Richard Ebeling emails:
I participated in the November 15, 2015 “Libertarian Angle,” webinar sponsored by the Future of Freedom Foundation, with the Foundation’s president, Jacob G. Hornberger, on the topic: “The First Thanksgiving.”
It is Thanksgiving holiday time, but few of us are familiar with the real story behind the arrival and survival of the Pilgrims in the early 1620s. We discuss the “true story” of Thanksgiving, and how the original idea was to establish a “New Jerusalem” in the wilderness of the “New World.”
But it would be based on a collectivist ideal of common ownership and sharing as a rejection of the materialism and corruption of “self-interest” in the “Old World” from which the Pilgrims were escaping.
Tragically, this early American experiment in communism ended in the near destruction of the colony as envy, resentment, and perverse incentives in a social setting of collective sharing resulted in starvation and death for many.
Prosperity only came when the Plymouth colony “elders” decided to introduce and carve out private family farms out of the communal property of the colony. Private ownership and the closer connection between work and reward, industry and accomplishment, set loose the energy and positive incentives that brought about bountiful harvests that the colony members could live off and trade among themselves.
This is how and why the Plymouth colonists came to be able and wanting to have a great feast to give thanks for their survival in the wilderness of the New World. They were marking and celebrating, in fact, the laying of the foundation for American Free Enterprise, with the freedom and prosperity it has brought for later generations.