Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Can a Good Mormon also Be a Good Marxist?

No. Just in case you wondered. Please, that's not just my opinion. President Thomas S. Monson himself has a friend whose cousin shares that opinion.

Marxism and any other system aspiring for total government power will ultimately punish genuine Christianity. The two are incompatible. In the end, the human greed for power and wealth will view independent religion with such distrust and fear that it must yield some or majority control to the forces of power. You cannot serve God and an all-powerful State. Most other religions are at risk, as well. How blessed we are to have a Constitution with separation of powers, with vast limitations on government power and a reservation of rights in the hands of the people. How unfortunate that it is being ignored.

Nobody seems to know what Marxism is anymore. They don't teach it on MTV like they used to. Ask the average voter to explain the difference between socialist economics and the economic programs of either Presidential candidate, if any, and you'll get a blank stare. The same blank stare you would get if you asked either of the candidates the same question.

But for those who are interested, here is some good reading from this week's Financial Post: Bailout marks Karl Marx's comeback. Interesting.

Hey, a lot of good folks support the bailout and see it as a step toward hope rather than simply turning over all our our money to one man to bail out the companies he's aligned with. You can be a good Mormon and have all sorts of differing opinions on what government should do. But when you recognize Marxism, I hope you'll just say no.

This bailout bill could have far more impact on our future than you are imagining, though. In addition to the massive centralization of power that it entails, a la Marx, the bill itself is growing to astronomical proportions as corrupt sweeteners of all kinds are added to bring in various politicians. It started off as a 10 page ransom note. Now the list of demands on our future have swollen to 450 pages. Steps toward nationalized mental health care are in there. Who knows what other surprises will be on our backs in future years?

Engineered crises to create excuses for massive seizure of power and wealth - naw, of course we can trust the big guys pushing it. They are so smart - what could possible go wrong?

A little related background reading:
Keynes on Inflation - PBS Article

Nixon tries price controls: Nixon and Price Controls - PBS Article

Socialist Economics - Wikipedia

26 comments:

Mormanity said...

FYI, former socialist Dean Esmay offers an interesting perspective on the issue of Marxism in this age (his comment is dated June 8, second comment on his blog post):
As Sir Walter Scott said, "Breathes there a man with soul so dead, he was not, in his twenties, Red?" I was a socialist, too. I have sympathy for those who continue to believe in this dream. I respect their idealism and desire for a better world. But it would be wrong to stay silent: apologizing for Marxism is no better than apologizing for National Socialism. It's time we admit that, no how painful it may be to say or to hear.

As at least one former Marxist thinker put it, if the world's Marxists would turn around and plunge their heads into the legacy of what they've wrought in trying to create a better world, they would instantly drown in an ocean of blood.

It's not just Lenin, Stalin and Mao. It's Kim, Castro, Ortega, Mengistu, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, Tito, Jaruzelski, and all the rest. It's every nation whose leaders have taken Marx's credo seriously and attempted to implement a society based on it. Marx's ideas are wrong, at the most fundamental levels, and it is in the attempt to force human beings into this very wrong view of human nature that totalitarianism is wrought.

Marx's apologists continue saying things like, "True Communism has never been tried" and "Marxism and Communism aren't the same thing." But every Communist called himself a Marxist. Every one after Lenin said he would do better, learn from the mistakes of those who went before him. Every one wrought death and repression and economic devastation. Almost always, the ones most harshly crushed (in the long run) by the Marxist tyrants were the very proletariat they claim to act in the name of. Almost always, when the proletariat have been given a free choice, they have rejected Marx.

Marxists are almost invariably the spoiled children of the bourgeois class they despise. The proletariat never rises to support them: the bourgeois Marxists always wind up imposing their will on their beloved proletariat, "for their own good" of course.

At its core, Marxism is a philosophy of hate. It paints a false picture of a ruling elite, and treats with contempt the bourgeoisie that supposedly support this mostly-mythical ruling class, and posits their "inevitable" destruction.

You're the new Marxist ruler in charge. I believe your ideas are wrong, and will cause destruction. I won't stop saying so. If I won't give in, won't cooperate, and won't shut up, what will you do with me?

I can tell you what Marx said: people like me would be inevitably ground under the wheel of history. I can tell also tell you what every Marxist who has gotten into power has done with people like me: killed us, tortured us, or put us into reeducation camps until our wills are broken. What else could they do with us? Marxism at its core does not accept the idea that its assumptions about human nature and human history can be wrong. Even questioning the idea is counterrevolutionary. So if we question the ideas, we must simply be reactionaries, to be ground under the wheel history.

