Orrin Woodward LIFE Leadership Team

Winner of the 2011 Independent Association of Business Top Leader Award; Orrin Woodward shares his leadership secrets.

State vs Community

The Desire For Community

The more I read, the more I realize the true secret to success in business and life is related to the strength of relationships within a person’s community. The myth of rugged isolated individualism, although enduring, is, in truth, only a myth. Economic, educational, even political effectiveness are all improved when people work together. Please don’t misunderstand me, I haven’t turned to economic communism; however, I do comprehend better than previously how so many people have been drawn into this evil illogical doctrine. Specifically, most people, if given the choice between being alone or in community, will choose community, even if the association is Biblically wrong, thus communism’s growth. In fact, a cursory look at organizations as diverse as communism, the mafia, and gangs will exhibit the enduring need for community.

If community is essential to human beings, then the question is: How do we incorporate community into a society without sacrificing life, liberty, and property? Since liberty cannot exist where the State dictates, the idea of community and freedom precludes State control. Therefore, free communities are misnomers unless they are voluntary organizations. However, although the non-involvement of the State is essential, it isn’t sufficient to create community. The other side of the equation is for people to learn how to work within a community setting. Consequently, the atomistic rugged individualism of American myth must be replaced by men and women who work within a Biblical framework of ordered liberty and love. In other words, the greedy, self-centered capitalist is not a true picture of a free-enterprise Biblical community. In fact, this caricature of American freedoms pinpoints what is plaguing America – the loss of community roots and liberty (Social Power), instead, replaced by today’s (State Power) crony capitalism.

State Power vs Social Power

Murray Rothbard, the late dean of Austrian Economists, wrote in Conceived in Liberty:

My own basic perspective on the history of man, and a fortiori on the history of the United States, is to place central importance on the great conflict which is eternally waged between Liberty and Power, a conflict, by the way, which was seen with crystal clarity by the American revolutionaries of the eighteenth century. I see the liberty of the individual not only as a great moral good in itself (or, with Lord Acton, as the highest political good), but also as the necessary condition for the flowering of all other goods that mankind cherishes: moral virtue, civilization, the arts and sciences, economic prosperity. Out of liberty, then, stem the glories of civilized life. But liberty has always been threatened by the encroachments of power, power which seeks to suppress, control, cripple, tax, and exploit the fruits of liberty and production. Power, then, the enemy of liberty, is consequently the enemy of all the other goods and fruits of civilization that mankind holds dear. And power is almost always centered in and focused on the central repository of power and violence: the state. With Albert Jay Nock, the twentieth-century American political philosopher, I see history as centrally a race and conflict between “social power” — the productive consequence of voluntary interactions among men — and state power. In those eras of history when liberty — social power — has managed to race ahead of state power and control, the country and even mankind have flourished. In those eras when state power has managed to catch up with or surpass social power, mankind suffers and declines.

In sum, wherever State Power flourishes, Social Power declines. Thankfully, however, the reverse is true as well. By standing on the intellectual shoulders of both Nock and Rothbard, we see that societies can be organized around two competing philosophical choices:

1. State Power: Top down external discipline and the subsequent loss of liberty endured.
2. Social Power: Bottom up internal discipline and the subsequent ordered liberty enjoyed.

Restoring Social Power – Volunteer Communities

The first option (State Power) is the real-life history of America since around the Civil War, with State Power moving ahead and Social Power in subsequent decline. Since 1913, however, the battle has become a full-fledged drubbing, with State Powers triumphing in the Federal Reserve Act, the Federal Income Tax amendment, and the democratic election of Senators. In truth, it’s hard to fathom a worse mix of legislation (as related to Social Power) in one year, in one country, than what occurred in America in that disastrous year of 1913. In other words, 1913 wasn’t just (to use Oliver DeMille’s term) a freedom shift, it was a freedom rout. DeMille’s soon-to-be-released book 1913 will elaborate further on these fateful events.

