Mormonism & Communism

By: Nate
November 27, 2013

Like many of Satan’s glass imitations, Communism has some remarkable truths mixed with its errors, and Mormons share many of these same truths.  The similarities might make us uncomfortable, given Communism’s terrible reputation.   It’s tempting to casually dismiss Communism as “Satan’s plan” while ignoring the many similarities between it and the Law of Consecration.  We often dodge the issue by claiming that the Law of Consecration was not forced upon people as Communism was, and that makes all the difference, since in Satan’s plan, there is no free-agency.  But I’d like to take a closer look at the similarities and differences between Communism and Mormonism, with the intent of understanding both traditions in a more nuanced way.

The Zeal of Converts and Work Ethic

Before Communism became authoritarian, it was a grassroots collective of millions of zealous adherents, recruited in the same way any religion gains recruits.  It’s converts had tremendous passion, evangelical zeal, and absolute obedience.  The faith of early Communists rival the faith of our early saints and martyrs.  They were incredibly hard workers. Work itself was the supreme value, their first article of faith.  They believed they were part of a new world order that would require incredible sacrifice, discipline, and endurance.   They would have been shocked and dismayed to hear that their cause would later be associated with free handouts and collective lethargy.  For the first decades of Communism, its numbers grew not out of compulsion but out of individual free will and the courageous commitment to it’s cause in the face of great opposition.

Doctrinal and Cultural Similarities

The doctrine and practices of early Communism are similar to those of Zion in the millennium: no poor among them, all things in common, faith, obedience, loyalty, education, unity, industry, progress, and above all, the dignity and worth of the individual, the lost sheep, the least among us.  Both Zion and the Communists valued traditional morality: anti-adultery, pro-family, etc.   In both ideologies, pure doctrine was tightly controlled and overseen. Over time, in both traditions, complicated doctrines and theories were simplified so as to appeal to the masses and be understood by all.  In both ideologies, children are the most important of all: the rising generation is the greatest ever.  Children are the future!   The simple and pure nature of Communist and LDS doctrine could be understood and articulated out of the mouth of babes.  As in Zion, early Communists had their own prophets, scriptures, tracts and literature, testimony meetings to inspire obedience and faithfulness to the cause, calls to evangelize political action to pursue their righteous causes.   And while consecration was not forced upon the LDS people in communities where it was practiced, people who didn’t practice it were still subject to chastisement in the form of revelations from the prophet, if they did not obey.  Most of all, there was the absolute knowledge that this was best way, the only way.  All other ideologies were corrupt and apostate.

If you examine LDS and Communist media and arts, you will find significant similarities.  Both created there own new
 collection of music and hymns which were championed and sung in primary schools and other meetings, containing utopian 
visions of their doctrines.  They removed references in their hymns 
and sermons to previous ideologies which were apostate.  They both had
 numerous parades, celebrations, and loved to have big spectaculars and
 pageants, designed to inspire wonder and awe in the audience.  They
 both made lots of sentimental films and other media featuring lots of
 joyous tears, pictures of happy families, and inspiring admonitions to 
faith in the ideology.

The Problem of Agency

Early Communists didn’t think they were taking people’s freedom away
, “Satan’s plan,” as we call it.  They weren’t enslaving the people, they were freeing
 them.  For centuries, 99% of the people had been poor and ruthlessly ruled over by the elite 1%. Communism was designed to overthrow the 1% and empower and free the 99%.   The poor people were
 already in desperate straights, with zero opportunities, and Communism
 represented new freedoms and opportunities for them.  Once this happened, Communists assumed that people would naturally work hard and be industrious, collectively believing in a new world of progress and prosperity for all.

 Communists didn’t expect to have to “force” their will widely upon the
 people, as in Satan’s plan.  They thought that once the selfish and 
degenerate 1% were removed, with all their evil and unnatural
 books and ideas, that everyone else would naturally accept the
self-evident true principles upon which Communism was built by their 
own free will and choice.  This is similar to the millennial belief that one day 
the wicked will be burned, and that everyone left will all be obedient
 and righteous, not out of compulsion, but of their own free will.
  While all the evil books and apostates were hidden away in Communism, 
so also in the Millennium, Satan will be bound, and with his influence
 no longer present, people will naturally be righteous.  Communists 
didn’t expect that their revolution would cause widespread 
bloodshed and decades of economic depression and eventual ruin.

The Blindness of Faith Leading to Bloodshed

We think of the leaders of the Communist parties as monsters and
 murderers.  While this is certainly this is the case for some, it is a gross exaggeration for others.  While they knew that their New World 
Order would require some bloodshed to free the people from the wicked, 
evil elite, they never imagined it would usher in decades of brutal
 terror.  As time went on, these great apostles of Communism started to
 see that the battle would require more blood than they thought.  But because they still believed that utopia was just around the corner, they 
continued.  Their faith was unshakable.  But after awhile, it became 
clear that their dream was a nightmare.  Some, like Trotsky
, branched off and tried to find more workable approaches.  Many of 
these early Communist apostles were killed, and the ones that remained 
were left with terrible blood on their hands, and nothing to show for
 it, so they became seen as murderers and criminals.  But that doesn’t 
mean that they didn’t do start out with pure 
intentions.

