Friday, April 11, 2014

A Note on Notovitch

This is amusing. Apparently a BYU professor named Alonzo Gaskill just published a book which cited a 19th Century Russian named Nicholas Notovitch who claimed to have discovered lost writings of Jesus Christ in India.

To an untutored layman, Gaskill's work appears to be on par with most of the stuff streaming out of BYU.

What I find interesting is the fervor with which LDS pundits are denouncing Notovitch and Gaskill. Many of the LDS apologists denouncing Notovitch would go apoplectic if anyone used the same words in regards to Joseph Smith.

BTW: I recently I discovered that LDS Apologists get upset for seemingly benign statements like "Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Moses." Apparently, the LDS claim is that Joseph Smith was channeling Moses, Enoch and Abraham when the Pearl of Great Price, the Book of Abraham and the Book of Mosses flowed from Joseph Smith's pen in the 1830s.

The seemingly benign statement that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Moses is considered blasphemy and a vile attack on the LDS Faith and must be shouted down.

Anyway, here's a link to "The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ" by Nicholas Notovtich written circa 1887.

I quickly scanned Notovitch's text and decided to render my unlearned judgment of its authenticity. So, here goes:

The first thing I noticed was that the book is written in a narrative style akin to HG Wells.

As everyone who's read the King James Bible knows: God speaks with an Old English Accent.

If "The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ" were authentic, it would be written in King James style Old English. Dag-nabbit!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Goal of Community Color

The goal of the Community Color project was to explore the way in which the local community was reflected on the Internet.

The Internet is written in a language called HTML (Hypertext Mark Up Language). The defining characteristic of HTML is the Hyperlink.

HTML lets you link one web page with another web page.

The interesting aspect of the Internet is this network of links.

At the dawn of the Internet, there was a big question on everyone's mind: Would the Internet develop into a robust structure with millions of thriving web sites, or would it devolve into a stagnate structure dominated by a few players like Google, Facebook and Twitter.

I figured that the linking structure of people in local communities would determine the question. If a large number of people were actively engaged in making link pages and if the public used these link pages, then we would have a robust internet.

So, I decided to concentrate my efforts on studying and promoting the local linking structure. I figured that the best way to start this project was to travel to small towns and encourage people to create networks of links within their local communities. I began buying and developing geodomains.

I sold and gave away most of the first domains I worked on.


In developing geodomains, I wanted to create extremely simple structures that included all of the links I could find for a community. I wanted structures that reflected the community and not structures the sought to define the community.

My initial desire was to create a business structure where I worked on the back in structure of the web site while other people worked on the front end structure of linking and social networking.

Sadly, I've never found any people who were all that interested in exploring the ways in local social networks are presented on the web.

If find the structure of the local community much more interesting than politics. This blog is political.

I confess, I have classical liberal leanings.

Government, by its nature, is a limiting factor. Government is a network of constraints placed on the people.

The statement "limited government" is a double negative.

Removing negative things from a society is a positive act. However, arguments for a double negative quickly become convoluted.

Everyone's heard the adage: "Two wrongs don't make a right."

Removing constraints from a psychopath who enjoys killing will end up in bloodshed.

The act of limiting government removes constraints from the people. Eliminating constraints has the potential of empowering the people and creating a more robust society.

But, to win the argument for increased liberty, we need to move beyond debating double negatives and find ways to talk about ways in which a free society can solve the problems of the day.

The Internet just happens to provide a wonderful structure that people could use to discuss the structure of a free society.

The best starting point for such a discussion is the local community.

If there were people who were interested in advancing the cause of freedom, I just happen to be sitting on a veritable treasure chest of information.

In contrast, simply yammering in double negatives is unlikely to lead to a restoration of freedom because such arguments are simply too easy to manipulate.

Anyway, I've spent the last twelve years and several thousands of hours trying to find ways to get people involved in this fascinating discussion about the structure of the local internet. I am currently developing geodomains in three states. Here are the projects: Arizona, Colorado and Utah.

BTW, I've worked on this project since about 1999. I started the projects up in Idaho and Montana, where I received a great deal of positive feedback. I moved back to Salt Lake City for the 2002 Olympics. In twelve years, I've not once received positive feedback on this project.