The second option (Social Power) is America’s (and the West’s) best hope for freedom. America needs a community restoration, starting, not from the top down (State Power), but rather, from the bottom up (Social Power), in order to revitalize America. Social Power is fueled by social capital – a sociological concept which refers to the value of social relations and the role of cooperation and confidence to get collective results in any endeavor – to paraphrase Robert Putnam, in is classic Bowling Alone. Putnam explains the key role of social capital,  “A society characterized by generalized reciprocity is more efficient than a distrustful society, for the same reason that money is more efficient than barter. If we don’t have to balance every exchange instantly, we can get a lot more accomplished. Trustworthiness lubricates life. Frequent interaction among a diverse set of people tends to produce a norm of generalized reciprocity.” Furthermore, Putnam argues, “Does social capital have salutary effects on individuals, communities, or even entire nations? Yes, an impressive and growing body of research suggest that civic connections help make us healthy, wealthy, and wise. Living without social capital is not easy, whether one is a villager in southern Italy or a poor person in the American inner city or a well-heeled entrepreneur in a high-tech district.” Social capital matters, in other words, both personally, professionally, and politically.

Converting Dreams into Realities Through Communities

Putnam goes on to list five specific areas where the trust and understanding inured by social capital helps translate aspirations into realities:

1. Social capital allows citizens to resolve collective problems more easily through improved teamwork.
2. Social capital greases the wheels that allow communities to advance smoothly through improved trust.
3. Social capital helps widen the awareness of fellow citizens that their fates are intertwined through improved understanding.
4. Social capital serves as conduits for the flow of helpful information and resources to accomplish community and individual goals.
5. Social capital improves individual lives through psychological and biological processes. In fact, numerous studies suggest lives that are rich in social capital cope with trauma and illnesses significantly more effectively.

Despite social capital’s overwhelming advantages, Putnam acknowledges its decline, writing, “Americans have had a growing sense at some visceral level of disintegrating social bonds.” Furthermore, he writes, “More than 80% of Americans said there should be more emphasis on community, even if it puts more demands on individuals.” In sum, social capital isn’t just the fuel for Social Power – a necessary check on State Power – but it also enhances individual lives through the sense of belonging engendered within communities. Strikingly, then, the decline of social capital, not only attacks society’s freedoms, but also attacks an individual’s well-being. Simply put, America cannot remain free without a revival of Social Power through building social capital in voluntary communities. With so much at stake, why aren’t more people focused on restoring voluntary communities throughout America and the West? That question will be answered in further articles on Social Power and communities. Sincerely, Orrin Woodward

12 Responses to “State vs Community”

  1. Orrin: I think you nailed it in the first paragraph where you refer to studying the gang communities etc. This is a concept I have believed for years. In fact, I raised the children the Lord gave me responsibility for with this in mind. I can say from personal experience if a person does not get their needs met in a community, whether it be the home, work, school, church, or other social communities they are expected to be a part of–they most certainly will move on and look elsewhere to get their needs met. That is exactly how gangs thrive (cliques & other “communities” etc); the “gang” seeks out those who are vunerable/”looking” and will “give” them a few things while promising more “awesome” things to come if the person remains “true” to the gang/clique/community.

    I thought your definitions of State vs Social Powers interesting and would encourage everyone to consider these on a daily basis as they go about their business, whether it be at home, work, school, or a “community” event/business. Are we as individuals really promoting and believing a “Social” Powered system will work? Do we really encourage and consistently convey to those at the “bottom” of the “community” they truly are valuable human beings, or do we simply leverage them in a factory type manner where the “little wheels make the big wheels turn”? What about those who fall somewhere in the middle of the bottom & top, aka “middle class”? How do they fit into the picture? In other words, do we really practice what we preach & “walk the talk”, or is our thinking still rooted in what we’ve (Elgo) has been taught? That being a “State” Powered system is the way to go?

    My mother used to tell me quite frequently when I was young that it was the little wheels that made the big wheels turn. This proved more than true in one of my first careers as a mechanic. It was quickly proven that when a little wheel (bearing etc) quit functioning for whatever reason, it became quite difficult to produce the hundreds of thousands + results the clients were expecting and paying for until that little wheel was fixed. It was also proven that I could throw out little wheel after little wheel, but if I couldn’t figure out & fix what was causing the abnormal wear & tear on that little wheel, the machine (thus production line) would continue to struggle. Pretty soon, people didn’t want to work on that line because they knew the odds of having a good day and meeting their goals were less than if they could get “over there” to another machine/line.