When I look back at my zeal as a young missionary in the MTC, I think that
 I would have been a diligent young Communist at that age, if I were raised in that culture.  Would I have stopped as soon as it became clear that the bloodshed and revolution would never cease?  Hopefully.  But that would depend on how strong my faith in the cause was.  The fact that we have our own Mountain Meadow Massacre is reason enough to question the power of our own faith and determination, when venturing out onto thinner and thinner ice.

Atheism: Communism’s Greatest Mistake

While it’s true that Communism was atheistic, one has to remember 
that the religions of the day were 
corrupt, intolerant and
 hostile to the ideology.  But even as they rejected the idea of God,
 Communists pursued their ideology in the same fashion as proponents of a
 religion would.   Science and technology became a kind
 of pseudo religion.   This is similar to Mormonism.  We also saw all
 religions around us as corrupt and hostile. Joseph Smith and many 
of the early apostles were intellectuals and free-thinkers, with very
 modern ideas about science and true religion being compatible.

Ultimately, the rejection of God was probably Communism’s greatest mistake.  They were unable to see how closely Communism’s own values resembled original Christianity.   Had the founders of Communism accepted God and religion, it might have saved them from all the blood and horror and allowed them to find a more workable and enduring form.

In the US, what has saved Capitalism from being a depraved hole of Social Darwinism, is the fact that it’s practitioners also believe in Christian principles.  We have set up churches, charities, and numerous social services that work beside
 Capitalism, moderating and taming it’s more base instincts.  This combination of Christian 
values, with the powerful social instincts of Capitalism, have made it 
the greatest and most prosperous form of government ever known to man.

Concluding Thoughts

While pure Communism no longer exists, more moderate forms of Socialism do, and have been incorporated into almost every economy on earth today.  Our own economy is a mixture of Socialism and Capitalism.  However, finding a workable balance of these two forms is becoming increasingly difficult, as proponents of both Capitalism and Socialism become more extreme, continually painting the opposing side as “evil.”  I agree with most Mormons that Communism is an unworkable system of government that had to be scraped.  However, elements of Socialism can play a positive and moderating role in an effective
 Capitalist government.   I believe that understanding the roots and initial similarities of both our traditions can help us see our current political situation in a more nuanced light, leading to greater understanding and progress.

Discuss.

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34 Responses to Mormonism & Communism

  1. Will on November 27, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Nate,

    “Ye shall know them by their fruits”

    These inspired words of the Savior help us identify false prophets. Marx and Engle were false prophets. Communism is evil resulting in over 200 million deaths of evil communist leaders killing their own.

    The law of Consecration is of God. It is a Celestial Law and can only be successful with Celestial beings.

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  2. Howard on November 27, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    Well written Nate!

    …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..

    Capitalism succeeds because humankind is largely greedy and capitalism efficiently rewards greed. Socialism failed for the opposite reason.

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  3. Will on November 27, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    Howard,

    Was going to say the same basic thing, but add fear as one of the fuels capitalism.

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  4. Frank Pellett on November 27, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    Could communism have worked if it did not get it’s start with bloodshed? That seems to be the major difference between the two.

    I think any system that relies on killing people is doomed to fail. If hearts are not changed, changing the body in charge won’t make any difference.

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  5. Howard on November 27, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    Yes, good point Will greed and fear describe the market dynamics of capitalism.

    The Law of Consecration was/is to be divinely guided with it’s participants believing so. It failed probably largely because of selfishness a trait we mostly accept as “normal” and justified without acknowledging that that kind of normal isn’t mature or healthy. Sell what you have, give it to the poor and follow me was Jesus’ admonishment. Give no thought to purse or script etc. But we do give thought to purse and script (ego) we expect/demand a relationship between work and gain. By becoming a disciple I gave that up some time ago, I live fairly frugally and offer my skills to help others who are willing but unable to help themselves, often I am treated to a meal sometimes common other times lavish and expensive but both are with good company and I keep no ledger nor feel owed. Honestly, I have never been happier. Selfishness is a major lesson still unlearned by the saints and untaught by it’s often prosperity gospel motivated leaders.

    Today scarcity is political or greed issue not a production limitation, there is more than enough to lift humankind and those who die today due to malnutrition, thirst and easily curable disease could easily live on what we spill. It has never been less an abomination than it is today.

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  6. Nate on November 27, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    Frank, your comment makes me wonder…communism asserts itself through both brute force and propaganda. Without resorting to force, the propaganda element of Communism works quite effectively. That is the part that is very similar to the church. Controlling the message. I don’t think we quite appreciate the power of our own propaganda.

