My wife and I are a temperamental couple.
I’ve got a temper and she’s mental.
I love the US Congress.
It's the best Congress that money can buy.
The older I get, the more I understand why roosters start out the day screaming.
China's president getting together with Putin gives me that same feeling when I see my brother-in-law talking with my ex-wife.
Life is too short to not wake up hungover in a pirate costume.
Like a good neighbor, stay over there.
To everyone that signed my 7th grade yearbook, you'll be glad to know that I stayed cool.
If my memory was any worse, I could plan my own surprise party.
If you think things can't get worse, it's probably only because you lack sufficient imagination.
I feel like getting something done today, so I'm just going to sit here until that feeling passes.
That awkward moment when you spell a word so wrong that autocorrect responds with, "I got nothin', man."
It's time to call Cargo Pants what they really are: Purse Pants!
I need a drink.
I need 10.
Why didn't NASA send a duck into space?
The bill would be astronomical.
Quote of the Times;
Taking responsibility means never blaming anyone else for anything you are being, doing, having or feeling. Taking responsibility means not blaming yourself. Taking responsibility means being aware of where and when you are not taking responsibility so that you can eventually change. Taking responsibility means being aware of the payoffs that keep you stuck.
Link of the Times;
Born into it: Southern Nationalism:
Issue of the Times;
When Communism Came To America by C. Bradley Thompson
Believe it or not, England’s first seventeenth-century American colonies were founded on “communist” principles! Let that sink in for a moment.
Fortunately, this curious experiment with simple communism lasted about as long as it takes for people to die of starvation under collective ownership and wealth redistribution.
This essay tells the story of how two of America’s earliest and best-known colonies—Jamestown and Plymouth—were first founded on communist principles.
By communism, I do not mean Marxian communism or any variant of it. There were no theories of dialectical materialism, class struggle, or proletarian revolution in seventeenth century England or in colonial America. Nor do I mean to suggest anachronistically that the Jamestown and Plymouth colonists were communists or socialists of the twentieth-century variety. There were no Lenins, Maos, or Pol Pots amongst these colonial settlers.
What then do I mean by calling the Jamestown and Plymouth experiments “communist”?
Due to the peculiarities of their charters and the instructions of their investors, the leaders and settlers of these two colonies unwittingly set up a de facto system that unintentionally mirrored the principles of what we today call communism.
In many ways, what I am describing is really a form of corporatism that built into its day-to-day operations the core moral tenet of primitive communism, i.e., the Marxian principle “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” (See Karl Marx’s 1875 “Critique of the Gotha Programme”). The colonies were, as we shall see momentarily, built on a mixture of corporatist and communist principles that we can call “corporate communism” or “joint-stock communism.”
In what follows, I begin by providing my own quick history as to why and how the Jamestown and Plymouth colonies were founded and a brief history of their near-disastrous experiments with corporate communism. Section two of this essay examines first-hand, eye-witness accounts of how and why the Jamestown and Plymouth ventures were saved by replacing their common-property regime with a private-property order. Finally, and getting to the real purpose of this essay, I shall elucidate how two of America’s most thoughtful founding fathers—James Wilson and John Marshall—understood and evaluated the Jamestown and Plymouth experiments with simple communism.
The Rise and Fall of Colonial Communism
So, how did joint-stock communism come to America?
At the dawn of the seventeenth century, Old World Europeans of all descriptions—e.g., kings, aristocratic adventurers, merchants, religious dissenters, peasants, and petty criminals—looked westward to the vast and relatively unpopulated New World with a sense of wonder, hope, and terror.
The Old World ancient regime from which they longed to escape was defined by feudalism, absolute monarchy, state-controlled churches, socio-economic inequality, scarce land, crushing regulations, taxes, rents, dues, religious, ethnic and class discrimination, and crushing poverty. The freedom to think, act, and acquire wealth was largely denied to most Britons and continental Europeans.
Across the ocean, however, was a new world of unlimited potential unencumbered by the frozen cake of feudal restrictions. The New World was a refuge for men and women to start over, where rationality, independence, courage, ability, hard work, gumption, and daring would determine a man’s future, not the circumstances of his birth.
This Elysium promised to its pioneer settlers the freedom to produce and the right to keep what they earned. The cleansing acid of freedom, competition, and profit dissolved any remnants of the Old World’s canon and feudal law.
The great question of the time was this: how might this new world be settled? Would the governments of the Old World extend their crushing institutions to the New World, or would this new world be left alone by the old as an asylum for escaping refugees. As we shall see, the answer to this question is a bit of both.