I occasionally get feedback on the sites I've developed in Colorado and Arizona. Isn't that strange?

Support the People Around You

I believe that the first step to restoring America is to support the people around us.

In the America of old, people would turn to their neighbors before turning toward the government.

The result of this neighborly mentality was that Americans developed extremely diverse communities held together by strong independent local institutions.

The founders realized that government is a structure that limits the people. The secret to prosperity is to limit this artificial governance. By removing artificial constraints on the people, the American Experiment in Self Rule led to widespread prosperity.

In this classical liberal vision the people are the positive space. The government is a negative limiting factor.

Unfortunately, limiting government alone does not lead to prosperity.

Remember. in this vision, the people make up the positive space. The way people organize themsleves determines the outcome of limiting the government.

Imagine, for example, that we had a limited government in a slave economy. The slave owners would take advantage of the limited government to enslave more people and to become more brutal in their slavery.

Because the society is dysfunctional, limiting the government makes things worse.

Limiting governance in a society where people feel that killing and robbing to get ahead is a virtue leads to a large number of thefts and murders. 

Limited government alone does not lead to prosperity. The way people think and the way that people self organizes determines the outcome of the limited government.

The argument for limited government is incomplete if there is not a robust discussion about

In the classical liberal vision is, People comprise the positive space. The government is a limiting factor on the people.

Our attention should turn from government to the private sector.

I happen to be one to put my money where my mouth is.

For the last decade and a half I've the structure of the local community the primary focus of my attention. Politics is a minor annoyance.

I realized at the dawn of the Internet that we would either see an Internet dominated by a few multinational players or we would see a robust community focused Internet.

What I've done through the years is to develop geodomains with a tight local focus on communities in Utah, Colorado and Arizona.

The goal of the Community Color project is to show the way that the structure of our local communities is represented on the Internet.

The heart of this project is an attempt to tell people to focus on the positive aspects of a free society and avoid spending too much time on the negative aspects of governance.

While I have despaired about the political scene. In the long term our future depends on our ability to restore the robust independent communities which are being systematically destroyed by progressive ideologies.

Dammit I just wish there were people who wanted to save the beautiful independent communities our fore fathers had built.

Limiting government is only a small part of the vision. The real vision comes with the process of building robust independent communities.

What is so frustrating is that Conservatives seem to miss the biggest part of the picture. Limited government is only a small part of the vision of a free society. The activities and interactions of the people are primary space of our society.

The reason to limit the government is that governance is a constraint on the people. The people compose the primary space. To win the war the freedom movement needs to move from a myopic focus on government and actively engage in the community and talk about ways that a free society solves the challenges of the day.

Conservatism fails in this regard, of course, because the initial spark of conservatism is simply a desire to preserve existing social structures.

But a free society has a dynamic continually changing social structure. The conservative desire to create a static social structure is antithetical to a free society.

So while I've despair about the GOP, I will continue to pour my heart into what really matters and what really matters is the people and the ragtag remnants of the beautiful vision of a free society given to us by our founders and the sacrifice of those who strove to make America great.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Giving Up on the GOP Does Not Mean I've Giving Up on Freedom

In the last post I lamented that I did not attend a Utah Caucus. I really wanted to attend a caucus. Although I have never been picked for the honor, I would love to attend a convention.

Sadly, I finally had to concede that the GOP and Democratic parties are simply mirrors of each other. The two sides of a coin are made of the same metal. Everything I dislike about the Democratic Party is in the GOP and visa versa.

The biannual two party coin flip is simply.

HEADS: the ruling elite win. TAILS the people lose.

I keep mentioning that, for the last six years, I've had a single minded goal of attending or hosting an event about free market health care reform.

The fact that for six years I've been unable to find either an event or a group interested in free market health care reform within 700 miles of Salt Lake City is quite troubling.

It is impossible for us to repeal PPACA (Obamacare) and enact free market health care reform if no-one is willing to talk about free market health care reform.

Conversely, it becomes easier to repeal PPACA if a group spoke about free market health care reform.

The fact that neither the GOP nor the Tea Party have held open meetings about the most important issue of our day--health care reform--is not just strange. It is troubling.