    Ultimately, propaganda could not save Communism, but that was probably only because of outside forces competing with that propaganda, the knowledge that things were so much better outside.

    Communism is only a comparative disaster. Compare it to feudalism, monarchy, slavery, or other forms of government that have endured thousands of years. In a way, it’s unfair to compare it with Capitalism, because Capitalism is the great economic triumph of civilization. But were Communism to exist in an isolated world without competition from Capitalism, perhaps it could have been relatively successful, and it could have survived with minimal force, and effective propaganda. Like Orderville, which was brought down by a pair of jeans from the neighboring Capitalist town.

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  7. Will on November 27, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    Howard,

    The problem with collectivism in any form in a telestial world is how to deal with the unproductive. This is chiefly why their has been so much failure with these philosophies. In fact, if you look at why communist leaders murdered so many of their own people, this topped the list. They simply killed those they felt weren’t productive. Not all 200 plus million were killed for this reason, but it was a significant chunk.

    A free market is the most compassionate for the dumb and lazy because it appeals to the carnal passions of greed and fear. We tend to look at these as negative motivators (and they are); however, they are motivators. Fear of starvation, joblessness or homelessness are great motivators. Likewise iPads, nice cars and homes are also motivators.

    In short, a fallen world calls for a sub standard economic philosophy to succeed. In contrast a celestial law can only succeed in a celestial sphere amongst celestial beings.

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  8. New Iconoclast on November 27, 2013 at 6:57 PM

    With all due respect, Nate, this post tends toward the superficial. You make some pretty broad generalizations here, and I think it suffers from lack of definition. You might have been better off focusing on “Communism” in its ideal form as envisioned by Marx and Engels and less on “communists,” a term which lacks definition as you’ve used it.

    If by “early Communists” you mean the rank and file of the movement in the Soviet Union immediately after the Revolution, say, in the early ’20s, what you say may have some merit especially as regards their work ethic. But it was pretty apparent even then that they were being misled by their leaders. Lenin and company didn’t just think that it would “require some bloodshed to free the people from the wicked, 
evil elite.” They were quite explicit that it would require the extermination of thousands of people; in the case of the kulaks, an entire class. In addition, the policy of “democratic centralism” ensured that once a Party decision had been made, anyone varying from that decision was “betraying the Revolution” and was subject to execution. Thousands of well-meaning rank-and-file Communists who were just doing their best to make the Utopian vision come true were liquidated because they didn’t match up with the Politburo’s marching orders. Similar scenarios played out in almost, if not every, major Communist national takeover in history: Cambodia, Cuba, Vietnam, China, the Eastern European countries, etc. You do history a great disservice by painting the “early Communists” as naive idealists who sought the best for their people. Many of them were. Those ones died in the gulag as they failed to adjust to the reality of life under Soviet rule. Josef Stalin was not an aberration; he was a logical next step.

    All of this is due primarily to the fact that Lenin and company misunderstood a key ingredient in God’s plan – the importance of free agency. Even ignoring that, they either misunderstood or willfully ignored a key part of the Marxian view of history – the idea that Communism would evolve naturally as a nation progressed through an agricultural, and then an industrial, phase where labor would become all-important and the worker class as collective owner of the means of production would make sense. Russia in 1917 was possibly the worst possible major, semi-industrial power on Earth in which to attempt this. Lenin acknowledged that he was forcing the issue and that the time wasn’t right; he knew Russia wasn’t ready for Communism or even socialism – heck, they were barely out of feudalism and didn’t really have a functioning capitalism yet. Marx would have thought it ridiculous to start the proletariat revolution in Tsarist Russia.

    That said, it is difficult to make the case that Lenin and the others, Trotsky included, were a bunch of wide-eyed idealists seeking to create the workers’ paradise. They were hard-core revolutionaries who sought to seize power any way they could get it – Communism was a convenient method, and Russia was a conveniently unstable, easily-toppled power vacuum made available during a unique historical moment of upheaval. The “early Communists” you seem to laud were suckers who were duped into acting, and they either became tools of the totalitarian state (and that right quickly – long before Stalin took power) or they were executed for not conforming to the New Order, most of them probably still trying to figure out what they did wrong.

    I can only wonder if you’re a fairly recent product of a public university, who’s been fed the BS version of the Noble Commie fighting the Evil Capitalist. Real history makes it clear that the truth was considerably different. No historical Communist rates any comparison, no matter how remote, to the United Order. Marxism is Satan’s “not a soul will be lost” counterfeit, devoid of free agency, and never even achieved anything like its own ideals in practice anywhere in the world.

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  9. Nate on November 27, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    ” In fact, if you look at why communist leaders murdered so many of their own people, this topped the list. They simply killed those they felt weren’t productive.”

