AN ADDRESS GIVEN TO THE BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY STUDENT BODY
ELDER MARION G. ROMNEY
Member of the Council of the Twelve
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Mar 1, 1966
President Wilkinson, faculty members, students, brothers and sisters all. First I want to thank that choir. I am not sure it isn’t a body of angels-I can’t see behind this screen. That was a marvelous rendition. This last song (O My Father) is my favorite hymn.
I have been asked to talk this morning about socialism and the United Order. I assure you that I approach this discussion with a great deal of trepidation. I hope that my conclusions will be at least as sound as the researchers’ who had the project to determine how far and how long a flea would jump. They first trained him to jump when he heard the word “jump.” Then they pulled off a pair of his legs and said, “Jump,” and he jumped. They repeated that cycle and he jumped, until they came to the last pair of legs. When they pulled them off, they said, “Jump,” but he didn’t jump. They concluded that when all the legs of a flea are pulled off, he becomes deaf.
Perhaps an appropriate first step in comparing socialism and the United Order would be to define the terms.
Webster defines socialism as:
A political and economic theory of social organization based on collective or governmental ownership and democratic management of the essential means for the production and distribution of goods; also, a policy or practice based on this theory. (Webster’s New International Dictionary, 2nd Ed., unabridged, 1951.)
George Bernard Shaw, the noted Fabian Socialist, says that:
Socialism, reduced to its simplest legal and practical expression, means the complete discarding of the institution of private property by transforming it into public property and the division of the resultant income equally and indiscriminately among the entire population. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1943 Ed., p.295.)
George Douglas Howard Cole, M.A., noted author and university reader in economics at Oxford, who treats socialism for the Encyclopedia Britannica, says that because of the shifting sense in which the word has been used,
. . . a short and comprehensive definition is . . . impossible. We can only say [he concludes] that Socialism is essentially a doctrine and a movement aiming at the collective organization of the community in the interest of the mass of the people by means of the common ownership and collective control of the means of production and exchange. (The quotations on pages 2, 3, and 4, unless otherwise indicated, are from George Douglas Howard Cole, M.A., and are found in the Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 20.)
Socialism arose “out of the economic division in society.” During the nineteenth century its growth was accelerated as a protest against “the appalling conditions prevailing in the workshops and factories and the unchristian spirit of the spreading industrial system.”
The “communist manifesto” drafted by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, for the Communist League . . . in . . . 1848 is generally regarded as the starting point of modern socialism. (Ibid.)
Distinction Between Socialism and Communism
The distinction between Socialism, as represented by the various Socialist and Labour Parties of Europe and the new world, and Communism, as represented by the Russians, is one of tactics and strategy rather than of objective. Communism is indeed only Socialism pursued by revolutionary means and making its revolutionary method a canon of faith. Communists, like other Socialists, (1) believe in the collective control and ownership of the vital means of production, and (2) seek to achieve, through state action the co-ordinated control of the economic forces of society. They differ from other Socialists in believing that this control can be secured, and its use in the interests of the workers ensured, only by revolutionary action leading to the dictatorship of the proletariat and the creation of a new proletarian state as the instrument of change. (Ibid.)
Major Forms of Socialism
A major rift between so-called orthodox socialism and communist socialism occurred in 1875 when the German Social Democratic Party set forth its objective of winning power by taking over control of the bourgeois state, rather than by overthrowing it. In effect, the German Social Democratic Party became a parliamentary party, aiming at the assumption of political power by constitutional means.
In the 1880’s a small group of intellectuals set up in England the Fabian Society, which has had a major influence on the development of modern orthodox socialism. Fabianism stands “for the evolutionary conception of socialism . . . endeavoring by progressive reforms and the nationalization of industries, to turn the existing state into a ‘welfare state.'” Somewhat on the order of the German Social Democrats, Fabians aim “at permeating the existing parties with socialistic ideas [rather] than at creating a definitely socialistic party.” They appeal “to the electorate not as revolutionaries, but as constitutional reformers seeking a peaceful transformation of the system.”
The differences in forms and policies of socialism occur principally in the manner in which they seek to implement their theories.
