Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hugh Nibley on the Destruction of Nephite Civilization

Hugh Nibley discussed the steps that led to the destruction of Nephite Civilization:
About two hundred years after Christ visited the people, they became tired of intellectual integrity and self-control and opted to give up the law of consecration. From then on everything went in a fatal declension, each step of which has been duly marked and described in the Book of Mormon.

First they became privatized. They no longer had “their goods and their substance . . . [in] common” (4 Nephi 1:25). Then they became ethnicized as they “taught [their children] to hate” the Nephites and Lamanites they had been playing with (4 Nephi 1:39). Then they became nationalized by serving the careers of ambitious men. Then they become militarized, from the need for large-scale security when mutual trust gave away to self-interest. And they were terrorized as shrewd men saw the advantages of organized crime. Then they became regionalized as people began to form various combinations for protection and profit, entering through business relations with the criminal society and even sharing in their profits. Then they became tribalized as they finally succeeded at the urging of various powerful interests in abolishing the central government completely. Then they became fragmentized into paramilitary groups, wandering bands, family shelters, and so forth. Then they become polarized; to check the general disorder and insecurity, great armies were formed around competent leaders by forced recruitment or conquest. And they became pulverized as the great armies smashed each other and left the land utterly desolate. It is left for a future generation to take the final step and become vaporized. Viewing the state of the land at the American bicentennial, President Spencer W. Kimball declared himself “appalled and frightened” by what he saw, and in this and in his last published address he quoted many passages we have just cited from the Book of Mormon. Now, President Ezra Taft Benson issues an inspired appeal to make the Book of Mormon an object of our most intense concern. Suddenly, we find ourselves there: scenes and circumstances that not long ago seemed as distant as Ninevah and Tyre suddenly come to life about us. Could Joseph Smith have made all this up? (Hugh Nibely, "Last Call: An Apocalyptic Warning from the Book of Mormon," The Prophetic Book of Mormon, Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 8 [Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1989], 530–531).