Friday, August 28, 2015

Secret Combinations

Morte di Giulio Cesare ("Death of Julius Caesar"). By Vincenzo Camuccini, 1798
While the phrase "secret combination" usually brings to mind conspiracy theories, the reality is that "secret combinations" and conspiracies have played important roles throughout history--the murder of Julius Caesar, portrayed above, merely being one example--and continue to influence events today. (See, e.g. "The long, slow death of the rule of law in America" for examples under the current Administration). Isaiah warned of such conspiracies when looking forward to the spread of the Gospel in the latter days, writing:
15 Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?

16 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?
Isaiah 29:15-16. The Book of Mormon speaks at length of the corrosive and insidious nature of secret combinations, while providing the examples of how such compacts lead to the destruction of two nations. So strong is the importance of this message, that Moroni interrupted his history of the Jaredites to warn:
21 And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.

22 And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.

23 Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.

24 Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.

25 For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.
Ether 8:21-25.

Before going further, I want to explore what is meant by "secret combination." Many people (myself, at one time, included) interpret this as synonymous with the likes of a secret or unknown conspiracy or cabal.

Since "secret" modifies the term "combination," it is best to first define the term "combination." "Combination," in its modern form, denotes "an alliance of persons or parties"; whereas, according to Shaffer's 1828 dictionary, it is an:
Intimate union, or association of two or more persons or things, by set purpose or agreement, for effecting some object, by joint operation; in a good sense, when the object is laudable; in an ill sense, when it is illegal or iniquitous. It is sometimes equivalent to league, or to conspiracy. We say, a combination of men to overthrow government, or a combination to resist oppression.
This seems pretty straightforward, and the definitions are similar, so I will next move to "secret." Dictionary.com defines secret as:
1. done, made, or conducted without the knowledge of others: secret negotiations.
2. kept from the knowledge of any but the initiated or privileged: a secret password.
3. faithful or cautious in keeping confidential matters confidential; close-mouthed; reticent.
4. designed or working to escape notice, knowledge, or observation: a secret drawer; the secret police.
5. secluded, sheltered, or withdrawn: a secret hiding place.
6.beyond ordinary human understanding; esoteric.
7.bearing the classification secret. limited to persons authorized to use information documents, etc., so classified.
However, as used in the early 19th Century, the word had a slightly different meaning:
1. Properly, separate; hence, hid; concealed from the notice or knowledge of all persons except the individual or individuals concerned.

I have a secret errand to thee, O king. Judges 3.

2. Unseen; private; secluded; being in retirement.

There secret in her sapphire cell,

He with the Nais wont to dwell. Fenton.

3. Removed from sight; private; unknown.

Abide in a secret place, and hide thyself. I Sam. 19.

4. Keeping secrets; faithful to secrets entrusted; as secret Romans. [Unusual.]

5. Private; affording privacy.

6. Occult; not seen; not apparent; as the secret operations of physical causes.

7. Known to God only.
What sticks out is that that several of the 19th Century meanings denote something private or confidential (i.e., not public or not known to the public at large; not-advertised), and does not necessarily require it to be purposefully made unknown or hidden. A subtle difference, but perhaps important. Many LDS members seem to interpret the term "secret combination" as meaning that the existence of the organization, or its membership, must be unknown or concealed. But this is not necessarily true. I think the proper view of the term "secret combination" is not necessarily that the association or group is secret (although it may be), but that the goals or objectives are private or not widely known.

A modern example might be the Bilderberg Group. Neither the existence of the Group nor the fact that there are meetings is secret because people outside the group are clearly aware of them, but the discussions and comments within the meetings are private and undisclosed. To the extent that attendees come to some agreement (explicit or implicit) to advance certain choices or causes espoused at such meetings, the Bilderberg Group could be considered a type of "secret combination." The recent videos Planned Parenthood videos also suggest that Planned Parenthood be considered a "secret combination" because its private face or real purpose is much different from its public face or professed purpose.

Beyond attempting to analyze the meaning of the term, there is the difficulty of attempting to ascertain what group or groups should be considered "secret combinations" warned about in scripture. Many organizations have been offered up, including, but not limited to, the Mafia, terrorist organizations, the Free Masons, and drug cartels. While these may be "secret combinations," for good or ill, none of them are THE secret combination that "seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries." Moreover, we do not need to guess as to the identity of the secret combination referred to by Moroni because we have been told its identity.

