Author of Our Enemy, The State, founder of The Freeman (1920-24)
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  • Albert Jay Nock

    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 -
    Links to essays, videos and other resources about Nock
    Albert Jay Nock | Mises Institute
    Includes picture, biographical essay and links to his works
    "Albert Jay Nock (October 13, 1870 – August 19, 1945) was an influential American libertarian author, educational theorist, and social critic of the early and middle 20th century. Murray Rothbard was deeply influenced by him, and so was the whole generation of free-market thinkers of the 1950s."
    Albert Jay Nock | People | Foundation for Economic Education
    Includes short profile, picture and links to Nock's writings "Our Enemy, the State" and "Isaiah's Job"
    "Albert Jay Nock (1870–1945) was an influential American libertarian author, educational theorist, and social critic of the early and middle 20th century. He is the founder of The Freeman."


    Albert Jay Nock: A Gifted Pen for Radical Individualism, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Mar 1997
    Biographical essay, including his early life, editorship of The Freeman, and notable books and essays
    "American individualism had virtually died out by the time Mark Twain was buried in 1910. ... Yet author Albert Jay Nock dared declare that collectivism was evil. He denounced the use of force to impose one's will on others. He opposed military intervention in the affairs of other nations. He believed America should stay out of foreign wars that inevitably subvert liberty. He insisted individuals have the unalienable right to pursue happiness as long as they don't hurt anybody."
    Albert Jay Nock, Forgotten Man of the Right, by Jeffrey A. Tucker, 22 Aug 2002
    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 ..."
    Related Topics: Politics, The State
    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."
    H.L. Mencken: The Joyous Libertarian, by Murray Rothbard, New Individualist Review, Jun 1962
    Examines the themes and style in Mencken's writings, mainly from the self-selected pieces in A Mencken Chrestomathy
    "Mencken's liberating force, of course, was exerted not on the mass of men, but on the scattered but intelligent few who could appreciate and be influenced by what he had to say; in short, like his old friend and fellow-libertarian, Albert Jay Nock, Mencken wrote for (and liberated) The Remnant who would understand. ... The great individualist Albert Jay Nock has written that, while in the 1920's he was generally considered a flaming 'radical,' and in the 1930's as a bitter 'reactionary,' his political philosophy remained, in these decades, exactly the same."
    H. L. Mencken, America's Wittiest Defender of Liberty: Mencken Was America's Foremost Newspaperman and Literary Critic, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Sep 1995
    Biographical essay, highlighting Mencken's tenure at the Baltimore Sun, the books he authored, the founding and his work at the American Mercury monthly and his brief relationship with Sara Haardt
    "Mencken inspired friends of freedom. He helped cheer up stylish individualist author Albert Jay Nock, a frequent contributor to Mencken's magazine the American Mercury, during Nock’s declining years."
    No U-Turns, by Jack Dennon, 29 May 2006
    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."
    Revisiting a Libertarian Classic: Nock's Our Enemy, the State, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Mar 2006
    Examines some of the major themes of Nock's Our Enemy, the State
    "Nock (1870-1945) was a prolific author of books and articles, a magazine editor, a colleague of H.L. Mencken, and a sharp observer of the political and culture scene. He is best known for his little book Our Enemy, the State, published in 1935. ... Nock admired the Jeffersonian ideals of natural rights and popular sovereignty. The problem, as Nock saw it, was that those ideals were quickly forgotten ... Nock represents a radical strain of modern libertarian thought that gets insufficient attention today. While he did not get everything right, he was more often on the mark than off."
    The Anatomy of the State, by Murray Rothbard, 1974
    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."
    The New Deal Made Them 'Right', by Damon W. Root, Cato Policy Report, Sep 2009
    Discusses how various "prominent liberals" (Mencken, John T. Flynn, Al Smith, Burton K. Wheeler and Nock) found themselves categorized on the political right as a consequence of their opposition to Roosevelt's New Deal
    "Is there anything to learn from the principled liberals who stood athwart the New Deal yelling stop? Albert Jay Nock thought there was. An acclaimed journalist, editor, and biographer, Nock remains one of FDR's most intriguing opponents. Though he's normally remembered as a founding father of the modern libertarian and conservative movements, Nock actually championed a unique brand of Jeffersonian anti-statism that has never fit comfortably on the political right. ... And although Nock was never a New Deal supporter, he was nonetheless shoved to the right by the Rooseveltian juggernaut."
    Two Libertarian Classics, by Murray Rothbard, Reason, Mar 1974
    Reviews of Albert Jay Nock's Our Enemy the State and John T. Flynn's As We Go Marching
    "Nowhere has the 'radical libertarian' position been presented with more insight, clarity, brilliance, and stylistic beauty than in the works of Albert Jay Nock, and in particular his little gem, OUR ENEMY THE STATE. ... In the course of the work, Nock makes clear how and why the State is the enemy, how State Power has always been the crippler and poisoner of Social Power (Nock's happy term for all the voluntary arrangements and interactions, economic, cultural, and social, that individual people have created.)"


    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, 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 Conservative Press in Twentieth-Century America, authored by Robert Muccigrosso">American Mercury, 1939
    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
    Table of contents: Youth - Beginnings - 1784-1789 - 1784-1789 (continued) - Washington, Hamilton, Adams - Eight Years of "Splendid Misery" - Recommencements - Advesperascit
    Related Topic: Thomas Jefferson
    Our Enemy, the State, 1935
    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
    Related Topic: The State
    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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