They all advocate:
(1) That private ownership of the vital means of production be abolished and that all such property “pass under some form of co-ordinated public control.”
(2) That the power of the state be used to achieve their aims.
(3) “That with a change in the control of industry will go a change in the motives which operate in the industrial system . . .”
So much now for the definition of socialism.
The United Order Defined
The United Order, the Lord’s program for eliminating the inequalities among men, is based upon the underlying concept that the earth and all things therein belong to the Lord, and that men hold earthly Possessions as stewards accountable to God.
On January 2, 1831, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith that the Church was under obligation to care for the poor. (See D&C 38.)
Later He said,
I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, . . . 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 way. (D&C 104:14-16.)
The Lord ‘ s Way
On February 9, 1831, the Lord revealed to the Prophet what His way was. (See D&C 42.) In His way there were two cardinal principles: (1) consecration, and (2) stewardship.
To enter the United Order one consecrated all his possessions to the Church by a “covenant and deed which” could “not be broken.” That is, he completely divested himself of all of his property by conveying it to the Church.
Having thus voluntarily divested himself of title to all his property, the consecrator received from the Church a stewardship by a like conveyance. This stewardship could be more or less than his original consecration the object being to make “every man equal according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs.” (D&C 51:3.)
Right to Private Ownership Preserved
This procedure preserved in every man the right to private ownership and management of his property. At his own option he could alienate it or keep and operate it and pass it on to his heirs.
The intent was, however, for him to so operate his property as to produce a living for himself and his dependents. So long as he remained in the Order he consecrated to the Church the surplus he produced above the needs and wants of his family. This surplus went into a storehouse, from which stewardships were given to others, and from which the needs of the poor were supplied.
The United Order and Socialism Compared
These divine principles are very simple and easily understood. A comparison of them with the underlying hallmarks of socialism reveal similarities and basic differences.
The following are similarities: Both (1) deal with production and distribution of goods; (2) aim to promote the well-being of men by eliminating their economic inequalities; (3) envision the elimination of the selfish motives in our private capitalistic industrial system.
Now the differences:
(1) The cornerstone of the United Order is belief in God and acceptance of Him as Lord of the earth and the author of the United Order.
Socialism, wholly materialistic, is founded in the wisdom of men, and not of God. Although all socialists may not be atheists, none of them in theory or practice seek the Lord to establish His righteousness.
(2) The United Order is implemented by the voluntary free-will actions of men, evidenced by a consecration of all their property to the Church of God.
Socialism is implemented by external force, the power of the state.
(3) As to property, in harmony with Church belief, as set forth in the D&C, “that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property” (D&C 134:2), the United Order is operated upon the principle of private ownership and individual management.
Socialism is operated on the principle of collective or governmental ownership and management.
Thus in both implementation and ownership and management of property, the United Order preserves to men their God-given agency, while socialism deprives them of it.
(4) The United Order is non-political.
Socialism is political, both in theory and in practice. It is thus exposed to, and fiddled by, the corruption which plagues and finally destroys all political governments which undertake to abridge man’s agency.
(5) A righteous people is a prerequisite to the United Order.
Socialism argues that it as a system will eliminate the evils of the profit motive.
Socialism Is Not the United Order
The United Order exalts the poor and humbles the rich. In the process both are sanctified. The poor, released from the bondage and humiliating limitations of poverty, are enabled as free men to rise to their full potential, both temporally and spiritually. The rich, by consecration and by imparting of their surplus for the benefit of the poor, not by constraint, but willingly as an act of free will, evidence that charity for their fellow men characterized by Mormon as “the pure love of Christ.” (Moroni 7:47.)
No, students, socialism is not the United Order. Distinguishing between these two systems need be no more difficult than solving the problem of the farmer who couldn’t tell one of his horses from the other. They weighed the same, pulled the same load, ran at the same speed; from the looks of their teeth they were the same age. Finally, as a last resort, he measured them, and, sure enough, the white horse was six hands higher than the black one.
