The views of Hiedi Bialik –
The United Order is not only fundamentally Socialist in nature, it also reflects the will of God in all ages, beginning with Adam and Eve. Furthermore, God’s plan is both theoretically and practically sound. For example, while this Order may have failed among the Latter Day Saints, it was successful in the days of Adam, Melchizedek (JST Genesis 14:34 – “And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken, separating it from the earth, having reserved it unto the latter days, or the end of the world”), Enoch (Moses 7:18 – “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them”), the early Apostles (Acts 2:44-45 – “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need”), and the Nephites following Christ’s visit (4 Nephi 1:3 – “And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift”). Below I have supplied more scriptural evidence. I have also included numbered steps which explain how this economic system works.
1. God supplies you with the raw materials conducive to survival and happiness.
D&C 104:11-18 – “It is wisdom in me; therefore, a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall organize yourselves and appoint every man his stewardship; That every man may give an account unto me of the stewardship which is appointed unto him. For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures. I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine. And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine. But it must needs be done in mine own away; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low. For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves. Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.”
God makes an investment in each of us. God reminds us that this investment belongs to him and that he expects a return on it. If any thievery occurs (ie, stripping others of what has been invested in them), those responsible will be sorely punished.
Moses 2:29-30 – “And I, God, said unto man: Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in the which shall be the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein I grant life, there shall be given every clean herb for meat; and it was so, even as I spake.”
We see the same mode of operation at work from humankind’s beginning.
2. These materials, coupled with wise choices, enhance your well-being, both spiritually and temporally, and allow you to fulfill the measure of your creation.
D&C 82:17-19 – “And you are to be equal, or in other words, you are to have equal claims on the properties, for the benefit of managing the concerns of your stewardships, every man according to his wants and his needs, inasmuch as his wants are just—And all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church—Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.”
God states here and elsewhere that people are to be equal in terms of their temporal welfare. It also reiterates that God expects a return on his investment. Through the righteous and fruitful exercise of our agency, we are to enhance our productivity. Yet, this is not for his sake, but for our own. We glorify the Father through our righteousness and spiritual growth.
Moses 5:1 – “And it came to pass that after I, the Lord God, had driven them out, that Adam began to till the earth, and to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, as I the Lord had commanded him. And Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him.”
This scripture sheds light on something that’s perhaps only implicit in the scripture preceding it. We are all expected to work. We must all labor for our welfare and that of others. This is so we are not standing there empty handed when we give an accounting on our day of judgment.
3. Once you have sufficient for your spiritual and physical needs, you give the surplus back to God.
D&C 42:30-33 – “And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them…. And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me; …every man shall be made accountable unto me, a steward over his own property, or that which he has received by consecration, as much as is sufficient for himself and family. And again, if there shall be properties in the hands of the church, or any individuals of it, more than is necessary for their support after this first consecration, …it shall be kept to administer to those who have not, …that every man who has need may be amply supplied and receive according to his wants.”
God expects us to look after the poor, reminding us in King Benjamin’s address that we are all beggars (Mosiah 4:19). Furthermore, he repeats here what he has said many times elsewhere–that whatever service you render to your fellowman, you actually render it unto him. He also repeats that people are to be furnished, not according to their contribution (or, more accurately, according to how much money they have), but according to their needs. Feeding and clothing the poor is part of giving back. Since everything already belongs to God, you are simply returning unused items, ie, giving back what you don’t need.
Moses 5:5 – “And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.”
This principle of “giving back” was in effect in the beginning as well, even in Adam’s time. It was to remind us, once again, that while we may claim stewardship over what has God has given us (easily calculated on the basis of need), we cannot claim ownership. At any point he may ask us for an accounting, or even a return.
4. God, in turn, blesses you, and the cycle repeats itself.
This is what it means to grow in faith, knowledge, righteousness, wisdom, and a whole host of other things until we attain perfection through Jesus Christ. I haven’t supplied any scriptures here; nevertheless, we’ve all heard “line upon line, precept upon precept, grace upon grace” many times before.
5. Those who abide the Natural (or Telestial) Order (or worse, the example set by Cain) rather than the Celestial Order are not eligible for Eternal Life.
D&C 105:3-5 – “But behold, [my people] have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them; And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom; And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.”
