Wednesday, November 25, 2020


 400 years ago, a group of intrepid migrants signed the Mayflower Compact

IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience. IN WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620.

My emphasis. We have much to be thankful for. But perhaps the top of the list should be the blessings of self-government, which has fostered an unimaginable human flourishing. 

Yes, our society and government remain imperfect. But our "civil Body Politick" remains the best hope for continued improvement. 

This, more than inventing a big turkey dinner, seems like the best way to thank the Pilgrims.


  1. ".. self-government, which has fostered an unimaginable human flourishing."

    No, the free market economy has done that. Prospered under many kinds of government. Let us hope it doesn't whither away under our self-government.

    1. Human flourishing is a consequence of people cooperating for mutual benefit. No need for a market. The market enables greedy selfish people to participate without destroying cooperation.

    2. Without a market, one can cooperate only with people one knows. With a market, each individual can cooperate with the world.

      And before the internet. :-)

    3. Three cheers for the marketplace of ideas, and for our shared understanding of how to vet them!

      As a timely example, for a while conservatives have been telling us that children don't much spread the coronavirus and therefore should be back in school for their wellbeing.

      This idea is now in the mainstream; it is what Anthony Fauci told the audience of the Sunday talk show _This Week_ on ABC today. And I've heard this recently from other mainstream media and commentators.

      May the best ideas win, regardless of their ideological origin. And it would be nice if this time the 'winners' of this round would acknowledge that the 'liberal' establishment does change its mind in light of evidence.

  2. I'd like to take a different tack today and thank John Cochrane personally for providing a forum, at his personal expense, that gives the public an opportunity to engage, through thick and thin, across many years, with an expert of such high achievement and demonstrable integrity. To my knowledge, John Cochrane's forum here is unique in this regard.

  3. History should be a warning instead of inspiration since the injustices of imperfect men (men mostly, and there lies a massive injustice) will wrongly inspire people in the present and future: "... Through this sleight of hand, the settlers achieved a unique perspective—one that justified violence because it afforded them a certain freedom, the productive freedom of a blank slate. As historian Patrick Wolfe famously described it, settler colonialism is thus a “structure, not an event.” Its mindset is not backward but forward looking as it consciously blurs the lines between preemption and self-defense, allegation and retribution, dispossession and property right. ..."

    1. Truly an inspiring look at history. Could it be anymore myopic or grounded in presentism?

  4. "But perhaps the top of the list should be the blessings of self-government, which has fostered an unimaginable human flourishing."

    Ancient Athens and Ancient Sparta also had self-government. Both flourished in their own way: Athens by trade and conquest; Sparta by agriculture and isolation and self-defense when no other course would ensure independence. Britain as well demonstrated a sophisticated ability in self-government, and also flourished, being the first to industrialize and show the way for a nascent America to follow.

    But the past is past. The key is not what America has accomplished, but what will it accomplish going forward; and how it will cope with striving competitors who are more aggressive and increasingly prepared to test American dominance on the world stage.

    America is like ancient Athens--ambitious, resourceful, striving, and democratic with all the rivalries and factions that democracies inspire. In the end, for Ancient Athens it wasn't enough; it succumbed to Sparta and its allies.

  5. It's little easier to thank God when your country's exploit other countries for wealth.

  6. Self-rule is all fine and dandy as long at its citizens accept the rules. The Greeks were right: power is given from the ground up. Machiavelli realized this and his entire treatise was to recognize the power of the masses and to keep them content through manipulation. Yes, governments are as imperfect as the people who form them. But one imperfection needs to get rooted out: the tendency to exploit.

    Though these settlers were "Christan" (CINOs), the indigenous population ended up being more "Christian" towards the settlers than the settlers themselves, people who had zero contact with the Gospels. What does that tell you, hmm?


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