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    Former Guinness World Record Holder for largest book signing ever, Orrin Woodward is a NY Times bestselling author of And Justice For All along with RESOLVED & coauthor of LeaderShift and Launching a Leadership Revolution. His books have sold over one million copies in the financial, leadership and liberty fields. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books and the 13 Resolutions are the framework for the top selling Mental Fitness Challenge personal development program.

    Orrin made the Top 20 Inc. Magazine Leadership list & has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

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Felix Morley: Democracy, Republics, & the General Will

Posted by Orrin Woodward on May 7, 2013

Felix Morley

Felix Morley

I have enjoyed reading several articles by Felix Morley. Although not knowing too much about him when I started reading, I can speak for his depth of thought on the subjects of society, state, liberty and freedom. After reading the first article, I searched for more and found this gem in Essays on Individualism.

Ideas have consequences and a LeaderShift cannot happen until more people educate themselves on the idea food necessary to maintain liberties and reduce the all-pervasive State down to a limited government again. The stakes are high as I believe Western Civilization hangs in the balance upon what today’s citizens do with their remaining liberties. Here is just a portion of Mr. Morley’s thinking.


Orrin Woodward

Essentially, Society is the voluntary cooperative action of individuals in areas where the State is not concerned. But these areas are always subject to contraction if the State moves in to make cooperation compulsory. The rules of conduct laid down by Society and those laid down by the State are in both cases binding and in both cases find their philosophic justification in the theory of Social Contract. The essential difference is that the rules laid down by the State are legalized, with physical force behind them, whereas the rules of Society are primarily voluntary agreements and are better described as conventions. He who violates a social convention is likely to be ostracized, or excommunicated in the broad sense of the word. But he who violates a State law or edict is subject to imprisonment or even death.

On the moral scale, therefore, Society is a superior type of organization, since its authority is based on individual agreement rather than on external coercion. Morally speaking, it is reactionary rather than progressive whenever the State expands its authority at the expense of Society. Social security, federal aid to education, unemployment insurance, governmental handouts, subsidies, and interventions of every kind, not least so-called “mutual assistance” to allied governments-all these, however dolled up in a specious humanitarianism, are essentially reactionary measures, calculated to encroach on voluntary goodwill. Put arithmetically, the taxes I pay to support the expanding galaxy of governmental welfare measures diminish by just that much what I might contribute under the prompting of my own conscience through associations and in directions of my own choosing.

Rosseau’s fatal achievement was not only to establish the so-called “General Will” as a political dogma, but also to convince his followers that it is somehow in every respect superior to the individual will, which in any conflict of opinion, in any sort of undertaking, must give way. Clearly this theory, integrated with coercion, involves a most cynical view of human nature. It implies that no man can be trusted to “live a godly, righteous, and sober life,” no matter how needfully he may incline to divine promptings. On the contrary, he must be constantly and subserviently attentive to the orders of “Big Brother,” who by some perverted miracle and political hocus-pocus has come to embody a General Will.

John Milton, among the Protestants, stands out in this period for his affirmation that: “Our liberty … is a blessing we have received from God Himself. It is what we are born to. To lay this down at Caesar’s feet, which we derive not from him, which we are not beholden to him for, were an unworthy action, and a degrading of our very nature.” That thought profoundly influenced the formation of American government.

So it happened that the Social Contract ceased to be a self-denying ordinance and became instead a deceptively disguised instrument of oppression. We have not seen the end of it, for the “People’s Democracies” of the Soviet world are the direct and logical outgrowth of Rousseau’s conception of an unquestionable “General Will.” And the religious, but anti-Christian, fervor of modern Communism owes much more of its proselytizing strength to Rousseau than to Marx.

If the theory of the General Will had been voiced by itself, instead of being cleverly tied in with the valid conception of Social Contract, it would scarcely have survived, let alone prospered, as is the case. The major fallacy is too obvious. In the last analysis some ruler must interpret and promulgate what is assumed to be the General Will. The more sacrosanct this popular desire, the more authoritarian must be the power of those entrusted with its realization. A single, unified popular will implies a single, unified governmental purpose to make the will effective. This is the road to dictatorship; not to what Americans mean when they speak of democracy.