BTW: I am not asking for something outrageous. I am simply asking that a group meet for an evening to talk about free market health care reform. In six years of actively looking, I have not found a single group in Salt Lake City discussing this issue.

I look pretty hard. I maintain a calendar for Salt Lake events. I troll the web for events. In the last six years I've found tens of thousands of events, but not one event in which free market health care was the primary concern.

I spent $10,000 traveling to Phoenix, Denver, Reno and Las Vegas and was unable to find people interested in discussing free market health care reform.

The only way to repeal PPACA is to discuss the issue, but Conservatives slam the door the moment a person mentions free market health care reform.

When movement like the Tea Party or the GOP have such a contorted rational theory that they are incapable of holding meetings to discuss the most important issue of the day, then one has to write off the movements as inherently flawed.

The flaw of conservatism, of course, is that conservatism is not a constructive movement. It is a base reactionary movement.

To understand conservatism, we need to look back to the founding of this nation.

Contrary to conservative claims, the US Founders were not reactionary conservatives.

The US Founders had a classical liberal arts education steeped in a refined version of classical logic. The US Founders applied their liberal arts education to the question of liberty and came up with something wonderful ... The American Experiment in Self Rule.

I like to call the application of classical logic to the application of liberty "Classical Liberalism."

A hallmark of Aristotelian logic is a desire to avoid absolutes and paradoxes. Absolutes generally lead to paradoxes.

Aristotle taught that any virtue pushed too far became a vice. In the Aristotelian definition of tragedy, the tragic flaw is not a vice. The tragic flaw is a virtue pushed to the point that it causes a calamity.

On applying classical logic to liberty, one realizes that giving the people the freedom to enslave others leads to slavery.

The classical liberal approach to liberty is a balanced approach to liberty that recognizes that one's freedom stops at the doorsteps of others freedom.

The US Founders were not conservatives. The Conservatives of 1776 stood shoulder to shoulder with the monarchy and leveled their musket fire at the US Founders.

After the US revolution, Conservatives, wanting to preserve the social order of the feudal system and the peculiar institution of slavery, began weaving intellectual contortions to preserve the social structure of the ancient regime and the freedom to hold others as slaves.

As conservatives wanted to avoid social change, they set in at once on projecting negative images on liberals.

Back in Europe, the Kings of England were spinning their own intellectual contortions.

King George I, II and III were actually from Hanover, Germany. The Kings of England directly funded the German University System. Notably, they were the founders of the University of Gottingen in Hanover.

The Hanoverian Kings of England funded the German University System and charged the university to come up with contortions to reframe the monarchy as progressive. It is not happenstance that the German University system developed new systems of thought which framed centralization under a strong government as progressive. They were paid by the monarchy to build such a frame.


The best example of reactionary post revolutionary thinking is found with Georg Hegel (1770-1831).

Hegel developed a contorted system of thought called Modern Logic. Modern logic denies the basic rules of thought held by classical liberals. While classical liberals sought to avoid paradox, Hegelian thinkers embraced paradox. Hegel actively sought out every case where he could present freedom as slavery and slavery freedom.

In Hegelian thought, this process in which terms take on contradictory meanings is called "sublation."


The US Founders believe that liberalization came by limiting government and economic decentralization.

Hegelians exploited the paradox of freedom and sublated the term "liberal" and came up with claims that liberalization and social progress comes through economic centralization and expanding government.

The Hegelian Right lapped up this new modern logic as they saw it as a way to preserve the social structure of the ancient regime in the modern age. The Hegelian Left were seduced by Hegel's promise that economic and political centralization leads to progress.

The great left right split that dominates politics today did not come from the US Founders. The US Founders despised the partisanship of Europe. The left/right split that dominates politics today came from the French Revolution. It finds its intellectual base in the modern dialectics of Hegel.

I believe that the Modern Liberal who holds that freedom is slavery and that we need to seek a totalitarian state to achieve a higher liberty is more deluded than the Hegelian right that simply loves playing word games in a base grub for power.

But, when it comes down to it. I am adamantly opposed to the Hegelian Right and Hegelian Left.and dialectical center.

