As my friend Reuven Brenner has taught me, history is a series of experiments: The Human Gamble. Some gambles work and are adopted by history and some do not and should be abandoned by it. The problem is that the human gamble only works if there is a record of experimental outcomes and if decision makers consult that record. For many years, the story of the first failed commune of Plymouth Bay was part of the collective memory of American students. But Progressive Education found that story unhelpful and it has fallen into obscurity, which explains why (as I alluded to before) a well-educated establishment figure like Jared Bernstein would be unaware of it.
I’m often asked why our current leadership class forgets the lessons of the past so often. They are, after all, very smart men and women. Don’t they know that collectivism will fail?
No, they don’t. Not anymore. For much of our history, our leaders were educated in the principles which were to help them avoid errors once they have joined the ruling class. They studied to learn how to not misuse power. Now our leaders learn nothing of the dangers of abusing power: their education is entirely geared to its acquisition. All of their neurons are trained on that one objective – to get to the top. What they do when they get there is a matter for later. And what happens to the country when they’re done with their experiments is beside the point: after all, their experiments will not really affect them personally. History is the story of the limitations of human power. But the limits of power is a topic for people who doubt themselves and their right to rule, not the self-anointed.
…But the Pilgrims learned and prospered. And what they learned, we have forgotten and we fade. Now, new waves of ignorant masses flood into parks and public squares. New Platonists demand control of other people’s property. New True Levelers legally occupy the prestige pulpits of our nation, secular and sacred. And now, as then, the productive class of our now gigantic, colony-turned-superpower, learn and teach again, the painful lessons of history. Collectivism violates the iron laws of human nature. It has always failed. It is always failing, and it will always fail. I thank God that it is failing now. Providence is teaching us once again.
- Jerry Bowyer, Forbes Contributor
(H/T: Forbes, emphasis above are mine)