There are liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats. However, their numbers are relatively small and they are usually explained by the history of the area they live in. For example, there may be a strong union tradition in a manufacturing community but they live rural and value their firearms. These would be classified as conservative Democrats.

Currently, the “conservative” or “liberal” labels tend to be conferred because of how we feel about social issues rather than fiscal ones.

I can’t ignore that socialists and libertarians exist. However, in the U.S. their numbers are quite small. Most of us fit under conservative or liberal banners.

In general, socialists prefer more government activity in all issues and libertarians prefer less government activity in all issues.

Communists are a specific branch of socialism.

At times in our Mormon history, socialism has gained popularity and some strength. Usually it is the collectivism that has appeal. Okay, I’ll stop talking jargon and explain.

Think back to Communism in the Soviet Union, where people worked collectively and ownership was collective. Private ownership really didn’t exist much. Everyone labored for the common good and government controlled everything.

The theory behind all of this was that no one was allowed to corral more resources than they needed. People had what they needed and there was equality. Everyone owned everything. The government directed all of the economic activity.

Obviously, this version of socialism had some appeal for Mormons, because we believe that living the Law of Consecration or United Order is the highest economic way to live. The few times we tried to live it, though, we didn’t measure up.

In general, it involves pooling all of our efforts and resources and only being granted what we need. This system ensures equality and eliminates poverty.

The difference between this Mormon utopia and the socialist methods of the past is that the Mormons’ system is entirely voluntarily. Socialism involves compulsion, which is totally at odds with our belief system. Also, it is very different for government to control things versus Church leaders.

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