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Why the Pilgrims Abandoned Communism

Home - by - November 22, 2012 - 13:00 America/New_York - 6 Comments


The Pilgrims’ Short Lived Experiment in Communism

Many have credited Karl Marx with inventing what we now know as communism in the middle of the 19th century. The concept of communal living and dependence, however, came long before The Communist Manifesto. Over the centuries, the concept has been applied by different people in different places. While the reasons for applying the communal approach varied as widely as the people who attempted it, one thing did remain constant: failure. From Roman latifundiae to the Soviet Union, communism time and again proved the failure inherent in its concept. Americans do not need to look to distant lands and little known peoples for evidence of the failure of communism. They simply need to look back at one of the most celebrated groups of people in their history: the Pilgrims.

As most educated Americans know, Puritan Separatists, or Pilgrims, landed in Massachusetts in 1620. What many don’t realize is that the original economic system of their colony, Plymouth Plantation, was a form of communism. There was neither private property nor division of labor. Food was grown for the town and distributed equally amongst all. The women who washed clothes and dressed meat did so for everyone and not just for their own families. This sounds like the perfect agrarian utopia envisioned by Marx and Lenin. What happened to it? To find the answer to that question, one must turn to Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford. Bradford served as Governor of Plymouth Colony from 1620 to 1647 and chronicled in great detail everything that happened in the colony.

By 1623, it was obvious the colony was barely producing enough corn to keep everyone alive. Fresh supplies from England were few and far between. Without some major change, the colony would face famine again. In his chronicle, Bradford described what was going wrong and how it was solved (pardon the King James English):

All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advise of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves; in all other things to go in the general way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of the number, for that end, only for present use (but made no division for inheritance) and ranged all boys and youth under some family. This had very good success, for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.




  1. Boobie the Rocket Dog

    November 22nd, 2012

    Rush goes into this the third hour every Day-before-Thanksgiving. And every year it is a worthwhile listen. Is it going to take a near-famine to wake up the 51% who feed off the rest of us

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  2. Roadmaster

    November 22nd, 2012

    I love telling the “real” story of the Pilgrims, and the Jamestown Colony for that matter, as both flirted with utter disaster and ruin until they gave up their collectivist “ideals.”

    What is surprising is so many people ARE NOT aware of it. Proggie edjewkashun werks fer ignoraimusses!

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  3. Wyatt, Insensitive Progressive Jerk

    November 22nd, 2012

    I enjoy pointing out to my lib friends the fact that socialism and communism (they still don’t like being thought of as communist – although that’s what they really are) have failed o=in virtually every society in which it has been tried. Eventually, my lib friends would make the argument that “yes, but that was them, this is us.”

    However, the Pilgrims were “us.” Puritans were normally hard working and pious, but they were also intolerant and heavy handed at times. One would think that given these characteristics, a form of communism would work, but it in fact failed.

    As this piece points out, the Pilgrims’ system failed even though hard work and strict moral characteristics were a part of their belief system. However, we are now in the process of again instituting communist principles and systems – only without the work ethic and moral underpinnings which were a professed integral part of the Pilgrim lifestyle.

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  4. Dr. Tar

    November 22nd, 2012

    The problem with Communism isn’t that people are selfish, greedy, sinful, etc. It fails because people use their common sense.

    With communism your choice is a.) Do unpleasant, hard work and share the reward with everyone (those who do their best and those who do not) b.) Don’t work as hard and still get a share in everyone else’s work. When the whole community does the same level of B.S. work there are only three alternatives left 1.) Create slave masters to force everyone to work involuntarily 2.) starve and have society collapse 3.) reform into a market economy and set everyone free to rise or fall as they will. History shows that ALL nations reform into market economies even if they have to wait for the passing of the founder generation to acheive it.

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  5. fullcirclethinker

    November 22nd, 2012

    You can even take this back an additional 1600 years or so to the time after Christ’s Resurrection and ascension. It starts out with the new converts “having all things in common” and ends up with Paul admonishing the church fifty shorts years later that “if any man won’t work, neither shall he eat”.

    But of course Hussein and his minions wouldn’t know that now, would they? Marxists never do…..

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  6. MaryfromMarin

    November 22nd, 2012


    Thank you for pointing that out from Scripture.

    There is really nothing new under the sun.

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