February 5, 2009 by Gsmith
It’s always interesting to wander around the internet and meet new people. One of my favorite weblogs of late is this one. I think it was originally meant to be more of a family site, but at some point it became dedicated to progressive political discussions.
It often comes as a surprise to talk to other Mormons about political matters, and experience the sort of awakening to the similarities between Mormonism and socialist praxis. As children of Orderville we’re in a unique position, at least compared to the average citizen of Mexico or the U.S., to envision what practical communism might entail in the future.
Most Latter-Day Saints don’t have to think too far outside the box to envision a world divided up into localized autonomous collectives. We might call them wards, for lack of a better term. Each ward would elect someone to act as a sort of general secretary, from among the people. We might call this person a bishop. The ownership of all the real property would pass into the hands of the ward. By that we mean that all the land would be owned collectively by the people who work and improve it, rather than by various banks, corporations and other interests foreign to the ward.
A certain measure of redefinition would need to take place. Terms we use today, like work and ownership would come to signify different concepts. Work would no longer include endless drudgery at some job one hates. It would gradually take on a different meaning. To own ones own home would likewise be a different concept. In theory the ward would own all the homes, but in practice there would be rights of survivorship and the freedom to paint one’s own house or tend a garden or whathaveyou, which would be fairly commensurate with the concept we know today. Compared to some of the nitpicky rules of some of these homeowners associations, one might well have more freedom on the property she calls home than she does in the capitalist framework.
The bishops of each ward would be responsible to the people, and their job would include acting as liaison to central authority in a hierarchical structure. It would be nice to imagine that every ward would be geographically able to grow enough food and produce enough goods to make it truly autonomous, but in practice this would rarely be the case. A certain measure of central planning would take place, with an emphasis on remaining as localized as possible.
Small businesses would be encouraged to compete with state-run enterprises in order to keep things as efficient as possible. Lenin idealized this concept in his Новая экономическая политика (new economy rules) and there was a practical reason for it. At the same time, private business would be subject to the rules of the ward and would be apportioned to prevent a Wal-Mart style race to the bottom.
To imagine that these ideas are impractical is to deny history. All these things did happen, not just in the Soviet Union, but in a place called Orderville. The only real barrier to a practical eruption of the new society today is our own insecurity and social inertia.