There was yet another discussion on Socialism an LDS doctrine at the Mo-Board (of which I am a member). I made some lengthy posts, which I'd like to modify into a blog post. My main gripe actually doesn't have much to do with being pro-Socialism, but rather anti-Capitalism. Here goes.
In the Book of Mormon, the Nephites go through what is commonly referred to as the "Pride Cycle." When the people were righteous, they had "all things common among them" every man worked "according to his strength" and they "impart[ed] of their substance... to the poor," and "they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all." (Alma 1:26-31) When the people aren't righteous, they are described as being prideful, greedy, classist, and no longer equal with each other. (4 Nephi 1:24-26)
In the Pearl of Great Price, Zion is described as a people where they were of one mind and there were no poor among them. (Moses 7:18)
In the verses from Alma that referenced (but didn't quote), it says that the people suffered persecutions, but because they were a righteous people, they were able to maintain peace and equality. The reason being that the wealthy didn't hoard their wealth, but shared it with the others in need. Righteous people don't despise the poor, they aren't predatory in their business practices, and they don't hoard their resources even when those around them are in need. Many LDS people assume that righteous people weather rough times better because they are wealthier or don't experience trials to begin with. This, of course, is ridiculous. When rough times come, it's up to the individual and the community to get through it together. If your poor neighbour is suffering, point the finger at yourself for not helping him/her before you assume they're unrighteous.
I don't believe that monetary capital should be the most important thing (as it is in Capitalism), but rather social capital. People are important. Communities are important. Families are important. The only way to make society better is to invest in social capital.
Also, yes, I've heard Pres. Benson's talks, and I understand that he hates socialism and was a libertarian and involved in the US government quite heavily. I also know that there are numerous scriptures, words from prophets, and a whole economic system set up by early church leaders (United Order) based around community, sharing, and redistribution of wealth. Those who hate Socialism will constantly go back to Pres. Benson, but I think numerous scriptures and words from prophets over the course of a few thousand years heavily outweighs the opinions of one prophet/politician living in the Cold War era, trying to convince everyone that the LDS Church is NOT Communist. The LDS wasn't Communist, but why does the pendulum have to swing the other way? Why do we need to wholeheartedly embrace Capitalism? What did Joseph Smith do when none of the options of religion were right for him?
That being said, I don't exactly identify as a "socialist", either. Pres. Benson says that big government dis-empowers its citizens because the bigger the government the less power each individual has to make a difference. I agree to an extent, although I don't feel nearly as strongly as he does. I'm more of a "Localist", you might say. I think the emphasis of our lives and production should be based around people, families, communities, and making life better for people, not driven by the desire to produce more money, even if it means making crap that no one needs and won't even work at the detriment of de facto slave labourers, the environment, and the health and agency of the community. It boggles my mind when a person doesn't believe in big government, but they have no problem with big business. Big businesses are happy to take over the government's job and do an even crappier job at it, that's why many people refer to the IMF as a "world government in embryo." I would go further and take off the "in embryo" part.
I don't wonder why church members don't embrace socialism - I wonder why church members embrace and defend capitalism with such fervour. Why gain is considered godly and profit trumps all, even morality. For some reason, we respect the predatory business practices of the guy with the 5000 square-foot house, and not the guy who dedicates his life to building social capital in the community, because the rich guy must be "righteous" is he's supposedly being blessed with prosperity. For some reason, wealth seems to be a mark of righteousness even though prophets and the scriptures teach us that we should not seek after wealth except to build the kingdom of God. How a pool and a home theatre build the kingdom of God more than paying taxes that help feed the hungry and clothe the naked, I don't know.
For me, personally, I'm not trying to convince anyone that Socialism and the BoM go hand in hand, but rather that Capitalism and the BoM do NOT go hand in hand.
Also, none of this "Capitalism is good because free will is good" crap. That's nonsense. If you think that, you're probably one of those people who thinks that Capitalism and Democracy are inseparably tied together. Most people don't realise that a lot of countries democratically elect socialist leaders only to have them overthrown by Capitalist dictatorships (Indonesia and Chile both experienced this) and that many dictatorships that many people think are communist are actually capitalist (China). Generally speaking, the wealthy favour Capitalism and the poor to middle-class take a more liberal political stance. There are more poor to middle-class people than there are wealthy people, which is why socialist and left-leaning leaders often get elected.
In conclusions: Capitalism ain't so hot.