At the October 1979 General Conference, Ezra Taft Benson (then president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) gave a talk entitled "A Witness and a Warning," in which he stated:
It is well to ask, what system established secret works of darkness to overthrow nations by violent revolution? Who blasphemously proclaimed the atheistic doctrine that God made us not? Satan works through human agents. We need only look to some of the ignoble characters in human history who were contemporary to the restoration of the gospel to discover fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. I refer to the infamous founders of Communism and others who follow in their tradition.

Communism introduced into the world a substitute for true religion. It is a counterfeit of the gospel plan. The false prophets of Communism predict a utopian society. This, they proclaim, will only be brought about as capitalism and free enterprise are overthrown, private property abolished, the family as a social unit eliminated, all classes abolished, all governments overthrown, and a communal ownership of property in a classless, stateless society established.
 In the October 1961 General Conference, Benson (then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve) similarly observed:
Where do we stand today? All over the world the light of freedom is being diminished. Across whole continents of the earth freedom is being totally obliterated.

Never in recorded history has any movement spread its power so far and so fast as has socialistic-communism in the last three decades. The facts are not pleasant to review. Communist leaders are jubilant with their success. They are driving freedom back on almost every front.

It is time, therefore, that every American, and especially every member of the priesthood, became informed about the aims, tactics, and schemes of socialistic-communism. This becomes particularly important when it is realized that communism is turning out to be the earthly image of the plan which Satan presented in the pre-existence. The whole program of socialistic-communism is essentially a war against God and the plan of salvation—the very plan which we fought to uphold during "the war in heaven" (Rev. 12:7).

Up to now some members of the Church have stood aloof, feeling that the fight against socialistic-communism is "controversial" and unrelated to the mission of the Church or the work of the Lord. But the President of the Church in our day has made it clear that the fight against atheistic communism is a major challenge to the Church and every member in it.

During the general conference of the Church in October 1959, President David O. McKay, in discussing the threat of communism, referred to W. Cleon Skousen's book, The Naked Communist, and said, "I admonish everybody to read that excellent book." He then quoted the following from the flyleaf: "The conflict between communism and freedom is the problem of our time. It overshadows all other problems."

The fight against godless communism is a very real part of every man's duty who holds the priesthood. It is the fight against slavery, immorality, atheism, terrorism, cruelty, barbarism, deceit, and the destruction of human life through a kind of tyranny unsurpassed by anything in human history. Here is a struggle against the evil, satanical priestcraft of Lucifer. Truly it can be called, "a continuation of the war in heaven."

In the war in heaven the devil advocated absolute eternal security at the sacrifice of our freedom. Although there is nothing more desirable to a Latter-day Saint than eternal security in God's presence, and although God knew, as did we, that some of us would not achieve this security if we were allowed our freedom—yet the very God of heaven, who has more mercy than us all, still decreed no guaranteed security except by a man's own freedom of choice and individual initiative.

Today the devil as a wolf in a supposedly new suit of sheep's clothing is enticing some men, both in and out of the Church, to parrot his line by advocating planned government guaranteed security programs at the expense of our liberties. Latter-day Saints should be reminded how and why they voted as they did in heaven. If some have decided to change their vote they should repent—throw their support on the side of freedom—and cease promoting this subversion.

When all of the trappings of propaganda and pretense have been pulled aside, the exposed hard-core structure of modern communism is amazingly similar to the ancient Book of Mormon record of secret societies such as the Gadiantons. In the ancient American civilization there was no word which struck greater terror to the hearts of the people than the name of the Gadiantons. It was a secret political party which operated as a murder cult. Its object was to infiltrate legitimate government, plant its officers in high places, and then seize power and live off the spoils appropriated from the people. (It would start out as a small group of "dissenters" and by using secret oaths with the threat of death for defectors (Hel. 11:25-26) it would gradually gain a choke hold on the political and economic life of whole civilizations.)