    Will, I don’t think this was the rationale behind Stalin’s purges. That is the philosophy of Social Darwinism, to let the weak die and the strong survive, or Nazism, to eliminate the weak. I think the purges of Stalin were not tied to communist philosophy, but concerned the ruthless consolidation of power.

    Found a great article on the fall of Communism, which notes that Russia was at one time, particularly during WWII, a formidable competitor with capitalism in its industry and efficiency. But it later lost steam. Why?

    “the basic problem was not technical, but moral. Communism failed as an economic system because people stopped believing in it, not the other way around.”

    http://www.pkarchive.org/theory/Russia.html

    “We see this kind of thing all the time, in microcosm. The market does not require people to believe in it; but the centrally planned economies that live inside a market economy, known as corporations, do. Everybody knows that financial incentives alone are not enough to make a company succeed; it must also build morale, a sense of mission, which makes people work at least somewhat for the good of the company rather than think only of what is good for them. Luckily, under capitalism an individual company can fail without taking the whole society down with it – or it can be reformed without a bloody revolution.”

    “Why did people stop believing in socialism? Part of the answer is simply the passage of time: you can’t expect revolutionary fervor to last for 70 years. But perhaps also the unexpected resurgence of capitalism played a role. By the 1980s Russia’s elite was all too aware that the country, instead of overtaking the capitalist nations, was slipping behind – that Russia was failing to take advantage of new technology, that if anyone was challenging the West it was the rising nations of Asia. Communism lost any claim to the mandate of history well before it actually fell apart, and perhaps that is why it fell apart.”

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  10. Howard on November 27, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    Please check the spam filter for my last comment addressed to Will. Thanks.

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  11. Nate on November 27, 2013 at 7:14 PM

    “I can only wonder if you’re a fairly recent product of a public university, who’s been fed the BS version of the Noble Commie fighting the Evil Capitalist.”

    Wonder no longer! I am a product of that culture, and it sounds like you may know the history better than I. Thanks for adding to the discussion. I honestly don’t know how much guilt to ascribe to the early apostles of Communism.

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  12. New Iconoclast on November 27, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    You misread the pkarchive article – or, possibly, Krugman misreads history. Given his track record, that’s quite possible.

    When the fecal matter hit the ventilation system, and the Germans were at the gates of Moscow, the centralized Russian system turned its efforts to war production. Krugman errs in asserting that their tanks, planes, and guns “were technologically a match for Germany’s weapons;” they simply made more of them. In addition, in typical Soviet fashion, literally uncounted millions of Soviet civilians starved to death during the war because the government ignored civilian food production and focused on equipping the armies. The only productive agricultural regions of the Soviet Union that hadn’t been ruined before the war by centralized agricultural policies that eliminated the small landowner class were in the Western, European parts of the country (today’s Belarus and Ukraine) and had already been overrun by the Germans. There was no one left to grow food.

    America sent tons and tons of food to Russia during the war, and probably saved uncounted Russian citizens from starvation. In addition, and Krugman ignores this while praising the Communist industrial miracle, we sent $11.3 billion in war aid to the USSR in 1940s dollars – about $146 billion in today’s terms – from 1941-45. According to the VOA,

    What did this money buy for the USSR? 3,770 bombers, 11,594 fighter planes, 5,980 anti-aircraft guns, 2,000 railroad locomotives, 51,000 jeeps, 361,000 trucks, 56,445 field telephones, 600,000 kilometers of telephone wire, 22 million artillery shells, almost one billion rifle cartridges, and 15 million pairs of army boots.

    Shipped through the North Atlantic, driven up through Persia, or flown in from Alaska, this ready-made war material also freed up 600,000 Soviet factory workers to directly fight the Nazi invaders.

    The Soviet Union was never a “competitor.” It was always a basket case, capable of immense effort in focused areas, but never able to truly feed and support its own population. Once again, if you wish to draw parallels between Communism and the United Order, you’ll need to look at ideal Communism in the works of Marx, and not anything that ever existed in the real world. Socialism failed, not because “people lost faith in it” (OMHeck, Paul Krugman is a jackass) but because it failed to provide them with anything like a decent basic subsistence living.

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  13. New Iconoclast on November 27, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    I honestly don’t know how much guilt to ascribe to the early apostles of Communism

    Pretty much all of it. :)

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  14. Nate on November 28, 2013 at 2:33 AM

    I don’t know Iconoclast. I believe a lot of people’s actions can be ascribed to environmental factors. How do you explain Mountain Meadows? The perpetrators were, I imagine, typical of any given priesthood quorum in the church. Or did all of them just so happen to be wicked, a rare batch of bad apples in an otherwise exceptionally righteous, celestial-bound membership? I’m very careful about ascribing guilt, because I see myself in the face of a MMM executioner.

