The origins of the American left

K.E. Campbell
In an interview with Pajamas Media about his book A Conservative History of the American Left, author Daniel J. Flynn said too many conservatives err in tracing the origins of the "American Left" to the 1960s. Collectivist ideas and experiments in this country date back to the seventeenth century and, according to Flynn, share a common thread: "scorn for what is and hopes for what could be...in the imagined future."

The book commences, timely enough, with an account of the Pilgrims, circa 1620, and their attempt to build their utopia in Plymouth Colony upon communist principles. But hunger and misery ensued.  The colonists' oft-elected governor William Bradford wrote of the conditions:

"...this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labor and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense...And for men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it."

The governor subsequently re-organized the colony's agricultural economy from one of communal ownership to private use. Reflecting on it, Bradford wrote:

"This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression."

Or, as Flynn put it, "an abundance of corn replaced an abundance of hunger pangs." But many others who arrived later in America didn't learn the lessons of Plymouth. Many have fallen, and continue to, for intrusive socialist schemes wherein man attempts to play God.

I highly recommend Flynn's book, published in April 2008, to American Thinker readers. Commenting on the more modern American Left and their age-old quest for heaven on earth, Flynn told Pajama's Media:

"The conflict between a Force Left and a Freedom Left is another theme. One Left says, ‘Smoke whatever, bed whomever, work whenever'. Another Left says, ‘We will tell you how to run your business, we will spend your money better than you do, we will uplift your behavior to conform to our ideal.' Often, frustrated by their inability to attain their desired results, those on the Freedom Left will convert to the Force Left. The transition from Yankee anarchism to anarcho-communism in the 1880s and the mutation of some freedom-loving hippies to New Left radicalism in the 1960s would be two good examples of the friends of freedom defecting to the friends of force.


"Another theme would be the difficulty of [establishing] an American Left. The first word stands for freedom, faith, flag, family. The second word stands against all that. How to reconcile an ideology against capitalism, the nuclear family, patriotism, and traditional religion with a country so closely identified with those ideas? That's the constant conundrum of the American Left."

In an interview with Pajamas Media about his book A Conservative History of the American Left, author Daniel J. Flynn said too many conservatives err in tracing the origins of the "American Left" to the 1960s. Collectivist ideas and experiments in this country date back to the seventeenth century and, according to Flynn, share a common thread: "scorn for what is and hopes for what could be...in the imagined future."

The book commences, timely enough, with an account of the Pilgrims, circa 1620, and their attempt to build their utopia in Plymouth Colony upon communist principles. But hunger and misery ensued.  The colonists' oft-elected governor William Bradford wrote of the conditions:

"...this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labor and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense...And for men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it."

The governor subsequently re-organized the colony's agricultural economy from one of communal ownership to private use. Reflecting on it, Bradford wrote:

"This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression."

Or, as Flynn put it, "an abundance of corn replaced an abundance of hunger pangs." But many others who arrived later in America didn't learn the lessons of Plymouth. Many have fallen, and continue to, for intrusive socialist schemes wherein man attempts to play God.

I highly recommend Flynn's book, published in April 2008, to American Thinker readers. Commenting on the more modern American Left and their age-old quest for heaven on earth, Flynn told Pajama's Media:

"The conflict between a Force Left and a Freedom Left is another theme. One Left says, ‘Smoke whatever, bed whomever, work whenever'. Another Left says, ‘We will tell you how to run your business, we will spend your money better than you do, we will uplift your behavior to conform to our ideal.' Often, frustrated by their inability to attain their desired results, those on the Freedom Left will convert to the Force Left. The transition from Yankee anarchism to anarcho-communism in the 1880s and the mutation of some freedom-loving hippies to New Left radicalism in the 1960s would be two good examples of the friends of freedom defecting to the friends of force.


"Another theme would be the difficulty of [establishing] an American Left. The first word stands for freedom, faith, flag, family. The second word stands against all that. How to reconcile an ideology against capitalism, the nuclear family, patriotism, and traditional religion with a country so closely identified with those ideas? That's the constant conundrum of the American Left."