History seems to paint a bleak picture of the so called “Robber Barons.” The modern day use of the term “Robber Baron” is a person who made an enormous amount of money doing business. However, traditionally, a Baron was a title of nobility. The latin word “baro” was used to denote a tenant-in-chief of the early Norman kings, who held lands and who was entitled to attend the Great Council. The attributes of:
- Power (tenant-in-chief)
- Property (held lands)
- Influence (entitled to a say in the Grand Council)
were considered a threat to royalty who leached off the labors of the serfs (peasants). These “king-men,” as Alma called it, tried to accumulate and control power, property and influence by secret combinations. Anciently and in our day “king men” label producers with the title of “Robber Barons” to mean: people who stole this nobility, power, property and influence. This title was an insulting term implying that a person used unfair business practices and showed little sensitivity to the common worker. King men have always used their status to promote concepts and communications to distract the normal person from recognizing their slavery status, control and manipulative powers to such king men. The objective is to use smoke and mirrors (deception and propaganda) to promote lies that maintain manipulative power over the masses. Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed towards influencing the attitude (perception) of a community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument.
The method of using propaganda to manipulate the minds of the masses is not a new concept. The Jews, in the time of Christ, used this method to crucify Him. In the Book of Mormon, Zeezrom was first found as a lawyer trying to condemn Alma and Amulek by using slippery words so Alma and Amulek would say something that could be used to frame them as law breakers and thieves (robbers.) In Helaman, the Gadianton robbers (a title given in truth-real robbers) are exposed by a prophet (Nephi) when a man kills his brother for a seat in power (chief judge.) Likewise in our day we are all familiar with leaks of truth like Nixon and watergate, Clinton in the oval office and innumerable amounts of manipulations of truth on a federal, state, and community level. We generally call it politics. Then we see such acts portrayed in the media as non-issues, or covered by diversions. Propaganda is now called “public relations.” Executives use this method strategically to maintain manipulative control on the masses. King Noah used the same tactic when Gideon was about to kill him on the tower. He diverted Gideons attention to the attacking Lamanite army. This is nothing new.
A real look into history shows the accused Robber Barons, in the years between the end of the Civil war (around 1865) and 1910 (within less than 45 years), greatly expanding the success of the United States to a world power with abundance, success, and growth. The Robber Barons were made up of men who produced more, with less effort, and paid their employees more than anyone had ever been payed at that time. They produced more efficiently, which in turn dropped prices and increased earnings simultaneously. In this scenario all men produce, progress and prosper in the land. The entire population increases in intelligence and free exchange of information. Men who are able to do such efficient work become a threat to the “king men” who desire to continue living off of the labors of the poor.
King men fear being exposed in their secret combinations, so they quickly take actions to snuff it out, only to protect their standard of living. Their only recourse is to obtain power through the prevailing government controls. That is why you see King Men opposed to the rule of chief judges in the book of Alma. Then, later in the book of Helaman, you see the Gadianton robbers murdering their own family members for the seat of regulating power (chief judge.) The efforts of the king men didn’t work so they had to somehow get into office in the existing political power. The mantra of the king men have always been, “if you can’t beat them, join them, and corrupt them from the inside.” In Alma 47 Lehonti (a Lamanite who did not want to fight the Nephites) gave up the high ground to Amalickiah (a Nephite dissenter and member of secret combinations). Amalickiah convinced Lehonti that both he and Lehonti did not desire to follow the current Lamanite king (a slippery truth-propaganda- Amalackiah wanted to take over the king). Lehonti believes Amalickiah, only to be poisoned by degrees (from the inside). Amalickiah then uses the same propaganda and manipulation to murder the king of the Lamanites in plane sight. He then marries the kings now widowed wife and gains control over a nation of people- this is politics summed up.
Notice something key here. Amalickiah could not take control of the Nephite government because the people followed leaders who were aligned with the word of God. When the people know the word of God, they choose leaders who align with the word of God. Amalickiah was cast out of the presence of the Nephites because he had no hold upon their hearts. He then went over to the Lamanites who gave him control. Amalickiah gained his control (political power) by tugging at the Lamanite heart strings to gain trust and then eliminating the competition. Only as we read, ponder, and apply the words of God can we too be unified, produce, thrive and prosper in the land. We too can cast Satan out of our midsts. But… if we fail to build on the foundation of the word, we are no different then Lehonti’s and the king of the Lamanites. It is no wonder why the word of God is compared to a sword!