Socialism is NOT the United Order

This is mostly for those of you that are LDS, but of course, if you’re not, you’re still welcome to read it. :) The talk by Marion G. Romney I reference below, is one of the greatest sermons ever given exposing the evils of socialism and how it destroys the agency and freedom of man. It contains an excellent lesson in the background of socialism and the extreme importance of the U.S. Constitution. I believe all people would be benefited by reading it regardless of religious preference.

A couple weeks ago when my op-ed reply to Brian Jackson appeared in the Deseret News, someone posting under the name “LDS Liberal” responded to someone with this statement advocating socialism:

“OK
Do you live in a Family?
City of Enoch was what?
1st Century Christians practiced what?
Nephites/Lamanites had what in common?
The problem I see is that Religion actually teaches Socialism.
Do unto others….
Give to the poor and the needy.
etc., etc., etc.
Too bad we can’t recognize Religion and the Bible as History — you’d really blow a gasket.”

I tried to post a comment but it never got to the board. What I posted was essentially this.

First of all, these 3 scriptural societies did not practice socialism, they practiced what was called the United Order and it was fundamentally different from socialism. How important is this distinction? So important, that at the 1966 April General Conference of the LDS church, Elder Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles started his talk on this subject by saying this:

“What I am going to give you now is a statement I have prepared in answer to the question, “Is Socialism the United Order?” Some of you may have already heard it. This is the first time I have ever attempted to give a talk a second time. My excuse is that the Brethren have asked me to give this talk here tonight.”

Elder Romney’s talk is much longer than a normal conference talk which also shows the high value the leadership of the church placed on ensuring these doctrines were taught. I am going to post a pdf of his talk here with my own highlighting for those that want to just skim it, but I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing. One relevant quote I found in the talk is:

“We have much to do, and fortunately for us the Lord has definitely prescribed the course we should follow with respect to socialism and the United Order.

Constitution God-inspired

He has told us that in preparation for the restoration of the gospel, he himself established the Constitution of the United States, and he has plainly told us why he established it. I hope I can get this point over to you. He said he established the Constitution to preserve to men their free agency, because the whole gospel of Jesus Christ presupposes man’s untrammeled exercise of free agency.”

…[quotes scriptures]…

“These scriptures declare the Constitution to be a divine document.”

There you go folks, the official position of the LDS church is that the U.S. Constitution is a divine document.

Oh, and as for the comment from “LDS Liberal” about families practicing socialism, that would mean nobody in the family has any private property. Try to tell your teenager that his iPod really belongs to everyone. :)

“Socialism is not the United Order” by Marion G Romney (click to open PDF, right-click to save PDF to your desktop)

18 Responses to “Socialism is NOT the United Order”

  • Joyce M:

    Thank you for finding this for us Oak!

  • Paula Hill:

    I am old enough to remember this talk, but not where it came from. I quoted it the other day in a discussion, but I am now delighted to find the entire talk, and to realize it is from one of my favorite General Authorities. How fortunate we are to have these doctrines given to us so clearly. They keep our moral compasses aligned correctly.
    Paula Hill

  • BTurner:

    This talk has been very influential to the LDS people. But just having this talk out there does not mean that people know how to actually follow these ideas. We need to try and make sure we can get our politicians here in Utah to include these ideas in all aspects of our government. All forms of Socialism must be removed from society. Until this happens we are not safe and not Free.

  • JS:

    When was this address by Marion G. Romney given?

  • 1966 April General Conference :)

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    In a nutshell, socialism is when governments control all property; the United Order is when God controls all property. For people who live under either definition, the effect is still the same, THEY DON'T OWN THE PROPERTY. I read Romney's Manifesto and from what I gather, the The United Order is socialism mixed with dogma and one thing is clear, even with Obama in office, we have a lot more private ownership than what was allowed under the United Order. Both the United Order and Socialism have the same goal in attempting to minimize inequalities. Regardless of whether God or the Government owns/manages the property, it is still socialism wrapped in different packages. The reason that the United Order didn't work is the same reason why socialism doesn't work, people are greedy and selfish. Isn't that a natural law of the universe?