Anywhere and everywhere--there are no exceptions--when Marxists have taken power, blood has poured in the streets. Countless people die, countless more are tortured, and increasing repression and totalitarianism are always the end result.

Marxism is the beautiful, seductive dream of the devil. It doesn't work and never has--and almost certainly never will.

Shaun Q said...

It is interesting that Keynes's comments (as quoted in the WGBH article) back up the sentiment of restraint when it comes to government intervention in economic affairs (or at least in currency valuation). As interpreted today, the phrase "Keynesian Economics" seems to have become a justification for any and all government intervention in the free market including what used to be known as Marxism/socialism.

John Jackson said...

Ahh, Jeff, too bad I don't have more time tonight to study all that is on your website. I heard on the radio going to work pork-barrel items have been rolled into the bill. Why oh why at a time like this. It reminds me of something McCain said during the debate, something to the effect that such legislation can be addictive to the legislators. Even in the hour of the nation's dire need, they greedily take advantage. Then, reaching work, a Wikipedia-reading fellow worker told me of the judge's power to be beyond appeal in his decisions. Then finally, back home, I peaked into Wikipedia and it says the bailout amounts to something like $2,200 per every American.

The economy is in crisis, but maybe the bailout is a crisis in and of itself. I still feel we should consider a bailout, but hopefully the House will shave it down to cover just what is needed to salvage the economy.

bunker said...

I am looking forward to some more apologist stuff.

theradicalmormon said...

Can you be a good capitalist and still be a good Mormon? no.
The only way to be a good Mormon is live the Celestial law and that is lived by precious few beings in this Church currently.

Anonymous said...

Two words: United Order.

Three words: Law of Consecration.

next...

Matt "the Bat" said...

I find this whole bail out and consideration there of as part of some great socialist nightmare. I come from a socialist country, not a communist or marxist, socialist. (For those curious its Canada). By no means is it perfect but socialism really isn't that bad, especially when done with Democracy. You can get tons of free services and you pay quite moderate taxes considering. There are some obvious flaws, but honestly what system doesn't have flaws that need to be worked through.
In the case of the bailout though I'm not really sure why it is considered socialist, from times when companies have needed bailouts in my country we've told them to merge with others. Very rarely have we given such a bail out, and even then nothing on that level has ever been considered. The bail out while it might not be capitalist (though I would make an argument that it is and your government has just declared that they are a corporation buying up other companies), it isn't socialist either.
As well as a Christian as cool as it is seeing the government do the work sometimes of providing basic needed systems, it saddens me that these systems are not coming forward from an effort of the church. The church should be providing hope and care to people. We do it for other nations, could we not do it for our own?

Velska said...

"Steps toward nationalized mental health care are in there"

I may be wrong, but I thought that insurers would be required to shell out for mental health care. I realize that hardcore free-marketers despise all regulations, but it seems a reasonable piece.

Anyway, it's nice to remember that the pork-barrel items in the new bill are mostly there to get senators and representatives to pass the legislation. That is, including the conservative Republicans, who are so against government handouts but have no compunction when they can further their own fortune.

You have pork-barrel spending, because that's the political system that has been built.

Anyway, the crisis came from deregulation that permitted institutions (and individuals) to borrow money in astronomical figures. And the two surviving investment banks are already government-insured, because they would have crashed without it.

Christopher said...

Are you proposing that we excommunicate large numbers of European, Latin American, and African Saints simply because their political ideology is different than yours? Because that's how I read this post. Just in case you were wondering, that seems like a less-than-effective approach to the internationalization of the Church.

Alex Valencic said...

@ theradicalmormon

I have a feeling that your definition of capitalism and my definition of capitalism are two very different things. On the off-chance that you are still looking at these comments, do you care to explain why you think that capitalism and Mormonism are incompatible?

I am a true believer in capitalism. Not the type of hindered-wannabe capitalism that we see today, in which individuals and corporations are controlled by the government, but the kind of capitalism that exists in a truly free market. The capitalism that leads great minds to produce great products. The capitalism that leads the producers to provide the very best for the consumers so that the consumers will want to come back. the capitalism that leads the consumers to willingly pay for the products they desire. The capitalism that leads to growth and innovation. The capitalism that provides employment opportunities for all who desire to work. The capitalism that rejects the parasite who asks for something in exchange for nothing.