    My point with all this is that even though I became the top mechanic it really did me no good to achieve that rank if I didn’t give the correct attention and care to the “little wheels” on the line and the staff I was supposed to leading. While it is also true the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence, there comes a time if there is no grass on this side it really doesn’t matter the quality of the grass on the other side–at least there’s grass there! (Again, how gangs survive & thrive…) The same held true years later when I became a Director of Nursing, and still holds true today no matter where I am or what I’m doing.

    Thanks for letting me share and for sharing your wisdom so freely. God Bless.
    Maggie

    • wildtarg said

      Maggie, I love your mother’s saying, and your story about machinery. It illustrates something I learned studying science, that size is no sure indicator of importance or value. It is so easy in our world to get preoccupied with the big and the imposing, and to forget the ‘small and the close,’ which are sometimes the most critical elements of life.

  2. Rob Crichlow said

    Powerful message on how the focus on non-state communities is critical to preserve our liberty. I pray that we all remain diligent in participating and expanding the communities we are involved in … stepping up to lead with principles and character. In a very real since … as you have clearly pointed out … we need to stand in the gap. Thanks for being the example.

  3. wildtarg said

    I cannot find it right now, so I will paraphrase a favourite author and quote an American President. If someone cares to post the actual quotation, please feel free to reply and do so.

    ‘The whole purpose of government and the state is to protect the freedoms of everyday life: a child playing in her mother’s yard; two men talking in a pub; two lovers out for an afternoon walk. If the state does not defend and enlarge such moments, all the policies, expenditures, manpower, and armies in the world are nothing but a tremendous waste.’
    C.S. Lewis, ‘Mere Christianity’

    “I cannot fully enjoin upon my own liberty without defending the other man’s freedom. I cannot be free unless you are free.”
    -Abraham Lincoln.

    Keep going, we’re with you…

    Gabriel Weeden

    • wildtarg said

      I must say that I enjoyed this article in a unique way, for much of it relates to my own personal experience, either academic or professional.

      I would like to add the thought that inspired me to comment in the first place; that the idea that solo individualism is a myth resonates with me in Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, where he gives an overview of the book, and describes the habits supporting independence as not an end in themselves, but only as stepping stones to the level of interdependence. This also strikes a few chords in my own life. I recall independence being emphasized as a virtue. However, the ideal of family life is as an interdependent unit, not simply a commune of individuals. I feel that character, self-discipline, and open communication are three key areas that have been assaulted over the decades of my parents’ and grandparents’ generations, and must be defended and rebuilt to avert western society’s slide towards ruin.

      Orrin, thank you again, greatly, for all the learning, discipline, experience, and insight you have brought to your community. I for one am grateful and hopeful that you have prevailed and been allowed to be a light in dark times.

      Keep going, we’re with you…

      Gabriel Weeden

  4. Orrin,

    In the past the governments of the countries of the world were able to control their people because of the separation of social capital. That was made possible due to the geographic barriers that separated societies, and the language barriers that inhibited our ability to communicate. Today with technology of the internet, cell phones, texting , tweeting, and other forms of wireless communication that geographic barrier has come down. With English becoming the universal business language the ability to communicate has been enhanced.

    In the future I believe we will see the power of Social Capital flex its muscle to influence the governments to be more responsive to the needs of people. Transparency will become ever more visible and accountability the standard.

    Thanks for this enlightening artcile.

  5. Kelly said

    I’ve recently been made aware of what’s going on here and I’m very impressed. A friend introduced me to audio and has been an incredible servant, spending hours without asking for compensation, or any action. He’s lent me many books, I’m on “Guide to INVESTING in GOLD & SILVER”, and it’s confirming what I’ve wanted to believe from conspiracy-type talk on the Internet.

    I can’t help but believe that this organization/community is the one force with the power to fix the systems of today. I’ve been thinking for years how to roll out an idea, but with a community like this, we might even we able to take power back in a decade.

