It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could devise, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better satisfaction.”
And I love this gem on how motivation and mood change with incentive:
“The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to plant corn, while before they would allege weakness and inability; and to have compelled them would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.”
Remember that last anecdote in case a commie relative brings up Universal Basic Income during Thanksgiving dinner.
You can read more about the Pilgrims’ brush with collectivist thought here. But as we all know, dumb commie ideas didn’t die at Plymouth Rock.
The Dumbest Ideas Never Die
About a century later, commie thought spread its way like an infection through France with the Reign of Terror. Robespierre, the top Jacobin at the time, (when you hear Jacobin, think commie), lopped off heads in an orgy of violent means justified in the pursuit of equality of ends.
To this day the French still haven’t dropped that “Egalite’” albatross.
Now, after centuries of failure, I thought we left commie thought back in the 90s.
But we didn’t. It’s back. Commie thought has risen. And its influence corrupts culture, politics, and even capitalism.
But to help you keep the peace this Thanksgiving in what will almost certainly be mixed political company, I thought I’d define a couple of terms to pull from your hip pocket before your cousin takes the conversation to Defcon 5.
Bog Them Down Until It’s Time for Pie
The first term is commie.
When I say commie, I mean all forms of forced collectivism. I mean communists, Marxists, and socialists — including social democrats (looking at you Europe) and, of course national socialists (aka, Nazis).
This is an important clarification to make because commies draw lines between what is essentially the same philosophy of death. That philosophy boils down to a view that you don’t matter. Only the collective good matters. And it is possible to know what’s in the best interest of the collective good.
So, when your hipster brother-in-law states that Stalin and Hitler messed up Marx’s pure vision trip him up by asking him to describe the difference.
The second term is capitalism.
When I say capitalism, I mean free markets. I mean unfettered choice and competition that precludes only violence and fraud. I mean your capital is your property. So is the income from that capital. I mean that you are your own capital. And that no one can lay a claim on you.
What I don’t mean by capitalism is the many ways capitalism has been corrupted.
I don’t mean laws that favor one form of capital over another. I don’t mean laws that favor corporate property over your property. I don’t mean legislation in the name of the “Greater Good.”
Capitalism, at least when I use it, doesn’t mean government/corporate collusion — i.e., corporatism, Mussolini’s preferred term for fascism — of which the ESG movement is just the latest commie spin.
So, when your nephew strolls into this week’s Thanksgiving gathering wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt or your sister follows Greta Thunberg’s lead and calls for the overthrow of “Oppressive Capitalism” you can first ask them what they mean by capitalism.
And when you finish your pie be sure to loudly give thanks that Pilgrims ultimately learned their lesson.
Then grab your things and go.
Take What the Markets Give You
P.S. Despite my preferences, the capitalism we’ve got is what we’ve got. But we can still learn to play it to our advantage.
To see how I do it, join my FREE Prosperity Pub Telegram channel.
In there, you’ll spot me dropping more economic truths, going live to show you the plays I’m considering and answering member questions. And unlike uncomfortable Thanksgiving conversations, you can stick around as long as you like.