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Apparently It’s Collectivism Only If It Is Pursued as a Means of Privation

Liberal Curmudgeon blogger Stephen Budiansky ridicules Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and others for describing early Plymouth colony as a failed experiment in collectivism.  (HT Tom Elia)

The thrust of Budiansky’s ridicule is that, because the pilgrims initially went along with the collectivist arrangement out of a (mistaken) belief that it would make them rich, it’s illegitimate to draw lessons for current policies from that early American instance of failed collectivization.

How, I ask ye, were the pilgrims’ motives different from those of the vast majority of people who have endorsed collectivization over the years?  The great allure of communism and other species of collectivism (at least until the depredations and deprivations of the Soviet and Maoist utopias became undeniable) has always been that collectivization would create more wealth for everyone than would be created by allegedly wasteful, inefficient, rudderless private-property capitalism.

Had collectivism been sold for what it is – as a get-poor-quick scheme – its appeal would have been akin to that of ideologies that demand lifetime chastity.  America’s pilgrims were, for a few years, simply another of the many groups of people throughout history who brutalized themselves by listening to the Sirens’ song of collectivism.