One may counter that the United Order is something the Saints tried and failed at. Yet, it is according to the law of the Celestial Kingdom. What’s more, God will not receive Zion unless it is first living according to the law of the Celestial Kingdom! Admittedly, the Saints are not asked to live the United Order today; we are not ready for it. That said, we must still strive to lay a foundation that will allow us to live it before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. If we cannot, he will not receive us. So rather than singing the praises of Capitalism in the meantime, we should be lamenting our failure–our inability to get it right the first time–and striving in our personal lives to prepare to live according to the United Order, aka, the Law of Consecration, aka, the Celestial Order, at a future date.
Moses 5:31-33 – “And Cain said: Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan, and he gloried in his wickedness. And Cain went into the field, and Cain talked with Abel, his brother. And it came to pass that while they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and slew him. And Cain gloried in that which he had done, saying: I am free; surely the flocks of my brother falleth into my hands.”
The principle behind Capitalism is, put simply, to take life–or, to take what another requires for their physical and spiritual well-being–and convert it into cash. It is to take what is not yours and exploit it for the intent of personal gain. This is precisely what Cain did to Abel. And why did he do it? Because of greed and pride–exactly what fuels any well-functioning Capitalist economy. So like I said, you are quick to sing the praises of Capitalism, but what’s scary is that it succeeds upon principles that are in total and absolute opposition to the law set out by God.
Nevertheless, to be fair, this is simply the system we were born into. God doesn’t expect you or me to overturn the established way of things; he only expects us to live righteously within the given system. I mean, there once was a time when slavery was permitted among the Jews and women were considered property. Sure it was wrong, but rather than incite a revolution, God simply taught his people to behave themselves as righteous, godfearing people within the established system. That said, we should never get too attached to natural order, and we should never prefer the ways of the world over the ways of God, because if we do, there is nothing to distinguish us from being OF the world, rather than a peculiar people IN the world.
So if there is still any doubt as to whether the United Order is fundamentally Socialist in nature, one need only look to the old Socialist maxim, popularized by Marx, which goes: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” This is clearly, and inarguably, what the United Order is all about. One may argue that Capitalism, while it generates inequality, has the potential to make everyone, if not rich, at least “okay” in terms of having their needs met. In other words, he or she would be talking about attaining socialistic ends through capitalistic means. Likewise, he or she may argue that socialism only breeds greed, laziness, and even hopelessness. Nevertheless, what trumps both of these arguments is the simple fact that if we, as Latter Day Saints, strived to live according to the law which we covenanted to uphold in the temple, we would find Capitalism a strange fit in terms of serving as a vehicle for our ideals and aspirations. If we were honest with ourselves, we would want to attain socialistic ends through socialistic means, and we’d be doing it, if we had enough faith. But since we lack the faith, let’s not cling to the old ways which Satan is the founder of; let us lay the foundation that will allow us to live according the the law of God, and let us look forward with eagerness to the day when we actually live it as a people, under the government of Christ.
A lot of people think we don’t need to concern ourselves with the United Order because aren’t currently commanded to live it. However, what are we doing in the meantime so that we may one day live that ideal? I mean, we’ve got a catch 22 here. We’re not living the law because we’re not ready, but we’re also not ready because we’re not living the law. The truth is, this law does not succeed or fail depending on God, but depending on us. He’s not going to tell us when it’s time to live the law; we’re going to tell him (or rather show him). He will not receive Zion until we are living according to the law of the Celestial Kingdom–he says so himself. So this is my point: The change doesn’t take place from the top down (for those who would accuse me of thinking that); it’s a grassroots movement–it always is with religion. If enough Saints live the law of Consecration, then the Lord will see fit to reinstitute the law as a socio-economic order, ie, the United Order. In other words, we’re not waiting for him to make the switch; he’s waiting for us. Simply put, if we can’t live it now, we should be ashamed of ourselves. Nevertheless, in the interim, we should be studying it’s principles, at least be thinking about turning theory into practice, and most of all, we should be applying those principles in our personal lives as much as the socio-economic environment allows us to–that’s how you show the Lord you’re ready. That’s what it means to be in the world but not of it. If we can’t show the Lord at least a desire to elevate ourselves from the Telestial Order, then how can we expect to attain Celestial glory in the afterlife?