  • Bryanr48:

    The fundamental difference between socialism and the United Order appears to be the difference between being forced and moral agency (being acted upon and act). With socialism and the United Order the means and effects are complete opposites. Now let's look at it from a non-religious source for illustration: Amschel Rothschild was a wealthy man in the late 1800's who, after building a successful banking dynasty in Europe, established a “conceptual” bank for his family. This became a depository of wisdom, knowledge and experience that any family member could belong, but had specific requirements for membership including giving to charities. Each could choose to belong or not. Those that saw the great vision and participated developed wealth, freedom and wisdom of their own that transfered to each generation. This more closely resembles the United Order. Socialism, in contrast, is “forced charity” also termed stealing, where individuals are forced to relinquish “natural” rights, whose eventual societal outcome is poverty, enslavement and godlessness.

  • Lewis, under the United Order, you give everything to God, willingly, and then are given a stewardship which is 100% yours. With that stewardship, you do as you want and then on the increase of your property, you choose to give the portion you don't need back to God. If you don't want to participate at some point and you leave the Order, your property is still yours and nobody is going to come collect it. It relies on a moral and charitable people to accomplish and it is a polar opposite to socialism.

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    So what does God do with the portion you give back to him? I would hardly call socialism and the United Order polar opposites. One is administered by religious clergy acting in proxy for God (or so it is claimed) and the other is administered by the government who claim to be made up of the people. Either way, you do not own the land and cannot pass it down to your heirs. Once you are done using the land, it goes back to God (men speaking for God) or the Government (men speaking for the people) to be “redistributed” as either sees fit. It is owned by a collective whether it is religious or secular, and it makes no difference. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck, no matter how much one may dwell on the minor, insignificant details. The Native Americans also had a very socialistic view of the land where nobody owned the land, but everyone could use the land. While both systems have lots of differences in their so-called philosophical rationale, the glaring basic fact remains that under socialism or the United Order, you cannot own property and use it to increase the wealth of your heirs. That is the basic crux of socialism, meaning that the United Order is another incarnation of socialism (social engineering where inequalities are minimized as well as material gain). I'm well aware of the LDS explanation which amounts to clumsy attempts to distinguish between the United Order and socialism and communism. The “willing” versus “unwilling” argument is weak at best because regardless of whether you choose to participate or not, the United Order in an and of itself is basically a socialist economic system which is quite a progressive idea for the time. Also, if memory serves, I remember being taught that when Christ returns to earth (2nd coming), the Law of Consecration will not be a choice.

    Whereas I agree with the LDS view that the United Order does not share the underlying premise of Marxism, they do share the notion that capitalism exploits workers for their surplus value. If not, why did they even bother trying a social experiment that focused on family needs rather than their ability to produce excess value?

  • If you leave the order, what you have is yours and you do not receive back what you originally deeded to the church. It's no longer yours once you contribute it. Also, Bishops do not just take your property and distribute it. Joseph taught to do so would make a Bishop a king. You have a say in what your needs are as a family and can discuss the issue with the Bishop. The blessings of the United Order lift everyone. You can keep your property and give it to heirs. Your property is your own. There are several sections in the Doctrine and Covenants that deal with this as well.

    Oh and in the millennium, nobody will be required to live the Law of Consecration. It's purely by choice. There will still be a need for the constitution to protect the rights of the minority because not everyone is going to join Christ's church and they will never be forced to. There will still be people of many faiths.

    Jamestown was a failed socialist society and almost destroyed the colony until they turned to capitalism which is the actual true story of why we celebrate Thanksgiving.
    http://www.mises.org/story/336

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    Oak, you have a very different understanding of Christ's millennial rule. I guess all those hours I spent in church were wasted in that I was being taught false doctrine. According to you, during Christ's rule, there will be all kinds of competing ministries. That is not what I was taught. I think you have been reading too many of those “Left Behind” books.

