our government-run education camps would teach the next generation of
Americans the true story of Plymouth Rock rather than the romanticized
fairy tale version.
Ten years ago I read for the first time Matthew Givens’ column titled,
“Thanksgiving: America’s Lesson on Why Socialism Doesn’t Work.” And
I’ve been reading it to my homeschooled kids every Thanksgiving ever
“When the colonists first landed” at Plymouth Rock in 1620, Givens
wrote, “they signed something called the Mayflower Compact. Most of us
have heard this document praised as an early social contract helping
different people live together. What most of us never learned was that
it was also an experiment in socialism.”
An experiment that went horribly wrong, big time.
The Mayflower Compact required that all the colonists donate all the
benefits derived from their work — farming, fishing, clothing, etc. —
into the “common stock” and only take out what they actually needed.
You know: From each according to ability; to each according to need.
Well, as the story was told by then-Gov. William Bradford, the young
men of the colony became unhappy campers about being forced to “spend
their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.”
And since the non-producers got the same amount of goodies from the
common stock as producers, the producers simply stopped producing.
As such, “the amount of food produced was never adequate.” Thus the
inadequate harvests of 1621 and 1622 did, in fact, lead to famine,
malnutrition and starvation among the Pilgrims. But it wasn’t the
Indians teaching them how to farm that ultimately rescued the
colonists from their plight.
What did? Old-fashioned American capitalism! “In 1623,” Givens
explains, “Bradford ‘gave each household a parcel of land and told
them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw
fit.” The result? “By 1624, the colony was producing so much food that
it began exporting corn.”
“Thanksgiving,” Givens concludes, “far from being the simple and
uninspiring story of a group of people learning how to farm, is
actually a celebration of what has made America itself great. It is
the story of people working together by working for themselves first,
and in so doing, improving the standard of living for everyone.”
Amen and hallelujah!
So as you sit around the Thanksgiving table this year with family and
friends munching on turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie, pause to
reflect on the true meaning of this quintessential American holiday
just as we should pause to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas
each year; that socialism is bad, even when slick-talking community
organizers from Chicago try to peddle it as “fairness.”
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public
policy grassroots advocacy organization. He may be reached at