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    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.

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John Locke: State of Nature & Limited Government

Posted by Orrin Woodward on August 29, 2013

I am studying John Locke and his thoughts on the state of nature. It is fascinating to me how this ties in with the Five Laws of Decline (FLD). For every page I write, it seems I have to read 100 pages, but what I am learning is beyond anything I expected. Below is a description of man’s inalienable rights, why governments were originally founded, and what happens to these governments due to the FLD. LIFE Leadership goal is to build a community that checks the FLD and allows liberty to prosper. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have researching and writing.

Sincerely,

Orrin Woodward

John Locke: State of Nature

John Locke

John Locke

In his Second Treatise of Government, John Locke described how people, before they form societies, are in a state of nature. In the state of nature, each individual has a right and responsibility to defend his life, liberty, and property to ensure justice. However, as people realize the productive increases through specialization within society, it becomes increasingly expensive and difficult for each person, family, or clan to ensure the justice of all of its members. Accordingly, governments are created and assigned a specific role in the division of labor, namely to specialize in the systematic defense of its members life, liberty, and property, replacing each individuals personal right and responsibility to fulfill this function. Indeed, when government does its role properly, it allows each member of society to focus more of his time, resources, and skills in his field of expertise producing even further gains for himself and society. In sum then, a government’s true purpose is the delegated, specialized, and limited task of defending the people’s inalienable rights in a systematic method within society rather than the previous personal method employed by the people in the state of nature.

The historical record, interestingly, in contrast to Locke’s theory, reveals the majority of societies did not form a government under these auspices. Instead, the productive society was attacked by an external foe who sought to exploit the wealth of its weaker neighbor. In the end, an all-powerful state was forced upon the defenseless productive society after it suffered defeat in war. Curiously then, in practically every case, it was not the will of the people, but edicts issued from an external enemy backed by force, that created the state’s ruling party. The victorious invaders created a state to rule over the defeated host for its benefit. Basically, the victors created the state to discover various methods to systematically plunder the wealth generated from the productive capabilities of the defeated society. Nevertheless, in either example, whether society created a limited-government or endured a hostile takeover by an all-powerful state, the power in society seeks an equilibrium point. For every society’s rulers learn that without the consent of the masses, the government cannot endure. For instance, if at any time the ruler’s oppression becomes unbearable to the people, they will withdraw their tacit consent and turn to rebellion against their master. No ruler desires to inflame the people into these drastic measures. In essence then, the power equilibrium point is the maximum oppression the people willingly endure without resorting to resistance.

Paradoxically, the power equilibrium point reduces the tyranny of the most oppressive states, but increase it in the less oppressive ones. For on one hand, the FLD drives limited-governments to increase their power and sphere of activities through the usurpation of functions not originally delegated to it. On the other hand, however, the all-powerful states slowly surrender morsels of power to ensure the masses consent to the state’s rule. In both examples, unfortunately, the people lose their inalienable state of nature rights as the state increases its power by slight degrees over time. Dismally, the masses consent to being plundered by the state for the right to exist in peace and enslavement. Every single example of limited-government, due to the effects of FLD and the power equilibrium, has transformed itself into an all-powerful state with time. These all-powerful states grant just enough rights to the people to provide the illusion of liberty, making the people’s submission to exploitation easier than rebellion for lost rights.

For an explanation on how this occurs, it is important to remember how government’s function is different than any other in society.  For every other part of society is based upon liberty and persuasion to determine the division of labor. Government, however, is based upon a delegated “monopoly of force” allegedly to defend the people’s unalienable rights. Unfortunately, this delegated force never remains within its delegated sphere. When it flows into other areas, it quickly destroys the liberty that was responsible for society’s health. In other words, what liberty and concord produced (a productive society), the unlimited power, unchecked force, and coercive measures of the state destroy. The historical record reveals numerous examples of limited governments transforming into a tyrannical states. In fact, the failures appear to follow a similar pattern where society grows under the liberty of limited-government and dies under the bondage of an all-powerful state. How many more rise-and-fall examples are needed to prove this point beyond dispute? Despite the depressing track record, however, the author still believes the quest for concord is possible. If society’s leaders can comprehend the symbiotic relationship between the liberty needed to grow society and the force needed to protect it, then the proper steps can be taken to check the excessive growth of force which leads to society’s demise. 

Another important difference between the state and other areas of society is that the state does not produce any wealth. In fact, it consumes the wealth of society even when the government is limited to protecting the life, liberty, and property of its members. The question boils down to how society ensures the people’s inalienable rights it brought over from the state of nature without allowing the limited-governments to seize these liberties by converting into an all-powerful state. Yes, liberty within society produces more wealth than oppression, but plunderers care not for the overall health of society, but focus more on personal power and wealth. Accordingly, each society must solve how to create wealth and ensure the parasitic plunderers are checked. And, since society operates most effectively under liberty, but the state uses force, the key is to limit the State to only the few areas where coercion is needed (protection life, liberty, and property). This leaves the rest of society free to prosper under the blessings of liberty. Only a free society can give and take away power based upon the satisfaction of the needs and wants. A limited government only uses coercion when a member’s life, liberty, or property is threatened by either internal or external aggressors; otherwise its sword is sheathed. Unfortunately, the state, driven by mankind’s love of power, has proven itself unable to resist the temptation inherent in the “monopoly of force” to benefit itself at the society’s expense. 

22 Responses to “John Locke: State of Nature & Limited Government”

  1. Joseph McGuire said

    Great post again! I appreciate being a part of Life Leadership so much. When I was 33 y/o I graduated with a Doctorate degree but when I was 40 y/o I began my education.

