Albert Jay Nock Quotes
“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.”
“All the power [the State] has is what society gives it, plus what it confiscates from time to time on one pretext or another; there is no other source from which State power can be drawn. Therefore every assumption of State power, whether by gift or seizure, leaves society with so much less power.”
“In literature one has the best company in the world at complete command; one also has the worst. One has a social conscience which dissuades one from harbouring unprofitable company in life, and I find that my two canons are a great aid and support for an analogous literary conscience which speaks up against consorting with unprofitable company in literature.”
“American society had not the faintest idea of what it was doing or where it was going. It simply clung to its inveterate practice of making brag, bounce and quackery do duty for observation, reason and common sense. It had not yet got a glimpse of the elementary truth which was so clear to the mind of Mr. Jefferson, that in proportion as you give the State power to do things for you, you give it power to do things to you; and that the State invariably makes as little as it can of the one power, and as much as it can of the other.”
“In the last generation, this country produced one of the most eminent men of science in the whole world. His name was quite unknown among us while he lived, and it is still unknown. Yet I may say without too great exaggeration that when I heard it mentioned in a professional assembly in the Netherlands two years ago, everybody got down under the table and touched their foreheads to the floor. His name was Josiah Willard Gibbs.”
“the State is everything; the individual, nothing. The individual has no rights that the State is bound to respect; no rights at all, in fact, except those which the State may choose to give him, subject to revocation at its own pleasure, with or without notice. There is no such thing as natural rights; the fundamental doctrine of the American Declaration of Independence, the doctrine underlying the Bill of Rights, is all moonshine. Moreover, since the State creates all rights, since the only valid and authoritative ethics are State ethics, then by obvious inference the State can do no wrong.”
“As I understand the term, it is of the very essence of democracy that the individual citizen shall be invested with the inalienable and sovereign right to make an ass of himself; and furthermore, that he shall be invested with the sovereign right of publicity to tell all the world that he is doing so.”
“The literatures of Greece and Rome comprise the longest, most complete and most nearly continuous record we have of what the strange creature known as Homo sapiens has been busy about in virtually every department of spiritual, intellectual and social activity. That record covers nearly twenty-five hundred years in an unbroken stretch of this animated oddity’s operations in poetry, drama, law, agriculture, philosophy, architecture, natural history, philology, rhetoric, astronomy, logic, politics, botany, zoölogy, medicine, geography, theology,—everything, I believe, that lies in the range of human knowledge or speculation. Hence the mind which has attentively canvassed this record is much more than a disciplined mind, it is an experienced mind. It has come, as Emerson says, into a feeling of immense longevity, and it instinctively views contemporary man and his doings in the perspective set by this profound and weighty experience. Our studies were properly called formative, because beyond all others their effect was powerfully maturing. Cicero told the unvarnished truth in saying that those who have no knowledge of what has gone before them must forever remain children; and if one wished to characterise the collective mind of this present period, or indeed of any period,—the use it makes of its powers of observation, reflection, logical inference,—one would best do it by the one word immaturity.”
“This is one of many indications pointing to the great truth which apparently must forever remain unlearned, that if a régime of complete economic freedom be established, social and political freedom will follow automatically; and until it is established neither social nor political freedom can exist. Here one comes in sight of the reason why the State will never tolerate the establishment of economic freedom. In a spirit of sheer conscious fraud, the State will at any time offer its people “four freedoms,” or six, or any number; but it will never let them have economic freedom. If it did, it would be signing its own death-warrant, for as Lenin pointed out, “it is nonsense to make any pretence of reconciling the State and liberty.” Our economic system being what it is, and the State being what it is, all the mass of verbiage about “the free peoples” and “the free democracies” is merely so much obscene buffoonery.”
“When one brushed aside the reformers’ verbiage, the situation was perfectly clear. I was not witnessing a “revolt of the masses” against an alien power; nor yet a war between labour and capital; nor yet a struggle to break up big business; nor yet an attempt to abolish capitalism. What I was looking at was simply a tussle between two groups of mass-men, one large and poor, the other small and rich, and as judged by the standards of a civilised society, neither of them any more meritorious or promising than the other. The object of the tussle was the material gains accruing from control of the State’s machinery. It is easier to seize wealth than to produce it; and as long as the State makes the seizure of wealth a matter of legalised privilege, so long will the squabble for that privilege go on.”
“The measures of the reformers took no account of all this which seemed to me so obvious. The reformers themselves apparently did not see that the State, as an arbiter of economic advantage, must necessarily be a potential instrument of economic exploitation. In fact, these are but two ways of saying the same thing, for, as Voltaire saw so clearly, advantage to the State’s beneficiaries means disadvantage to those who are not its beneficiaries. By putting a tariff on steel, for example, the State simply took a great deal of money out of the pockets of American purchasers of steel, and put it in Mr. Carnegie’s; it acted ad hoc as Mr. Carnegie’s instrument of exploitation. Neither”
“Passing from the tyranny of Charles I to the tyranny of Cromwell is like taking a turn in a revolving door; the exertion merely puts you back where you started. If every jobholder in Washington were driven into the Potomac tonight, their places would be taken tomorrow by others precisely like them.”
“The most important extra-curricular lesson we learned,—and we learned it properly,—was summed up in Chief Justice Jay’s dictum that “justice is always the same, whether it be due from one man to a million, or from a million to one man.” We learned this, not by precept, but by example, which is the best way to learn such lessons. In”
“It [the State] has taken on a vast mass of new duties and responsibilities; it has spread out its powers until they penetrate to every act of the citizen, however secret; it has begun to throw around its operations the high dignity and impeccability of a State religion; its agents become a separate and superior caste, with authority to bind and loose, and their thumbs in every pot. But it still remains, as it was in the beginning, the common enemy of all well-disposed, industrious and decent men. Henry L. Mencken, 1926.”
Albert Jay Nock
- Date of birth: October 13, 1870
- Died: August 19, 1945
- Born: in Scranton, Pennsylvania, The United States.
- Description: American libertarian author, Georgist, social critic of the early and middle 20th century, outspoken opponent of the New Deal.
He served as a inspiration for the modern libertarian and Conservative movements.
He was one of the first Americans to self-identify as "libertarian"