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