The object of the Gadiantons, like modern communists, was to destroy the existing government and set up a ruthless criminal dictatorship over the whole land.
In his 1979 talk, Benson also noted:
President Marion G. Romney, in the First Presidency Message in the September 1979 Ensign, wrote: “Communism is Satan’s counterfeit for the gospel plan, and … it is an avowed enemy of the God of the land. Communism is the greatest anti-Christ power in the world today and therefore the greatest menace not only to our peace but to our preservation as a free people. By the extent to which we tolerate it, accommodate ourselves to it, permit ourselves to be encircled by its tentacles and drawn to it, to that extent we forfeit the protection of the God of this land” (p. 5).
In 1988, Benson (then Prophet), said:
I testify that wickedness is rapidly expanding in every segment of our society. (See D&C 1:14–16; D&C 84:49–53.) It is more highly organized, more cleverly disguised, and more powerfully promoted than ever before. Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing. A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world. (See Ether 8:18–25.)
Some may (and have) argued that Benson's stance was part and parcel of the general attitudes of the Cold War. However, in both talks, Benson noted a 1936 declaration from the First Presidency condemning communism:
On 3 July 1936, the First Presidency published this warning to Church members:

“Communism is not a political party nor a political plan under the Constitution; it is a system of government that is the opposite of our Constitutional government. …

“Since Communism, established, would destroy our American Constitutional government, to support Communism is treasonable to our free institutions, and no patriotic American citizen may become either a Communist or supporter of Communism. …

“We call upon all Church members completely to eschew [shun] Communism. The safety of our divinely inspired Constitutional government and the welfare of our Church imperatively demand that Communism shall have no place in America” (signed: Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., David O. McKay, The First Presidency, in Deseret News, 3 July 1936; italics added).
Many members of the Church mistakenly associate Benson's comments with Communism under the Soviet Union and China. Not that he was not talking about that Communism, but by focusing on Communism in the USSR and China, it misses the point that the warning was about communism in America, or, what he referred to in his 1961 talk as "socialistic-communism." Moreover, he observes that this "combination's" public face or representation is to bring about a Utopian society, but its actual goal is to set up "a ruthless criminal dictatorship over the whole land." It is also significant that the method by which this combination seeks to attain its goal is through the overthrow of capitalism and free enterprise, abolition of private property and all classes, elimination of the family as a social unit, and overthrow of our Constitutional form of government.

Communism in the United States (and Western Europe, for that matter), has followed a much different path than it did in the USSR and China. There was no armed revolution to bring it to power; all such attempts had failed. Instead, it has followed a path of conquering the culture--Cultural Marxism.

Bill Whittle has an excellent video on Cultural Marxism and its origins in the Frankfort School:


Scott S. Powell also discusses this topic in his article "The Quiet Revolution: How the New Left Took Over the Democratic Party." He writes:
As Lenin was consolidating power in Russia, Antonio Gramsci was emerging as a leading Marxist theoretician in Italy and would found the Italian Communist Party in 1921. After being imprisoned by Mussolini, the Fascist prime minister of Italy, Gramsci authored what came to be called the Prison Notebooks, partially published in 1947 and in complete form in 1975, a legacy that made him one of the most important Marxist thinkers of the 20th century. Gramsci argued that communists’ route to taking power in developed, industrialized societies such as Europe and the United States would be best achieved through a “long march through the institutions.” This would be a gradual process of radicalization of the cultural institutions -- “the superstructure” -- of bourgeois society, a process that would in turn transform the values and morals of society. Gramsci believed that as society’s morals were softened, its political and economic foundation would be more easily smashed and restructured.

Cultural Marxism was also in vogue at the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University in Germany -- that is until 1933 when the Nazis came to power. Many members of the “Frankfurt School,” such as Herbert Marcuse, Eric Fromm, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkeimer, and Wilhelm Reich fled to the United States, where they ultimately found their way into professorships at various elite universities such as Berkeley, Columbia, and Princeton. In the context of American culture, “the long march through the institutions” meant, in the words of Herbert Marcuse, “working against the established institutions while working in them.”

While the Frankfurt School was neo-Marxist, many of its adherents were less interested in economics and redistribution of wealth than in remaking and transforming society through attitudinal and cultural change. They incorporated Marxist class theory into sociology and psychology while also assimilating Freud’s theories on sexuality. Thus, Marx’s theory of the dialectic of perpetual conflict was joined together with Freud’s neurotic ideas, creating a sort of Freudian-Marxism. Their stated goal was a total transformation of society by breaking down traditional norms and institutions such as monogamous relations and the traditional family. This was to be accomplished by promoting and legitimizing unhinged sexual permissiveness with no cultural or religious restraint.

The countercultural influence of radicals like Marcuse and Gramsci has been advanced more by insinuation and infiltration than by confrontation. Their “quiet” revolution to remake society was intended to be diffused throughout the culture gradually over a period of time. Gramsci argued that alliances with non-communist leftist groups would be essential to the collapse of the capitalist bourgeois order. Marcuse believed that radical intellectuals needed to ally themselves with the socially marginalized substratum of the outcasts and outsiders, the exploited and persecuted of other races and ethnicities, the unemployed and the unemployable.