31 Responses to “Felix Morley: Democracy, Republics, & the General Will”

  1. Chad Waters said

    Wow Orrin!

    I will be 100% honest that one year ago I was not interested in politics at all and that the government lied and could take control and fix the next lie themselves! Now through the Life community and up to 4 books a month now (zero since grade 9) and politics is number one and our falling decline is now my redpondibility!

    Thanks for his tid bit I’m going to look at some more of Felix’s articles!

    13 Resoloutions, LLR, 1913 and now LeaderShift have us on a hungry path! (Among other great books)

    Thanks again Orrin for the Servant leader you are, Leading from the front always! As a true Person fighting for a LeaderShift we are with you 100%

    Chad & Catherine Waters

  2. Jamie said

    Orrin, that was some great in site to the decline we are experiencing in our great nation. Thank you for what you are doing to help preserve our Freedoms! God Bless, Jamie

  3. Jennifer Thornton said

    If parents would teach these concepts to their children twenty years from now we would enjoy a society of “Rascals” living life to be a “force for good”. The trouble is: How will parents teach their children what no one has taught to them? Enter LIFE business owners, they have a business with a purpose! How can we who see what is happening to society keep quiet and then live with our conscience? We really do need to change the world one family at a time. Thank you Orrin and Laurie for leading the charge.

  4. Absolutely awesome Orrin! Your Blogs are always packed with such meaty content. Having never heard of Felix Morley, I am eager to go find more of his writings and continue my own research. Thank you, Orrin for your decades of diligent work. I am inspired by you toward diligence myself and am hopefully assured that I will accomplish the great work that God has called me to do!

  5. Orrin,

    I love the article, but the question still begs how do we properly balance a lawful society with an individuals’ right to choose. In ancient Israel, the Kings(State) were sovereign, and only held in check by the Prophets of God’s law(morality)…I am currently reading the Chronicles of Kings of Israel and Judah, and with each passing Kingdom we see the battle between morality and state enforced coercion being fought. In ancient days the State would win by the battle killing any and everyone that opposed their “general will”. Including citizens, and The Prophets of God as well. At the end of this article you should just insert…Leadershift! For the answer lies in an educated, informed, and involved populace who are morally girded up by the laws of God. Leaders willing to do what is right even if it is not in their personal best interest. Leaders willing to stand up in force to the State in a non-violent revolt, stating we will not do what we are told if it is wrong! Regardless of how good it seems now. Because History teaches us that the State’s best intentions will eventually lead to dictatorship and plunder!

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Raymond, that is right on brother. LeaderShift, by pushing the government down to the smallest localities allows citizens of America to go where there are people of similar values. If a government begins drifting to relativism, vote with your feet and the locality will suffer through a loss of your tax dollars. Finally, some responsibility for politicians to truly serve communities, balance a budget, and suffer when they lack servant leadership by people leaving locality. Localities, in essence, will compete in service to citizens to retain their tax dollars in their localities. thanks, Orrin

      • Howard said

        If local governments were to compete in service to citizens, wouldn’t that create an incentive for said government to create more social programs for their Locality? The result would be more government spending to make a Locality attractive.

      • Orrin Woodward said

        No, because they must balance their budget; therefore, most of the local services wouldn’t be State run, but society run. Since local government receives 4% of of the 10% and must balance its budget, it can no longer over-promise, under-deliver, while running up large deficits. Let the LeaderShift begin. The states, originally, were designed like this, and in some sense still are, because taxes vary and when a state increases taxes too much, citizens vote with their feet and move to other more tax friendly locations. thanks, Orrin

      • Howard said

        Society run feels like majority rule. The majority of society would decide what is acceptable and what is not.