    I can see this community growing faster than ever with the objective of transforming big systems, like political and economic governance. Now, before you think “Oh boy, here we go…”, I won’t be offended if you politely let me know to refrain from writing about this here. (But I really feel there’s no where else to go.)

    I’m not a politician and NOT trying to gain popularity for myself. I believe leaders like yourselves have the ability to see beyond what has existed before and you have the guts to step out and pioneer.

    I copied this below from something I wrote before, without the “motivational fluff” it had. There are two parts to it really: Responsible Capitalism and Departmental Governance (RC and DG), and I only go into DG here, but I find the RC idea a valid way to fix everything wrong with the economy.

    DG Basics
    Borders remain as they are, with three levels of government: national, provincial/state, and local.
    A department exists for each basic element of life: Defense and Enforcement, Nature and Resources, Economy, Human Needs, Infrastructure, Transportation, Employment, etc. (I use the Justice Department in most examples, often using just the word Justice.)
    Departments operate in the three levels of government, managed by each state/province.
    Local-level government makes local-level laws where applicable.

    There are no political parties, as they currently exists, dividing the nation. This is an antiquated device which we no longer require.
    Politicians (referred to as leaders or the leadership) do not hold office for a fixed period, and replacements are always standing by.
    Citizens do not vote for parties, but evaluate office holders and prospects, on a virtue-based system (more on this).
    On the national level, leaders from the Departments represent us here and abroad.

    People choose to belong to none, one, or many departments.
    People evaluate the leadership in their department(s) only. Infrastructure members need not waste time in Justice.
    Departments make their own laws. There is interdepartmental cooperation when laws overlap. If a new prison is built (God forbid it), Infrastructure, Justice, and Enforcement would be involved, as well as Nature, depending on the location.
    If a law is made by Justice to limit some advertising, Economy (call it the Commerce or Economic Development Department if you like) would be involved for sure.
    Department members, evaluating their ideal leadership, are not as ignorant as the people outside their department.
    There are a few ways to be a department member: Volunteer/donate to or be employed by a department, or volunteer/donate to or be employed by certain non-profit organizations. (These “opposition party” non-profits play a role in keeping government honest, more on this.)

    Moving from Elections to Evaluations, Politician = Leader
    Department members can be leaders, each state/province (same on the local level) must produce a predetermined number of leaders in each department.
    Department members (employees/volunteers), if they’d like to contend, are evaluated by others in the same department regularly.
    Members decide (a responsibility of great honor) on a short set of virtues (maybe 7) from a master list for their department only.

    Those with high ratings in the right virtues will rise to the top as replacements for leaders who might be slipping.
    The people can decide when to replace leaders, with relatively short notice.
    Money is not used by political parties to fight for leadership, political parties in this system represent a check/balance of departments.

    When voices are not heard, ratings will go down. Leaders are highly visible in their department.
    There is no need to worry about what’s happening in the Transportation Department if all I care/know about is Justice.

    I might choose to evaluate 20 people regularly. That’s getting close to 150 mouse clicks (per month?)!!! What if I belong to several departments?
    Do you see how this is more responsible, economical, democratic? See how you can influence government as much or little as you want?

    My real question is why do we still hold on so dearly to our faulty and wasteful electoral system? My answer so far is that we haven’t seen a new way yet, and are fearful that changing from what we’ve done traditionally is a step away from democracy and freedom. Has everything been tried already? We all know about paradigm shifts… disbelievers lose big time.

    • Kelly said

      Maybe going too far now, but can’t resist… (Thanks, moderator, for editing my post as requested, and so quickly!)

      RC Basics
      The people decide on an evolving definition of “Responsible Entity”, which sets limits on how far a corporation can go and in which directions.

      This wouldn’t even really require an entity like Walmart to shut its doors in our nation. The entity must adhere to regulations it won’t agree with. It would have to change its status from irresponsible to responsible, as defined by people’s popular opinion. Changes would be so drastic as to drive away an entity that cannot profit enough responsibly.
      If an entity cannot maintain a “responsible” status, it is forced to sell assets to the government or move shortly after a notice of eviction from the nation. Shareholders WILL NOT lose investments during the transfer of wealth.

