Government & State
Posted by Orrin Woodward on September 10, 2013
I am continuing my work on my new book. In this segment, I share what the proper role of government within society. LIFE Leadership, in essence, is a society where rule of law reigns. The role of the owners of LIFE is to ensure no special deals and justice for all. Similarly, this is the proper role of government. I truly believe the way to change society is to change individual lives and over time build a big enough community that believes in “justice for all” that we can end the exploitation of the few over the many. This is my lifetime purpose and I am honored to be working with the greatest students of leadership anywhere!
Governments and State
However, even man’s liberty must have limits. For, unfortunately, one of the darker sides of mankind is the desire to satisfy its wants with the least amount of effort. And, since exploitation of other people’s production is easier than a person producing himself, society must check this antisocial behavior of both internal and external aggressors to plunder others production. Indeed, James Madison, describing man’s dilemma, once wrote, “If men were angels, there would be no need for government.” Needless to say, mankind is not part of the angel family; consequently, society created government and delegated it the “monopoly of force” to protect its members from potential plunderers. In other words, government is the only part of society founded upon force, not freedom. For while the rest of society secures cooperation through persuasion, the government, in contrast, secures justice through threatening violence to anyone attempting to live by plunder rather than production. For most people, the threat of violence is enough to deter plunder, but in cases where force is needed, as in defense of one’s country, government is provided the force to fulfill its purpose.
As discussed earlier, in a healthy society, the Power Pendulum is balanced between the untenable extremes of chaos and coercion. In truth, historically, chaos appears to be the least desirable state of all and the pendulum rarely stays there long. Coercion, on the other hand, although not the desired state, seems to be patiently tolerated until the coercion becomes all-consuming. Evidently, people can suffer with societal tyranny easier than they suffer with the randomness of societal chaos. For on one side, chaos occurs when government is too weak to maintain peace within society. This power vacuum quickly leads the the Power Pendulum into chaos as different groups battle for sovereignty within society. On the other side, when government has too much force, the Power Pendulum drifts into coercion as people lose their liberty as the government transforms into an all-powerful state. Ideally, society’s goal is to rest the Power Pendulum in concord, providing the government with sufficient force to ensure justice, but denying it the power to become the plunderer of society’s production. Although numerous methods have been attempted to check government’s “monopoly of force,” sadly, none have proven to be effective with the passing of time.
There is an old joke that if the only tool one has is a hammer then everything looks like a nail. Similarly, government force is like that hammer and works well when confronting internal and external aggressors in pursuit of justice. However, since government’s modus operandi is force, it hammers everything it meets in society. Consequently, the government hammers should only be pointed at the specific targets it is delegated to nail, nothing else. Unfortunately, however, few seem to remember this crucial point, and when society permits government force to flow into areas it does not belong, the productive members of society, from the government’s perspective, begin looking, not surprisingly, like nails to be hammered. Indeed, when government exceeds its assigned boundaries, it no longer functions as the defender of a free society, but becomes an all-consuming State, oppressing the citizens it was assigned to protect. If society’s method is elasticity then the State’s method is rigidity and the proper balance between the use of freedom and force, resting the pendulum in concord, is crucial.
There are four underlying questions that must be answered in order to ensure justice for all and produce concord within society. This book will review how previous Western Societies attempted to answer each of these question before closing with the author’s proposed answer to the following questions:
- What areas of society prosper under freedom?
- What areas of society need force to ensure justice?
- How much force is needed in the proper areas to ensure justice reigns?
- How does society check the delegated “monopoly of force” from flowing into areas of society better served by freedom than force?
Unfortunately, Western Civilization has never answered all four questions within one society. Nonetheless, the author still believes it is possible to do so. For history has recorded periods of concord within Western society and now must learn how to rest the pendulum in concord. However, in order to still the pendulum in concord, today’s political leaders must solve the paradox inherent within “monopoly of force” and limited-power concepts. How, in other words, can an entity that is delegated a “monopoly of force” in specific spheres not use that monopoly to expand its power past the prescribed limits? Traditionally, when society delegates a “monopoly of force” to government, the initial limited government transforms itself into an all-powerful state. This is the unanswered challenge that has prohibited Western Civilization from achieving its quest for concord and justice for all.