The Greatness of America
by Bill Lockwood
With western education purposefully excluding God or deriding deity in its treatment of American history, very “few Americans appreciate those traits of our common heritage that gave rise to the greatest nation in the history of the world,” observed Warren McFarren in 1989. Fewer still understand the principles that have undergirded our nation which have made it the envy of the world; the principles which now have been under constant assault for over 100 years and are threatening to make America only a distant memory in the dustbin of forgotten nations.
“That which is good about America, derived from our earliest beginnings, has transformed a virtually uninhabited continent into a prosperous nation. The noble principles that made our nation great are enshrined” in the Declaration of Independence and the Federal Constitution.
“That which is bad has been forced upon America at an ever-accelerating rate since the adoption of our Constitution. The very survival of our civilization now depends upon our ability to recognize and understand some of these influences—good and bad—that have helped to shape America.”
Rejection of Collectivism
At Plymouth Rock in December 1620 the Pilgrims established a colony “for the glory of God.” After a brief experimentation with collectivism in both Massachusetts Bay as well as Jamestown, Virginia (1607) the colonists flatly rejected this system in order to embrace the God-inspired concept of Individualism. “Collectivism” is the political theory emphasizing collective control of property and production while “Individualism” emphasizes that each person has rights granted by God, including private property and the means of production.
“Socialism” is the broad theoretical category that includes any of the various concepts advocating collective or government ownership over means of production, property, or distribution of goods. Early colonists discovered that socialism results in poverty, starvation, little productivity, and even death. Only rugged individualism, private property and free enterprise served as necessary alternatives in order to the preservation of mankind and society as a whole.
How Did Early Settlers Discover This about Socialism?
At Jamestown, Captain Ralph Hamor was one of the original colonists to settle Virginia and the first secretary of the colony. When he returned to London in 1615 he wrote his famous A True Discourse of the Present State of Virginia and the Success of the Affairs There Til the 18 of June 1614. In it he noted that the colony immediately became ten times more productive after the adoption of private property rights and individualism.
According to Captain John Smith, also present in Jamestown, the hallmark of the colony under the socialist system was “idleness.” As one writer put it, “To the puzzlement of historians, the starving settlers shirked from catching fish and growing food.” This is the nature of collective ownership. Personal responsibility before God is weakened.
In 1614 in Jamestown, Governor Dale began assigning three-acre plots to settlers, who became personally responsible for the fruits of their own labor. Individualism and the free-market were needed. According to John Smith, this improved productivity sevenfold. “When our people were fed out of the common store, and labored jointly together, glad was he that could slip from his labor, or slumber over his task he cared not how, nay, the most honest among them would hardly take so much true pains in a week, as now for themselves they will do in a day…” (Liberty, Property and The Law; Private and Common Property, ed. Richard Epstein).
William Bradford, the leader of the Plymouth Colony of Massachusetts, chronicled the same experience. Under the socialist system of state-owned property members of the Plantation neared starvation. Only after a decided rejection of this godless system and an adoption of individual responsibility was a remarkable recovery at hand. Bradford even remarked that the Pilgrims came to regard socialism as a form of “injustice” and as a kind of slavery.
How different it is today! From the oval office to the collegiate lecture hall, professors who have benefitted and profited from our heritage of freedom have used their positions to denounce the free market and personal responsibility. Naïve students are stirred to march for a massive redistribution of goods and services mislabeled Social Justice. They will discover, as they did at Plymouth Plantation, that socialism breeds hunger and want. Unless, of course, the collective train can be derailed before it reaches its final destination. But this requires opening minds; something extremely difficult to do.
Specifically, what were the features of socialism which earned so much disfavor with the colonists to America?
First, collectivism breeds laziness. As noted above, only when the colonists reflected upon a God-centered world-view in which man is honored as a private property owner did the economy improve. Commandments of God against theft, for example, assume the ownership of property. This understanding is traced back to their view of the Bible itself. The Puritans had originally left England because they believed that the Word of God, not the king, should be the final authority in matters of faith and life.
Second, and more pointedly, socialism ignores the true nature of man. Because of the sin of mankind, humans cannot be expected to labor for no personal reward. This is why goods became scarce and people starved at both Jamestown and Massachusetts Bay. When William Bradford recognized the biblical principle that men ought to enjoy the fruit of their own labor and protect it from forcible government seizure—even for the purpose of redistribution– the colony’s productivity as a whole immediately prospered. This is the artesian spring of America which modernists cannot find because it is rooted in a God-centered worldview.
Third, socialism enshrines envy. Covetousness became more rampant in the collective system. In Bradford’s words: “If it did not cut relations God established among men, it did at least diminish and take mutual respect that should be preserved among men.” How wise is this counsel! Our welfare state, tottering on the brink of financial collapse, is the predictable result because we have actually built disrespect for the property of others into the system. Someone always “owes me something.” “Let the rich pay their fair share!”
Fourth, welfare itself is a form of theft. Forcibly taking the earnings of one person to be given to another for his/her personal benefit is robbery. Now that the state has practiced this thievery for almost 100 years, it is little wonder that violence is boiling over on the streets of the once-peaceful America.
Freedom is not and never has been a secular invention. Our entire nation is founded upon godly concepts and biblical principles. These facts indeed are strange sounding in the ears of our state-run politically-correct educational system where our children are simply taught that Pilgrims are strange people wearing funny hats.
Biblical Christianity gave us the basic fabric of our society. Early Americans were devout believers who based all civil authority on their reading of Scriptures. They posited their individual rights squarely upon religious precepts and planted on American soil virtually every institution of free government with which we are familiar.