Richard Ebeling emails:
I have a new article on, “Thanksgiving was a Triumph of Capitalism over Collectivism.”
Thanksgiving is a time when family and friends gather together for a festive meal and celebration for all we might be thankful for. What is overlook and most often misunderstood is why American’s celebrate Thanksgiving.
Yes, the Puritans settled in what is now known as Plymouth, Massachusetts, and after hardly surviving two harsh winters, they succeeded in producing a bountiful harvest for with they gave “thanks to God” in the wilderness, and even shared their good fortune with some of the neighboring Indians.
But what is too often not told is that the original plan was to follow Plato’s ideal in his book, “The Republic,” and create a communist society without private property, without which they believed greed, possessiveness, and selfishness would be left behind in the corrupt Europe they turned their backs on.
But as the colony’s Governor, William Bradford, relates in his dairy, rather than a collectivist paradise on earth, their experiment with communal work and sharing generated anger, resentment, envy and conflict, as the industrious found that some did not work as hard as they but were to receive an equal portion of whatever was produced. Similar tensions arose among the wives in this “new world.”
When these tensions showed their fruit with falling production and many lives lost from starvation, the colony elders introduced a different system to save the people from destruction. They divided the collective property into private farms, with each family free to use it productively as they saw fit, and trade away any productive surpluses with their neighbors.
Rather than bleakness and starvation, the now motived colonists brought forth a great harvest that saved them in the wilderness, and for which they, then, gave thanks to God. So this Thanksgiving, when the turkey, yams cranberry sauce, and stuffing are passed around, remember to give thanks for the triumph of capitalist private enterprise over Plymouth colony’s early failed experiment with collectivism.