Author of Our Enemy, The State, founder of The Freeman (1920-24)
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  • Albert Jay Nock (13 October 13 1870 - 19 August 1945) was an influential American libertarian author, educational theorist and social critic of the early and middle 20th century.

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    13 Oct 1870, in Scranton, Pennsylvania


    19 Aug 1945, in Wakefield, Rhode Island


    Laissez Faire Books
    "Few authors wrote about individualism as elegantly as Nock (1870-1945). He brought impressive knowledge to any subject he wrote about, and he expressed himself with remarkable grace and style. ... Yet for many libertarians, he was a blazing light in the vast darkness of the 20th century. Nock denounced the use of force against peaceful people. He believed one ought to be able to do just about anything as long as it doesn't hurt other people. "


    The Freeman (1920-1924), Editor

    Web Pages

    Advocates for Self-Government - Libertarian Education: Albert Jay Nock - Libertarian
    Uncredited version of Jeffrey A. Tucker's biographical essay "Albert Jay Nock, Forgotten Man of the Right", photograph and quote
    "Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, he was homeschooled from the earliest age in Greek and Latin, unbelievably well read in every field, a natural aristocrat in the best sense of that term. He combined an old-world cultural sense (he despised popular culture) and a political anarchism which saw that State as the enemy of everything that is civilized, beautiful, and true. And he applied this principle consistently in opposition to welfare, government-managed economies, consolidation, and, above all else, war."


    Albert Jay Nock, Forgotten Man of the Right, by Jeffrey A. Tucker, 22 Aug 2002
    Related Topics: Politics, The State
    Lengthy biographical essay, with a selection of quotes from Nock's writings
    "Though an old-school Yankee of the purest-bred sort, he completely rejected what came to be the defining trait of his class: the impulse to try to improve others through badgering and coercion ... Nock was thus not an American Tory by any stretch, though his cultural outlook was as high-brow as any landed aristocrat's. What's more, unlike the socialist anarchists and most conservatives of today, Nock believed in and understood the crucial importance, even centrality, of economic liberty ..."
    Albert Jay Nock - Hero of the Day, by Harold J. Landfield, The Daily Objectivist, 2000
    Excerpted from "A Hero of Yesterday Buried in Our Midst"
    "Two years before he died, Mr. Nock's autobiography was published under the provocative title, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man. Not your ordinary story this; it traces the intellectual development of one of our country's distinguished literary men. His self-effacing nature, and his frustrations, led him to question the worth of his commentary on the issues of the time."
    No U-Turns, by Jack Dennon, 29 May 2006
    Related Topics: Constitution of the United States, Benjamin Franklin, Lysander Spooner
    Critiques the U.S. Constitution and the government it allowed to be set up, with quotes from Albert Jay Nock and Lysander Spooner
    "Nock pointed out that the Constitution was written in the aftermath of a revolution that had been 'incited by abuses and misfeasances;' and that because the philosophy giving play to those misfeasances was 'never examined,' the abuses and misfeasances should be expected to recur under the new governmental form."
    The Anatomy of the State, by Murray N. Rothbard, 1974
    Related Topics: The State, U.S. Bill of Rights, Franz Oppenheimer, Property, War
    Examines several attributes of the State, including how it maintains and grows itself and how it deals with other States
    "Albert Jay Nock happily termed these contesting forces: 'social power' and 'State power.' Social power is man's power over nature, his cooperative transformation of nature's resources ... State power ... is the coercive and parasitic seizure of this production ... While social power is over nature, State power is power over man."


    Hero of the Day - Albert Jay Nock (2), The Daily Objectivist, 2000
    Excerpt from Nock's autobiographical Memoirs of a Superfluous Man
    "While it is must unlikely that these bits of salvage did much to put me on the way to literacy, the Primer may possibly have had something to do with forming one of the channels through which the course of my thinking was permanently set. ... It would not even be the previous question, Did Adam ever really exist? It would be the question previous to all these three questions, namely: How can any one possibly know anything about it?"
    Isaiah's Job, The Atlantic Monthly, Jun 1936
    In response to an acquaintance who wanted to spread a politico-economic doctrine, Nock recounts the story of the prophet Isaiah, describing the "masses" versus the "Remnant", and wonders about some historical characteristics of the latter
    "The Remnant want only the best you have, whatever that may be. Give them that, and they are satisfied ... It may be thought, then, that while taking care of the Remnant is no doubt a good job, it is not an especially interesting job because it is as a rule so poorly paid. I have my doubts about this. There are other compensations to be got out of a job besides money and notoriety, and some of them seem substantial enough to be attractive."
    The Criminality of the State, The American Mercury, 1939
    Related Topics: The State, John Adams, Democracy, India, The Netherlands, United States
    Cautions Americans that rather than being worried or surprised by the doings of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, the Munich agreement and other foreign states, they should devote their energies to reining the growth of the United States government
    "... the State's criminality is nothing new and nothing to be wondered at. It began when the first predatory group of men clustered together and formed the State, and it will continue as long as the State exists in the world, because the State is fundamentally an anti-social institution, fundamentally criminal. The idea that the State originated to serve any kind of social purpose is completely unhistorical."

    Books Authored

    Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, 1943
    Autobiographical; 16 numbered chapters; electronic text available in EPUB format at
    Mr. Jefferson, 1926
    Related Topic: Thomas Jefferson
    Table of contents: Youth - Beginnings - 1784-1789 - 1784-1789 (continued) - Washington, Hamilton, Adams - Eight Years of "Splendid Misery" - Recommencements - Advesperascit
    Our Enemy, the State, 1935
    Related Topic: The State
    Table of contents (from the Hallberg edition): Social Power vs. State Power - The Origins of State and Class - The State in Colonial America - Land Monopoly and American Independence - Politics and Other Fetiches - The State and the Remnant
    The Disadvantages of Being Educated and Other Essays, 1932
    A collection of 17 essays, selected by Robert M. Thornton, secretary of The Nockian Society

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