What is the constitutional law of the land?
And again I say unto you, those who have been scattered by their enemies, it is my will that they should continue to importune for redress, and redemption, by the hands of those who are placed as rulers and are in authority over you--
According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles:
That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.
And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood. (D&C 101:76-80)
In the first verse he is referring to when Joseph Smith asked president Martin Van Buren for redress against the Missourians and was denied. The president said, "your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you." Why? Because it was understood at that time in history that the federal government had no right to intervene in state affairs. This was considered to be "constitutional," because it was the states that created the central government and not the other way around. Wait a minute, why is God asking the Saints to do something that was unconstitutional? Hold that thought. Now how about the last verse? The Lord suffered the Constitution to be established, by "wise men that he raised up unto this very purpose"? So does the Lord condone the 3/5 Clause? That a slave was only 3/5 of a person? Didn't he say it's not right for men to hold other men in bondage? What about equality? What about the Commerce Clause? The clause that gave Congress license to enact Maritime Admiralty Law that I went over in my last post. Are we not all in bondage because of this clause? What about the Necessary and Proper Clause that has allowed Congress to legislate in all kinds of matters that affect our personal liberties? What about the power to tax? Is it not the power to destroy? The Constitution opened all sorts of opportunities for state officials to destroy freedom, and they have capitalized on those opportunities.
Now I am not calling the Lord a hypocrite here, but there has got to be a rational answer as to why he placed his stamp of approval on the Constitution. I concede that up until the 1861, Americans enjoyed abundant freedom and liberty compared to other nations, and unprecedented economic growth, but the Gadiantons were there, with their central bank experiments, their state-supported monopolies, and their insider trading and market manipulations in stocks and bonds.
Maybe the key to understanding this is what the Lord said in the middle verses. Notice the mini-chiasmus the Lord uses in verses 77-80. Constitution is spelled with a lower case c in the first verse, and in the middle verses he talks about what? Moral agency and just and holy principles. Then he ends with Constitution with a capital C. It is almost like he is saying that constitution with lower case c is the foundation of the one with an upper case C; the U.S. Constitution still had redeeming qualities despite the fact that it was written by scheming nationalists who left loopholes for tyranny. Some of the U.S. Constitution is based upon just and holy principles, mostly because of Antifederalists like George Mason who insisted on including a Bill of Rights. But the Constitution failed to prevent government from morphing into a draconian leviathan; it began to be trampled upon from the moment George Washington signed the charter of the first bank of the United States. In the end the Constitution is just a piece of hemp paper, that none of us ever signed or agreed to. In fact, most people who lived in the colonies at the time did not sign or agree to the Constitution. Most of them did not even know about it until after it was ratified. In fact, Pierce Butler (of South Carolina) and other nationalists made sure that the convention in Philadelphia was held in secret. After all, the colonists had just expunged a distant centralized government and were living in new-found freedom; why would they want to adopt another one? The sobering truth is that the Constitution was the result of the compromise between statists and classical liberals, and the statists got the better end of the deal.
Now before all you hard-core Constitutionalists stop reading and swear my blog off forever, please continue and try to open your mind; I promise this will all make sense if you read to the end.
Let's get back to Martin Van Buren. Why did God ask Joseph Smith to importune for redress when he knew that federal intervention in Missouri would violate the Constitution? Because just and holy principles transcend all earthly documents and governments. Now if Van Buren had organized a federal army, paid for by taxes, to go in and smash the Missourians that would've been wrong. Why? Because taxes force all the people who pay them into supporting whatever they are used for, and not everyone would've supported such a cause. That doesn't mean that the cause was not just, but that the means to support the cause were unjust. What is the right answer? Helping the Saints would have to be done through voluntary means. The president and others in government could've started a petition for anyone who wanted to donate to the cause of the Mormons or for others to voluntarily enlist in a militia to go and help save their lands from the Missourians. It all comes down to coercion versus persuasion, and according to D&C Section 121, persuasion is the only tool we can use in priesthood, and what is priesthood but the government of God.
constitution with a lower case c
And it came to pass that I saw among the nations of the Gentiles the formation of a great church. And the angel said unto me: Behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity.
And it came to pass that I behold this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it. And I also saw gold, and silver, and scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots... [think merchants]
And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters. And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.
And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance... And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them. (1 Nephi 13: 4-7, 13-16, Emphasis added)
Who were these people? They were Anglo-Saxons seeking for religious freedom and a reprieve from European tyranny. They were imbued with the Spirit of God and burned with intense passion for freedom of conscience and liberty. It is these people who deserve the credit for freedom in America, the "weak" things of the earth whose names are absent from the annals of history. Yes it is true that the Founding Fathers pledged their lives and sacred honor for independence, but many of them enjoyed wealth, prestige and affluence. While the pilgrims who preceded them sacrificed everything they had, barely escaping from Europe with their very lives, for just one chance at being free. We owe our gratitude to these immigrants, it was them who are the nameless and faceless stars of the freedom play in America. It was them who laid the foundation of the just and holy principles that the Lord referred to as the constitutional law of the land. This is a story that needs to be re-told in full, but my haphazard rendition that follows will have to do.
