We The People

A Commune Called Plymouth: What the Pilgrims Taught Us About Socialism

This article was originally printed in Volume 12, Issue 5 of Amac Advantage Magazine. 


Architect of the Capitol, “Landing of the Pilgrims”

Each Thanksgiving season, we are reminded of the Pilgrims and their early settlement at Plymouth in 1620. The story of the Pilgrims is an important example of one of the first failures of socialism, and since most of today’s youth will be taught a different version of these events, it is crucial we pass this lesson down to our children and grandchildren each year at our own family Thanksgiving celebrations, lest we forget the real meaning of this uniquely American holiday.

The Pilgrims’ early settlement, by today’s standards, was essentially a socialist commune. The settlers received their clothing, food, and supplies from the colony’s “common stock,” all farmland was collectively owned, and each family received provisions according to their needs, with the profits of labor being divided equally rather than by what was earned through hard work.

This system quickly led to discontent: The healthy and able-bodied colonists who worked in the fields all day began to resent the colonists who claimed to be ill, frustrated that they received the same amount of food and supplies as those who performed zero labor. The socialist system was also harmful to the health of the Pilgrims: Nearly half of the colonists died of starvation during their first winter in the New World, unable to feed themselves and stay healthy with the colony’s shrinking harvest sizes.

Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, none of this is all too different from the system currently in place in Venezuela, a once-wealthy country currently crumbling under a socialist regime. Just like the Pilgrims, Venezuelan citizens today are dealing with major social upheaval, mass starvation, and lack of basic supplies like toilet paper, water, and over-the-counter medicines. The collapse of the country shows the grim reality of living in a socialist “paradise”, with thousands of citizens fleeing the country each month to escape its hellish conditions.


After about two years of famine and disaffection, the Pilgrims finally had a meeting amongst themselves and chose to abandon the socialist system for all of the suffering it had caused. The colony’s new system required each family to take care of themselves, and made the settlers personally responsible for their own means of survival. Colonists were encouraged to grow their own food knowing that there was no “common stock” to provide for them. This led to the entire colony becoming more prosperous—those who earlier claimed to be infirm became motivated and industrious, with men, women, and youth alike working in the fields eager to reap the benefits of their labor. Interestingly, the settlers in the Jamestown colony went through the same experience and passed a rule: “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”

These Pilgrims taught us a valuable lesson: Communal arrangements only foster discontent, and the only “cure” for this social collapse is the free market. The only way for a society to prosper as a whole is through hard work and personal responsibility, not through promises of equal outcomes.

The Pilgrims saved their settlement by abandoning socialism and embracing the free market. Today’s socialist countries like Venezuela should take a page from their book before it is too late.


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2 years ago

Paul in Romans talks about those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. It’s happening all the time and this is a prime example. The truth grates on those intent on evil, which is where the political left is these days. Their lying needs to be called out. Thanks for the great article.

Jules Guidry
2 years ago

I want to believe that the folks on the left are just ignorant of the history of socialism and how it destroys people wherever it has been implemented. Well, I’m old enough to not believe in fairy tales, Santa Claus, easter bunny, etc. and socialism falls into that category. The only way to get what you want out of life is to work for it. There is no other way. The pilgrims discovered that early on in their existence in this land. Some folks had to die to drive the lesson home and make it real. The left since the… Read more »

2 years ago

an addition is that when you work for something you gain pride and a feeling of self accomplishment. A sense of “worth”. I believe that this is one of the biggest problems in America at this time, a very decreasing sense of worth.

John Hill
2 years ago

John Hill The Christian moral majority are taught not to engage in the battles against evil and misapply the “God is in control” mantra. God’s control is manifested in “Free Will”. If God “controlled” everything our national pastimes would not be infanticide and sodomy. The end result of being disengaged in the Spiritual battles that attack us on every front, has turned over our schools, colleges and all mediums of communication to the enemy. The end result being the push for socialism and open hostility against history, Truth, Christianity and all basic morality. No one knows the day or hour… Read more »

2 years ago

This is the story that should be told to all children at home and at school—that capitalism triumphs over socialism. But, first, we need to teach their parents!
There’s a PBS program that started about a month ago, called “Jamestown”. It is set in 1619, and a crop of tobacco has just been harvested. I’m curious to see how the colony is depicted; Hungary, the country, is in the credits.