Socialism Wave of the Present and Future
Notwithstanding my abhorrence of it, I am persuaded that socialism is the wave of the present and of the foreseeable future. It has already taken over or is contending for control in most nations.
At the end of the year  parties affiliated with the [Socialist] International were in control of the governments of Great Britain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Israel, and the Malagasy Republic. They had representatives in coalition cabinets in Austria, Belgium, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Switzerland; constituted the chief opposition in France, India, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand and West Germany; and were significant political forces in numerous other countries. Many parties dominant in governments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America announced that their aim was a socialist society. (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1965 Book of the Year, pp. 736.)
The United States Converting to Social Welfare State
We here in the United States, in converting our government into a social welfare state, have ourselves adopted much of socialism.
Specifically, we have to an alarming degree adopted the use of the power of the state in the control and distribution of the fruits of industry. We are on notice, according to the words of the President, that we are going much farther, for he is quoted as saying:
We’re going to take all the money we think is unnecessarily being spent and take it from the “haves” and give it to the “have nots.”
(Congressional Record, 1964, p. 6142-White House Speech, March 24, 1964.)
That is the spirit of socialism: “We’re going to take.” It isn’t the spirit of “We’re going to give.”
American Free Agency Abridged
We have also gone a long way on the road to public ownership and management of the vital means of production. In both of these areas the free agency of Americans has been greatly abridged. Some argue that we have voluntarily surrendered this power to government. Be this as it may, the fact remains that the loss of freedom with the consent of the enslaved, or even at their request, is nonetheless slavery.
The Fruits of Socialism
As to the fruits of socialism, we all have our own opinions. I myself have watched its growth in our own country and observed it in operation in many other lands. But I have yet to see or hear of its freeing the hearts of men of selfishness and greed or of its bringing peace, plenty or freedom. These things it will never bring, nor will it do away with idleness and promote “industry, thrift and self-respect,” for it is founded, in theory and in practice, on the principles of the evil one.
The Fruits of the United Order
As to the fruits of the United Order, I suggest you read Moses 7:16-18 and Four – Nephi 2, 3, 15, 16. If we had time we could review the history, what little we know, of Zion in the days of Enoch and about what happened among the Nephites under those principles of the United Order in the first two centuries following the time of the Savior.
What We Can Do About It
Now what can we do about it?
As I recently reminded my wife of the moratorium on the United Order, that socialism is taking over in the nations, and that its expressed aims will surely fail, she spiritedly put to me the question: “Well, then, what would you suggest, that we just sit on our hands in despair and do nothing?” Perhaps similar questions have occurred to you. The answer is, “No, by no means!” We have much to do, and the Lord has definitely prescribed the course we should follow, with respect to socialism and the United Order.
The Lord’s Prescribed Course
He has told us that in preparation for the restoration of the gospel, He himself established the Constitution of the United States that there might be a government which “according to just and holy principles” would preserve to men their God-given agency. This He did because the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ presupposes man’s untrammeled exercise of free agency. Man is in the earth to be tested. The issue as to whether he succeeds or fails will be determined by how he uses this agency. His whole future, through all eternity, is at stake. Abridge man’s agency and the whole purpose of his mortality is thwarted. Without it, the Lord says, there is no existence. (See D&C 93:30.) The Lord so valued our agency that He designed and dictated “the laws and constitution” required to guarantee it. This He explained in the revelation in which He instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith to appeal for help:
According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose (D&C 101:77-78, 80.)
Previously He had said:
And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.
And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.
Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;
And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.
I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law [that is, constitutional law] also maketh you free.
Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.
Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil. (D&C 98:4-10.)
The Constitution a Divine Document
These scriptures reveal the fact that the Constitution is a divine document. They tell us that “according to just and holy principles” “the constitution” and “the law of the land which supports the principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before” God; that, “as pertaining to the law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.” They remind us that the Lord has made us free, and that laws which are constitutional will also make us free.
Right at this point, almost as if He were warning us against what is happening today, the Lord said: “Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.” Then, that we might know with certainty what we should do about it, He concluded: “Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold.”