Much as I wanted to attend a caucus. I realized that both the right and left are corrupt and if I wish to stand for the Founders vision of a free society, I need to stand against both of these monstrosities.

It is true that the GOP is the lesser of two evils. But the way I see it, supporting the GOP is a greater capitulation in the stand for freedom than the act of giving up on both caucuses and trying to find a way to influence the GOP from within.

Friday, March 21, 2014

I Missed the Caucuses

There is a big debate about the caucus system in Utah this year.

Because of that debate, I really wanted to go to a political caucus this year.

Throughout the years, I've crashed both Democratic and Republican caucuses.

BTW: I should mention. I like to engage in critical thinking happen to believe strongly in the classical liberal ideals of the US Founders. Both parties want members who are malleable sheep who engage in group think.  Both the major parties have made it abundantly clear that critical thinking is not allowed in the party.

The Utah Democratic caucus was on the 18th. I definitely had no interest in attending their crime against humanity. The GOP caucus was on the 20th. Conservatism is a dialectical ideology that appeared in the 1800s with the aim of preserving the social structure of the ancient regime.

Conservatism uses free market rhetoric to gain power. Once in power, conservatives use their influence for economic and political centralization.As a classical liberal and critical thinker, I stand against squarely the Conservative party. I want candidates that support both limited government and economic decentralization.

The GOP has made it abundantly clear that I am not welcome among their ranks. To be truthful, I've completely given up on the GOP.

For the last six years I've been wanting to attend or host a meeting in which people spoke about free market health care reform. In six years I've been turned aside by every conservative group.

If the GOP is not even willing to talk about the most important issue of our day, then they are useless.

As the GOP caucus approached, I had to admit to myself: I am not a Republican. Through the years, the GOP has made it clear that people like me with a classical liberal bent and a tendency to critical thinking are simply not welcome in their ranks.

The Republican Party is their party. I am neither welcome in it nor a member of it.

Since I am not a member of their party, what business do I have in crashing their party and trying to influence their internal elections?

As the caucus approached, I realized that I have no business going where I am clearly not welcome. I am not going to go to a meeting and claim to be a Republican when I adamantly opposed to the hypocrisy of the GOP.

BTW, I really don't have a problem with not being welcome.


Much as I wanted to go to a caucus this year, I ended up staying at home.

Staying at home led me to contemplate a major problem with the two party system:

There are millions of people like me who are disgusted with both the GOP and Democratic Party. The two party system leaves us locked out of the candidate selection process. The end result of locking independent and critical thinkers from the political system means that, no matter what, we will end up with a government set on economic and political centralization.

This problem is inherent in the two party system. It is not a problem of the caucus system used by the parties.

Just as I have no business attending a caucus of a party that I don't belong to, I have no business voting in the primary election of a party I don't belong to.

Instead of having a debate about the caucus system, I wish we had a debate about this absurd party system. The party system creates a dynamic in which independent thinkers are routinely locked out of the election process and each election tends to culminate in a vote between the lesser of two evils.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Paradoxes and Liberty

The Left/Right split that dominates modern politics came from the royalist reaction to the US and French Revolution.

Both the Left and Right have adopted the philosophical foundation of Hegel. The term "modern" actually refers to a slate of crazy theories that became popular in the early 1800s. Hegel's modern logic is a system with paradox at the foundation of reason and conflict at the surface.

This form of reactionary thinking started on the right and was picked up on the left. I've written a slew post showing the Hegelian influence in right wing groups.

I find that Eric Fromm's work "Marx's Concept of Man" does a good job of showing how this Hegelian world view became entrenched on the Left.

Rightwing thinkers like to position Marx as an enemy of liberty and themselves as the staunch defender of liberty. The more complex truth is that both the right and left have developed paradoxical definitions of liberty. They then use their paradoxes to create a political climate that benefits their friends and punishes their enemies. This quote from Mr. Fromm's preface encapsulates the Marxian feel towards liberty.

"Marx's philosophy is one of protest; it is a protest imbued with faith in man, in his capacity to liberate himself, and to realize his potentials."