      • Orrin Woodward said

        Society allows all taste to be met. For instance, goto any city and the selection of restaurants is of any persuasion because it isn’t run by a centralized “General Will” but by entrepreneurs seeking to satisfy the various specific tastes of its denizens. thanks, Orrin

      • Howard said

        Restaurants are a rather trivial example. Everyone likes food and there are rarely any heated debates concerning Chinese food over Italian. However, in a more black/white example such as abortion, or healthcare, the majority of society will set the tone. I am all for limited government; but I am against society, the majority of my peers, deciding whether or not they approve of my prerogatives. If society “votes with their feet” then we have established a majority rules situation where the section of society with the most feet will be able to calls the shots.

      • Orrin Woodward said

        Howard, I don’t believe you understand the proposal because a locality of people who believe in abortion, although I am not one, can run their local society as they choose. This ensures more freedom than one size fits all national government. Have you read LeaderShift? It explains this principle. Society that is broken down into thousands of localities will organize around people with similar views and may the best society win. Again, as long as people are free to leave what they disagree with, the nation benefits by the freedom of the localities. This certainly provides more freedom and choice than Washington DC making every decision through General Will. thanks, Orrin

      • Howard said

        I understand the principle, and I believe it has merit as far as individual freedom. That is, until a majority of individual societies observe that they have similar or identical operating principles and unify. I feel that the most liberated time would be the initial shattering of society. Eventually, enough like-minded individuals would band together and begin to impose their prerogative on other societies. Just as they do today. What would keep the Westboro Baptist Church society from harassing the LBGT society? Or the radical Islam society from harassing the Christian society?

      • Orrin Woodward said

        Society does not have identical operating principles. In fact, that is why America is so divided currently. Instead of one unitary General Will, wouldn’t you agree that thousands of local governments would provide more flexibility and choices than one centralized government. Currently the system is centralized in Washington, by decentralizing, each of the groups you mention can gather and run their local society as they choose providing more freedom for all since no one can force any citizen to stay in a locality he doesn’t agree with. In one centralized government, whether you agree with abortion or not, your tax dollars will be used to fund, etc, etc. I think we have belabored this subject enough. 🙂 thanks, Orrin

      • Howard said

        Yes, thousands of separate local governments would provide more freedom. My point is that there would not be thousands of separate local governments for very long. As societies falter and flourish, many will inevitably consolidate. Societies that have a moral objection to the way another society operates will likely confront that society. It has been proven throughout history that societies seek to impose their will upon another society. What will keep these thousands of societies separate and safe?

      • Orrin Woodward said

        Ok, last answer. 🙂 The State’s ensure localities don’t infringe upon one another, and the federal ensures the defense of state’s infringing upon one another and also the federal ensures other nation’s don’t infringe upon us. With limited funds, they cannot print money or tax more for war and disputes will be adjudicated versus coerced (government force). The smaller units of government ensure more freedom and rights than one centralized government and then bigger units must ensure peaceful resolution of smaller units. This worked in Colonial America for several hundred years as localities decided local issues, the states ensured peace of localities and the British Empire protected states from one another and other empires like France. Is it foolproof? Of course not, because Bastiat’s Law is real. Is it better than what we have now. Of course so, because Bastiat’s Law is real. thanks, Orrin

  6. J.J. said

    Great stuff he outlines what happens when we give up on absolutes , because some one has to determine the general will, and if it is that the majority rules. Then we must understand they are ruling over the minority an all is well until you find yourself in the minority then when you are yelling about your will or rights , you will realize you don’t have one because it has been sacrificed on the alter of the general will. This is why relativism is so dangerous and the ones that promote it are under the assumption that they are doing spreading free thought but in reality it is the opposite.
    Thanks for all that you do

  7. J.J. said

    The amazing thing about your solution in leader shift is that it is so simple and solves any objection or problem that I or any one else I have talked to can bring up

  8. Rob Robson said

    What an insightful article Orrin. It is amazing that we, as a society, have allowed arrogant despots to take away our freedoms based on the logic that human beings cannot be trusted to be charitable and compassionate on their own because of our inherent evil nature. Luckily God made perfected bureaucrats that live beyond reproach and who always have perfect insight as to the “General Will”. So “We” cannot be trusted even to manage our own affairs but “they” should be trusted to manage theirs and everyone else’s.
    I love the simple solution found in “Leadershift”! “Self” government can only happen when we get “ourselves” involved. Localizing the majority of legal decisions will naturally cause the “Rules of society” to grow in strength while diminishing the need for compulsion.
    I love being part of the solution! Thanks for your leadership!

