This year, 2019, marks 100 years of the Communist Party USA, founded as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Soviet Union, yet the importation of communist ideas to America precedes even the founding of the United States. The notion that communal, or communist, ownership of property was morally and practically superior to the private ownership of property actually goes back to the earliest days of American history. Both the colonists at Jamestown and the colonists at Plymouth attempted what can best be described as “small c” communism, leading to starvation.
Despite this example of the foolhardiness of such a plan, when the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth, they believed that they could make a communal system work. They couldn’t, of course, and Governor William Bradford explained what happened in his book, Of Plymouth Plantation: “This community … was found to breed such confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.… They deemed it a kind of slavery.”