• Pay Attention! Four Vital, Timeless Lessons that Will Keep Us from Socialism’s Lies

    Surge Summary: Socialism doesn’t work – the Pilgrim’s found this out by learning four lessons which still bear repeating in our day.

    Reportedly, much of today’s Millennial generation favors the socialist way of doing things. How’d that happen? The adults have forgotten its pernicious downsides and, thus, have neglected to instruct young people about them.

    Over at Charismanews.com, Eddie Hyatt reminds us that before the Soviet Union, Cuba and Venezuela, socialism was given a shot here in North America. Predictably, it failed. The Pilgrims, who landed in what is now New England in 1620, at first ordered their community around socialist principles. They bailed on it quickly, however — it became obvious they could not survive with such an arrangement.

    The Pilgrims’ journey to America was funded by a group of venture capitalists who provided the ship and supplies for their journey to the New World. In return, the Pilgrims agreed to live communally until the debt was paid. Everyone would receive the same recompense for their work, and everything above their basic necessities would go into a common fund to be used to pay their creditors.

    In other words, there was no inequality. Income produced by farming, fishing and fur trading was spread around and evenly divided among members of the community. There was only one economic class of people in this system.

    Plymouth’s governor of many years, William Bradford, recounted the problems generated by this collectivist system and how it almost destroyed their settlement (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 36-38).

    Experience taught the Pilgrims four bitter lessons about socialism:

    (1) socialism destroys initiative; (2) socialism fosters irresponsibility; (3) socialism extinguishes hope and generates strife and (4) socialism is incompatible with human nature.

    — The first lesson: Socialism Destroys Initiative

    Under this system, everyone received the same reward for their work. Regardless of how they worked — hard, much, or little — they were all given the same income. No reward was tied to their labor; thus motivation was destroyed. Too many Pilgrims ended up putting forth minimal effort.

    Why work and dream when you are trapped in a socialist system that mandates equality of outcome for everyone? This socialist system destroyed initiative and almost destroyed the Pilgrim community.

    — Next lesson: Socialism Fosters Irresponsibility

    Bradford records the young men resented getting paid the same amount as older men when they did so much more of the work. The result? Slouching and slacking — they knew no matter the quality of their work, they’d receive the same as everyone else.

    Knowing they would receive the same no matter how hard or how little they worked, the women often refused go to the fields to work, complaining of sickness and headaches. To have compelled them to go, Bradford said, would have been considered tyranny and oppression.

    (Which apparently they also opposed! The partial roots of America’s passion for liberty, perhaps?)

    With no individual reward tied to their innovation and labor, everyone gave their least effort. Irresponsibility became obvious throughout the community and many became gripped with a sense of hopelessness.

    Lesson No. 3 was: Socialism Quenches Hope and Produces Strife

    The Pilgrims’ original arrangement cultivated a widespread sense of hopelessness. Everyone was trapped in a closed economic system. An individuals’ or families’ ability to improve their personal lot was shut down. Is it any surprise bickering and strife began to multiply?

    The older men, Bradford said, felt they deserved more honor and recompense because of their age and resented getting paid the same as the youngsters in their midst. The young men, on the other hand, resented getting paid the same as the older men when they often did more of the work.

    This sense of hopelessness and the ensuing strife drained energy and discouraged innovative thinking and led to very serious complications for the community.

    Lesson No. 4: Socialism Is Incompatible with Human Nature

    Bradford believed that socialism runs counter to human nature as created by God; so it had to fail. In Scripture, God values labor and good works; He rewards individuals for them. Capitalism, contrarily, succeeds because it comports with human nature as it exists and the world in which we live.

    I will never forget visiting Eastern Europe shortly after the fall of the Soviet Empire. I was struck by the grey, drab environment. Even the buildings seemed so plain, flat and lackluster.

    It was obvious that the Marxist system had robbed the people of life, energy and creativity. I am here reminded of the words of Winston Churchill: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

    Accordingly, wherever socialism is applied to a society, it confirms itself as a shipwrecking economic approach over and over and over again.

    Bottom line: the Pilgrims finally recognized if they wanted to survive they had to change.

    When it became obvious that lack and perhaps starvation would be their lot, Bradford and the leaders of the colony decided to make a change. After much prayer and discussion, they decided to dispense with that part of the agreement with their creditors that required them to live communally until their debt was paid. In its place, they implemented a free entrepreneurial system that included private ownership of property (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 37).

    And with that adjustment, blessing followed!

    Bradford writes they divided a certain portion of land to each family.  It would be theirs to develop for their own needs. The change? Immediate. The young men began to work much more diligently; they now knew they would enjoy the results produced by their labors.

    There were no more complaints from the older men for the same reason. And now the women were seen going into the fields to work, taking the children with them, because they knew they and their family would personally benefit.

    Former food scarcity was replaced by each family’s now raising more than they needed which enabled them to begin trading with one another for furnishings, clothes and other goods. Moreover – wait for it — they also had enough excess to trade for furs and other items with their non-Pilgrim neighbors, the Indians

    In short, the colony began to prosper when they got rid of their socialist form of government and implemented a free, entrepreneurial system.

    Of their experience with socialism, Bradford wrote:

    This community [socialism] was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort … and showed the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s, and applauded by some of later times, that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God (Hyatt, Pilgrims and Patriots, 38).

    So, what about Christianity and capitalism?

    Hyatt reiterates, followers of Jesus bear a responsibility to call people to Him and equip them to apply biblical principles in the real world. Christianity is an intensely practicable faith. Living it out means a life of responsibility, not expecting government hand-outs but working and prospering in a way that empowers us to “give a hand-up to those in need.”

    We desire the best for the greatest number of people, which is why we must reject the contemporary vision of a government-mandated socialist system in America.

    H/T: Charismanews.com/Eddie Hyatt

    Image: Adapted from: Robert Walter Weir – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 75.188_SL1.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10189673

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