When you look into Letter to a CES Director, you find disturbing propaganda tactics straight out of 19th century Communism.
Just about every paragraph in CES Letter is dedicated to finding a contradiction in Mormon belief. That’s basically what CES Letter is all about. In the very first sentence, we see that the Book of Mormon claims to be ancient scripture yet “1769 King James” errors are present. How could it be ancient scripture then?
Law of Identity
One assumption of science is that natural laws are universally the same wherever you go. If a principle is the same no matter what circumstances it is in, that is a universal truth. Karl Marx and Engels built the Communist ideology on the study of social motion through dialectic:
“Dialectical philosophers claim that contradictions exist in reality and that the most appropriate way to understand the movement of that reality is to study the development of those contradictions… they have to be expunged in order to arrive at the truth.”
|Chairman Mao, the man who slaughtered 65 million people to establish Communism, said we start by looking at “the contradiction between the productive forces.” We discover “exploiting and exploited classes.” Production is hindered by one class that oppresses another. Our conclusion, therefore, is that there is a “contradiction between the social character of production and the private character of ownership.” Private ownership is the problem. So, we deconstruct the bad influences and come to the pure identity of “production.” We find the most efficient thing is to get rid of private ownership, and thus we move on to a more effective system.|
Accountability of the People
Vladimir Lenin called contradiction agitation “tribunes of the people.” We definitely see this idea in CES Letter. On their intro page, CES Letter quotes Reuben J. Clark: “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation,” and near the end they assert that prophets are not “exempt from history and accountability from others.” It is “useful truth,” they say, to look into all the contradictions about Mormon priesthood leaders.
When it comes to deconstructing the bad influences in society, Marxists need agitation. Marxist newspaper Revolution wrote:
“Agitation, whether spoken or written, generally focuses on one event, and one contradiction, and seeks to make a single idea powerfully clear to broad numbers of people. It is like a sharp knife seeking to expose and make raw a glaring contradiction and draw blood around it.
Lenin pointed out “the senselessness of the contradiction between the increase of wealth and the increase of poverty” in order to “rouse discontent and indignation among the masses against this crying injustice.”
What is brilliant about CES Letter is how they intersperse unreasonable associations as well, such as the Book of Mormon’s closeness to the bible. They go back and forth between contradiction and similarity, like a demolition man swinging a rusted old metal pole back and forth in order to tear it off quicker. One second we are appalled at inconsistencies. The next we are shocked at the similarities.
CES Letter portrays Mormon contradictions and similarities on several different categories:
- Physical Contradictions In Scripture – How can scriptures be true when the Book of Mormon says one thing and the bible says another?
- Scientific Contradictions – How can the Book of Mormon be true when there were no horses in pre-Columbian America?
- Continuity Contradictions – Polygamy was wrong, then right, then wrong again?
- Ethical Contradictions – Mormons believe in virtue yet married teenage girls polygamously.
In each case, they swing back and forth between unreasonable contradiction and unreasonable similarity. In each case, they deconstruct the issue in very black and white terms. Now, this is not easy because Chairman Mao said contradiction is a “complicated picture.” Post-Modernists look at “complexity and contradiction” rather than purity like early Communists did, because they realized there are more than two opposing forces to be considered. But CES Letter tries to boil things down to their pure form. Either Joseph Smith was a good virtuous man or he was a disgusting pervert who took multiple wives. No in-between.
The reason this is successful for CES Letter is they are able to squeeze each issue into a very narrow frame. When the Book of Mormon talks about horses there is no possible way it is talking about tapirs, because then it would use the word tapir, not horse. There is no possible way polygamous marriage “for eternity only” could exclude physical relations, because marriage is a physical relationship that involves sexual intercourse. That’s what marriage is.
