Studentsov Victor
Virginia and New Plymouth Settlers’ «Communes»: The Way It Was and Why
Publication Type:

ISSN 2686-6730

DOI 10.31857/S2686673022070069

Essay explores a rather short-term episode of Virginia and New Plymouth colonies settlers’ experience, namely collective household and common economic activity. That time span now has become something rather short of a textbook example of a failure of common ownership or “socialism” and a proof of private enterprise superiority. Author argues that this understanding is misplaced and misdirected as it would be wrong to deduce from these two colonies’ experience any conclusions about principal inefficiency of common ownership. The two colonies, which at first had common founders, were from the very start created as private enterprises (with colonists as partners) and suffered foremost and mostly from poor organization. Not only did their initiators-investors have a poor idea of what awaited the colonists on the new continent, but they also imposed living and working conditions that proved absolutely unacceptable. To ensure a clear return on their investment, the investors contemplated requiring the settlers to work together for seven years on a common fund and to be provided with everything they needed by that fund. Individual differences in efficiency (and dependents, in the case of Plymouth) were not taken into account. As a result, Virginia and New Plymouth colonies suffered, but to varying degrees, both from free riding and the tragedy of the commons. The reason for this had been short-sightedness of the organizers.

Keywords: Virginia colony | New Plymouth | pilgrims | «commune» | strict equalization | joint-stock | private property |

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