Thursday, November 25, 2021

Lesson Learned

Each year the fellows at Power Line repost a 2009 Thanksgiving rumination by Hillsdale College historian Paul A. Rahe. It looks at the organization of the Plymouth Plantation, their failed experiment with biblically inspired socialism, and the lessons they drew therefrom.

Reading it is surely worth your time, but for those too busy or disinterested in colonial history, herewith a distillation. The colonists discovered seeing a direct (as opposed to indirect or collectivized) connection between one’s labors and one’s own economic well-being was the motivator they needed to move beyond penury and in the direction of plenty. 

Working for “the common good” proved much less productive than working for the good of one’s immediate family. Understanding, and more importantly accepting, this bedrock truth about human nature is what separates so-called “progressives” and the economic realists we currently label “conservatives.” 

Which brings to mind Winston Churchill’s updated version of George Santayana’s aphorism, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."