How socialism was abandoned in New England

Posted by Tory Historian Thursday, September 13, 2007

This is not the forum for discussion of present Conservative Party policy and, in any case, it would be invidious to single out one of the policy commission reports. So Tory Historian prefers to quote from an account of the first few settlements in New England.

This comes from a book Tory Historian has been reading, David Gelernter’s “Americanism – the Fourth Great Western Religion”. This is a fascinating book whose thesis is clear from the title. Gelernter argues that American or American Zionism (not to be confused with the political Zionism of Jewish nationalism) grew out of English Puritanism.

At some later stage there will be a more detailed posting on the book. In the meantime, here is an account of the early Plymouth Plantation, based on that written by William Bradford, the second Governor.

During its first two planting seasons, however, Plymouth Plantation was a farming commune: everyone worked at food production and community chores; the results were doled out to each Pilgrim family according to need. It was pure socialism.

But the results were catastrophic. And so “at length,” Bradford writes, the governor (namely himself) “gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular,” in other words for his own household, “and in that regard trust to themselves”. Bradford “assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number … This had very much good success, for it made all hands very industrious.” The result proved the falseness of the idea “that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing”.
Well, well. How many times has that idea been proved to be false since those days in Plymouth Plantation? And yet, some people still believe in it, as long as they are not affected themselves.


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