Oct 30, 2008

Ezra Taft Benson vs. Democratic Socialism

As someone who is living happy under democratic socialism, I'm really starting to get sick of this "distribution of wealth" = socialism = communism stuff. I consider myself to be someone who is generally quick to anger. Now I'm starting to get angry. Not because people disagree with socialism, but because they are twisting the facts and using them as scare tactics -- particularly when they start bringing God into the picture.

I just came across this video from Ezra Taft Benson speaking out against socialism on April 12, 1977. Now, I'm not trying to demonize President Benson here. I understand that his views were his own and this was from a different time. He was a staunch Republican, adamantly opposed to communism (which I am too!) and he was entitled to his Republican views. However, what bothers me is that by using a blanket label such as "socialism" Mormons today are using this as a means to demonize the modern, DEMOCRATIC version of socialism, which we see in most of the countries of the world that have the best standard of living: Canada, Scandinavia, and much of western Europe. And, by doing so, Mormons are now finding yet another thing to add to the column of "Satan's plan." In Norway, and Europe in general, we have less poverty, less crime, less homelessness, less class distinctions, and everyone has health care. A quick summary? Life here is friggin' good!!! And we have freedom to boot!!! So quit using God's name to spread messages built on half-truths and misrepresentations!! I don't claim democratic socialism to be "God's will," so please don't tell me that what's going on in America right now is "God's will." Maybe God's blood pressure is as high as mine right now.

For the love of Pete, President Benson, SOCIALISM DOES NOT EQUAL COMMUNISM!!! Every single country of the world -- including the USA -- that collects taxes from its people and uses it to pay for the stuff that a society needs is, essentially, "redistributing the wealth." So my government "takes" my money through taxes and gives me health care and loads of other things that I need. I'm perfectly happy with this arrangement and so is virtually every other Canadian and European.

The thing that makes me burning mad is not that individual members have their political opinions. I don't even mind that people who really understand democratic socialism disagree with it. Everyone should be entitled to have their own political beliefs, just as everyone should be entitled to have their own religious and moral beliefs. That's a good thing and I don't believe there is a perfect system. What I don't appreciate is seeing LDS leaders use the pulpit as a means to further their personal political agendas and using God's name to misrepresent something that is essentially good for me and my fellow human beings.

President Benson says in that clip:

{Americans have always been committed to taking care of the poor, aged, and unemployed. Charity must be voluntary if is to be charity. Compulsory benevolence is not charity. Today's socialists, who call themselves egalitarians, are using the federal government to redistribute wealth in our society not as a matter of voluntary charity, but as a so-called matter of right. One HEW official said recently, "in this country, welfare is not longer charity; it is a right. More and more Americans feel their government owes them something."}

I don't know what things were like back in 1977, but in 2008, Americans are NOT "committed to taking care of the poor, aged, and unemployed." Benson is absolutely right when he says that "compulsory benevolence is not charity." But I'm not looking for charitable people to pay my medical bills or provide me with sick leave. No individual can take upon themselves that financial burden for everyone who needs it, no matter how charitable they are. I'm looking for the most efficient system, operated by the people for the people. And so far, if we are going to use peace, prosperity, stability, and safety of human beings as an indication of success, then the system under which I live is doing a better job than whatever system Benson had in mind. And to me, welfare is a right. Whether I'm a crack junkie or simply someone who is out of a job, I am entitled to have a roof over my head, food on the table, and access to medical help when I need it. To say otherwise goes against the fundamental principles that every Christian professes to believe in. So yes, my hard-earned tax dollars go towards helping the junkies on the street corners of Oslo and the dysfunctional single mother of three living in government-subsidized housing who can't hold down a job. And guess what: I'm happy about it. Why? Because I and any one of us are always just a heartbeat away from being one of "those people."

The way I look at it, people should be able to do what they want with their paycheques -- after taxes. They should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to donate their earnings to a charity or go on a shopping spree at Louis Vuitton. But a socialist system -- the modern, democratic form that we see being implemented in Canada and Europe today and NOT the USSR or North Korea -- is the best way to ensure that my fellow countrymen's greed won't have the power to take away my right -- yes, my right -- to see a doctor or have a roof over my head if I become disabled -- among other things.

PS: Since everyone is so caught up with this "distribution of wealth" term, it's interesting to look back in time to July 1875 when the First Presidency released "A Proclamation on the Economy:"

To The Latter-day Saints -

The experience of mankind has shown that the people of communities and nations among whom wealth is the most equally distributed, enjoy the largest degree of liberty, are the least exposed to tyranny and oppression and suffer the least from luxurious habits which beget vice.

To read the rest, please click here.

138 comments:

Natalie said...

YES!!!

THANK YOU!!!

I AGREEEEEE!!!!!!!!

Ugh. People can be so frustrating.

Why is it so hard for my fellow Americans to stomach the notion of prosperity? Why is it so easy for them to assume that suffering people deserve their pain and are not entitled to help?

HELLO!!! THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS!!!

Obviously, you have much more eloquence on the topic then myself. :)

Fifthgen said...

I think I have mentioned this before on your site, but I think the problem can be summed up this way. (Too) Many Americans and Mormons inappropriately equate economic freedom with political freedom. By so doing, they develop a passionate commitment to free-market economics, just like they do to freedom of religion and speech and the press. Now, I am not saying there is no connection, but political freedom and economic freedom are not the same thing. That is why I am far more willing to take to arms to protect freedom of speech or religion than the free market. It is also why I think it is hard to be all that free if you are poor.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Fifthen, I wish that everyone had as much sense as you. You know, I think that if we could all manage to look at things for what they are -- political ideologies and philosophies, neither divine nor satanic -- then maybe we all get back to reality. Then we could intelligently debate the pros and cons of each approach, since not one is perfect. Once someone brings God into the picture, arguing that he's for or against this or that, then people start going ballistic. Mormons especially, since so many take everything prophets and leaders have ever said as the word of God.

And, regarding the distribution of wealth, it's interesting to look back to a time before President Benson, before McCarthyism, before Lenin and Stalin, to a time when "distribution of wealth" wasn't such an inflammatory term. I'm going to add an excerpt from "The Proclamation on the Economy" to my original post, which some of you have probably already seen. To those who haven't, it's interesting and ironic.

mfranti said...

i like you a lot!

and i now know who the Norwegian PM is.

this post makes me want to go to every right wing site and ask a few simple questions ( i asked on my personal blog but couldn't get enough conservatives to come out)

-Why are you calling Obama a Socialist?

-do you know what a social democracy is? please define it.

- do you know that the US has a progressive tax system and already practices redistribution of wealth.

-and why do you insist on using 'socialist' as a pejorative.

they keep telling me that it's not right to assume that those that use this language are ignorant but it seems to me that if you incorrectly use terms and statements it means you are not properly informed, educated, learned and therefore ignorant.

sigh

mfranti said...

i forgot proper punctuation.

The Faithful Dissident said...

You know, I'm listening to the second half of that speech from Ezra Taft Benson and I've realized that it's addressed to university students. For me to say that it was "from the pulpit" is not entirely accurate, so I don't want to falsely accuse him of this.

A lot of what he is saying makes sense, that people need to be responsible and self-reliant. Even those living in a socialist system should absolutely practice those values. However, there is no question that he is likening his political ideologies unto God's and socialism unto Satan's and I strongly disagree with that. As well, I strongly disagree with the way that he paints everything so black and white, his description of government benefits and those who accept them. As well, he talks about belief in God having to be "repressed." That is communism, not the socialism that I live under.

To summarize, I think this is purely Benson's personal political views, based on the fact that he was a staunch conservative. Much of what he says comes across as being a bit extreme and paranoid now that we're in 2008. I'm sure he gave those university students some real food for thought, which is good. Part of educating oneself is exploring different political and economical ideologies. But for people to assume that because he said it and he later became prophet, it's therefore God's "warning" to us today to beware of Obama is simply paranoia based on the term "socialism" which is so terribly inflammatory in America.

The Faithful Dissident said...

and i now know who the Norwegian PM is.

(He's kind of a looker, isn't he? :)

-Why are you calling Obama a Socialist?

(Actually, I haven't called Obama a socialist. I'm not a political scientist and I'm not an expert on socialism. In fact, I had thought very little about the systems under which I've lived under until this election heated up. I just knew that whatever we had in Canada and Norway are good systems. Not perfect, but very good. There's a reason why both consistently topped the UN's Human Development Index year after year. Does Obama constitute "a socialist?" I doubt it, but if people's definition of socialism is taxing the rich more at a sharper rate than the poor and then using that tax money to provide social benefits (such as welfare, unemployment, perhaps health care, but not in Obama's case because he is only going to subsidize health care, he's not going to provide universal socialized health care), then I guess that makes him a socialist in their eyes. What they fail to see, however, is that that is exactly how taxes work. It's exactly what every presidency before him has done. The only different that I see is that Obama is going to tax the rich much more heavily than conservatives have done in the past, and then use that tax money to provide those social benefits, or improve the ones that already exist. To me, it just makes sense. The more money you make, the higher tax bracket you move up into, the more taxes you pay. People like to oversimplify it by saying that he's stealing from the rich to give to the poor -- that's the argument I always encounter from conservatives -- but these social benefits benefit ALL, from the most powerful CEO to the lowliest minimum wage worker.)

-do you know what a social democracy is? please define it.

(It's kind of difficult to define, but to me, it means a system that combines certain socialistic principles (such as social benefits and health care) with capitalism. "Socialism" is such a blanket term because there are varying degrees of it. In its purest form, socialism can't really co-exist with capitalism. But the modern democratic form that we see in western and northern Europe operates under a mixed economy (an economy with both state-owned and privately owned enterprises). This is what we have in Canada (although some of companies that were at one time state-owned enterprises, like Canada Post and Air Canada, have been privatized over the years), as well as in Norway, where the state owned the oil company Statoil, until it became privatized in 2001).

If you look up "social democracy" (a term used synonymously with "democratic socialism" on Wikipedia, it says:

In general, contemporary social democrats support:

*A mixed economy consisting mainly of private enterprise, but with government owned or subsidized programs of education, healthcare, child care and related services for all citizens.
*Government bodies that regulate private enterprise in the interests of workers, consumers and fair competition.
*Advocacy of fair trade over free trade.
*An extensive system of social security (although usually not to the extent advocated by democratic socialists or other socialist groups), with the stated goal of counteracting the effects of poverty and insuring the citizens against loss of income following illness, unemployment or retirement.
*Moderate to high levels of taxation (through a value-added and/or progressive taxation system) to fund government expenditure.

Social democrats also tend to support:

*Environmental protection laws (although not always to the extent advocated by Greens), such as combating global warming and increasing alternative energy funding.
*Support for immigration and multiculturalism.
*A secular and progressive social policy, although this varies markedly in degree.
*A foreign policy supporting the promotion of democracy, the protection of human rights and where possible, effective multilateralism.
*As well as human rights, social democrats also support social rights, civil rights and civil liberties.

- do you know that the US has a progressive tax system and already practices redistribution of wealth.

(Exactly my point, it's nothing new. The only difference I see is that those who can afford it are going to see their taxes rise sharply under Obama and that the middle class is going to notice a slight boost to their personal economies.)

-and why do you insist on using 'socialist' as a pejorative.

they keep telling me that it's not right to assume that those that use this language are ignorant but it seems to me that if you incorrectly use terms and statements it means you are not properly informed, educated, learned and therefore ignorant.

(The problem is that they use the term "socialism" so broadly. Socialism has varying degrees. On one far side of the spectrum, it's virtual communism. On the other side of the spectrum, there's social democracy. So therefore, automatically equating liberal social democrats with communists is like equating conservative Republicans with right-wing fascists. They may both be on the right or left side of the political spectrum, but vary greatly in just how far left or right they really are.

Fifthgen said...

Faithful: THANK YOU for the "Proclamation on the Economy." I might keep a copy in my scriptures for the next inevitable political discussion at Church.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Fifthgen. Thanks to my good friend John for bringing it to my attention.

mfranti said...

yes, he's very nice looking!

i hope you know i wasn't asking you those questions.

as an american, it's so frustrating to hear people speak of their allies with such disdain.

could you imagine if i insulted your parenting because you choose not to breastfeed or co parent or co sleep like i did?

my parentign style may be ideal for me but it's very possible that someone else does it better.

i wish americans were willing to learn from our allies. Even our enemies. I wish americans didn't have a big chip on their shoulder.

could you imagine being that nieghbor? the one that thinks he knows all and thinks that everything he does is the ony way?

yeah. i'm upset. I'm upset that we've had it good for so long in this country that we are not willing to see that we are not god's gift to humanity.

The Faithful Dissident said...

I totally understood what you were getting at, mfranti. I think it's great you asked those questions. Most don't care enough to ask them or hear the answers.

Fifthgen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fifthgen said...

Faithful: I snooped around a bit and have learned the following about "The Proclamation on the Economy." It is actually a (relatively heavily) edited and retitled document. It originated as a report on the organization that evetually became Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Incorporated (ZCMI) - - basically a group of Mormon merhants who banded together to keep the goods in Mormon hands. Still has lots of good stuff in it though!

The Faithful Dissident said...

Thanks for "snooping" Fifthgen. :) That's very interesting information that I was not aware of.

Patrick Curl Mormon Social Marketer said...

Hey thanks for this great post - as a Democrat and Mormon - I too hate the complaining about distribution of wealth.

My question - isn't the law of consecration that we will be living when Christ returns - a perfect form of socialism?

Those who have divide and share with those who don't?

But I definitely believe that the best education and healthcare should be equally available to all Americans, after all aren't we supposted to have equality across the board?

The Faithful Dissident said...

Patrick, that's an excellent question.

The answer will vary, depending on who you ask. Socialists will tell you that the Law of Consecration is a divine form of socialism, and those who abhorr socialism seem to hate it when that comparison is made.

On the surface, the Law of Consecration, to me, resembles communism more than socialism (specifically democratic socialism). Because we would consecrate everything to the Church, not really owning anything ourselves, and then let the Church redistribute it evenly according to everyone's needs, that sounds like communism to me. Communism, if it were done righteously and correctly without dishonesty, oppression, or corruption, would probably look something like the Law of Consecration. The problem is, humans have corrupted communism and used it as a tool to oppress people, deny them rights, and withhold from them what they really need and deserve.

Under a social democracy, people have their own stuff. They can own land, own a home, car, and when they get their paycheque, they do what they want with it -- after taxes. Sounds like the US, doesn't it? So what's the big deal? Because some Americans don't want to pay higher taxes that will be "redistributed" to things like health care, welfare, maternity leave, sick leave, etc. They resent the fact that their tax money could potentially be used to pay for a smoker's lung cancer treatment, a drug addict's rehab, sick leave, or maternity leave for someone else. But how many of us will go through life never needing at least one of those benefits? A socialist would believe that everyone is entitled to such basic benefits, while a conservative would perhaps argue that no one is entitled to anything and that such "charity" cannot be forced upon human beings (i.e. via taxes) and therefore their freedom is lost. My personal view is that such "freedom" won't help you much if you or a loved one develops cancer but you can't afford the treatment because you're not "entitled" to it.

Some members will argue that socialism is "Satan's counterfeit plan to the Law of Consecration." They say that no one should be forced to be charitable and that equality can't be enforced. Now, if everyone in the world was charitable and able to take care of everyone's needs and eliminate poverty and inequality without gov't intervention, then I would be a libertarian! Who needs gov't to do something that we can do without it? But the problem is that we can't. First of all, the financial burden is too great. Secondly, human beings are generally selfish, corrupt, and most will put their own wants/needs above others. I think this is true everywhere in the world, whether the country has socialism or not. The difference is that those countries who do operate under a form of social democracy generally have a higher standard of living, less class difference, universal health care, and certain social benefits. Those who are opposed to it will argue that socialism drags everyone down. The way I look at it -- as long as its a democratic form of socialism -- it pulls everyone up to a guaranteed minimum standard, while still allowing rewards for those who work hard and excel. There are some stinkin' filthy rich people in Norway. I don't think that's a bad thing, many of them have worked very hard for it and should not have everything taken away from them. I just think, though, that it's not unreasonable to make sure that people aren't sleeping on the streets or denied medical treatment while rich people are living the high life. I find it hard to believe that this system of providing for all citizens was really conjured up by Satan.

There is a good link here on Wikipedia that talks about the Law of Consecration. It says:

"In 1942, the Church officially stated that communism, communalism, and socialism are simply Satan's counterfeits of the Law of Consecration whereby many are swindled into believing that these godless practices are divine."

Well, I don't know who ever claimed socialism to be "divine." I haven't. And what's so "godless" about them? It's a form of gov't and economics. Since when does God get involved in either of those things? Last I checked, we believe in the separation of church and state. A good social democracy has nothing to do with religion. It neither encourages nor discourages it. Its concern is merely implementing a system to provide for the temporal needs that we all share as human beings, regardless of what religion we have or don't have. Once again, it appears that this statement is referring to Stalinistic communism -- the most extreme manifestation of socialism -- and not the modern, democratic form. But to those who don't understand the difference, it's all the same. It's simply "socialism" and therefore "evil."

Anonymous said...

~i'm upset. I'm upset that we've had it good for so long in this country ~
I assume you mean pre-socialism.

That statement says it all and explains everything on this blog.

The problem with socialism is that you soon run out of people with gumption...and most of all, rich people. That leaves you with the 'tax users' and fewer and fewer 'tax payers.'
Why work. The government will take care of me.
Someone needs to have enough money to hire someone.
We are well on our way to finding out that everything is wrong with this experiment as we continue with our downward spiral.
I'm going to 'cash' next wednesday and it will be off shore.

The Faithful Dissident said...

That last comment shows, yet again, how the facts are twisted and used to spread fear. And what none of these people can ever explain is why the heck social democracy works so well in so many countries. I would ask Anonymous whether he's ever been to northern or western Europe. Has Europe run out of rich people? Are Scandinavians all sitting at home mooching off the government, refusing to work, expecting the gov't to take care of them? Normal people know that the life of a "social client" is not a life that they really want. Social clients have a roof over their heads and can go to the doctor. Not a whole lot more. To imply that we're all satisfied with this life, and therefore don't need to work, is absurd (and insulting!). Most people want to work and earn as much as they can to buy all the stuff that they want. And they do. Period. But I guess some just have to see it to believe it.

John said...

Just wanted to add a careful warning about statements made by Ezra Taft Benson concerning politics. Many are attributed to him as a Prophet, but what is usually left out is that these statements were not statements made as the spokesman for God (or even while he was Prophet for that matter), rather they were made in political discussions or speeches he gave while he worked for the government, or statements he made to individuals in personal conversation.

In fact, Benson was openly chastised by the Church when he used Church property for political purposes or voiced his political opinions in Church settings. If it were fair game to attribute Benson's statements concerning politics as words spoken under the divine office of Church President, than we would also have to include his statements regarding the civil rights movement. For example:

"Former Agriculture Secretary Ezra Taft Benson charged Friday night that the civil-rights movement in the South had been 'formatted almost entirely by the Communists.' Elder Benson, a member of the Council of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in a public meeting here that the whole civil-rights movement was 'phony'." (Deseret News, Dec. 14, 1963)

President Hugh B. Brown, a member of The First Presidency under President David O McKay, particularly did not like Benson's right-wing rhetoric. When Benson was sent to oversee a mission in Europe, W. Averill Harriman, the U.S. Under-secretary of State for European Affairs, wrote to Hugh B. Brown asking how long Benson would be abroud. President Brown's response:

“If I had my way, he'll never come back!"

David O. McKay's son also noted, after Benson met privately with his father:
"We shall all be relieved when Elder Benson ceases to resist counsel and returns to a concentration on those affairs befitting his office. It is my feeling that there will be a serious curtailment of his Birch Society activities."
-(the John Birch Society is a conservative, anti-communist organization that Benson belonged to at the time).

Here is another quote from President Joseph Fielding Smith:
“I think it is time that Brother Benson forgot all about politics and settled down to his duties as a member of the Council of the Twelve. He is going to take a mission to Europe in the near future and by the time he returns I hope he will get all of the political notions out of his system. I am glad to report that it will be some time before we hear anything from Brother Benson, who is now on his way to Great Britain where I suppose he will be, at least for the next two years. When he returns I hope his blood will be purified."
-Joseph Fielding Smith

Elder Benson became President Benson in 1985 when he took over the Church Presidency. From that point on, he NEVER mentioned politics in ANY of his sermons.

Tim said...

I've been to and lived in Europe--for 4 years. There is a class system and there are homeless--don't fool yourself.
I also know that people are taxed at a higher rate--and there are some that don't marry since the tax on the married can be higher than being single.
I also know that there are waiting lists for people that need and want care.
The system you live under isn't perfect--neither is the one in the US. But I applaud you for wanting to redistribute your wealth.

The Faithful Dissident said...

I'm not fooling myself, Tim. I know that there are homeless people in Europe (I've seen them) and I know that there is a class system. I also know that no system is perfect, not even social democracy, and I have said this repeatedly. I have only claimed that social democracy seems to be the best that anyone has come up with so far in order to have a safe, stable, prosperous society that is not entirely without a class system, but where that the bridge between the different classes is much shorter.

It's hard to generalize "Europe" because there are so many different countries with different gov'ts and the poverty level is higher in places like Italy and Spain than it is in Scandinavia. Even in Scandinavia, there are "poor" people. People who live from paycheque to paycheque, can't afford a car or a nice appartment. The difference is that people won't be living on the street because they can't pay their medical bills or because they lost their job. I've lived 6 years in Norway and have never seen a homeless person, except for in Oslo. And those I can pretty much guarantee are people who have a substance abuse problem and refuse to go to rehab or to one of the shelters or social offices. They shouldn't be on the streets -- especially in such a cold country -- but not even the gov't has the authority to physically force someone into rehab without a really good reason.

I've travelled around quite a bit in Europe, including a bit in eastern Europe, as well as extensively through the US and Mexico. I saw some scary-looking places in the Czech Republic, Germany, and the outskirts of Paris that I would define as "poor." But I've yet to see anything as depressing and scary as some American inner cities, like Detroit. I know that the poverty in Detroit or Philly is not the same as what we see in places like areas of Mexico, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, but how can it be that way in America?? The nation that claims to be the greatest, richest on earth? Have so many people really CHOSEN to have that miserable life? Or could it be that they've been held down by a system where it's survival of the fittest, where some people just HAVE to be rich, and others just HAVE to be poor?

I just don't get it.

Lisa said...

I'm so sorry it took so long for me to respond to this, but it absolutely merits a grand *applause*

Before meeting you and others like us, I was afraid to say anything above a whisper, and then only to my husband that...didn't the core, basic fundamentals of the church teach things that ultimately point to socialism?

A perfected socialism, yes, but still.

And uh, people seem to forget that the US has socialist programs. They are far from perfect, but I think this is due more to laziness and poor attitudes.

Charity should never be compelled or forced because then it wouldn't be charity. HOWEVER, if we are going to sit around and pat ourselves on the back for giving out our fast offerings and whatever, we need to check ourselves about giving to others in different ways.

I just wrote an entry for Mormon Democrats today, and I addressed this issue too, just with a different sort of twist.

I think the American's biggest problem is their attitude toward those who need charity. We need to worry less about those who receive it (yes, far too many are fraudulent and misuse our funds), and worry more about our motives in giving or not giving.

The more I learn about Democratic Socialism the more I like it. I hate that in a free country I am even slightly afraid to voice that opinion, though.

Really. It's too bad.

BTW, my husband said a lot of members left the Church when President Benson became Prophet. While we need to have faith in the Lord and who He calls to be his Prophet, I can certainly understand why some would leave. That would've been hard.

Anyway. Thank you for this post.

Gay LDS Actor said...

I,too, get so tired of people swinging the word "socialism" around like it's this horrible thing. While I freely admit that socialism has its flaws like any other governmental system (good thing capitalism doesn't, huh? har-de-har-har), I think there are many benefits to it, and having lived in Europe as well, I've seen good things come from it as well as negative. And there are certainly elements of socialism in the US that work out pretty well, so I just wish people would stop giving it such a negative connotation. I've really enjoyed reading this whole thread.

Fifthgen said...

Lisa: I was around before and after Pres. Benson became the prophet. I will say that there was a lot of fear and trepidation about what his administration would be like because of his earlier political activities. My impression, however, mirrors John's observation. When he became prophet, he really mellowed and did not discuss politics. I am not aware of any mass exodus from the Church because he became prophet.

Lisa said...

fifthgen: Yeah, I've read John's response, too, and I'm glad I did.

:) I've no ill feelings toward President Benson. I'm really happy he left his political loudspeaker at home when he was called to lead the church.

Thank you, though, for the personal evaluation. I only know President Hinckley, and I often wonder what times were like under different presidents (though Benson was admittedly before my time...I think :)

Anonymous said...

I am not sure,as I have not read all the comments posted here about socialism,if all of you plan on voting for Obama,but this man is not simply about redistribution of wealth,nor is he simply a socialist.He is a communist,bent on destroying our constitution,as he considers it outdated.Look a little deeper,most of his associations can be seen via video,not simply tossed around the web.Like what Cuba is?Vote Obama.Vote in leisure,lockstep in haste! Just look at some of the fine folks around the world who support him!(such as Castro,and his ilk)
As for dissidence,what part of "follow the prophet is hard to understand?When you pick and choose,you lose.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Anonymous, thanks for coming out. That's really all I have to say to you.

Rick said...

Oh Socialism...FD, you always post stuff that we are talking about on Politicalds, and I am to frusterated with it by that time to be much good in a thread - that being said, thanks - I love hearing from you.

Here's my take. "isn't the law of consecration that we will be living when Christ returns - a perfect form of socialism?" - - absolutely - I wonder, people, how many LDS folks who are around when Christ comes (whatever that may actually entail is debatable) who will willingly drop their posessions, the stuff they've collected and come to depend on, and live the Law of Consecration volentarily. We are told that our addictions are harder to get over in the spirit world. Also, we are told that many who are around in the millenium won't join the church. I've always been utterly confused about that - But here's what makes sense to me. Consumerism is an addiction - maybe the worst one. The desire to have stuff - to have even more stuff than the next guy - is an evil that posesses our world. And when Christ comes, I don't think consumerism will go away - if we are addicted now, we will be addicted then. And when that happens, we may not even realize that the savior is among us.

