THE DANGER OF POLITICS* * * * * * * *
secret of unity is to find an external foe.
"The Prophetic Book of Mormon," CWHN 8:447* * * * * * * *
The world polarizes around over-rated individuals. . . . As
the two poles conceive an ever greater antipathy to each other they become more
and more alike. Everyone knows that it is like poles that
repel each other. As each recognizes itself in the other, it resents the incriminating
"The Prophetic Book of Mormon," CWHN 8:443, 447 * * * * * * * *
Such a cleanly polarized world gives us supremely simple
solutions and supremely confident leaders, whose decisions are as quick and
spontaneous as a knee-jerk and as irrevocable as the Ten Commandments—men
like Hitler, Stalin, Arafat, Khadafi, Khomeini, Somoza, et al. [and others],
who reduce all troubles to one cause and all problems to just one enemy.
could be more unhealthy than to have all one's thoughts and actions dictated
and conditioned by the policy of another, waiting for him to act so that we can
react, noting what he does so that we can do the same, watching his career to
know how to plan and direct our own?
is Satan called the Adversary, the Destroyer, the Accuser, the Contender. All
of his titles describe one who must wait for another to act before he can move.
is more crippling to creative thinking than obsession with an enemy. The person
who can think of only one solution to a given problem is mentally bankrupt. The
person who can think of only one solution to every problem is doomed.
"The Prophetic Book of Mormon," CWHN 8:454-55* * * * * * * *
It is not the voice of God from Sinai that lays down the
rules but our own interest and convenience, as we choose to interpret them.
Thus, thou shalt not lie—to your friends, that is. After all, the
dictionary definition of strategy is "deception," in particular with
the intention of "killing others, practiced on an enemy," an enemy
being anyone who stands in your way, and whether in business or war, strategy
is the name of the game. Thou
shalt not kill—people on your side only, of course; for killing others
you get medals. Thou shalt not steal—from your friends, naturally. I seem
to recall that the Lord said that if you love only your friends you have no
reward, because sinners and publicans do that much (Matthew 5:46-47).
"The Prophetic Book of Mormon," CWHN
8:454* * * * * * * *
"All the religious world is boasting of righteousness,"
[said Brigham Young]." It is the doctrine of the devil to retard the human
mind, and hinder our progress, by filling us with self-righteousness. . . . We
are full of selfishness; the devil flatters us that we are very righteous, when
we are feeding on the faults of others." Here surely is the greatest
threat of communism. It puts us to sleep and paralyzes our minds in the
comforting assurance that we are the Good People and it is They and not We who
need to repent.
"Brigham Young and the Enemy," 2:7* * * * * * * *
Even in the great classic treatises on the state, its image
is never without a sinister side. The combination of unlimited power and
limited wisdom can never be a reassuring one, but it is the actual behavior of
sovereign states and princes that is most disturbing. The key to understanding
the behavior of delinquents, we are often told, is an insight into early
background and environment. . . . The state spent the most impressionable years
of its childhood living as an orphan of the storm in tents of vagabonds where
it acquired many of the habits and attitudes that still condition its
"Tenting, Toll, and Taxing," CWHN
WAR AND PEACE* * * * * * * *
I received from a Brigham Young University professor a list of scriptural
passages in which God seemed to favor war. Matching it on the other side of the
page was another list of passages in which conflict was forbidden. This seems
like a deadlock, a basic contradiction.
the contradiction is only apparent, for if one examines the passages on both
sides throughout the scriptures, they fall clearly into two categories: general
principles and special instances. The verses forbidding conflict are of a
general and universal nature, while those which countenance it all refer to
"If There Must Needs Be Offense," 54 * * * * * * * *
[I remember] certain dashing, wonderful men who, during
World War II, used to brief the various units of the 101st Airborne Division
which they were leading into battle. (The classic Leader's Oration before the
Battle enjoyed a revival in airborne operations where the army, a short hour
before the battle, could sit quietly on the grass one hundred miles from the
enemy and listen to speeches).
was the high point of their careers, the thing they had been working and hoping
and looking forward to all their lives—to lead a crack regiment or
division into battle, and they made the most of it. The feeling of euphoria was
almost overpowering. They were smart, sharp, vigorous, compelling, eager,
tense, exuding optimism and even humor, but above all excitement. Invariably
General Maxwell Taylor would end his oration with: "Good hunting!" It
was wonderful, thrilling; you were ready to follow that man anywhere.
before the operation was a day old, every man in the division was heartily
wishing that he was anywhere else, doing anything else but that. Everyone knew
in his mind and heart that he was not sent to earth to engage in this nasty and
immoral business. The heroism and sacrifice were real. The situation was
utterly satanic and shameful. The POWs we rounded up to interrogate were men
just as good as we were, the victims of a terrible circumstance that the devil's
game of power and gain had woven around them.
"Beyond Politics," 300* * * * * * * *
Real warfare, resorting to overt violence directed against
others, defeats the whole purpose of our earthly existence. Heaven is "the
peaceable kingdom" from which Satan was thrust "in a twinkling"
the moment he resorted to violence. War, utterly wasteful as it is, has the
vast appeal of shifting one's own guilt, of all of which we relieve ourselves
as soon as the shooting begins.
