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Re: “Revolution Vs. Reform

One thing I think is absent from the conversation is the fact that revolutionaries have always prompted reform. Reformers can do nothing unless they are juxtaposed with revolutionaries in the eyes of those in power. Reformers by themselves are just empty voices asking for change from above and are easily ignored by those in power. Reform only happens when the alternative is revolution. When revolutionaries are building pressure from below rather than asking for change from above, there is only one way to keep that pressure from exploding, and that is to reform. It is only then that those in power are willing to do anything, even give up their power and privileges through reforms, to prevent revolution.

Think of the Civil Rights Movement, would politicians have listened to people like Martin Luther King and their non-violent protests if there wasn't a Malcolm X or Stokely Carmichael giving them a clear alternative to the peaceful tactics of MLK? Would the American people have ever elected Abraham Lincoln had there not been people like John Brown to exemplify a more radical side of abolitionism ready and willing to arm and support slave uprising? Or people like William Lloyd Garrison writing in support of revolutionary abolitionism? Or would we have the right to organize, the 8 hour day, the 40 hour workweek, occupational safety, worker's compensation and unemployment insurance if there hadn't been rising popular support in America for people like Emma Goldman, Eugene Debs or Bill Haywood and their ideas? Those are only a few examples out of many, but I think the answer is loud and clear. NO!

While reformers may be wary of rising support for revolution, they should be thankful revolutionaries are making clear what's at stake if reforms are delayed or do not happen.

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Posted by TheLDSLeftist on 12/01/2011 at 2:46 AM

Re: “Latterday Taint

There is no doubt a strong dose of political and economic conservatism in the culture of the LDS Church, however, the same is true of liberal ideology, teachings and history in Mormonism.

It is true that the early Church's relationship with the U.S. government was rocky in the 19th century, but the complaint was more often that the government wasn't doing enough rather than doing too little (like doing nothing when Joseph Smith petitioned the federal government for redress of wrongs done to the Mormons, or not calling out the militia to prevent persecution, etc.). Joseph Smith himself ran for President of the US on a platform that included having a national bank to compete with the private banking industry. Not something you might find Beck announcing anytime soon.

Edward Bellamy's famous utopian-socialist novel, "Looking Backward", was written after Bellamy spent three days touring Utah's cooperative communities with former LDS President Lorenzo Snow. The efforts of this same cooperative effort which attracted the attention of European and American socialists alike were endorsed by the top leadership of the LDS Church in a signed document they circulated among the LDS Church in 1875. The document begins with this; "The experience of mankind has shown that the people of communities and nations among whom wealth is the most equally distributed, enjoy the largest degree of liberty, are the least exposed to tyranny and oppression and suffer the least from luxurious habits which beget vice.” It would appear that this flies in the face of Beck's ravings about Obama "spreading the wealth".

While LDS conservatives like Beck can easily find justification for their worldview in the writings of Cleon Skousen, LDS liberals can just as easily point to the writings of Hugh Nibley, BYU professor and prominent LDS scholar. Nibley's books "Approaching Zion" and "Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints" are classics of LDS culture and do not mince words when challenging conservative ideology.
Mitt Romney and Glenn Beck may be prominent LDS conservatives, but when it comes to a prominent LDS liberal, Mormons can look to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

One thing that both Mormon liberals and Mormon conservatives can agree on is the idea that the Constitution is an inspired document, protecting the basic rights of men (and women). However, for LDS liberals, one of the reasons the Constitution is inspired is that it is a living document that has incorporated ways in which the American people can improve upon the ideas of the Founding Fathers, instead of looking at it as an infallible document in and of itself, never to be questioned or improved upon.

For LDS liberals and leftists, it is also necessary to point out that the Mormon scriptures, such as the Book of Mormon, speak most commonly about the need for societies to help those in need as well as watch out for the dangers of materialism overriding the impulse to help those who are the most disadvantaged in society. It is encourages the democratic process with such passages as this: "Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people" and the Doctrine and Covenants contains passages that Beck must cringe at, including the following: "it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin."

Point being, while LDS culture may have moved to the right politically, there are still quite a few of us on the left, and neither side can claim a monopoly in political thought in LDS culture.

For an alternative to the more prominent right-wing politics of Mormon culture, there are also liberal and leftist viewpoints to be found. Check out the following: (liberal to leftist) (leftist to radical)

Posted by TheLDSLeftist on 10/14/2009 at 10:13 PM

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