The church Instead of the State
Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written. (Ether 2:12)
Did you realize that there is no freedom without Christ? King Benjamin once declared that "under this head [Christ] ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free" (Mosiah 5:8). He said that as plain as day, only Christ can make you free, no other being or man can. No other philosophy or law other than Christian principles can create a free society. All other philosophies and laws can only come from Satan and lead to slavery. In Lehi's declaration of opposites he described to his sons, he makes it clear that we are enticed by either one or the other, there is no in between.
Time to dive into the history. The primitive church was one composed of fiercely independent disciples involved in a grass roots movement. After the ascension of Christ and the martyrdom of the apostles Christianity spread like wildfire. Its adherents radiated with vigor and passion for the teachings of Jesus in all their unpendantic prose. Many succumbed to persecution by Roman authorities who tortured, scourged, crucified, and threw them to the lions and the gladiators in the colosseum for the viewing pleasure of all of pagan Rome. Rather than join the military and commit murder for imperialism, they would give up their own lives, sometimes being killed in the most gruesome manner. These were true disciples of Christ and true Christians in every sense of the term. And I can assure you, these humble followers of Christ would’ve been abhorred at the idea of following a man or swearing oaths to a large religious organization or a political empire. Many were killed precisely for refusing allegiance to Caesar, who the Roman's equated with God.
Verna Hall, in her comprehensive compilation on Christian self-government, quotes several 19th Century authors who wrote about these concepts. The first one, Leonard Bacon, had this to say about the primitive church:
The churches instituted by the apostles were local institutions only. Nothing like a national church, distinct and individual among co-ordinate national churches -- nothing like a provincial church, having jurisdiction over many congregations within geographical boundaries, natural or political -- appears in the writings or acts of the apostles... But that the organized church, in the primitive age of Christianity, was always a local institution - never national, never provincial or diocesan - is a proposition which few will deny.
Each local church was complete itself, and was held responsible to Christ for its own character, and the character of those whom it retained in its fellowship... Particular churches, in that age, were related to each other as constituent portions of the Universal Church. Their unity was their one faith and hope. It was the unity of common ideas and principles distinguishing them from all the world besides -- of common interests and efforts, of common trials and perils, and mutual affection... (The Christian History of the Constitution, p. 17)
Elsewhere, Bacon said this:
Having seen that the process of organization in the mother church at Jerusalem was essentially democratic while under the immediate guidance of the apostles, we need positive information to convince us that in other places the process by which believers in Christ became an organized body was materially different. But there is no such information. On the contrary, there are indications that in every place the society of believers in Christ was a little republic... (Ibid, p. 16, Emphasis added)
Did you catch that? Church congregations consisted of independent, self-governing bodies of believers. This persisted for some time, but gradual authoritarianism crept in as the "vain ambitions" of men desiring to "gratify their pride" and "cover their sins" began to crave "power over the flesh." Bacon explains that when Constantine decided to merge political Rome with Christianity, he didn't have to "institute the the episcopal form of government over the churches - he found it already existing..." (p. 18)
The word episcopal means church government by bishops. This is how centralization began, as independent fellowships gave way to “regional authorities” who collected tithes and gave marching orders. And when Constantine made Christianity the State religion it was game over for Christian principles of self-government, and man plunged headfirst into the deep recesses of the dark ages. The Great and Abominable Church reigned over the earth, enjoying dominion over Church and State, corrupting the teachings of Christ by supplanting them with doctrines of devils subscribed to pagan gods. These were disguised in the new pantheon of Christian gods and saints adopted by the Catholic, or universal, Church. Authority mattered more than doctrine or substance, a pattern Bacon points out is apparent in both governmental and religious organizations:
Christianity, often persecuted, always an "illicit religion," was making its way in the presence of powerful enemies. Its natural leaders, the "bishops and deacons," freely chosen in every church were of necessity, intrusted [sic] with large powers over the endangered flock, and, of course, power was accumulating in their hands. The churches were in cities; for it was in cities that the new doctrine and worship could obtain a foothold. Such churches, as they grew, were naturally distributed, rather than divided, into a plurality of assemblies governed by one venerable company of bishops or elders, served by one corps of deacons. Equally natural was it for each mother church to become still more extended by spreading itself out into the suburbs and surrounding villages; all believers in the city and its suburbs, or in the country round about, being recognized as constituting one ecclesia with one administration.