How is this incompatible with a religion that teaches that the labourer is worthy of his hire, and that the idler shall not eat the bread of Zion? The religion that teaches that work is an eternal principle, and that the system of the dole is evil? The religion that teaches that we must each do our part? The religion that teaches that we must abide the laws of the world in which we live? The religion that teaches that before we can abide celestial laws, we must prove our ability to abide terrestrial and telestial laws?

Where is the conflict?

RWW said...

Not the type of hindered-wannabe capitalism that we see today, in which individuals and corporations are controlled by the government...

This is a vital point. We haven't had anything like capitalism in America for quite some time.

Mormanity said...

I said: "You can be a good Mormon and have all sorts of differing opinions on what government should do. But when you recognize Marxism, I hope you'll just say no."

Christopher's paraphrase of what I said: "[Let's] excommunicate large numbers of European, Latin American, and African Saints simply because their political ideology is different than [mine]."

I think you've misread my post. I see no need to excommunicate people in Europe, Africa, or Latin America because of differing political views. But Mormons in the US with different views, look out!

Alex Valencic said...

@ Christopher

You are also assuming that every single person, including Latter-day Saints, in socialist nations agree with the political system. This is simply not the case. Think about all the people in the USSR who defected. Think of the people in Germany during WWII who participated in the Resistance. A socialist government does not make every person in the country a socialist.

Regardless, I think that the political neutrality of the church would negate any notion that those of different political ideologies should be excommunicated for thinking differently. While Jeff is a rather influential LDS blogger, I highly doubt that the church's policies are based on his ideas (sorry, Jeff ).

Anonymous said...

Alex:
Welcome to Mormonity!
I didn't know that Jeff was an influential blogger. He's certainly a good one.

I'm glad you point out that a true capitolistic society is not what we currently have. When governments encourage companies, and bail out companies, they are not capitolistic.

-Liberal Slayer

theradicalmormon said...

Alex,

If you'd really like to know where I'm coming from, perhaps this quote from Hugh Nibley's "Approaching Zion" will help:

"
Modern revelation has some interesting things to say about idlers: "Let every man be diligent in all things. And the idler shall not have place in the church" (D&C 75:29). We are all to work in the kingdom and for the kingdom. "And the inhabitants of Zion also shall remember their labors, inasmuch as they are appointed to labor, . . . for the idler shall be had in remembrance before the Lord" (D&C 68:30). Note that it is not the withholding of lunch but the observant eye of the Lord that admonishes the idler. This refers to all of us as laborers in Zion, and "the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish" (2 Nephi 26:31). That is the theme here: "Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them; . . . they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness" (D&C 68:31). An idler in the Lord's book is one who is not working for the building up of the kingdom of God on earth and the establishment of Zion, no matter how hard he may be working to satisfy his own greed. Latter-day Saints prefer to ignore that distinction as they repeat a favorite maxim of their own invention, that the idler shall not eat the bread or wear the clothing of the laborer. And what an ingenious argument they make of it! The director of a Latter-day Saint Institute was recently astounded when this writer pointed out to him that the ancient teaching that the idler shall not eat the bread of the laborer has always meant that the idle rich shall not eat the bread of the laboring poor, as they always have. "To serve the classes that are living on them," Brigham Young reports from England, "the poor, the laboring men and women are toiling, working their lives out to earn that which will keep a little life in them [lunch is what they get out of it, and no more]. Is this equality? No! What is going to be done? The Latter-day Saints will never accomplish their mission until this inequality shall cease on the earth." fn But the institute director was amazed, because he had always been taught that the idle poor should not eat the bread of the laboring rich, because it is perfectly obvious that a poor man has not worked as hard as a rich man. With the same lucid logic my Latter-day Saint students tell me that there were no poor in the Zion of Enoch because only the well-to-do were admitted to the city."
(Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 240 - 241.)

Satan is the one who introduced Capitalism into the world, right along with the first secret combination.

jayleenb said...

radicalmormon and anon 6:04- The difference between the United Order and Law of Consecration is that those terms and priciples ONLY WORK IN THE CHURCH, because it is led by a Prophet of God. And those things are ALWAYS subject to a person's FREE AGENCY. To FORCE people to hand over their money to pay for corrupt and evil things is WRONG. It's stealing.