The Left believes that freedom comes through the act of revolution. Leftists target people as their enemy, they then launch into a shrill never ending protest (revolution) against their enemies.

In the bizarre Marxian world view, man is by nature a pile of contradictions. The revolutionary exploits these contradictions. Leftists will do things like label a group as "oppressor" then launch into a campaign to oppress the group (naively failing to recognize that they are now the oppressor). Leftist community organizers will unite half a community against the other half in their grub for power, failing to realize that they are the source of the division.

My favorite example of Marxian Nonsense is the historical fact that Marx is the father of Modern Capitalism. Marx spent the bulk of his career penning the multi-tome work called "Das Kapital" which lays the logical foundation for the economic foundation that they rail against.

The great historical irony is that right-wingers have taken to defending Marx's view of Capitalism rather than defending the Classical Liberal Concept of a free market.

Personally, I think "Marx's Concept of Man" does a better job of explaining the paradoxical foundations of Marx's thought than either "Das Kapital" or Marx's "Manifesto." "Das Kapital" was written to define and project negative images on to "Capitalism."

I cannot repeat enough: Karl Marx is the father of Modern Capitalism. Capitalism as practiced on Wall Street is from a dark fantasy written by a person who wanted to destroy the free market.

The Manifesto was written to raise people in rebellion against the strawman that Marx created in Das Kapital.

In "Marx's Concept of Man," Eric Fromm presents some of Marx's philosophical writings which help expose why Marx took this divisive approach to economics. To repeat: Das Kapital creates a strawman. The Manifesto raises people in revolution against the strawman. Neither of these works explains why a person would do such a hateful thing.

Marx's Concept of Man shows Marx's paradoxical view of mankind and his naive notion that revolution would release man's potential.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Stagnating in a Closed Society

I hate living in a closed society.

A free society, by nature, is an open society.

The closed society that we see today was imposed on us by powerful interest who sought to dominate the community.

The ideology behind the closed society was developed in the early 1800s as a reaction to the US and French Revolution.

I call this process of dividing people "Modern Dialectics." The formula is simple. Intellectuals create grand theories with paradoxes at the roots of reason and conflict at the surface.

People love paradoxes. "This sentence is false." But if the sentence is false, then it is true which makes it false.

Golly, I am ever so clever.  I stated a paradox!

Intellectual rogues manufacture conflicts that reflect the paradox. People then get so wrapped up in these dialectical constructs that they become incapable of communicating with each other.

For example, a community organizer might use dialectics to unite half a community against the other half. The paradox is that uniting people against each other is an act of division. The people who fall for the flowery rhetoric of the organizer are drawn into oppressing and putting out their neighbors.

The US Founders hated the partisanship of Europe. The Constitution makes no mention of party. The Left/Right split that dominates life today came in the generation after the founders as political rogues formed parties in the grub for power.

 The Left/Right split came from the French Revolution. The French left sought radical social change. The French Right sought to preserve the social structure of the ancient regime.

Both sides of this split use similar dialectical processes to unite people against each other. (Uniting people against each other is a paradox). The dialectical center exploits the conflict, playing the two sides against each other in their effort to gain power.

BTW, it is possible to frame any position as left, right or center.  Civil rights and Conservation were once positions held by the Right that were captured by the Left. The parties routinely switch positions on major issues.


The important issue is the underlying thought process behind the positions. The Left/Right and Dialectical Center share the same convoluted dialectical thought process. They use conflict at the surface and paradox at the roots of reason. It is a simple matter of dividing and conquering.

The Left, Right and Dialectical Center share the same underlying methodology of dividing and conquering the people. The two sides of the coin are made of the same metal.

The press has been making hay of divisions among Conservatives. Conservatives are divided because Conservatism is inherently dialectical.

Conservatism and Progressive are identical in form. There is conflict on the surface and paradox at the foundation of reason. Progressives, Conservatives and the Dialectical Center manufacture a conflict then launch into shrill diatribes over the manufactured conflict.

The partisan camps are so thoroughly invested in their paradoxes and convoluted thinking that they lose the ability to communicate and society soon devolves into a base system of personal attacks.