While the influence of Marcuse and the Frankfurt School and Marxists like Gramsci was greatest in intellectual circles in a strategic sense, Saul Alinsky arrived on the scene in Chicago in the 1930s with the tactical tools for the foot-soldiers of social and political revolution -- the community organizers and non-academic labor and single-issue activists.

Alinsky had a certain charm and appeal to wealthy funders, ...

Alinsky also had other benefactors in Washington and Wall Street. ...

* * *
 
Alinsky's tactics had more in common with Gramsci and Marcuse than the revolutionary and violent approaches of Russian Marxists Lenin and Stalin. Alinsky, too, believed in gradualism and subversion of the system through infiltration rather than confrontation and revolution.

Alinsky believed that politics was war by other means, stating specifically that “in war the end justifies almost any means.” But he was more than a nihilistic progressive revolutionary. Alinsky’s handbook, Rules for Radicals, first published in 1971, included an admiration for the prince of darkness, Lucifer, noting that he was “the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom…”

By the 1960s Marcuse and Alinsky were recognized as two of the most influential leaders of the New Left, which gained strength and numbers by taking a leading role in the anti-Vietnam War movement. However, Alinsky and Marcuse were critical of the violent and confrontational tactics of many of the anti-war radicals, such as Bill Ayers and the Weathermen, preferring instead that radicals work behind the scenes and bore into the establishment. This was seen later in the 1960s with Alinskyites positioned to take advantage of President Johnson’s “War on Poverty” programs, to direct federal money into various Alinksy projects.

Alinksy succeeded in what would be a crowning achievement: the recruitment of young idealistic radicals -- Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- who would go on to climb to the top of political power in the Democratic Party. Hillary wrote her senior thesis at Wellesley College in 1969 on Alinsky’s methods and remained a friend of Alinsky until his death in 1972. A decade later, Barack Obama was trained in the methods and Rules for Radicals in the Alinsky-founded Industrial Areas Foundation in Chicago.

Camouflage and deception are key to Alinsky-style organizing. When Barack Obama was organizing black churches in Chicago and was criticized for not attending church himself, he pivoted and became a regular church attendee, ultimately becoming a member at Jeremiah Wright’s radical Trinity United Church of Christ.

* * *

By winning “cultural hegemony,” the acolytes of Gramsci, Alinsky, Marcuse, and the Frankfurt School believed that the wellsprings of human thought could be largely controlled by mass psychology and propaganda. One of Alinsky’s unique contributions, explained as the seventh Rule for Radicals, was the tactic to avoid debate on the issues by systematically silencing, ridiculing and marginalizing people of opposing views. At the same time, allies in the media provided cover and a framework of acceptance for radical issues and leaders. Traditional values of morality, family, the work ethic and free market institutions were made to appear outdated -- even reactionary, unnecessary, and culturally unfashionable. Ultimately this evolved into what has become known as political correctness, which now envelops the culture.

By 1980, the counter-cultural alliances would include radical feminist groups, civil rights and ethnic minority advocates, extremist environmental organizations, and advocates of liberation theology, anti-military peace groups, union leaders, radical legal activist organizations like the ACLU, human rights watch-dog organizations, community organizers of the Alinsky model, national and world church council bureaucracies, anti-corporate activists, and various internationalist-minded groups. Working separately and together, these groups could count on a sympathetic media and favorable coverage, which facilitated building bridges to the Democratic Party and becoming vocal constituencies deserving attention and legislative action.

The New Left in America realized that it was neither necessary nor desirable to own the means of production as originally envisioned by Marx. Redistribution could be accomplished through progressive taxation that was enshrined by an enlightened Democratic Party. Corporate priorities could be redirected through sensational and biased media exposure, proxy contests, mass demonstrations, boycotts, activist lawsuits and regulatory actions. No need to be responsible for the means of production, when you could advance Marx’s anti-capitalist agenda from the sidelines by indicting individual corporations and the system of capitalism itself.
James Simpson, at Accuracy in the Media, recently wrote:
Black racism has been encouraged by outside communist agitators, many of them white. Since the turn of the last century, communists have manipulated the civil rights movement, and have been stoking the fires of discontent deliberately. Massie credits lifelong communist and Stalin admirer W.E.B. Du Bois with initiating the international communist movement’s effort to capitalize on black discontent early on. After a visit to the Soviet Union in 1927, Du Bois called it, “the most hopeful vehicle for the world.” Du Bois helped found the NAACP in 1909.

