Betting the farm on Babylon

In May of 1843 Joseph Smith shed light on life in the spirit world.  As recorded by two separate listeners,

“…the Spirits in the Eternal world, glory in bringing other Spirits in Subjection unto them, Striving continually for the mastery”  (The Words of Joseph Smith, 207)

“spirits of the eternal world are diverse from each other as here in their dispositions Aspiring Ambitious &c” (Words, 208)

Aspiring, ambitious spirits seeking to bring us into subjection to them?  Where were those characters in “Man’s Search for Happiness?”  Maybe that life was more like this one than we realize.  Apparently quite a few of those aspiring and ambitious spirits are now here:

“It is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority … they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.” (D&C 121:39)

How do you bring others into subjection to yourself?

Keep them close together, and keep them dependent.

The Lord’s command to Adam to eat bread by the sweat of his brow implied an agrarian lifestyle.  He would have to till the ground, plant, care for, harvest, and then mill the wheat to be able to make the bread, all the while working along side his wife.  As he had been given dominion over all the beasts, some of them were integrated into the operation.  When his sons showed up on the scene, one focused on crops and another on animals.  They ran a family farm.

After being marked and banished by the Lord, Cain established a different type of society.  The original gangster, “he augmented his household substance with much wealth, by rapine [the violent seizure of someone’s property] and violence…and became a great leader of men into wicked courses.”  He introduced the concept of private property, weights and measures (the precursor to money), and created the first walled city.  With bad, greedy people like him out there, one could never be too safe. His new order was the antithesis of the original, simple lifestyle revealed to his father.  In short, “he…introduced a change in that way of simplicity wherein men lived before.” (Josephus Chapter 2)

Cain’s thug nation was a difficult paradigm to break.  It was because the earth was filled with violence that the Lord eventually decided to destroy mankind.

After the flood the question of societal structure came up again.  The Lord commanded the posterity of Noah to spread out; I imagine a loose network of family-run farm co-ops.  But somebody thought that wasn’t such a great idea; his name was Nimrod.  The Lord commanded them “to send colonies abroad, for the thorough peopling of the earth, that they might not raise seditions [riots, rebellions] among themselves.”  The Lord must have known his children might be too easily led astray if they settled down too close together.  Unfortunately they didn’t listen.  Offering his own brand of homeland security, Nimrod convinced them it was too dangerous to spread out; “They added to this their disobedience to the Divine will, the suspicion that they were therefore ordered to send out separate colonies, that, being divided asunder, they might the more easily be oppressed.” (Josephus Chapter 2)

Nimrod was the new Cain, introducing fear as the justification to create a city where he could offer protection.  It’s a nice, predictable recipe for subjection.

“Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it was through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power.” (Josephus Chapter 2)

That is how Babylon was formed.  The eventual scrambling of their language was to get the descendants of Noah to obey the original commandment to spread out and colonize the world.

So its interesting that when Gadianton established his secret combination years later, he started in “the more settled parts of the land.”  Why this pattern?  A fundamental tenet of the family farm is self sufficiency.  As a result the farmer becomes a generalist in many things, precluding specialization in any particular one.  Adam Smith’s example of straight pins is an effective example of the benefits of specialization of labor.  In terms of producing superior goods and services within a given economy, specialization of labor tends to outperform the jack-of-all-trades farmer approach as long as the economy has enough participants.  When you cram a bunch of people into a city where there is not enough land for each to maintain a farm, each will eventually be forced to perform a specific, specialized function within the economy.  Over time farming gives way to becoming a blacksmith or merchant or tailor or artist or whatever.  The bottom line is more fancy stuff is produced by the economy that specializes, but each participant in specialized economies unwittingly gives up some sovereignty in the trade.  Carried to a once illogical extreme, consider the highly compartmentalized knowledge worker of today.  His plight is made worse by the fact that he is typically at least one layer abstracted from any type of meaningful manual labor (I type on a keyboard and go to meetings).  If the economic system into which he has become a small integrated cog ever breaks down, he is literally at risk of starving to death.  And so we obsessively focus on the economy as the central barometer of our lives and prospects for happiness, because in the back of our minds we seriously ask ourselves what will become of us if we leave its employ. Still skeptical?  If you think your vast intellect would allow you to easily replicate the comforts that surround you, try building something as simple as a $15 toaster by yourself.  This may help you begin to realize the bleakness of our current situation.

Keep them close together, and keep them dependent.

In 1972 Ezra Taft Benson gave a talk in General Conference in which he asserted that,

“…the Book of Mormon…states that the downfall of two great American civilizations came as a result of secret conspiracies whose desire was to overthrow the freedom of the people…Moroni could have pointed out many factors that led to the destruction of the people, but…he singled out the secret combinations, just as the Church todayhas singled out the greatest threat as the great conspiracy. There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon —it is a conspiracy fact.  And along this line I would highly recommend to you a new book entitled None Dare Call It Conspiracy by Gary Allen.”

That book depends heavily upon another book called Tragedy and Hope which lays out in disconcerting detail the formation and works of a secret combination that controls (and has for many years) the governing structures of most western countries.  It explains how a relatively small group of men took control of the central banks of the United States and Western Europe, used that influence to gain controlling interests in much of the manufacturing and commercial base in those economies (particularly of the banking, oil, and defense industries) and then took control of governments and started massive wars to enrich themselves and extend their power and control.  By controlling the banking structure they effectively controlled the future shape of America by deciding what to finance.  Think of it as creating the future one loan at a time.  This has been going on in the U.S. since 1913.  What have they financed?  One aspect has been the overall transition from agrarian to urban.  As late as the 1940s one-fourth of the U.S. population lived on a farm.  By the turn of the century that had decreased to less than 2% of the population.

Our existing systems of food production and delivery make it possible for me to easily consume fruits and vegetables grown far away without a second thought.  When those that would subject us want to tighten the noose of control, all they have to do is shake the system of food delivery and most would do anything they thought would restore economic order.   This includes most recently giving the modern-day banker equivalents of Cain and Nimrod billions of dollars when they claimed the financial system (which they control) would fail without it.  As has been said, amongst us modern, specialized cube dwellers, our “civilized” society is only nine meals away from complete anarchy.

And so it goes.  When the bright lights, fancy stuff, and exciting city life of modern day Babylon become more attractive to us that the quiet, simple life of the family farm, we slowly go down the path of captivity.  How far down that path are we today?  Ought we to expect anything different living here in hell?

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