Thursday, April 12, 2012

A curiosa experiência comunista falhada, imposta por uma corporação

Tal como relatado por Murray Rothbard na sua história do período colonial americano Conceived in Liberty (1975), chapters 17 and 18: The Fall of Communism in Massachusetts.

"The Pilgrims formed a partnership in a joint-stock company with a group of London merchants, including Thomas Weston, an ironmonger, and John Peirce, a cloth maker. The company, John Peirce and Associates, received in 1620 a grant from the Virginia Company for a particular plantation in Virginia territory. In this alliance, each adult settler was granted a share in the joint-stock company, and each investment of ten pounds also received a share. At the end of seven years, the accumulated earnings were to be divided among the shareholders. Until that division, as in the original Virginia settlement, the company decreed a communistic system of production, with each settler contributing his all to the common store and each drawing his needs from it — again, a system of from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

In mid-December 1620 the Mayflower landed at Plymouth. In a duplication of the terrible hardships of the first Virginia settlers, half of the colonists were dead by the end of the first winter. In mid-1621 John Peirce and Associates obtained a patent from the Council for New England, granting the company 100 acres of land for each settler and 1,500 acres compulsorily reserved for public use. In return, the Council was to receive a yearly quitrent of two shillings per 100 acres.

A major reason for the persistent hardships, for the "starving time," in Plymouth as before in Jamestown, was the communism imposed by the company. Finally, in order to survive, the colony in 1623 permitted each family to cultivate a small private plot of land for their individual use. William Bradford, who had become governor of Plymouth in 1621, and was to help rule the colony for 30 years thereafter, eloquently describes the result in his record of the colony:


The antipathy of communism to the nature of man here receives eloquent testimony from a governor scarcely biased a priori in favor of individualism.

In 1627 the inherent conflict between colony and company in Plymouth was finally resolved, by the elimination of the company from the scene. In that year, the seven years of enforced communism by the company expired, and all the assets and lands were distributed to the individual shareholders. Grants of land were received in proportion to the size of the stock, so that the larger shareholders received larger gifts of land. This complete replacement of communism by individualism greatly benefited the productivity of the colony. Furthermore, the colonists took the happy occasion to buy up the shares of the Peirce company. Plymouth was now a totally self-governing colony. By 1633 the entire purchase price had been paid and the colonists were freed from the last remnant of company, or indeed of any English, control."

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