In the growth of such a community, as its affairs become more complicated, one of the elders or overseers must needs become the moderator or chairman of the board; and to him the chief oversight must be intrusted [sic]. At first that presiding elder is only a leader, foremost among the brethren who are equal in authority; but by degrees he becomes a superior officer with distinctive powers. A tendency to monarchy begins to be developed in what was at first a simple republic. The principle of equality and fraternity begins to be superseded by the spirit authority and subordination... (p. 20, Emphasis added)
Do you see how the pattern applies to both Church and State? Can you see how Joseph Smith's warning "that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion," can be applied to every institution, group, family, organization, or government? Every possible situation that allows a man to be placed in a position of authority is subject to this phenomenon. There is no escaping the lust for power in this fallen world. Lord Acton’s dictum, "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," is the rule rather than the exception.
Have you ever wondered why Mormon declared that if all men were like unto Captain Moroni then the "very powers of hell would be shaken forever"? Why did he say this and why did he name is own son after the Nephite war hero? Because if any man could have abused power it was him. His men would've followed him anywhere because of their great love for him. Do you recall that he threatened Pahoran, the chief judge, because he mistakenly thought that he was neglecting to send provisions to his armies (provisions that were donated because as far as we know there was no taxation at this time in Nephite history). He told him that he would bring his men against the capital city of Zarahemla if need be to punish the leaders of government. But after he found out that it was the king-men who were laying siege to Zarahemla he immediately went to deal with the insurrection. My point is that Moroni could have easily used that situation to execute a military coup and take over the entire country, establishing himself as a de facto dictator, the very thing that Amalickiah was attempting to do. Do you realize that the Book of Mormon was written as one long thousand-year chiasmus? And guess who is smack dab in the middle of it? Captain Moroni. It seems as though God wants you to pay special attention to this man who, "seeks not for power, but to pull it down." Men like him are rare in this world. What made him so great? His dedication to Jesus Christ and his love of Christian principles.
I've stated repeatedly on this blog that Murray Rothbard is my favorite scholar, his numerous works in history and economics are unparalleled. Despite dying at the younger age of 69 in 1995, he was one of the most prolific writers in history. He wrote Man, Economy, and State, a 1400 page treatise on economics when he was only 35 years old. He was so prolific that his books continue to be published posthumously by scholars at the Mises Institute, who are left with the task of sifting through his copious writings. Rothbard was not religious at all, or at least he never really talked about it. But the way he views history is as Christian as it gets. This quote from his preface to Conceived in Liberty succinctly sums up his approach to history in every book he has written:
My own basic perspective on the history of man, and, a fortiori, on the history of the United States, is to place central importance on the great conflict which is eternally waged between Liberty and Power, a conflict, by the way, which was seen with crystal clarity by the American revolutionaries of the eighteenth century. I see the liberty of the individual not only as a great moral good in itself (or, with Lord Acton, as the highest political good), but also as the necessary condition for the flowering of all the other goods that mankind cherishes: moral virtue, civilization, the arts and sciences, economic prosperity. Out of liberty, then, stem the glories of civilized life. But liberty has always been threatened by the encroachments of power, power which seeks to suppress, control, cripple, tax, and exploit the fruits of liberty and production. Power, then, the enemy of liberty, is consequently the enemy of all other goods and fruits of civilization that mankind holds dear. And power is almost always centered in and focused on that central repository of power and violence: the state. (Volumes I-IV, p. xvi)
The struggle between Liberty and Power begins in the church, which means people, in those societal structures that are local and real to us. After Constantine established the power of the Great and Abominable Church, resistance began to spring up in little pockets throughout the ages. From Wycliffe to Tyndale, to Luther to Calvin, the way began to be opened up for religious freedom. God was micro-injecting his just and holy principles into anyone who would listen to a portion of his Spirit. After the discovery of the New World, the mass exodus of pilgrims to America began just as Nephi saw. In those days, there was nothing better than a vast ocean to separate the rulers from the ruled. Here is what Leonard Bacon said about the refugees who would form the New England churches:
All had gained the intelligence that comes from the diligent study of the Bible, and all were honest and earnest believers in the Christ of the New Testament. Such were the men and women who were thus driven out of their native England, yet hunted and intercepted in their flight, as if they were criminals escaping from justice. Why did they suffer the spoiling of their goods, arrest, imprisonment, exile?... They had caught from the Bible the idea of a church independent alike of the pope and the queen, independent of Parliament as well as of prelates, and dependent only on Christ. It was their mission to work out and organize that idea... (The Christian History of the Constitution, p. 27)
The next scholar quoted by Verna Hall is Edwin Hall (not sure if they are related), and this excerpt from his book, The Puritans and Their Principles, written in 1846, proves my point made above several paragraphs ago. Verna, in her compilation, labels this section Christian Principles Produce Local Self-Government, this is also the point of this entire blog post and the very reason I was prompted to write it. If we want to live in a Zion society someday in the future, we have to learn all the Christian principles of self-government (and by the way they are all contained in the Book of Mormon and the Bible), it is the only way that a city of God can be established. We have to learn these things ourselves and live them, God is not going to do it for us. He won't come to his city until he has a people that have sufficiently prepared for him. Here are the words of Edwin Hall as he quotes some of history's greatest minds:
It is remarkable how men of comprehensive views, and free from sectarian bias, have agreed with regard to THE REPUBLICANISM OF CHRISTIANITY. "Christianity," says Montesquieu, "is a stranger to despotic power." "The religion," says De Tocqueville, "which declares that all are equal in the sight of God, will not refuse to acknowledge that all citizens are equal in the eyes of the law. Religion is the companion of liberty in all its battles and all its conflicts; the cradle of its infancy and the divine source of its claims." "The friends of liberty in France are accustomed to speak in enthusiastic commendation of the REPUBLICANISM of the Scriptures." The Abbe' de la Mennais, acknowledged as one of the most powerful minds in Europe, little as he regards Christianity as a revelation from God, familiarly speaks of its Author as 'THE GREAT REPUBLICAN." Our own De Witt Clinton said, "Christianity, in its essence, its doctrines, and its forms, is republican."...
