Besides the traditional traditions like Turkey, the newer traditions like Turducken, and the localized traditions like Alice's Restaurant, we're now seeing a new political narrative explaining how "first Thanksgiving was a celebration of abundance after a period of socialism and starvation."This year is no different as local Conservative Jerry Bowyer (again) pushes the myth/hoax/political propaganda on the cyber-pages of The Christian Post.
A few reasons from Slate why it's BS:
As Kate Zernike of the New York Times pointed out in 2010, the timeline doesn’t quite work. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621. The system of collective ownership known as the “common course” was abandoned in 1623. And it was abandoned not because of famine but because the settlers wanted to make more money.And:
Communal farming arrangements were common in the pilgrims’ day. Many of the towns they came from in England were run according to the “open-field” system, in which the land holdings of a manor are divided into strips to be harvested by tenant farmers. As Nick Bunker writes in 2010’s Making Haste From Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World, “Open field farming was not some kind of communism. All the villagers were tenants of the landlord.”Jerry, tell me again how the Pilgrims "had changed their economic model from a communist one based on the pagan philosopher Plato to a private property one based on the teachings of Moses in the Torah"?
There was no local baron in Plymouth, but it was a commercial project as much as a religious one, and the colonists still had to answer to their investors back in England. It was this, not socialist ideals, that accounted for the common course. Bunker writes, “Far from being a commune, the Mayflower was a common stock: the very words employed in the contract. All the land in the Plymouth Colony, its houses, its tools, and its trading profits (if they appeared) were to belong to a joint-stock company owned by the shareholders as a whole.”
He continues: “Under the terms of the contract … for the first seven years no individual settler could own a plot of land. To ensure that each farmer received his fair share of good or bad land, the slices were rotated each year, but this was counterproductive. Nobody had any reason to put in extra hours and effort to improve a plot if next season another family received the benefit.”
The pilgrims’ transition—which, again, happened after the first Thanksgiving—can indeed be used to illustrate the benefits of individualism or the tragedy of the commons. But the Rush Limbaugh crowd should note that the settlers at Plymouth were rebelling against the rules set by a corporation, not against the strictures of some Stalinist collective farm or a hippie commune.
It's still BS, Jerry, no matter where you post it, no matter how many times you repeat it.