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  15. Will on November 28, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    Nate

    Who really knows the mind of these crazy leftists. You only mentioned Stalin, but he was a kinder, gentler murder (apostle as you call him)

    The real killers were Mao Zedong and Pol Pot, (much more vicious apostles as you call then) who practiced agrarian communism that held the view that the peasantry could be tapped as a revolutionary force. It forced urban workers (the unproductive in their mind — I used the term unproductive purposely ) to the fields where most of the mass murder took place. These two (apostles as you call them) killed over 150 million. It is reported Pol Pot killed 25% of his own people — 1 in 4 (true special witnesses of Christ wouldn’t you say)

    We also can’t forget Hitler, the socialist, who cleansed (ironically the most productive) millions in an effort to implement his national socialism (Nazism in German), He two was inspired by the apostles you mentioned. He studied Marx book regularly. A true disciple, wouldn’t you say.

    Or how about the crazy leftist in North Korea. The pot belly dictator with the largest stash of pornography on earth. God only knows how many this nut and father and grand father have killed. Viewing porn and killing people, what good apostles. Wouldn’t you say?

    It is noted almost all of these crazy leftists killed disabled children (and still do) after they were born, This breaks my heart given our family situation and supports my claim these nuts were trying to create the perfect work force by destroying the unproductive in their minds. Ironically, some (like the Jews in Germany and whites in Zimbabwe) were the most productive.

    This is not ancient history either. The nut job leftist in Zimbabwe committed his mass murder in 1980.

    Paul Krugman is a total idiot by the way. Just saying.

    You referring to these mass murders as apostles is about as insulting as you can get and the definition of trifling with sacred things.

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  16. Hedgehog on November 28, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    Will, use of the term socialist does not a socialist make, any more than the use of the term democratic made East Germany a democratic nation. The Nazi party were a far right wing, anti-Marxist organisation, favouring eugenics etc. etc.
    Even a cursory reading of Chinese and Cambodian history indicates facist and nationalist elements from the far right played a part in those countries also. Extremes meet round the back I guess. I don’t think we can blame the principles of socialism for that.
    I somewhat bemused that todays political right seeks to align all these atrocities with the left, but perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.

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  17. Nate on November 28, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    Will, I didn’t mean to be insulting with the word “apostle.” I’ve heard that word used describe individuals within organizations that command extreme authority and veneration. Satan also has his priesthoods. I think it’s OK to give Satan his own apostles.

    It seems to me you are feeling threatened by the comparison between Mormonism and Communism, and thus trying to lump all the 20th century atrocities on its back in an attempt to distance it from us.

    Maybe I should have clarified more “early communism” of Marx and others, as Iconoclast suggested.

    Anyway, Stalin and the other “apostles” did not personally murder all those people. He was helped out by millions of collaborators. This is where comparisons to religion become interesting, because of the LDS experience of MMM, and the accounts of God ordained genocide in the Bible.

    The same zeal we feel for God and missionary work in our church, can become the misguided zeal of obedience to MMM orders, or Biblical genocide, or Communist genocide. We cannot separate ourselves from our history, nor from our potential to misplace our zeal under extraordinary circumstances.

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  18. Lonicera on November 28, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    Actually, the United Order is more like anarchism, the misunderstood philosophy contemporary to communism. A particular brand of socialism (there are many kinds and yes, Nazism is a variety–national socialism), anarchism promotes collectivism without the use of force to achieve these means. Anarchism gets a black eye from the Molotov-cocktail-flinging, window-smashing contingent. However, most anarchists do not approve of these tactics, considering them wrong, counterproductive and attention seeking. Anyway, during the Russian civil war, the anarchists split with the communists (the Bolsheviks) over power. The anarchists wanted the people, the soviets, to retain power while the communists took over the revolution by establishing a dictatorship of elites (Lenin, et al). Just as communism has its ‘apostles’, anarchism has its own, including Bakunin, Proudhon and Kroponin. In recent years, a radical newspaper called The Mormon Worker was founded in Utah which promoted anarchist principles, but I don’t know if it is still extant.

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  19. Will on November 28, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    Hedgehog

    Baloney. What is interesting is how the left tries to change things after the fact — after they realize the atrocities committed by leftism.

    Hitler was the leader of the National Socialist Party. He was a social engineer, a collectivist with the Government controlling the means of production. A little different than the communists (hello, communism is at the extreme left) in that he dictated to the private sector how they would operate. Much like ObamaCare does with the insurance industry.

    These mass murders were leftists, mostly communists. Nice try though, the public school system in most countries has butchered the truth.

    Capitalism is PRIVATE individuals controlling the means if production and injecting their own money (capital) into the market. All of the mass murders mentioned (including Hitler) controlled the means of production. Either directly (communism) or by controlling the private sector (fascist). Again, nice try. I don’t blame you, I would try to distant myself from such mass murder as well.

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  20. Hedgehog on November 28, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Will, you are the one redefining right wing. A definition that no doubt suits the purposes of today’s right wing capitalists.