A lot of people also think that Socialism and Totalitarianism are inextricably connected, but there is no need to mix the two. Nevertheless, as far as who decides what you need, God does. The fact is, you only need what you need. If you take more than what you need, you’re taking out of the mouths of other people. Like God himself says, it all belongs to him, so he has every right to distribute HIS goods by appointing bishops to do it for him. So while some may emphasize that charity needs to be a choice, we need to think about the choices that God has made, too. Anytime you claim ownership over something, especially if it is more than you need, you are attempting to steal from God. So what if you “give a little back”!? IT WASN’T YOURS TO GIVE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!! It’s a well known maxim of western liberal democratic thought that a person has the right to make their own choices as long as those choices don’t infringe on the rights of others. Unfortunately, Capitalism violates the principle to its very core. Capitalism is the main offender when it comes to poverty, environmental degradation, and gender inequality. These are very real problems–the kind that could “do us in” as a global community–Is it not clear that certain fundamental human rights are being violated here?
So let’s talk about choice: Capitalism is like a bully who steals your lunch money and won’t give it back unless you lick the toilet seat in the boys washroom. In other words, Capitalism functions because it’s about forcefully taking an individuals God given stewardship and forcing them to work to get just enough of it back to feed and cloth themselves. In the current Capitalist system, all employment is fundamentally and unavoidably exploitative. Your employer, who stole his excess from others, or bought it from someone who stole it from others (and so forth), is benefiting more from your labor than you are. Talk about the injustices of being “forced” to help others!!! You’re being forced to help your employer, and he’s better off than you! And what kind of work do you do? Is if work for the sake of the worker? No, it’s work for the sake of the person who stole your stewardship to begin with.
In Capitalism, you have hardly any choice at all: Someone has left you destitute, and to add insult to injury, you’re forced into an relationship of exploitation with the thug who stole your livelihood. Socialism, on the other hand, is wrought with an infinite amount of “choice”; it reverses the sequence of things. First, God gives your stewardship: Everything you need to feed, cloth, educate, and entertain yourself. Once your basic needs are met, what then? Do you just sit around? No, for one thing, God has only given you the raw materials. It is up to you to cultivate the land, weave the fabric, collect materials to build the house–but there’s never any doubt as so whether you’ll pull through though, because everything you need is always there for the taking; you just need to invest your time and effort into the materials. So that’s one kind of work; is there anything else to do? Of course!!! From there you work on the cultivation of your mind and the community you live in. Art, philosophy, science, theology–since everyone is born with equal opportunities, pretty much anyone with the aptitude for it can enter these and other fields.
I don’t think the United Order as I understand it would fail. I believe people have an intrinsic desire to grow and change. Knowing how to use the Earth’s resources for your own survival is very fulfilling and even empowering. From there, you continue to work, not to avoid extinction, but rather, to enhance yourself and the people you care about. Since working to meet your own basic needs only takes up a comparatively small part of the day, the choices you make in how spend the rest of your day–a mix of study, service to the Lord, and recreation–is wrought with choice tenfold what you find in a Capitalist economy (particularly the poorer ones).
The kind of Socialism I’m talking about, ie, the United Order, is actually quite easy compared to Capitalism. It’s also extremely simple and efficient, and what’s more, it puts human happiness at its focal point instead of profit-making. The only reason it would be hard to implement, aside from the fact that widespread change always is, is because the powerful control the vessels of knowledge, and part of keeping the system in place is convincing the masses that there is no better way. In other words, the powerful exploit the weak, partly by force, partly through fear, and partly by distributing–what can only be called–propaganda that convinces the masses that they’re not being exploited at all. Change would require waging war on the powers that be–a war that cannot be won except by the power of God. That’s why all worldly institutions will go through a total breakdown before the kingdom of God is established over all the Earth. It’s all in the scriptures. Satan will not be the prince of this world forever, and God will have his way in the end. We had all better re-evaluate what side of the fence we’re standing on here; if we’re content to sing the praises of Capitalism–which is partly built upon the principles that Satan introduced to Cain–we may be in a whole lot of trouble.
Now, take another look at those steps. If you’re still not convinced, take note of the striking correlation: The process laid out by the United Order is precisely in keeping with the path to Salvation.<–Think about it. President Benson may have disavowed Socialism, but he also wrote a well-known talk on the evils of pride–pride being one of the pillars of Capitalism.