So, what is social democracy? IMO, it is a stepping stone to help us develop a more loving attitude to those who need our help.

I too have been living in a social democracy for the greater part of three years, and I can say, I totally agree and support it. Japan's health care system is beautiful - affordable, and universal. I thanked heavenly father that my wife had her gallbaldder attack and opperation when we were in Japan, as opposed to three months earlier in the states.
It is amazing to me how so many in the Church are just absolutely concerned with their own - they have totally forgotten the poor and the needy - and justify Christ's emphasis on elimiting social stratification out of existance. However, Christ, the Book of Mormon, and the Restored Gospel all originally command us to destroy social stratification, if we are to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

However, so many mormons will tell you quickly that this is one of Satan's silk threads that he is slowly wrapping around our necks - and when he has us...watch out - that's the end!!! bah. I'm feeling a little irritated lately.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Ah, the silk thread analogy. Gotta love it, eh? :) The thing about that analogy is that it can be used in almost anything. We can certainly use it in consumerism. I mean, consumerism in moderation is a good thing. It keeps the world economy going, people working, a source of income for us all. But too much consumerism can strangle a people via greed and neglect of society's vulnerable, just like communism oppresses personal freedom and innovation. As with most things in life, too much of anything is usually a bad thing.

The excuse I keep reading from Mormons for their opposition to social democracy -- while still maintaining that they believe in the Law of Consecration -- is that politicians are corrupt and the Lord is not, so therefore such a system can ONLY be justified if it's the Lord Himself who is running things. In other words, it's OK if the Church does it, but it's not OK if the gov't does it. I disagree with this reasoning because:

a) All politicians are imperfect and fully capable of making mistakes. Some of them take that to a higher level (i.e. corruption, dishonesty). I think, though, that there ARE politicians who genuinely care about their fellow countrymen and want to do what's in their best interest. We need to quit demonizing every politician and the gov't in general.

b) We have to quit writing off something that could be a great idea just because it's not perfect. Democratic socialism is not a perfect system. But neither is any other system! Interestingly enough, though, the Law of Consecration resembles socialism more than any other economic philosophy. Is that merely a coincidence, or is it perhaps because SOME aspects of the socialist system are worth using in a non-perfect, temporal, worldly scenario? I just don't understand this "it-has-to-be-perfect-or-scrap-it" philosophy.

c) Social democracy isn't even close to what the Law of Consecration is in terms of "redistributing the wealth." In a social democracy, I pay tax and I'm done with it. The rest of my paycheque (approx. 60-70% of it) is mine, not the gov't's, and I do what I want with it. I don't have to "consecrate" anything and I'm free to be as greedy or as charitable as I want. Under the Law of Consecration, will any of us really "own" anything? The way I understand it, we will be consecrating all to the Church and then let it redistribute all of it how it sees fit, only giving us what it believes to be our share.

I'm sure you've often heard the LDS reasoning for quitting smoking. Some believe that if we died addicted to nicotine, we'll still be craving cigarettes in the next life (I personally disagree with this because I think that a nicotine addiction is physiological and if we don't have a body, we won't have physical addictions, but who knows). So, if being able to accept social democracy is a way of preparing us for the Law of Consecration so that we don't have to start living it cold turkey, why all the resistance?

I have to point out that even a social democrat like me, who has little problem with paying high taxes and having it "redistributed," is nowhere near being able to live the Law of Consecration. It actually scares me to death to think about having to hand over my laptop or my stereo to the Church because the bishop thinks that someone else needs it more than me. :)

tammy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

A little something to conteplate as you raise "socialism" to a higher sphere. The biggest issue I have with socialism is not the redistribution of wealth (I experience that with my kids on a regular basis), it is that so many people feel they are entitled to have what others have without putting forth the same effort. I believe that we should give freely of our time, talents and resources and am grateful for the opportunities to do so. Unfortunately, many people who are the benefactors, find it easier and easier to take without giving back.

One of the great lies being perpetrated by those seeking political power is that only the rich are greedy. Who is greedier, the one who works for what he has and does not share, or the one who takes what he has not earned?

President Benson was more right than most people would care to recognize. Whenever governments tax the producers to give to the non-producers, producers will be less charitable and the non-producers will feel more entitled. If it was just a matter of providing food and shelter, that would be one thing, but the list of entitlements within our nation continue to rise. Look at the unemployment rates of socialist countries. With tax rates as high as they are people hard-working individuals are less inclined to maximize their efforts.

I love our socialist friends and neighbors around the globe. The reality is however, that their socialism is protected by our capitalism. Without the strength of the US military, many of those countries would fall prey to communism and the subsequent violence that would follow.

My hope is that someday there will be no poor among us. For me, that includes wealth and spirit. If we can collectively raise the spirituality of our nations, wealth will follow.

The Faithful Dissident said...

That's a good point, Anonymous. I guess the question, though, is what we feel we're entitled to. Personally, I have no problem with everyone feeling that they are entitled to see a doctor, or have a roof over their heads in the dead of winter. If we believed we were entitled to a big screen TV and nice appartment courtesy of the gov't, then that's just bogus. Those who squander gov't cheques on frivolous things aren't just taking advantage of the system -- they're just making it harder on themselves. It's not like the gov't is a bottomless pit source of income for us if we make poor choices in life. If we abuse the help, then there is no more help. Even if that means that the only roof over our head will be a public shelter, and not gov't housing. Some people seem to think that you can be lazy and live the high life by mooching off the gov't if you live under socialism. Not true. It depends a lot on circumstances, as whether you're mentally ill, or whether you are simply just lazy. I think that there are very few who are simply "just lazy." Most, if you really dig deeper, suffer from a mental illness of some kind. "Normal" people know that being lazy and simply living off welfare is no life.

My mother-in-law here in Norway has serious rheumatoid arthritis and gets 80% disability pension because she can only work about 20% of full time now. If it weren't for the gov't safety net, my husband and I would have to support her, since she's a widow. We are extremely blessed in this country. I know that most people around the world would have to support sick relatives both phyisically and financially since there is no gov't help. It must be an enormous burden. Especially when it's the mother-in-law! :)

I have an uncle in Canada who has had schizophrenia all his life. He has 100% disability pension and has a pretty decent appartment, enough income to afford the necessitites of life and then some. He's certainly not living in a hell-hole, but it's not a luxury appartment by any means. I have no problem with that and I would find it sad if any other Canadians did have a problem with it. We have a responsibility to take care of the vulnerable. Unfortunately, some always fall through the cracks and end up on the streets.

It would be interesting to know the statistics of how many homeless people are actually suffering from a mental illness. I'm sure it's not just a few.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Also, you said:

"I love our socialist friends and neighbors around the globe. The reality is however, that their socialism is protected by our capitalism."

I think that our socialism is actually protected by OUR capitalism. None of us want pure socialism. Capitalism is the driving force that keeps the world going and everyone here is in favour of it. It just has to be regulated, such as in the case of a mixed market economy like Norway's or Canada's.

TAG said...

I have only been glancing at most of the comments, but I find it interesting the strong opinions taken by individuals on this thread as well as on other sites. I believe that one common communication barrier with any discussion is that many people asssume that language is perfect and one word has the same meaning for everyone else. This discussion is on "socialism" so based on Benson's description in 1977 of socialism it appears to be linked to communism. Without having researched I imagine that communist countries at that time have evolved and changed in a similar way to each individuals definition of the word "Socialism". I don't know that it is fair to say that socialism in 1977 is the same as it is today.
I have noticed that in political debates the use of language is mostly used to conjure up feelings or bring out different points of view. Calling a person a socialist or defining that Socialism means sharing your lunch with others are just tactics to get desired responses from others.
Most people appear to argue or debate the issue without defining the issue. If we have an individual that accepts assistance/welfare through a government program, it can be viewed as helping them or hindering them. If during my life experiences I have known individuals who are just working the system I might view this act of "socialism" as a horrible system. If during my experiences I have known individuals that have been helped in a hard time and have improved their status in life this act of "socialism" may be a wonderful system.
I believe that if we made more effort to understand the context of individuals view points and experiences surrounding their comments then there would not be the communication barriers that make for great debates and passionate dialogue. I guess these discussions can be for good or bad, either making each of us grow and stretch our opinions and knowledge or creating a feeling of conflict. It appears that this is the way of politics; to use words in such a way to rally the strength of individuals to our cause.

Anonymous said...

well....I dont know what youre talking about when you say Canada and Europe has a higher standard of living than the USA. That is so false. This is the fastest growing most successful country in nearly all terms ever in the history of the world. Look how far the world has come since United States became a country. France is doing a little better now cuz the are doing more things in capitalism. Socialism isnt communism. But its super super close.
There are already lazy people who abuse the system. They dont earn their healthcare and government aid. Now if you make that available to everyone...like socialism does, more and more and mroe people will not see why they should work so hard, cuz they see others getting the same benefits that dont work. Then less people will work, and there will be less productivity in the USA, and mark my words,SOCIALISM WILL RUIN AMERICA. Capitalism is how this wonderful country has been run, and even in our economic crisis, wee still blow every other country out of the water. Give USA a little more credit.

Eric Checketts said...

I certainly respect everyone's right to their own opinion, and, in light of this discussion, I'd like to share mine.

I DO believe in all of the principles that President Benson taught. I do believe that socialism is not of God.

Political ideals are not like choosing the color of your next car. Blue, white, red, or whatever, that doesn't really matter. As far as political ideologies, there is right and wrong, and yes, I believe, there is a perfect system. So do I believe that the US has the perfect system? No, but I believe that it once was the beacon that pointed in the direction of that perfect system. Unfortunately, as I see it, our system has been corrupted by progressively concentrated doses of socialism.

Charity should be provided, but it should come from the private sector, from individuals and organizations that choose to give and that are free to decide how much they are capable of giving.

Socialism presumes that the individual, and his production, are property of the state, and are therefore subject to use at the discretion of the state (i.e., the bureaucrats running the show). In this case, the individual is left with the portion of his wealth that the state decides should be his.

There are many examples of the damage done by systems of democratic socialism. Are you familiar with the the US welfare system? Have you ever driven through a Native American Reservation? Have you learned about the sad lives led by those so "blessed" by the socialist policies of the Soviet Union?

Often I hear the comment that, "People these days just do not contribute to charity, so the government must do it for them." Well, first of all, I don't think it is a true statement to say that people don't contribute to charities these days. Second, even if that were true, that is their choice. It is THEIR wealth to do with as they please. It is not the prerogative of the government to decide how the individual's money should be spent. Third, if there weren't so many inefficient and stifling social programs, then people would have more money available to donate to charities in the private sector (which are much more effective at providing services than government).

I am a staunch supporter of freedom and liberty. I believe that we experience far greater growth when allowed to thrive under the nourishing conditions of liberty and prosperity under free systems. I highly recommend Ron Paul's book "The Revolution: A Manifesto".

Though I believe that my beliefs are true, I am passionately committed to protecting the freedom others have to their own opinion. I just thought I'd share mine.

:)

The Faithful Dissident said...

Eric, I respect your opinion and I thank you for sharing it. Even though I disagree with it, I thank you for your respectful tone.

Not sure whether you have read through all the comments on this thread. If not, I encourage you to do so since I addressed a lot of the concerns that you addressed in your comment.

I'm not expecting it will change your mind, but hopefully you will be able to understand where I'm coming from with this and why I think that social democracy is the best system, despite its flaws.

a-train said...

There are many LDS people who in the past two years have become aware of the strong anti-socialist stance of Church leaders including Ezra Taft Benson. One major contributor to that has been the Ron Paul campaign and his Campaign for Liberty.

In the past two decades, it seemed to many LDSs that we were doomed to go down the Fabian Socialist road to tyranny as public opinion and media coverage has totally immersed the nation in socialism.

Obama is not the beginning of American socialism, he is coming into a long legacy of American socialism that has been embraced by both Republicans and Democrats. As the curtains are closing once and for all on free-markets in America and nationalization is becoming blatantly evident, Americans everywhere, including and especially Mormons, are saying in effect: "this all sounds good, but what about our Constitution?"

I have seen a somewhat divide immerge in LDS circles where some are on the side of defending socialism and others are on the side of defending economic freedom with some pointing to the scriptures and the prophets in support of socialism and others in support of economic freedom.

It is quite clear and there can be no uncertainty that the prophets drew a clear distinction between socialism through government redistribution of wealth and the law of consecration. They have indeed, in no uncertain terms, declared socialism to be a counterfeit.

David O. McKay, Marion G. Romney, Ezra Taft Benson, and other Church leaders have in some cases openly mentioned the great danger behind our modern fabian socialist course that much of the world is on.

Yes, it will bring temporal prosperity, just as did socialist policies in the early 20th Century to countries such as NAZI Germany. However, there IS an international effort on the part of the planet's most wealthy and influential men to advance socialism for the masses while privatizing enormous wealth and power into their hands.

It may indeed appear that socialist policies will bring a higher standard of living to a nation, but once liberty is lost, tyranny is inevitable.

When do we have enough socialism? Where is the end? What is the goal of the fabians? It is always just a few more steps. It is never quite enough.

I can promise you that there will not be a time wherein socialism will rid any nation of poverty, of disease, of the natural defects attending the test of mortality. But I can most certainly assure you that it will take liberty from a nation and lead it into destruction.

I say this not to belittle you, nor to pretend I am smarter or better informed. I say this as a friend, as one who has your true welfare in mind.

You will not find a single advocacy of government socialist policy among the scriptures nor the words of our Church leaders.

The policies of socialism are a hoax designed to bring the nations under the power of the most wealthy. That is all. That is all it has ever amounted to. And when Gordon Brown and George H W Bush talk about a "New World Order" they are not kidding. They really mean it.

Have you read the book warning of these things the President Benson prescribed? (None Dare Call It Conspiracy) How about the one President McKay offered? (The Naked Communist)

Europe has been the object of tyrants for centuries, are we to assume it simply ended? There are no more efforts to gain political and economic power over the masses?

People living behind the Iron Curtain were socialists. It was not the U.S.C.R., it was the U.S.S.R. Marx believed socialism must go world-wide before Communism could be achieved. By his book, it was never yet achieved. Socialism is as far as it has ever gotten and the socialists gave up after WWII on revolutionary means and adopted the fabian strategy. Look at what is happening!

What are we giving our Grandchildren? Are you prepared to have your great grandchildren be born into a world that allows them only to keep 1/3rd or even less of their earnings? 1/8th? 1/10th?

For the LDS adults, we know that Satan's plan is to buy up armies and navies and tyrants who opress and reign with blood and horror on this earth. Is he done? When we give up our liberties to super-national powers, is Satan not interested in them?

What great conspiracy did Mormon warn us about in Ether? What did Ezra Taft Benson indicate it was? Was he wrong? What prophet has come after him and set us straight on that?

I am begging my fellow latter day saints to read their scriptures, to pray, to research these things and rally around the title of liberty as did the righteous who stood with Captain Moroni.

Never give up LIBERTY, for if we do, we get captivity.

Rachel said...

I whole-heartedly agree, a-train.

The Faithful Dissident said...

What are we giving our Grandchildren? Are you prepared to have your great grandchildren be born into a world that allows them only to keep 1/3rd or even less of their earnings? 1/8th? 1/10th?

I assume by this argument, then, that you are opposed to taxes of all kinds? Chances are, somewhere around 1/3 of your paycheque is already going to Uncle Sam. On top of that, you pay sales tax on most things, which goes to pave roads you don't drive on and pay policemen who fight crimes that you don't commit. Is this infringing on your freedom?

The problem that many who hold your opinion have is that they are unable to define where "socialism" actually begins. At what percentage does income tax cross the line from "liberty" into "socialism?"

RAP08 said...

I think we are bound as citizens to contribute to the government in the form of taxes and I have not read any comments from someone indicating otherwise. I think what it always boils down to is what the taxes are spent on. National defense, schools, roads, public works are generally accepted as needing the government to facilitate. But the spending on social programs is debatable.

I don't know the source but i heard once that the problem with a true democracy is that as soon as the masses realize they can vote themselves money they will do so.

I think we have only to listen to what the politicians say to realize they understand this truth. They make promises on how live will be better for <50-90>% of the people if we do such and such. They only need 51% of the vote so they work to win over the votes of the majority.

I do not think we are quite to the point where the government dependants can vote in who ever promises them the best benefits but we may be headed that way.

a-train said...

Forgive me, but I have no trouble defining where socialist policies begin.

Any income tax is inappropriate. The function of the U.S. government was funded for over a century without any direct un-apportioned income tax. Throughout time man has invented innumerable forms of taxation, a direct income tax requires the greatest burden and cost in collection and is among the least effective in raising revenues.

Socialists pushed for a progressive direct income tax as early as in the days of Joseph Smith and were strongly rejected by an America that still honored the Constitution which did not give such power to the federal government.

Programs especially designed to simply re-distribute wealth by taking from the so-called "haves" and giving to the so-called "have-nots" usually have the opposite effect. Rather than re-distributing wealth, the program re-distributes poverty.

This is for a very simple and predictable reason. When the income of individuals and of nations as a whole is not the direct result of productivity in a free-market, the appropriate productivity level becomes difficult if not impossible to gauge. How do we know that people are working enough? Are they working too much? Is their work effective? The more an industry is socialized, the more difficult it is to actually make it productive.

In the case of a system like our own wherein only a portion of our income is taken, the level of taxation is virtually impossible to gauge. Just as are interest rates in our current monetary system wherein there is no free-market mechanism at all to determine the prime interest rate.

The law of consecration actually preserves the free-market mechanisms necessary to gauge productivity, supply, demand, and exchange rates.

Joseph Smith, in September 1843 attended two lectures on socialism. He entered into the History of the Church volume 6, page 33-34 one simple phrase concerning his thoughts on the matter: "I said I do not believe the doctrine."

The whole economic theory put forth by Keynes and taught in our universities which requires a central bank, a fiat currency, and management of the economy by the central government thereby was socialist. Keynes was an open fabian socialist. Google John Maynard Keynes and see for yourself. It is no coincidence that it supports socialism, his theory is based on socialism.

Austrian school economics uphold free markets and sound money. Most of all, the theory supports the right of personal property as necessary in determining demand, supply, and price.

How is it then, a-train, that if socialist policies increase poverty and limit wealth, we have seen such an increase in the standard of living throughout the world in the last century?

Because the whole process is facilitated by a fiat currency. We just 'borrow' the money to facilitate the deficit. Why are we seeing a seemingly eternal rise in national debts in countries using this system?

If we believe the Keynesian economists, we should all be very wealthy, but it would take the entire M3 money supply of U.S. currency to pay the national debt, a sum so great that every living human including children would pay just under $35,000 if distributed evenly. Thus a family of 4 owes $140,000. Add that to the mortgage and other debts and the whole country is way upside down.

This debt is, of course, monetized. That is why we have the constant rise in prices: inflation. So the people ARE paying this tax in the form of higher prices. The inflation tax is the greatest source of wealth redistribution in the U.S. It transfers wealth directly from the masses to only the most well connected billionaires on earth in the form of federal spending such as the Iraq war and bank bailouts.

I don't want you to take my word for it. I am asking you to read the books offered by David O. McKay and Ezra Taft Benson for us to read. Go to www.mises.org and read of the Austrian school of economics. Read something as quick and easy to get through as Henry Hazlitt's Economics In One Lesson.

I am only hoping to make you aware of the substance of the arguments presented there. You can decide for yourself.

My intentions are to spread the gospel and proclaim the liberty of the LORD. My feelings are indeed for the poor and afflicted of the world. I honestly believe that the best programs for helping the poor are those which the LORD has established and socialism is not among his program.

The scriptures, the prophets, and the LORD himself taught the manor whereby we are to provide for the needy. Transferring our obligations over to the cold heartless state is not found among those methods.

I appreciate your reading my post. Please take the time to actually read and ponder these things.

-a-train

a-train said...

"I think we are bound as citizens to contribute to the government in the form of taxes and I have not read any comments from someone indicating otherwise. I think what it always boils down to is what the taxes are spent on. National defense, schools, roads, public works are generally accepted as needing the government to facilitate. But the spending on social programs is debatable."

We are bound by the law of the land. It is certainly prudent to collect taxes to fund defense and roads and so forth. However a direct income tax is not expedient.

"I don't know the source but i heard once that the problem with a true democracy is that as soon as the masses realize they can vote themselves money they will do so."

It is: "A Democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only last until the citizens discover they can vote themselves largesse out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that the Democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy, to be followed by a dictatorship, and then a monarchy."

It is attributed to 18th-19th century British lawyer Alexander Fraser Tytler.

"I do not think we are quite to the point where the government dependants can vote in who ever promises them the best benefits but we may be headed that way."

It is actually not possible. The masses will vote for socialism thinking it will make life easier as it only heaps upon them burden and travail while taking from them their liberties.

As the homeless are still among them and as they themselves get closer and closer to poverty, their ability to help their fellow man becomes less and less viable.

When the dollar collapses, the world banks will come to our salvation with a new currency solution that will be no different than this one, just as did the socialist Germans when their money collapsed in the early 20th century.

Alexis de Tocquville warned of the great threat of democratic socialism in his famous book Democracy in America. I highly recommend this work also. Although the name of "democratic socialism" was not known to him, he described the tyranny for which he had no name.

It would seem that the Framers and the earliest proponents of American government knew well what had been created and what evils were lurking. All we have to do is read their words.

Read also:
The Federalist Papers - Hamilton, Jay
Common Sense - Thomas Paine
Rights of Man - Thomas Paine

-a-train

The Faithful Dissident said...

A-train, I thank you for your comments. I will have to respectfully disagree with you. I'm not on some socialist crusade, so if people don't agree with it, that's fine with me. However, I think there are so many myths and misconceptions out there that needed to be addressed, which was the purpose of this thread. I also object to bringing God into the picture, which is what Ezra Taft Benson did. And as John commented above, we cannot take this speech from Benson as anything more than it is: a man stating his political opinions which we can choose to agree or disagree with.

The Church instructs us that before we resort to using Church welfare, we should first use available resources from out governments and/or families. If social democracy truly is "stealing from the rich," as anti-socialists always like to argue, then why is the Church encouraging us to take what is, essentially, "stolen money?" Why would the Lord want us to use money that was "stolen" or obtained through immoral means? Why doesn't the Church tell me to go to the Salvation Army or other charities when I get sick? Why not rely on them instead of "stealing" tax payers' money to pay my bills?

I have to confess, I am not an economist and my knowledge of business and finance is minimal. My views are pretty simplistic. I don't think democratic socialism is good because I have all these statistics and analyses to back up my claims. My opinion is based on something as simple as this: it works. And it works very well. I know this from personal experience. I have lived my entire life in a social democracy and I feel my life is very good. I love what my countries have provided for me and my fellow countrymen. I don't live under a perfect system and and I think that certain things should definitely change. But I've yet to see a better system anywhere in the world. The UN Human Development Index, and surveys like it, consistently demonstrate that countries that operate under a certain degree of social democracy are those that thrive. Denmark was declared "the happiest country on earth" a few months ago. They also pay some of the highest taxes in the world. It is merely a coincidence that they are happy?

You said:

Although the name of "democratic socialism" was not known to him, he described the tyranny for which he had no name.

I'm sorry, but I just don't buy into the argument that I live under "tyranny." I doubt there's much I can't do that you can, just because I live in a social democracy and you don't. If democratic socialism is "tyranny," then what's communism or fascism?

When people are oppressed by tyrants, they want to revolt. If I'm living under tyranny, then why isn't someone here planning a coup? Why doesn't anyone suggest that we should scrap the system and make everyone pay out of pocket for health care and everything else? Are we just simply brainwashed or entirely apathetic to such "tyranny?"

Anyways, I feel like I'm typing in circles here. I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree. Neither of us can walk in each other's shoes, so I think we just have to accept that we see things differently and each emphasize the importance of different things.

Hopefully we can agree on one thing, though. I certainly don't think that your views are "evil." If my post has convinced you of nothing else, I hope that you can walk away looking at democratic socialism as something that you may not agree with, but not as simply a plan concocted by Satan.

a-train said...

[quote]However, I think there are so many myths and misconceptions out there that needed to be addressed, which was the purpose of this thread.[/quote]

I definitely agree.

[quote]The Church instructs us that before we resort to using Church welfare, we should first use available resources from out governments and/or families. If social democracy truly is "stealing from the rich," as anti-socialists always like to argue, then why is the Church encouraging us to take what is, essentially, "stolen money?" Why would the Lord want us to use money that was "stolen" or obtained through immoral means? Why doesn't the Church tell me to go to the Salvation Army or other charities when I get sick? Why not rely on them instead of "stealing" tax payers' money to pay my bills?[/quote]

First, I have never been instructed by my bishop to go first to the government for support. I have only received such help on two occasions and I received it without any mention of government assistance.

Now, it is possible that there could be different policies based on different circumstances in different stakes and regions, and if that is the case then we need not look to these policies as indications of the overall position of LDS leadership on the subject of liberty.

Socialism does not steal from the rich, it steals from the poor. It takes from the workers and gives to the richest of the rich. The real benefactors of socialism are the elite, the aristocrats at the top.

[quote]I have to confess, I am not an economist and my knowledge of business and finance is minimal. My views are pretty simplistic. I don't think democratic socialism is good because I have all these statistics and analyses to back up my claims. My opinion is based on something as simple as this: it works. And it works very well.[/quote]And I am here to offer as much insight as I can. Have you read the books I have mentioned?

When you say "it works", what does that mean? If I said: "Free-markets accomplish." You would ask: "Accomplish what?"

[quote]I know this from personal experience. I have lived my entire life in a social democracy and I feel my life is very good. I love what my countries have provided for me and my fellow countrymen. I don't live under a perfect system and and I think that certain things should definitely change. But I've yet to see a better system anywhere in the world. The UN Human Development Index, and surveys like it, consistently demonstrate that countries that operate under a certain degree of social democracy are those that thrive. Denmark was declared "the happiest country on earth" a few months ago. They also pay some of the highest taxes in the world. It is merely a coincidence that they are happy?[/quote]

If what we are talking about is a certain standard of living, how do we know that this standard is the result of socialism? If it is, then wouldn't MORE socialist policy make the standard of living even higher? Why aren't the Vietnamese living among the highest living standards on earth?