The tendency of the true Gospel principles is to bring the most absolute despotism under the limits of law; to imbue limited monarchies more and more with the spirit of popular institutions; to prepare the people to govern themselves; and finally to establish everywhere the spirit and the reality, if not the very forms of a republic. (Ibid, p. 28)
If Edwin didn't make it obvious enough for you, Christianity is the basis of a republican form of government. But again, I'm not talking about a State called a Republic. I'm also not talking about a political party with a capital R called Republican. I'm talking about just and holy principles that exist independently of lands and leaders. I'm talking about individual self-government, the kind done without a State. To learn what that really is, we have to turn to the Book of Mormon.
Mosiah 29 and the "Three Whiches" of Republicanism
Pearson and Bankhead have a section entitled, "Mosiah Set Up a Christian Constitutional Republic," where they explain what the "three whiches" of republicanism are. Here is what they wrote:
You can understand the nature of a true Christian constitutional republic when you understand the government of "three whiches" that Mosiah gave to the Nephites.. (Mosiah 29:25.) This was a government of laws (1) which were given to their fathers, (2) which were pronounced correct, and (3) which were given to them by God. In a democracy, the voice of the people is sovereign (all-powerful), while in a true Christian constitutional republic, God is sovereign. His sovereignty is expressed mostly through his law. (p. 90)
The authors go on to explain that republics "embrace two principles: (1) the sovereignty of God and (2) a limited franchise" (p. 90). A limited franchise does not limit who can vote but what is voted one. In other words, you are not supposed to vote to change God's law, the voting is done to choose judges or representatives that are best qualified to uphold God's law, and this is best done on the most local level possible. The "three whiches" put forth by these authors are describing none other than Common Law; laws that came from God (through Moses), and were passed down from generation to generation; the same just and holy principles of self-government that I have been describing throughout this post. By the way, if you want to read a mind-blowing book on the evils of democracy, read Hans-Hermann Hoppe's Democracy: The God That Failed.
Notice in verse 26 that Mosiah says that it is not common for the voice of the people to choose what is not right, but it is common for the minority to desire what is not right, so he admonished them to do their "business by the voice of the people." He did not mean democracy; he did not mean that the majority could oppress the minority by voting to destroy their rights or take their stuff. He meant that most people will try to choose what they believe is right. There are usually only a few bad apples who want to destroy freedom. A perfect example of this is the king-men in Alma chapter 51. Many of them, who presumed they were of "high birth," desired to alter the system and return to monarchy. But the voice of the people settled the manner and the people of liberty were victorious.
The opposite of this happened in ancient Israel. God warned the Israelites that if they chose to have a king he would oppress them and abuse his power. They were not detoured. So God allowed them to enslave themselves. Samuel tried to tell them about all the things a king would do: tax them, give their substance to his buddies, enslave their children, take the fruits of their crops and their property, plunge them into needless wars, and grant special privileges to elites (1 Samuel 8). Then he told Samuel to give them what they asked for. They were really asking for a State. A government to take care of them so they would not have to govern themselves. Freedom is too risky and scary for some people; they need someone to tell them what to do. And this tendency begins with the temptation to look to a strong man in religion, like the children of Israel did with Moses. They refused to go up to Sinai to face God themselves, a fact lamented by Moses.
After the Israelites opted for a king, things went downhill from there. We know Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians shortly after Lehi left for the promised land, and by the time Christ was born, it had been assimilated into the Roman Empire, and had lost all semblance of self-government. God truly does give people what they want, even if it is not what he wants. He is an accommodating God, but the natural consequences of those choices always play out. We are living through our own consequences of rejecting freedom right now.