    Lonicera, there’s a Mormon Worker blog. Can’t do links on my iPod though, sorry.

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  21. Will on November 28, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    Hedgehog

    Seriously, think about it and who is really butchering reality.

    Fiscal conservatism, from Adam Smith to modern day IS free markets. Where private individuals determine their own destiny and try to SHRINK the size of government. All ( including Hitler) of the leaders mentioned did exactly the opposite. They pushed for GOVERNMENT control. How (use logic here and not public school indoctrination) can these be called right wing extremists. Again, the fundament component of the right wing is LESS government. Your logic is counter intuitive. You criticize and argue with me and others because we trash government SOCIAL programs as right wing extremists, THEN call these leaders that pushed for total GOVERNMENT control right wing extremists. You can’t have it both ways.

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  22. Nate on November 28, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Hope you all are having a nice Thanksgiving across the pond. Just heating up my Tesco’s shepherd’s pie here in my microwave here in the UK, as the wife’s away, and missing turkey dinner.

    Lonicera, thanks for the info on anarchy. That sounds fascinating and I’ll have to read up more on that subject.

    Will, you have a good point that capitalism doesn’t seem to spawn mass political murderers. That is because power is diffused in the forces of the market. Democracies also don’t spawn mass political murder, because power is diffused in the people. But anytime there is centralized power focused on a few, there will be a temptation to abuse that power, or use violent means to extend it. That is why centralized regimes of all stripes have committed political murder.

    In the case of Hitler, his murders were motivated, not the socialist elements of his government, nor his German nationalism, but by the racial philosophies of Nazism and Imperialist war-mongering. So I agree that branding him as “right-wing” in order to smear your political opponents is a cheap shot. But by the same token, trying to brand him as “left-wing” because of the socialist elements of his government, is also a cheap shot. It doesn’t mean anything. The theoretical “wing” of his party had nothing to do with the murders.

    In the case of Stalin, murder was motivated a ruthless thirst for absolute power, not by his Communist ideology. True, Communism does dictate that revolution is nescessary, so there will be blood in a revolution. But our founding fathers also said revolution is nescessary. The difference between our founding fathers, and communists, is that our founding fathers set up a democracy which defused centralized power in the people. Communists however, kept power away from the people and centered it in a few powerful dictators, where it immediately became corrupt.

    Inasmuch as you are libertarian, and hate government in general, you can go ahead and gloat that all these political mass murderers were also proponents of “big government,” that both Hitler and Stalin were “socialists,” however you want to define that word. But they also both had mustaches. That charechterization is fairly meaningless, since there are lots of perfectly peaceful “big government” socialist democracies in the world. Democracies can make their governments as big as they want, but since power is diffused in the people, there will be no tyrants.

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  23. Will on November 28, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    Nate,

    What do all if these madmen have in common? Like lucifer they sought three things: (see Moses 4:3) 1) They sought to destroy the Agency of man 2) they sought for glory 3) they rallied followers under the guise of collectivism — remember lucifer’s rally cry: “not one soul shall be lost”

    God, on the other hand fought for agency. With the sole exception of life itself, it is our greatest gift. It can also be our greatest enemy. This is why lucifer attracted so many converts. They drank the Kool aid of the collectivist movement that we are all equal. That we can all be equal. That we can all be saved. That no one needs to fail.

    God has no guile. No deceit. He cannot tell a lie and told us the truth about mortality. He told us it would be a risky and that only a few would receive his glory. He told us the plan of salvation and how it would distribution the souls of men — some to exaltation, some to damnation but most right in the middle. A good old fashion bell curve. Survival of the spiritually fittest. A merit system with winners and losers. He told us celestial glory would only come to those that can live the Celestial law (D&C 88:22-26). The Law of Consecration is one if those laws. It is earned.

    Remember, lucifer is still fighting the war in heaven. He is thus still pushing his collective agenda and seeking to destroy the agency of man. He uses his apostles (Mao, pol pot, Stalin, hitler) to push his agenda. God pushes for freedom and liberty (D&C 101) because he understands it is the only way agency can be fully implemented.

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  24. Lonicera on November 28, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    Apparently T. Jefferson also drank the Kool-Aid, Will, when he said, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.” Collectivism and equality are not what the war in heaven was about. Regarding your theory of spiritual Darwinism, the war in heaven was about agency. Lucifer’s plan was to remove agency but he didn’t address equality or collectivism. As I stated before, the Law of Consecration is a form of collectivism. And that’s a celestial arrangement. The experience of Soviet Russia or Red China is not an indictment of collectivism. The people in those countries weren’t living communally and sharing their substance, they were ruled over by dictators who had absolute power over them (not very equal). Regarding equality, God himself stated that he was no respecter of persons. Freedom is complementary to equality.

