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Old 27 November 2008, 12:47 AM
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Theme Icon Pilgrims were socialists

Comment: Rush Limbaugh, radio talk show host, claims that the first
socialist experiment in the US was in the Plymouth Colony when all land
was owned in common. He states this failed and the fortunes of the colony
only improved after the land was given to individuals, which forced the
non-producers to work and motivated the producers to work harder.
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Old 27 November 2008, 12:48 AM
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As opposed to the capitalism that operated here before? If we can define the pilgrims as socialists, what about the Native Americans?
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Old 27 November 2008, 01:05 AM
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While I'll nitpick about it being "in the US," as there was no such thing, I'd imagine this is a reference to the settlement at Jamestown, where property was held in common for the first few years following arrival in 1607, and a good many people did, indeed, die off, though whether their economic system or something else was to blame is certainly up for debate.

Avril
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Old 27 November 2008, 02:02 AM
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I'm trying to figure out how, what was not much more that a primitive civilization for would be even considered socialists. If anything I would say it most resembled a communist society. There was no law other than what the settlers agreed upon and most of that was just agree how to best defend themselves from the natives and the environment. No reason to own land since there was plenty of room to spread out and more than anyone could use. If the people wanted to survive the had to work together and share common land. There was no reason for money as well and precious metals were of little use ether since you could not eat them or hunt with them. It was work together or die. Communism works very well in those conditions.
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Old 27 November 2008, 02:10 AM
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I like how everything certain people don't agree with is an "experiment."
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  #6  
Old 27 November 2008, 02:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Comment: Rush Limbaugh, radio talk show host, claims that the first
socialist experiment in the US was in the Plymouth Colony when all land
was owned in common. He states this failed and the fortunes of the colony
only improved after the land was given to individuals, which forced the
non-producers to work and motivated the producers to work harder.
This is incorrect. The land of the Plymouth Colony was not commonly held by some nebulous public system but by a joint stock system between a group of investors and the Crown, with the Crowns major investment being a royal writ for the territory claimed by the colony being held being the property of the Colonists according to English Common law.

As for the initial failures of the Plymouth Colony, one should probably blame the colonists attempts to use Old World plants in New England, a much colder climate, as well as their initial profound refusal to eat the local food, up to and including capturing oysters and lobsters to feed their diminishing stock of pigs. This poor planning and ignorance can probably be accredited to the fact that the ships manifest for the initial Plymouth landing lists NO farmers or productive tradesmen as passengers. This is probably why a third to half of the colonists died the first winter. And the purchase of the land by the individual colonists from the joint stock company over time didn't improve the situation.

The only reason the Plymouth colony succeeded, like most of the New England colonies the British established, was that eventually immigration from England outweighed deaths and emigration back to England by enough that the population stabilized and the colony was able to develop a functioning system of commerce. Why did this happen? Because eventually the system of replacement was overwhelmed by people eager to join in on the new and lucrative tobacco and fur trades. The Plymouth colony became part of this larger economy, and survived. Not all of the starter colonies did. Socialism or capitalism has nothing to do with it. Especially considering that no Englishmen of note was a real capitalist at the time of the Plymouth landing, all of them instead subscribing to mercantilism, which has no firm position on collective or individual land ownership.
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Old 27 November 2008, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chloe View Post
As opposed to the capitalism that operated here before? If we can define the pilgrims as socialists, what about the Native Americans?
Syndicalists? I suppose each tribe was different...
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Old 27 November 2008, 05:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Comment: Rush Limbaugh, radio talk show host, claims that the first
socialist experiment in the US was in the Plymouth Colony when all land
was owned in common.
Question: wouldn't the system Limbaugh is describing actually be communism, since they held property in common?
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  #9  
Old 27 November 2008, 05:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natalie View Post
Question: wouldn't the system Limbaugh is describing actually be communism, since they held property in common?
I wouldn't expect Limbaugh to know the difference.
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Old 27 November 2008, 08:19 PM
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Early Christian groups shared money and labour.
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  #11  
Old 27 November 2008, 10:43 PM
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The story in the OP is fairly common in libertarian writing. I know Thomas DiLorenzo used it in How Capitalism Saved America and Thomas Woods used it in The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. Nathaniel Philbrick in his book Mayflower disputed it, pointing out that the ups and downs of the early Plymouth economy didn't really just follow patterns of ownership.
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  #12  
Old 28 November 2008, 03:01 AM
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The real mystery is why Rush Limbaugh still has any influence over anyone at all.
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  #13  
Old 28 November 2008, 06:35 AM
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Well, one of the five reasons socialism failed in USSR and several other countries was that it was never meant for an agricultural society. It was meant for an industrialized nation (originally Germany, but they went the other way). I wouldn't call the pilgrims industrialized.

