Thursday, October 23, 2008

more thoughts on systems of government

Sorry for the lame post title. I'm trying to be less incendiary. :-)

Cocoa posted a link in her comments to a speech by Ezra Taft Benson, a former apostle and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and Secretary of Agriculture under Eisenhower. For some reason the link didn't work for me, however, I am very familiar with Benson's anti-communist and anti-socialist views.

Check out this quote from Earnest Wilkinson, former BYU president:

"I then had a conference with Brother Benson, who is very much concerned over the socialistic tendencies of Brother Brown. I then had a conference with President Brown, who is very much concerned over the super-patriotic tendencies of Brother Benson."

President Brown was Hugh B. Brown, Benson's fellow apostle and councilor to President McKay (president of the Church 1951-1970). After Benson gave a General Conference address that condemned communists and socialists, Brown complained: "All the people in Scandinavia and other European countries are under Socialistic governments and certainly are not Communists. Brother Benson's talk ties them together and makes them equally abominable. If this is true, our people in Europe who are living under a Socialist government are living out of harmony with the Church."

I think President Brown makes a great point--something we should keep in mind with an even larger world-wide Church now with more members outside the U.S. than within. And I think it's too bad we don't hear so much now about the moderate views of some of our past leaders. Why is President Brown not quoted as much as President Benson?

Athena commented questioning the idea of finding a balance between socialism and capitalism. The thing is, it's all a matter of degrees from what I can see. Again, I am certainly no expert. It's not that our market is "free" while France's is in bondage. Both are regulated, but France's more so. And it's not like we don't have socialist programs in the U.S.--we have many, and it could be said that they help support capitalism, creating a more stable environment for it to thrive. It there is too much risk, there is too much potential for failure and that's not making a happy workforce.

I was really interested in the Smith quoted by Skousen quote, that true wealth is "development of farms, factories, homes, plentiful clothes, cheap fuel, good streets, good schools, hospitals, efficient transportation. . . " Wouldn't it take a measure of "socialism" (I obviously need to be careful how I use this word) to accomplish some of these?


Michelle said...

My dad was at byu in the late 60's and early 70's. He told me about a time when Elder Benson came and talked to students there and gave a politically conservative speech. He then said that the first presidency sent Hugh B. Brown to speak a few weeks later to couterbalance Benson with his more politically liberal ideas.

BTW, Hugh B Brown was married to Zina Diantha Huntington and Brigham Young's grand-daughter.

I think that there are a couple of reasons we don't hear as much about Hugh B Brown as Ezra Taft Benson. Benson eventually became the prophet. Plus, his politically ideas have resonated more with a great number of Mormons. (Maybe they're related factors--who knows?)

Athena Danoy said...

i tried posting previously but lost it in blogosphere.
for me the important thing is listening to what current leaders are saying. which is why i like that our leaders don't preach politics over the pulpit. i can't imagine speeches like these given during general conference.
and i'm no expert either but would you say that the US market is free right now? if, as smith says, that true wealth is the "development of farms, factories. . ." maybe he's got it right because right now farms are struggling and factories are closing down. . . hope my posts haven't offended you. if they have i apologise.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

I agree with Michelle that Pres. Benson is quoted more because he did become a prophet. Although I love the examples you gave of Hugh B. Brown's views. I think it would be great fun to be a fly on the wall of some of the Brethren's political discussions, don't you? Even though they have all been called of God they are still men with opinions, just like us!

I think the link is working now. It wasn't last night when I posted it. The whole BYU Speeches site was down.

Anyway, what I get from Pres. Benson's talk was that here in America where we have a choice in electing leaders we have the responsibility to make sure that we don't elect those whose views are socialistic in nature.

J was spot on about equality, here's a quote from Pres. Benson about that, "It has been erroneously concluded by some that the united order is both communal and communistic in theory and practice because the revelations speak of equality. Equality under the united order is not economic and social leveling as advocated by some today. Equality, as described by the Lord, is "equal[ity] according to [a man's] family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs" (D&C 51:3). "

And this quote I find interesting in light of our country's economic situation now, "As citizens of this noble land, we have marched a long way down the soul-destroying road of socialism. If you question that statement, consider the recent testimonial from the Nobel prize-winning economist, Milton Friedman. He indicated that government spending in the United States at all levels amounts to over forty percent of today's total national income. If we continue to follow the trend in which we are heading today, two things will inevitably result: first, a loss of our personal freedom, and second, financial bankruptcy. This is the price we pay when we turn away from God and the principles which he has taught and turn to government to do everything for us. It is the formula by which nations become enslaved."

Calandria said...

Athena, your posts haven't offended me at all. I'm so glad everyone chimed in and threw their thoughts out there.

Someone else told me they tried to comment and it got lost too. And I tried to correct a word earlier and couldn't. I hope there weren't a lot of other people whose comments got lost.

Calandria said...

Cocoa, for a great "fly on the wall" book, check out David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. Maybe you've read it already? Lots of very interesting and unprecedented info.

Anonymous said...

I tried leaving this earlier, but it wouldn't let me.

I totally agree with Athena that we need a balance between socialism and capitalism. I also agree with you, Calandria, that there are already socialistic aspects to our economy and even our American cultures. The real questions are: where is the balance between socialism and capitalism? Are there any other politico-economic aspects we should be considering? And, perhaps most importantly, who can bring us closest (or at least closer) to that balance?

Anonymous said...

I think that people tend to agree with the presidents of the church as far as their political persuasion goes, because they are prophets and that is a natural thing to do. I find it very interesting that two very Godly men Elder Brown and Benson, have had such different ideas, it is quite refreshing don't you think!

ML said...

Joseph Smith also said (and this is NOT a direct quote) that his greatest fear was that the people would take everything he said as doctrine. President Kimball once ended General Conference by admonishing the people not to believe these things just because he said them, but to go home and pray about the things they had heard and find out for themselves if they were true. I have heard the leaders of the Church express similar sentiments many times. It seems they want us to reason things out, pray, and think for ourselves! Go figure!

Anonymous said...

I still think that whatever we do now here on Earth is simply 'getting by' until Christ comes. That is why we need to pray about our choices and keep our minds open to ideas and thoughts which is hard to do with all the rhetoric around.

Recently I have been following the developments of Islamic Banks here in Europe. They are having a difficult time getting started in the profit based system of the west but the non-profit banking system of Islamic banks is very interesting. It goes on the premise that you lend out money but without profit to the bank. You do pay banking costs but there is no interest. Banks are also not allowed to have dept. Maybe we could learn from that idea.

Athena said...

something random i came across in my reading: during ancient times (i don't know if they still continue the tradition) the jews forgave their debtors after every seven years. what a thought! you can read more about that in deuteronomy 15. i know that the founders fathers were avid students of the old testament so when they drew up the constitution they would had known about this system as well as many others.

the example you give, yesweareonmars, about the islamic banking system is interesting. i'm also interested to hear more about the examples given in your readings too calandria from president mckay's book.