[quote]I'm sorry, but I just don't buy into the argument that I live under "tyranny." I doubt there's much I can't do that you can, just because I live in a social democracy and you don't.[/quote]I live in a social democracy as well. Since the early 20th Century, fabian socialism has steadily increased throughout all of western Europe and North America, in fact the whole globe. It is perpetuated through vast international efforts, not by accident.

[quote]If democratic socialism is "tyranny," then what's communism or fascism?[/quote]

Tyranny.

[quote]When people are oppressed by tyrants, they want to revolt. If I'm living under tyranny, then why isn't someone here planning a coup? Why doesn't anyone suggest that we should scrap the system and make everyone pay out of pocket for health care and everything else? Are we just simply brainwashed or entirely apathetic to such "tyranny?"[/quote]

First, there have been many that have lived under tyranny who did not want to throw off the tyrants, Americans were not universally in acceptance of the Declaration of Independence. There were those who wanted to stay under the power of the king.

Second, the suggestion to get rid of socialist policies and give to each individual their freedom IS being made, and it is being made by millions of people all over the globe. You are talking to one of those people now. Ezra Taft Benson was also one of those people.

[quote]Hopefully we can agree on one thing, though. I certainly don't think that your views are "evil." If my post has convinced you of nothing else, I hope that you can walk away looking at democratic socialism as something that you may not agree with, but not as simply a plan concocted by Satan.[/quote]

I don't consider you or your views evil. I am not accusing you of anything. You are not a perpetrator of tyranny.

My aim is to get the message of liberty out to as many people as possible.

Please, before you blow off these things, read about them.

If you blow me off, please remember this: The richest most powerful mean in Europe and America are working in many ways together to establish a supernational socialist government wherein they and their posterity shall retain aristocratic positions while the masses are kept in check.

You may disbelieve that. You may call me a kook, a conspiracy theorist. You may say that Ezra Taft Benson's pronouncements to that effect were simply misinformed. But as you see further and further consolidation, centralization, nationalization, what the Americans now call conservatorship, and the building up of a monstrous global government under the U.N. remember that it was revealed by many, including LDS Church leaders.

Listen to President Benson in the April 1977 General Conference:

[url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGAaOATLLrg[url]

-a-train

a-train said...

Ezra Taft Benson in Conference

-a-train

The Faithful Dissident said...

About taking advantage of gov't benefits before Church welfare, I know this because I attended a Church training session where welfare was discussed. A Church video (in English, with Norwegian subtitles, so I assume it's been shown all around the world) was shown and it outlined clearly the steps we should take. Church help was a last resort, after gov't and/or family assistance.

Socialism does not steal from the rich, it steals from the poor. It takes from the workers and gives to the richest of the rich. The real benefactors of socialism are the elite, the aristocrats at the top.

Very true, IF we're talking about communism. My countries operate under a democratically-elected gov't, much like yours. Lumping together ALL socialists in with communists is like calling libertarians fascists because both are right-wing.

Why aren't the Vietnamese living among the highest living standards on earth?

C'mon, you're not being fair here. If you want to talk about Vietnam, then you want to talk about communism. Then we're comparing apples and oranges here. I'm not a communist. If you still think it's all the same thing, that it's all just "tyranny," then I give up.

Sorry. :)

PS: I don't think you're a cook, but I do think you're being a tad paranoid, just as Ezra Taft Benson. If the Canadian or Norwegian gov't is set on taking away all my rights, what are they waiting for? They've had years and years to do it. :)

The Faithful Dissident said...

The richest most powerful mean in Europe and America are working in many ways together to establish a supernational socialist government wherein they and their posterity shall retain aristocratic positions while the masses are kept in check.

This is probably true -- of communists. But communists here are about as popular as they are in America.

The Faithful Dissident said...

I watched that Youtube clip and you know what? I agree with it! Why? Because he's talking about COMMUNISM.

Eric Checketts said...

To A-Train's comments, I have just one reply:

Amen!

RAP08 said...

a-train I do want to thank you for getting the full quote I was referring to regarding people voting for candidates that promise them the most.

Relating to church welfare program you said -
[First, I have never been instructed by my bishop to go first to the government for support. I have only received such help on two occasions and I received it without any mention of government assistance.]

Faithful was correct when she stated that the church’s policy is that people desiring help from the church are to first get assistance from their family, second take advantage of any government programs that they may qualify for and then the church will help.

This is a sensible approach to take as we are to take care of our families and if we can help a member of our family who is struggling we should do so. I think we are to get help from the government as we have paid our taxes and should be able to benefit from the programs supported by our taxes. I do not think this policy necessarily endorses those government programs merely makes use of the ones provided, and I think the church’s policy does state where available. In you case the bishop may not have been aware of any programs for which you qualify or any at all. As we have a lay ministry it takes some time for them to be trained and aware of all the resources available. I know I do not know anything about local, state or federal programs that may help me if I am faced with hard times.

I personally think that often members are not aware that this is the policy and that they wait until matters are dire before seeking the bishop’s help. This puts the bishop in an uncomfortable position. I also understand it is the church’s policy that those receiving assistance from the church should be given opportunities to do service so that they will not feel like it is a hand out. I feel that this is important as it allows the member to maintain their dignity.

a-train said...

What nation has called itself "communist"? The USSR was not the USCR. Vietnam is not the Communist Republic of Vietnam, it is the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

American Libertarianism is not far right. It is up top. The phony political spectrum of left/right is just that, phony. The whole spectrum is socialist. Do an image search on google for "political grid".

Ideas at the top of the diamond promote less government. Ideas at the bottom promote more government. A classical liberalist (myself) is not right or left, but middle and way up.

Marxist communism was never achieved. He taught that after the whole planet came under a single global socialist democracy, it would automatically convert into "communism" as the government simply faded into non-existance.

This is why "communists" have been trying all these years to build socialism. After some years, it became popular among them to use military means of revolution to promote world socialism and thus achieve "communism".

This idea was ultimately abandoned and it was decided that the fabian strategy would actually accomplish "communism". This is the idea that all of the nations should slowly, over time, endorse more and more socialist policies and create larger and larger supernational government powers until the whole planet was peaceably under world socialism.

Many fabian socialists however do not believe in the ultimate goal of "communism". They simply want some socialist policies in their governments, but seem to believe there is a line which they will not cross.

That is dangerous however. What is that line? Do we all have an agreement on it?

The reality is that "communism" is a fairy tale. The socialist movement is nothing but a tool in the hands of the worlds most powerful men to maintain and grow economic and political control. It is that simple.

Brigham Young wanted to break down the centralization of economic and political power as mentioned in the statement on the economy you referenced. Socialism would accomplish the very opposite that goal.

In fact, socialism only consolidates power. That is exactly what it is designed to do.

-a-train

Rachel said...

A-train - thank you so much for your comments! I couldn't agree more. I think that there are many out there that feel the way you do - but are not able to fully articulate their feelings. Thank you for citing your sources so that each of us can do our homework.
Amen to all that you've said!!!

RAP08 said...

a-train, I had fun taking the quiz I found while looking up political grid. Though I found it interesting I was labeled a populist-leaning conservative and the closest presidential candidate was a libertarian.

if you wonder where I stood you can see my results to the quiz. you can follow the analysis and explanation link to see the grid. I did notice that the different pages are not consistent so be warned, sometimes they reversed the meaning of the question.

I was glad to find that I do agree with Pres. Elect Obama on something, It gives me 20% hope :)

John said...

I apologize if I cover anything already mentioned or addressed, there are a lot of posts that I've missed since the original post on this subject.

There were a few comments that I just wanted to address however, many coming from A-Train. The first is his assumption that socialism is the centralization of power in the hands of the few. This is a very narrow interpretation of socialism, particularly statist socialism, and does not reflect the broad spectrum that socialism encompasses. For example, social democracy is a form of decentralized socialism, or in other words, socialism in the hands of the public and not the few.

There are MANY libertarian-socialists throughout the history of socailism; George Orwell, Mikhail Bakunin, Alexander Berkman, Noam Chomsky, Emma Goldman, and the list could go on and on.

As to the USSR not USCR comment, the USSR (and other "communist" nations) are one-party states, and that party is the Communist Party. Although communism has it's roots in socialism, it has been grossly corrupted and changed by people like Lenin and Trotsky to the point that the international Communist Party has taken their positions.

What were their positions? They believed in a vanguard, or in other words a more "intelligent" few leading the ignorent masses towards a better future. The USSR (and other so-called "communist" nations) never implemented socialism other than in name only. In Russia, the Communist Party (under the reasoning of Lenin and Stalin) justified this by claiming that the nation needed to be rushed through the phases of capitalism (state-capitalism that is) and industrialization in order to establish a socialist state in the future (which never happened). The USSR claimed to be democratic as well, but we all accept this as false, why then do people so readily believe it was socialist? even when the writings of their own leaders admit that they weren't?

In fact, the USSR was so non-socialist, that there was a bloody civil war for years between the Bolsheviks and the Menshaviks (mostly made up of social-democrats, anarchists, etc). It wasn't capitalists against socialists, it was socialists against statists claiming the title of socialism. When Lenin gained power, one of the first things he did was dissolved the worker's counsels and the soviets, that's how non-socialist that regime was.

It is extremely clear in any communist material even today, that social democracy is viewed as an enemy. Stalin even teamed up with fascist Germany and Spain to fight social democracy (before Hitler turned on him) and "purged" Russia of social democrats once in power. Linking social democracy to communism is like saying Arabs and Jews have the same interests. It's just not anywhere near the truth.

As to left vs. right wing, there is absolutely a left and right wing version of libertarianism. Economically speaking, this is determined by who is to have control over the means of production; the workers or the investors.

American libertarianism takes many forms. The Libertarian Party is a very right-wing version of libertarianism because they strongly advocate private property, oppose state tyranny but do not even acknowledge private tryanny, are extremely militaristic, and want to do away with those rights workers have struggled to gain through democratic means (social security, unemployment, benefits, health and safety, etc.).

America has a long history of left-wing libertarianism as well though. Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and Noam Chomsky (as well as Hugh Nibley if you read his books "Approaching Zion" and "Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints" this is pretty clear).

As to the U.S. and the standard of living; America is the richest nation on Earth, but this does NOT mean it has the highest standard of living. Several reasons why; largest gap in the industrialized world between executive pay and worker pay, more money spent on military than all other nations combined, little or no healthcare for majority of the population, large gap between rich and poor.

Last I checked, the U.S. was number 11, not number 1. In fact, here is a link to Wikipedia's info onhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Development_Index the topic:

I'm rushing through this, because I'm on my lunch break, but here is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite libertarian-socialists:

“Freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice, and socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality.” -Mikhail Bakunin

John said...

One more thing, the collectives that the Church organized, such as ZCMI, very much follow the formula set up by libertarian-socialists.

Anonymous said...

"If most of us believe that it is wrong to kill or steal or lie, our laws will include punishment for those acts. If most of us believe that it is right to care for the poor and needy, our laws will accomplish or facilitate those activities."
-Elder Dallin H. Oaks

a-train said...

John,

So what you are saying is that "socialism", define it how you will, was used by "communists" to usurp power and pillage a nation. In other words, "socialism" was the phony mask worn by "a vanguard, or in other words a more "intelligent" few leading the ignorent masses towards a better future."

You mentioned how "when Lenin gained power, one of the first things he did was dissolve the worker's counsels and the soviets, that's how non-socialist that regime was."

How did Lenin get the power to do this? How did that "vanguard" of the "'intelligent' few" bamboozle the honest socialists?

Because once the economic power of the masses is centralized and vested in the state, whoever controls the state wages it. The masses are thus helpless.

Socialism, regardless of how you wish to define it, as long as it attempts to take economic power out of private hands and put it into the control of the democracy requires some bureaucracy or civil state to do so. Thus, economic power MUST be centralized to the state.

We can claim that this centralization is actually a dispersal of power by way of the democratic process, but this is only true so long as the democratic process is not obstructed as it was by Lenin in your example.

What protection, what balance of power, what check is in place to prevent such an obstruction once the people have divested their economic power to the state?

The only solution is a massive concerted resistance which is always difficult to perform and thus you end up with civil war (per your example).

What difference does it make that the obstruction is a party seeking "communism" or "monarchy"? Does it matter whether this vanguard seeks to implement Caesarism or Pharoahism or Bushism? Regardless or its name and form, it is despotism.

"Decentralized socialism" can only be accomplished in one way. The economic power of the individual must be preserved in the system. Once that power has been divulged by the masses to a single state, economic power, by definition is centralized.

As Marion G. Romney demonstrated, the united order was voluntary and control of property was not in the hands of any democratically controlled central system or bureaucracy. Rather, the control of property was left in the hands of each individual through stewardship.

"Socialism" in America has been a very effective tool in the hands of the elite to maintain their advantage or wealth, just as it has served well the interests of "vanguards" throughout the world. The allure these men have to it is the centralization of economic power.

The promises of Hilter and Lenin to the masses were the promises of "socialism". It is certainly true that they never intended to deliver. The only difference between my view and yours is that I don't believe today's promises of socialism are any more honest than those.

It was nothing but a phony mask in Russia, and Germany in the early 20th Century, it is nothing but a phony mask in America and England in the early 21st.

-a-train

a-train said...

"John said...
One more thing, the collectives that the Church organized, such as ZCMI, very much follow the formula set up by libertarian-socialists.
"

I'll quickly agree with you that the debate is over state socialism and does not include voluntary non-state social orders.

Certainly the voluntary organization, contribution to, and support of non-compulsory institutions whose order does not forcibly deny the right of its supporters to alter or cease their support at their will is the best means of combining economic power to accomplish common goals.

Given that, capitalism provides for "libertarian-socialism" as capitalism by definition must allow private parties to engage in non-state socialism.

That said, my philosophy does fall within "libertarian-socialism". But I am just as much a "libertarian-capitalist". In fact, the closer one's philosophy moves towards "libertarianism" or classical liberalism, the more it bridges the divide between right and left. That is why the political grid is a diamond. There is less and less distance between left and right as we move upward.

The discussion at hand is American democratic state socialism to be precise. However, all state socialism suffers the same hazards as does democratic state socialism.

I'll try to be more prudent in typing out "state" in my discussions henceforth to avoid any confusion.

I also forgot to mention that classical liberalism really doesn't make any distinction between the right of the worker or investor if you think about it.

And, Nibley's book, is a favorite of mine (Approaching Zion). I don't find it to be the indictment of capitalism some may claim it is. It is really an indictment of materialism.

-a-train

John said...

"A-Train said:
"How did Lenin get the power to do this? How did that "vanguard" of the "'intelligent' few" bamboozle the honest socialists?"

They didn't bamboozle them, they violently suppressed them after a very long civil war. The Bolsheviks were also greatly supported by non-socialist interests that feared the victory of a decentralized form of socialism (including President Wilson and the United States).

In libertarian-socialism, there is no centralization. Instead, what you have is the workers taking over control of the means of production. Examples of this form of socialism include the Israeli Kibbutzim, the Spanish revolution of 1936 (which was subverted more by communists than by the fascist forces of Franco), and early Church communities like Brigham City.

There is also no vanguard in this form of socialism, because like Church callings, leadership positions are only temporary, and are filled by workers themselves, not professional politicians.

The tyranny you fear in social democracy, just isn't the case in those nations which have instituted it. Not only do these countries have less class differences, less crime, less poverty, but they also have greater voter participation, greater workers involvement, and higher standard of living.

I see these truths to be evidence of whatwe are told in the Proclamation on the Economy ;
"The experience of mankind has shown that the people of communities and nations among whom wealth is the most equally distributed, enjoy the largest degree of liberty, are the least exposed to tyranny and oppression and suffer the least from luxurious habits which beget vice."

Of course I also recognize the warning in that Proclamation as well;
"Under such a system, carefully maintained, there could be no great aggregations of either real or personal property in the hands of a few."

Emphasis on carefully maintained.

Last comment, I'm sure you may agree with me on this one, but America is more at risk of socialism for the wealthy than socialism for the masses. If this were not the case, our government wouldn't be bailing out corporations and the financial industry with tax payer dollars. When it comes to the U.S., anti-socialism is all talk, since corporate socialism is always being done, only without the stigma of the name.

John said...

Just wanted to post this interesting Q&A with libertarian-socialist, Noam Chomsky about Ron Paul's form of libertarianism:

Questioner: Hello Mr. Chomsky. I'm assuming you know who Ron Paul is. And I'm also assuming you have a general idea about his positions. Here my summary of Mr. Paul's positions:
- He values property rights, and contracts between people (defended by law enforcement and courts).

Noam Chomsky: Under all circumstances? Suppose someone facing starvation accepts a contract with General Electric that requires him to work 12 hours a day locked into a factory with no health-safety regulations, no security, no benefits, etc. And the person accepts it because the alternative is that his children will starve. Fortunately, that form of savagery was overcome by democratic politics long ago. Should all of those victories for poor and working people be dismantled, as we enter into a period of private tyranny (with contracts defended by law enforcement)? Not my cup of tea.

- He wants to take away the unfair advantage corporations have (via the dismantling of big government)

Noam Chomsky: "Dismantling of big government" sounds like a nice phrase. What does it mean? Does it mean that corporations go out of existence, because there will no longer be any guarantee of limited liability? Does it mean that all health, safety, workers rights, etc., go out the window because they were instituted by public pressures implemented through government, the only component of the governing system that is at least to some extent accountable to the public (corporations are unaccountable, apart from generally weak regulatory apparatus)? Does it mean that the economy should collapse, because basic R&D is typically publicly funded? like what we're now using, computers and the internet? Should we eliminate roads, schools, public transportation, environmental regulation? Does it mean that we should be ruled by private tyrannies with no accountability to the general public, while all democratic forms are tossed out the window? Quite a few questions arise.

- He defends workers right to organize (so long as owners have the right to argue against it).

Noam Chomsky: Rights that are enforced by state police power, as you've already mentioned.

There are huge differences between workers and owners. Owners can fire and intimidate workers, not conversely. just for starters. Putting them on a par is effectively supporting the rule of owners over workers, with the support of state power itself largely under owner control, given concentration of resources.

- He proposes staying out of the foreign affairs of other nations (unless his home is directly attacked, and must respond to defend it).

Noam Chomsky: He is proposing a form of ultra-nationalism, in which we are concerned solely with our preserving our own wealth and extraordinary advantages, getting out of the UN, rejecting any international prosecution of US criminals (for aggressive war, for example), etc. Apart from being next to meaningless, the idea is morally unacceptable, in my view.

I really can't find differences between your positions and his.

Noam Chomsky: There's a lot more. Take Social Security. If he means what he says literally, then widows, orphans, the disabled who didn't themselves pay into Social Security should not benefit (or of course those awful illegal aliens). His claims about SS being "broken" are just false. He also wants to dismantle it, by undermining the social bonds on which it is based, the real meaning of offering younger workers other options, instead of having them pay for those who are retired, on the basis of a communal decision based on the principle that we should have concern for others in need. He wants people to be able to run around freely with assault rifles, on the basis of a distorted reading of the Second Amendment (and while we're at it, why not abolish the whole raft of constitutional provisions and amendments, since they were all enacted in ways he opposes?).

So I have these questions:

1) Can you please tell me the differences between your schools of Libertarianism?

Noam Chomsky: There are a few similarities here and there, but his form of libertarianism would be a nightmare, in my opinion, on the dubious assumption that it could even survive for more than a brief period without imploding.

2) Can you please tell me what role private property and ownership have in your school of Libertarianism?

Noam Chomsky: That would have to be worked out by free communities, and of course it is impossible to respond to what I would prefer in abstraction from circumstances, which make a great deal of difference, obviously.

3) Would you support Ron Paul, if he was the Republican presidential candidate, and Hilary Clinton was his Democratic opponent?

Noam Chomsky: No.

Anonymous said...

I live in New Zealand but am form England originally I have ben LDS for 40 years of my life. largely and mostly I am happy about all things LDS. until I became computer literate I had no problems with anything to do with the church. During the last 3 years I have been frequenting LDS forums and particularly ones in which libertarian and constitutionalists seem to rule the roost. I too am titing of President Benson quotes that make mme feel like a lepper. I am staunch labour which is a socialistic leaning party, I beleive in welfare for those that need it. I am not in favour or leaving a sick person on the street until a do gooder libertarian says, here is a dime be fed.

I have been depressed at times when I hear the way they accuse anything that is slightly socialist as "EVIL" I came within an inch of stopping my church attendance, because of these people. but then thought to myself. why should I let them affect me so much.

Long live the good governments of Norway the Uk and the like.

a-train said...

"They believed in a vanguard, or in other words a more "intelligent" few leading the ignorent masses towards a better future. The USSR (and other so-called "communist" nations) never implemented socialism other than in name only. In Russia, the Communist Party (under the reasoning of Lenin and Stalin) justified this by claiming that the nation needed to be rushed through the phases of capitalism (state-capitalism that is) and industrialization in order to establish a socialist state in the future (which never happened). The USSR claimed to be democratic as well, but we all accept this as false, why then do people so readily believe it was socialist?"


"They didn't bamboozle them, they violently suppressed them after a very long civil war."

OK, I'm not sure I understand your position anymore. Did Lenin trick the Russians by promising democratic socialism while actually looking to implement nothing but his own personal gain or not?

If he did, and I suspect you believe so, then socialism was used as a mask by Lenin to establish despotism.

Just the same, the NAZIs used socialism as a mask to bring about their own aggrandizement.

"America is more at risk of socialism for the wealthy than socialism for the masses. If this were not the case, our government wouldn't be bailing out corporations and the financial industry with tax payer dollars. When it comes to the U.S., anti-socialism is all talk, since corporate socialism is always being done, only without the stigma of the name."

Exactly. This is why I don't like MORE power going into the hands of our Federal government. The politicians do a song and a dance about how some new program will benefit the poor and the common man, but in practice, the program amounts to billionaire welfare.

I think the real difference between someone like Ron Paul and Noam Chomsky, is that Chomsky sees the people's power to control government as greater than the people's power to control big business, whereas Paul sees the opposite.

I personally am persuaded to believe on the side of Paul. We go into voting booths only once every two years and make only tiny contributions to the course of government which changes little even with dramatic changes in party control, while we are daily making major contributions to change business with our spending habits which translate to thousands of new openings and closings annually. In a year or so, government may change very little, but business can be dramatically transformed with people making and losing fortunes. An impeachment can take a year, a corporate boob can get tossed in 5 seconds. There is a single U.S. Federal Government which faces no competition. There are thousands of U.S. corporations which eat each other alive at every turn.

So I don't think the placement of values or really even philosophy is all that different, it sounds like it boils down to economic theory. Chomsky believes the only thing stopping big business from inflicting terrible tyrranical atrocities is government, while Paul thinks the only thing giving big business the power to conduct what tyranny it does is government itself.

In practice, I see Paul's notion playing out, not Chomsky's. And, looking back at government tyranny throughout history and comparing it to corporate tyranny; if made to chose, I'll pick corporate tyranny in a heartbeat. There were no corporate torture-chambers, mass killings, imprisonment without legal process, and, and, and etc.

-a-train

a-train said...

"I am staunch labour which is a socialistic leaning party, I beleive in welfare for those that need it. I am not in favour or leaving a sick person on the street until a do gooder libertarian says, here is a dime be fed.

I have been depressed at times when I hear the way they accuse anything that is slightly socialist as "EVIL" I came within an inch of stopping my church attendance, because of these people. but then thought to myself. why should I let them affect me so much.
"

What needs to be understood is the difference between statism and liberalism. These LDS people are not in any way speaking against efforts to band together to help the poor or even to strike against an unpleasant employer. What we are speaking against is statism.

While many of these very people are working hard in voluntary efforts to support the poor, and as they are divesting themselves of hard-earned income to help others, they are also opposing state control over these efforts which they find both ineffective and dangerous.

-a-train

mfranti said...

"What we are speaking against is statism."

so you are speaking for the lds people? for the official stance of the church because your last lines sure sounded that way.



can we give all the anti gov't people alaska and let them have at it?

John said...

A-Train stated:
"Did Lenin trick the Russians by promising democratic socialism while actually looking to implement nothing but his own personal gain or not?"

I never made such a claim, for one, and secondly it doesn't take a scholar to simply read Lenin and see that he was an open enemy to democratic socialism (and by open, I literally mean he condemns democratic socialism by name). There was no attempt to "trick" Russians into believing they were living under a democratic socialism, instead the Russian people were told "this is necessary for a better future, so do it". There is no disguising of Lenin's views of democratic socialism. Read Lenin's "What is to be Done" if you don't believe me. What I am saying though, is that when it came to international propaganda, the USSR did claim to be the only true socialist nation and to be democratic.

However, the violent suppression of socialists and opposing viewpoints is well known. If it was simply a matter of "tricking" the Russian people, the USSR would not have spent so much time, energy, and money in the purges or in forming, organizing and training the secret police.

As to business being easier to control than government, I STRONGLY disagree with that claim. If this were true, than it wouldn't have taken government pressure to guarantee worker's rights, child labor laws, health and safety regulations, disability insurance, civil rights guarantees and the list could go on and on.

Impeachment may take years, but these rights took decades!

The thing about using our dollars would be true only if the majority of Americans had the discretionary income to actually do it. For instance, many Americans disagree with WalMart's treatment of it's employees, but can't afford to shop somewhere else. Animal rights activists have been using this tactic for decades now with little effect.

As an example of what I'm talking about, animal rights groups have been boycotting ag businesses that pin animals up 24 hours a day without the ability to stand up, turn around, or move their wings. This has had no effect, despite the public opposing those practices. However, here in California, we just passed legislation requiring these business to put an end to these practices. Decades of struggle comes to a conclusion now with one piece of legislation that took about a year of campaigning.

a-train said...

I never made such a claim, for one, and secondly it doesn't take a scholar to simply read Lenin and see that he was an open enemy to democratic socialism (and by open, I literally mean he condemns democratic socialism by name). There was no attempt to "trick" Russians into believing they were living under a democratic socialism, instead the Russian people were told "this is necessary for a better future, so do it". There is no disguising of Lenin's views of democratic socialism. Read Lenin's "What is to be Done" if you don't believe me. What I am saying though, is that when it came to international propaganda, the USSR did claim to be the only true socialist nation and to be democratic.