I live in Utah. Utah is run by the LDS Church, which holds as foundational a particularly pernicious form of Hegelian Dialectics (see Mormon Dialectics). This Mormon Dialectics completely destroys the ability for people to community.

Mormon Dialectics holds that the Heavenly Father created this terrestrial realm as a test. Mormon dialectics holds that there is a great war between the gods in heave (Satan and Jesus) and that the conflicts on earth reflect this conflict among the gods.

According to Mormon Dialectics, the Heavenly Father revealed the truth of this conflict to Joseph Smith who was to form a new church. The members of the new church are "The Righteous." The Righteous are in an eternal conflict with the gentiles who are Servants of Satan who need to be exterminated. (Sidney Rigdon, cofounder of the LDS Church called for a War of Extermination against non-Mormons on July 4th, 1838.)

"And that mob that comes on us to disturb us; it shall be between us and them a war of extermination, for we will follow them, till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us: for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed."


I emphasized the word "mob." In an interesting display of "projection," Mormons often use the term "mob" to describe everyone who is outside of their political hierarchy. It is also interesting that the Mormon dialectical style inspired Sidney Rigdon (a cofounder of the LDS Church) to declare a War of Extermination against this nameless mob.

This pattern seems to be common for people seduced by modern dialectics. The dialectics divides people into isolated groups. The people in these isolated groups start vilifying those outside the group. The shrill rhetoric within the group rises to the point where people start talking about exterminating their neighbors.

Historian shows that the Hegelian Right reached its ultimate expression with Fascism and Nazism. The Hegelian Left reached its ultimate expression with Communism. Groups that employ this modern dialectics invariably lead to fractured and self-destructive societies.

The antidote to dialectics is Sound Rational Thinking. Unfortunately, once people have been seduced by dialectics, it becomes extremely difficult to communicate with them. How can one engage in any sort of rational discourse with people who've been indoctrinated since youth to see those outside their group as servants of satan?

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Here is a Really Bad Joke

A conservative is a person who favors the establishment to change.

Here's the joke: The CPAC Convention is telling people that a group of people called "Conservatives" is standing against the establishment.

The best part. The people at the CPAC convention are telling this joke with a straight face.

Now for the bad part: Conservatives are pulling this joke on the America people and I fear some Americans will fall for it.

Modern Conservatism and Modern Liberalism as based on partisan dialectics. The two sides of a coin are made of the same metal. Both Ideologies undermine American freedom.

Six years into ObamaCare. Conservatives still have nothing to offer. This is because conservatives aren't seeking to restore freedom. Conservatives simply want their hands on the reigns of power and the totalitarian state.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The Banished

I am feeling depressed after reading Latter-day Liberty by Boyack. I was hoping to read a book that reconciled the ideals with the US Founders. Instead Boyack's work attempts to make the ideals of the US Founder subservient to Mormon Dialectics.

Mormon Dialectics, like Hegelian Dialectics, redefines freedom. The Mormon redefinition of freedom is "free-agency." Man was given free agency as a test to see if he would follow the dictates of the prophet.

People who do not obey are cast out. Latter-day Liberty is an absurd paradox: You are free to obey. You will be "cast out" if you do not.

I happened on to a 20/20 documentary about the FLDS. The FLDS practice Mormonism as it was practiced by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. The video looks at people who've been banished and forced to live in isolation by the prophet Warren Jeffs. This is what Mormonism is!



The FLDS are Fundamental Mormons. They practice the faith as it was taught by Joseph Smith. The section below is part of Joseph Smith's Book of Commandments (Later revised and Doctrine and Covenants). This commandment is theoretically equal to the Ten Commandments of the Bible:

25 Thow knowest my laws, they are given in my scriptures, he that sinneth and repenth not, shall be cast out.

26 If thou lovest me, thou shat serve me and keep all of my commandments; and behold, thou shalt consecrate all thy properties, that which thou hast unto me, wih a covenant and deed which cannot be broken; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church, and two of the elders, such as he shall appoint and set apart for that purpose.