Another author I have brought up a few times on this blog is the late H. Verlan Andersen. His writings were a major influence in my early intellectual pursuits in the early 2000s. Although I have found a few points that I disagree with him on, his books are still a part of my library. I was searching through one the other day called The Book of Mormon and The Constitution, published by his son in 1995. It is a compilation of some of his writings that he never got the chance to publish during his life. I found something that blew my mind and goes right along with the topic of this current post. He made this fascinating observation about the Israelites before they opted for a king:
Inasmuch as the commandments, statutes and judgments of God were enforced by the Israelites as the laws of the land, and inasmuch as those who taught and enforced them were prophets, priests and other religious leaders, there appeared to be no necessity for a separate state organization. Indeed what functions would remain for a civil government to perform under such circumstances? The religious and political affairs were almost completely integrated and the people could see no need for forming a separate government organization which would only laden then with taxes.
Insofar as we can determine, the united church and state organization had little need to impose taxes. Apparently the people forged their own weapons of war, and when contributions were needed for the building of such things as the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle, the people stepped forward and made sufficient voluntary contributions. The tithes collected seem to provide all which was needed to carry out united activities. (Lev. 27:26-34)
The Levites who spent their time in serving in religious and judicial capacities, were supported by the tithes of the people. (Num. 18:21) Of course when the people chose to have a king as other nations, their monarchs did not hesitate to impose heavy taxes just as the Lord warned would be the case. (1 Samuel 8:8-10) (The Book of Mormon and The Constitution, pp. 55-56, Emphasis added)
The system of judges set up by Mosiah was the same law given to the Israelites: self-government according to Common Law. Mosiah did not tell them to set up a State. He told them to appoint judges, and if they weren't doing a good job at judging they were judged by other judges. Here is how Mosiah describes this system of checks and balances:
And now if ye have judges, and they do not judge you according to the law which has been given, ye can cause that they may be judged of a higher judge. If your higher judges do not judge righteous judgements, ye shall cause that a small number of your lower judges should be gathered together, and they shall judge your higher judges, according to the voice of the people. (Mosiah 29:28-29)
Has it ever occurred to you that jurors were never supposed to be under the direction of a judge? Judges get their power to judge from the jurors, and not the other way around. I pointed out in my last post that in admiralty courts this has been flipped around in that jurors have to await for jury instructions from a judge. Remember, he is the captain of the ship and has all power. In Common Law, the jurors are the judges, the lower judges described by Mosiah who are supposed to judge the higher judges, because he is acting on the consent of the lower judges. This is self-government; a government of peers, based upon God's laws. Do you remember in the Old Testament when Moses' father-in-law Jethro offered him advice to delegate some of his responsibilities? He introduced the same system that Mosiah did, a system of judges to adjudicate in Israelite disputes and matters according to God's law. The small matters were left up the people, the bigger matters were brought before Moses. I'm sure this offered a much needed reprieve for the exhausted prophet. You can read about it in Exodus 18.
Do think it is a coincidence that Moses and Mosiah have the same first three letters in their names? Well I looked up what the word mos means in Latin and this is what I found. The "Latin word mos comes from Proto-Indo-European *m-et-," and it means precept, law, quality, nature mode, fashion, conduct, behavior, character, humor, self-will, caprice, manner, custom, way, usage, practice, and habit (Source). What do all these words have in common? Self-government.
17th Century Colonialists Practiced Self-Government
It is worthy to note that this document contains none of the conventional references to a "dread sovereign" or a "gracious king," nor the slightest allusion to the British or any other government outside of Connecticut itself, nor does it prescribe any condition of church-membership for the right of suffrage. It was the first written constitution known to history, that created a government, and it marked the beginnings of American democracy, of which Thomas Hooker deserves more than any other man to be called the father...
The most noteworthy features of the Connecticut republic was that it was a federation of independent towns, and that all attributes of sovereignty not expressly granted to the General Court remained, as of original intent, in the towns...
This little federal republic was allowed to develop peacefully and normally; its constitution was not violently wrenched out of shape like that of Massachusetts at the end of the seventeenth century. It silently grew till it became the strongest political structure on the continent, as was illustrated in the remarkable military energy and the unshaken financial credit of Connecticut during the Revolutionary War; and in the chief crises of the Federal Convention of 1787 Connecticut, with her compromise which secured equal state representation in one branch of the national government and popular representation in the other, played the controlling part. (The Christian History of the Constitution, p. 252)
Now are you getting an idea of what the Lord meant in Sections 98 and 101 when he uses the word constitutional with a lower-case c? He is talking about local government based upon Christian principles. John Winthrop, the Puritan lawyer from Massachusetts, said in a 1645 speech that "... liberty is incompatible and inconsistent with authority, and cannot endure the least restraint of the most just authority" (Ibid, p.262). Tell me, is it even possible for a national government to exact just authority?