OK, his promise was "the dictatorship of the proletariat". Right? While he openly objected to "social-democracy" as a means to bring it about, and claimed that "social-democracy" was actually a "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie" which would never result in the "dictatorship of the proletariat", his promise to his followers in upholding the "vanguard" was to ultimately achieve "the dictatorship of the proletariat" which was what? The "worker's democracy". He promised "democratic centralism" which his followers believed in. He promised ultimate "socialism" which his followers believed in.

But, once in power, these promises were not kept and many democratic features were "temporarily" banned.

Simply, he looked at "social democracy" as a counterfeit for the ideal it claimed to be. What he was promising was to institute what "social-democracy" only claimed to be.

At the end of the day, he promised to put the power in the people if they would put first the power in him and his party, and once the power was delivered by the people he didn't return on his promises. Correct?

On big business: Why do businesses offer jobs with better pay, work conditions and benefits than legislated minimums?

Because the free-market demands they do.

In order to get the workforce they want and prevent that workforce from going elsewhere, they must provide competitive benefits. The free-market determines what is competitive.

The free-market standard is higher than the government standard.

Now, the argument is made that the higher free-market standard is only thus raised because of government intervention in the free-market. The evidence attached is that back in the dark ages of American employment, people worked in conditions of much lower standards and now they don't.

But the trouble is the fact that these two realities have not positively been connected as cause and effect.

Take the analogy of skateboarding. In the late 1970's, at the height of an unprecedented skateboard fad, a wave of anti-skateboarding ordinances washed over the whole country. Concerned about the ramifications of uncontrolled amounts of youngsters dangerously skateboarding on sidewalks and in streets and the possible legal liabilities attached thereto, cities banned it.

In the following months and years the skateboarding the streets and sidewalks dramatically faded. The city councils patted themselves on the pack with a 'job well done'.

Then, in the late 1980's a new skateboarding trend came even more ferocious than the last. This one not only came in large numbers but engaged in much more aggressive and dangerous skateboard activities.

What happened? Why did those city ordinances suddenly stop working? A tremendous wave of citations were written across the country and many cities raised fines. Then, it all subsided again, and the cities gave themselves another pat on the back with a 'job well done'.

However, in the late 1990's and into the early 2000's the most tremendous and ferocious wave of skateboard warriors took to the streets in mass and some cities even started punishing with jail time. What was going on? What had stopped the fines and restrictions from working again?

The problem is the assumption that these restrictions were the cause of the downturn of skateboard activity. The downturn of skateboard activity had nothing to do with those city ordinances and everything to do with free-market trends outside of legislation.

Proof? In this last round, the biggest explosion in skateboard park building ever brought publicly funded skateboard parks to every neighborhood in America. Cities out of ideas started building these parks to get kids off the streets.

Skateboard sales are down and have been in decline since 2002. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of skateparks have been built since 2002, but skateboard sales have still declined.

Billions of dollars in infrastructure for the skateboard industry has not helped it grow. Why? Trends. It is just not popular right now. Kids are playing Nintendo and other things.

Meanwhile, the smaller number of skateboarders who continue to skate, do so not only in the new free parks, but continue to dodge police and skate city streets.

As an owner of a skateboard business, I can tell you that the skateboard industry has been heavily involved in the campaign to get cities to spend public funds on skateparks. The industry itself has turned the public disdain to its advantage. And insiders believe that the next big wave will be beyond anything we've ever seen because of all the new infrastructure provided by public tax dollars.

We have little doubt that when it comes, the streets will be filled again as usual to the dismay of city hall.

The truth is that market conditions are always faster and stronger than government intervention.

We can't prove that rising standards in working conditions and benefits are the result of government mandates to that effect. In fact, the free-market has risen them to an even higher level than the minimums legislated by government, just as market trends in skateboarding removed kids from the streets better than did city ordinances.

While Wal-Mart is believed by many to be a monolithic tyrannical monster only stoppable by government power, I ask: Why is it not Sears? They were first. Why not J.C Penney? Why did 7-11 not completely take over its industry?

Or how about U.S. Steel? It avoided all sorts of attempts at government intervention. Some of the takeovers it was prevented from taking ultimately happened anyway. How did it fall from ultimate conquest of the steel industry?

Did government prevent it? The most effective stopping power imaginable was unleashed on them: Competition.

Wal-Mart has 13 new lawsuits to fight every 24 hours. Although I don't shop there, I don't blame people who do.

We hear of the terrible circumstances of the Wal-Mart employee. Why not quit? The Wal-Mart in my neighborhood is next to Target, K-Mart, Sears, Dillards, J.C. Penney, Big Lots, several grocery stores, a mall full of stores, Officemax, Staples, Bed Bath & Beyond, and much more. And that is only the retail stores.

The fact is, many of the people working there WANT to work there and LIKE the conditions. And people shopping there LIKE to. They go into Target, then to K-Mart, then to Wal-Mart, then to a grocery store to get specific products or prices they are looking for.

Wal-Mart has no power to compel people in my neighborhood to shop there. I personally never go. There are stores that offer all I need even closer than the Wal-Mart 3 miles away.

Tyranny is defined as: "arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority". How is an entity with zero power to compel someone to do anything tyrannical? Wal-Mart over me at all.

I'm working a part-time job for FedEx. The standards there are way above legislated minimums in both terms of pay and benefits. I am not in the least bit compelled to work there. I could simply never contact them again if I so desired. They would have no ability to change that.

However, when my tax dollars are taken from me by government and spent with big businesses in ways I don't wish to support, I am powerless to stop it. This is why big business likes big government. It is looking for big handouts.

I can see little convincing evidence that Americans are suffering tyranny at the hands of big business by any means other than through big government.

-a-train

a-train said...

"so you are speaking for the lds people? for the official stance of the church because your last lines sure sounded that way."

No, of course not. The "we" I was referring to was LDS people who are critical of big government and state socialism. This is the group being called "so frustrating", the group being called "uncharitable", the group being accused of assuming people deserve to suffer.

These accusations are the very opposite of what we (and I say "we" because I am one of those) are working for and standing for.

-a-train

John said...

The fact is, the USSR, China, North Korea, etc, do not reflect what is being discussed here. What the Faithful Dissident is presenting is the idea that Social Democracy, as it is practiced today in many European nations, and Canada, is not the same as these communist nations.

There is no vanguard or vanguard party in Norway, Sweden, Canada, etc. Instead, what they have is a parliamentary system with even more diversity than our current system in the U.S. There is no secret police, there is no one party rule. There is more participation from their population than exists in the U.S. and they have come closer to solving social ills than the U.S. has (poverty, healthcare, class distinctions, etc.).

To claim that these social democracies are comparable to the systems practiced under the USSR, is as unfounded as comparing the U.S. to fascist nations like Germany, Italy, and Franco's Spain. There may be some trace of ideological similarities, but they are so remote from each other that the comparison simply doesn't hold up.

It's like saying a poodle is a dog, and a doberman is a dog, so a poodle is a doberman.

Also, you speak about how ineffective our system is with two party rule, yet condemn a system that allows for greater input from a wider array of opinions and parties. This system being advocated by myself and others, also allows for a mixed economy, which I feel addresses both your concerns about a free market, and my concerns about preventing economic abuse.

Your comparison to the skateboard industry may be good for that niche, but I don't see consumer dollars putting an end to worker exploitation, environmental degredation, and class distinction on a larger scale without the influence of government controlled by the people.

Social democracy is not perfect, but I agree with the Faithful Dissident that it is a more just political system. I also agree with people like Noam Chomsky in that I believe we should first hack away at corporate privilage and the accumulation of private wealth before we start stripping away the guarantees that workers have fought for over hundreds of years.

a-train said...

"Social democracy is not perfect, but I agree with the Faithful Dissident that it is a more just political system. I also agree with people like Noam Chomsky in that I believe we should first hack away at corporate privilage and the accumulation of private wealth before we start stripping away the guarantees that workers have fought for over hundreds of years."

But what if this "hacking away at corporate privilege and the accumulation of private wealth" through democratic state socialism actually accomplishes the opposite effect and makes the super wealthy even more privileged and powerful while decreasing the power of the masses?

I'm not disagreeing with Chomsky or anyone on the notion that we need to get rid of corporate privilege. The difference is in the perception of the manner whereby these privileges are created and maintained.

When we deliver more and more economic power to the state, how do we prevent the state from using it to grant privileges to the super rich?

A local ordinance was recently suggested that smoking in bars and restaurants be banned in my city. The new law came with only one exception: the Casinos.

The Casinos pumped large amounts of money into getting the ordinance passed. It is said that they had contacted the creators of the measure and vowed to fight it if they were not saved from it. The people, deciding it was at least better than no smoking ban, passed it with the provision for the Casinos.

Now, if you'd like to smoke at the bar, you can't go to a locally owned small business and do so, but you can go to the corporate casino owned bar (the casinos have several different bars and restaurants attached to them which were part of the exception to the new rule).

Is this not typical? This is the oldest strategy in the book. Government helps create monopoly for whoever can afford to put money in the right places at the right time.

Now I am not saying that legislation that outlaws mistreatment and dehumanization of people is wrong or bad.

What I am saying is that much of the effort to create new legislation in the name of "democratic socialism" is actually a scam.

I actually agree with Lenin on that, "social democracy" is actually the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie".

Ezra Taft Benson specifically told us just that. He indicated the identities and the designs of the modern Gadianton Robbers and pointed us to the warnings of these things in the Book of Mormon. LDS people are thus faced with determining whether he was simply wrong on the matter.

Given not only his understanding and credentials with respect to the Church and the Book of Mormon, but also his extensive experience and understanding of government, are we to simply blow this off? We just write him off as a quack? A kooky "Bircher"? A far-right extremist?

Were his statements simply paranoia? Did he also think people deserved to suffer? Was he also uncharitable? Was he just greedy and wanting to keep his own money?

There have been many scathing denunciations of state socialism from LDS leaders throughout our history. Does Brigham Young's statement on the economy actually even promote state socialism?

Also, that quote from Elder Oaks is out of context and is put out there to look as though he was outright advocating state welfare. The Ensign article is here.

The context is clear that he was not advocating any particular policy or ideals in those statements, but simply stating the nature of democracy.

I could read between the lines and inject all sorts of ideas. I could claim the laws to "accomplish or facilitate those activities" were simply those that give non-profit status to charities. The fact is, he didn't say and it was beside the point of his article anyway.

It is just as stretching to imagine that local church leaders promoting members to obtain from their government those welfare provisions which they have already been compelled to pay taxes for is an advocacy of expansion of state socialism or welfarism.

Why do I find this statement from the Ensign on www.LDS.org: "The leaders of the Church have generally regarded the growth of state welfare in the twentieth century as a dangerous experiment with our constitutional form of government. Only the people can protect the principles of their Constitution as they consider which governmental proposals to support and which to reject. If the American people lose their love and understanding for the principles of righteousness and freedom, the written Constitution will never have the power to preserve itself from destruction by greedy men."

Why is this still in publication? Why is it not repudiated?

Why are Conference talks such as this one still on the Church site? President Romney, in no uncertain terms, burned state welfare badly. After quoting an article that was certainly in disagreement with state welfare he said: "The practice of coveting and receiving unearned benefits has now become so fixed in our society that even men of wealth, possessing the means to produce more wealth, are expecting the government to guarantee them a profit. Elections often turn on what the candidates promise to do for voters from government funds. This practice, if universally accepted and implemented in any society, will make slaves of its citizens."

How about this article from David B. Haight on the subject of welfare wherein he wrote of the time of the creation of the current Church welfare program:

"It is significant to note that about this same time, when the Lord established his way of caring for those in need, the “world,” or government, introduced its form of dole assistance—a counterfeit alternative to the Lord’s way. In most instances, the world’s way dismissed the principle of individual work and family responsibility and adopted the philosophy that “the government will take care of our needs” or “the government owes us a living.” Individual and family initiative was supplanted by government handouts. The true spirit of love for our neighbor and concern for others as taught by the Savior had been generally ignored.

A brief look at statistics highlights how far government has taken us down the road toward bankruptcy while at the same time destroying the will and incentive to work and earn what is received by the sweat of our brow.
"

Now, I agree with the leadership of the Church which has overwhelmingly and in no uncertain terms held that state socialism and state welfare are a "counterfeit alternative to the Lord's way" and part of a social mentality that "will make slaves of its citizens."

You are free to pooh-pooh me and the brethren all you like. But I am pleading with you to give ear to the LORD's servants and their warnings.

The Jews rejected the warnings of the prophets and deemed the destruction of Jerusalem and the terrible loss of liberty as unthinkable and impossible. We imagine that they must have all been completely wicked, they must have never attended to their religious services or read their scriptures or said their prayers. Indeed many of them did.

So why were they suffered to fall into such horrible tragedy? Because they supported the wicked leadership of Zedekiah and his cronies.

And what did Moroni say: "Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be."

Ignorance was no excuse when Babylon invaded Judea. The slavery that came upon the people came regardless of their knowledge of Zedekiah's wicked ways.

It is our duty to God, to our children, to one another, and to ourselves to prevent these combinations from bringing us into such terrible circumstances. The spirit and purpose of those supporting democratic state socialism may indeed be innocent and well intending, but it has been identified as a counterfeit and a tool in the hands of scheming men seeking our captivity.

Please give ear to these warnings and if it is your desire to temporally care for your fellow beings, let us do so together while also preserving our economic liberties, not only for ourselves, but more importantly for our posterity.

-a-train

The Faithful Dissident said...

Please give ear to these warnings and if it is your desire to temporally care for your fellow beings, let us do so together while also preserving our economic liberties, not only for ourselves, but more importantly for our posterity.

First of all, even if I heed these warnings, what am I going to do about it? Go around telling Norwegians that they need to scrap their system of gov't when most people in the world regard it as one of the world's best? Why would they want to fix something that isn't broken?

Secondly, let's assume that I did have the power to implement your prescribed system and abolish all income taxes. So I'll be making more money. How, then, am I, along with the few other people who will be willing to donate considerable sums of money, going to be able to supply everyone with the basics of life? In other words, the burden will be passed from the state onto the shoulders of those few who really do care about their fellow man but suddenly have to either:

a) support a large group of people on whatever they are able to make themselves

OR

b) spend all their time trying to convince everyone to give voluntarily to those who need it.

Good luck with either of those options.

Also, is not just just a tad unrealistic to expect a group of older conservative American religious leaders, probably most of whom had little to do with economics, to know how the world's economy should be operated? That quote from lds.org refers to the US Constitution. Where does that leave me?

John said...

All I can say is, the proof is in the pudding.

Could it be that members are scared that secular institutions have come closer to a society based on gospel standards than the land of Zion has? A society where education is available to all, no one loses their home or dies because they couldn't pay for healthcare, mothers can stay home with their newborn children without having to work, drug addicts, alcoholics, and criminals are rehabilitated, and citizens have time to spend with families?

mfranti said...

....i'm giddy like a kid who just won a bet.

thanks john.

a-train said...

"All I can say is, the proof is in the pudding.

Could it be that members are scared that secular institutions have come closer to a society based on gospel standards than the land of Zion has? A society where education is available to all, no one loses their home or dies because they couldn't pay for healthcare, mothers can stay home with their newborn children without having to work, drug addicts, alcoholics, and criminals are rehabilitated, and citizens have time to spend with families?


Certainly the U.S. can't be any example of this. The more state socialism that has been introduced, the worse education has become, medical care expenses have increased, the more mothers have had to work, the more drug abuse has come about, and the more crime has been perpetuated.

Regardless, it matters little what effect these programs have on society as they are brought about if their end result is a tyranny over the people from a privileged group.

The meaning of all of this to all nations is to beware of the international efforts to consolidate power, both political and economic, into the hands of states which in turn are giving up more and more economic and political powers to super-national governance which is heavily influenced by a tiny elite group.

Does it mean that we are advocating the dissolution of the government of Norway or any other state?

"Also, is not just just a tad unrealistic to expect a group of older conservative American religious leaders, probably most of whom had little to do with economics, to know how the world's economy should be operated?"

It is completely unrealistic. And no less realistic than to expect ANYONE to know how the world's economy should be operated.

Giving a small group the power to "operate" the world economy is making enormous assumptions. Do we really trust that they can "operate" the economy?

At the end of the day, we have Mormons pitting themselves against other Mormons and making accusations. Certainly there are those who believe in and support the position of Ezra Taft Benson in question who are just as much to blame for that activity.

I am not asking non-U.S. citizens to disavow their government and attempt to establish the U.S. Constitution as the law of their land. What I am asking others to do is to take the counsel of the prophets seriously and apply it as much as possible in your given countries. And, to refrain from ridiculing fellow latter-day saints who attempt to do so.

The prudent course of action in foreign lands in preventing centralized power in the hands of the not-so friendly is up to each individual.

As for U.S. citizens the counsel we have is to defend the Constitution and to prevent the loss of liberty and economic power held by the people.

-a-train

The Faithful Dissident said...

What I am asking others to do is to take the counsel of the prophets seriously and apply it as much as possible in your given countries. And, to refrain from ridiculing fellow latter-day saints who attempt to do so.

I'm not ridiculing Latter-day Saints who attempt to follow what ETB or the others talked about. What I do have a problem with is when Mormons proclaim their ideas to be the word of God just because ETB said it (which was the purpose of this post), even though when he said it he probably wasn't even the prophet. And even if he was, we don't believe in prophet infallibility. At least I don't.

The reality is that pretty much anyone, whether you're liberal, conservative, libertarian, or socialist, can all find something in the annals of Church history or teachings from some Church leader to seemingly support your political or economic position. There is plenty to seemingly support social democracy, just as there is plenty to seemingly support conservative libertarianism. We can each cite these teachings to defend our point of view, but I think it's pretty presumptuous for any of us to say "this is how God wants us to run the gov't and the world economy." There will never be a divine system until the Lord Himself comes again to implement it.

S. Logan said...

Sir,

I stumbled onto your post this evening and was quite entertained, thank you; however, I will have to sincerely and wholeheartedly disagree with you (philosophically, religiously, and politically). I understand that a majority of conservative members of the LDS church use President Benson's words as a "seal the deal" in any political argument (even when they disturbingly misapply the entire meanings of his quotes), and I understand the confusion and disharmony this causes in many fine brothers and sisters of the LDS faith who side with the Democratic Party. I have noticed that while the conservative members have a trump card in "the General Authorities said so", the liberal members of the church retaliate with their own trump "well, the prophet is not infallible". It appears no one can argue a principled debate, they have to rely on their own asinine opinions only with nothing to support them other than "he said she said" and "well, so what if they said that?"; one is a flippant "the prophet said so" and the other side says, "oh yeah, well he's sometimes wrong too". Common, is this really the best that everyone can come up with?

My background is in political science, philosophy, and ethnography; I study political theories and trends, minority aspirations, political and economic predictability, and the effects of the geographic realms in how these relate to governments, societies, and cultures in a financial/economic and corporate market. Without hesitation, from the vast resources available (college text books, historical biographies, theory books, words and addresses from political leaders, etc.), I can legitimately, confidently, and safely say that socialism and communism are identical twins, with one major exception: the way each is established and brought into power. Socialism is enacted over a sustained period of time by elections, due process, and popular vote, while communism is established instantly through a violent revolution; the ultimate manifestation of government is the same, merely the methods of arriving there are changed. Karl Marx himself stated that the reason he purported communism, was that he felt/saw that Fabian Socialism took too long too long to be established through due process -- what was needed was an instant revolution! Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Premier through the 60's, once stated that American Capitalism was too strong to take over with Communism, but that small doses of socialism (communist principles enacted over a period of time through due process) would be fed the American people until they woke up and one day found themselves communist. To date, all 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto have been established in the United States. How can a Russian regime possibly have power to influence our domestic policy in such a way as to legitimize this quote? The first step is to realize that socialism/communism is NOT a political form of government, it is a lifestyle, philosophy, thought, ideology, and religion. Because of the major wars around the world (especially those that the US has been involved in), it is taboo to possibly even think of accepting such atrocities like what we've seen in Communist Russia, China, and Germany; millions upon millions have died under the iron grip of communism, certainly we cannot possibly support such an ideology. This is the stated reason behind why the Socialist Party of the United States has buried the term communism from any of its forums, discussions, literature, or publications. What Socialist Parties conveniently forget to tell people is that the end ideology of Socialism IS, in fact, communism; Socialism has fought hard to be the "compassionate" party of the working man, by rejecting any association or support of the violent revolution caused by communism and the millions of people that were slaughtered under its regime (it's hard to claim compassion amidst so much genocide). But more on this later.

I know well of the talk you posted of Benson's in 1977; if you thought THAT was crazy, you should certainly read his "Proper Role of Government". This might just put you over the wall.

Instead of using "prophets, seers, and revelators" to combat the robbing sophistry of socialism, I will attempt to make an argument "secular" using other sources (after all, what do they know, right?).

The modern socialist today claims to be compassion incarnate; compassion on the poor, distressed, and downtrodden. How did these poor people get this way? There are many liberal theories, but they usually end with the favorite old chestnut: "the rich man put him there and is keeping him down". This is not a new argument; Aristotle argued this very principle and his solution is found in what is called "The Aristotelian Model". He argued that the rich man seeks to maintain his property and the expense of the poor man's rights, and the poor man seeks to maintain his rights at the expense of the rich man's property; after discussing many forms of government (self interested government (tyranny, oligarchy, and "democracy") (vs. common good government (royalty, aristocracy, and "republics"), he concludes that the only way to balance these two competing factors is to have a large middle class wherein everyone's self interest between property and rights is balanced. Notice his competing forms of governments? He starts with governments ruled by a single individual, a few individuals, and then finally by the whole; then he classifies them as "common good" governments or "self-interested" governments -- notice that he pits "Democracies" against "Republics". Democracies he places as self-interested (bad) forms of government, and Republics as common good (good). Nowadays we hear all the glorious praising of Democracy around the world, and how wonderful this is -- but we forget just how much the founding father's loathed "Democracy" and did everything within their power to create a government of "the People", without instituting a "Democracy". Few people understand this dichotomy between Republics and Democracies, but once understood -- the trends of socialism appear very heinous indeed.

The ultimate goal of political study is to find legitimacy and predictability in government; we, social "scientists" seek to find better and more effective, efficient, and substantial ways of protecting life, liberty, and property. How do we go about doing that? It's certainly a difficult subject. Legitimacy is the search for proper function of rulers; how did a ruler get into power? How are they administrating their power? How and why are they passing the legislation they are passing? etc. Perpetuating legitimacy in government is one of the greatest quests we have, and one of the most infringed upon areas in all of politics: government stepping outside its bounds in process of it carrying out functions and operations. The first and most important question in establishing government legitimacy is asking the question: Where did this government get its power? This is perhaps the most asked question in political science and philosophy; St. Augustine, St. Aquinas, Machiavelli, Burke, Hume, Calvin, Hobbes, Luther, Rousseau, Blackstone, Locke, Montesquieu, and many others -- this was their question. It wasn't until the Declaration of Independence that the long held dogma of "the Divine Right of Kings" was rejected for an adherence to "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" (Declaration of Independence). Thomas Paine wrote in "Rights of Man" (speaking within a paradigm after the rejection of the Divine Right of Kings), speaking of Constitutions, that there are only two ways wherein government may obtain legitimacy in operation: (1) through the people, and (2) through usurpation (the fabricating of some "right" of operation out of thin air). In arguing and defining what a Constitution IS, Paine went on to say that a Constitution is most certainly NOT a contract. Why? Because if it were a contract, then that would automatically assume that the Government were a separate party outside the people wherein it could be a contractual party! This one principle alone would completely undermine what a Constitution, by definition, IS: A document written by a sovereign body (in this case, since the Divine Right of Kings was rejected, the "people" were individually "sovereign"), wherein they state exactly what government can and cannot do. As if this understanding was ingrained enough within the political mindset of the time, the Constitution was given a Bill of Rights, as per the 9th and 10th Amendment, which further stated that if the Constitution didn't expressly say what government COULD do, then it automatically could NOT do it; furthermore, all powers, rights, privileges, and duties that were not specifically delegated to the government were expressly reserved by the people. This meant that the Government itself has no "rights" but only "duties" as listed within the Constitution. The Constitution in no way can ever tell the people what they can and cannot do, only what the government can and cannot do. This was the building block of our Constitution; however, in reading over the Constitutional Convention records and notes (as recorded by James Madison), the issue of legitimacy came up concerning the limits of the people in what they were allowed to delegate to government under the Constitution. Could the people grant to government the "duty" to commit genocide? After all, this would fall within the parameters of what a Constitution IS. Could the people tell the government that it could kill all male children between 2 and 4 years of age? Could the people amend the Constitution to delegate to government the "duty" of raping all 18 year old girls? Or even of forcefully aborting 1 out of 3 newborn babies? We cringe to even fathom such an instant, but this certain was of concern to the Founders exactly what the people would soon delegate to the government to do in their stead. Self-government is a great responsibility, after all.

At this point, it is necessary to talk about Article 4, Section IV, of the US Constitution. There is only one guarantee of the Constitution, and that is for a "Republican form of government". You will notice in the Constitution many improper words capitalized; this is not improper grammar (or it wasn't for its day, but was a way of emphasizing words and ideas) -- if you look in the Constitution, you will see that "Republican" was capitalized. This in no way refers to the Republican Party that we know of today (and thank the Lord for that, I despise the neo-conservative doctrines), but was in reference to over 2,000 years of political theories, definitions, and above all -- HISTORY. Machiavelli, the first accepted "political scientist" wrote in his masterful "Discources", that while "Democracies" have never lasted longer than 200 years, "Republics" have generally lasted for over 600 years. Why is this so? This flies in the face of everything we know of in our social networks, media, and most of our educational systems! James Madison (the "Father of the Constitution", who was an avid student of Machiavelli, deplored Democracy (as did Franklin, Washington, John and Samuel Adams, Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Roger Sherman, and countless others). In fact, to date, I have yet to find one source wherein ANY founding father promoted "Democracy". Again, why was this? Aristotle, Machivelli, Locke, Burke, and every major political scientist throughout history had differentiated between Democracy and Republics -- what is the difference? The difference is found solely in legitimacy.