      Entities that should exist responsibly but cannot on their own, become publicly owned, potentially costing or paying government/citizens.
      Entities that have a significant impact on nature, criminal enforcement, economics (| |F|E|D| |), etc. may become publicly owned corporations like above, or non-profits (playing a roll in political affairs, checks and balances).

      Government, with all its might, assists entrepreneurs in business start-up, development, and maintenance.
      A thought-out, commerce/community/information-based web application/platform is waiting for development with tools to vitalize/diversify the economy.
      Information/tools pertaining to research, politics, legal, commerce, business management, finances, etc. placed at the fingertips of citizens, without hidden agendas.

      Reminder:
      -not a threat to capitalism
      -a new era of responsible capitalism, where your interests as an entrepreneur, with endless opportunity for excessive wealth, are more than protected
      -nature has a standing chance against industrialization
      -guarantees a revolution in education and media
      -guarantees a choice of retiring without savings and knowing your health, happiness and other needs are secure
      -a future of government without debt in less than a decade

      Could this have a negative effect on you? Will you or your friends have less purchasing power and income? Will your favorite shops close down and go out of business? No. Not unless you are a banker or among the chief executives of harmful corporations (who would just find a new job/location). Not unless you prefer to shop/work at Walmart as it currently exists.

      Again, let me know if this is not a good place to discuss these ideas, and I’ll stop!

      • Kelly said

        When deciding what makes an entity responsible, we just compare it to laws we make over time.
        Hypothetical examples:
        -must show dates of production and expiration (before and after opening) on all singularly packaged items, on the front in large text and hard not to understand
        -must not use print on advertising that cannot be comprehended from the same distance that the subject can be distinguished
        -must make certain internal information public and available

      • Kelly said

        This might help.

        Picture a dart board with three rings. These are levels of government.
        Picture the board sliced up like a pie. Slices represent departments.
        You can land in zero, one or many slices and rings. You take as many shots as you like.

        There is more surface area on the outer rings. The bullseye has greater value.
        The bullseye is more visible, even to those playing on different boards.
        The bullseye is not a person. It is the unit representing the nation.

        Striking at government is the aim of department and party members… the citizens.
        You are not the surface area. You are the dart.
        You only score points when your slice matches your dart. Reds don’t count on yellow slices.

        The surface area is the leadership, the decision makers, the evaluated virtuous.
        We learn about virtues now, it is the currency of leadership.
        If you can’t be the surface, be the dart.

        Public sector employees could throw reds, yellows, greens, all or none.
        Political party members are the same.
        Take as many shots an you like.

        Darts punish the surface and the surface gets stronger, yet they always penetrate.
        You shoot for justice, freedom, health, and happiness.

    • Kelly said

      When that sinks in, get a load of this:

      DG Political Parties
      -united concerned citizens with great power to influence government
      -citizens organize and register a party
      -party representatives address issues brought forward by individual citizens, standing up to department leaderships
      -can stand up to any department at any time
      -associated with (facilitated/financed by) one or more non-profits

      Political Non-profits (as opposed to the non-political kind)
      -associated with one (or many?) department, naturally
      -budgets for political party operations, receives donations and government funding
      -must be organized according to rules set by government to receive funding
      -can exist without government support

      You are a member of Justice by employment. You are aware of plans to construct a factory in your “back yard” and you know the impact it will have on wildlife. How do you influence that decision? You volunteer a minimum donation or a few hours of time to a local non-profit, through a familiar political party. This gives you temporary membership to the Nature Department, where you gain the opportunity to use/be the voice of the party as well as evaluate department leadership.

      • Kelly said

        And then to go a step further…
        You donate to a non-profit organization, CrystalBall (fictional/hypothetical), which is associated with Infrastructure. It investigates the impact of industry and plans mitigation strategies, and has ties to the RoadBlock party. RoadBlock appreciates your donation and grants you the right to associate and be heard. CrystalBall grants you the right to evaluate Infrastructure’s leadership.

        Please, ask questions if this doesn’t make sense. Couldn’t hurt if another mind took a stab at it.

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