Btw, the other four reasons are:

* A string of bad leaders. After Lenin, it went downhill.
* Bureaucracy. They made their revolution, and wanted to create a new society, and simply overplanned it to a point where it became too inflexible.
* They only did it halfway. For some reason, they decided to keep parts of a capitalistic system, such as currency.
* Constant ideological attack. During their entire time as a socialist nation, they were under ideological attack (and sometimes this was coupled with military attack). The British attempt to assassinate Lenin (the Lockhart plot), the nazi attack in WW2, PR warfare from the west post WW2 and so on. They could not counter it effectively due to the other problems above, so it eventually managed to wear them out.
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  #14  
Old 30 December 2008, 12:58 PM
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slight tangent - "Big Chief Elizabeth" is about the Jamestown colony. Good read if you are interested in history.
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Old 08 February 2009, 09:58 PM
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Maybe what Rush meant to say is that a Christian form of social organization was tried, and it didn't work.
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  #16  
Old 09 February 2009, 01:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lord_feldon View Post
I like how everything certain people don't agree with is an "experiment."
I like how everything certain people don't agree with is "socialism".
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  #17  
Old 09 February 2009, 03:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cervus View Post
I like how everything certain people don't agree with is "socialism".
Is that why no one ever agrees with me?
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  #18  
Old 09 February 2009, 06:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatYoung View Post
Maybe what Rush meant to say is that a Christian form of social organization was tried, and it didn't work.
Good point. America was founded as a Christian nation, after it crashed and burned several times as smaller christian "nations".

BTW, I wonder what Rush and his like think about the idea of "open range". Vast tracks of the US have always been owned by the Gov't (as it would be in a socialistic or communistic gov't). The tracks are leased (sometimes for pennies) for use by ranchers and farmers. I believe most ranchers prefer this system since they are not taxed for the land nor do the have to maintain the land for its intended use.
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Old 09 February 2009, 10:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troberg View Post
Btw, the other four reasons are:

* A string of bad leaders. . . .
* Bureaucracy. . . .
* They only did it halfway. . . .
* Constant ideological attack. . . .
I'm not sure if this should go under "bureaucracy" or "only did it halfway," but one big cause of the downfall of the Soviet Union was corruption. Whereas, in theory, advancement in the party leadership was equally open to anyone who studied party ideology, in practice, the sons of high party leaders were first in line for plum party positions, thus re-inventing a hereditary class of leaders.

Under "only did it halfway," it is interesting to note that in the very early days, the Red Army abolished rank. Every military unit was led by an elected cadre of fellows, and the entire unit would vote on what it would do. This did not last very long; whereas democracy is a very good way of making some kinds of decisions -- especially economic onces -- it is a really rotten was of making military decisions, which have to be forceful, immediate, and often very unpleasant for the front-line soldiers. So military ranks were very quickly restored to the Soviet Army, and voting on whether or not to face the enemy was done away with.

Silas
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  #20  
Old 10 February 2009, 11:21 PM
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Quote:
the Red Army abolished rank. Every military unit was led by an elected cadre of fellows, and the entire unit would vote on what it would do. This did not last very long; whereas democracy is a very good way of making some kinds of decisions -- especially economic onces -- it is a really rotten was of making military decisions,
Yes, and at the start of the Civil War, volunteer units for the Union, at least, elected their military leaders. I think that Grant was elected at this point when they discovered that this shopkeeper had gone to West Point and fought in the Mexican War. Grant disapproved of this method of selecting military leaders, BTW.

And like Pointy Sextant said: the economic system was pre-capitalist mercantilism.

Why doesn't Rush go back to sportscasting? Ohhh, I forgot, he's racist.


Ali "what we have here is a failure to ruminate" Infree
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