Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Socialism vs. the United Order

The United Order does not describe a “capitalist” economy; but neither does it also describe a “socialist” one.

Socialism is defined as the state ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange. In socialism you don’t “own” anything, only the state does. You work for the state, and the state gives you what it thinks you deserve.

In the United Order God owns everything; but He trusts you with a title of ownership to his property according to the laws of this world; and you in turn trust Him with your property (which He has given to you) should He at any time require it. It works entirely on the basis of trust. The two sides (God and man) must trust each other implicitly, otherwise it won’t work.

Socialism amounts to economic dictatorship. It deprives people of the right to engage in legitimate economic activity. Mankind are as much entitled to economic freedom as they are to political freedom. By economic freedom I mean the right to trade, to own property, to invest, and to engage in legitimate business pursuits. That is as much an “inalienable right of man” (US Constitution) as is political freedom. Socialism deprives people of the right to do that. That is how it was in the socialist states in the Eastern Block before they finally collapsed.

The United Order doesn’t deprive you of the right to engage in those kinds of economic activities. On the contrary, in D&C 104 it specifically assigns to certain individuals “stewardships” which were essentially businesses, the purpose of which was to enable them to make money on it and live. The only odd thing about it was that they all had a “common treasury!” Their profits were shared, and they all had an equal right to draw upon the treasury for their business requirements. If one of the businesses was failing, it could rely on the financial strength of the others to survive, at least temporarily.

But in those days the world economy had not yet become heavily industrialized. The giant corporations that exist in industrialized economies of today did not exist at that time. If the United Order was to be practiced by everyone today, I don’t know how it would look like. Would it look like D&C 104? I wouldn’t know; but I doubt if it would. One thing I am certain: we wouldn’t be going back to the giant Soviet style industrial complexes which proved to be so inefficient, and ultimately such dismal failures.

It seems to me that there are some LDS scholars today who make the mistake of confusing socialism with the United Order.

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