Democracy's only stipulation for legitimacy, throughout all of history, is merely that of a majority vote; a popular majority vote, absolutely, with no exceptions. This, as our founder's called it, was "mobocracy". There is no right or wrong in Democracy, only the majority vote. History has shown that such systems end in violent and tyrannical take overs -- all in the name of the State, safety, and preservation. Because the only stipulation for legitimacy in a Democracy is a majority vote, this means that such actions as gang-rape, genocide, and confiscation of all property by the state can all be made legitimate and legal -- there is nothing to stop a frenzied majority. What is to stop a majority's rampage against a minority when the only stipulation for political action is a majority vote? The answer is simple: absolutely nothing. This is the stated reason why the founders hated Democracy.

Republics, however, are based on an entirely different premise of legitimacy. Republics, as opposed to Democracies, gain their legitimacy from laws. There are many differing Republics: dictatorial, constitutional, monarchical, oligarchical, etc. The stated Republics of China and No. Korea, for instance, claim to establish their laws from the dictates of the Communist Party. The question now is "What LAW does our Republic establish itself on"? The answer is found in the Declaration of Independence, "The Laws of Nature and of Nature's God". The Laws of Nature and of Nature's God is more than a catch phrase, it is a philosophical idea as proposed by the likes of John Locke in the time of The Enlightenment. Rousseau and Locke (as well as others), in rejecting the previously held notion of political legitimacy (Divine Choice), sought to find and reason what sort of creature man really is; by so doing, they figured the only way to possibly hypothesize concerning the nature of man was to return to the "state of nature" wherein man had evolved/ascended. What was the first government ever created? How was it formed? Who formed it? How did man interact with each other BEFORE government existed? Through this line of questioning, the first ideals of "rights" was born.

"Rights" as defined by our founders, were not a product of society; they were a natural process/occurrence of nature. It was not a man's "right" to have food provided for him, but as a creature of nature it was his right to obtain food without being prohibited, infringed, or curtailed. Man had a right to take care of himself, to live, and to operate -- to work and not be infringed upon. Housing was not a "right"; "medical attention" was not a "right". Man had a right to his life, his liberty, and his property ("property" being a catch phrase from Locke that described anything that was an extension of the individual: hair, clothes, voice, shoes, house, car, money, etc. -- anything that represented the individual). Man's right to his life, liberty, and property were limited, however, to the sphere wherein he could not infringe upon another individual's life, liberty, or property. Man's freedom of expressing his right of life, liberty, and property could not infringe upon another man's ability of doing the same.

As I have stated, the Constitution and our Republic was built on a premise of several individual sovereigns joining together delegating (not abdicating) certain aspects of their representation to another person to act in their stead. What is a sovereign? Term originated in Rome, however it gained its prominence is feudalistic Europe (especially England). The only "sovereign" in feudalism is the man who owned property in Allodial Freehold; this was, without exception, always the King -- in fact, it was because of the documentation of Allodial Freehold that made the King sovereign (and by default, he was dubbed "Divinely Commissioned"). Without going into a lot of detail, the King would allow men, women, and children to live on his land; however, since it was the King's land, he could enact certain stipulation (taxes, licenses, legislations, etc.). The people were powerless to do anything against the King, because, after all, the King owned ALL of the land -- the people had no choice no matter where they went. The people who were granted to live on the King's land (Lords, Knights, etc.) were grated "Real" (Royal) title; this meant that the person had the King's permission to live on his land, although they didn't actually own the land themselves but were only "stewards of it"; they were still responsible for paying rent (taxes and tributes) to the actual property owner (the Sovereign). Only, in very rare cases, would the King ever grant a portion of his land away in "Allodial Freehold" -- why? Because once a person lived on their own land, they were no longer subjects to the King! The King basically made them his equal. This single act of giving property in Allodial Freehold was what legitimized the individual's ability of being Sovereign; not until a person owned his own land in Allodial Title (as opposed to the King's land in REAL Estate)was he an actual "Sovereign". This single implication has severe consequences in America as to why the socialist paradigm is vile and corrupt, but the point is to understand the history behind "sovereignty".

Because the premise of our system of government was based on the idea that every individual was their own "sovereign" (and, yes, the United States DID actually begin with having Allodial Freehold as well), this meant that one person was theoretically equal to another -- no one person was above another. If ten sovereigns came together to override the one sovereign, the mere majority did not increase the legitimacy or sovereignty of the group over the individual; they are all equal in rights, abilities, and freedoms - there is nothing that they do not share naturally in common. Just because two individuals come together does not mean that they have more rights together than they do separate. The basic principle is that if the individual sovereign does not have the right to act in society within a particular action, then he does not have the ability of delegating this action to another person to act in his stead. If you have 10 sovereigns who have equal rights, their mere number does not automatically and magically produce a "right" collectively that they do not have individually. After all, the masses are merely a collection of individuals. In the United States, our founding philosophy was that all "rights" came from our Creator; originally, unless one could rationally prove that the "Creator" in a "state of nature" gave someone a "right", then it simply wasn't a right. Sadly, our society has progressed down a road wherein we believe that supposed practicality is more important than principle. Our society has falsely been led down the path from having their wants become their needs, and their needs becoming their "rights". Such was not the founding doctrine that made this country great.

Herein we finally have the foundation of understanding the dichotomy and premise between Democracies and our established Republic as based on Natural Law. Democracies care nothing for the individual, their only legitimacy is majority vote; there is no stipulation or perception in Democracy of an individual "sovereign". There are no "inalienable" rights in a Democracy, because, as stated, the only legitimacy, rights, or actions of society in a Democracy are what the majority say you have; by definition, if the majority can then vote the individual his rights, then the majority can vote away his rights -- this completely undermines the theory of "inalienable" rights as given by our "Creator". On the opposite side, however, concerning Republics, we see the rights of the individual protected against an encroaching majority. Gang rape is not okay in America because we believe that the individual has inalienable rights, regardless of what a threatening majority says. There is no magic ration wherein the majority can claim legitimacy to rape a women; it doesn't matter if it is 2:1, 10:1, 100:1, 100,000:1, or 10,000,000:1 -- no majority number can infringe upon the inalienable right of the individual (as was reasoned came from our "Creator"). Murder is not justifiable, even if the majority condones it, because the individual has inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property. Who gave the individual these "rights"? If it was the majority, then we must also stipulate that the majority can change their mind, repeal the right, and then murder the individual legitimately. Such is not the case in the United States.

Our Constitutional Republic is strictly UNdemocratic (intentially so, if you actually read the words of the founders); in fact, the only persons voted directly by "the People" according to the "original" Constitution were the House of Representatives. The Senate, the President, and the Supreme Court were not within the people's direct voting power. The President today still isn't -- in reality, it's according to the Electoral College (if we were a true Democracy, Al Gore, who one the popular vote, would have been President). The Supreme Court, one whole branch of government, is outside the direct voting power of the people. And the Senate was originally voted in by the State legislators.

I have personally talked to the EU Ambassador to the United States, His Excellency David Bruton, concerning European Democracy as opposed to American Republicanism. I questioned him on the EU's ability of protecting the rights of the individual against the onslaught of the majority's proven and eventual "mobocracy" mentality. I point out all of what I have presented here (as well as other things) in differentiating the differences between America and Democratic Europe. He said, emphatically, that the United States is not an established Democracy -- our Constitution, he said, prohibits it (due to Article 4, Section IV: the one and only "guarantee" in the entire Constitution). In order to preserve the rights of the individual in the EU, he stated the only possible way of maintaining such a system in an actual "Democracy" (which he proudly boasted of having)of protecting the individual from the onslaught of a majority was to do things by unanimous vote -- which, interestingly enough, is how the EU functions.

This all being said, let me come back to the vile issue of socialism. The most heinous and vile attacks on the individual sovereignty in America has come under the dark cloak of socialistic "compassion". Socialism AND Communism, wrote Karl Marx and many Fabian socialists, is the ultimate manifestation of "Democracy"! In fact, Socialism IS absolute social Democracy. In a Constitutional Republic, based on the premise of individual sovereignty, I cannot delegate a duty to government that I do not have the power of acting in by myself. Remember that a collection of individual sovereigns does not magically "assume" a power, because all people are naturally equal in a state of society and nature. I do not have the individual and inherent right, as a sovereign, to walk next door to my neighbor sovereign's door and forcefully exact any of his property from him -- this violates the very premise of what it has historically and legally meant to be "sovereign". Remember that his "property" is anything that is an extension of him: house, land, equity, car, money, etc... I do not have this right individually, nor is there any magic "right" magically assumed or created by joining with 10 other neighbors (also individual sovereigns) to exact anything from my neighbor by force. I CANNOT INFRINGE UPON MY NEIGHBOR AND MAINTAIN LEGITIMACY IN A CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC.

I can, however, combine against my neighbor (so long as I had a majority behind me) to exact whatever I wanted from him in a Democracy; there are no individual rights, sovereignty issues, or protections against the individual in a Democracy -- only what I can get the majority to accept and go along with. Why is social Democracy the absolute manifestation Socialism and Communism? What if all of Wal-Mart's employees all of a sudden rose up tomorrow and decided, simply by being the majority over a few business owners, that they were going to take control of the business; in a Democracy, they can do this -- after all, the only stipulation for legitimacy is majority vote. The proletariat would finally rise up against the bourgeoisie by mere virtue of being in the majority; socialism allows this process to happen overtime and through due process, and communism, as proposed by Karl Marx calls for this to be done overnight by a physical and violent takeover. The fundamental building block of socialism is Democracy!

Now, do I have the sovereign right of exacting money from one neighbor and giving it to another? If I were to go over right now to my neighbor's house and tell him that I absolutely needed 7% of his paycheck for the next 10 years so that I can turn around and give that money to someone else -- he would laugh at me and probably call the cops if I remotely pursued the subject. If I were to force the neighbor to give me money through threat, coercion, or mere manipulation -- that is legally defined as theft. I have infringed upon the inalienable rights of liberty and property of an individual sovereign. How then is it even vaguely possible that I can then hire another individual (my representative) to do that very same thing for me? I CANNOT do this and maintain legitimacy! Remember the old question posed by every political and philosophical scientist: where does government get its legitimacy to act? (1) either from the people, or (2) through usurpation. If I do not have the ability of exacting something myself, I cannot magically assume the ability to give it to my representative; as such, the government (by virtue of what a Constitution IS, and who I am as a sovereign) cannot exact anything from my neighbor that I can't do individually and maintain legitimacy -- the ONLY possible way government can exact any property from my neighbor is through assuming a duty I do not have the power to grant it -- THIS IS USURPATION!! This is the very definition of Tyranny (it is no longer ironic that communist and socialist regimes have all eventually ended in tyranny).

The United States was founded on the principles of a Constitutional Republic, but sadly we've moved towards being a Socialistic Democracy. Infringing upon the inalienable rights of the sovereign individual is NOT compassionate; without exception, every single time, socialist democracies have ended in tyranny, bloodshed, and war!

Our economic policies are crashing down around us; any person who studies population statistics can see the population implosion happening in Europe and Russia. Every "socialist" country right are the very ones suffering under the weight of corrupt government policies and corruption. The perceived prosperity that comes through Socialism is at best temporary; no socialist state has survived longer than 70 years without severe economic and political abuses.

The proven historical evolution of societies is absolute; we see it in historical text books -- as well as in our own Book of Mormon. On a religious note, in closing, you should really open your horizons to what your church actually teaches. If you think Benson was the only one speaking of politics, you are severely, severely, severely mistaken. Brigham Young and John Taylor's main reason for keeping Utah out from joining the Union was over the issue of Public Education (the Church strongly opposed it -- Brigham Young condemned it as a communistic evil -- which, according to the 10 planks of the Communist Manifesto, it is); John Taylor went on to be very vocal about principles of Government and politics; Wilford Woodruff was an ardent supporter of sovereignty and of a Constitutional Republic; Heber G. Grant issued a First Presidency message against Communism and Socialism; David O. McKay said that Socialism and Communism consisted of the "greatest Satanical threat" to America -- David O. McKay was far more vocal than Benson; J. Reuben Clark, Marion G. Romney, Marion Hanks, and many other Apostles and members of the First Presidency condemned socialism, government welfare, and everything associated to it. Politically, socialism is one of the greatest threats to peace and prosperity known in the annals of history; it will go down in history as one of the greatest frauds introduced into society.

May I suggest some reading for you: "Prophets, Principles, and National Survival" is a compilation of quotes from every General Authority, prophet, seer, and revelator who spoke against socialism and communism; it was promoted, in fact, over the pulpit during general conference; "Many Are Called, But Few Are Choosen" by H. Verlan Anderson. And, if you wanted to get a healthy dose of Benson: "An Enemy Hath Done This," "The Red Carpet," "The Title of Liberty," and "This Nation Shall Endure". I would also suggest you read Benson's "The Proper Role of Government" -- you can find it online by googling it.

Socialism and Communism, the Church has said, is the manifestation of the Church of Satan upon the earth (very strong statement -- the strongest, actually, that I've ever heard); you can either believe it and follow the counsel, or kick against the pricks.

I am sad that the Church is so widely Republican; there is so much vileness and corruption within the neo-conservative theory that I question the sanity of almost anyone who adheres to it. It is also sad that there is such a stigma against the Democratic members of the Church, but such is life. Hopefully, I have presented a fully reasoned argument without throwing up all the words of the prophets (except there at the end). There is much to be done in the way of good, but socialism only only a facade of the Kingdom of God -- it was Marx's intent to mimic Communism after the structure of the Christian church by merely substituting God for Government. Sadly, many people rely upon the "arm of flesh" and desire to make government their God, instead of relying on the Lord and his Church wherein we've been told there is enough in store to provide for everyone's necessities.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Well, obviously I don't have the time to even begin addressing a fraction of what you just wrote. A couple things, though, did jump out at me:

The perceived prosperity that comes through Socialism is at best temporary; no socialist state has survived longer than 70 years without severe economic and political abuses.

without exception, every single time, socialist democracies have ended in tyranny, bloodshed, and war!

Norway is approx. at the 65 year mark. So we have about 5 good years left before it all ends in tyranny, bloodshed and war.

John said...

That's quite a post. It's very rare that someone attacks democracy itself (at least openly).

I have quite a few issues with it, however, which I hope to address when I have more time.

For now, I just wanted to address the a few issues, especially the issue of democracy. The Book of Mormon teaches us that "it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law--to do business by the voice of the people."

Of course it doesn't say there will never be wrong decisions and choices made by the majority, but it does say that it is more common that the voice of the people will lead us aright, and I agree with that, no matter what the founding fathers believed.

The Church is also a democracy, as Joseph Smith taught (a theo-democracy as he liked to call it). Most members hold to the belief that the Church's name includes "of Latter-Day Saints" to differentiate us from the early Christian saints, but that's not what Joseph Smith taught. He taught that our name is included because we have just as much ownership of the Church as Christ has. He taught that revelation is received by the Church, presented to the membership for a vote (sustaining) and we are free to vote for or against revelation from Christ. He even went as far as to say that Christ would be bound by the will of the people in a theodemocracy, if they chose to reject his revelations through the democratic process. It doesn't change the truthfulness of the revelation, but it is the agreement Christ has made with His Church.

It is not right to argue that the U.S. is a republic and not a democracy, since it is a republican democracy (meaning both!).

Also, there seems to be some confusion in this thread, which I'm sure I may have been guilty of as well. This confusion is between social democracy and democratic socialism (which are not interchangable). Democratic socialism is the establishment of socialism through democratic means, while social democracy is the implementation of democracy in the social sphere and not just the political. For example, democratic socialism would call for the centralization of resources under the state through democratic means, while social democracy is saying that workers should have a say in the workplace, as much as the government. Both are forms of socialism (depending on who you ask) but one advocates for orthodox socialism, while the other includes a mixed economy.

I personally agree with some socialist principles, but not all, which is why I would consider myself a social democrat rather than a democratic socialist.

For instance, I do believe that if we are to pay taxes, than those taxes (our money) should go towards providing healthcare for ourselves and our fellow citizens, education as well, and social security for those in our society who are either elderly or unable to provide for themselves (handicapped, etc.).
I don't, however, believe all industry should be controlled or taken over by government. I do believe that employees should have a voice in private industry though. Since profits are basically how much something is worth, minus the amount you actually paid someone for it (in the case of labor, the amount the labor is worth minus how much the worker was actually paid), I think workers should be an integral part in determining wages, benefits, hours, etc.

The Faithful Dissident said...

John, thanks for that clarification of social democracy vs. democratic socialism. I am also guilty of using them interchangeably, but now I see the difference. I have said before that I regard myself as a social democrat, and now I see that that was accurate.

I also agree completely with those last two paragraphs.

Ben said...

It is quite apparent to me that very few here have a sound grasp on political and economic philosophy. (Let alone gospel principles as they relate to government and politics).
The notion that the Nephites had a Democracy is misguided. They had laws which were based on the laws of God given to them by Mosiah. These were the "laws of nature and nature's God" that Logan alludes to. Thus, they were a Republic.
Furthermore, if you want to quote scripture, start with what the Lord revealed about government in D&C 98 and 134. It is not right that one man should be enslaved to another. And yet, this is the goal of socialism: to enslave all men unto themselves. This is a topic dealt with extensively by Frederic Bastiat in his essay "The Law". You should read it if you purport to know anything about the relation of God to government.
You also have a very skewed understanding of Church government. The Church is NOT a democracy. I don't know where you pulled that from. Members sustain those chosen by revelation. When the twelve vote, it is not majority rules because the laws of God require unanimous action. "Be one" he commanded. But do you seriously think that Satan only lost the war in heaven because not enough people followed him? Do you think if he had 2/3 on his side, that he could have overthrown God's power and become God? You are seriously mistaken. We cannot become a law unto ourselves merely because we vote so.
If the Lord allows us to reject revelation by vote, it is just as with the ancient Israelites, who wanted a king and eventually got one, but to their own condemnation.
True, God will give us what we want, but that is not a violation of eternal law. Rather, we could have so much more freedom if we would have God as our king....not government.
You seem to have disdain for the founding fathers because you think their beliefs about government do not coincide with the Book of Mormon. If that were true, God would be contradicting himself. It is in fact not true and if you seriously study the principles of freedom in the Book of Mormon, you will find they are in perfect harmony with the principles of the Constitution. The Lord says so in D&C 98.
You say that if we are to pay taxes then they should be used for good purposes. How about no taxes? Hmmmm....no one really objects to that! God does not exact money from us by force. Why would government have the authority to do so? After all, government gets its power from God through the people. The whole premise of socialism is the premise of Satan's plan to save man. It is against the laws of nature and of nature's God. Maybe we should be discussing agency before anything else. It is apparent to me that the war in heaven still rages here on the earth and people still struggle to understand why freedom is just and true.

S. Logan said...

The Book of Mormon is decided not founded upon principles of "Democracy"; it is a common fallacy to believe that Democracy holds a monopoly on "voice of the people" governments. Different Republics are and are not founded upon "voice of the people systems"; while you may have a "democratic" Republic, this does not mean it is a "Democracy".

In the Book of Mormon we have multiple references to the established laws as put forth by Mosiah. In Helaman 4:22, for example, it reads: And they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws of Mosiah, or that which the Lord commanded him to give unto the people; and they saw that their laws had become corrupted, and that they had become a wicked people, insomuch that they were wicked even like unto the Lamanites". Near countless examples through Alma shows that the Lamanites labored under the delusion that "might makes right" and that mere majority might would conquer all. Mosiah had enacted the law before establishing a Republic; this law, as the BofM states, was in accordance to the law of Moses. Law, as defined in a very Hebrew sense, is defined merely as "the way things are". When you change a "law" in society, you seek to change the way things are and operate; when you seek to find a law in the physical sciences, you seek to find the way things operate and are naturally. Mosiah stated, "Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye ay be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, which were given them by the hand of the Lord. Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law --to do your business by the voice of the people. And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land. and now if ye have judges, and they do not judge you according to the law which has been given". (Mosiah 29:25-28)

There are several interesting facts in these few verses. First, that Mosiah enacted the premise of all laws to be in accordance with the already held laws as "given [them] by [their] fathers". Second, it was commanded the people (majority) to only rule in matters pertaining to the already established codex of laws as enacted by Mosiah -- those laws "which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord". The "business by the voice of the people" was to only be in accordance to the codex of laws as established by Mosiah; there were certain absolutes that could not be out-voted by a majority. This principle is present throughout the Book of Mormon, especially in description concerning how the government eventually fell apart due to party (tribe) politics.

Democracies are the Achilles Heel of Republics; again, as Helaman said, "...and they saw that they had been a stiffnecked people, and that they had set at naught the commandments of God; And that they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws of Mosiah, or that which the Lord had commanded him to give unto the people; and they saw that their laws had become corrupted, and that they had become a wicked people, insomuch that they were wicked even like unto the Lamanites" (Helaman 4:21-22). The people, who were told to arrange their "business" according to the previously established codex of laws (Republic), used the usurpation found in a majority only society (Democracy) into corrupting their laws due to their wickedness.

The Church is not a Democracy; while the members of the Church do sustain their leadership, it is against Church doctrine that the leaders are established by the voice of the Church. The Lord alone chooses his servants; the people can either support them, or turn a deaf ear to the leadership to their own condemnation. The principles does still stand, however, that the Lord gives his children what they want -- even if to their own condemnation (1 Samuel 8:6-10).

As with most liberals (and most conservatives for that matter), John appears to be "cherry picking" what words of the prophets he wants to quote and what he wants to leave behind. This is a dangerous road that only leads to confusion; sadly, most members of the Church do cherry pick their espoused doctrines -- they never humble themselves enough to try to understand WHY the prophets say something.

John didn't address anything of principle, order, or fundamental understanding in how government establishes legitimacy to exact taxes of the individual to provide for a "health care" system, education, or social security. Forget what history has taught, the founding fathers have said, or what our own prophets have reiterated time and time again...

Lastly, for those who have thus blogged, Socialism and Communism have nothing to do with the United Order; do more homework and look up the specific words of the prophets concerning the subject. The Church has had official statements wherein it declares the Satanic mimic that socialism bears to the United Order; there is as much compassion in Socialism, as there was mercy in Lucifer's pre-existent plan.

The Faithful Dissident said...

S. Logan, what are your thoughts about Ezra Taft Benson's teachings about the black civil rights movement being a "communist program?"

The Faithful Dissident said...

Actually, I address that question not just to S. Logan, but to A-train and others if you're still around.

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S. Logan said...

Many key supporters of the "black civil rights movement" were admitted communists; this is not speculation, finger pointing, or inflammatory libel -- it's just a matter of historic record. The Black Panther organization is/was blatantly and proudly Mao-Communist. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as a matter of public record, was sympathetic to communism and in fact attended communist training classes. Many of King's close associates and advisers throughout his entire life were also open members of the Communist Party itself.

Quite frankly, just because most key figures in the black civil rights movement were either sympathetic to or actual members of communism or the Communist Party does prove anything. When studying the philosophy, principles, and claims of legitimacy within the civil rights movement, however, a different picture emerges that what is often taught in high school history text books; it appears many of the particulars have been left out in substitution for a mere declaration of whatever theory the author prescribed to. I don't believe this is a "conspiracy" that most educational materials leave out most of the particulars concerning such movements as the "Civil Rights Movement," but it is human nature (as proven time and time again throughout history) for the text book's author to write with at least some semblance of bias. Much of what is taught in history books goes against public record, because we sometimes find it more comforting to see the world through filtered lenses than to see what really happened. I offer that as a possible suggestion as to why full disclosure is often left out of social and scholastic texts. The Civil Rights Movement is almost remembered in today's memory as a type of romantic revolution wherein an oppressed minority rose up amidst so much physical persecution and violence to break the bands of tyranny. To be sure, there was much persecution and violence (this is without argument; inhumane actions were carried out against Children of God, regardless of the color of skin), but where there happenings going on under the surface wherein key placed opportunists advanced a certain philosophy, ideology, or thought under the cloak of liberating an oppressed minority?

There are many fringe and disturbing ideologies that were once considered taboo in American politics and society that soon became commonplace -- "Human Rights" was one of these. The term "Human Rights" was a secularized term that was popularized by the civil rights movement in response to the Judeo-Christian ideology that advanced the idea of "Inalienable Right". Largely before woman's suffrage and the civil rights movement, "Human Rights" was not a well received catch-phrase in American society. Why? Because it rejected the foundational theory behind American legitimacy and law; the American Constitutional Republic declared its claim for legitimate independence by adhering to the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God". "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Unalienable rights were unalienable because no earthly or human power had bestowed the right to life or existence -- I did not have "rights" because I existed, I had "rights" because my "Creator" gave them to me. This metaphysical claim had never been made in the modern world, and such a claim to only adhere to "natural law" was quite shocking and tenacious to say the least. Many Fabian Socialists and Communists hated this foundation and principle of the United States' government, because they believed that such notions as a "Creator" made society soft and not "hard" enough to transcend the pressures of time (very Hitleresque). Their answer to the "Creator" given "unalienable rights" theory was to introduce a foundation and principle of legitimacy that rejected the existence of a Supreme Being, but legitimized a type of human right in itself; out of this thought was born the Human Rights movements; man had "rights" merely because he existed. On the surface, it was the same thing -- but the underlying premises were diametric.

The Human Rights movement worked masterfully in transitioning the public American mindset from believing in individual sovereignty and Unalienable Rights to a secularized belief in Human Rights. Some people have tried to justify the use of the "Human Rights" by saying that it's just a matter of semantics, that "unalienable rights" and "Human Rights" are really just the same thing; however, such people, without exception, when confronted with the evidence and historical context of how the phrase "Human Rights" came into existence in American have yet to show any shred of evidence to back up their claim.

Why is it important to transition the public thought away from individual sovereignty and unalienable right? When the public no longer believes in eternal absolutes as dictated by a "Creator," then all further discussions become completely subjective. Machiavelli talks at length concerning what it takes to subvert a people who have lived in a Republic to accepting Monarchical rule; what he found is that people who adhere to metaphysical beliefs (religious beliefs) of divine endowments are more difficult to transition and control than are the secularized citizens whose lives are completely subjective. The best way to subdue a society that has tasted and enjoyed self-government and individual sovereignty, is to divorce any metaphysical claim those people have TO self-government and individual sovereignty; once a populace no longer places legitimacy on metaphysical claims, all arguments become subjective -- this means that totalitarian or communistic government itself can be reasoned necessary in the preservation of "Human Rights". (Something that completely undermines a Constitutional Republic).