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  25. Hedgehog on November 29, 2013 at 1:41 AM

    Will, National socialism ala the Nazis is long way from the socialist ideals espoused by those early communists, though I don’t disagree that the results of both were far from good, but would agree with Nate that this is to do with a concentration of power in the hands of dictators than a left or right thing per se. In Britain the Nazi’s are seen as extreme right wing. The less extreme parties current in Britain but which begin to espouse nationalist ideals are also to right of the conservative party (UKIP, BNP). And pre-WW2 it was the right-wing here that were the nazi-sympathisers, not the left.
    But all this is getting away from the point of Nate’s post, sorry Nate!

    Nate, an interesting post. A year or so ago I read a book which saw all these movements (both with and without a diety) as a continuation of the what the author termed the “apocalypse meme” (which has existed in societies for centuries), in that the adherents were seeking to bring about the utopian society that would follow an apocalypse. The author suggests one reason the marxist version of the meme got so little attention in the US at the time is because those in the US had an abundance of religiously themed apocalyptic options available to choose from (of which the restored church was only one).

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  26. ji on November 29, 2013 at 4:28 AM

    Will, no. 23: “Survival of the spiritually fittest. A merit system with winners and losers. He told us celestial glory would only come to those that can live the Celestial law.”

    No. There is no Gospel Darwinism. It most certainly is not survival of the spiritually fittest. Salvation is available for all who choose faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and who choose to allow themselves to be sanctified through that faith. Being a “winner” or a “loser” is a choice, not a matter of fitness. And somehow, even then in a way, those who choose to save themselves will be last while those who lose their lives in the service of others will be first.

    No, it is not a matter of fitness — it’s a matter of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, and charity in the Lord Jesus Christ. The grace of our Savior is sufficient to save even the seemingly most unfit among us, if we will allow it.

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  27. Nate on November 29, 2013 at 7:09 AM

    Well, I actually agree with Will that “survival of the spiritually fittest” represents an aspect of the gospel: the parable of the talents, “to him than hath shall be given, and to him that hath none shall be taken away even what he hath.” Jesus was a very “hard man” in that parable.

    But if we wish to apply political theory to the gospel, we should add that God puts a spiritually “socialist” safety net for all His children. Even the most miserable sinners will be saved in a kingdom of glory “beyond description.” So in the end, God does embrace “Satan’s plan” in that all his children are saved, (except a few sons of perdition). Yet they are saved at different degrees of glory according to their works, as Will suggests. Hitler doesn’t “earn” the Telestial Kingdom, rather he will be forgiven and saved in it, according to God’s grace. So I think the Plan of Salvation can be seen as incorporating a mixture of capitalist and socialist principles, if you will.

    I take issue with characterizing certain political systems as “Satan’s plan.” I don’t think God and Satan were arguing about how much political influence to give their children in various forms of earthly government. They were arguing about whether to give men that special divine quality which distinguishes man from animal: to know good from evil, and the ability to be able to choose between the two. That is what free agency means. Animals are living under “Satan’s plan” as are the mentally retarded and young children who die before the age of accountability.

    Living in a socialist country does nothing to take away knowledge of good and evil. It may take away your ability to choose between different brands of soup, but that is not the same thing.

    I agree with Will that Satan is trying still to take away our agency, but he does this, not by making us pay taxes, and thus be poorer with fewer opportunities, but by making is addicted to our sins and lusts, including the great capitalist lust for more and more “things,” and for more and more money. He makes us believe that money is freedom, money is power, we can buy anything with it, and thus in the end, we become a slave in our heart to money, which takes away our ability to see clearly between good and evil.

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  28. New Iconoclast on November 29, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    At the risk of being superficial, I could argue that communism as it was envisioned lacked an essential element of the United Order in that it was not driven by desire to bring on the Kingdom of God but was instead very secular – and thus lacked the incentive to drive the production necessary to provide a decent standard of living. I believe it would have failed even if it had been allowed to evolve naturally as Marx envisioned. In other words, his theory was fundamentally wrong.

    “Communism” as it played out in practice (and I do mean “practice”) lacked several essential elements not only of the United Order but also of “ideal” communism. First, it required a great deal of physical and economic coercion, which was not only immoral but counterproductive (“Not a soul shall be a counter-revolutionary; wherefore, give me all thine power”); second, it failed to allow people the wherewithal to develop and use their own talents to make decisions that, in the collective, would have been good for the community but instead erred in thinking that a small group could effectively control economic decisions for a large nation; third, it was imposed on an unwilling, unready, and ignorant population in all cases by a small group of dedicated revolutionary professionals with no scruples about means rather than evolving through the stages of social development Marx envisioned.

    It is telling that no advanced, educated society in history has become consciously socialist in the centralized sense until they developed such a large, unproductive leisure and intellectual class that they became collectively stupid enough to vote themselves there.