Those things CANNOT and DO NOT work for a society led by corrupt politicians and greedy people.

I'm sure the comment from Brigham Young is being taken out of context.

So NO, you cannot be a socialist or marxist and be a good mormon. Because those systems ROB everyone of the CHOICE, or FREE AGENCY to CHOOSE to consecrate or give or live the United Order. Even the Church does not FORCE anyone to live those laws!

Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh...

jayleenb said...

And how to we rid the earth of the poor who toil without pay or rid it of people who don't work and expect to eat?

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then those people who CHOOSE to go to the Temple and CHOOSE to live the law of consecration will do so.

Brigham is correct in that what it will take to be rid of the evils is for us to do the work of the Gospel and for the Church to spread throughout the earth.

It will not happen through the governments of corrupt men.

Mormanity said...

Great Nibley quote! Nibley was my favorite radical of all time!

The problem with left-wing and right-wing politics by almost anybody else is that most people are out for their own good. The self-proclaimed voices of compassion are stingy misers who barely give anything to charity, maybe some underwear for a tax deduction, but want to give away billions of other people's money for the power it gives them. And then we have the banksters who scheme day and night to simply take your money. Nibley was successful but couldn't care less about money. Sometimes too radical for me, but he could say what he said without hypocrisy.

Zera Pulsipher said...

Per5sonally radical I'm wondering why you assume it's not talking about the poor and the rich. It is simply talking about idlers and both groups have their share. It's simple if you are idle in the gospel, whether poor or rich, attractive or unattractive, intelligent or foolish, you will not "Eat the bread of Zion."

It has nothing to do at all with the current conversation in fact as it has nothing to do with socialism or capitalism, and everything with to do with building up Zion (otherwise known as the pure in heart).

Dangerous that your trying to use these remarks for your own agenda, reminds me a lot about what Antis do.

Oh and before you rant at remember these words of canonized scripture (something Nibley's words are not)
"The wicked take the truth to be hard..."

Alex Valencic said...

The idle poor is just as evil as the idle rich. Idlers are idlers, no matter how much or how little they have. And, in my experience, there are far more idlers among the wealthy than there are among the poor. Ever heard of a poor playboy? No? Neither have I.

I make no distinction of wealth and poverty when I discuss the idler and the labourer. Neither do the scriptures. In fact, I believe that they enjoin all to labour together.

While I admit that the scriptures that command us to labour are speaking of spiritual matters, I enjoy likening the scriptures to my own life. If the Lord says that I need to be labouring, rather than being idle, well, by golly, I'm going to work! Doesn't matter if I am working as a custodian or a CEO. Work is work, and we are rewarded for what we do with what we have.

In a capitalistic society, that is how the economy should work. You get paid for what you do. If you do a lot, you get paid a lot. If you do nothing, you get paid nothing.

Marxists have it the exact opposite: those who do the most, pay the most to those who do the least,who pay nothing. And somehow it is better to be a mooching schlub than it is to be hardworking? Where in the scriptures does the Lord endorse laziness?

theradicalmormon said...

Jayleenb,
I did not intend to condone socialism with the quote from Nibley. I have my reservations about the general Mormon opinion that it is wrong to create laws which tell a person what to do with his or her money, but that is not what I’m trying to point out here. I was merely pointing out that Capitalism is also a major tool of Satan as we know he uses the riches of the earth to buy up armies and wreak havoc upon the earth. We know that wealth, and man’s covetous nature toward it, is a deceptive tool that Satan uses with great skill in stopping many from reaching their potential in this lifetime. Capitalism teaches a man to seek after the rewards of this world. God wants us to seek after the rewards of the next world. Thus, we truly cannot serve God and Mammon.
I also am aware that we have to work. However, the treasures of the earth are provided to us by God, and not by our labors. As Hugh Nibley was fond of pointing out, indeed, we must work, but the lunch is still free.

theradicalmormon said...

Mormanity,
Yes, I love that quote too. Nibley was a great thinker, who could present his ideas as clear as anyone could. His teachings are true gems.
I consider the people who are behind this 700 billion dollar giveaway and a much broader backdrop of people involved to be part of our modern day Gadianton society. They’ve been around for a long time now. Their heads were particularly ugly with the Multi-lateral Agreement on Investment movement during the Clinton years and yet, we, like the people of the Book of Helaman, are completely seduced by their ways and see nothing wrong with what they are doing… unless one is paying attention as you are.

theradicalmormon said...