Our story begins with the centralized State of the English Crown, which arbitrarily assumed sovereign ownership over a vast expanse of North American land. King James I then granted royal charters to two joint-stock companies of profit-seeking merchants to settle much of this newly claimed territory.
The South Virginia Company (also known as the London Company) was given the land between the thirty-fourth and thirty-eighth parallels, approximately from Cape Fear to the Potomac River. The North Virginia Company (also known as the Plymouth Company) was given the land between the forty-first and forty-fifth parallels, roughly from Long Island to Maine. The London and Plymouth companies were each given a monopoly of legalized coercion in their respective territories, and each was granted the power to allocate land in any way it wished.
In 1607, the London company sent its first ships to Virginia and set up a colony on the Chesapeake Bay at Jamestown. Thirteen years later, the North Virginia Company settled its colonists at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. Both colonies were established as commercial, joint-stock ventures.
Strictly speaking, the Jamestown and Plymouth colonies were not created by or for the English State. The English Crown did not rule over, finance (other than the land grants), or provide military assistance to these semi-private ventures, but it did expect a return on its investment.
But there was a twist to the founding of these commercial enterprises.
At both Jamestown and Plymouth, the North and South Virginia companies set up joint-stock, collectivist systems of economic ownership and production. The two companies owned the land and the tools of production, and they required all residents of the colonies to work in the fields under a company overseer and then to turn over the (unequal) fruits of their individual labor to the common, company storehouse.
By the terms of the two companies’ joint-stock arrangement, everything produced by the members of each company belonged to the company and was redistributed equally. This arrangement was to last five to seven years in both colonies at which point each company would be terminated and the assets divided as a percentage of one’s investment.
As with all systems of communist production and redistribution, both the Jamestown and Plymouth experiments failed disastrously. In both colonies, the result was predictable—predictable at least to those of us who lived through the death and destruction of twentieth-century Marxian communism.
The adventurers at Jamestown and the Pilgrims at Plymouth learned the hard way that the spirit and system of communism cuts against the grain of human nature. Almost immediately, the lazy and profligate were incentivized to become lazier and more profligate and the hardworking and thrifty were likewise incentivized to work and save less. Loafers received an equal share of the storehouse goods irrespective of their effort and unproductivity and the hardworking received an unequal share relative to their production.
As a result, the overall productivity at Jamestown and Plymouth declined precipitously to dangerously low levels such that all residents of the colonies were on the brink of penury, famine, and starvation. Not surprisingly, both colonies fell into a state of constant bickering, quarrels, and factional disputes, thereby keeping the colonies in a state of endless disturbance.
Joint-stock communism was an unqualified failure. As a result, the survival of the Jamestown and Plymouth colonies was very much in doubt.
Something had to be done. The only solution to this problem was, of course, to stimulate individual self-interest by privatizing property and permitting individuals to keep and enjoy the fruits of their labor, which is precisely what both colonies did after a few years.
At both Jamestown and Plymouth, the introduction of private ownership in land and the permitting of individuals to keep the profits of their labor resulted in a dramatic transformation in the attitudes and behaviors of the colonists. In both colonies, unoccupied lands were apportioned to individuals by their respective companies for private use and private profit. Not surprisingly, by unleashing the tapped energy associated with individual self-interest, productivity and produce increased significantly. Instituting a private property regime ended the “starving years.”
How Seventeenth-Century Contemporaries Saw Jamestown and Plymouth
Fortunately, the colonists at Jamestown and Plymouth have left us with vivid descriptions of how and why their forms of corporate communism failed and how and why the only solution to their maladies was to establish a private property order.
In 1614, for instance, Ralph Hamor, Jr., Secretary of State for the Jamestown colony and a first-hand witness to their collectivist fiasco reported that “When our people were fed out of the common store and labored jointly in the manuring of ground and planting corn, . . . the most honest of them . . . would not take so much faithful and true pains in a week as . . . now he will do in day” were he to have his own land and could keep the fruits of his labor. The colony’s redistributivist policies under the commonstore disincentivized men to work because, according to Hamor, they figured out very quickly that the system “must maintain them.”
But when Governor Thomas Dale temporarily gave to each man three “English acres” on loan to hold and work as a private garden, productivity began to improve almost immediately. Shortly thereafter the colony began to assign freeholds of 100 acres in fee simple to the “old planters who had come to Jamestown in 1609-10, which meant that individuals now owned the land they had been temporarily allotted and they were now effectively independent of the Company and the storehouse. By the “blessing of God, and their owne industry,” Hamor declared, the colonists began to prosper.