Now I will concede that the Constitution with a capital C was based upon what the pilgrims said and did centuries before it was written. And the federalism of the independent states was similar to the federalism of these independent Connecticut towns. However, when a national government is being created the power at stake is too great a temptation for scheming men to let alone. Many of the "wise men" whom we assume the Lord is referring to in D&C 101:80 were scoundrels with plans to abuse authority from the very beginning, and purposely left the door open for the loss of freedoms that we have seen since the Civil War. How are we to know that the Lord was not referring to other "wise men" who came centuries before, who did not enjoy the pomp and prestige of many of the Founders who actually wrote the Constitution? How are we to know that he wasn't referring to the losers of the ratifying conventions who were overwhelmingly Antifederalist, who fought tooth and nail for a Bill of Rights to be included in the document, but still voted no in fear of what would become of the sovereignty of their states?
I used to assume that the "Gentiles" spoken of in the Book of Mormon were people in other churches other than the LDS Church. I mean, after all, we were the Lord's church, how could we be guilty of all those things Nephi, Mormon and Moroni were accusing the Gentiles of doing? I was wrong. You cannot assume anything. The Lord always requires you to humble yourself to learn truths that are contained in scripture; usually that involves changing your traditional paradigms. Similarly, how many of us have assumed that the "wise men" the Lord referred to in Section 101 were Washington, Hamilton, Madison, Randolph, Morris, Franklin and other nationalists? I mean, they are the most famous of all the Founders, right? (Hamilton even got his own musical). How many people have even heard that Antifederalists like Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Samuel Chase, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, and Willie Jones were too skeptical of a national government to even attend the convention? How many people have even heard of these men besides Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams (him mostly because of a brand of beer)? Henry, in regards to the convention, said he "smelt a rat." And Samuel Adams was considered by many to be the Father of the Revolution. Why? Because he declared independence from Britain in behalf of Massachusetts twelve years before Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence:
There were very few whose minds could comprehend the important distinctions which were then agitated, or whose reasoning could discern the approaching events of that controversy. Mr. Adams, buoyed up by a sense of the justice and righteousness of the colonists' demands, stood forth first in their defence [sic], and heroically won his title - THE FATHER OF THE REVOLUTION. In 1764, he was elected to prepare the instructions of the town of Boston to their representatives in the General Assembly. The document is now in existence, and contains the first public denial of the right of the British Parliament to tax the colonies..." ("American Eloquence", 1857, quoted in Ibid, p. XIV)
Perhaps we should reconsider who the founding "wise men" really were. Did you know that the nationalists used the term "Federalists" to disguise their true intent to create a powerful central government? Did you know that Hamilton wanted the president to be a monarch with absolute power and life-long tenure? Did you know that Hamilton wanted to subdue the states and make them bureaucratical agents of the federal government? Did you know that the nationalists outnumbered the Antifederalists in an overwhelming majority at the convention? Did you know that many of the nationalists were not Christians, but were self-declared theists? But some appealed to Christianity when it benefitted them. Many Antifederalists were Christians, including Samuel Adams.
When Power defeats Liberty the winners always write and control the narrative of history. Many nationalists who supported a centralized government were merchants or their beneficiaries. Hamilton wanted to import the British system of mercantilism to America so the elites could profit. This is the age-old system of crony capitalism and corporate favoritism and welfare. Also known as fascism. Consider this quote from Rothbard from his Conceived in Liberty, Volume 5:
Nationalist strength tended to come not only from the wealthy and eminent per se, but also from the urban commercial interests, merchants, and artisans, the majority of commercial farmers, and leading urban-exporters. In short, nationalist strength came from men who supported centralizing tariffs and navigation laws, raising the value of their public securities, and an aggressive foreign policy, all at the expense of the taxpaying inland farmer. And surprisingly, in seven of the twelve states, no representation whatever at the convention was allowed to the inland farmers, which was a clear and enormous weighting of the convention in favor of the nationalist forces. (Conceived in Liberty, Vol. 5, pp. 140-41)
You've probably caught on by now if you've read more than a few of my blog posts that things are never what they seem. There is no cow too sacred to tip over in the dead of night; the U.S. Constitution is no exception.
The Counter Revolution of 1789
The press was overwhelmingly Federal; for one reason, the press was urban, and the urban force, from wealthy merchants to lowly artisans, was solidly nationalist. Furthermore, the remainder of the printers who were inclined to be Antifederalists or even to publish both sides of the coin were subjected to intense and ruthless economic pressure by subscribers and business advertisers. (Ibid, p. 216)
It seems as though the deck was stacked against the Antifederalists from the beginning. Indeed, even the libertarian Bill of Rights was used as a tool by the Federalists to sway the more moderate Antifederalists to vote for the Constitution. The Bill of Rights, authored by Madison, who Rothbard says "abhorred the concept of a bill of rights," was only half of what the more radical Antifederalists were asking for. They wanted more protection against federal power, like a two-thirds requirement to pass navigation laws so they could have more votes to prevent American merchants from parroting British ones. Rothbard points out that there were around 210 amendments proposed by the states throughout the ratification proceedings, most of which had to do with blocking federal taxing power, removing mercantilist protections for the elite, and guaranteeing personal liberties. But by conceding a bill of rights, the Federalists won out and got everything else they wanted: a large standing army, the power to create and build up a navy, a federal power to lay direct taxes, and loophole clauses that allowed them to create national banks and monopolistic privilege for favored businesses. The nationalist agenda was nothing but the British mercantilist system born anew. Here is Rothbard's summation of the Federalist power play:
The Federalists, by use of propaganda, chicanery, fraud, malapportionment of delegates, blackmail threats of secession, and even coercive laws, had managed to sustain enough delegates to defy the wishes of the majority of the American people and create a new Constitution...
