If you’ve had any doubts to this point that “building Zion” is an economic activity, this should clinch it. Here’s an excerpt I ran across while re-reading “Great Basin Kingdom” by Church Historian Leonard J. Arrington, pages 314-315. It also makes plain that cooperative enterprise (as opposed to competitive free enterprise) is a steppingstone to the United Order, the economic organization of Zion.
History shows that Brigham Young’s leading the Saints into the United Order, after only 10 years of cooperative enterprise, was premature — nearly all failed in the first 2 years of operation. My guess is that it will take us a whole generation, or two, functioning on the cooperative enterprise level before our children, or grandchildren, would be ready for the United Order level. Better get started, eh?
“As we have seen, for many years after the beginning of the cooperative movement in 1868 the Mormons seem to have regarded cooperation as a distinctly Mormon way of doing business. Virtually every important enterprise organized by the Mormons after 1868 bore the name ‘cooperative.’ Mercantile cooperation was but the first step in a movement which saw the establishment of cooperative institutions in almost every realm of economic activity. Cooperative farming, cooperative herding, cooperative processing and manufacturing of grain, dairy products, leather, wool, cotton, and silk — cooperation in each activity and in each community was the dominant organizational pattern of Mormon economic life in the years immediately following 1869.
“This spread of cooperation, it must be emphasized, was not a ‘natural’ development. Cooperation was deliberately promoted by the church as a solution to its problems, both spiritual and material. Cooperation, it was believed, would increase production, cut down costs, and make possible a superior organization of resources. It was also calculated to heighten the spirit of unity and “temporal oneness’ of the Saints and promote the kind of brotherhood without which the Kingdom could not be built. Cooperation was simply, or so they believed, the Mormon way of doing things, the ultimate goal and inevitable tendency of which was the United Order of Enoch or ‘Order of Heaven.'”