The First Failure of Socialism

by Ron Potter

We have just finished Thanksgiving, or what we experience as Thanksgiving in this age of Covid.  It is a time, rightfully so, for each of us to talk about what we’re thankful for.  However, let’s not forget that the pilgrim settlement in plymouth in the early 1600s may be socialism’s first failure

Needs vs Work

In the settlement, all that was needed by individuals was provided from them, having been either produced or paid for by the collective-owned farms.  The “accounting” system was determined by what the individuals needed rather than how hard they worked or earned their way.

Discontent and Starvation

The strongest colonists who worked hard in the fields all day began to resent those that received the same amount for doing nothing while the able-bodied provided all of the hard work to supply the goods.  In addition to the discontent, nearly half of the colonists died during that first winter because too many people took advantage of the supplies provided by the few.

Nearly 400 years later, Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister of the UK said, “The trouble with socialism is that eventually, you run out of other people’s money.”

Socialism Abandoned

About two years after the famine brought on by the socialism approach, the pilgrims decided that enough was enough, a new approach was undertaken that required each family to provide for themselves.  It required hard work.

Work Application

If you’ve followed my blogs, you know that I’ve tried to stay away from politics for the most part.  So how do we look at our own and other’s failed attempts at socialism?

How does socialism disguise itself in the workplace?  It’s not all that hard to see.  Some people are there simply for the paycheck.  No motivation.  No extra effort.  No innovation.  Unfortunately, those people are left in place for various reasons even though it’s obvious to their colleagues and others they’re not pulling their weight.

What happens when that attitude is allowed to continue?  Other people either:

  • Begin to exhibit the same traits: “Why should I put in the extra effort, create my own motivation, look for innovative approaches when others are not and no one seems to notice?”
  • Leave for new employment: If a person is hard-working, motivated, innovative, they begin to look for a different place to work.  Just like our pilgrim’s failed effort, it leads to starvation.  Starvation is the sense that productivity begins to dwindle and those left tend to wither on the vine.

Winston Churchill (where are all these UK quotes coming from all of a sudden? 😉) is quoted as saying, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those others that have been tried.”

Don’t put up with it

This form of socialism in the workplace leads to failure.  Every time I’ve seen the “deadwood” taken out of the system, I’ve seen productivity increase.  Not just for a moment, but long-term.  Pulling together a team of highly motivated, hard-working individuals will always lead to long-term productivity gains.

Build a Team

Build a team of highly motivated people, each being productive, and you will experience long-term growth like you’ve never seen before.


Recently I watched a documentary on the development of radar that is credited with saving England during the Nazi air blitz of London.  Many times individuals wanted to quit but they were always reminded that they were part of a team that was bigger than any individual.  It took a team to accomplish the goal.

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