I don't personally know if there was a mastermind behind the black civil rights movement. The story behind Human Rights is but a drop in the bucket of many things pertaining to the changing ideology of America away from the founding beliefs of the founders. Many members of the LDS Church try to downplay the wisdom of the founders (their names, just as Joseph Smith, are truly had for good and evil), but one must remember our own theocracy and religion: "...I have established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood" (D&C 101:80); furthermore, we know that Wilford Woodruff said that these same founding fathers appeared to him in the St. George temple asking him for their work to be done (hence the large painting of the founders appearing before Wilford Woodruff in the St. George Temple's waiting room).

Benson did mention many times concerning the civil rights movement's involvement with communism. Well, the facts are that most of the key figures were actual self-proclaimed sympathizers, students, and/or members of communism or the Communist Party itself. As I stated, this doesn't prove that the movement itself was communist inspired; however, close examination of the doctrines of the civil rights movement follow very closely with the Communist Manifesto and other well known communist and socialist writings. Is this coincidence? We may never know, but Benson apparently thought it wasn't. For his time and place, we can hardly blame him; Communist Party leaders around the world were calling for the violent overthrow of America--how would it look today if we had people who were taking lessons from Al-Qaeda or the Taliban in "fundamentalistic-Islamo-Fascism"? I'm not saying King possibly ever even remotely exemplified this type of violent overthrow, but I use this as an analogy to put things into perspective.

I would suggest that you do your own due-diligence and find out for yourself; prayerful consideration in humbly supplication is most often the only way such answers will come concerning this subject material. It is sad that so many members blindly throw around cliches from Church leaders to try to prove a principle they know nothing about (most conservatives I know), and that most of the other half of the Church (most LDS liberals that I know) comes to the table of gospel revelation with a "doubt first, prove to me later" mentality. Both sides, it appears, greatly fall short in exercising humility unto understanding.

S. Logan said...

John,

That is about the typical response I would expect, more cherry picking of what General Authorities you want to listen to and which one's you want to reject. "Take it up" with Joseph Smith? No need to, I have 15 Prophets since him that have clarified Church doctrine to show the falseness of this specific doctrine you've purported -- let alone the multitude of Apostles as well.

The "people" are the legitimacy for the law? By this I assume you mean the people by majority vote? If majority vote, by the people, is your only stipulation for legitimacy, then you adhere to a system of government that legitimizes genocide; The Hutu far outnumbered the Tutsi when they started their ethnic cleansing in Rwanda (killing some 800,000+ people). This genocide, when you only stipulate majority rule systems as source for legitimacy, is absolutely legal and legitimate. It appears your proposed system of legitimate government is the one that needs a healthy does of compassion.

"Social Democracies" do enact "laws" to "protect" minorities, you're actually right about this one (though I don't know why you brought it up). The question was never whether Socialist Democracies have "laws" protecting minorities, it was the foundational premise of government that was in question. In Social Democracies, the rights of the individual and minorities come from the majority, all of the time, without exception. A benevolent majority will "protect" the rights of certain minorities, but, again, the stipulation and foundation of individual rights for these minority groups are not reasoned "unalienable" -- any perceived freedom is at the whim of the majority's benevolence.

Although I much enjoy "Approaching Zion" and actually own the book, Hugh Nibley's definition of "property" is not the definition this nation or its laws were founded on and is thus irrelevant in this discussion; thanks for the logically fallacy though.

Your comment about Republics shows that you know nothing about them; as I stated in my original post, each Republic is based on a different set of laws whereby the people are to adhere to. In the Book of Mormon, the "voice of the people" had to do all their "business" according to the established codex of laws as instituted by Mosiah -- their Republic was debased once they shifted towards becoming a Democracy wherein their "laws" then became corrupted (Mosiah 29; Hel 4); in the PRC (People's Republic of China) the people must do their "business" according to the established and arbitrary mandates as espoused by the CPC (Communist Party of China); in the United States, we built our Republic upon the reasoned "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God". Just like the Nephites, our Constitutional Republic's legitimacy is found in "Natural Law". The people, as individual sovereigns, must conduct their interacting business in accordance with "Natural Law". The sovereign individuals may then have full interaction with each other in society as they adhere to this premise and stipulation of law. As John Adams once said, "man cannot make law", he can only "define it" - only God, he said, can "make" law (he was of course, speaking of the "natural law" wherein the US was to be governed). If you have any confusion as to what "Natural Law" is, then I suggest picking up a few historical and philosophical books about the Enlightenment and become informed.

You have an interesting take on what you consider as "anger". If someone proves you wrong, you automatically consider them angry? That's not a very intelligent course of action, and is only ever successful when talking to a small selection of children.

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

The thing is, social democracy allows for your opinion as well as mine. In our winner takes all form of government, if your views fall anywhere outside of the two parties, than too bad. Todays social democracies are parliamentary, which means there is a wider array of opinions which contribute.
If the labor party wants to win over the majority, they would have to win over more than just their base, they would have to win over other representatives from other parties which they might not agree with entirely. In my opinion, this puts greater checks and balances on the government than the U.S. Constitution, which after all is just a piece of paper to be ignored or interpreted or changed by whatever party is in vogue for the moment.
So while you see a monster in embryo when you look at social democracies, I see a successful form of government that guarantess justice to owners of capital and workers, leftists and right-wingers, as well as containing a greater measure of checks and balances. It contains a mixed economy with greater social mobility than the U.S. (look it up, it's true) and things like healthcare, education, and care for the needy isn't driven by profits.
Maybe my arguments don't read like a doctoral thesis, but I feel they are pretty straightforward and can carry their own weight. It is a more just form of government than we now have in the U.S., and I feel it's not just my opinion, but the facts point to the same. Perhaps we can develope something better in the U.S. but I strongly disagree with how you seem to want to achieve this.

John said...

I was rather irritated by what comes across as arrogance from your posts S. Logan. It very much comes across from your posts that you feel your view is the spiritually enlightened, educated one and that if only the rest of us were as humble and prayerful as you, we would come to the one true political interpretation. This sucked me into being overly sarcastic and argumentative, so I deleted my post and apologize.

What I want to say, however, and what I find many others trying to say (like Faithful Dissident) is that members of the Church can expand their political horizons. I strongly disagree with you that social democracy is the evil that the Lord has warned us against. I do believe that the Lord has warned us against authoritarian forms of socialism or socialism ruled by the few, and in this light I agree with much of what leaders have said. I do not agree with Benson on his politics, and neither did others (including other apostles and leaders of the Church). As Brigham Young once taught, there is truth even in hell, and that truth belongs to Mormonism. Is that not the case with socialism? Surely the success of social democracies prove those scriptures true which state that God will pour out blessings and protect those societies that care for the poor, the sick and the afflicted.

I think if the Church was as adamantly opposed to social democracy in it's form today, we would be hearing about it. Especially since we now know that the Church is not afraid to enter the political arena since Prop 8.

I honestly do not know where your arguments are going though. Are you arguing that the social democracies, no matter how much more successful, will be corrupted? If that is your argument, than I do not see why you are making it, since this would be true of any political system. Are you arguing that democracy is an evil to be avoided? Because if you do, who do you believe will be the guardians of the "natural laws"? The wealthy few? The educated few? The powerful few? Or are you arguing that a single document would be sufficient and require no sovereignty, whether from the people or from some vanguard to protect the rights it guarantees and protects? Are you arguing that Latter-Day saints should be separatists, living their own political system and to hell with the rest? Other than being against democracy and social democracy, what exactly are you saying?
Maybe you already made it clear, but it seems to be all muddled in what appears to be an attempt to either show off how intellectual you are, or you simply are an intellectual and are incapable of presenting your thoughts to us common folk.

Ben said...

I am not sure why calling someone more intellectual than you is a basis for winning an argument against him.
Anyway, the main point about social democracies is not about corruption, although, as you say, this is certainly a concern. The point is that they are INHERENTLY against the laws of God.
A group of people have no more inalienable rights than an individual simply because there are more of them. Thus, a government by the people has no more rights than any individual in that society. Thus, if I do not have the right to take from my neighbor his property by force and give it to another, the government cannot have this right. This is because I could not have given government this right and the majority cannot have given it this right because God did not give any person that right. That's in the Ten Commandments...as well as coveting.
This is the premise that undermines socialism. Remove agency, and there is no virtue. Socialism forces me to comply with its perceived way of "taking care of the needy" rather than allowing me to choose how I will do so or if I will do so at all. This is why socialism can be referred to as Satan's plan, because they have the same premise. That is: the people will not willingly help the poor sufficiently, thus, government must force them to do so for the best outcome of society.
Again, this is the same battle that was fought in heaven.
Applying the principles of the gospel can go a long way to helping us make correct judgments. Thus, we need not be commanded in all things by the leaders of the Church.

John said...

Well, first off, I didn't make any such claim that being intellectual means I win the argument. In fact, I'm not out to "win", rather I'm out to express my viewpoint and argue that it is just as legitimate as anothers.

What I am asking, is that we cut through the overly complex language and layered arguments and present them in a way that is accessible to all. Imagine if missionaries tried to present their thoughts as if they were presenting a theological debate to the Harvard school of divinity. I mean, really, this is a blog, not a scientific journal.

You did really well in presenting your views in a clear and precise way, so why can't Logan? Did you at all understand what Logan was arguing for in place of democracy? All I was able to determine is that he favors the rule of law (which I actually don't see being disputed here by the way) but I don't understand who he is arguing should be the administrators of that law. If he is truly harkening back to the founding fathers, than he would be arguing that only wealthy white men who own property should.

Of course we are not to be commanded in all things, but does this mean we are to have to no commandments and no laws? Of course not!

There is a story in Church history of a woman who was making the journey from Nauvoo to Utah during the exodus. Her child was starving to death, so she stopped at a potatoe farm and asked the woman who lived there if she could have a potatoe. The woman refused and the child died of starvation shortly afterwards.

What is the difference when those of us who can afford to give of our resources to provide healthcare refuse to do so? People are dying of preventable disease simply because the treatment they need is not covered by their insurance or they simply do not have insurance. At this point, it is no longer a matter of charity, it is a matter of humanity.

I believe it is just and legitimate for the people then to unite and demand that those who have the resources give their fair share to providing for those who's health and life stand in the balance. I think it would have been just as legitimate for the saints to have organized, stormed this woman's farm and taken the potatoe for the child.

a-train said...

Therefore what?

What do we do?

We have Christ as our King. We work together and with all those engaged in helping the poor, but we do not turn our obligation to the poor over to the cold heartless bureaucracies of government and we certainly don't turn the poor themselves over either. We teach our children how to be self sufficient and how to help others do the same.

We preserve the property rights of the individual and use what political influence we have to prevent the masses from infringing on these rights.

We work to prevent the further centralization of political and economic power into the the hands of big government (which will ultimately be in the hands of a small elite).

If each township or community worked together to see that there were none among them suffering poverty, there would be no cry for federal programs to save the poverty stricken.

In all the centrally controlled educational programs, self-sufficiency and private care for the needy is over-looked while dependency on government is fostered. We must reverse that trend by teaching our children the truth, that government cannot be depended on just as it was insufficient in examples such as Katrina.

Slave owners need dependent slaves. Self-sufficient people do not make good slaves. And what is self-sufficiency? It is reliance on God and not on man.

This is not a left-right argument. I am not a Bush supporter or a McCain supporter or a Republican. I am not an Obama supporter or a Democrat. The principles we are talking about transcend the left-right dichotomy. Left-right argues about how government should provide for the poor, we are saying government should NOT provide for the poor, but the people should.

We MUST protect economic freedom. Without it, we will lose all other freedoms as well. We will become dependent on government and when it fails to deliver, we will suffer.

We must work for freedom in government and lend ourselves to public service.

These are among the things we must do.

-a-train

a-train said...

"If he is truly harkening back to the founding fathers, than he would be arguing that only wealthy white men who own property should."

Which Founding Fathers argued that only wealthy white men owning property should be administrators of the law?

Many of them were abolitionists who also believed in women's suffrage. Were you aware that free black men had voting rights in many states during the time of the Framers?

Were you aware that Thomas Jefferson included the British use of black slavery in his list of grievances committed by King George in the Declaration of Independence, but it was stricken from the document under pressure from certain southern representatives?

That is the tip of the iceberg. Many of the Framers looked forward to and worked for progression toward abolition and universal suffrage among other things that took generations to accomplish.

-a-train

S. Logan said...

The Lord certainly has prescribed a way of providing for the poor, sick, widowed, fatherless, orphan, and all other social evils -- but we must have an eternal perspective in how we deal with this evils. The baby who died has received a celestial reward, as has the suffering mother who sacrificed all to live the truth that she had been given. The women who withheld her substance, she will have her reward too. The Lord has forever allowed bad things to happen to good/righteous people; this he does so that his "judgments may be just". The story of the beggar Lazarus comes to mind (Luke 16:19-25), however the scriptures are loaded with similar examples to illustrate this principle.

I don't know who isn't for helping the poor; but nothing in Christ's doctrine gives room for assumed collectivist rights stealing from one by force to give to another in need. Bad things will happen to good people, but we must remember that the Lord has made the rich and the poor; the poor must not covet and take by force the property of the rich, and the rich are under commandment of God to be humble and give of their substance to the poor. In all these things it is absolutely critical that we must keep inviolate the "Ancient Law of Liberty".

Since High Nibley was brought up in a previous post, I'll use him here. In all our political actions, we must always maintain the "law of liberty" which is much akin to the "freedom of conscience". We cannot be justified in violating one of God's commandments in our quest to obey another (and, no, Nephi killing Laban is not an example against this. Enough texts from the leaders and scholars of the Church have shown that Nephi was in his rights--both morally and legally-- to kill Laban). Section 134 says that good government MUST allow for freedom of conscience. What more principle of conscience is there than how I personally choose to take care of the poor, sick, and afflicted? I must be allowed to move and act in my conscience in how I work and deal with my fellow man; this is the basic building block of the Plan of Salvation and agency. This is what Hugh Nibley talks about concerning the "Ancient Law of Liberty" (you can youtube this talk and hear it there; very masterful work).

"Is man capable of self government?", Hugh Nibley asks in ALoL. Absolutely; in fact, he is hardwired for it. If man is therefore capable of self-government, then it is not just to compel him to do anything "righteous" (this was Lucifer's plan). Man must be allowed to make mistakes without someone exacting or compelling him to be virtuous, humble, or giving.

In order for the Lord to prosper our country, we must take care of our poor; otherwise, the Lord will cease to protect such a nation. The Lord, however, has diligently established how HE wishes the poor to be taken care of, and like He has always done -- he has revealed this way to his servants, the Prophets. We then have a choice: (1) we can heed their counsel and become personally tenacious in providing for the poor according to the Lord's proscribed and established way, or (2) we can turn a deaf ear to prophetic counsel and justify our actions by merely shrugging off that such counsel was "merely the Prophet's own personal opinion".

BEN said...

I think a-train understands where I am coming from.
Yes, I do understand what Logan was talking about and I wholeheartedly agree, even though I see your point about diction.
The whole crux of the matter lies in your statement at the end John:

I believe it is just and legitimate for the people then to unite and demand that those who have the resources give their fair share to providing for those who's health and life stand in the balance. I think it would have been just as legitimate for the saints to have organized, stormed this woman's farm and taken the [potato] for the child.

There is only virtue in helping the poor if one does it voluntarily. If he is forced to do it, those who are forcing him are doing no justice at all. Charity must be voluntary. If people want to group together to organize it, that is fine, but the government should not be forcing people to participate. Again, this is the principle of the war in heaven. We have to agree on this at least.
This is why Logan is arguing against democracy. Your so-called social justice would have the majority commit plunder on the minority simply because it is "right". Well, guess what? It is wrong no matter how evil the person is or seems to be. God is the only judge of conscience. Even the United Order does not forcibly take property. If a person does not want to participate, he is free to leave AND TAKE HIS PROPERTY WITH HIM.
This is what socialists will never understand. Again, there is NO VIRTUE when agency is removed.

John said...

Again, at the point that one's life is in the balance, it is no longer a matter of charity but of humanity. In my view it is just as much a crime to standby eating a steak while someone starves to death as it would be to standby while someone is bludgeoned to death, and that is essentially what happens when you have individuals living under immense wealth while others die from sickness or lack of shelter or sufficient nutrition.

The thing is, I do not believe that social democracy is incompatible with our republican democracy. Sweden is probably the most successful social democracy and yet they are a monarchy. I am obviously not arguing that we become a monarchy. Social democracy is a system in which workers and investors have a voice in industry and economics, as well as the political sphere, and that in no way contradicts our form of government.

Social democracy is not incompatible with capitalism either, as Sweden's Ikea would be an example, or Germany's BMW or Volkswagon. Instead, social democracy allows for a mixed economy. The traditional view is that the choice is either full socialism or full capitalism, but Canada, Scandinavia, and numerous members of the EU have proven that to be false. While far right and far left idealogues may still hold to the old idea, we are now understanding that it is a false dilemma.

In regards to property, am I to believe that labor is not the property of the worker, and therefore he should be deprived of a say in what his labor is worth? What I feel is really being argued is that property, in terms of money, cars, land, etc. deserves to have all the say and labor is to have none. To be fair, some argue that the right to quit and look for other work is the power of labor, but is that really an option? If labor standards are low (as they are in the U.S. in comparison to social democracies) than quitting a job and getting a new one isn't really going to do much other than create a break in my employment history. As the example was given, I may quit WalMart and get a job at Office Max, but are my benefits of my pay going to really be worth the risk?

As to inalienable rights, we are all agreed (I think) that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are among them. Based on that, if life is an inalienable right, than shouldn't our society guarantee that right with minimal standards in terms of housing, clothing, and food? That is what welfare is. It is guaranteeing a minimal standard of living (very, very minimal!).

Wouldn't healthcare then also be a right, seeing that life is an inalienable right, wouldn't that include sustaining that life?

As to liberty, can someone truly have liberty if they do not have at least a minimal education? Can someone be a wage slave and simultaneously have liberty? If keeping a job where I am exploited, my labor is devalued and I have no say or rights is the only way I can keep from losing the ability to provide for my family, myself, and my home, can I truly have liberty? Of course this wouldn't be an issue to wealthy individuals, but it is a very real issue for many Americans.

I see no contradiction in the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a social democracy.

In my opinion, the arguments provided are just a way to cloud the fact that what is really desired is not the protection of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but in reality to preserve the rights of those who have over those who have not.

As to the scriptures, it seems rather odd to me that God would condemn entire societies for not providing for the sick, the poor, and the afflicted if it were only a matter of individual charitable contributions. For instance, we are told that Sodom was destroyed because "this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."
-Ezekiel 16: 49

John said...

As to the left vs. right issue, I think there seems to be just as much confusion here as elsewhere. There is very much a left vs. right thing going on here. I am arguing that the means of production should not be in the hands of owners and capitalists (which is very much a left wing viewpoint) while others are arguing for the rights of property in terms of the means of production being in the hands of investors and capitalists.

And for the record, I am not a Republican or a Democrat either, and in the election I voted for Ralph Nader, which is on the libertarian-left as compared to Ron Paul who is on the libertarian-right.

John said...

Which Founding Fathers argued that only wealthy white men owning property should be administrators of the law?

Thomas Jefferson for one, James Madison for another. Thomas Jefferson believed a man could not be independent if he were employed by another, therefore he believed only men with property were free enough to participate in government. Black men and women were not allowed to vote at all, and despite arguments against slavery, Jefferson and other founding fathers owned slaves themselves. Some of the founding fathers freed their slaves while alive or after their death, but Jefferson did neither.

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Faithful Dissident said...

S. Logan, first of all I want to thank you for the insight you provided regarding ETB, black civil rights, and communism. I think that I understand it better now and although I still disagree with him for opposing it and am disappointed that he didn't see it for what it really was, I understand he was human and could have come to the conclusion that he did.

In my latest post, you commeted: "I enjoyed your post. I was not aware you were from outside the United States; my previous comments would have taken a different tone had I known."

It was perhaps wrong for me to assume that it was clear in that post that I'm not American, so I can see why you perhaps thought that I was just an American living abroad. Actually, I'm Canadian, married to a Norwegian and therefore have been living in Norway for the past 6 years. One more thing, in your first comment, you addressed me as "Dear Sir." I'm actually a "Dear Madam." Not that it really matters, just thought you would like to know. :)

I have to ask, though. Why would your tone have been any different if you had known that I wasn't American? We are all, after all, Mormons, and what you have been saying all along is that social democracy is Satan's counterfeit plan that's going to blow up in our faces after a maximum of 70 years, if history repeats itself (I am curious, by the way, which social democracies you were referring to when you made that assertion). If I'm truly living at the heart of this "evil," then why tone it down just for my sake? And why do I not hear anything about it at church? With all the "socialists" that there are in the LDS Church in Europe, why is the Church not attacking "Satan's plan" at its very core (i.e. Europe)? In the 6 years I have lived here, I have never heard anything about it at church and I can assure you that virtually everyone would be utterly oblivious to it.

You said: "The Lord, it says in the D&C, made the rich AND the poor -- each for his own purpose. The Lord has designated HIS way of providing for the poor and has warned us of the adversary's counterfeits."

If everyone in the world was a faithful Mormon and was willing to embrace the Lord's system with open arms, then of course even social democracy would pale in comparison. If our choice for gov't was between the Lord's perfected plan or social democracy, then it truly would be a "counterfeit plan." But the whole point is that the Lord is not our head of gov't and will not be until He comes again to claim that throne. Not only that, but we are living in a world where those who share our faith are a very tiny minority. Getting every Mormon on board with the Lord's plan would be hard enough, let alone the rest of the world -- or even just the rest of America.

You also said: "I cannot see the Lord smiling on forceful compliance to his commandments -- even if it is his children's duty to provide for the poor."

I think you're over dramatizing here what it's really about. Social democracy is not the Gospel. It's a system of gov't. And it's not the Lord's plan. It's not about enforcing or not enforcing "his commandments." That's not the gov't's job, at least not right now. When politicians in Scandinavia implemented social democracy, I doubt that they were focusing on enforcing the commandments of God. I think what they were focusing on was humanity, as John was talking about. Scandinavians are among the most godless people on earth. Few go to church or practice anything more than lip service. There are also many humanists and atheists here. Ironically, though, people are better of than anywhere else in the world because even those who don't believe in God uphold the values of humanity. I'm sure that most people here give little thought to God and most think that they have earned everything they have themselves. It's too bad that they are that way, but I have to say I'm very grateful that they at least place value on humanity. America is a much more religious society than Norway and yet Americans seem to have so little regard for humanity. Scandinavians' motivation may not be what it should be (i.e. serving God), but the end result is nowhere near evil. It has provided millions of people with freedom, safety, stability, and an excellent standard of living. I think about this every time I go to the doctor, if I have to take time off from work because of illness, or when the dementia patients I work with are able to spend their last days being tended to in a quality care facility. I shudder to think what this country would be like if it were all left up to charitable people. So I have to disagree with you that the Lord is not smiling upon social democracy. I don't think that He looks at forcing citizens of a country to pay income tax as "enforcing his commandments." If the gov't was forcing people to not commit adultery, then that would be an example of forcing them to keep the Lord's commandments. I think that He's happy that we have managed to establish a peaceful, democratic gov't where people aren't homeless and starving to death. Frankly, I think that He has plenty of better things to frown at in this society.

On the subject of charity, I agree that it can't/shouldn't be enforced. But you and I probably disagree on the definition of charity. You seem to be of the opinion that providing health care is a charitable action, and so using tax money to fund it is "forced charity." Why, then, is using tax money to fund your local firehouse not "forced charity?" If your house catches fire, why should anyone be forced to put out the fire? Why not leave it up to the goodness of people's hearts to either donate money to firefighters or put out the fire themselves? So when Ben said, Charity must be voluntary. If people want to group together to organize it, that is fine, but the government should not be forcing people to participate. Again, this is the principle of the war in heaven. We have to agree on this at least, I actually agree with him. But we obviously have different ideas of what constitutes "charity."

On the subject of voting, although the social democrat philosophy is the one that I identify with most, I think that you could also in a way call me an "independent." I actually voted conservative in Canada the first time I was eligible to vote and I would perhaps do it again if I agreed with their platform during a specific election, although I would most likely vote liberal now that I know more. Conservative in Canada can't really be compared to American Republicanism, which I can't imagine ever voting for if I were American. In Norway I can't vote because I'm not a citizen, but there are 2 or 3 different parties that I would consider voting for if I could.

RAP08 said...

John said -

I believe it is just and legitimate for the people then to unite and demand that those who have the resources give their fair share to providing for those who's health and life stand in the balance. I think it would have been just as legitimate for the saints to have organized, stormed this woman's farm and taken the [potato] for the child.

Ok you just lost me there. I have been reading the discussion with interest, but not being a big history or politics buff had nothing to add to the discussion.

It would have been wrong for the saints to take anything from the farmer!!! I do wonder that this sister was in a group of the saints and could not feed her child with out charity from a stranger, does not reflect well on the group she was with.

If we take your example and expand it from a micro scale to a macro scale, it would be appropriate for sub-Sahara Africa, Bangladesh, or North Korea to organize and storm Europe or US to take what they need to survive!!

I agree with the other posts that to take something from a person against their will to help another person is wrong, charitable or humanitarian. I think that these services should be supplied through non governmental organizations, like the church, and that all donations should be voluntary.

To legislate all of God’s commandments would be to implement Satan’s plan. We are in this life to prove that we will chose for ourselves to do what is right, once we have no choice then what is the point?

I am reminded of the story of the widow’s mites. The Savior did not say “we should go to the rich people’s home and take what is needed”, nor did he say they were not keeping the commandments, he simply said that she gave more. He did condemn the excesses of the scribes, but again he did not espouse forcing them to be humble.

I personally think there are a lot of people who have big hearts and are willing to help those in need.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Rap08, I disagree. In a life or death situation, when the resources are staring you in the face (as in the case of the potatoes), you have to act. If you had a starving child in your arms and your only choice was to take that potato, would you not take it? If you were travelling with a group of people in freezing conditions and one person had 3 coats, while another had none, would you not demand one of his coats in order to preserve life? I don't think John meant that we should steal luxury items from others just so that everyone can have a comfortable lifestyle. We're talking about preserving life. If we fail to act to save someone's life when we can, then I think we're guilty of something worse than theft.