Zera,
I’m assuming nothing here. Those were Hugh Nibley’s words, not mine. However, if Hugh was right, the Lord is particularly warning the rich in that verse… which would not be out of character for the Lord, as he often puts out these sorts of warnings to the wealthy. For example:
2Nephi 9
30 But wo unto the arich, who are brich as to the things of the cworld. For because they are rich they despise the dpoor, and they persecute the meek, and their ehearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their ftreasure is their god. And behold, their gtreasure shall perish with them also.
Actually, I believe that how we handle our wealth, or what the Lord has blessed us with materially, has everything to do with the building up of Zion. A covetous person cannot be pure in heart. Mormanity covered this topic here:
http://mormanity.blogspot.com/2006/06/condemnation-of-rich.html
I love Brigham Young’s quote where he said, “I teach them to live so that the Spirit of revelation may make plain to them their duty day by day that they are able to guide themselves. To get this revelation it is necessary that the people live so that their spirits are as pure and clean as a piece of blank paper that lies on the desk before the inditer, ready to receive any mark the writer may make upon it. When you see the Latter-day Saints greedy, and coveteous of the things of this world, do you think their minds are in a fit condition to be written upon by the pen of revelation? When people will live so that the Spirit of revelation will be with them day by day, they are then in the path of their duty; if they do not live according to this rule, they live beneath their duty and privileges. I hope and pray that we may all live up to our privileges.”
My agenda (that you have prematurely judged to be wicked) I suppose is to merely point out that all economic systems of men, including socialism and capitalism, are tools of Satan. While we buy into associating Satan with socialism, we often overlook his close association with capitalism. That was my point.

theradicalmormon said...

Alex,

I applaud your work ethic. I believe that this is pleasing to the Lord as do many. One of the problems with capitalism is that we are easily lead to believe that the paycheck is the end goal of our labors. We work hard and expect to get paid more for more hours worked, or for more jobs worked, or for more sacrifice spent so that we can buy more things to clutter up our lives.

What we are doing in essence is working hard to get more lunch. The Lord has placed us here on the earth so that we can gain knowledge, learn obedience and continue on the path of learning how to become like Him. The Lord in turn provides us with lunch. Free of charge. We have to work, but the lunch is supposed to be free. The Lord gave man dominion over the earth. No sooner than dominion was handed over, Satan taught man to take as much dominion as possible and then sell it back to his brothers for money, which could be used to buy up more lunch. When the Lord comes to check up on his subjects, he will find many that have hoarded a lot of lunch, but have done nothing to learn of Him and done nothing to gain knowledge and truth (the greatest pursuit). Then what will He do?
D&C 104:
18 Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.

Capitalism (nor socialism) is not the Lord’s way. No, the Lord’s way is much higher than man’s way.

Alex Valencic said...

Obviously capitalism is a lower law, as such. We are not celestial beings, therefore we cannot abide a celestial law. This doesn't mean we shouldn't be trying to reach that point, of course. We should be constantly striving to be worthy of the Lord's higher laws, and His higher ways. If not capitalism, then what?

The scriptures do condemn those who hoard and are greedy, but this does not mean that everyone with wealth is a greedy hoarder. There are those who have a lot and still maintain their righteousness.

How does the Lord compare those who build on what they are given to those who do nothing with what they have?

Remember the Parable of the Talents? What did the Lord say to those who used their talents to create more? "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the Lord." (Matthew 25:21) Compare this to the servant who hid his talent, and did nada: After calling him a "wicked and slothful servant" the Lord commanded that his talent be taken and given to the profitable servant, saying, "For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Until the Lord comes in His glory and institutes a new world with a new system, I'll stick with the system that promotes work and growth over the system that encourages sloth and stagnation.

Christopher said...

Alex Valencic,

You said to me:

You are also assuming that every single person, including Latter-day Saints, in socialist nations agree with the political system.

I am assuming no such thing. I am making an observation based on my interaction with many faithful Latter-day Saints in Latin America and Europe who are socialist and/or Marxist by choice. Theyare not being duped into it because capitalism isn't available to them as an option, and they aren't waiting for the day when their country becomes "free" like America, and they can leave behind their leftist past. Rather, many of them see their leftist political and economic ideologies as compatible with the gospel and Church's teachings.