These powers were sought eagerly as a method of handing out special privileges to commercial groups: navigation acts to subsidize shipping, tariffs to protect inefficient artisans stampeded by national depression from foreign manufactured goods, and a strong army and navy to pursue an aggressive foreign policy designed to force the opening of the West Indies ports, the Mississippi River, and the Northwest. And, to pay for all of these bounties, a central taxing power would be harnessed that could also assume and pay the public debt held by wealthy speculators. (Ibid, p. 306)
Perhaps many of you who are regular readers of my blog haven't been exposed to this part of American history. Well, don't feel bad, it's been hidden carefully. Like I said, the winners of wars and political campaigns get to re-write history in their own image, just like Brigham Young began doing the instant Joseph and Hyrum were killed. This is the nature of power, it seeks to hide its own sins. We have been taught to idolize many of the Founders who wanted nothing more than wealth, prestige, special privilege, and power. It is always the more common people who are the real heroes, the nameless and faceless patriots who fought bravely to redeem this land with their own blood, with their surviving progeny returning to their farms and humble lives, leaving the politicking to the ambitious and greedy. This is the never-ending story of Liberty verses Power; the story of the people verses the State. This is why the State needs to be abolished, it is nothing but a vehicle for corruption, a vehicle that never changes anything but the conniving politician in its drivers seat, who like the last one, continues to mow down the rights of his constituents.
I'll let you decide for yourself, dear reader, what the Lord meant when he said he condoned the Constitution and the "wise men" who created it. Was he talking about the powerful and ambitious men and the document itself, or the principles of self-government it was supposed to be based upon? I could never answer that for you, because after all, everything I write on this blog represents my opinion, and like all other fallible creatures (except maybe Rusty Nelson and his merry band of profits, sellers, and revenue-makers), I could be wrong.
Lysander Spooner's Master Logic
It cannot be said that the Constitution formed "the people of the United States," for all time, into a corporation. It does not speak of "the people" as a corporation, but as individuals. A corporation does not describe itself as "we," nor as "people," nor as "ourselves." Nor does a corporation, in legal language, have any "posterity." It supposes itself to have, and speaks of itself as having, perpetual existence, as a single individuality.
Moreover, no body of men, existing at any one time, have power to create a perpetual corporation. A corporation can become practically perpetual only by the voluntary accession of new members, as the old ones die off. But for this voluntary accession of new members, the corporation necessarily dies with the death of those who originally composed it. (p. 11)
What is interesting about this statement is that one year later, in 1871, the United States corporation was formed. Spooner was living through the post-war ear of Reconstruction and the implementation of the 14th Amendment that really enslaved us all. Also, Spooner was a lawyer, so he was familiar with all the 19th Century legal speak I went over in my last post. He was also a bit of a spit-fire, he challenged the inefficiency of the U.S. Postmaster General and started his own mail delivery company. He abhorred monopoly in all its forms. Honestly, this guy is one of my personal heroes. Next he proves that voting with secret ballots could not bind any one to the Constitution:
As all the different votes are given secretly (by secret ballot), there is no legal means of knowing, from the vote themselves, who votes for, and who against, the Constitution. Therefore, voting affords no legal evidence that any particular individual supports the Constitution. And where there can be no legal evidence that any particular individual supports the Constitution, it cannot legally be said that anybody supports it. It is clearly impossible to have any legal proof of the intentions of large numbers of men, where there can be no legal proof of the intentions of any particular one of them. (p. 15)
Is your mind blown yet? Earlier I quoted Pearson and Bankhead's BOM study guide on the "three whiches" of Mosiah's republic. Remember that they said in a republic there is a limited franchise? Well, it does not limit who can vote but what can be voted on. Do you realize that most people did not get to vote for the Constitution? That is what Spooner is talking about. It was voted on by only elites who did so in secret. Is that something that God usually condones? Does he do things in secret? The Book of Mormon says that he does not! See Ether 8:19. The word secret appears over 75 times in the Book of Mormon, and most of them are in condemnation of it. Now with that in mind, read Spooner's next burst of reason where he takes this argument even closer to its logical conclusion:
As all voting is secret (by secret ballot), and as all secret governments are necessarily only secret bands of robbers, tyrants, and murderers, the general fact that our government is practically carried on by means of such voting, only proves that there is among us a secret band of robbers, tyrants, and murderers, whose purpose is to rob, enslave, and, so far as necessary to accomplish their purposes, murder, the rest of the people. The simple fact of the existence of such a band does nothing towards proving that "the people of the United States," or any one of them, voluntarily supports the Constitution. (p. 16)
Don't you think it is interesting that Spooner uses almost the exact same language as the Book of Mormon in referring to the "secret band of robbers and murderers"? "And it was this secret band of robbers who did carry on the work of destruction and wickedness..." It's uncanny isn't it? Almost as if the Spirit of God was working with Spooner... after all, he wrote this piece during a watershed moment in American history when the sovereignty of the individual was under direct attack.
