After spending some 15 hours or so looking at primary sources in the Salt Lake Archives, I began to wonder… what was the United Order? Was it really a forgotten Mormon Socialism trend? Was it merely an experiment? Was it a very cleverly disguised (or not so cleveryly disguised) monopoly run by the church? Was it even ‘united’? My perceptions began to change as I looked at letters and read documents.
I decided to go back to Arrington, reading everything I could get my hands on. I looked at Lorenzo Snow’s biography, and reread the communist manifesto.
Finally, I ran into Dwight Israelsen’s study of the economics of the united order, published in BYU Studies during the 1970’s. And then I looked at Kent Huff’s books about the United Order.
I’ve become convinced that United Order was not socialism– it also seems that it suffered when it attempted to coexist with capitalist enterprises from the east. Was the United Order the third way? My paper is not about the more common United Orders, Brigham City and Orderville were statistical outliers. Orderville was perhaps an ideological outlier as well. I think I’ll be looking at this again.
Oh, and a couple of other noteworthy blogs… Researching and commenting on slightly different materials… I don’t know that I can recommend them for thoroughly exhaustive research, but they’re certainly worth looking at.