  9. Tim Marks said


    I love how you research this stuff and give your readers the important parts.

    Thanks for that!


  10. Kevin Hamm said


    He reads similar to F.A. Hayek in the Road to Serfdom. Universal planners would require divine gifts to cover all aspects of life for the whole nation. I would much rather fight the battle on the local front with local elections taking on a much more significant role. I can certainly think of some areas I would not like to live, but we have a large nation with many options. I prefer to protect and keep those options than have a national government assume a deified role.

  11. CJ Calvert said

    Great article Orrin!

  12. Dave Hall said

    Thanks Orrin, for being willing to dialogue with those who comment as you did above. I found that interchange very enlightening.

    • matt mielke said

      I feel like I am going back in time when, I imagine, this kind of dialogue went on in all of society. Today most people don’t even engage in a conversation like this because they have no foundation to generate a comment(this includes myself). we are bringing a new confidence back to the people of this country. Thanks for your insight.


  13. MARIO VEGA said


  14. J.J. said

    Howard, Though I believe that the local government will impede Bastiat’s Law, nothing will impede it more though than an active educated population but sadly due to the law of diminished returns people that may have a different view give up hope of having any kind of impact thus they quit trying or they never even start. If plunder is to happen due to the due to the preposed tax structure the local leaders would have to be convinced in its approval an they are held accountable to the voters in that district and By definition if you knowingly consent to plunder it is no longer plunder. This is a clear case of ambition checking ambition and will keep,the law of diminished returns and Bastiat’s Law at bay. No government is perfect because it is made up of imperfect people the answer is in more voices not less and doing it in a way that dose not provoke the law of diminished returns orrin and Oliver discuss this in leadershift it is hidden in the dialog through out the book it took a wile for it to sink in with me but its there.

  15. Elizabeth said

    Liberties, freedom, history….these are not topics that I ever found intriguing, but you have such an amazing way of breaking down stories and concepts and making it easier to understand.
    Thank you!

  16. Don Schultz, Team VIP Phalanx said

    The concepts laid out are difficult to comprehend because we interpret them through the lens of what we currently know and understand. It doesn’t mean they’re bad, it’s just that we don’t understand how they fit together.

    The tenents being presented are from those Innovators who are more visionary, insightful, etc. than most people. Those new ideas take more explanation before many understand them.

    When the government, or select people with it, determine what the General Will is, usually for their own benefit, the citizenry is then enslaved. Our society is becoming more and more no only uninformed but misinformed as well and therefore are easily swayed by smooth-talking “snake oil salesmen” politicians who promise “bread and circuses.”

  17. Such great points. Thanks!

  18. Bob Rasmussen said

    Orrin, I believe that your education and Olliver’s education have culminated to lead the Leadershift. Clearly the 5 Laws of Decline are real and prevalent in our nation, and change as you describe it, not only seems necessary, but critical to all of our futures. I again, love how you have taken the complex and broken it down to simple solutions based on the right principles, proven by history for society to thrive. We are with you 110% and look forward to standing in the gap with you as we reach millions, and let their hearts and minds decide for themselves what is right. I believe in my heart that we will prevail and truly make a change with Leadershift! God Bless! Bob

  19. Jody Meyer said

    DH states that this type of spontaneous, general social contract has never existed. Societies are spontaneously contractual only to the extent that an individual chooses to remain in the society in which he was born, and hence he abides by that society’s rules. For Spencer, society would be no more than the establishment of relationships between individuals exchanging the products of their labor without any social action intervening to regulate that exchange (152).

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