It’s wrong to say that American was founded by capitalists. In fact, America was founded by socialists who had the humility to learn from their initial mistakes and embrace freedom. One of the earliest and arguably most historically significant North American colonies was Plymouth Colony, founded in 1620 in what is now known as Plymouth, Massachusetts. As I’ve outlined in greater detail here before (Lessons From a Capitalist Thanksgiving), the original colony had written into its charter a system of communal property and labor. As William Bradford recorded in his Of Plymouth Plantation, a people who had formerly been known for their virtue and hard work became lazy and unproductive. Resources were squandered, vegetables were allowed to rot on the ground and mass starvation was the result. And where there is starvation, there is plague. After 2 1/2 years, the leaders of the colony decided to abandon their socialist mandate and create a system which honored private property. The colony survived and thrived and the abundance which resulted was what was celebrated at that iconic Thanksgiving feast.If you try to follow the link embedded in the text above, you'll find that Forbes seems to have lost track of the original article. Fortunately, some other blogger copied most of it, which retains some the quotes by William Bradford:
The members of the Plymouth colony had arrived in the New World with a plan for collective property ownership. Reflecting the current opinion of the aristocratic class in the 1620s, their charter called for farmland to be worked communally and for the harvests to be shared.Original link found at Instapundit.
"The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice."
You probably will not be surprised to hear that the colonists starved. Men were unwilling to work to feed someone else's children. Women were unwilling to cook for other women's husbands. Fields lay largely untilled and unplanted.
"And for men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it."
Famine came as soon as they ate through their provisions. After famine came plague. Half the colony died. Unlike most socialists, they learned from their mistakes, giving each person a parcel of land to tend to for themselves.
"At length, after much debate of things, the Governor ... gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves ... And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end."
The results were overwhelmingly beneficial. Men worked hard, even though before they had constantly pleaded illness. Fields were not only tilled and planted but also diligently harvested. Colonists traded with the surrounding Indian nation and learned to plant maize, squash and pumpkin and to rotate these crops from year to year. The harvest was bountiful, and new colonists immigrated to the thriving settlement....