  • Lewis, the whole of the plan of salvation is centered around agency. People have choice. From Elder McConkie's Mormon Doctrine (and quoting President Joseph Fielding Smith's Doctrines of Salvation):

    “14. NONMEMBERS OF CHURCH DURING MILLENNIUM. — Since all who are living at least a terrestrial law — the law of honesty, uprightness, and integrity — will be able to abide the day of our Lord's coming, there will be nonmembers of the Church on earth during the millennium. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 86-87; vol 3, pp. 63-64.) Honest and upright people who have been deceived by the false religions and false philosophies of the world will not have their free agency abridged. They will continue to believe their false doctrines until they voluntarily elect to receive gospel light. Speaking of the millennial period, Micah said, “All people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.” (Micah 4:5.)
    During the millennium, however, the Lord will use the forces of nature to turn people's attention to the truth. “Whoso will not come up,” said Zechariah, “of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.” (Zech. 14:16-19.) Joseph Smith said, “The heathen nations who will not come up to worship will be visited with the judgments of God, and must eventually be destroyed from the earth.” (Teachings, p. 269.)”

    We don't know the timing of all these things and the circumstances under which the Lord will use the forces of nature to bring people to a knowledge of the truth, but we can clearly see that the Lord will not just destroy everyone because they don't immediately believe in the gospel plan.

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    Oak, you have a very different understanding of Christ's millennial rule. I guess all those hours I spent in church were wasted in that I was being taught false doctrine. According to you, during Christ's rule, there will be all kinds of competing ministries. That is not what I was taught. I think you have been reading too many of those “Left Behind” books.

  • Lewis, the whole of the plan of salvation is centered around agency. People have choice. From Elder McConkie's Mormon Doctrine (and quoting President Joseph Fielding Smith's Doctrines of Salvation):

    “14. NONMEMBERS OF CHURCH DURING MILLENNIUM. — Since all who are living at least a terrestrial law — the law of honesty, uprightness, and integrity — will be able to abide the day of our Lord's coming, there will be nonmembers of the Church on earth during the millennium. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 86-87; vol 3, pp. 63-64.) Honest and upright people who have been deceived by the false religions and false philosophies of the world will not have their free agency abridged. They will continue to believe their false doctrines until they voluntarily elect to receive gospel light. Speaking of the millennial period, Micah said, “All people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.” (Micah 4:5.)
    During the millennium, however, the Lord will use the forces of nature to turn people's attention to the truth. “Whoso will not come up,” said Zechariah, “of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.” (Zech. 14:16-19.) Joseph Smith said, “The heathen nations who will not come up to worship will be visited with the judgments of God, and must eventually be destroyed from the earth.” (Teachings, p. 269.)”

    We don't know the timing of all these things and the circumstances under which the Lord will use the forces of nature to bring people to a knowledge of the truth, but we can clearly see that the Lord will not just destroy everyone because they don't immediately believe in the gospel plan.

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    Oh, that makes it much more clear. The non-believers won't be destroyed up front, just eventually and then the entire world can live the united order.

  • Lewis, think about it. If you believe Christ will come, there will be a destruction of the wicked at his arrival. But there are good people of ALL faiths who will survive. Many will join Christ but over a period of perhaps many years, there will be those who reject Christ in full view of his Kingdom and teachings. This is no different than the pre-mortal life where Satan was cast out of God's presence with a third of the host of heaven for open rebellion. At some point it will be rebellion to reject Christ and thus bring about a “casting out” or destruction, but until then, people will have full agency and choice to join Christ or not.

  • Kathleen McNautghon:

    Mr. Norton,
    Wow what a great conversation. I’m taking a government class online and per online courses I participate in answering questions that pertain to our area of study. This week my question is how would I reply to “the united order is socialism” I have received much food for thought as I’ve read through these comments.
    Lewis you would be wise to do your own studying. It’s possible someone taught incorrect principals but it’s also possible that you misunderstood the teaching. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and it was the Lord who instituted our current government as a precursor to his own government “the United Order.” He also, from the very beginning, allowed all men the freedom of choice which continues until the “last day.” People are free to believe what ever they want until that day and then judgement will reward them with whatever “they were will ing to receive” as designated by their actions.
    I don’t mean to infringe but would like to use parts of these conversations to supplement my answer to the question in question.

  • Oak Norton:

    Use whatever you want Kathy. This is a public post. Good luck to you.