"Brigham Young and the Enemy," 2:2* * * * * * * *
How then do we deal with the enemy? Brigham Young, who knew
as much about as large a variety of enemies as any man who ever lived, has laid
it on the line: If we show our Heavenly Father that we trust him to the point
of putting aside all our feelings of malice and revenge towards our fellow men,
no matter who they may be or how they feel toward us, he will see to it that "the
wicked shall destroy the wicked." That is a promise that has never failed
of fulfillment. The alternative to this is the other game, the most dangerous,
futile, and foolish game in the world, the age-old Asiatic game of world
conquest, the madmen's chessmatch as old as history.
is a game of power and the rules only exist as tricks to trap one's opponent,
and words and courtesies serve only to obfuscate and deceive. The game is endemic
to the steppes of Asia, and the Asiatics are better at it than we can ever hope
to be: for us to play the game and play it their way is simply suicide.
this vision of world power, of massive armies and machines engulfing the
surface of the earth as they grind all opposition to powder, is an intoxicating
one, the ultimate dream that I have many times heard generals talking about
among themselves and to their staff. After all, say these realists, it is power
that wins in this world. God is on the side of the big battalions.
"Brigham Young and the Enemy," 2:11* * * * * * * *
There's such a thing as good force, and there's an
attractive force as well as a compulsive force. . . . If we are obeying the law
because we regard it as a holy thing, because we love it, we're still being
forced, but we're being attracted rather than compelled in that case. . . .
there be some great attractive force that would bring about some sort of world
peace without the compulsive force? This is the old Jerusalem formula. It's very
ancient, very well-established, and has been given lots of trials and it's
still being tried today. . . . It's the doctrine that peace will only come when
the law goes forth out of Jerusalem, when all men are drawn toward it, when the
law is given to the world as a holy thing. And it can't even be secular. It has
to be given as a revealed thing.
"Jerusalem's Formula for Peace," 1-2* * * * * * * *
Faith is the source of strength, the very power by which the
worlds were created. To say it is helpless without military backing recalls an
ancient saw: "I trust God but I feel better with money in the bank."
In the spirit of the times we preach that to expect security without a four-man
bodyguard is futile, when security is not to need a bodyguard;
that charity without a guaranteed profit is futile, when charity means asking
no profit; that free agency without strict supervision is futile.
"The Prophetic Book of Mormon," CWHN 8:452-53* * * * * * * *
Peace will only come when the law goes forth out of
Jerusalem; when all men are drawn toward it; when the law is given to the world
as a holy thing. And it can't even be secular; it has to be given as a revealed
"Jerusalem's Formula for Peace," 2
THE VIRTUE OF POLITICS* * * * * * * *
is . . . virtue in politics even at the human level. The energy, the
dedication, courage, loyalty, selflessness, zeal, and industry, the
intelligence that have gone into the political actions of men are immense, and
the excitement, color, dash, and humor bring out some of the best in human
nature. But . . . there are various levels at which the political dialogue
takes place—all the way from the Federalist Papers to the
local crackpot's letters to the editor—and many arenas and different
forms of the game, differing as widely as a chess match from a slugging
us by all means retain the drive and dedication of politics, but do we still
need the placards and the bands, the serpentine parades, funny hats, confetti,
squabbling committees, canned speeches, shopworn clich;aaes, patriotic
exhibitionism, Madison Avenue slogans, to say nothing of the bitter invective,
the poisonous rhetoric, the dirty tricks and shady deals, payoffs, betrayals,
the blighted loyalties, the scheming young men on the make, the Gadianton
loyalty, the manipulated ovations, and contrived confusion of the Last Hurrah?
furiously mounting infusion of green stuff into the political carnival in our
day is enough to show that the spontaneity is not there; and even if some of it
may remain, those running the show know very well from tried and tested
statistics that all that sort of thing is to be got with money—lots and
lots of money—and with nothing else.
"Beyond Politics," 286-87* * * * * * * *
Whether the Greek pursued philosophy, art, religion,
pleasure, science, or money, he was willing to give the search everything he
had—sacrificing every convenience and amenity. The ideal of the Greeks
was the sophos [life of the mind]—completely selfless,
oblivious to his own comfort, health, appearance, and appetites as his mind
came to grips with the problem of achieving one particular objective. That is
why the Greeks were anciently way out in front of others in almost every field
of human endeavor—and still remain unsurpassed and even unequalled in
many of them.
Greek citizen not only spent the day in the agora [marketplace], but in the
evenings at home he carried on the dialogue in discussion and study groups, for
the Greek citizen knew that the only work worthy of the name, a work a hundred
times harder than the repetitious routines and seemingly virtuous bootlicking
that we call work, was the terribly demanding and exhausting task of cutting
new grooves and channels with the sharp edge of the mind. He felt that if
politics was all that important, it was worth [his] best hours.