You are perhaps familiar with the story of Jean val Jean. Are you saying that it was wrong of him to take that loaf of bread in order to feed himself and his family? No one was giving it to him. If it wasn't wrong for him, then how is the potato analogy any different?

RAP08 said...

Faithful-

It is funny that you mentioned Jean val Jean, I had thought of the same story. Did he really help his family by stealing? No he was caught and sent to prison to never see them again. This of course would lead into a discussion of justice verses mercy, and I agree no mercy was shown him. Nor was any to the poor lady in the original story.

I just think of the scripture that God can not look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. I do not think stealing can ever be justified.

Now as a father of three what would I do if they were starving? I honetly do not know. Could I walk away, as the lady did, from the food and let them die? I don't know, but if I did take the food I know I would be under condemnation for that act. I would have to repent and make restitution!

Going back to my analogy of poor countries coming and taking what they need, do you think this is justified?

Millions of people are starving all over the world. Are we then hypocrits to say we will help the people in our town, county, state, country, but not the whole world? Who is our neighbor?

Now I think there are a lot of practical issues with helping everyone in the world, mostly the governments of their own countries.

So should we form a world government that would then take care of everyone?

I would say no. Mostly because I do not trust men with that much power.

"We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion."

Should we give to the red cross/crescent and other organizations that help in other countries?

I would say yes.

I want to make clear I do not have any problem with helping people it is just the way that help is delivered and for how long.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Rap 08, funny how we thought of the same story and took different things from it. :)

I just think of the scripture that God can not look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. I do not think stealing can ever be justified.

I agree, but I sort of think of this like an "Eve and the apple" situation. "Damned if you do, damned if you don't." Eve sinned, just as Jean val Jean did, and both had to pay the price. In Jean's case, no mercy was shown and that price ended up being exorbitant -- enough so to make one wonder whether it was really worth it.

Going back to my analogy of poor countries coming and taking what they need, do you think this is justified?

If it's a matter of life and death for them, I say yes. However, justice would require a price for stealing. Then it would be up to us to extend mercy. Hopefully we would.

Millions of people are starving all over the world. Are we then hypocrits to say we will help the people in our town, county, state, country, but not the whole world? Who is our neighbor?

I think that that would make us hypocrites. Of course, though, we have to start at home. If we can't take care of ourselves, we can't help others. The problem we face with most of the starving countries of the world is that war and corruption stand in our way. I think that every famine in the world today is man-made. Natural disasters can strike, but with our technology and communication in 2008, no one should have to starve. But the Robert Mugabes of the world are what stop us, along with greed and apathy among those who have the resources.

So should we form a world government that would then take care of everyone? I would say no. Mostly because I do not trust men with that much power. Should we give to the red cross/crescent and other organizations that help in other countries? I would say yes.

But organizations such as Red Cross/Red Crescent are run by men. They may not have the power that a gov't does, but some charities can be just as corrupt as gov'ts. Red Cross was in hot water after 9/11 when millions and millions of dollars were donated but were not used for that which the donors intended. I have a sister-in-law who works for Save The Children and I question some of their practices. But I still give these organizations the benefit of the doubt and know that despite their faults, they are good for the most part.

When you ask:

"So should we form a world government that would then take care of everyone?"

I guess it depends on what you mean by "take care of everyone." That everyone should automatically be able to live as middle class or have access to a car, of course not. But to have access to decent food, clean water, basic shelter and health care? I would say yes, a responsible gov't should regard that as a minimum standard. When people have the basics (or better), there is a better foundation for establishing peace.

RAP08 said...

Faithful –

Good point about the charities being run by men also. My initial reaction is that a charity that was too corrupt would lose the support of the people. I guess that is what has happened to me regarding government. I have seen to many examples of how governments have not delivered what is promised.

The problem is I can not decide who I pay taxes to; I would end up in jail. I can how ever change who my donations go to. This is also preferred in my mind as the causes which I chose to support change. I may give to a cancer foundation for a while due to a family member or friend who is diagnosed. As I am made aware of other needs I can easily change my contribution, education, local community services, medical research, food for Africa or the veteran at the super market.

I personally think we should, as you indicated, start at home and family and then our community. I think the best programs are the ones run and supported at a local level. This may rise from my being able to see the benefit. Money that goes to help others far away always leaves a question in my mind, did it really get there? I may be too cynical :)

Ben said...

The point is still being missed by Faithful and John. The question is not whether those in need are helped, it is how that comes about. It cannot come about by compulsory means, otherwise the means exact injustice in and of themselves. This is explained well by Bastiat in "The Law".
I seek a government which is limited in its power, not one that is unlimited.
Even after all the explanations though, you still fail to understand basic principles of property rights and rule of law. That is sad.

samlund said...

It is important to remember in this discussion our understanding of the perfect economic system as described in 4th Nephi:
And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free...there were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there lamanites, nor any manner of -ites;

This system is not achieved through force however. It can only be achieved as individuals give their all to God voluntarily.

Libertarians and socialists both have it wrong. The libertarian would say that the perfect society can be achieved as the individual is allowed to follow his own selfish interests. The government (if there is one) would be limited to defense of life, and property. There would be so much prosperity under this system that there would simply be no poor people.

The socialist would say that too many people are left in the dust under this libertarian utopia. Massive wealth disparity would result, and a benevolent government is needed to redistribute the wealth and ensure that all are cared for properly.

The socialists are right: in any version of the libertarian dream-world in which individuals freely choose a society other than the one described in 4th Nephi, there will be people suffering. There will be people who cannot fend for themselves. In fact these suffering people are the very reason a libertarian utopia never has, and never will exist. In a democratic-libertarian society (such as we once had in the U.S.)these suffering people will inevitably become political fodder for elected officials who see their pain as an opportunity to buy votes, thus leading to my next point...

The socialists are wrong: The ideal society cannot be achieved through government mandate. Politicians always have alterior, power-seeking, motives when they get into wealth redistribution. Socialism, communism, fascism, it all amounts to the same thing: a political authority taking away my agency to use private property the way I want to use it. The only difference is degree. When we give our leaders this type of power we are essentially placing our faith in men to use the 'ring of power' benevolently. This can only end in slavery.

In conclusion, I can sympathize with your skepticism of the free market. But your praise of socialism is, well, irritating. Socialism is no better than the inevitable, and unfortunate sign that we have failed in our duty to care for the needy in a once free society.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Rap08 said: "Money that goes to help others far away always leaves a question in my mind, did it really get there? I may be too cynical :)"

I share your cynicism. I'm sure we all do. Every one of us on this planet is human and has the potential to be corrupted, no matter how righteous we think we are. People have let us down and betrayed our trust, whether they be members of gov't or a charity. So I think your cynicism is normal and we all have a bit of it, whether we're social democrats or not.

Samlund said: "In conclusion, I can sympathize with your skepticism of the free market. But your praise of socialism is, well, irritating. Socialism is no better than the inevitable, and unfortunate sign that we have failed in our duty to care for the needy in a once free society."

Back in the days when Norway was "free," poverty and lawlessness were rampant, as with most societies of the day. Later came Danish and Swedish rule, and then came the Nazi invasion. Two things propelled Norway from the poorest nation in Europe (I believe it was the case early in the 20th century) to what it is today: the discovery of oil and the establishment of a social democratic system. The oil has brought tremendous wealth to the nation, but if it was left up to an entirely free market, Norway would not be what it is today. The oil wealth would have been hoarded by a handful of people.

Samlund, when I "praise" socialism, it's not because I think it's a flawless, divine plan. In some ways, I agree with you when you say, "we have failed in our duty to care for the needy in a once free society." Yes, we have failed or would fail because you would never get everyone on board. You said yourself, "It can only be achieved as individuals give their all to God voluntarily." This is exactly my point. I'm under no illusions about the Norwegian people being charitable, Christlike people who care for their neighbours as much as they do themselves. Sure, they're great people, and although perhaps a handful of people would have enough faith and humility to live by the Lord's plan, the majority would not. I think it's like that everywhere, whether we live in a socialist country or not.

"The socialists are wrong: The ideal society cannot be achieved through government mandate."

No, it can't. You're right about this. I may be a socialist, but I don't think it's an "ideal" or perfect society. I have said this many, many times. However, until the Lord himself comes to implement the perfect system, it appears to me that it's the best we've got. Until the human race gets to the point that it can actually live the Lord's plan, this flawed man-made plan is my best assurance for a decent life. That's all I'm saying and it's hard to convince us otherwise when we're living it on a daily basis.

"When we give our leaders this type of power we are essentially placing our faith in men to use the 'ring of power' benevolently. This can only end in slavery."

I think this is more of a concern when we're talking about a gov't where there is only one leader with any real power. The "ring of power" is spread more evenly when you have a parliament of many democratically-elected members to form a coalition gov't, headed by a PM, which is the case in Norway currently. Are there corrupt politicians here? Absolutely. Do we feel like "slaves" because of this? Not particularly.

S. Logan said...

Faithful Dissident,

Glad I was able to help with the ETB and some misperceptions that are rampant concerning surrounding his words against the civil rights movement. And, yes, after I wrote the original post I looked over your blog to see that you are, in fact, a madam - I apologize.

Why would my words have taken a different tone? (Excuse me for being overly verbose in my explanation; I have no knack for brevity.) American's have become conditioned to receiving and understanding information a certain way; I have talked to many, many misguided people who have chosen to rewrite American history rather than understand it for what it was. Americans are very nationalistic, very iconoclast, very independent (if only in meandering thought), and very much in connection with their historical roots - no other nation, to my knowledge, is so ingrained with looking at the "original intent" of its founders as is the United States. Most modern liberals in America have sought to redefine American history (even if unknowingly) by transposing current definitions upon colonial definitions; this is outrages, because it is an easily proven fact that our language has changed and new definitions have been given to words. Current liberals in the US, because their philosophy counteracts many basic ideas as presented by the US founders (which isn't an inherently bad thing, it is just socially/nationalistically taboo to publicly go against the stated roots of our country), have redefined the terms spoken of by our founders so that their opposing views aren't seen quite so outlandish or taboo. All this being said, the tone in my original post is one that is taken to those who blatantly redefine their culture, history, and heritage; members of the Church outside the United States have no such background, and the tone that I take with such Americans is wholly unnecessary in speaking to someone who does not have that understanding. For Americans, especially members of the Church, to come from our rich heritage, foundation, and principle, to redefining so many plain principles is saddening. I submit that such redefining is not done intentionally, but it is nearly impossible to convince anyone otherwise; furthermore, whenever history is plainly shown to counteract such sophistry, the author is instantly accused of being "an intellectual" (which is supposedly a bad thing in the US -- it refers to someone who overly thinks, cannot connect with the whole of humanity, and can only make sense to himself). So, to summarize: Yes, we are both Mormon and share a wonderful commonality; however, when talking of politics, nationalism sometimes transcends common religious tradition and belief.

I will post and answer the rest of your questions later this afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to address Rap08's comment about the third world attacking the first world.

What seems to be lost in this analogy, is that the third world is the third world in large part because of the first world nations exploiting them for hundreds of years. Africa is literally rich in oil, timber, diamonds, gold, etc. but these resources have literally been robbed from them, and continue to be robbed from them. The same is true of the middle east, southeast Asia and South America.

A third world invasion of Europe and the US would be hard to argue against without being extremely hypocritical. I would hope it would not happen, and I believe that there are other solutions, such as giving back self-determination in this part of the world, putting an end to the exploitation and foreign intervention that still continues to this day, and investing in the future of these nations rather than putting our own national-interests at the top of the list of priorities.

S. Logan said...

I apologize for the length of this post in advance.

As Ben posted, the main point about social democracy is not about corruption, but about whether the action is in accordance with the Laws of God. I have previously taken an overly verbose secular stance – forgive me for taking an overly verbose religious one.

In the Book of Matthew it reads:
“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

“And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

This scripture seems to contradict itself, wouldn’t you agree? First, Christ tells us that only those people that “doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” will be saved, and then in the same breath he tells people who had prophesied in his name, cast out devils, and did many wonderful works to depart out of his presence because “[He] never knew them”. Does this mean that people can do good things, but be turned away from God in the end? How can this possibly be? What does it mean to “[do] the will of [the] Father”? It appears that not only does the Lord care about us doing His will, but he also cares about the manner in which we do it. As President Joseph Fielding Smith stated, “When we abide in the law which the Lord has approved, then we are free” (Church History and Modern Revelation 1:433).

In the pre-existence, Lucifer argued that he would ensure that not one single Child of God would be lost to sin. Our entire existence upon this earth, every living man, women, and child, is here because of that pre-mortal council – whether they have knowledge of it, believe it, or not. How could the Father and His Son possibly be so unmerciful as to choose a Plan wherein many, many, many of his children would fail? All we need to do is turn on the television to see the depravity, horror, war, pestilence, famine, natural disasters, starvation, homelessness, wickedness, violence, and immorality of God’s children; are we really to believe that a just and merciful God possibly choose THAT plan over the absolute security of all of his Children being saved in righteousness? We must remember that Lucifer’s plan did not call for sin, murder, vice, immorality or any portion of what the world today calls “sin”. Lucifer was arguing for absolute salvation, prosperity, and eternal life for EVERY Child of God; not one soul would be lost; not one Child would suffer; not one Child would have to go through a life of turmoil and strife! We could live a life of mere utopia AND have the added benefit of eternal salvation! Do we REALLY realize just how convincing Lucifer’s plan was?
One-third of God’s children agreed with Lucifer’s provision; they weren’t so interested in HOW the plan was constructed or carried out, they were only interested in the end result: Security. Security in this mortal life and security for the eternities. All of this Lucifer’s plan would give the Children of God – ALL OF IT! How much better was this than the Father’s plan?

The Father’s plan had no known security. It asked of his Children that their memory be erased of all their loving memories of their Heavenly parent and home; to be relatively alone; it allowed for murder, pain, hurt, anguish, sin, war, rape, molestation, lying, theft, fatigue, disease, torture, loss, forgetfulness, disaster, envy, avarice, tribulation, immorality, doubt, covetousness, deceitfulness, illness, harm, tears, hate, iniquity, fear, hunger and thirst, weakness, trials, idolatry, and uncertainty (all of these things, he says, and many more weaknesses that are given merely for us to learn “humility”? (Ether 12:27)); possibility of eternal damnation and expulsion from our loving Heavenly home; and above all, the sacrifice of our most beloved and eldest brother’s life just because of these weaknesses that were given us in the first place. Lucifer’s plan had NONE of these, none! So, I ask you, who REALLY was the compassionate one? Our Heavenly Father or Lucifer? In fact, the only absolute that Father’s plan seems to provide is that there will be pain.

Not only was Father’s plan full of all of these human weaknesses, but he also had a long list of requirements. Father asked for our unconditional faith, and he told us he would tell a few steps in how we could possibly come back to him. We would have to follow it exactly, but not only this but we would have to be HAPPY about it. Lucifer’s plan was not a hundredth part so complicating as was the Father’s; you could surmise Lucifer’s plan in one word: GUARANTEED. The Father asked of us many things: to be peaceful, charitable, humble, faithful, patient, meek, longsuffering, penitent, grateful, prayerful, merciful, wise, lowly of heart, true, clean, happy, and above all – and here’s the real kicker – we have to be all things, and “be perfect” too (Matthew 5:49)! What kind of plan was this?! We had to endure untold horrors, tragedies, pains, sorrows, and losses, but we had to be PERFECT through it all? What?!

So, the question begs to be asked, what did Lucifer want in return for HIS utopia? Father’s plan seemed almost too unreal, he asked for EVERYTHING with no guarantee and here was Lucifer offering ABSOLUTE guarantee! What was HE going to ask in return? What would we possibly have to do to merit Lucifer’s absolute existence when the Father’s intentional NON-guarantee asked for so much? Here’s the beauty of it all, the only thing Lucifer asked in return for an absolutely guaranteed utopian existence in this life and an eternal life of joy was for us to give him our agency of choice. That’s it! We just had to give over to him the ability of us making mistakes! We had to give up the ability of all the calamities that Father’s plan was full of! All mortal catastrophes would be solved by merely giving over to him the one thing that causes it all?! Are you serious?! Was this even an actual debate?! All I would have to do is turn over the power I have to choose whether or not I should take care of my fellow man, and Lucifer would make sure that he takes care of it for me? Any rationally thinking individual would laugh at any other possible conclusion! Not only does this only seem like the only logical choice, but any man with a heart for the welfare of his fellow man should laugh between the two choices.
Now, if this isn’t enough, certainly we can add one more nail to the coffin. Not only did Father’s plan seem to only guarantee pain, but He also required that in our quest to overcome this pain for ourselves and others we only do it in HIS specified manner! Are you serious?!

When we really sit down to think about it, it’s really hard to understand why exactly we went with Father’s plan. After all, just because we’re here on earth shows that we followed his plan. So, what were the preset conditions of this existence? To name a few: We agreed that there would be pain in this life; we agreed that we would be okay with that; we agreed and knew that not only ourselves, but our fellow man would be in pain; we agreed that we would ease his pain, and do so in our Father’s specified manner; we agreed we would be everything our Father asked of us; and above all, we agreed that we would keep our agency! Not only did we agree to keep our agency, but we were to protect it above all other things from being taken from us. How ironic, isn’t it? That the one thing that gives us the ability of causing so much pain in society is the one thing we’re commanded to keep? In fact, it was because Lucifer “sought to destroy the agency of man” (Moses 4:3) that even caused him to become Satan. That’s pretty intense.

So, here we are. Relatively alone in this dreary world (all things relative to the place we came from). We’re given the ability of choosing evil, but strive through pain and weakness to be better. We’re commanded to take care of our brethren, but to do so through the Lord’s established way. Even though Lucifer’s plan guaranteed that everyone would be taken care of and return to live with our Heavenly parent, the Father still thought that the process was just as important as the outcome (if not MORE important, because His plan allowed room for us to not return home to be with Him).
We have been told that Lucifer’s tactics today in trying to subvert the Plan of Salvation are merely done by him still trying to establish his own plan! There are discourses that can, and have, been written as to why Lucifer’s plan could not have worked (his argument in the pre-existence was flawed), and without going into all of the reasons I will say that every reason pivots on the gift of agency. Satan today, however, still doesn’t know that his plan is flawed; he is still marching down the path of subverting agency in quest of creating a utopia. The problem is that his plan cannot lead us back to our Father in Heaven (because of its flaws). He even believes himself so far as he states: “I am no devil, for there is none” (2nd Nephi 28:22). His plan is as convincing today as it was in the pre-existence. To merely give up a little or all of our agency for the guaranteed existence of the whole? Who, with a heart, would STILL argue against Lucifer’s plan?

Obviously, in our day and age, the application of Lucifer’s plan wouldn’t be carried out the same as if His plan were chosen. Or would it? As I’ve looked over this globe, I’ve seen that there is only one entity that is still capable of fulfilling the structure of Lucifer’s plan of in our mortal sphere. There is only one entity that is universally accepted in every “corner” of the globe to legitimately carry out his plan, and that is the one and only entity that can legitimately and legally use the power of coercion upon the Children of God – and that entity is government.

We believe, as per the 2nd Article of Faith, that all men will be punished for their own sins. All temptation happens within the confines of our own conscience, mind, and heart. It is obvious to ask, if, since we are tempted and overcome temptation individually, how it is that an entity such as government would be the main tool used to carry out Lucifer’s plan when he could simply come to us individually?

Government is only a collective of individuals; in itself, it has no soul, life, or movement that the people within that government do not give to it. Without a person to fill the offices, what IS government? Without the people, it is merely an idea. Government, throughout the world, is the only entity that has the legal power of coercion: it can tax, prosecute, and physically hassle any individual or take away his property, etc. The ”WHY” of government coercion is not so much important concerning this principle as there mere fact that it exists.

Does this mean that government is bad? No. In fact, the Lord was the first one to establish government: “We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man” (D&C 134:1). From this point, all further matters of discussion are a matter of definition and semantics; how do we define, legitimize, and implement the following: law, rights, freedom, welfare, liberty, equity and justice, property, life, crime, conscience, morality, peace, voice of the people, Democracy and Republic, infringement, and inalienable. But I believe such is wholly unnecessary; all we have to do is go back to the original principle of agency.

Good government (that which is justifiable before the Lord; D&C 98 and 134) is that which has established “such laws [that] are held inviolate and will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life” (D&C 134:2). Good government secures the rights of the individual to exercise their own conscience, their own property, and their own life and religion to do whatever they want so long as they do not “infringe upon the rights and liberties of another” in the process (D&C 134:4). Agency must be given to man, even when he is choosing to not help his brother; this is our Father’s plan. Any compulsion or exaction from the individual to take his property for the benefit of another fall’s therefore under Lucifer’s plan. Was Lucifer the compassionate one? Was Lucifer the one we should have followed? After all, he guaranteed no lost souls, no pain, no hunger, no weakness – only security, compassion, and love (right?); and even today he spreads his doctrine that giving up a little agency is okay so long as the whole is taking care of.
The Children of God cannot divorce their religious beliefs from any other aspect of their life – especially government. We will be held accountable for every principle we support, whether it is right or wrong; we have the fullness of the everlasting gospel, while the rest of the world is still living in confusion – we cannot justify ourselves by saying “everyone else is doing it”. As President Joseph Fielding Smith stated:

“Satan has control now. No matter where you look, he is in control, even in our own land. He is guiding the governments as far as the Lord will permit him. That is why there is so much strife, turmoil, and confusion all over the earth. One master mind is governing the nations. It is not the president of the United States; it is not Hitler; it is not Mussolini; it is not the king or government of England or any other land; it is Satan himself” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3:315).

The Lord has declared that it is not right that man should be in bondage to each other – this goes both ways. Not only should the poor not be in bondage to the rich, but the rich should not be in bondage to the poor. To restate, the Lord said, “It is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another. 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, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood" (D&C 101:79-80). The US Constitution established a Republic (Article 4, Section IV), which has a different operating premise than any Democracies (Socialist or otherwise). While it is the duty of the rich man to give his alms to the poor, it is his right, given by the Lord, to keep everything he has been given – the Law of Consecration does NOT work through compulsion, but is absolutely, totally, and completely voluntary.

Philosophically, this discussion can really boil down the question: “Is man capable of self-government”. If man is not capable of righteous self-government, then he needs to be coerced into performing his duty, but if man IS capable of self-government – then any confiscation of his property by force, no matter by what power, authority, or entity, is usurpation, tyranny, and nothing short of Lucifer’s plan. The prophets, apostles, and Christ himself have said that we are not only capable of self-government, but that we are intrinsically made this way. No matter how one justifies it, coercion, no matter what name its given or form it takes, is wickedness and is a result of the adversary’s temptation.

BEN said...

ditto

Alesia Wilson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alesia said...

Oh my goodness. Some of your comments are totally freaking me out. Atrain, Ben, S Logan...a lot of what you say makes sense and I can see where you are making connections between scripture and your opinions, but seriously...how can you live like this? You remind me of the people who build bomb shelters and crap like that. Seriously, I'm going to get back to my life now and care about other people (especially those less fortunate, which you have opinions on but I don't get the feeling you do much about it...sorry if that's assumptive, but I don't feel the spirit when I read your posts. They're too extreme and slightly crazy...intellectual as they may be).

BEN said...

Live like what? By every word of God? I don't know, but Jesus did it. If that is extreme and following the Constitution is extreme, then we are all way off base. Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

Anonymous said...

The potatoe story that was brought up, and which someone tried to counter by claiming that God will provide justice in the after life but stealing is wrong in all cases. What if I steal a gun from someone who is about to go kill someone? Is this still a theft I must repent of? Stealing a potatoe to feed a starving child, from someone who has an entire farm full of potatoes is not theft.

There was another claim I read which stated that the government cannot do what an individual can. Last I checked, I can't arrest someone, imprison them, fine them, declare and fight war, negotiate with other nations, etc. The government IS exactly that; the authorized institution that has the right to do what an individual cannot through as determined by the people.

Man is capable of self-government. It's called democracy.

I agree with Alesia, you should all move to northern idaho and live on a seperatist compound sharing your conspiracy theories and over-zealous interpretations of the founding fathers, prophets, and enlightenment thinkers.

BEN said...

One day those who uphold the principles of the Constitution will be the only ones who can build Zion. (And it won't be in Idaho) I don't have to do that now, but I am under command to uphold the principles of the Constitution. You must have all missed President Packer's talk this last conference. I marvel at how blind many are. You cannot accept truth even when it is so plainly set before you. Instead of refuting it, you call it extreme. Amazing! I am done posting here.

S. Logan said...

Anon, you must not study the foundational premises of government; where do you suppose government received the power, authority, and legitimacy to act in the first place? Have you ever heard of Locke? Rousseau, Blackstone, Hume, Montesquieu, or Machiavelli? St. Augustine or Aquinas? I can see by your post that you're probably familiar with at least the principles as outlined by Karl Marx, but what about the men of the Enlightenment who reasoned and argued on principles of individual sovereignty and liberty? I guess those are just cliches to those who would rather justify their lives than to test the ill-conceived status quo. In a government "of, by, and for the people" (speaking of the US), how do you suppose government got its power to begin with? FROM THE PEOPLE! The people had the power to act in these rights themselves, and they delegated the representation of these rights to government. This is the very BASIC premise of a Constitution! Have you read Paine? Adams? Madison, Hamilton, Jay, Henry, Jefferson, Washington, Webster, Sherman, or Hancock? Maybe you're not American and have never heard of these great men, if such, then your assumptions concerning government are more understandable. Are you familiar with the historical foundations of Democracy? Do you know its history? Do you know why the greatest political and philosophical minds throughout history have deplored "Democracy" -- even when they purported and supported "voice of the people" systems of government? Majority rule alone is no compassionate, legitimate, or justifiable foundation for liberty and freedom; if you want to see the ultimate foundation of majority rule-absolute-without-exception, you need only look so far as the Hutu/Tutsi genocide of Rwanda.

John said...

...And if you need to see the deplorable acts of undemocratic societies, you need only review the history of Rome, England, France, Prussia, Russia, Scotland, Ireland, China, South Africa, Mexico, and so on and so on, including modern day America, where we live in plenty yet deny basic standards of dignity and livelihood to thousands (this is deplorable in my eyes at least)!