  2. Scott Russell said

    “These all-powerful states grant just enough rights to the people to provide the illusion of liberty, making the people’s submission to exploitation easier than rebellion for lost rights.If society’s leaders can comprehend the symbiotic relationship between the liberty needed to grow society and the force needed to protect it, then the proper steps can be taken to check the excessive growth of force which leads to society’s demise.” Two very powerful statements from your blog today, its time now more than ever we stand up and educate our country and find the modern day “Ditch Riders”!!! Great Article!!!

    Scott R

  3. Olivier Jean-Baptiste said

    Thanks so much for sharing with us Orrin.

    It is also important to notice that while force and coercion is the mean by which the state establishes its hegemony over society, it is certainly through unsound ideologies that are inculcated via various means (compulsory public education, media etc.) that the state maintained and perpetuate itself and crushes liberty. It is interesting to contrast Lock’s perspective to two political philosophers of the enlightenment, namely Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778).Both were supporters of state absolutism and interestingly both downplayed and neglected the role of the “mediating institutions” (family, church, guild etc.) of their time while those very institutions among others are the foundation of a free society.

    Thanks,
    Olivier.

  4. I’m thinking I might enjoy reading these even more than you enjoy researching it.

    I’m falling for Bastiat’s law here, where I’m letting you do all the work and I’m reaping the rewards 🙂

    • Orrin Woodward said

      Ha! 🙂 That was funny. I guess I fall for Bastiat’s Law a ton when I am reading these old tomes, so I need to pass the blessing on in this blog. 🙂

  5. Richard Kroll Jr. said

    Orrin… thank you for scouring the original documents and books that have not changed history! Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to find a text book, biography or recently written book that hasn’t re-written TRUE history in one way shape or form!?

    One need only read the Declaration of Independence to understand that we have certain SELF-EVIDENT…GOD-GIVEN…RIGHTS (not privileges!) and the most basic are: all men are created equal and should be allowed to have Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. AND… that WE THE PEOPLE can establish a government to protect our RIGHTS.

    Unfortunately, as you so eloquently point out, the Five Laws of Decline (FLD) must CONSTANTLY be CHECKED and COUNTERED.

    And it is OUR (we the people) responsibility to constantly LIMIT government’s power and limit it to the PROTECTION of our GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS.

    Thank you for starting the LeaderShift! And the journey back to CONCORD!!!

  6. Rob Robson said

    I am so excited to get this message to the masses Orrin! It seems impossible that a clear thinking student, could avoid full agreement with the principles of liberty. The right/left paradigm has confused the masses so thoroughly because neither one are philosophically pure. One side believing in civil liberties and non-interventionism while not understanding the need for economic freedom and the right of every individual (both in the womb and out) to life vs the other side embracing economic independence while trying to use the police power of the state to enforce their private morality on their countrymen and the military industrial complex to force other nations to embrace democracy.
    The good news is, FREEDOM IS POPULAR and LIBERTY IS RISING!

  7. Elizabeth Sieracki said

    Concord and beyond! So exciting to know Life Leadership is part of the positive process.

  8. Cathy Ankenman said

    I am currently reading “The Five Thousand Year Leap” and “The Making of America” by W. Cleon Skousen. These books cover what you are talking about; tyranny vs. anarchy and in the middle is People’s Law. Right now the FLD are so enforce that we hardly have any rights left, but I know that as the LIFE Leadership continues to combine forces with people of like mind, this will reverse. Thanks for all you do.

  9. KellyJack Nelson said

    Thanks for passing the blessings on Orrin

  10. Great article!

  11. wes said

    Its amazing how you can see these things at work in our society but nobody talks about it… but us. Thanks Orrin!

  12. J.J. said

    ” These all-powerful states grant just enough rights to the people to provide the illusion of liberty, making the people’s submission to exploitation easier than rebellion for lost rights.”
    Kind of like we exist under the illusion of a free market

  13. Steve Meixner said

    Orrin, I can’t believe how much I enjoy reading this stuff about History and what’s happening right now! A few years ago I read only a couple Magazines. I love this LIFE business!! Thanks and again Keep Em Coming!
    Steve

  14. Chad Waters said

    Hi Orrin,

    Crazzy how far off track something can go when itself isn’t being governed!

    God Bless

  15. Tim Marks said

    Orrin

    Great post.
    Too bad the State doesn’t realize it doesn’t produce wealth, it consumes it. Simple, true.

    Thanks

    Tim

  16. Capt. Bill Howard said

    “Plunderers care not for the overall health of society.”….Not only has government been redefined,(or should I say exposed), but this should be a “shot over the bow” warning us that truthfully we have a one party system. (And man are they throwing a party!)We can never say we weren’t warned. Sadly all this is lost in a sea of impertinent indoctrination designed to amuse, entertain, and distract. We certainly have our work cut out for us.

  17. Joseph Simon said

    Orrin – It amazing the number of people I talk to do not believe the quest for concord is possible. With the belif, how can you truely be productive in your life. In fact, this is why we are not a productive society. We have bought into this lie that “elephant’s can’t dance”. I understand why they may not believe this because they have not been introduced to the LIFE LEADERSHIP!
    I believe this is possible on our way to 1 million!!!
    God Bless
    Joe

  18. Lee said

    The truths you elicited from John Locke were articulated well and are great reminders. John Locke’s approach to government, which stemmed partially from Samuel Rutherford’s biblical writing of Lex Rex derived from Deuteronomy 17, greatly impacted a young Thomas Jefferson and permeated our Declaration of Independence. It is refreshing to know that the United States was established on such a philosophically sound foundation. Locke’s ideas of limited government must be proclaimed loudly today. God help us.

  19. Justin Rowe said

    Thank you for all of the research and time put in, for bringing the past to the present mind:
    “To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. For what is the worth of human life, unless it is woven into the life of our ancestors by the records of history?”
    ― Cicero

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