This is what Revolution means when they refer to “focusing on the ‘particular essence.'” They take one particular issue, boil it down to a word or strict phrase, and draw a narrow frame around it. CES Letter can then say:
“…according to these unofficial apologists, translate doesn’t really mean translate, horses aren’t really horses (they’re tapirs), chariots aren’t really chariots (since tapirs can’t pull chariots without wheels), steel isn’t really steel, Hill Cumorah isn’t really in New York (it’s possibly in Mesoamerica), Lamanites aren’t really the principal ancestors of the Native American Indians, marriage isn’t really marriage (if they’re Joseph’s marriages?”
With these physical examples of contradiction in a very narrow frame of context, they are “painting the general picture of capitalist oppression and exploitation.” Specific physical examples illustrate general rules. Or as Communist Saul Alinsky famously put it: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
CES Letter picks a physical target and inserts a very polarizing, binary frame with a strong reaction. Either Joseph Smith was monogamous or he was a disgusting pervert like Warren Jeffs. They point out a glaring contradiction in this constrained definition of the issue and attach a strong emotional expression. Joseph Smith was so disgusting! Behind each of these contradictions is a general principle that CES Letter is trying to deconstruct. Lenin said: “Agitation must be conducted with regard to every concrete example of this oppression.”
One important part of deconstructive agitation is the sense of exposing something that oppressors don’t want the lower class to know about. CES Letter begins with the complaint that “I have been unable to find official answers from the Church for most of these issues.” They conclude with the accusation that the church is trying to cover it all up.
But most of all, exposure means revealing the pure nature of social institutions. Revolution writes:
“Fundamentally what is hidden and covered up by capitalism are the basic laws and class character of the contradictions in society. Behind such murky mists as ‘equal exchange’ (work for wages), ‘democracy,’ and ‘national interests’ lie exploitation, capitalist dictatorship and worldwide reaction, all of which demand the sharp knife of exposure, especially agitation, to lay them bare and raw.”
This is why CES Letter so often repeats “Prophet, Seer, and Revelation” in a negative connotation. They are replacing the deep meaning that we subconsciously apply to those words. By changing the language we perceive, they are changing the reality of what these things are.
This kind of exposure of concrete examples of contradiction allows the ideology to be “dissected, the root of these questions in capitalist society can be traced and their links to the present imperialist crisis and the need for socialist revolution can be shown in an all-around way.” The ideology is pealed apart and replaced with the Marxist ideology.
Revolution declares a “scientific outlook” needs to be impressed on the masses to make them hate the enemies of Marxism:
“How else but with vivid, compelling agitation, as well as propaganda, can the hatred which is provoked by daily life under capitalism be further aroused and sharpened against the bourgeoisie? How else but by agitation and propaganda can the word, the sparks, and the lessons of struggles waged by now one, now another, section of the masses be spread nationwide? How else can class struggle be waged in the crucial arena of public opinion against the ruling class…? “
New Marxist Meaning
The new meaning that Marxists apply to deconstructed ideas tend to be simplistic, naive, and unrealistic. This is because of the banal expression that was applied to each concrete example, and the focus on aesthetics for the new perception.
This simplicity can definitely be seen with CES Letter:
“The sun shines because of thermonuclear fusion; not because it gets its light from any other star as claimed by the Book of Abraham.”
Um, no. Anyone who has taken a college science course knows that the fusion that drives the sun is not thermonuclear; it is gravity not heat that causes the reaction in the sun. These kinds of middle school mistakes pepper CES Letter, as well as all kinds of logical fallacies and faulty reasoning.
But despite the low-brow intellectual appeals and childish appeals to emotion, CES Letter proves incredibly effective as anti-Mormon propaganda because of its clever use of the Marxist contradiction strategy. It is relentless in its full 84 pages in portraying physical and moral contradictions, and this weakens even the most strong-willed mind.
Satan himself used this debate tactic in is temptation of Christ. Satan did not believe Jesus to be the Son of God, so he mocked Jesus for not living up to his own claims in inspired scripture.
“And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.<"/blockquote>