On the other hand, you can see the very noble and dignified examples of democracy in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Spain, Switzerland and Canada. Nations where citizens live longer, have a greater level of education, have less crime, less inequality, higher standard of living, less war, and a more informed public. Where prisoners are treated humanely, the elderly are taken care of, there is less negative impact on the environment, young mothers don't have to work, families are given more time to be together, and workers aren't wage slaves to corporate or private power, but rather citizens of an economic as well as political environment.

Using Rwanda as an example of democracy is ridiculous. The genocide was not something that involved the ballot box at all! And when we talk about democracy we are not talking about a bunch of vigilantes with torches and pitchforks, we're talking about a structured society with established laws and procedures.

Corporate executives being taxed a small percentage of their immense wealth to provide healthcare is not in any way comparable to innocent men, women and children being raped, mutilated, and slaughtered by militia men and their supporters seeking vengeance for the downing of a leader's airplane!

In fact, one could claim that it was the undemocratic atmosphere of Rwanda that lead to the genocide, since the environment which created the division was created by a colonial power that denied a voice to one part of the population while giving voice to another, then there were the years of dictatorial rule over the people, and in the days leading up to the genocide, it was the undemocratic control of the airwaves which allowed the elite to promote their hateful message into the hearts of the population.

S. Logan said...

Interesting that of all the things I have said, you picked THAT one to harp on?

S. Logan said...

BTW, you missed the principle all-together; such is the degeneration of our society, when we give away principle for perceived practicality.

The Faithful Dissident said...

OK, this is what I still don't get:

a) We live in an extremely complex world. No matter how independent, self-sufficient and prepared we think we are, we are all dependent on each other for something. We can't all be doctors, firemen, or farmers. Why is having health care funded by taxes "socialism" but having police and firemen funded by taxes "not socialism?" Or is it? Why should we demand that charities pay for a person's chemotherapy, but not to put out a fire in their house? In both cases, the survival of their lives and/or property is at stake.

b) Hopefully we can all agree that the Lord's plan is the only perfect plan. But I don't feel you addressed the problem of having to have everyone on board voluntarily for it to work. Where does this leave us in the mean time?

c) I don't know whether anyone else has thought this, but unless the Lord Himself is here to keep everyone in line, I imagine it resulting in chaos and a breakdown of society. S. Logan, you said:

Good government secures the rights of the individual to exercise their own conscience, their own property, and their own life and religion to do whatever they want so long as they do not "infringe upon the rights and liberties of another" in the process (D&C 134:4). Agency must be given to man, even when he is choosing to not help his brother; this is our Father's plan.

Obviously, under this plan, gov't would be at a bare minumum. There would be very little of it and very little for it to do. Since we know that man is generally selfish and uncharitable, if potato farmers group together and demand an outrageous price for potatoes, or if a group of doctors refuses to treat lung cancer patients because they smoked all their lives (a scenario that I have actually heard proposed by some doctors!), then the gov't should not be allowed to intervene because it would be infringing on their rights and liberties. So groups of people -- whom we depend on for life-sustainable goods and services -- will be allowed to plunge society into chaos because "agency must be given to man, even when he is choosing to not help his brother." I envision a very lawless society unless, as I stated before, everyone is on board voluntarily. Does God really prefer His children to be living under chaos, instability, and violence, (which would be the inevitable result if people are allowed to "to do whatever they want so long as they do not "infringe upon the rights and liberties of another" in the process") as opposed to a non-perfect, yet stable gov't? Do we simply say to our fellow citizens who are suffering and dying "too bad" because a few selfish people are withholding what they need in the name of "free agency and liberty?"

d) Lastly, as I am obviously one of the majority of people in this world who live outside of America and therefore do not operate under the US Constitution, where does this leave us? Does God really want us to just scrap our system of gov't now?

S. Logan, you said:

"Philosophically, this discussion can really boil down the question: "Is man capable of self-government". If man is not capable of righteous self-government, then he needs to be coerced into performing his duty, but if man IS capable of self-government – then any confiscation of his property by force, no matter by what power, authority, or entity, is usurpation, tyranny, and nothing short of Lucifer's plan. The prophets, apostles, and Christ himself have said that we are not only capable of self-government, but that we are intrinsically made this way. No matter how one justifies it, coercion, no matter what name its given or form it takes, is wickedness and is a result of the adversary's temptation."

My question is when are we capable of self-gov't? The only way that we can avoid the scenarios I presented above is, in my opinion, if the Lord is upon the earth to govern Himself. I look at the world around me and I cannot envision the Lord's system working right now without Him. We, as Mormons, could not even live the United Order among ourselves.

In the mean time, I have to repeat myself. Sociai democracy is the best we've got -- for now.

John said...

Sorry, I hadn't finished volume twelve of your ongoing book. =)

I address the issues I can during my 15 minute breaks and my 30 minute lunch. Much of the time, the entire break or lunch is spent reading your rather lengthy posts.

Anyone who has served a mission where they came in contact with Jehovah's Witnesses can tell you, it is a common tactic to overload the one your debating with information, then demand a response only to change the subject when one is given, or simply pinpoint particular issues that the other side failed to address among the barrels of information that was unloaded.

John said...

I would also point out that had we taken this tactic solving social evils through education and personal accountability, we would not have overcome much that we have. For instance, The Knights of Labor sought to educate the workers rather than fight for workers rights and labor standards. Only after political struggle did child labor come to an end, were health and safety regulations adhered to, disability become a reality, etc.

The Church also did not support the abolitionist movement on the grounds that change through personal conviction would be sufficient...it wasn't, and only after a war and intense political struggle did slavery come to an end.

The Church also did not take action in the civil rights movement (some leaders outright opposing it) on the same grounds, yet it was only after legislation was fought for and passed that blacks were guaranteed the rights they enjoy today.

It would be nice to accept the idea that no compulsion is necessary to solve social ills, but history has shown that at least a minimal amount of compulsion (in the form of legislation much of the time) is necessary.

The Faithful Dissident said...

"It would be nice to accept the idea that no compulsion is necessary to solve social ills, but history has shown that at least a minimal amount of compulsion (in the form of legislation much of the time) is necessary."

Exactly.

I'm sure that even though God that His system is the only perfect one, He also knows that we're human, carnal, selfish, and that we, as the human race, would fail miserably at living his system for any length of time. Although it would have served us better to be entirely 100% free to do as we choose and still maintain a society that runs like clockwork, the point is that we won't. And that's why we've had to come up with lesser, temporal alternatives -- in order to maintain some sense of peace, order, and stability.

Alesia said...

Ben: "One day those who uphold the principles of the Constitution will be the only ones who can build Zion."

Maybe that's true, but why do you think that YOUR interpretation of how to connect scripture and politics is the ONLY way to interpret things? I don't think anyone here is supporting communism. I don't think anyone is asking to deny rights, liberty etc. I hear what you're saying about how pushing the limits too far is dangerous and we could inadvertantly lose our rights etc. yada yada. Maybe some liberals on these boards are pushing the limit too far, but I think you and others are just as extreme on the other side. More extreme, for that matter. To the point of weirdness. And the God I believe in just isn't weird.

S. Logan said...

The premise of “human rights” wasn’t necessary in the black civil rights movement for them to achieve their goal of equality before the law; whenever an individual’s rights are infringed upon, all matters can be answered within the jurisdiction of government according to “natural” and “inalienable” “law”.

F.D.

A) I have inalienable rights, bestowed upon me by my Creator (not a majority or government). I have the right to protect myself and my property; therefore, I have the ability of delegating to an individual a personally inalienable right to another person to act in my stead (law enforcement). Do I personally have the right to walk up to your home and forcefully take something from you, and give it to the neighbor across the street? Certainly, if I did this I would be arrested for theft! How then can I delegate this right to my representative who only acts within the parameters of the specific duties I have delegated to him? In Political Science we call this usurpation and tyranny. When our representatives act outside the parameters of the rights the individual can delegate to him, then he is acting outside his stewardship – this is the very definition of usurpation.

B) Yes, the Lord’s plan is the only “perfect” plan; it is the only plan that would work! While alternative theories and plans may enjoy a certain level of success, that success will only be temporary. If people cannot be entrusted to make the right decisions individually to provide for the poor correctly, how do we reason that turning this power over to government will lead to any less problems? After all, government, no matter what form it takes, is simply a collection of individuals who enforce/coerce certain ideas upon society. The Plan of Salvation knew that a purely voluntary system would produce the righteous and wicked, the rich and poor, moral and immoral, greed and sacrifice, pride and humility. Lucifer’s plan didn’t wait for the people to voluntarily “give” of themselves; he would merely force them before they had a chance. Again, I ask you: under what you purport, who was really the most merciful and compassionate one – our Father in Heaven or Lucifer? You purport a system of government that is based on the distrust of the people to take care of the poor by their own free will and choice? This was the very basic idea of the pre-mortal council! Enoch’s Zion didn’t happen because of coercive legislation and exaction; it happened because people willingly learned over time how to be giving. The Nephites, as they lived in peace for over a hudred years after Christ, did so under their own self-government.

C) I guess that is where we differ, I don’t believe that man is “generally selfish and uncharitable”, but even if he were, your purposed plan of giving government the power to act in these areas is severely flawed – why? Who IS government? It is people! And if people are “generally selfish and uncharitable,” what in the world are you doing delivering over to these people the absolute power of coercion in the lives of society? As I stated, government is the only entity that has the power of coercion, and you want to give GOVERNMENT all the power to tax and regulate society when then men who fill office are, by their nature “generally selfish and uncharitable”?! Mere political qualification does not equate to a man (or women) being a Saint!

Society isn’t perfect, no matter how you try to look at it; there will be injustices every day (that is part of the Plan of Salvation). I often think of Alma who, holding both the highest political position in the land and the highest religious position in the land, choose to give up his judgement seat to preach the word of Christ than to try to regulate the people into righteousness politically. The scripture talks of the inequality of society and the best solution to confronting such problems:

“And now it came to pass that Alma, having seen the afflictions of the humble followers of God, and the persecutions which were heaped upon them by the remainder of his people, and seeing all their inequality, began to be very sorrowful; nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him.

“And he selected a wise man who was among the elders of the church, and gave him power according to the voice of the people, that he might have power to enact laws according to the laws which had been given, and to put them in force according to the wickedness and the crimes of the people.

“Now this man’s name was Nephihah, and he was appointed chief judge; and he sat in the judgement-seat to judge and to govern the people.

“Now Alma did not grant unto him the office of being high priest over the church, but he retained the office of high priest unto himself; but he delivered the judgment-seat unto Nephihah.

“And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that might reclaim them save it were in bearing down pure testimony against them.” (Alma 4:15-19)

So powerful was the change brought about by preaching of the “word of God” into society, that the scriptures furthermore tells us:

“And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.” (Alma 31:5)

There are several things we can learn from these scriptures: (1) that people were being afflicted and that there was a great inequality among the people (rich and poor, and the persecution of one against another); (2) that Alma had power to either solve the issue politically, or through “bearing down pure testimony”; (3) that he gave up his political power to solve societal issues through “bearing down pure testimony”; (4) that there was no REAL way of “reclaiming” the people with such testimony; (5) that preaching the word of God unto the people had a more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than any physical coercion that could be found.

There is no lawlessness in a system of liberty and freedom; you simply have to punish those who actively infringe upon the rights of another. And you’re right, government’s involvement would be very small indeed; this is actually the expressed desire and foundation of the American’ framers in writing the Constitution.

D) This was a wonderful question; certainly a very, very valid concern for the majority of members who live outside the United States. Elder John A Widtsoe (a former member of the 12) wrote:

“Latter-day Saints should find no difficulty in distinguishing between truth and error, right and wrong, even under our changing physical life, in the midst of the flood of new knowledge and invention. The Gospel is a guide to conduct, a chart for life’s voyage, a set of ideals by which every proposition may be measure. Latter-day Saints should test every new offering by Gospel standards. That is one of the high opportunities within the Church of Jesus Christ.

“For example, the right of free agency is fundamental in the Gospel structure. Man should always be left free to accept or reject. There should be no interference with the human will…

“This principle may be used in evaluating the merit of many social economic, and political offerings of the day… whatever endangers to the least degree man’s right to act for himself is not of God and must be resisted by Latter-day Saints…

“Every present-day offering and our every decision must be tested by Gospel standards. That is the urgent need of the day.” (Improvement Era Magazine – 42:488-9)

As far as the United States is concerned, we didn’t always have capitation taxes; in fact, it was unconstitutional for the federal government to institute a federal capitation tax under the original Constitution. This means that the principle of taxing the individual directly for social programs was largely absent our culture and society until 1913, and was actually rendered unconstitutional. Through a wide variety of semantics, redefinitions, contradicting Supreme Court decisions, and other means, the US has finally arrived at a place where the people don’t question the legitimacy of the programs. Taxation, since then, has been used as a way to make one class of people subservient to another class of people; in a sense, the principle of taxation has been abused and used to overturn “man’s right to act for himself”.

Finally, I quote from President David O. McKay, who as Prophet in General Conference said the following:

“No greater immediate responsibility rests upon members of the Church, upon all citizens of this republic and of neighboring Republics than to protect the freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States

“Let us, by exercising our privileges under the Constitution (1) preserve our right to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience, (2) preserve the right to work when and where we choose. No free man should be compelled to pay tribute in order to realize this God-given privilege. Read in Doctrine and Covenants this statement: ‘…it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.’ (D&C 101:79) (3) free to plan and reap without the handicap of bureaucratic interference. (4) Devote our time, means, and life if necessary , to hold inviolate those laws which will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life” (Conference Report 4/50:37)

It is not the United States’ Constitution that is the important thing here; it is the freedom that was vouchsafe by the Constitution in the first place that is the important thing. The document is just a piece of paper, but what it protects is worth dying for. All Latter-day Saints should know the principles of freedom, liberty, agency, and property, and they should defend these principles to the very end. If you notice, nothing I have said has been against Socialism, but I have merely spoken of principle. Living true and correct principles, especially in what political philosophies we adhere to, require us being the very people we wish to see in society. Do we need to scrap all governments? No. But we must, in our respective places in the world, understand what the true and correct principles are and then seek to establish those principles within our own respective governments. I work diligently in the United States to carry forward candidates who I feel would support and defend the principles of agency as laid out in the Constitution, but no one I have ever supported has been elected. This doesn’t bother me, however, because at the end of the day – I know I have been honest with myself and my fellow men (all of them, both rich and poor). I am not so na├»ve as to say that should my neighbor vote for someone else other than myself that he is evil because of it; I simply would hope that his decision in supporting his particular policy comes from much prayerful reflection, possible fasting, and a desire to do the will of the Lord on earth.

As for John:

Common, really? My previous post was concerning the Plan of Salvation, I wouldn’t really think that restating the story of the pre-mortal existence should be an “overload” for anyone to read – especially you (as I am assuming by your jab that you’re an RM?). Social evils, we are told by prophetic and scriptural word are best conquered through preaching the word of God (and everything that proceedeth forth there-from); there are a few times wherein violence is necessary in reasserting the thought of inalienable liberties within a society, but such is very rare. If a society will truly adhere to punishing the individual who has purposefully infringed upon the rights of his neighbor, the black civil rights movement would never have existed. The greatest social ills we have had in the United States, and those that I’ve seen abroad, have come from society’s lack of that one principle. Yes, coercion is necessary in punishing the criminal who used his gift of agency to infringe upon another’s gift of agency; but above and beyond these limits, coercion has never been spoken of righteously.

The Faithful Dissident said...

S. Logan,

a) I understand the "inalienable rights" and that this doesn't mean that there is no law enforcement. But what you have failed to explain is how we prevent a breakdown in society when certain groups of people withhold their goods and services on the grounds of "inalienable rights." Once again, everyone needs to be on board for it to work the way it's supposed to. What happens when everyone isn't?

b) I think we're mostly in agreement on this point, except for the fact that you seem to be of the opinion that we're ready for Heavenly Father's plan now. I don't think we are and I reiterate the failure of even just Mormons to live the United Order. I think that at the present time, man needs structure -- and yes, even a minimum amount of compulsion -- in order to prevent chaos and anarchy.

c) " And if people are “generally selfish and uncharitable,” what in the world are you doing delivering over to these people the absolute power of coercion in the lives of society? As I stated, government is the only entity that has the power of coercion, and you want to give GOVERNMENT all the power to tax and regulate society when then men who fill office are, by their nature “generally selfish and uncharitable”?!

The "gov't" is made up of democratically-elected individuals. They are people. But as "generally selfish and uncharitable" as they may be, why are they all going to sabotage a plan that they themselves are just as dependent on as I am?

"Mere political qualification does not equate to a man (or women) being a Saint!"

I never said that it did.

d) You quoted David O. McKay: "“No greater immediate responsibility rests upon members of the Church, upon all citizens of this republic and of neighboring Republics than to protect the freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States."

OK, so this obviously applies to me since I suppose I qualify as a "neighbouring republic."

“Let us, by exercising our privileges under the Constitution (1) preserve our right to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience,

My gov't seems to be doing OK with that one.

(2) preserve the right to work when and where we choose.

No problem there.

No free man should be compelled to pay tribute in order to realize this God-given privilege. Read in Doctrine and Covenants this statement: ‘…it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.’ (D&C 101:79)

Sounds good.

(3) free to plan and reap without the handicap of bureaucratic interference.

By "bureaucratic interference" I suppose he means income tax. But assuming I'd have to cancel all the benefits I enjoy for paying my taxes, "freedom" doesn't sound very appealing.

(4) Devote our time, means, and life if necessary , to hold inviolate those laws which will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life”

There isn't a single party in Norway or Canada, as far as I know, that wants to scrap income tax completely. Even if there was, I can't say that I'd want to give up my life in a fight over taxes. I'd fight for my life and my family's if it were in danger, but let's not get over-dramatic here.

S. Logan, I only assume so correct me if I'm wrong, but do you find justification for the Vietnam and Korean wars in these quotes?

Lastly, I'd really like to hear you address that burning house scenario. Charging people income tax to have the service of firemen. Socialism? Forced charity? Should it be up to us to put out our own fires?

Anonymous said...

First,I want to say what another blogger said,something about feeling giddy,or maybe it was just that feeling I get eating chocolate.These feelings were in response to reading through the comments of ATrain,Ben,and S Logan.Thank you for stating the case so eloquently,and so intelligently (to say nothing of well read)
I agree with what you gentlemen have said (presuming ALL of you are gentlemen?)I am not any of the things I say you are,I am simply a woman who loves her freedom,and knows in her heart what you have written is true,some of which I was preparing to state myself.
Some things that have come to mind during my marathon reading of this blog ,since last night (bearing in mind that they are not in context at this time,since I haven't followed this daily,not since a previous posting a while back) are:
Satan will give you 10% truth to sell you on the 90% that is lie.I feel that is what socialism is.
Further,upon sending our tax dollars to the Gvt,leads to the peril warned of that we need to beware when those who control the money,also control the military.
Something that I see where I come from,which is pretty much indian reservation (besides my own common sense)is that when Gvt is the giver of all good,people tend to see Gvt as God.Who needs another one?when people have given over that belief,they are easier to manage,letting those in power move the steps closer toward out and out communism.I would be curious to know what the conversion rate is in socialist countries.
Another veiw from the reservation is that after being given everything,and abdicating much of your responsibility there is so much apathy,there is no quest for excellence,very little desire for advancement,after all,it is so much easier when the Gvt is providing all the answers,money,etc.
I'm sure those of you in other countries had very litle exposure to the details of the campaign here.One comment from a socialism (Obama)supporter was that she had never felt so uplifted in her life.She was no longer going to have to worry about filling up her gas tank,or paying her mortgage,if she helped him,he would help her.Another was from a man who was asked why he was an Obama supporter.He said "I just lost my job and I don't want to get another one." These things disturb me deeply,and show me how socialism will affect MY country.It already has in those places mentioned by (I believe)FD,about seeing the slums (inner city) of Chicago,and how they made her feel about this country.Well,quite honestly?they are the EFFECTS of the small dosed of socialism this country already has been given,by President Johnson,and his "Great Society".When he opened welfare to the country as he did,he spelled the downfall of many of its citizens,and others as well.Welfare never has been a blessing to those people any more than it has the the natives of this country.All it has done is to create a larger voting constituancy for those voting for the entitlements.It is ALL about power,not compassion.Compassion is teaching a person self sufficiency,and independence.
Elder David B. Haight on The Stake President’s Role in Welfare Services:
"What has this monstrous thing called government welfare done to the people? Today we have second- and third-generation welfare recipients. Millions have learned how to live off the government. Children are growing up without knowing the value and the dignity of work. The government has succeeded in doing what the Church welfare program seeks to prevent.

The Lord’s way is different from government programs. The inspired Church welfare plan is administered on the principle that an individual is responsible to care for himself; where his resources are not adequate, family members are to assist. Where the family is unable to meet the needs of the individual, the Church stands ready to help. The Lord’s way emphasizes individual work and responsibility and encourages people to help themselves."

Anonymous said...

"A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have"
Thomas Jefferson

The Faithful Dissident said...

Anonymous, disagree with socialism if you want, but be fair. C'mon.

"I'm sure those of you in other countries had very litle exposure to the details of the campaign here."

Give me a break! For all you know, I followed it more closely than you did. Just because I live in "another country" doesn't mean that we can't manage to follow a political campaign. Not hard in this day and age with satellite TV and Internet (yes, we have both those things outside of the US, including American news channels and loads of American programs).

"It already has in those places mentioned by (I believe)FD,about seeing the slums (inner city) of Chicago,and how they made her feel about this country.Well,quite honestly?they are the EFFECTS of the small dosed of socialism this country already has been given,by President Johnson,and his "Great Society."

So in other words, the higher "dose" of socialism, the more slums we have? This doesn't make sense.

"The inspired Church welfare plan is administered on the principle that an individual is responsible to care for himself; where his resources are not adequate, family members are to assist. Where the family is unable to meet the needs of the individual, the Church stands ready to help."

You left out one important step before the family and the Church steps in to help a family with welfare. Where does the Church tell us to go first? Our gov't, where social programs are available. Missed that one? Scroll up, it's there somewhere.

The Faithful Dissident said...

I'll give everyone another day for final comments and then I have to close this thread. I can tell that many are still googling "Ezra Taft Benson on socialism" and so they find this thread and I keep getting sucked back into this discussion. But I've got too many other threads I'm commenting on to keep up with this one. :)

Thanks everyone, for your comments. Hopefully we've learned something from each other.

Anonymous said...

I didn't leave anything out,the quote was copied and pasted from the talk.Direct quote,from the church web site.It is nothing I haven't heard before,as a lifelong member of the church.I have NEVER heard us being told to go to the government first.

Anonymous said...

As to watching American news programs,well,I don't put a lot of faith in the mainstream media,who are primarily liberal,and who were pulling for Obama.I DO trust Glenn Beck (also LDS),which is where I heard the tapes of those comments first.NEVER did I hear them on the mainstream dither.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Anonymous, ask your bishop. Church welfare is only to be used after going through gov't and family first. I know because I attended a welfare training meeting and the process was outlined clearly in the training video, which was produced in the US by the Church. Apparently the Church doesn't think that gov't social programs are evil enough to tell its members to take advantage of them before going through the Church. But we've already discussed this closer to the beginning of this thread.

RAP08 said...

I think I need to correct my previous posting regarding getting help from the community before going to the Bishop. I thought I had seen that some place, but with all the disagreement I went back and did a little research. I found that the instructions are clear that if the member and their family can not provide the necessities of life the Bishop stand ready to give assistance.

I did find this form which mentions help available in the community (under caption Resources to Meet Immediate Needs). This or some other information may have lead to my confusion. It would appear that the bishop would help the member be aware of community services that they can tap into in addition to those provided by the church.

I am sorry if I added to the confusion and the disagreements in this thread. I think we can all read the materials available on www.providentliving.org to understand the church’s program and the Lord’s way to help. I think the primary focus is on helping the member to become self reliant and that any help should be temporary. The principle of having the member do some “work” is also emphasized.

I liked this quote from that site
"I remind bishops of the vital need to provide recipients of welfare assistance with the opportunity for work or service that thereby they may maintain their dignity and independence and continue to enjoy the Holy Spirit as they benefit from Church Welfare Services self-help efforts. We cannot be too often reminded that Church welfare assistance is spiritual at heart and that these spiritual roots would wither if we ever permitted anything like the philosophy of the dole to enter into our Welfare Services ministrations. Everyone assisted can do something. Let us follow the order of the Church in this regard and insure that all who receive give of themselves in return" (Spencer W. Kimball, "Becoming the Pure in Heart," Ensign, May 1978, 79).

I again apologize for my mistaken understanding, it sounded right when I read FD's post, perhaps I had attended a similar training. I then commented without verifying. If anyone else can point out some supporting documentation I would be interested.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Thanks for that, Rap08. Hard to know what exactly they mean by help from the "community." To some of us, that may mean soup kitchens and food banks (which are usually charities), while here it would mean the local social services office (gov't). I know of a young family in my branch where the husband was out of work on and off for several years. I don't think they Church would give them welfare until they first got help via the gov't unemployment and/or welfare program, which is what they did. I think they may have gotten some help from Church welfare as well, but I'm not 100% sure. But I would be extremely surprised if the Church would advise us to not accept our gov't social benefits because it's "stealing from rich people." I vividly remember that training video which listed the Church as a last resort. Whether they used the phrase "community services" or "gov't benefits where available" I can't say for sure. It's been a while.

The Faithful Dissident said...

OK, I wanted to make sure that I didn't close this thread until I got a straight answer about the Church's policy about using available social programs before turning to the Church for welfare. So I wrote a message to someone I know from my old ward in Canada, who is currently the bishop, asking what the policy is. I asked him whether it's true that we should take advantage of our gov't social benefits before getting Church assistance. This is his response:

"My understanding is that you are correct. However, there certainly is a strong sentiment in the church that we should be as self-sufficient as possible and avoid social programs whenever possible. My understanding is that if someone is in need of one time assistance and they have exhausted all of their resources, including family, then they can go to their Bishop for help. If as a Bishop I determine that someone will need continual assistance then I would refer them to whatever social services are available (along with church employment assistance) because the church is not set up to help people on a long term basis."

Hopefully this clears up any misconceptions. Thanks, everyone, for a very interesting and challenging discussion! :)