Our Enemy, the State By Albert Jay Nock

Description

The influence of Albert Jay Nock’s most famous book has grown every year since its publication. Nock was a prominent essayist at the height of the New Deal. In 1935, hardly any public intellectuals were making much sense at all. They pushed socialism. They pushed fascism. Everyone had a plan. Hardly anyone considered the possibility that the state was not fixing society but destroying it bit by bit. And so Albert Jay Nock came forward to write what needed to be written. And he ended up penning a classic of American political commentary, one that absolutely must be read by every student of economics and government.

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Discussions

  •  B.K. Marcus

    Whence the State?

    I’m just reading Clarence Darrow’s 1902 book Resist Not Evil for the first time. The first chapter is a powerful opening, but Darrow seems to imagine a different origin for the state than we learn from the tradition of Oppenheimer, Nock, Chodorov, and Rothbard. For Darrow, the state begins when a local thug takes over his tribe. Whereas, if I recall correctly, for Oppenheimer, et al., the state begins when a tribe of nomads has been raiding a settled group for a while, then decides to settle in with them and become a ruling class over the conquered people. (This, by the way, is also the version of events described by the socialist utopian H.G. Wells in his Short History of the World (1922) — where, a little surprisingly, he sees the invaders as injecting some virility into the stagnant culture of the conquered people. An unexpected interpretation from a pacifist. Is Darrow just speculating, or were there competing theories at the time? And are there competing theories now? In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond describes states as beginning when a settled group has a centralized and unmovable source of surplus wealth, making it easier for a “kleptocratic” takeover. I can’t recall however if he distinguishes between local thugs and outside invaders becoming the kleptocratic class. Anyone able to update us on current theories of the state’s origins? @lawrencereed @srichman @berserkrl @bobhiggs @anthonygregory @riggenbach @jacobhuebert @albertlu @thomasmichie @mattgilliland (Who am I forgetting to ask?)

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  •  Jeffrey Tucker

    Our Enemy, The State

    Our Enemy, The State Albert Jay Nock was elaborating on a previously known theory but here he applies it to the New Deal. It was a decisive statement against the new liberalism that emerged after the election of FDR. It should have stopped what was coming because he showed that the New Deal was anything but liberal; it was about regimentation and control. The naiveté of the liberals that they thought you could control economics without controlling people is really astonishing to consider. Kick off the discussion! Questions, comments, observations or elaborations? Either reply here or create a new discussion using the tag Library_our-enemy-the-state

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