Bayard Rustin, who acknowledged that “blacks were ripe for [manipulation by] Communists,” helped found Martin Luther King, Jr’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s movement was corrupted after he was assassinated. Massie states, “Out of that group came Joseph Lowery and others who mouth complaints designed to stir the caldron of anger, victimology and rabid hatred for anyone who dares attempt to share the message of truth and life.” (Ed. Note: Lowery made news in 2012 when campaigning for Obama by saying “all white people would go to Hell.” He said it was a joke.)

The “White Privilege” concept was created by Noel Ignatiev, a hardcore Communist Party member and former Harvard University professor who founded the journal, Race Traitor.

White guilt has allowed the Left to dramatically expand the welfare state. Trillions of dollars have been spent on welfare. Yet, as Mitt Romney recently noted, under Obama “there are more people in poverty in America than ever before.” Many people are unaware, however, that the modern welfare system was designed by radical leftists to suck minorities into permanent poverty, providing a reliable voting bloc for Democrats and sowing the seeds of discontent within the black community. It was inspired by Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, two die-hard socialists, who advocated packing the welfare rolls in order to bankrupt and crash the system. They wanted it to fail. The Cloward Piven Crisis Strategy was formulated to create an army of militant, angry blacks that would serve as foot soldiers in the coming socialist revolution. Piven described the rationale as recently as 2011:

[B]efore people can mobilize for collective action, they have to develop a proud and angry identity and a set of claims that go with that identity. They have to go from being hurt and ashamed to being angry and indignant… So, a kind of psychological transformation has to take place; the out-of-work have to stop blaming themselves for their hard times and turn their anger on the bosses, the bureaucrats or the politicians who are in fact responsible.
Cloward and Piven sought to rig the welfare system for failure to provoke that anger. Their apprentice was Wade Rathke, the founder of ACORN. ACORN’s proud protégé was Barack Hussein Obama.
Note well that what is described is and will continue to bring ruin on this nation and all others that participate in it.  Benson said that avoiding this fate would require the following:
First, we should become informed about communism, about socialism, and about Americanism. ... We should know why paternalism, collectivism, or unnecessary federal supervision will hold our standard of living down and reduce productivity just as it has in every country where it has been tried. We should also know why the communist leaders consider socialism the highroad to communism.

Second, we should accept the command of the Lord and treat socialistic communism as the tool of Satan. We should follow the counsel of the President of the Church and resist the influence and policies of the socialist-communist conspiracy wherever they are found—in the schools, in the churches, in governments, in unions, in businesses, in agriculture.

Third, we should help those who have been deceived or who are misinformed to find the truth. Unless each person who knows the truth will "stand up and speak up" it is difficult for the deceived or confused citizen to find his way back.

Fourth, we should not make the mistake of calling people "communist" just because they happen to be helping the communist cause. Thousands of patriotic Americans, including a few Latter-day Saints, have helped the communists without realizing it. Others have knowingly helped without joining the party. The remedy is to avoid name-calling, but point out clearly and persuasively how they are helping the communists.

Fifth, each priesthood holder should use his influence in the community to resist the erosion process which is taking place in our political and economic life. He should use the political party of his choice to express his evaluation of important issues. He should see that his party is working to preserve freedom, not destroy it. He should join responsible local groups interested in promoting freedom and free competitive enterprise, in studying political issues, appraising the voting records and proposed programs, and writing to members of Congress, promoting good men in public office and scrutinizing local, state, and federal agencies to see that the will of the people is being carried out. He should not wait for the Lord's servants to give instruction for every detail once they have announced the direction in which the priesthood should go. Each member should exercise prayerful judgment and then act.

Sixth, and most important of all, each member of the priesthood should set his own house in order (D&C 93:43). This should include:

1. Regular family prayer, remembering especially our government leaders.

2. Getting out of debt.

3. Seeing that each member of the family understands the importance of keeping the commandments.

4. Seeing that the truth is shared with members of the family, with neighbors, and with associates.

5. Seeing that each member is performing his duties in the priesthood, in the auxiliary organizations, in the temple, and in the civic life of the community.

6. Seeing that every wage earner in the home is a full tithepayer and fulfilling other obligations in financial support of the kingdom.

7. Providing a one-year supply of essentials.
 We have been warned for nearly 100 years to avoid Marxism. How long will the warning go on?

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