Now we come to the crux of Spooner's master argument, the reductio ad absurdum of granting a fictional entity the power to tax. Before you read Spooner's words, think back to the Book of Mormon and ask yourself if God ever condoned taxation among the Nephites. The word tax or taxes appears six times in the Book of Mormon, every one in condemnation of it. Would God support granting such a mischievous power to a nameless and faceless organization? You decide. Here is Spooner:
It is under... compulsion... that taxes are paid. And how much proof the payment of taxes affords, that the people consent to support "the government," it needs no further argument to show.
Still another reason why the payment of taxes implies no consent, or pledge, to support the government, is that the taxpayer does not know, and has no means of knowing, who the particular individuals are who compose "the government," To him, "the government" is a myth, an abstraction, an incorporeality, with which he can make no contract, and to which he can give no consent, and make no pledge. He knows it only through its pretended agents. "The government" itself he never sees...
Not knowing who the particular individuals are, who call themselves "the government," the taxpayer does not know whom he pays taxes to. All he knows is that a man comes to him, representing himself to be the agent of "the government"--that is, the agent of a secret band of robbers and murderers, who have taken to themselves the title of "the government," and have determined to kill anybody who refuses to give them whatever money they demand. To save his life, he gives up his money to this agent. But as this agent does not make his principals individually known to the taxpayer, the latter, after he has given up his money, knows no more who are "the government"--that is, who were the robbers--than he did before. To say, therefore that by giving up his money to their agent, he entered into a voluntary contract with them, that he pledges himself to obey them, to support them, and to give them whatever money they should demand of him in the future, is simply ridiculous. (pp. 19-20)
Now, in light of everything we have talked about in this post, let's re-read what the Book of Mormon says that Gadianton robbers always do. Keep in mind that they could not do these things if there is not a State to seize control over:
...and those Gadianton robbers filling the judgment-seats--have usurped the power and authority of the land; laying aside the commandments of God, and not in the least aright before him; doing no justice unto the children of men.
Condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the wicked go unpunished because of their money; and moreover, to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the world, and, moreover, that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills--(Helaman 7:4-5).
God's just and holy principles transcend all earthly documents, societal structures, and political organizations. The U.S. Constitution was the result of a battle between Liberty and Power, elements of both show up in the document, but the proponents of Power won out in the end. Of course God condones those parts of it that are based on his principles, but he could not remain a just and holy being if he condoned the parts that were designed intentionally to abuse power. The Gadianton tendency to use government for monetary gain and self-aggrandizement is universal and perpetual, the "wise men" who established the Constitution of this land are no exception. Remember what Joseph said, almost all men abuse power, and just because the scriptures call men "wise," does not mean they are righteous. Solomon is the perfect example. He was known for his great wisdom, but his private life was full of riotous living with his many wives and concubines. And he was a king like king Noah, who built extravagant palaces with his people's tax money.
Someday, maybe sooner than later, God will destroy Mystery Babylon and all her strongholds. There will be no more governments, churches, or other earthly organizations, and all the world will be in civil war and violent chaos. If we want to establish a city of God, a city of refuge, even Zion, the New Jerusalem, we will have to learn to govern ourselves. We will have to be familiar with God's just and holy principles of self-government, and we will have to allow all to be free. There will be no State, no taxes, no licensing laws, no feudal rents (property taxes), and no coercion except in the case of punishing real crime. There will be no strong man, no president, no king, because Jesus Christ will be our King. He will reign personally on the earth in a kingdom of volunteerism, where all things will be held in common because the people willingly choose to share. There will be no army or navy, no weapons of mass destruction, perhaps no weapons at all, because Jesus Christ will fight our battles, the fear of Zion will be the fear of God.
I'll leave you with these comforting words from Nephi, God wins in the end, despite all the destructions of our freedoms in this current political swamp controlled by globalists and deep staters, these words should give us great hope; God will fulfill his covenants to the House of Israel, and arm his servants with power and great glory:
And it came to pass that I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations [New World Order] of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.
And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth. And as there began to be wars and rumors of wars among all the nations which belonged to the mother of abominations, the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold, the wrath of God is upon the mother of harlots; and behold, thou seest all these things--
And when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out [See 3 Nephi 21] upon the mother of harlots, which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose founder is the devil, then, at that day, the work of the Father shall commence, in preparing the way for his fulfilling of his covenants, which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel. (1 Nephi 14:13-17)