In 3 Nephi chapter 7 there is the very interesting account of the destruction of the Nephite government and the introduction of tribal-based anarchy. A quick summary: The chief judge is murdered by the secret combination (v. 1) and it causes a great contention in the land, causing virtually everyone to become wicked (v. 7); the government and its regulations are destroyed (v. 2, 6); the people separate (v. 2, 14) into exceedingly large tribes (v. 4) with appointed leaders or chiefs (v. 3) consisting of family, kindred and friends (v. 2, 4, 14); the tribes have their own separate laws (v. 11, 14) including laws on how to interact with other tribes (v. 14); the tribes have no wars among them (v.5) and are united, but not according to their laws (v. 11, 14); the secret combination forms a monarchy with king Jacob as the monarch (v. 9-10); the tribes are united in their hatred of the kingdom of Jacob (v. 11) ; king Jacob and his subjects escape to the north (v. 12-13); the tribes stone and cast out any prophets that come among them (v. 14); Nephi ministers with great power and authority to the tribes, making but few converts, who also witness of their conversion through signs and miracles (v. 15-22.)
One of the arguments against anarchy, made chiefly by statists, is that anarchy cannot exist without a totally moral people. They argue, essentially, that since the natural man is an enemy to God, people living in anarchy would murder, rape, steal and do other very wicked deeds without a government to check their wicked ways. Nevertheless, 3 Nephi chapter 7 flies in the face of that logic, showing that even wicked people living under anarchy had “in some degree…peace in the land” (v. 14.) Obviously, “some degree of peace” applied to a temporal sense, as spiritually, these people were completely devoid of the peace of Jesus.
People normally learn about anarchy from statists, who have a vested interest to vilify and smear anarchy, because anarchy is the natural enemy of statism. Thus, a statist will say that anarchy breeds violence and chaos. Yet the Book of Mormon account of anarchy, an admitted account of a wicked people that stoned prophets of God, is one of an ordered society that, although separated into tribes, were still united and had strict agreements (treaties) between the tribes.
Some believe that once a government is removed and the natural anarchic order is allowed to settle in, family ties are strengthened exceedingly and families naturally start to coalesce into clans. (See the articles that Mary Ruwart and Phillip E. Jacobson have written on this very subject.) This is based upon historical, non-Book of Mormon data. However, the ancient books of scripture used by the LDS add to the body of evidence for this belief. Both the Bible and Book of Mormon examples of anarchy are tribal-based, a tribe essentially being a clan, or a very large clan. Tribal or clan-based anarchy appears to be the natural order of anarchy.
Jacob and his followers were king-men, attempting to establish a monarchy so that they could rule over the souls of men. These were die-hard statists and it is telling that as soon as the government was dissolved, they grouped together and created their own little state, a kingdom with a monarch (Jacob, not Jesus) to rule over them.
Another interesting point to note is that Mormon explains that it was the dividing of the people and their separation into tribes that destroyed the government (v. 2.) On the surface this might not seem like enough to destroy a government, but when you live in a tribe of your family, kindred and friends and your tribe has laws, your allegiances become torn. As they say, blood is thicker than water. These people are your relatives. To which laws do you owe your allegiance, the government or your tribe, if there is a conflict between the two sets of regulations? As long as families are nuclear and small (a mother, a father and children,) the power and pull of a family will be small and the power and pull of government will be large, but when families group together in common biological or friendship links (blood brothers), the power of a tribal family becomes large. The allegiance to it also increases. This may be why organized crime Mafia clans, which have blood ties and their own laws, command greater allegiance from their members than the legal government around them does. So, if you take the entire country, the USA, for example, and suddenly have everyone placed into a family clan or family tribe, suddenly the government loses all power, as allegiance to the government goes down to zero and allegiance to family, clan and tribe becomes all important.
A last thought: Before I learned anarchy from anarchists, I learned anarchy from state propaganda. I, like most, thought of anarchy as a great evil, to be avoided at all costs. I thought that any government was better than no government at all. Reading verse 5 of 3 Nephi chapter 7 seemed to solidify the propaganda. When Mormon used the phrase “all this iniquity,” I just figured he was talking about the anarchic, empowered tribal state, in other words, the destruction of the government. Now, though, I realize that tribes are not intrinsically evil. In fact, as LDS, we are placed into one of 12 tribes. So, Mormon was talking of different iniquities and not the ones that my state propaganda-ized mind was assigning, the iniquities of which he explains in this and the preceding chapter.
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