Albert J. Nock Quotes

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  • The practical reason for freedom is that freedom seems to be the only condition under which any kind of substantial moral fiber can be developed - we have tried law, compulsion and authoritarianism of various kinds, and the result is nothing to be proud of.

    "On Doing the Right Thing". "The American Mercury" Magazine, 1925.
  • There are two methods, or means, and only two, whereby man's needs and desires can be satisfied. One is the production and exchange of wealth; this is the economic means. The other is the uncompensated appropriation of wealth produced by others; this is the political means.

    "Our Enemy, the State" by Albert J. Nock (p. 59), 1935.
  • Driving jobholders out of office is like the old discredited policy of driving prostitutes out of town. Their places are immediately taken by others who are precisely like them.

  • There's only one way to improve society. Present it with a single improved unit: yourself.

  • By consequence I hold that no one ever did, or can do, anything for "society."... Comte invented the term altruism as an antonym for egoism, and it found its way at once into everyone's mouth, although it is utterly devoid of meaning, since it points to nothing that ever existed in mankind; This hybrid or rather this degenerate form of hedonism served powerfully to invest collectivism's principles with a specious moral sanction, and collectivists naturally made the most of it.

    "Memoirs of a Superfluous Man" by Albert J. Nock, (p. 305), 1943.
  • Man tends always to satisfy his needs and desires with the least possible exertion.

    "Our Enemy, the State" by Albert J. Nock (p. 59), 1935.
  • Americans have a strange notion that the ordinary laws of economics do not apply to them. So doubtless they will think they are prosperous if the boom starts, and that deficits and indebtedness are merely signs of how prosperous they are.

  • It is interesting to observe that in the year 1935 the average individual's incurious attitude towards the phenomenon of the State is precisely what his attitude was toward the phenomenon of the Church in the year, say, 1500. It does not appear to have occurred to the Church-citizen of that day, any more than it occurs to the State-citizen of the present, to ask what sort of institution it was that claimed his allegiance.

  • If you do not want the State to act like a criminal, you must disarm it as you would a criminal; you must keep it weak. The State will always be criminal in proportion to its strength; a weak State will always be as criminal as it can be, or dare be, but if it is kept down to the proper limit of weakness - which, by the way, is a vast deal lower limit than people are led to believe - its criminality may be safely got on with.

  • Considered now as a possession, one may define culture as the residuum of a large body of useless knowledge that has been well and truly forgotten.

  • The glossary of politics is so full of euphemistic words and phrases - as in the nature of things it must be - that one would suppose politicians must sometimes strain their wits to coin them.

    "Free Speech and Plain Language". The Atlantic Monthly, January 1936.
  • The State, on the other hand, both in its genesis and by its primary intention, is purely anti-social. It is not based on the idea of natural rights, but on the idea that the individual has no rights except those that the State may provisionally grant him. It has always made justice costly and difficult of access, and has invariably held itself above justice and common morality whenever it could advantage itself by so doing.

    "Our Enemy, the State" by Albert J. Nock (p. 49), 1935.
  • Another strange notion pervading whole peoples is that the State has money of its own; and nowhere is this absurdity more firmly fixed than in America. The State has no money. It produces nothing. It existence is purely parasitic, maintained by taxation; that is to say, by forced levies on the production of others. 'Government money,' of which one hears so much nowadays, does not exist; there is no such thing.

  • Assuming that man has a distinct spiritual nature, a soul, why should it be thought unnatural that under appropriate conditions of maladjustment, his soul might die before his body does; or that his soul might die without his knowing it?

  • The question of who is right and who is wrong has seemed to me always too small to be worth a moment's thought, while the question of what is right and what is wrong has seemed all-important.

  • I am said to be difficult of acquaintance, unwilling to meet any one half way, and showing a social manner which is easy, not diffident, but formal and unresponsive, tending constantly to hold people off.

    People   Half   Way  
  • The primary reason for a tariff is that it enables the exploitation of the domestic consumer by a process indistinguishable from sheer robbery.

  • For the majority of people liberty means only the system and the administrators they are used to.

  • Learning has always been made much of, but forgetting has always been deprecated; therefore pedantry has pretty well established itself throughout the modern world at the expense of culture.

  • If the modern spirit, whatever that may be, is disinclined towards taking the Lord's word at its face value (as I hear is the case), we may observe that Isaiah's testimony to the character of the masses has strong collateral support from respectable Gentile authority. Plato lived into the administration of Eubulus, when Athens was at the peak of its jazz-and-paper era, and he speaks of the Athenian masses with all Isaiah's fervency, even comparing them to a herd of ravenous wild beasts.

    "Isaiah's Job". The Atlantic Monthly, June 1936.
  • The positive testimony of history is that the State invariably had its origin in conquest and confiscation. No primitive State known to history originated in any other manner.

    "Our Enemy, the State" by Albert J. Nock, (p. 44), 1935.
  • As might be supposed, my parents were quite poor, but we somehow never seemed to lack anything we needed, and I never saw a trace of discontent or a failure in cheerfulness over their lot in life, as indeed over anything.

  • The State claims and exercises the monopoly of crime... It forbids private murder, but itself organizes murder on a colossal scale. It punishes private theft, but itself lays unscrupulous hands on anything it wants, whether the property of citizen or of alien.

    "On Doing the Right Thing and Other Essays". Book by Albert J. Nock, Harper & Brothers Publishers, New York and Londo, 1928.
  • The only thing that the psychically-human being can do to improve society is to present society with one improved unit.

  • The position of modern science, as far as an ignorant man of letters can understand it, seems not a step in advance of that held by Huxley and Romanes in the last century.

  • As Dr. Sigmund Freud has observed, it can not even be said that the State has ever shown any disposition to suppress crime, but only to safeguard its own monopoly of crime.

    "Our Enemy, the State" by Albert J. Nock (p. 50), 1935.
  • As far as I know, I have no pride of opinion.

  • The competition of social power with State power is always disadvantaged, since the State can arrange the terms of competition to suit itself, even to the point of outlawing any exercise of social power whatever in the premises; in other words, giving itself a monopoly.

  • Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators and beneficiaries from those of a professional-criminal class.

    "Our Enemy, the State" by Albert J. Nock (p. 50), 1935.
  • Someone asked me years ago if it were true that I disliked Jews, and I replied that it was certainly true, not at all because they are Jews, but because they are folks, and I don’t like folks.

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