27 And it shall come to pass, that the bishop of my church, after that he has received the properties of my church, that it can not be taken from the church, he shall appoint every man a steward over his own property, or that which he has received, in as much as is sufficient for himself and family:

28 And the residue shall be kept to administer to him who has not, that every man may receive according as he stands in need:

29 And the residue shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer the poor and needy, as shall be appointed to the elders of the church and the bishop; and for the purpose of purchasing lands, and the building up of the New Jerusalem, which is hereafter to be revealed; that my covenant people may be gathered in one, in the day that I shall come to my temple.


Mormon Dialectics gives the paradox: "You are free to obey. If you do not obey you will be cast out!"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mormon Dialectics

icon I was extremely disappointed with Connor Boyack's "Latter Day Liberty." I had hoped to read a book like Skousen's "5000 Year Leap" which made a compelling defense of liberty. Boyack's work was dragged down by an excessive focus on group identity and oppositional dialectics.

I would not recommend the work to anyone interested in learning about philosophy of liberty. However, the read provides a good example of how oppositional dialectics undermines freedom.

Connor Boyack's goal in writing Latter-day Liberty is not simply to argue liberty from a Mormon perspective. It is to make the claim that LDS Church is privy to the correct the definition of liberty and virtue and that fellow travelers in the age old pursuit of liberty (such as the US Founders) were deficient in their knowledge of liberty as they were not part of the political hierarchy of the LDS Church.

Latter-day Saints are blessed with an increased understanding of who we are, why we're here on earth, and what consequences our mortal actions have. This knowledge can and should inform the laws and policies we support in earthly government.

As a non-Mormon living in Utah, this claim that one's group identity gives people an increased understanding of liberty and virtue comes off like the pigs of Animal Farm claiming that the pigs are more equal.

Mr. Boyack goes on to explain that this increased understanding is "due to the revelations that we have been given regarding God's plan of salvation and the War in Heaven." (page 17).

Much of this revelation came from a collection of essays by Joseph Smith called "The Book of Moses. The essays are often bundled with "The Pearl of Great Price." This particular work was supposedly translated from Egyptian papyrus purchased from a traveling mummy show. The documents associated with this event were later determined to be common Egyptian funery.

The "Book of Moses" tells us that man had a pre-existence in the Heavenly Kingdom. In his divine plan for the earth, the Heavenly Father set up a conflict between Jesus and Satan and that this War in Heaven is reflected in the war on earth (The Culture War).

BTW, the idea that the heavens are filled with gods and that life on earth is reflexive of the war in heaven is not new. This idea is called "polytheism." It has been common throughout history.

This plan for salvation is that there would be a conflict between the righteous (the members of the LDS Church) and the Servants of Satan ... the people not in the hierarchy also known as gentiles or non-Mormons.

The plan for salvation depends heavily on the concept of "free agency." The Heavenly Father gave man free agency so that they could make the choice between joining the righteous in the political hierarchy of the LDS Church and obeying its command. Those whose hearts are hardened by Satan and who do not use agency to join the political hierarchy of the church and do as they are told are cast out. Mormon free agency is a paradox. You are given free agency to see if you willing do as you are told. Joseph repeats multiple times that those who do not are to be cast out.

Boyack quotes an Elder Bruce R. McConkie on the Mormon Doctrine of Free Agency in a work titled Mormon Doctrine published in 1979: [I added the HTML OL formatting]


Four great principles must be in force for their to be agency:
  1. Laws must exist, laws ordained by an Omnipotent power, laws which can be obeyed or disobeyed.
  2. Opposites must exist—good and evil, virtue and vice, right and wrong.
  3. A knowledge of good and evil must be had by those who enjoy the agency, that is they must know the difference between the opposites; and
  4. An unfettered power of choice must prevail.

It just so happens that I read Hegel (1770-1831) before I read Joseph Smith (1805-1844). When I read the writings of Joseph Smith, I was struck by the similarities between Mormon Dialectics and Hegelian Dialectics. This is not surprising. Hegel was the rage in the 1820s when Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon.

How did German thought penetrate American conservative circles?

Hegel was a product of the German University system which was largely funded by the Hanoverian Kings of England (King George I, King George II, King George III). The Kings of England sought intellectual support for the monarchy. Hegelian dialectics was, was very much, a reactionary effort to present monarchist views as progressive. This dialectic process presented centralization and nationalization as progressive.