    Insomuch as lonicera’s position re. anarchy is concerned, I tend to be more of a rational anarchist (or at least a minarchist) myself, following the position of the great rational anarchist who said, “I teach people correct principles and let them govern themselves.” However, I think there have been very few principled anarchists in history, and they’ve been tarnished by the image of the bomb-throwers. “Forcing anarchy” on someone, to me, is a fundamental misunderstanding of anarchy. :)

    We may be too quick to point to the MMM as an example of the readiness of the LDS people to blindly follow their leaders in their religious enthusiasm. That is actually the only case in which Mormons went seriously off the rails as an organized priesthood-led group, and the Church’s shame is not that it was led by SLC (because it wasn’t) but that they covered it up and failed to root out and remove the perpetrators.

    Examples of overenthusiasm in Mormon followerhood has not manifested itself in massacres or pogroms, as a rule, but can be seen in a myriad of lesser sins: Wasatch Front complacency, giggly-fan-girl hanging on every word of a stake president or Area Authority, our shameful continued support of the US military’s adventures, or our insistence in the face of all that’s decent that “I Believe In Christ” is a good hymn.

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  29. Will on November 29, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    Hedgehog:

    It is exactly in line with Nate’s post. In fact, it is a continuation of our conversation several weeks ago. You could replace ‘some’ or ‘we’ in the post and replace with Will and it would represent what has been bouncing around in Nate’s socialist head leading to this post.

    Again, the ‘right wing’ always pushes for less government, not more. If they are pushing or supporting those that push for more government, they are not ‘right wing’ regardless of how they portray themselves.

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  30. Will on November 29, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    Ji,

    I always appreciate and respect your commentary. I think you offer the best of what is right and decent. You are somewhat new here and are not use to the Willisms. I purposely use terms to get people to think: ‘survival of the spiritually fittest’ and ‘merit based system’. It did just that, it got you and others thinking. Let’s take a deep breath and think about these terms in conjunction with what God has said.

    You used the terms ‘faith, hope, charity and love’. Are these not spiritual actions (exercises) and merits?

    You are correct in saying we much choose? But, what about those that do not choose or allow it to happen, what happens to them?

    What is to be made of the term ‘straight is the way and narrow the gate and FEW be there that find it”?

    Are the few not the fittest? They were obviously selected for a reason? Did God choose them, or was it based on their choice (merits)?

    What about all those that are distributed to lesser kingdoms? Are they as spiritually fit or did they offer the same merits as those in higher kingdoms? Again, if it was not their merits, they God choose them. And if he chose them; why them over someone else?

    I clearly presented the justice side of things and failed to present the mercy side — thank you for your contribution to this end. It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. Christ really is our Savior. He can and does fill in where we can’t. In this Thanksgiving season, how grateful I am for the volunteer that simply said: ‘here am I, send me”. This master of mercy can and will make everything work out. I have faith in that concept. That gives me comfort when contemplating the demands of justice.

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  31. Hedgehog on November 29, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    Will it certainly seems to be the case that US right wing argues for less government, but it is not and has not been universal.

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  32. Will on November 29, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Hedgehog

    Putting aside the distorted terminology and twist on reality and getting back to the real issue. All of these mass murders (including in the war in heaven) took place for the same basic reason:

    1) they sought to take away the agency of man.
    2) it was born of out jealousy and envy of the accomplished. It was about taking, or trying to take power. (E.g lucifer wanted the glory)
    3) it was all done under the guise of collectivism — communism, socialism, fascism or luciferism

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  33. Nate on November 29, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Will, I think you are over-simplifying things a bit.

    In the war in heaven, Satan wanted to take away agency (the knowledge of good and evil), so that there would be no risk of loosing people, and everyone would be saved.

    But Satan lost that battle, and now he has changed tactics. Before, he had good intentions, in that he wanted everyone to be saved. But now he no longer has everyone’s best interest at heart. He wants us all to suffer and go to hell. He wants us to rebel and become miserable like him.

    So I don’t think you can categorize the evil in the world as being motivated by the same principles over which the war in heaven was fought. This is a new war, with new objectives. Perhaps there are some aspects of our current war with Satan that resemble issues relating to free-agency and the war in heaven, but I think it is a mistake to try and define everything in terms of your libertarian interpretation of the Pearl of Great Price: mass murder=take away agency=collectivism=fascism=socialism=communism=envy. I think things are considerably more complicated than that.

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  34. Will on November 30, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    Nate,

    Agreed, it is a bit of an evidentiary penumbra, but the salient facts remain:

    1) He sought to take away the agency of man
    2) He motivated the occupy Kolob crowd using the same tactics employed by Mao, Pol Pot or Stalin — organize the peasant class with a rally cry against the establishment. His campaign slogan was “not one soul shall be lost” and his opponent was the Gods. The ruling class offering exhalation via a grueling test of agency known as mortality. Like these brutal dictators, he used envy, greed, pride, wrath and lust as his weapons. In the process committing mass murder, only his was spiritual death to his occupy Kolob crowd.

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