Seek to Support Wise Men in Government
In its context this instruction can only mean that we should seek diligently for and support men to represent us in government who are “wise” enough to understand freedom-as provided for in the Constitution and as is implemented in the United Order-and who are honest enough and good enough to fight to preserve it.
“Under no other government in the world could the church have been established,” said President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and he continued:
. . . If we are to live as a church, and progress, and have the right to worship as we are worshipping here today, we must have the great guarantees that are set up by our constitution. There is no other way in which we can secure these guarantees. (Conference Report, October 1942, p.59.)
What We Should Do About the United Order
Now, not forgetting our duty to eschew socialism and support the just and holy principles of the Constitution, as directed by the Lord, I shall conclude these remarks with a few comments concerning what we should do about the United Order.
The final words of the Lord in suspending the Order were:
And let those commandments which I have given concerning Zion and her law be executed and fulfilled, after her redemption. (D&C 105:34.)
Further implementation of the Order must therefore await the redemption of Zion. Here Zion means Jackson County, Missouri. When Zion is redeemed, as it most certainly shall be, it will be redeemed under a government, and by a people, strictly observing those “just and holy principles” of the Constitution which accord to men their God-given moral agency, including the right to private property. If, in the meantime, socialism takes over in America, it will have to be displaced, if need be, by the power of God, because the United Order can never function under socialism or “the welfare state,” for the good and sufficient reason that the principles upon which socialism and the United Order are conceived and operated are inimical.
Fast Offering, Tithing, Welfare Activities
In the meantime, while we await the redemption of Zion and the earth and the establishment of the United Order, we as Latter-day Saints should live strictly by the principles of the United Order insofar as they are embodied in present Church practices, such as the fast offering, tithing, and the welfare activities. Through these practices we could as individuals, if we were of a mind to, implement in our own lives all the basic principles of the United Order.
Let me give you some examples-you remember the principles underlying the United Order are consecration and stewardships, and then the contribution of surpluses into the bishop’s storehouse-when the law of tithing was instituted four years after the United Order experiment was suspended, the Lord required the people to put “all their surplus property . . . into the hands of the bishop” (D&C 119:1); thereafter they were to “pay one-tenth of their interest annually” (D&C 119:4).
This law, still in force, implements to a degree at least the United Order principle of stewardships, for it leaves in the hands of each person the ownership and management of the property from which he produces the needs of himself and family. Furthermore, to use again the words of President Clark:
. . . in lieu of residues and surpluses which were accumulated and built up under the United Order, we, today, have our fast offerings, our welfare donations, and our tithing, all of which may be devoted to the care of the poor, as well as the carrying on of the activities and business of the Church.
Furthermore, we had under the United Order a bishop’s storehouse in which were collected the materials from which to supply the needs and the wants of the poor. We have a bishop’s storehouse under the Welfare Plan, used for the same purpose.
We have now under the Welfare Plan all over the church, . . . land projects . . . farmed for the benefit of the poor.
Thus . . . in many of its great essentials, we have, [in] the Welfare Plan . . . the broad essentials of the United Order. Furthermore, having in mind the assistance which is being given from time to time to help set people up in business or in farming, we have a plan which is not essentially unlike that which was in the United Order when the poor were given portions from the common fund. (Conference Report, October 1942, pp. 57-58.)
It is thus apparent that when the principles of tithing and the fast are properly observed and the Welfare Plan gets fully developed and wholly into operation, “we shall not be so very far from carrying out the great fundamentals of the United Order.” (Ibid.) The only limitation on you and me is within ourselves.
And now in line with these remarks, for three things I pray:
(1) That the Lord will somehow quicken our understanding of the differences between socialism and the United Order and give us a vivid awareness of the awful portent of those differences.
(2) That we will here at this University develop the understanding, the desire and the courage, born of the Spirit, to eschew socialism and support and sustain, in the manner revealed and as interpreted by the Lord, those just and holy principles embodied in the Constitution of the United States for the protection of all flesh, in the exercise of their God-given agency.
(3) That through faithful observance of the principles of tithing, the fast and the welfare program, we will prepare ourselves to redeem Zion and ultimately live the United Order, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.