James Carter
2 years ago

“..he who will not work will not eat” comes from the New Testament, specifically 2 Thessalonians 3:10. Work and responsibility are Biblical, socialism is not!

1 year ago

Many millennials have been programed into believing socialism can work if they all pull together. It reminds me of the 60s communes, people were so together going in, but then after a time they have to adopt rules on who to let in or who to kick out or punish. I read the same kind of idealism in the current generation who embrace socialism. They can’t fathom it’s underlying flaws. Human nature does not work in a manufactured political utopia except on a predatorial level of taking advantage of delegated power. We see that all the time in government at… Read more »

David S Moon
2 years ago

Thank you, it’s wonderful to have you send these wonderful explanations to us. Also with a way to post them to our Face Book pages.

Jack Haskins
2 years ago

These are all good lessons but I think that it is a shame that our school children are never taught, and have not been taught for several generations that the settlers who lived in St Augustine, Florida had been thriving there for nearly one hundred years before the Pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock.

Scott C Fisher Sr
2 years ago

Its seems to me the same going on today those that can work refuse to they take advantage of system I worked in steel mill for 42 yrs am paying for idle and LAZY people

2 years ago

While the point of this article is accurate (Socialism didn’t work even for men and women of sterling character) there are several innaccuracy that are regrettable because they discredit the whole article and make its main point suspect. For example: “Nearly half of the colonists died of starvation during their first winter in the New World, unable to feed themselves and stay healthy (true) with the colony’s shrinking harvest sizes.” (Not the reason. Doesn’t even make sense. They arrived in November. No time for even one harvest – let alone shrinking harvest sizes). They died because delays in leaving England… Read more »

Joseph Biamonte
2 years ago

This is a very poor example of socialism first of all socialism wasn’t even out back then it didn’t exist as a system also you had a group of very rich people who had no farming experience that’s why it fell not socialism there were other groups that had farmers and it worked quite well I am a historian I don’t believe in socialism but this is a very poor example socialism didn’t exist until after the French Revolution some say it existed in early Christianity the fact remains as an economic system it didn’t exist what you have here… Read more »

Mary Sue Butch
9 months ago

What this article and all of you are ignoring is that the above is one-sided and way way oversimplified – nothing is that simple. If you don’t want to get into detail though, consider the following: (1) no one, anywhere, least of all Venezuela, has a real socialist system. Venezuela is authoritarian. The truest socialism you see is the capitalist / socialist mix in Scandinavia, and that’s what “Democratic socialists” want here. (2) It’s obviously not true that people who are poor are “lazy.” Sure, every society has people who are lazy. But there are many more people who are… Read more »

1 year ago

If you don’t think taxing people is not communism or socialism your opinion is skewed. Taxes are forced upon people and threat. Taking by force is not liberty and people can make excuses for it and at the end of the day fails. If what currently exists is capitalism it too will fail. Capitalism does not exist and one should look to the existing national emergency, still in play, of 1933. People are side tracked while others in the know get richer

2 years ago

One very disturbing fact that was missing from the article! That leader (s) of the ‘social paradise’ didn’t go hungry with the others. They were ‘leaders’, they were fed.

I guess people can just... Say things
10 months ago

Source: Dude trust me

Rochelle Porto
1 year ago

Great Article and MUST be shared by all to all – Our children were not taught any of this history -just that pilgrims and Columbus were evil and took native lands…..

Thomas H
1 year ago

Just imagine, if socialism didn’t work for a relatively decent and religious group of people, how much worse will it be when the (d)s pass it here, in our country presently torn by strife, anger, and envy from the left!

2 years ago

We really need to get History and Civic taught in our schools again. Many of our young people are so naive about Socialism and how our government works.

2 years ago

Socialism is great…until you run out of other people’s money or stuff to give out. It seems strange how we so easily fall to the temptation to play Santa Claus when giving out the goods. It will always be easier to be a consumer than a producer. The lesson these early Americans learned and passed down to their posterity is to be self sufficient and responsible for themselves.

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