With the introduction of these new measures by 1618, a private property and free enterprise regime was established to replace the old “communist” system of centralized company ownership and storehouse distribution. Individuals now had the right to produce solely for their own benefit.
The effect of these reforms on the well-being of the residents was felt immediately. A group of original “ancient planters” declared that these anti-communist reforms had given; such encouragement to every person here that all of them followed their particular labors with singular alacrity and industry, so that . . . within the space of three years, our country flourished with many new erected Plantations. . . . The plenty of these times likewise was such that all men generally were sufficiently furnished with corn, and many also had plenty of cattle, swine, poultry, and other good provisions to nourish them.
Likewise, Captain John Smith, one of the first founders of the Jamestown colony, recognized the failure that was corporate communism:
When our people were fed out of the common store and laboured jointly together, glad was he could slip from his labour, or slumber over his taske, he cared not how, nay the most honest among them would hardly take so much true paines in a weeke, as now for themselves they will doe in a day; neither care they for the increase, presuming that howsoever the harvest prospered, the general store must maintaine them, so that wee reaped not so much corne from the labours of thirtie, as now three or four doe provide for themselves.
Smith and his fellow Virginians quickly came to see that collective ownership of the means of production and the redistribution of wealth brings out some of the worst elements of human nature. Hard work was replaced with shiftlessness, honesty with dishonesty, justice with injustice, responsibility with irresponsibility, benevolence with malevolence, and cooperation was replaced with conflict. Hard work and ability became a mortgage against a man’s wellbeing, and the coin of the realm in Jamestown became need and suffering. As it always does, joint-stock communism created a system of dog-eat-dog competition for the diminishing returns of declining productivity.
Jamestown was eventually saved by renouncing communism and instituting a private property regime that rewarded hard work. And what was good for Jamestown was of course good for the Pilgrims at Plymouth.
The first wave of English Puritans to come to America were the so-called Pilgrims, who arrived in 1620 aboard the Mayflower. Unlike the settlers who first arrived at Jamestown just over a decade earlier, the Pilgrims came to America to establish a New Jerusalem based on apostolic altruism and communal sharing (see Acts 2, 4-5). But very much like what happened at Jamestown, the Pilgrims’ experiment in simple communism ended as a calamity.
At Company direction, all property at the Plymouth colony was collectivized and wealth was redistributed under the directorship of the Company. William Bradford, one of the principal founders of the Plymouth colony and its longest serving governor, has given us our most complete picture of life during the early years of the colony. According to Bradford, the Plymouth colony was founded on “that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients” that the “taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing.”
Nothing could have been further from the truth of course, and the result was predictable. Communism, whether of the Platonic, Christian, or joint-stock variety, “was found,” according to Bradford, “to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.” Plymouth’s central planners acted “as if they were wiser than God,” with the all-too-inevitable result that morale and production collapsed.
Under the Platonic-apostolic plan of redistributivist ethics, the hardest working and most productive Pilgrims were given, Bradford notes, the same “division of victuals and clothes” as those who were “weak and not able to do a quarter the other could.” Not surprisingly, the most moral citizens of the community believed this equal distribution of wealth was a form of “injustice,” and the women in the community came to resent being commanded to work for families other than their own, which they considered to be a form of “slavery.”
The result of Plymouth’s experiment with apostolic communism was twofold: first, neighbors (and they were all neighbors) came to resent each other; and second, the productive stopped producing. Why work hard when others are not but the rewards are the same? Christian love was transformed overnight into Christian resentment.
Production at Plymouth declined precipitously and the colony quickly descended into destitution and near starvation. Within a short period of time, Platonic communism turned—ironically enough—into a Hobbesian state of nature that was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Something had to be done to save the colony from famine and death.
On the brink of starvation and extinction, the colony’s elders “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 languish in misery.” Under Bradford’s leadership, the Plymouth community did an about-face.
The only solution—obviously—was to abandon communism and to invoke a private property regime. Every family was therefore assigned a small “parcel of land” for personal use and cultivation. The result was, according to Bradford, nothing short of miraculous! As it turned out, the Puritan God favored capitalism over socialism! Production and wealth increased overnight.
According to Bradford, the introduction of private property at Plymouth “had very good success, for it made all hands very 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.
Note that “industriousness” and a new-found energy to work grew out of the private ownership of property and with industriousness comes frugality and with both comes wealth accumulation.
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