"Beyond Politics," 304-5, n. 42* * * * * * * *
Our storm-driven ancestors met the challenge of their
predicament with two solutions: the one sought to make the earth a permanent
home and possess it wholly; the other to move on to some happier home, whatever
and wherever that might be. The one philosophy is based on the firm belief that
this is our only world, the other on the equally convincing and far more easily
demonstrable proposition that we are transients who "here have no abiding
kingdom." The paying of tolls and taxes has made it possible for the two
ideologies to coexist in the world; it is an arrangement by which each side
humors the other: the payer of taxes concedes to the recipient the right to
imagine himself as the owner of the earth, while the other in return for this
recognition allows his client the luxury of imagining himself the citizen of
another world. The one while ceaselessly ranging abroad in the earth thinks of
himself as lord of an immovable possession, while the other, tied to his patch
of glebe or dingy workshop, thinks of himself as a courser through the endless
expanses of heaven. The common symbol of both, the sign both of possession and
of wandering, is the tent.
in an atmosphere of emergency and uncertainty, the state has always been
obligated to tax to preserve its identity. Taxes are viewed by those who are
asked to pay the most as a personal insult and an affront to the sacredness of
property. That is exactly what they are, and what they were originally meant to
be. An ancient tax-notice, an imperious tap on the shield, was nothing less
than an invitation to a sojourner in a land to justify his presence there
either by satisfying the claims of the owner to recognition or by meeting him
in open combat for possession. We may deplore taxes, but we may not resent
"Tenting, Toll, and Taxing," CWHN 10:69-70* * * * * * * *
Conformity can be had by bribery, flattery, or
force, but one can no more legislate loyalty than one can legislate love, of
which it is a part. . . . Since the essence of loyalty is
disinterested devotion, there is something distressing in the
attempts of the fourth (or any) century to conjure it up by appeals to
interest, fear or expediency. . . .
is one of the few words in existence about whose meaning dispute is virtually
impossible. Everyone knows what loyalty is, and what a desirable, nay,
indispensable thing it is to the survival of any community. Like honor and
chastity, it is strongest when least talked about, and thrives only in a
climate of uncritical acceptance. A virtuous investigation of loyalty is like a
noisy oration in praise of silence, and the appearance of loyalty orders and
loyalty legislation . . . [are] a sign of lost confidence, a desperate groping
in empty air for something which groping fingers only push farther out of
"Unsolved Loyalty Problem," CWHN 10:224* * * * * * * *
To "use" patriotism, treating it as a tool rather
than a precious jewel, is to abuse it. Yet like other goods of primary intent,
it has a special function. The business of patriotism is to open doors; the abuse of patriotism shuts them.
"Uses and Abuses of Patriotism," 188* * * * * * * *
Some have felt that the attempt of the state to implement
the ideas of liberty and equality by passing and enforcing laws repugnant to a
majority or minority, i.e., laws restraining persecution, discrimination,
slavery, and all violence whatever, is an infringement of free agency. But
plainly the Nephites did not think so. As we have seen, they believed that no
one was ever without his free agency. One can sin or do unrighteously under any
form of government whatever. Indeed, the worse the government the
better the test: after all, we are all being tried and tested on this earth "under
the rule of Belial" himself, "the prince of this world"; but
since no one can ever make us sin or do right, our free agency is never in the
free institutions and civil liberties are, as history shows, in constant
danger. They are even attacked by those who would justify their actions as a
defense of free agency and insist that artificial barriers erected by law to
protect the rights of unpopular and weak minorities are an attempt to limit
far can men go in "counselling" their fellowmen? God can give life
and he can take it, he can judge and he can punish, he can smite the blasphemer
and the unbeliever, he can heal and bless at will, he can forgive or condemn
whom he will, he can curse and he can segregate, and he can put a mark on whom
he pleases, and be avenged on his enemies—all of which we learn from the
Book of Mormon.
men may not do these things. God has reserved
judgment and punishment for himself and pronounced terrible penalties on any
man who shall presume to exercise those high offices. In punishing Cain he
pronounced seven-fold vengeance upon any mortal who should presume to
contribute to that punishment.
"Good People and Bad People," CWHN 7:352-53
THE CONSTITUTION* * * * * * * *
is more than Fourth of July rhetoric when the Latter-day Saints declare that
the Constitution is an inspired document. It actually is the restoration to the
earth of that ancient law of liberty which has been preached by the prophets in
every age, allowing every man to act in doctrine and principle according to the
moral agency which God has given him, to be accountable for his own sins on the
day of judgment.
"The Ancient Law of Liberty," CWHN 3:190* * * * * * * *
The genius of the Constitution is not that it guarantees
every man a chance to "succeed," as we are often told (has there ever
been a government under which clever, determined, and unscrupulous men could
not get to the top?), but that it gives the same inviolable rights and
immunities to rich and poor alike, the only qualification for their enjoyment
being their humanity. They are human rights pure and simple.
"Uses and Abuses of Patriotism," 194
* * * * * * * *
It was the glorious principles of the Bill of Rights that
opened the door to the gospel in this dispensation. That was the indispensable
implementation of the gospel, without, however, being part or parcel of that
plan which transcends all earthly disciplines.
"How Firm a Foundation!" CWHN 9:151