To a large extent, Hegel was simply rewriting the "Divine Right of Kings" in pseudo-philosophic speak. Oppositional logic reaches back into antiquity.

The three key elements of Hegelian dialectics are: The use of a conflict driven version of history, The use of oppositional logic, and a paradoxical definition of freedom (sublation).

Mormonism follows this pattern it creates a fantastic conflict driven history of the world: The Book of Mormon tells the story of the Nephites who were pitted against the Lamanites (servants of Satan). The Nephites strayed from the path of righteousness and were eventually pulled into a war of extermination. The children of the conflict were reduced to the "red-savages" now known as native Americans.

In the book The Covenant by Tim Ballard, we learn that The American Revolution was staged by the Heavenly Father and the Constitution was revealed specifically to create the conditions necessary for the restoration of the church which came to Joseph Smith a decade after Hegel. The new revelation came as "The Book of Commandments" which created the United Order of Enoch. Joseph Smith's followers rebelled on and Smith rewrote the Book of Commandments as The Doctrine and Covenant.

Joseph Smith's paradoxical definition of freedom is that people were given freedom as a test to see if they would follow whatever the LDS Church declared to be divine law. Those who do not follow the divine law are to be "cast out." Both the Book of Commandments and the Doctrine and Covenant demand multiple times that those who do not adhere to the dictates of the the Church hierarchy be cast out and denounced as evil.

Mormons actively practice the casting out of people. The lost boys who are thrown out of the FLDS community provide a sensational example of this ideology, but one finds more subtle examples of people caught in double binds in the LDS community.

Mormon dialectics allows the politically powerful to abuse people while declaring themselves the self-righteous defenders of liberty and all that is good.

The dialectics is compelling. People are drawn to it like flies. By employing conflict and paradox, dialecticians can create a sense of ideological impenetrability for a political group. On the whole, history shows that dialectics tends to divide society into warring groups that are completely incapable of communicating with others.

A prime example of the divisive effects of dialectics happens with the paradox of unity. When community organizers use dialectics to unite half a community against the other half, the organizer ends up creating deeper division despite the use of the rosy language of unity.

The Left is notorious for dialectics. The Left routinely labels people and groups "oppressors" then engage in a struggle against their targets without realizing that targeting and struggling against people is oppression.

Classical logic, on the other hand, sought to avoid paradoxes. The classical liberal approach to liberty sought to avoid the freedom paradox. The freedom paradox is easy to see in the simple question: Is a person free to take others as slaves? Classical Liberals, employing classical logic, concluded that one's freedom must stop when it imposes on the freedoms others. My personal freedom cannot include the freedom to enslave you.

The reactionaries to the American Revolution sought to preserve the social order of the monarchy and to preserve the peculiar institution of slavery. These groups flocked to Hegelian dialectics. Hegel was the rage in the early 1800s because his dialectics provided a mechanism to justify the behaviors and desires of the politicians of the day.

The dialecticians of the 1800s claimed that the classical liberals (the US founders, et al) had a naive definition of "liberty."

It was the dialecticians of the day who had the bad definition. These intellectual rogues simply built on all possible versions of the freedom paradox.

Anyway, I ended up reading Boyack's book twice. I book left me feeling heart broken. The author is clearly trying to advance liberty, but he is caught in the same binds that philosophers created for us centuries ago.

As for myself, I find that I am stuck here in Utah feeling helpless. I believe that I have things of value to contribute to the freedom movement. When I go to meetings, there is always some shrill voice that has bought into Mormon Dialectics that denounces the thoughts of people outside their group as Servants of Satan.

What is happening to this nation is terrible. The reason we are losing our freedom and devolving in a third world nation is because the intellectuals (left and right) are so mired in their particular versions of Hegelian dialectics that people have lost the ability to talk to each other.

To repeat Mormon dialectics. This doctrine says that Heavenly Father gave free agency through the Constitution and Divine Law through a Book of Commandments (The Doctrine and Covenants) as a test to separate those who willingly obey the dictates of the church. Those who do not are to be cast out. The Mormon definition of freedom essentially boils down to: You are free to obey.

And the pigs are more equal.